Posted by Kendall Harmon

The famous radio personality and early pioneer of television, Arthur Godfrey, grew up in an era very different from today. It was a time when a boy could wander down to the blacksmith shop on a lazy afternoon and watch the smithy work at his anvil and forge. It was a favorite past time of the young Godfrey. Sometimes he would watch the blacksmith sorting the scrap metal. The man would pick up a piece of metal from a holding bin, turn it this way and that in his large hands, then either toss it into the fire to be softened and hammered into some useful tool, or thrown into a junk heap to be discarded. From this experience Arthur forged a simple prayer which he used all his life. Whenever seized by his own sense of sin or some personal moral failure he would pray—“The fire, Lord, not the junk-heap.” It is a prayer that captures two essential dimensions of Ash Wednesday and Lent— a prayer for pardon and a prayer for purity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted February 10, 2016 at 7:13 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The idea of national repentance seems at first sight to provide such an edifying contrast to that national self-righteousness of which England is so often accused and with which she entered (or is said to have entered) the last war, that a Christian naturally turns to it with hope. Young Christians especially-last-year undergraduates and first-year curates- are turning to it in large numbers. They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England. What that share is, I do not find it easy to determine. Most of these young men were children, and none of them had a vote or the experience which would enable them to use a vote wisely, when England made many of those decisions to which the present disorders could plausibly be traced. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done?

If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happening) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society. When we speak of England's actions we mean the actions of the British government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England's foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbor; for a foreign secretary or a cabinet minister is certainly a neighbor. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing-but, first, of denouncing-the conduct of others.

--C.S. Lewis, "Dangers of national repentance"

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLent* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted February 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Confess your faults one to another" (Jas. 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. This pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. so we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. "My son, give me thine heart" (Prov. 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLent* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 10, 2016 at 12:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Is-is he a man?" asked Lucy.
"Aslan a man!" said Mr Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tellyou he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."


--The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, also cited by yours truly in the morning sermon


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildren* TheologyChristology

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Posted February 7, 2016 at 11:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Transfiguration of Jesus has to be a moment of revelation that extends and exists beyond the mountaintop experience. Otherwise, it will only justify glory, power, and privilege. And so, our call to preach this Sunday has to be grounded in the ways in which God grounds God’s very self in transfiguration. God has chosen to reveal God’s self in ways that are breathtaking, miraculous, wondrous. Why? Because we have a tendency to tame God, to think that God will adjust to our many needs, to think that God will conform to our ideals.

When the Transfiguration becomes a sort of embarrassment for the church, an example of the ways in which the church hopes for glory, an argument for Jesus’ divine identity, a chance to wax nostalgic about mountaintop experiences, well then, it will cease to matter. Make it matter by preaching what it is -- no ordinary mountaintop experience.

Read it all; quoted by yours truly in the early morning sermon (my emphasis)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 7, 2016 at 11:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Susan Howatch, whose books have sold more than 20 million copies, is financing the Starbridge Lectureship in Theology and Natural Science. She wants to ''strike a blow for theology to show that religion is not dead, but complements scientific discovery''.

Ms Howatch, 52, believes God has been guiding her. Although she made her first fortune writing blockbusters such as Penmarric, success and its trappings left her spiritually empty. She had houses in several countries, drove a Porsche and a Mercedes and after the break-up of her marriage had too many ''facile, transient liaisons''. In the early Eighties she told her editor she would be late with a novel and he said: ''What will I tell the accountants?''

''I was not interested in fame and fortune any more - I'd had it all since I was 30 and it hadn't satisfied me. So I thought, 'If I'm not in it for that and I'm not in it to keep my publishers in the black, what the hell am I doing it for?'

''God seized me by the scruff of the neck, slammed me against the nearest wall and shook me until my teeth rattled. I thought: 'Okay, what does God actually require of me?'"

--The Independent, March 18, 1993, page 7 and quote in this morning's sermon (my emphasis)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted February 7, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in a world so weary of violence and strife, so hardened against rhetoric and marketing, and so soporific from our long dark night that we are tempted to conclude that there is nothing left but boredom and silliness.

But if we can get our own act together, this can be the church’s finest hour.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyApologeticsChristology

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Posted February 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In summary, said Dr. Anis, Christians who witness to Muslims must depend entirely on the Holy Spirit, and should be authentic, humble and generous in all their dealings. Muslims who convert frequently must pay a heavy price in loss of family relationships and everything they had held dear; the Christian community must be prepared to do all that it can to mitigate those losses. He closed his talk with a short film that showed the various kinds of Christian outreach his own diocese is sponsoring, with an emphasis on providing the best possible loving care to Egyptians from all walks of life in Christian-run hospitals, and offering testimonies from those whose lives had changed in consequence. God's love, shown to Muslims and others through freely given medical and other care, brings results on God's timetable. "Our job is to witness to Christ's love, to pay the price when asked, and to involve the local community of believers."

