Friday, 28 November 2014

Slugs






From Stephen Holmes, with reference to Basil of Caesarea

Yes we are recognising that man is similar to God, and angels. But the fundamental divide in the universe is between God and his creation, and humans fall firmly on the side of the slugs and trees.

What I love about Stephen Holmes is that, despite his clear position and interpretations, many of which he is careful not to "smuggle onto the table" (as he puts it), he is not afraid to cut across a popular perception of truth. When he achieves this historically he masterfully undermines the current theological groove, because it would be harder to show that the biblical authors believing one thing, the church fathers and centuries something quite different, before finally we rediscovered the original perspective which very fortuitously coincided with the rise of humanism. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Old Testament faith



What do we do with these, and how do we reconcile this presentation of YHWH with the God Jesus called Father? Marcion, the heresiarch-of-choice of the homoians, later declared heretical themselves, was probably influenced by passages such as these. Trinitarians should perhaps pause to reconsider these "awkward" passages in a new light. Without these stories, Marcion's contribution to the chain of events building to Nicea might have been absent. 

Joshua 6

21 They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Deuteronomy 20:16-21
16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes17 Completely destroy[a] them – the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshipping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

1 Samuel 15:2-20

This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves[b] and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”


Friday, 21 November 2014

The missing ecumenical council: Christ's death, resurrection and incarnation.

On 14th November 2014, I kept it very short - just nine characters in fact: DID GOD DIE?

I would like to follow up on that question now, because it feels very connected to me to the Ephesus and Chalcedon decisions about Mary and her relationship to Jesus as very God. Quick recap: Mary is "officially" (and that is pretty synonymous of orthodoxically at this time) the Mother of God, and the reason behind that declaration is to do with the indivisible nature of Christ's hypostatic union, fully man and fully God, one person, that is, one hypostasis. These council decisions, like all the councils, were made in the context of dispute and uncertainty within the church, and a need for an orthodoxy to emerge in this or that central issue. It was very important for them to realise that we cannot allow in a type of thinking about Jesus that allowed us to play games with his divinity.

I recently participated in a training course where the question of the Holy Spirit took central stage for a while. The participants in the discussion had - what seemed to them - very opposing views about the Holy Spirit. What is baptism? What is filling? Are they the same thing? Do they occur at conversion? None of these questions were of that much significance at the time that the Trinity was made official, and likewise, the triune God is probably less of a burning issue (despite its so-called revival) than the Holy Spirit right now. I look to this example as it helps me understand an important aspect to the creeds' development. The issues they resolve are the issues of the day. There are many other issues that these main councils do not consider, that hundreds of other more local councils have deliberated over the centuries (and even during the ecumenical council period, see Toledo III for example as an historically very significant council).

So when I consider the question DID GOD DIE, I am reassured that this was possibly not such a central issue for the church in relation to the question of Christ's divinity, as it might seem to me now, or to other reflective individuals researching the doctrines. Perhaps for many, the issue is solved by Theotokos. That is to say, quite simply, YES, God did die on the cross. Kind of. But not the Father and not the Spirit, although in true inseparability-of-operations style, they were utterly involved in this work.

The questions that spew fourth from this statement seem even more bountiful than the dyothelite conclusions (Jesus has two wills that can differ):

If God died, who raised Jesus? I found in my main research project, that this is one of the strongest distinctives applied, especially by Paul, between Jesus and God. There are more than two dozen passages that simply state that: God raised Jesus. This constitutes a strong biblical statement, but we hesitate to say it this way because the triune eternal God seems compromised this way. For my part, when I see multiple occurrences like this, I am not merely counting them - look, look, there is one more! Much more worthwhile, is a different pursuit where we can see ourselves trying to reconstruct 1st Century THOUGHT. God raising Jesus is in the apostles' MIND, and it is out of these (God-inspired) minds that they taught and they wrote, much, much, much more than what we have access to today.

Or was the hypostatic union broken for three days? This should be considered a very dangerous proposition by trinitarians. It seems likely to me that this could be exactly the kind of thought process behind the Gospel of Peter's [check] rendering of the death of Jesus.

Or was the Trinity broken? Stripped back from 3 to 2? Perhaps even earlier than the death of Jesus, for God "forsakes" his son as he bears the sin of the world. Obviously not...

So did Jesus die in the flesh and his spirit live on as implied by 1 Peter 3:18-22? He did after all say to the robber that he would see him that day in Paradise, and of course there was all the preaching to do in the dungeons of those taken out by the flood in Noah's time, so surely that was a way in which the Divine Son did not in fact require bodily raising, because he was at work during the three days. But if that were the case, then when did he die?

