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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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We elves are thrilled that Kendall is posting more of his sermons and Bible teaching on the blog, and we thought it would be helpful to create an easy way for blog readers to find all those excellent resources with one click.
There is now a blog sub-category under the "By Kendall" category, called "sermons and teachings"
Here's the link so you can bookmark it: Kendall's Sermons and Teachings
From the perspective of one who values freedom of choice, individualism, and the market, the proliferation of new translations and paraphrases of the Bible must seem, on the whole, a good thing. From a perspective that places a greater value on theological probity, spiritual understanding in the laity, and coherence in the witness of the Church, however, the plethora of English translations and the Babel-like confusion of tongues they create is arguably a calamity. While every new translation is evidently a “market opportunity” and may express in some way the particular slant or voice of individual denominations on certain doctrines, the dissonance and “white noise” of competing Bibles tends to confuse rather than clarify discussion across denominational boundaries. In fact, the “Babel effect” intensifies the confusion.
In addition to new translations, we now have a plethora of “niche” editions, like the “Revolve” magazine-format Bibles, aimed at pre-pubescent girls, whichincludes marginal tips on how to put on makeup and deal with two admiring boys at the same time, or The Veggie Tales Full Text NIV Bible, the NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible (in periwinkle blue with a green flower!), the NIV Bible for Busy Dads (or perhaps for dads who aren’t quite busy enough), the Holman CSB Sportsman’s Bible (in camouflage, natch). If you are tired of your mother’s old Bible, which printed the words of Jesus in red, you can choose a more trendy Green Bible, with all the eco-sensitive passages printed in green ink. If you are a feisty woman unfazed by possibly misdirected allusions, then maybe you would like the Woman Thou art Loosed edition of the NKJV. If perchance you should be a high-end of the TV-channel charismatic, there are “prophecy Bibles” coded in several colors to justify your eschatology of choice. If you are a devotee of the U.S. Constitution (the document, not the ship), Tolle Lege Press offers the 1599 Geneva Bible, Patriot’s Edition, complete with a frontispiece portrait of George Washington, a prayer by him, and facsimile reproductions of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United States of America (with the Amendments), and finally, a tract on Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior by George Washington.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Biblical Commentary & Reflection Church History Parish Ministry Adult Education Preaching / Homiletics Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Books Education History Religion & Culture * Theology Theology: Scripture
If the story of Joseph has been an inspiration to later generations, it is not because he was given a privileged insight into the future — but because he overcame repeated trials, persevering in faith and hope. His trust in God and his boldness in action are all the more inspiring, in fact, in view of his dreams — which might easily have led him either to despair of God in anger and bitterness, or to forsake his obligations in indolence and complacency.
And even in the fulfillment of his dreams there is no “happily ever after” for Joseph. One of the features of the story that gives it such enduring power is the fact that Joseph’s struggles continue to the end. His story is as much about adversity and family dysfunction as it is about success and family harmony (two of our own society’s idols). It’s about the growth of a brat into a statesman — and it is significant that the dreams were part of his youthful immaturity, not his mature adulthood. (There are no dreams at all in the whole second half of the narrative — not for Joseph, the cupbearer, the butler, nor Pharaoh.)
Read it all.
He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God....
In spite of all ....[God did for them] they still sinned; despite his wonders they did not believe.
So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror.
--Psalm 78:5-7; 32-33
He went in, and stood before his master, and Eli'sha said to him, "Where have you been, Geha'zi?" And he said, "Your servant went nowhere."
But he said to him, "Did I not go with you in spirit when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, menservants and maidservants?
Therefore the leprosy of Na'aman shall cleave to you, and to your descendants for ever." So he went out from his presence a leper, as white as snow.
--2 Kings 5:25-27
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans.
--1 Corinthians 5:1
Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.
[Note from the elves, you can read all the lectionary passages easily on one page here (in the ESV translation)]
Fr. Dan Martins reflects on how today's lectionary, in particular Ps. 80, is leading him to pray this morning.
One of the marvels of Holy Scripture--particularly, I have found, as I encounter it in the Daily Office--is the ability of an entirely familiar passage to suddenly leap off the page in an astonishing way.
Psalm 80 is appointed for this morning. It is a plea to Yahweh on behalf of Israel, and the Psalmist compares the nation to a vine--planted and tended by God himself, a beautiful thing. Yet, the vine has fallen on hard times:
Why have you broken down its wall, *
so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?
The wild boar of the forest has ravaged it, *
and the beasts of the field have grazed upon it.
In what I hope is a faithful allegorical interpretation in the patristic tradition, my heart substituted Anglicanism for Israel, and the whole thing instantly became crushingly poignant in these days when the very survival of the Communion seems to depend on what a group of bishops in gathered in New Orleans decides to do.
The rest of the entry, including his prayer, is here.
Check out the latest Lent & Beyond entries as well for more prayers and reflections.