Another perspective on witnessing to Muslims was offered by Fouad Masri, a Lebanese-born, third-generation pastor who trained in the United States, and then in 1993 founded the Crescent Project, based in Indianapolis, through which he has taught more than 21,000 Christians how to share their faith sensitively and caringly with Muslims. He stressed that Muslims generally do not know what Christians believe, that they never read the Bible for themselves, and have repeatedly been told that it is unreliable (its text is, e.g., hopelessly corrupt in comparison with the Qu'ran that was dictated directly from Allah).

"Because you have been at this conference," he predicted, "God will put a Muslim in your path. Be an ambassador for your faith: represent it truly, humbly, and without apology or evasion. Be friendly -- don't criticize Muslim beliefs; build bridges, biblical bridges, from your faith to theirs, with which you can reach them. Invite them to your home, and share what you have. Remember that God, not us, makes people Christians; we are God's humble servants, and our involvement is His involvement with the world."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologyApologeticsChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The theme of this year's Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, South Carolina was "The Cross and the Crescent: the Gospel and the Challenge of Islam." Over the course of four sessions, seven speakers gave the sold-out audience a comprehensive view of Islamic ideology and history, along with the understanding and tools which Christians need in their personal dealings with Muslims.

The Conference was carefully balanced. Two of the speakers analyzed the tenets of Islam and their contrasts with those of Christianity; two of the speakers spoke to the historical and present-day conflicts between Islamic countries and Western ones; two offered insights and approaches to discussing religion with followers of Mohammed, garnered from their years of experience in dealing with Muslims from all walks of life; and the seventh speaker offered a moving personal testimony to his own conversion from Islam to Christianity -- a decision which cost him his closest ties to his own family. In order to keep my report easier to follow, I shall divide it into two parts. I will first discuss those speakers who gave analytical and historical critiques of Islam, and then cover those who offered pragmatic advice in the second part.

Dr. William Lane Craig, a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology (La Mirada, California), and also a Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptists University, opened the Conference on Thursday evening with a talk on "The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity." He explained that he had been interacting with Islam, both academically and in debates with leading Muslim advocates, for over thirty years. In that time, he learned how to address the issue of the God that each religion worships. We should not ask: "Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?", because that approach gets tied up in differences over terminology and semantics. A more useful inquiry is: "What is the concept of 'God' in Islam, and in Christianity? Are they the same? And if not, which one is true?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted February 4, 2016 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. William Lane Craig of Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California, opened the conference speaking about the concept of God in Islam and Christianity. Noting that the question “do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” had recently been in the news, Craig instead sought to examine what each faith understood about who God is. The God of Islam, Craig determined, was deficient in the Christian view because he lacked the ability to love those who did not love him in return. Effectively, a God who loves sinners and a God incapable of loving sinners – indeed, even declared their enemy in verses of the Qur’an – were at their core sharply different.

Speakers encouraged participants to be relational in their interactions with Muslims, seeing them not as adversaries in an argument, but as people who might consider Christ by witnessing genuine love in the church.

“We have our own opportunities but we stay in our own clubs,” observed Lebanese-born pastor Fouad Masri about how few Muslims in the U.S. are invited into Christian homes. “Our job is to share — God makes people Christians, not us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyApologeticsChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I write this article after having completed the first week of the Institute. If possible, it has already exceeded my expectations. Several things have especially stood out to me this first week.

First, the Beauty of Christ’s Global Body. Upon meeting my fellow participants the first day, I was surprised to discover that we had many mutual friends from places like India, South Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, etc. This was especially surprising in light of the fact that as a young priest I haven’t lived very long, haven’t traveled very far, and haven’t had a whole lot of life experience. In short, this instant connectedness was not about me but was simply a beautiful testament to how Christ’s body has grown—from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth—and to how the spiritual unity we have in Christ is being made visible by advances in modern technology.
Stemming from this unity, the fellowship has been both rich and challenging. With regards to the richness, one cannot hear eyewitness stories of martyrdom and persecution without being touched in the deep places of one’s soul and inspired to follow Christ more faithfully in one’s own walk (Heb. 11). Many of the participants have tread the path of persecution, and as a Westerner, their stories put my own ministry challenges in healthy and humbling perspective.

On the other hand, the diversity of the fellowship has challenged us to wrestle honestly with the unique cultural lenses we bring to ministry. Whether we’re asking questions after a lecture, breaking down a passage of scripture in a small-group preaching exercise, or analyzing a case study from mission field, it has been eye-opening to see just how pervasively our cultures influence our perspectives. Fortunately, as we wrestle honestly with these issues, our blinders begin to fall away, and we are able to more clearly see the pure and undiluted Gospel, in all of its glory.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 1, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



One of the greatest challenges for Christians at the dawn of the 21st century is the power and influence of Islam. As the world’s two great missionary religions, Christianity and Islam are often at odds with one another, and the tension can at times feel palpable. How are we as Christians to respond to the threat and challenge of this growing and energetic religion? What should be the Church’s reaction in light of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all men? What does the Apostle Paul mean when he reminds believers that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”? Join us this year at Mere Anglicanism as we explore “The Cross and the Crescent: The Gospel and the Challenge of Islam.”