Or was the hypostatic union preserved during these three days? It seems there might be a torturous way through here. If Jesus died and his death was total and real, as indeed the scriptures testify in the bodily sense (blood and water), it need only be in the sense that death is real for any human being's body. The robber's life also goes on beyond the grave to meet Jesus that same day in Paradise. So, in this understanding, the triune incarnate God did suffer death, while it experienced no break in living either. The death was assured by the physical death of the Son's incarnated body, and the continuity assured by the ongoingness of the human spirit, to both Paradise, where he was to meet the robber, and to the realm of the dead to preach.

If this is more or less consistent, then it requires a different perspective on "death" and a different perspective on "incarnation". The second is the trickier of the two, because of the roots of the word incarnation, something a bit like: en-fleshing. But if this version is accurate, then we should be asking if the incarnation could actually be re-clarified as en-humaning, taking on not just a human body, but also a human spirit.

Follow-up post: Moltmann's perspective in Crucified God.
Follow-up posts: The whole shebang, a fully deified christology.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Time-locked language Part 3

Update on posts Time-locked language Parts 1 and 2

We should note that Zizioulas (Holmes, QFT, p13) strongly emphasises the Father's causing principle within the trinity. Holmes says Zizioulas qualifies this causation as something "free and personal, not something mechanical and fixed." The question and challenge raised for this article on time-locked language, is now to find something that is "free and personal" that can be caused in a non-time-dependant way. Can you think of anything?

I think I finally see a way through here in looking back at the Greek word, αἰτία, an old theological principle to which Zizioulas wants to remain loyal. In Strong's Greek NT 156 we have indeed something less mechanical. Here we speak of "guilt", responsibility, accusation, fault, grounds, reason. I cannot deny that this opens a quite different discussion in terms of NT authors' perspective around the notion of causation, however, it really must not be forgotten that this word is not used for this purpose prior to the patristic period, that is hundreds of years AFTER the scriptures were written (it would seem particularly around the debates surrounding the Filioque clause, St Maximus the Confessor, and the 15th Century Council of Florence). Where the Scriptures speak of the interpersonal relationships between God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit vocabulary other than αἰτία is used. The word "send" jumps out very strongly in my mind.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Exegetical pressure, exegetical pressures and "Canonical Pressure"

(updated twice from note originally written in September '14. 16/04/2015)

"Exegetical pressure" (Holmes and others - Childs?) is - I am now convinced - not the right term in this whole debate. Of course I may be misunderstanding or not fully processing what Holmes means by this expression, exegetical pressure (hear him respond to questions at the end of his Fuller lecture), but when we see some of the early exegetical processes, I feel nothing short of shocked! It is the very foundations of biblical exegesis that are leading me to question which way does the “pressure” might lead us.



Well, the answer is... there probably is not one exegetical pressure, unless we redefine exegesis in a way similar to Holmes’ suggestion at the Fuller lecture. There are exegetical pressures, plural. Some believe they lead one way, and others another culminating in one general "pressure".

But there is a third way, expounded by Ehrman and others: the authors did not all believe the same thing about Jesus. A trinitarian will say, or at least in my view should say, that is fine, God revealed different aspects to different writers, and even to the same authors different aspects at different times (e.g. nearness of Christ's second coming for Paul in 1 Thessalonians) and it is the beautiful, painstaking, complementary and collective mosaic of revelation that results in such a wonderful finale. This finale thus harmonises these perspectives into a single portrait, approximating the extraordinary fourth-century creed. The unitarians have many texts that are in favour of distinction between God and Jesus in the New Testament writers' mind that do not require in my view quite the same mosaic approach or creedal layering.


But while the battle is being wrought, and different assumptions being accused, they all miss the great assumption that actually unites them, quite possibly into the one faith, although many would disagree with me on that.

This is the assumption:


At the end of the day, the bible must be cohesively uni-vocal on this issue of whether or not Jesus is God, there simply cannot exist a plurality of pressures.


I think we can give a name to this assumption: canonical pressure. Both camps share a wonderfully deep reliance on this assumption and yet often fail to spot their common ground.


Some of this was inspired from the rather engaging debate with Buzzard and White here, where this assumption is not even laid out.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Mary: personal Monday iii

I have so much to blog about at the moment it is difficult to keep up!

