Posted with permission from the author
My parents always said to be careful who you associate yourself with because you are known by the company you keep—that the people around you reflect on you and manufacture other’s perception of you from a distance.Sometimes that mistaken association will be so detrimental and embarrassing, that you will need to speak out and severe the connection.
I’m a Christian, and I realize that word may come with a great deal of baggage for you. You might have an idea about the kind of person you believe that makes me, simply because of the professed Christians you see out there in the world or the ones you may know. You may believe you know what I think or how I feel or how I vote because of the way someone else thinks or feels or votes.
Since I’m aware of this potential association and since I too see what you see every day—I need you to know where I stand:
I’m not with the Christians who shilled for this President, who sold their souls and leveraged their pulpits for political capital, who continue to defend his every vile deed, every reckless Tweet, every gross abuse of power—despite him not bearing the slightest discernible resemblance to Jesus.
I believe this President and his Administration are fully devoid of Christlikeness.
I’m not with the Christians who believe healthcare is a luxury saved only for the rich and the well; those who claim to be followers of Jesus, the healer—while throwing the poor and elderly and ill, to the wolves of circumstance or sickness.
I believe all people who are physically, emotionally, and mentally ill, deserve every chance to get well—and by more than just thoughts and prayers.
I’m not with the Christians who police the bodies and bathrooms and bedrooms of strangers, who distort the Bible in order to justify their fear of people for who and how they love; the ones who’ve turned gender identity and sexual orientation into a weapon of damnation—who would tell adults who they can fall in love with and marry and raise children with.
I believe LGBTQ people are made fully in the image of God and deserve every happiness and right this world has to give them.
I’m not with the Christians who savagely beat their breasts about their shrinking religious freedoms, while regularly manufacturing monsters out of Muslim men and women seeking to live out their chosen faith tradition here in peace, without silencing,harassment, or discrimination—those Christians who do not admit or call out the prevalent and deadly extremism in our faith tradition.
I believe those practicing Islam should be as free and unfettered in this country as those who claim Christianity.
I’m not with the Christians who believe a woman’s body is anyone else’s jurisdiction but her own, those who believe they can legislate their morality upon another human being or take a woman’s personal autonomy from her for any reason.
I believe that women get the only say in what happens to and within their specific bodies.
I’m not with the Christians who refuse to acknowledge their privilege and bias.
I’m not with the Christians who believe everyone should be able to get a gun, but not every one should be able to get prenatal care.
I’m not with Christians who believe God is responsible for Donald Trump’s Presidency.
I’m not with Christians who believe they have the Bible figured out enough to condemn anyone else.
I’m not with the Christians who believe they get to tell strangers they’re going to hell.
Yes, I’m a Christian, but I don’t want you to mistake me for those who may claim to speak for me or represent me by default—those you may have sitting across from you at dinner or worshiping next to you at church or preaching on TV or Tweeting diatribes.
I hope that the fruit of my personal faith is apparent.
I hope that it yields compassion for the hurting, protection for the vulnerable, eyes for the forgotten.
I hope it champions equality for all people, truly diverse community, and a love that transcends difference.
I hope these things are obvious and that they set me apart from those Christians who may speak a different message with their lives—and quite loudly at that.
I also want you to know that there are many of us out here; people with a real, prayerful, fervent desire to follow Jesus, who feel like we’ve had our identities stolen by the pulpit bullies, fear mongers, and Bible bigots who make the headlines and steal the bandwidth and monopolize the conversation.
We want you to know that they do not speak for us. We don’t believe they speak for Jesus.
I guess what I’m saying, is that I hope you won’t too hastily judge all of us based on those who share the name of our faith tradition, and little else. We are as distressed as you with what we see them doing in the name of Jesus these days.
We’re exhausted by their hatred, fed up with their intolerance, disgusted by their violence—and no, we’re not with them.
The Heresy of Penal Substitution
Making God bound by necessity
The heretical doctrine of penal substitution was completely absent from the Church for over 1,000 years, and was only introduced by Anselm of Canterbury in the eleventh century. This false teaching of penal substitution was ultimately developed as seen in the West today, by 16th-century Reformers, but is a doctrine that has never been accepted by the Eastern Church, and not completely accepted by Roman Catholics.