You may find the schedule here and a list of speakers there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologyApologeticsChristologySeminary / Theological EducationThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted January 25, 2016 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted January 25, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Founded in 2004, in 2010 the diocese of Zonkwa had 81 congregations served by 31 priests and 12 catechists. Yesterday at Adult Sunday School I was able to ask Bishop Jacob Kwashi about the current numbers, which now are: 95 congregations served by 54 priests and 27 evangelists.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted January 25, 2016 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week the Primates of the Anglican Communion gathered in Canterbury for a week of prayer and discussion. You might well have been following the events in the media. I want to share some thoughts of my own here about what took place last week – which was without doubt one of the most extraordinary weeks I have ever experienced.

The first thing to say is that the week was completely rooted in prayer. The Community of St Anselm – the international young Christian community based at Lambeth Palace – took up residence in Canterbury Cathedral and prayed all day every day for the Primates as we talked together. As Primates we joined with all who gathered for Morning Prayer, Eucharist and Evensong in the Cathedral each day. And meanwhile thousands – perhaps millions – of Anglicans and others in the Christian family around the world prayed in churches and posted prayers on social media. I want to thank everyone who prayed last week. We felt it and we appreciated it deeply.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Commentary- Anglican: Primary Source-- Statements & Letters: PrimatesArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* TheologyChristologyEcclesiology

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Posted January 21, 2016 at 6:17 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many media reports at the time of Archbishop Welby’s announcement suggested that his intention was to replace the communion relationship of the provinces with a much looser federal relationship in which member churches relate to Canterbury, but not necessarily to one another. The various provinces, these reports claimed, would keep the name “Anglican” but without any attempt to maintain common discipline or doctrine. Such a radical reorientation of Anglican ecclesiology would be a considerable blow to Anglican-Catholic ecumenical relations which have been predicated on the basis of a shared communion ecclesiology. However, Lambeth Palace has strongly rebutted such claims, insisting that no such abandonment of its Communion structures is intended, but rather the aim is to strengthen those structures by reappraising them and encouraging those who are currently disenfranchised to find their voice and be unafraid to offer critique.

At time of writing, the Primates’ Meeting has not yet concluded, however it is possible to make a few observations about the meeting. Firstly, Archbishop Welby has always maintained that he wants the Primates as a group to call the next Lambeth Conference, the ten-yearly meeting of all Anglican Bishops from around the world. All the indications are that the next Lambeth Conference will be announced, though mostly likely scheduled for 2020 rather than 2018, and this announcement in itself will be a strong signal of the primates’ continued desire to work for the unity of the Communion.

Secondly, while the Archbishop cannot sanction the North American provinces, he will be working strenuously to deepen the bonds of communion with those provinces which have been most scandalised by their recent decisions. The strongest protest to the North American provinces comes from those affiliated to GAFCon, a grouping that takes its name from the Global Anglican Future Conference held in Jerusalem immediately before the last Lambeth Conference in 2008. A number of the primates who will attend the January 2016 meeting are members of GAFCon, and claim to represent the majority of the world’s Anglicans. One GAFCon primate, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda has already warned that he will not continue to participate in the meetings unless “godly order” is restored. GAFCon claims not to be in communion with the Anglican provinces of North America, supporting instead a breakaway group called the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). In a strong indication of Archbishop Welby’s intention to reach out to GAFCon, he has invited ACNA’s Archbishop, the Rt Rev Foley Beach, to attend some of the Primates’ Meeting as an observer. Moreover, the Archbishop has worked hard at establishing strong personal relationships with many of these primates, which he hopes will help to avoid a rift.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.

The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement's momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.
How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Listen to it all and ponder well the words.

Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are
We long to feel Thy touch
Deep wounded souls to Thee we fly
O Savior hear our cry

1. Our faith is feeble, we confess
We faintly trust Thy word
But will You pity us the less?
Be that far from You Lord!

2. Remember him who once applied
With trembling for relief
“Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried
“O help my unbelief!"

3. She, too, who touched you in the press
And healing virtue stole
Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace
Thy faith has made thee whole.”

4. Like her, with hopes and fears we come
To touch You if we may
O send us not despairing home
Send none unhealed away

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 15, 2016 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have clearly fallen on the evil times prophesied by the Apostle; for nowadays teachers are sought after who preach not God but a creature And men are more zealous for what they themselves desire, than for what the sound faith teaches. So far have their itching ears stirred them to listen to what they desire, that for the moment that preaching alone rules among their crowd of doctors which estranges the Only-begotten God from the power and nature of God the Father, and makes Him in our faith either a God of the second order, or not a God at all; in either case a damning profession of impiety, whether one profess two Gods by making different grades of divinity; or else deny divinity altogether to Him Who drew His nature by birth from God. Such doctrines please those whose ears are estranged from the hearing of the truth and turned to fables, while the hearing of this our sound faith is not endured, and is driven bodily into exile with its preachers.