I really want to share some thoughts about John 1:1 soon and comment an article on the apparent seven direct Jesus-God passages, that is taken directly from a book I have already ordered edited by Wallace (it is anti-Ehrman by the way for those of you who are worrying about my influences!), and of course I want to do a follow-up on my 9-character post from a couple of days ago: "did God die?"

But today, let me share a little about Mary, whose head has to crop up in these discussions, and since it is personal Monday, ask ourselves a couple of questions. As I have already mentioned in a previous post, we in the evangelical and protestant churches have shown more of a pick n' mix approach to the creeds we find authoritative than we realise (Patrick Johnstone in that instance demonstrated this nicely), accepting even just a part of the Chalcedon creed while leaving Mother of God/God-bearer status of Mary for a rainy day. As protestants, we trace our spiritual lineage back to Luther and Calvin - I have also just learned that Lutheranism itself places the Scriptures on a higher plane than than of any creed, in line with what we stereotypically imagine by sola scriptura.  I am happy with that position.

But back to Mary - Check out this quote of Luther, that should surprise us if we assume that protestantism is fundamentally opposed to placing followers of Christ in any position of risk of confusion about Mary:

If our Lady were to enter Jerusalem today in a golden coach drawn by 4,000 horses it would not be an honour ... great enough for she who bore in her womb our Saviour

John Calvin also is reported as saying that he regarded Mary as a spiritual mother (reference needed) and:

"To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honour to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son"


Wow.

So what is so personal or exhortative about this post?! I am getting there! I have been exposed to a lot of anti-catholic rhetoric, and it was for me a breath of fresh air to read this catholic blogger's defence, which, interestingly enough, also taught me the origin of the "hail-Mary". Part of this strangeness we experience when we hear this expression is actually a question of translation. The word used by the angel, sent by God, is translated in our modern translations as "GREETINGS" from Χαῖρε (chairo). Later Χαῖρε is used in Matthew 27:29 as the soldiers mock Jesus with fake "Hail", which you could hardly translate "greetings". Its root verb is also apparently very positive, to do with rejoicing (Strong's 5463) - I wish I knew Greek better to understand why the 5 exact forms of this verb are always rendered something akin to "hail". Is it something like "I rejoice in seeing you"?

Anyway - I want to challenge myself and you to re-assess what are the unhelpful messages that we have heard regarding both Mary and Catholics. Let us ask ourselves, do we care what we think about Mary? As Protestants, we remain in the minority of the Christian faith. If there are distortions to catholicism, what might a pure catholicism look like? What might be a better approach for us toward Mary? How might you greet her after the resurrection?!

Let us remember: the same creed that asserts that our Lord became fully man and God in one hypostatic indivisible union, fully affirms that Mary is the mother of that indivisible person, and that she is therefore not just the mother of the human Messiah, for in order to claim this (Nestorius?), you are splitting the person of Christ into two.

OK, one more question we can ask ourselves, as it is at the HEART of maryology: how are you doing with the fully-man-and-fully-God balance? If you pray to Jesus only as God and not relate to him as a human, are you able to maintain this vision in your heart and mind?

Blessings.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Reflection and debate, a time to talk and a time to listen

One gift I feel certain God has not given me is debate. I can quickly feel insecure by an opposing view and can withhold helpful information to the "challenger". Yet I can also bore people for a long time if there is a willing and neutral ear! Yet true exchange can lead to much progress.

Here are a couple of links that you should find helpful in preparing yourself for fruitful exchange:

Dustin Smith
https://dustinmartyr.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/does-anyone-ever-admit-to-proof-texting-a-call-for-humble-dialogue/


Dale Tuggy says:
Did you know that God has even given us the means to argue against him?
But we use our ability as a "weapon of self-exaltation"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9egQVqPuWU 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Following Jesus. Personal Monday ii.

This was not really planned, but given the only person who I know actually regularly reads this blog made a specific request, I am happily having another go at this (thanks R.!)

This time last week, and as a result of more general reflection on what it means for me to be a "follower of Jesus", I tried to show and agree that following him was not an end to itself but a life journey with a goal in mind. That spiritual goal I believe gave me energy in my own quest to not miss out on being spiritually adopted, one of the greatest challenges of my twenties. Vague trinitarianism I now know does not facilitate this task.

This week has seen an interesting shift for me though: I resumed praying to Jesus again. 