Fr. Will Brown is one of the bloggers at Covenant, and he has a deep and thought-provoking blog entry posted simply titled "Ramsey and Unity." The title might cause many to overlook the piece, but Fr. WB has some very interesting reflections on the current crisis, and questions for those of us on both / all sides of the current divide. Here's the excerpt that most caught this elf's eye:
[Note: The portion we've excerpted here in no way begins to do it justice (we've skipped over the meaty theological reflection and jumped to the conclusion, I confess... But the reflections on the meaning of the cross are particularly interesting given that ECUSA's lectionary this week included 1 Cor 1:18: 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.]
Anglicanism has become factious in the extreme, and one cannot help but wonder if the spirit of Christ-like gratuity, of self-effacement for the sake of the Body, has been quashed by a climate of hyper-self-consciousness. One wonders whether TEC might not be given pause by the non-recognition with which its “gifts” have been met by the one Body. One winces at the self-awareness of TEC’s rhetoric: “our church law… our canons… our autonomy… our Constitution… our founding principles… our own liberation from colonialism…” etc. (cf. the TEC House of Bishops “Mind of the House” resolutions from March 2007). One would do well to ask whether TEC has not “succumbed to the peril of thinking of these gifts as possessions of their own and interpreting them in terms of human wisdom, knowledge, and individual ownership” (51) – terms born of the spirit of Anti-Christ, as we have seen, inimical to the life of the Body.
Neither has TEC given an adequate theological account of how her innovative gifts bear witness to God in Christ. There has been much talk of “justice” and of the making-possible of our gay and lesbian brethren’s appropriation of what is theirs by right. But if the sexuality between persons of the same gender is to have a place within the one Body, it must be accounted for in terms of the given life of the one Body. It is not enough that it should be accounted for in terms of the autonomous life the Body’s members. We know something of the iconography and sacramentality of the gift of human sexuality. But the one Body has rooted human sexuality in the differentiation and complimentarity of the sexes, which our Lord himself placed under the rubric of creation and grace in one of his very few explicit teachings on the subject: “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…?” (Mat. 19.4). And as intimated by St. Paul in Ephesians 5, the Body has known the gift (the datum) of sexuality within the one Body as complimentarity within differentiation, as iconographic of the mutual self-gift that takes place between the different but complimentary natures of God and man in the one flesh of Jesus Christ, the theanthropos – the consummation of which is constitutive of the Body’s life.
How might Anglicanism gesture “toward the question mark of Calvary at the center of its teaching” (4), even amid the difficulties and disagreements we face? Here are some far-fetched ideas:
1. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the liberals are right:
If, as TEC seems to be claiming, the gift of sexuality must be revised or elaborated, let this revision or elaboration take place within the context of the common life of the one Body, within the spirit of mutual recognition and self-gift which alone characterizes the love by which our Lord said we would be known (Jn. 13.35). Let TEC offer her gifts in patience and humility, knowing that love is patient, kind, and does not insist on its own way (1 Cor. 13.4-5) – knowing that in autonomy she is nothing (1 Cor. 13.2). And if it is true that TEC’s interlocutors in the Communion at large are blinded and ignorant, as many within TEC have suggested, let TEC bear the burden of their brothers’ and sisters’ blindness and ignorance, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6.2). Let TEC bear it “with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4.2).
2. Assuming, for the sake or argument, that the conservatives are right:
For the conservatives’ part, let them listen in humility for the voice of the Spirit in their interlocutors, knowing that the Spirit’s groanings are too deep for words, even traditionalist words. Let them be willing to suffer at the hands of the litigious. Let them be eager to be defrauded to keep the scandal of factionalism away from the consciousness of the unbelieving world for whom the Lord suffered and died. Let the conservatives prefer to suffer injustice for the sake of the souls of their brethren; let them know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5.20).
Here's the full entry.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts * Christian Life / Church Life Biblical Commentary & Reflection * Theology Ecclesiology
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Cherie Wetzel of Anglicans United has very kindly sent us files of all three transcripts of ++Greg Venables' Bible teachings to the Network Council meeting. Note these transcripts are in some cases more complete than what we posted yesterday.
Monday Afternoon: http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/media/Abp_Venables__1.doc
Scripture: Genesis 12. Theme: The Example of Abraham. Leaving his land, giving up Ishmael, willing to give up Isaac.
Tuesday Morning: http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/media/Abp_Venables__2.doc
Scripture: Joshua 1. Theme God's Commission to Joshua.
Tuesday Afternoon: http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/media/Abp_Venables__3.doc
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12; James 1:2; 2 Cor 11:21 ff; Mt. 11:25-30. Theme: Count it all joy.
These are Microsoft Word Documents that you can either open and view online, or download to your computer. Note these files contain only the transcripts of Venables' teachings. Other commentary on the meetings has been deleted.