But though many may heap up teachers according to their desires, and banish sound doctrine, yet from the company of the Saints the preaching of truth can never be exiled. From our exile we shall speak by these our writings, and the Word of God which cannot be bound will run unhindered, warning us of this time which the Apostle prophesied. For when men shew themselves impatient of the true message, and heap up teachers according to their own human desires, we can no longer doubt about the times, but know that while the preachers of sound doctrine are banished truth is banished too. We do not complain of the times: we rejoice rather, that iniquity has revealed itself in this our exile, when, unable to endure the truth, it banishes the preachers of sound doctrine, that it may heap up for itself teachers after its own desires. We glory in our exile, and rejoice in the Lord that in our person the Apostle’s prophecy should be fulfilled.
--Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, X

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted January 13, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanyParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 12, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst sit lowly in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions: Give unto thy servants that humility of heart, and willingness to learn, without which no man can find wisdom; to the glory of thy holy Name.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 12, 2016 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let us now return to the exposition of the Gospel, where we previously left it. The astronomers went into the place where the child was staying, and found him with his mother. Then with prostrate bodies they worshipped Christ, and opened their coffers, and offered to him threefold gifts, gold, and incense, and myrrh. Gold is fitting for a king; incense belongs to God's service; with myrrh the bodies of the dead are prepared that they may not soon rot. These three astronomers worshipped Christ, and offered to him symbolic gifts. The gold betokened that he is true King; the incense that he is true God; the myrrh that he was then mortal, though now he continues immortal in eternity...

My brothers, let us offer to our Lord gold, for we confess that he is true King, and rules everywhere. Let us offer to him incense, for we believe that he was always God, who at that time appeared as a man. Let us bring him myrrh, for we believe that he was mortal in our flesh, who is incapable of suffering in his divine nature. He was mortal in human nature before his Passion, but he is henceforth immortal, as we all shall be after the universal resurrection.

We have spoken of these threefold gifts, how they apply to Christ. We also wish to say how they apply to us in a figurative sense. Truly gold betokens wisdom; as Solomon said, "A goldhoard much to be desired lies in the mouth of a wise man." Incense represents holy prayer, of which the psalmist sang, "Lord, let my prayer be sent forth like burning incense in thy sight." By myrrh is shown the mortality of our flesh, of which Holy Church says, "My hands dropped myrrh." To the born King we bring gold, if we are shining in his sight with the brightness of heavenly wisdom. Incense we bring him, if we set fire to our thoughts on the altar of our heart with the eagerness of holy prayers, so that through heavenly desire we may give forth something of a sweet smell. Myrrh we offer him if we quell the lusts of the flesh by self-restraint.

Read it all (and note the link to the full sermon text).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanyParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 6, 2016 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...that this star was not of the common sort, or rather not a star at all, as it seems at least to me, but some invisible power transformed into this appearance, is in the first place evident from its very course. For there is not, there is not any star that moves by this way, but whether it be the sun you mention, or the moon, or all the other stars, we see them going from east to west; but this was wafted from north to south; for so is Palestine situated with respect to Persia.

In the second place, one may see this from the time also. For it appears not in the night, but in mid-day, while the sun is shining; and this is not within the power of a star, nay not of the moon; for the moon that so much surpasses all, when the beams of the sun appear, straightway hides herself, and vanishes away. But this by the excess of its own splendor overcame even the beams of the sun, appearing brighter than they, and in so much light shining out more illustriously.

...[Later in the narrative] it did not, remaining on high, point out the place; it not being possible for them so to ascertain it, but it came down and performed this office. For ye know that a spot of so small dimensions, being only as much as a shed would occupy, or rather as much as the body of a little infant would take up, could not possibly be marked out by a star. For by reason of its immense height, it could not sufficiently distinguish so confined a spot, and discover it to them that were desiring to see it. And this any one may see by the moon, which being so far superior to the stars, seems to all that dwell in the world, and are scattered over so great an extent of earth,—seems, I say, near to them every one. How then, tell me, did the star point out a spot so confined, just the space of a manger and shed, unless it left that height and came down, and stood over the very head of the young child? And at this the evangelist was hinting when he said, “Lo, the star went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphany* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 6, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Listen to and ponder it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphany* Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 6, 2016 at 5:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sickness relieved is a beautiful thing. A heart attack treated takes the elephant off the chest and leaves a smile. A child made well, a broken bone splinted, a wound closed, a tooth numbed, an abscess opened are among the reasons that physicians, at least at first, decide to walk among the sick.

However, we poor doctors, with our paltry degrees and bags of tricks, can only do a little. We merely treat the symptoms. He treated the disease. He brought an end to it all with his birth, death and resurrection. No more sin, no more death. He offered every patient the cure, free of charge, with no need for insurance or cash.

How it must feel to be him! Not to cure the broken bones, but to offer healing to the broken hearts. Not to excise the tumor, but to remove the guilt. Not to bypass the heart, but to replace it with a new one.