Perhaps this was in part due to my declaration last week to follow him. I have been going through a period of focusing on Father prayers for quite a long time, as Jesus taught, but it has not always been easy to feel the closeness I would expect from being restored to the perfectly loving father, even while fully acknowledging the incredible cost. It would be easy to argue that this is simply because I was excluding the divine Son and Spirit from the equation, but I suspect it has much more to do with the way I was brought up and have lived out my church life and doctrine. 

The other reason I am back on the Jesus prayer wagon, I think, is to have rediscovered a couple of Revelation references that speak of Jesus loving us, loving me. Why is that so extraordinary? That is one of the first things Christian parents love to teach our children, that we share with people. But I had been quite surprised to discover that all (or so I had thought) of New Testament epistle (and I think also Acts) references to Jesus loving us were all past tense, drawing our attention to the cross, where Moltmann encourages us to begin our theology, and for me to begin mine.

But here is Revelation chapter 1, verses 4-6, the first of these references I found this week, and I would encourage all to focus on it for a minute for it is one of very few places where the Bible really does "tell me so":

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.


Obviously, or so it seems to me, this is quite a trinitarian-unfriendly passage (I had not even noticed this at first!), but I am not looking at that here. It's Monday!

To him who loves us. 

This “him” is unavoidably Jesus, for it is his blood that has freed us (or washed us, depending on the ancient manuscript you prefer). It also is unavoidably present tense, as the next verb, "freed" or "washed", is past, providing an apparently intentional distinction.

Jesus loves me.

I love Jesus.

I also love God.

J


I will also need to think a bit more about the following Jesus, as we also have “fishers of men”, “carrying my own cross”, abandoning other legitimate preoccupations…. I am beginning to realise my Monday posts could have been subverted away from trinitarianism analysis to following Jesus. My friend R. is a very crafty friend indeed!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Salvation as deification

Summary and response to Trinities Episode 59.

2nd century church fathers, like Irenaeus, would not have been confused about the one true God and deified people (yes, apparently they said this, i.e. God became man so that men could become gods, etc. just start typing this into google and it will finish the search for you!). Mosser informs us this is because of the origins of the word theos. The way he describes original usage if this word in anquity reminds me very much if the colloquial "divine" used now (e.g. this glorious pudding).


Von Harnack and Albrecht Ritschl in the 19th century want to point the finger at the eastern orthodox church as having spoilt the simple message of Jesus, of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man by having added a deification salvation principle. This is refused by Mosser, who see this deification principle present also in Catholicism and Protestantism. Mosser claims that Von Harnack and Ritschl - for their own polemical reasons - subverted whole swathes of church history. So deification suddenly became conspicuously absent from the west's history, even though Mosser affirms it is present in lots of western church writers in history before then.

Some anabaptists (16th century, around the time of the reformation), Priestley, Newton, also at this time reject the dogmas of the incarnation and the trinity, as they appeared more to be based on Greek philosophical ideas, especially those of Plato.

Hornack and Ritchel realised however you cannot argue the trinity and incarnation dogma solely as taken from Greek philosophy. They realised that the early (pre-nicene) Church fathers' theology of salvation, which includes deification in the sense incorruptible,  glorious, eternal, etc, by grace through the work and person of Jesus Christ, requires that the deifying (saving) one, Jesus, must himself be divine in his nature and not by participation in and grace of another. Hornack: by faith alone, full revelation begun by Augustine. Completing the unfinished project of the reformation.

Plato: imitation and union with God as a goal for humankind.  Theology and Christology, therefore, argue Von Harnack and Ritschl, had to support this pagan preparation.

Hornack key message: Hellenisation of Christianity happened when 2nd century church fathers adopted soteriology of deification which then will eventually lead to the doctrines of the incarnation and the trinity.

They see this as REPLACING justification by faith alone. Deification goes head to head with justification by faith, hence our subject Deification, for Von Harnack,  as oposed to justification by faith.

Augustine has some deification; however for Von Harnack, Augustine brings deification to an end in the west. From then on, any variation Augustine's .... [fragment]

Eastern orthodox say yea! Migrated Russian theologians in Paris came across the accusations and say that the western church's denial of deification is a sign of the west's apostasy, on biblical grounds. But no one stopped to check to see if the West really had abandoned deification as Hornack was saying, because he was so influential.

Jesus participates in the Divine. Tuggy adds: "hierarchy of participation", and agreed that there this is [hellenistic?] influence. But they use the language and draw from it along with biblical passages Eph 5:1. Gen 1. 2 Peter 1:4.

