27 March 2009


I had the chance to hear Alvin Plantinga speak at Criswell College in Dallas yesterday. I would definitely recommend this guy to anyone interested in philosophy. Though his talk was philosophical, we should never divorce that discipline from Theology. His presentation was on Naturalism v. Evolution...the real battle between science and religion.

See the connection? Naturalism is the 'religion' in conflict with evolution, in other words. Though he would not support an evolutionary cosmogony, he explained why its major incompatibility is not with theism, but with naturalism. Naturalism, by the way, is the standard message coming from all the science/learning channels--buyer beware.

Plantinga has captured the theistic world's attention. He is highly regarded and now I know why. He can boil mountains of complicated philosophical data down to my level. I hope to read more of him after graduating. Cogency in presentation proves that you really have command of your material. I wish I had that too!

25 March 2009

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin

The Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary
March 25.

The Collect

WE beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thierry via Thornton

I love this quote from Martin Thornton regarding William of Saint Thierry.

"Here are pinpointed two of the greatest needs in modern Anglican life: the sense of continuity in Christian living, and the sane authority of the Rule of the Church. Holy Communion, the Offices, periods of private prayer, are not isolated attempts to obtain doses of Cassianic grace,1 but links in a continuous chain of life in grace; a continuous response to God's never-ending love in a marriage solemnized at our Baptism. When duty is dull we might remember that washing the dishes can be just as much an act of marital love as an embrace.

As spiritual guide, William would not understand a request for a “rule of life”; to him there is only one, the threefold Benedictine system, and the Book of Common Prayer agrees with him. He would see little more than hypocrisy in a prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before a meeting of a Parochial Church Council whose members were irregular at the altar and neglectful of the Office.2 Our “National Days of Prayer” he would regard as farcical: none of this through emotional feeling against laxity, but because he would see no logic in isolated prayers, no purpose without continuity."3

1“The Semi-Pelagian doctrine taught by John Cassian (d. 440) admits that divine grace (assistance) is necessary to enable a sinner to return unto God and live, yet holds that, from the nature of the human will, man may first spontaneously, of himself, desire and attempt to choose and obey God. They deny the necessity of prevenient but admit the necessity of cooperative grace and conceive regeneration as the product of this cooperative grace.” A.A. Hodge (The Semi-Pelagian Theology of John Cassian).

2This refers to the offices of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer found in your copy of the Book of Common Prayer.

3Martin Thornton, English Spirituality: an Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition. London: S.P.C.K., 1963., pg. 98.

20 March 2009

Saint Cuthbert

Bishop of Lindisfarne

Feast Day March 20.

The Collect for the Day

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy servant Cuthbert: Grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in his triumph, we may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

19 March 2009

Saintly reading

I cannot post much on here during Lent. I have too much reading to do for an upcoming class. I'm researching William of Saint Thierry. I also took up some disciplines and fasts. This proves much harder than I imagined.

You can stay up with some interesting reads down at the column entitled Fireflies in my net. If something major surfaces I will too, & will post it here.

May you find peace.

11 March 2009

No comparison

This video compares current All Black rugby star Joe Rokocoko to the 'Michael Jordan' of modern rugby that was Jonah Lomu. They do both score a lot but Lomu craves contact whereas Rokocoko avoids it.

It was widely rumored that the Dallas Cowboys offered Lomu a $6Million contract even though he'd never even played gridiron before. That is how good he was. A mountain of a man with Olympic speed with no preference to running over you or right past you.

The Continuum: Desiring to be teachers of the Law

The Continuum: Desiring to be teachers of the Law

Fr. Robert Hart hits out at the ultra-protestant mindset. I know it's tedious but we must inform ourselves. I commend his words to all that read here.

09 March 2009

St. Ignatius on Discipleship, conclusion


When Protestants examine Ignatius’ writings, it is hoped they can see his zeal for Christ and his Church. He did not separate discipleship from ecclesiastical unity. Perhaps they can be distinguished, but never separated permanently. In fact, Baptism and the Eucharist served as two key events in the process of discipleship that highlighted the new Christian’s commitment to the faith of our Lord. We showed this by Ignatius' repeated refrain of unity in the liturgical aspects of baptism and taking the Holy Eucharist. He did not desire death for personal reward; rather he viewed his death in light of the lives he left behind in the Churches of Asia Minor. He mainly concerned himself with his peoples’ discipleship through unity. His death for Christ was the example he hoped to leave for them. His death was true imitation of his mentors Paul and John, his peer Polycarp, not to mention the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not simply view Christ’s death as an example of Divine love. His view of the atonement goes back to the cross. But it was natural for him to see continuity between the obedient, even willing, sacrifice of Christ and the apostles and other apostolic fathers. Only if the Churches of Ignatius’ bishopric were united would his own death be a bona fide martyrdom. Then indeed would he be a true disciple.1 His death would unite those he left behind for the mission he left to them [clearly imitating the Lord]. Ignatius could not sever the cord between true discipleship and faithfulness to the apostles' teaching on Christ either. As with many things we learn about in the Church, discipleship is not disconnected from the community nor its unity...perhaps it can be distinct but not separated.

1 Willard M. Swartley, “The Imitatio Christi in the Ignatian letters,” Vigiliae Christianae 27 no. 2 (1973): p. 103.

04 March 2009

Cranmer's bill

In my office hangs a calendar. March commemorates Cranmer's burning with an image of the burn notice. This austere and terse page represents one of the most chilling moments in English history. It is the original bill for the burning of Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), Matthew Parker's predecessor as Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.
It reads:
"Item chardges layd out and paide for the burning of Cranmer as followeth,"
itemizing kindling, wood faggots and the hire of two executioners. The total, including the cost of upkeep in prison, is ₤63.10s.2d [63 pounds, 10 shillings and 2 pence]. Cranmer was burned alive in Broad Street in Oxford on 20 March 1556.