At Christmas, we celebrate the child. How blessed we are that he walked among us, knew our every disease, then grew up to become the only physician qualified to heal us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted January 5, 2016 at 4:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Interesting fodder for the season here.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 5, 2016 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CHORUS

Come we shepherds whose blest sight
Hath met love's noon in nature's night;
Come lift we up our loftier song
And wake the sun that lies too long.

To all our world of well-stol'n joy
He slept, and dreamt of no such thing,
While we found out heav'n's fairer eye,
And kiss'd the cradle of our King.
Tell him he rises now too late
To show us aught worth looking at.

Tell him we now can show him more
Than he e'er show'd to mortal sight,
Than he himself e'er saw before,
Which to be seen needs not his light.
Tell him, Tityrus, where th' hast been;
Tell him, Thyrsis, what th' hast seen.

TITYRUS

Gloomy night embrac'd the place
Where the Noble Infant lay;
The Babe look'd up and show'd his face,
In spite of darkness, it was day.
It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
CHORUS

It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
THYRSIS

Winter chid aloud, and sent
The angry North to wage his wars;
The North forgot his fierce intent,
And left perfumes instead of scars.
By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
CHORUS

By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
Young dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east
And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
We saw thee by thine own sweet light.
TITYRUS

Poor World, said I, what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow,
A cold, and not too cleanly, manger?
Contend, ye powers of heav'n and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
CHORUS

Contend, ye powers of heav'n and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
THYRSIS

Proud World, said I, cease your contest,
And let the Mighty Babe alone;
The ph{oe}nix builds the ph{oe}nix' nest,
Love's architecture is his own;
The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.
CHORUS

The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.
TITYRUS

I saw the curl'd drops, soft and slow,
Come hovering o'er the place's head,
Off'ring their whitest sheets of snow
To furnish the fair Infant's bed.
Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
CHORUS

Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
THYRSIS

I saw the obsequious Seraphims
Their rosy fleece of fire bestow;
For well they now can spare their wings,
Since Heav'n itself lies here below.
Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?
CHORUS

Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?
TITYRUS

No no, your King's not yet to seek
Where to repose his royal head;
See see, how soon his new-bloom'd cheek
'Twixt's mother's breasts is gone to bed.
Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
CHORUS

Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
Bright dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east,
And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
CHORUS

We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
FULL CHORUS

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav'n to earth.

Welcome; though nor to gold nor silk,
To more than C{ae}sar's birthright is;
Two sister seas of virgin-milk,
With many a rarely temper'd kiss,
That breathes at once both maid and mother,
Warms in the one, cools in the other.

Welcome, though not to those gay flies
Gilded i' th' beams of earthly kings,
Slippery souls in smiling eyes;
But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
Whose wealth's their flock, whose wit, to be
Well read in their simplicity.

Yet when young April's husband-show'rs
Shall bless the fruitful Maia's bed,
We'll bring the first-born of her flow'rs
To kiss thy feet and crown thy head.
To thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
The shepherds more than they the sheep.

To thee, meek Majesty! soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves,
Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves;
Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

--Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since God was in the business of re-starting creation in the sending of his Son, might we not expect him to create “out of nothing” the second time, just as he did the first? Karl Barth, the greatest theologian of the 20th Century, thought so. Just as the Spirit brooded over creation the first time, so again in the birth of Jesus the Spirit “brooded” over the virgin Mary. Also, just as creation was totally initiated by God the first time, so creation (the second time, in Jesus) gets to be totally initiated by God. The Virgin Birth tells us that Jesus was not born “of the will of man”, but wholly of the Father’s initiative. God chose to by-pass the normal male role in the work of redemption, in part, so the logic goes, to signal his own headship. “Man as a creating, controlling, self-assertive, self-glorifying being was set aside in favor of a woman who listened, received, and served.” (From, A Step Further, by the author)

We honor the Virgin Birth, of course, because Scripture teaches it. But we can also see the logic behind it. God’s sovereign action is a challenge to the human psychological need to contribute to our own salvation, to be co-creators with God. Mary is a witness against the drive, push, and self-assertion that men especially (though not exclusively) associate with a healthy self-image and by which men often mask their own impotence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 5, 2016 at 2:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, argues that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” Well said, and well believed.

Nicholas Kristof and his secularist friends may find belief in the Virgin Birth to be evidence of intellectual backwardness among American Christians. But this is the faith of the Church, established in God’s perfect Word, and cherished by the true Church throughout the ages. Kristof’s grandfather, we are told, believed that the Virgin Birth is a “pious legend.” The fact that he could hold such beliefs and serve as an elder in his church is evidence of that church’s doctrinal and spiritual laxity — or worse. Those who deny the Virgin Birth affirm other doctrines only by force of whim, for they have already surrendered the authority of Scripture. They have undermined Christ’s nature and nullified the incarnation.

This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ — the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 5, 2016 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recently retired theologian in Van­couver, British Columbia, tells a story about a conversation he once had while getting his hair cut. The stylist asked what he did, and he replied, “I teach theology.”