The major problem with this teaching can be seen in the fact that had Christ died for our sins against God the Father, thus causing a division of God, with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity laid waste, with God pitted against God. This heretical doctrine divides God by implying that Christ isn’t fully God. It also suggests that there is a higher force than God, thus making, God Himself ruled by a “higher force”. In other words, God has no choice but to punish. By this notion, justice forces God to respond to our sin with His wrath, with love becoming secondary.
A close examination of the prophets and the Psalms of David, reveal that the word “justice” is linked to the concept of “mercy.” Justice is not penal in nature, but refers to a show of kindness and deliverance to those who are suffering oppression. It means that God’s justice destroys our oppressors, which in this case is sin, death, and even the power of Satan’s oppression.
To look upon propitiation in the classical pagan sense, we are forced to view our God as some sort of angry deity needing to be appeased by a blood sacrifice. This is completely different than the Old Testament view of a loving God whose Mercy Seat covered the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the ten commandments. While the law given to us by God demanded perfection and revealed our shortcomings, the Mercy Seat covered our failure to live up to the Ten Commandments.
From the viewpoint of the Ancient Church, Christ’s blood was the ultimate Mercy Seat. Christ covered and forgave our sins, and Himself showed the unconditional love that He commanded us to show one another. The Western churches would have us believe that God was angry over our sins, but the death of His Son caused Him to change His mind, and decide to love us. Yet the Scriptures tell us God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16) from the very beginning, and is unchanging (Mal 3:6) and doesn’t change His mind (Num 23:19).
With love in Christ,
February 18, June 19, October 19
Chapter 15: At What Times “Alleluia” Is to Be Said
From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption
let “Alleluia” be said
both in the Psalms and in the responsories.
From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent
let it be said every night
with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only.
On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent,
the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None
shall be said with “Alleluia,”
but Vespers with antiphons.
The responsories are never to be said with “Alleluia”
except from Easter to Pentecost.
I love the words “alleluia” and “hallelujah”. In the original Hebrew, or so I am told, the word is best translated as “Praise Yahweh, you people”. Somehow we Christians have lost the meaning of the word as an exhortation to praise God but instead use the word to me solely “praise”.
A subtle distinction. Pedantic maybe. Perhaps even nit-picky. But I appreciate it because it reminds me praising our glorious Lord is not something I do by myself but is action common to the entire communion of saints, past, present, future. We raise our voices together with the archangels, angels, cherubim and seraphim
Alleluia! sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.
Alleluia! not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received Him when the forty days were o’er
Shall our hearts forget His promise, “I am with you evermore”?
Alleluia! bread of angels, Thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! here the sinful flee to Thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.
Alleluia! King eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heav’n Thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered, robed in flesh our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.
February 17, June 18, October 18
Chapter 14: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints
On the feasts of Saints and on all festivals
let the Office be performed
as we have prescribed for Sundays,
except that the Psalms, the antiphons and the lessons
belonging to that particular day are to be said.
Their number, however, shall remain as we have specified above.
I am not sure when the observance of Saints’ days began. IIRC Peter Brown in _The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity_ only says “late antiquity”. Since the Middle Ages started in 476 CE, St Benedict is one of the early medieval Christian writers. At any rate, the observation of Saints’ days was apparently well-established by his time.
The point I am taking my own sweet time getting to is this: I love Saints’ days. I always have. I am so grateful to the examples of the saints and martyrs. They have comforted me in distress, added to my happiness in times of joy. When we sing the Benedictus at Eucharist, I often get goosebumps as I think that the same words are constantly being sung in heaven.
Needles to say, the communion of saints, the Body of Christ, that idea that all Christians whoever were, are now or will be, are gathered together in some sacramentally mysterious way is something I love.
A modern elder said: “Any man who thinks that he can solve his own problems is like a bird which intends to fly without wings.”