Response. 
1. I have been hearing Von Harnack's name mentioned a lot and it has been great to see more of his perspective and influence in this week's trinities podcast. I am particularly grateful as it seems like a lot of the work on the build up to Nicea 325 and Constantinople 381, it is just loose, speculative and unsatisfying. Von Harnack, and apparently Ritchel, may not be right in their hypothesis, but at least we seem to have something a bit more credible. In terms of contemporary influence at the turn of the last century (19th to 20th), he was the most influential scholar, not just theologian. He wrote 900 publications in his life!

2. I loved this episode because it is not just theological but also historical. I think that is why I found Holmes' book so enlightening.

3. I also want to underline the brief mention of the anabaptists in the 16th century. Stephen Holmes is very keen to point out consensus in time (save the last century) and east to west. He says that all traditions, East and West, pre and post reformation, accept the doctrine of the trinity.  However, it is interesting to note that this was not the case at the time of the reformation, there were fresh objections. What can be said is that the prevailing church view was pro-trinity. There is a little debate over one of the reformists clarity however, I think it was Calvin,  I need to to check it out.

Popular doctrine picking and choosing


I already blogged a little about the inconsistent manner we like to summarise our historical roots as Christians, particularly the Protestant, charismatic and other independent churches. Sometimes we claim that we accept the first four ecumenical councils and not the last three. Respected author and researcher Patrick Johnstone writes in his footnotes on p64, paragraph 5, of the Future of the Global Church:

The Council of Chalcedon condemned both the extreme positions of Monophysitism (in which Christ was one Person in whom the divine and the human were fused completely in one nature) and Diphysitism (purportedly Nestorius' view, in which Christ had two, unmingled natures or essences in one Person). The council took a middle position: that Christ was an indivisible union from two distinct natures. Sadly, the complex shades of meaning over which they argued were more a reflection of the broken relationships between the spokesmen for each position, the different languages they used - Latin, Greek and Syrica - and the different political systems in which they operated. Evangelical Christians of the 21st Century would probably have been closer to the position of the Eastern Church, with its emphasis on the Scriptures and its insistence that Mary was not the Mother of God but only the mother of Jesus.

What is going on here? I smell picking, choosing and twisting! Read especially carefully the final sentence starting "Evangelical Christians..."

  1. Diphysitism (purportedly Nestorius' view, in which Christ had two, unmingled natures or essences in one Person), this hardly seems to me an extreme position against which the creed brought balance; Johnstone's wording here is almost word for word the creed itself! If  my understanding is correct, the Nestorian position went a lot further, not just no mingling of the natures, but the separation was so deep that it denied the hypostatic union and pretty much implied schizophrenia!
  2. Emphasis on the Scriptures: I think many would disagree with Johnstone on this interpretation of this primary concern of the 21st Century church.
  3. Mary was not the Mother of God: this is flat out wrong, sorry to be so blunt. It is not just wrong however, it is also surprising to read that here from such a thorough researcher. It is, furthermore, symptomatic of the picking and choosing of the modern church that thinks it is building off such solid creedal foundations, themselves built on the deeper-still biblical foundations.

Quick reminder of the facts: the third ecumenical council of Ephesus confirms that Mary was the Mother of God, and Chalcedon REAFFIRMS her title, while also qualifying it.

So here's the text of the Chalcedon creed, translated into English:

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; (ἐν δύο φύσεσιν ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως – in duabus naturis inconfuse, immutabiliter, indivise, inseparabiliter) the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person (prosopon) and one Subsistence (hypostasis), not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεόν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

Here's an authoritative text from the Ephesus council, the first of twelve anathemas of St. Cyril against Nestorius, translated into English:

If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Θεοτόκος), inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as it is written, The Word was made flesh] let him be anathema.

Finally, let me just copy-paste for you a line from Canon 7 of this Synod, so we can get a feel for how these councils stamped their authority:

When these things had been read, the holy Synod decreed that it is unlawful for any man to bring forward, or to write, or to compose a different (ἑτέρανFaith as a rival to that established by the holy Fathers assembled with the Holy Ghost in Nicæa.


Conclusion: we are not picky just in the sense of refusing the last three councils. We are also picky within the first four also. What does that mean?

Monday, 3 November 2014

"Follow me": Personal Monday i

When Jesus said "Follow me": where was he going? Where was he taking his disciples then and where does he lead us now? Jesus leads us to his and our father. I will follow Jesus!

Rather than using "following" as a synonym for imitating, another New Testament theme, let us actually try following Jesus to the place he is going.