“Really? You believe in God?”

“I do. And the strangest thing I believe about God is that he became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.”

“Who’s that?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 5, 2016 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And lastly, He is given us in premium; not now to be seen, only in hope, but hereafter by His blessed fruition to be our final reward when where He is we shall be,O and what He is we shall be; in the same place, and in the same state of glory, joy, and bliss, to endure for evermore.

At His first coming, you see what He had on His shoulders.At His second coming He shall not come empty, Ecce venio, Lo, I come, and My reward with Me; that is a kingdom on His shoulders. And it is no light matter; but, as St. Paul calleth it, an everlasting weight of glory. Glory, not like ours here feather-glory, but true; that hath weight and substance in it, and that not transitory and soon gone, but everlasting, to continue to all eternity, never to have an end. This is our state in expectancy. St. Augustine put all four together, so will I, and conclude; Sequamur 1. exemplum; offeramus 2. pretium; sumamus 3. viaticum; expectemus 4. premium; Let us follow Him for our pattern, offer Him for our price, receive Him for our sacramental food, and wait for Him as our endless and exceeding great reward.

--From a Christmas sermon in 1606.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....one could learn a great deal from the question, “What do you hope to get for Christmas?” For if you know our hopes, you fairly well know us. If you want to know who a person really is, and plans to be, inquire into what that person is hoping for.

What are you hoping for?

I expect that is what most of us think religion is about, the fulfillment of our hopes. We hope to find peace in our anxious lives. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping that the music of the hymns, the words of scripture and preaching may fill us with a sense of peace.

We hope for thoughtful, reflective lives. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping for an interesting sermon, something that will help us to use our minds, something that will test our intellects, make us think about things in a way we haven’t thought before.....

The trouble is that the Gospels seem to engage in a continual debate with people’s hopes and expectations. Jesus came, light into our darkness. But the problem with Jesus was he was not the sort of light that we expected. That is where the trouble started. Jesus was the hope of the world. But he was not the hope for which the world was hoping!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 4:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Whatever the coming of the kingdom means, it cannot mean that the healing, reconciling, non-combative Christ we know was an imposter, just biding his time until he could beat down his enemies under his feet. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence. If we seek the kingdom by violence, then the violent will bear it away.

I don’t know why we would be disappointed to discover that Christ comes again as he came the first time—working through small things, not big things, among little people, not powerful people, with local effect, not cosmic effect—except that we find great armies on thundering horses a more adequate display of power. I don’t know why we would be disappointed to discover that the kingdom of heaven operates under the sign of the cross just as the Coming One did, except that we have always been disappointed by God’s reluctance to give us the kind of world, the kind of life, the kind of savior we want.

“And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me,” he said, knowing better than anyone the disappointing, redemptive ways in which God works--sending a human child into the world instead of a mighty king, sending servants instead of troops--sending people like you and me instead of real disciples to do the work of the Coming One until he comes, for in just this way the kingdom of heaven draws very, very near.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are three ways we can make Christmas Eve if not perfect then at least good. These come down to us from the pages of the Bible.

First, a good Christmas Eve is when God’s Savior is received. Hear the words of the Angelic messenger: “Do not be afraid.” Though sin, guilt and shame lurk in the closets and storage rooms of our lives, though insecurities and imperfections are at every turn, and debts and failures abound—“…unto you is born a Savior….” The One born in Bethlehem, who lived a perfect life in obedience to his Father dying a shameful death bearing the sins of the world, and rose from the tomb in the power of the Spirit, is alive today. He speaks a word to each of us: “Behold I stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears my voice I will come into him and sup with him and he with me.” When we open to him, accepting his forgiveness, his perfection is draped over us and our true dignity is restored. In the words of a famous carol, “When charity stands watching/and faith holds wide the door/the dark night wakes, the glory breaks/and Christmas comes once more.”....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* South Carolina* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Berliner and longtime member of St. Mary's church choir, Christian Beier attempts to explain the mystique and tradition behind this piece of music....

"It makes Christmas Christmas," he adds with a chuckle.

But as gorgeous as the music is for Beier, the core of this yearly event is something deeper.

"It is getting into some dialogue with God. It is being moved by whatever is around us," he says.

Read or listen to it all (audio for this highly encouraged).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMusic* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is only one God, brethren, and we learn about him only from sacred Scripture. It is therefore our duty to become acquainted with what Scripture proclaims and to investigate its teachings thoroughly. We should believe them in the sense that the Father wills, thinking of the Son in the way the Father wills, and accepting the teaching he wills to give us with regard to the Holy Spirit. Sacred Scripture is God's gift to us and it should be understood in the way that he intends: we should not do violence to it by interpreting it according to our own preconceived ideas.