Enjoy. And do read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest these wonderful teachings! We'll post another update when Kevin K. has the cleaned up versions of the audio files posted.
P.S. Yes, Gregory Venables' official title is Presiding Bishop. I've not edited Cherie's transcripts or her file names where she uses the title Archbishop. Sorry. Better things to do with my time.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] * Christian Life / Church Life Biblical Commentary & Reflection
All THREE talks are now available as Word Files for downloading.
Now, time for this elf to be my sometimes very bossy self! Go read them!! Do more than read them. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them! And that's an order
Archbishop Gregory Venables Bible Study Monday - transcription
Anglican Communion Network, Archbishop Venables Final Post
Here is an excerpt from ++Venables' Tues. afternoon teaching:
I see people under incredible spiritual attack. I remember that moment in the end of the Screwtape Letters and the man the demons are trying to win is killed in the air raid in London. As he is departing this world, the man sees who has been dogging him for so long. He finally realizes what has been happening to him. It was a poignant moment.
We are not fighting flesh and blood. Read Ephesians 6. This battle is Big. Because it is about God’s honor and God’s name and God’s Word. It is not your battle, dear people. It is God’s battle. Let that comfort your hearts. Let that settle your mind.
I see people burdened and weighed down. Some of you are carrying very heavy burdens indeed. And I see people suffering grief. Grief in the sense of loss: bereavement. Something precious and that means so much to us is “going down the tubes”. That creates grief. It is heart breaking. Don’t go into denial. Don’t be British. Stoicism is not good. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and carry on, but not for long. Recognize the grief and deal with it. Don’t deny it.
Let me give you a few words from Scripture. 1 Peter 4:12: “Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you.”
When you stand up for Jesus, this is what happens. At the end of the day, it isn’t Anglicanism you are standing up for. It is Jesus. That’s why Anglicans do what we do. Rejoice that you have been thought worthy. You must be getting something right or you wouldn’t be in this battle. [...]
James 1:2 “Count it all JOY my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”
Be careful of fear. God will put you there again and again so you have to look at it and bring it up close and then you will see who He really is. Count it all joy. Read Paul’s account of what it was like to minister for Jesus. 2 Corinthians 11. Paul had a sense of humor, didn’t he. That’s what Paul got for serving Jesus. Not a Harry Potter world, not Tolkien world; the real world.
Are you getting it? If you really want to follow Jesus and serve him, this is what happens. I know a lot of you here are not surprised. Count it all joy and a privilege to show that Jesus is still Lord. To be on this world stage - With your smile and your joy and your forgiveness of all of “them”. Show them that Jesus is still Lord.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Anglican Communion Network Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] * Christian Life / Church Life Biblical Commentary & Reflection
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
--Psalm 30: 11, 12 KJV
Therefore take good heed to yourselves. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire....
Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a graven image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you.
For the LORD your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God.
--Deuteronomy 4:15, 23-24
We need to remember, as we celebrate Whitsun tomorrow, that progress in the Spirit is by fits and starts. The gift of the Holy Spirit is something we need to get used to, and the Holy Spirit needs to get used to us
The description St Luke gives of the Church in Jerusalem after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is one that has inspired many subsequent reform movements in the Church, and has been very influential in the foundation of many religious orders. It is not difficult to see why. It tells of the whole group of believers being of one heart and soul, with no one claiming private ownership of any possessions, but holding everything in common, and not a needy person among them (Acts 4:32-35).
Commentators describe this passage as a "summary", but it is a very curious kind of summary, for no sooner has Luke given it than he appears to contradict it, at every point. First we hear of a married couple who tried to deceive the community by presenting only part of the proceeds of the sale of their property as though it were the whole (Acts 5: 1-11). A little later we are told of dissension that divided this early Christian community, if not along racial lines, then certainly along linguistic ones. The Hellenists (Greek speakers) grumbled against the Hebrews (Hebrew or Aramaic speakers) because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of bread (Acts 6:1-6). Christians are not supposed to grumble, even when they have something to grumble about, as St Paul told the Corinthians in peremptory fashion (1 Corinthians 10:10). But here we find grumbling among those who have just been described as being "of one mind and one heart". How can these Hellenists have had anything to grumble about if the Jerusalem community held everything in common, and there was not a needy person among them?
The solution the Apostles found to this problem hardly allows them to be seen to best advantage as giving testimony to the Resurrection of the Lord with great power (Acts 4: 33). For whereas Jesus had characteristically attended to the physical and spiritual needs of the people, and had encouraged his disciples to do the same (cf. Mark 6:12-13), here we find the Apostles distinguishing between service to the Word and waiting on tables, and clearly regarding themselves as being too important to be involved in the latter. Nor did their solution address and heal the original division, for the seven they appointed to wait at tables all had Greek names: presumably there were separate soup kitchens for Hellenists and Hebrews thereafter.
Read it all.
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