I hope to post a photo of it on my blog. The whole calendar will become viewable through Stanford library in conjunction with Cambridge. See the links below.

I receive this calendar from a European book vendor called Harrassowitz. They have been sending calendars to their customers for many years highlighting medieval manuscript illuminations. This year the concentration is on the library of Matthew Parker (1504-75). He
was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559-1575, and also an avid book collector. He salvaged many English treasures about to be dispersed at the dissolution of the monasteries. He gave them all to Cambridge's Corpus Christi College in 1574.



01 March 2009

St. Ignatius on Discipleship, part 6

Discipleship as Imitation

Ultimately discipleship is imitating Christ. Ignatius conceives martyrdom as the perfect imitation of Christ.1 This is the central point of the paper. Ignatius saw following Jesus to be ultimately accomplished in the imitation of his own suffering and passion. A case of true imitation can be seen only in the case of Ignatius’ relationship with Christ.2 Examination of the imitation-texts clearly shows that imitation is oriented primarily to suffering, not to the cross specifically but to suffering, as the inevitable consequence of loving like God loves.3 The whole point of the baptism, Eucharist, suffering for God, and Christology is to be an imitator of the one in whom we are baptized, the one whom we partake at the table, who suffered for our sakes and for our salvation, who embraces humanity and redeems it.

Ephesians 1:1. ‘Being imitators of God, taking on new life in the blood of God, you have fully completed the task so well suited to you.’ He speaks of imitating God and fulfilling a task. The question is, ‘what is the task?’ Is it imitation or visitation from the larger context of greeting and helping him? It is clear that the Church’s life comes from the blood of Christ, but what is the imitation? The evidence seems to point to a period of persecution at Ephesus. But one cannot contend certainly that this is Ignatius’ intent, for the ‘task’ referred to here as ‘imitation’ is not necessarily withstanding persecution. But one would also not expect him to refer to this in terms of imitation of God. So we think he begins his first letter with a statement about their obedience in terms of imitation.

Eph 9:2 “Ye, therefore, as well as all your fellow-travelers, are God-bearers, temple-bearers, Christ-bearers, bearers of holiness, adorned in all respects with the commandments of Jesus Christ, in whom also I exult that I have been thought worthy, by means of this Epistle, to converse and rejoice with you, because with respect to your Christian life ye love nothing but God only.”

Ephesians 10:1. ‘Let us be eager to be imitators of the Lord, who was most maltreated, who endured deprivation and who was rejected.’ Here the instruction to imitate Jesus at the point o suffering is sent to the Church as a whole. The fate of the entire Church is to suffer for the faith. He emphasizes the duty of the whole Church to suffer in imitation the Lord Jesus Christ. If the Church imitates Christ, the logical conclusion is that they will be mistreated, deprived and rejected. In the letter to the Ephesians, Ignatius does not connect discipleship with the faithful Christian life. Rather he connects it to martyrdom. Perhaps, as Rathke suggests, martyrdom is the imitation for a single person whereas the Church is the way of the community, through suffering or not.4

Magnesians 4:1. “It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality:” If Docetists believed that Christ appeared only in aspect, then truly they could believe that our expression of his life could remain undercover. We have been called to be the real expressions of a real Person, the man Jesus Christ.

Magnesians 9:1. ‘And this is why we endure: that we might be found disciples of Jesus Christ . . .’ No other passage says it clearer that this one. Endurance is the mark of a disciple. What is there to endure but suffering? Why endure suffering in the first place; because it is an imitation of Christ’s suffering.

Trallians3:1. ‘In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:2. ‘For I fear your love, lest it do me wrong, for it is easy for you to do what you want to, but it will be hard for me to attain to God unless you spare me.’ He asks the Romans not to intervene for him because they in doing so will impede his idea of following Christ. If he is disallowed to join in Christ’s suffering, via the Romans contending for his release, then his discipleship is halted.

Philadelphians 7:2. ‘But the Spirit proclaimed these words: Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid divisions; be the followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is of His Father.’ He gives us here a direct connection between our obedience to others and Christ’s obedience to the Father. Noteworthy is the absence of the instruction to follow the teachings of Christ. We are told to follow Christ. Surely we are to understand that the Lord’s teachings are for the Church, but the point is to follow a person rather than a principle. I propose that following Christ is the same as following his teachings.

Smyrneans12:1. ‘The love of the brethren at Troas salutes you; whence also I write to you by Burrhus, . . . I would that all may imitate him, as being a pattern of a minister of God. Grace will reward him in all things.’ Here he gives us instruction to follow someone besides Christ. The principle of imitation is the same if we follow the bishop, for the bishop is the head of the presbytery just as the Father above the Son.

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. 1 Corinthians 4:16. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6; For you, brothers, became imitators of God's Churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those Churches suffered from the Jews 2:14. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12; Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 13:7.

How could one miss the connection Ignatius finds in these scriptures to his explicit idea of imitation? We are to imitate the faith of our leaders, of others who are more spiritual [that is those that serve and lead], the Bishop, and ultimately the Father, through Christ.

1 Johannes Quasten, Patrology, (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1950), 1: p.71.

2 Daniel N. McNamara, “Ignatius of Antioch on his death, discipleship, sacrifice, and imitation,” (Ph.D. diss. McMaster University, 1978) p. 248.

3 Willard M. Swartley, “The Imitatio Christi in the Ignatian letters,” Vigiliae Christianae 27 no. 2 (1973): p. 100.

4 Heinrich Rathke, Ignatius von Antiochien und die Paulusbriefe, (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1967) p. 68-75.