God was all alone and nothing existed but himself when he determined to create the world. He thought of it, willed it, spoke the word and so made it. It came into being instantaneously, exactly as he had willed. It is enough then for us to be aware of a single fact: nothing is coeternal with God. Apart from God there was simply nothing else. Yet although he was alone, he was manifold because he lacked neither reason, wisdom, power, nor counsel. All things were in him and he himself was all. At a moment of his own choosing and in a manner determined by himself, God manifested his Word, and through him he made the whole universe.

When the Word was hidden within God himself he was invisible to the created world, but God made him visible. First God gave utterance to his voice, engendering light from light, and then he sent his own mind into the world as its Lord. Visible before to God alone and not to the world, God made him visible so that the world could be saved by seeing him. This mind that entered our world was made known as the Son of God. All things came into being through him; but he alone is begotten by the Father.

The Son gave us the law and the prophets, and he filled the prophets with the Holy Spirit to compel them to speak out. Inspired by the Father's power, they were to proclaim the Father's purpose and his will.

So the Word was made manifest, as Saint John declares when, summing up all the sayings of the prophets, he announces that this is the Word through whom the whole universe was made. He says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things came into being; not one thing was created without him. And further on he adds: The world was made through him, and yet the world did not know him. He entered his own creation, and his own did not receive him.

--from St. Hippolytus’ treatise against the heresy of Noetus

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Large claims have been made for a small baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger: according to Saint John he is the “Word of God made flesh”, who “dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten [Son] of the Father, full of grace and truth”. The Jews were familiar with ‘the Word of God’ - the Word that was spoken in the beginning, by which the world was made; the Word spoken to the fathers by the prophets, and the Word that was written in the Scriptures. But when John says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, he is not only saying that Jesus spoke the Word of God, like any prophet, but that he himself was the Word of God. Anyone can bring a message: but to be the message? That’s harder!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One Sunday, having waded through a call for volunteers, I said, “You know, I should probably say this every Sunday, but if you’ve come here this morning feeling brokenhearted or anxious about something, don’t leave without talking to one of the pastors about it. That’s why we have coffee hour—to get to know each other well enough so that when things fall apart we can share what we’re going through. Talking to you is what we’re here for.”

So I had no one to blame but myself when the first person out the door skipped the pleasantries and came straight out with it. “I get the God part,” he said; “I just can’t get the Jesus part.” That was it. No worries about a husband showing signs of dementia, a brother’s divorce, or a whistle-blowing scenario at work. He was saying that the biggest issue in his life—something he was desperate to talk to someone about—was . . . God. So I said the first thing that came into my head. “I think Jesus is God saying, ‘I’m not far away and long ago and theoretical; I’m here and now and in your face.’ Do you want a God who’s a nice idea, or a God who’s about everything now and forever?” He said, “The everything God.” I said, “Well then I think you do get the Jesus part.” Then he left. Maybe I’ll never know if he wanted my answer or would have preferred a listening ear.

More worshipers came through the line. Then the last person out the door, who’d clearly made sure he was the last person, said (and I’m not making this up), “I get the Jesus part. I just can’t get the God part.” I was even more dumbfounded than the first time. To meet one person in the heart searchings of faith might be a wonder; to get two made me think that they had a bet and were pulling my leg. But this man was genuine. He had hung back for a real sit-down conversation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted January 4, 2016 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God's smile.

In one of her writings, we read: "We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him" (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks.

--Pope Benedict XVI (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted January 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The plain meaning therefore is, that the Speech begotten by God before all ages, and who always dwelt with the Father, was made man. On this article there are two things chiefly to be observed. The first is, that two natures were so united in one Person in Christ, that one and the same Christ is true God and true man. The second is, that the unity of person does not hinder the two natures from remaining distinct, so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to itself, and his humanity holds separately whatever belongs to it. And, therefore, as Satan has made a variety of foolish attempts to overturn sound doctrine by heretics, he has always brought forward one or another of these two errors; either that he was the Son of God and the Son of man in so confused a manner, that neither his Divinity remained entire, nor did he wear the true nature of man; or that he was clothed with flesh, so as to be as it were double, and to have two separate persons.

--John Calvin (1509-1564)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 3, 2016 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the object of divine action in the Incarnation is man. God’s free decision is and remains a gracious decision; God becomes man, the Word becomes flesh. The Incarnation means no apparent reserved, but a real and complete descent of God. God actually became what we are, in order actually to exist with us, actually to exist for us, in thus becoming and being human, not to do what we do-sin; and to do what we fail to do–God’s, His own, will; and so actually, in our place, in our situation and position to be the new man. It is not in His eternal majesty–in which He is and remains hidden from us–but as this new man and therefore the Word in the flesh, that God’s Son is God’s revelation to us and our reconciliation with God. Just for that reason faith cannot look past His humanity, the cradle of Bethlelhem and the cross of Golgotha in order to see Him in His divinity, Faith in the eternal Word of the Father is faith in Jesus of Nazareth or it is not the Christian faith.

--Karl Barth (1886-1968)


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted January 3, 2016 at 2:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surpris’d I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
“Alas!” quoth he, “but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.”
With this he vanish’d out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.

--Robert Southwell (1561–1595)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

..the [New Testament] birth stories have become a test case in various controversies. If you believe in miracles, you believe in Jesus' miraculous birth; if you don't, you don't. Both sides turn the question into a shibboleth, not for its own sake but to find out who's in and who's out.

The problem is that "miracle," as used in these controversies, is not a biblical category. The God of the Bible is not a normally absent God who sometimes "intervenes." This God is always present and active, often surprisingly so.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 2, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And even because this day He took not the angels' nature upon Him, but took our nature in "the seed of Abraham," therefore hold we this day as a high feast; therefore meet we thus every year in a holy assembly, upon us a dignity which upon the angels He bestowed not. That He, as in the chapter before the Apostle setteth Him forth, That is, "the brightness of His Father's glory, the very character of His substance, the Heir of all things, by Whom He made the world;" He, when both needed it His taking upon Him their nature and both stood before Him, men and Angels, "the Angels He took not," but men "He took;" was made Man, was not made an Angel; that is, did more for them than He did for the Angels of Heaven.

Elsewhere the Apostle doth deliver this very point positively, and that, not without some vehemency; "Without all question great is the mystery of godliness: God is manifested in the flesh." Which is in effect the same that is here said, but that here it is delivered by way of comparison; for this speech is evidently a comparison. If he had thus set it down, "Our nature He took," that had been positive; but setting it down thus, "Ours He took, the Angels He took not," it is certainly comparative.

...Now the masters of speech tell us that there is power in the positive if it be given forth with an earnest asseveration, but nothing to that that is in the comparative. It is nothing so full to say, "I will never forget you," as thus to say it; "Can a mother forget the child of her own womb? Well, if she can, yet will not I forget you." Nothing so forcible to say thus, "I will hold my word with you," as thus, "Heaven and earth shall pass, but My word shall not pass." The comparative expressing is without all question more significant; and this here is such. Theirs, the Angels, nusquam, "at no hand He took, but ours He did.

--From a Christmas sermon in 1605.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 31, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It will be a century this coming summer that the great Protestant theologian Karl Barth began his revolutionary commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. A quiet and studious man of simple tastes, Barth was an unlikely revolutionary. He listened to Mozart, smoked his pipe and read the paper: “Theology is done with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other,” he said. But mostly he sat and wrote. His Church Dogmatics is more than six million words. And no, I haven’t read it all. But his considerably shorter Epistle to the Romans, written earlier, was the decisive turning point in 20th-century theology. It was a book that dropped a bomb on the comfortable assumptions of German liberal thought. And it’s a bomb that needs dropping again – but this time much closer to home.


Barth’s target was the sort of theology offered by his tutor, Adolf von Harnack. For the universally admired Harnack, Christianity was a religion of inner morality – of good people, in their local congregations, who sought nothing more than personal transformation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeGermany* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can bring it so neare; but onely the worthy hearer, and the worthy receiver, can call this Lord this Jesus, this Christ, Immanuel God with us; onely that virgin soule, devirginated in the blood of Adam but restored in the blood of the Lambe hath this Ecce, this testimony, this assurance, that God is with him; they that have this Ecce, this testimony, in a rectified conscience, are Godfathers to this child Jesus and may call him Immanuel God with us for as no man can deceive God, so God can deceive no man; God cannot live in the darke himself neither can he leave those who are his in the darke: If he be with thee he will make thee see that he is with thee and never goe out of thy sight, till he have brought thee, where thou canst never goe out of his.
--John Donne (1572-1631), Preached at St. Pauls, upon Christmas Day, in the Evening, 1624


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 31, 2015 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s tough to be on the receiving end of love, God’s or anybody else’s. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts. "Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace," wrote John Wesley a long time ago.

Among the most familiar Christmas texts is the one in Isaiah: "The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (7:14) Less familiar is its context: Isaiah has been pleading with King Ahaz to put his trust in God’s promise to Israel rather than in alliances with strong military powers like Syria. "If you will not believe, you shall not be established," Isaiah warns Ahaz (7:9). Then the prophet tells the fearful king that God is going to give him a baby as a sign. A baby. Isn’t that just like God, Ahaz must have thought. What Ahaz needed, with Assyria breathing down his neck, was a good army, not a baby.

This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving a little, of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The purpose of religious language…is to evoke an attitude...”

You may need to enlarge the page to see it better; I sure did; KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s apply the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world — but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

Christmas is so familiar that we sometimes wonder whether anything fresh and true can be said about it.

But there is a way to explore its meaning that may seem new to us today, yet is in fact quite traditional, dating back to the Middle Ages and the ancient Fathers of the Church.

Modern interpreters often argue about whether a given Scripture passage should be interpreted literally or symbolically. Medieval writers would question the “either/or” approach. They thought a passage could have as many as four “right” interpretations, one literal and three symbolic.

These were: (1) the historical or literal, which is the primary sense on which the others all depend; (2) the prophetic sense when an Old Testament event foreshadows its New Testament fulfillment; (3) the moral or spiritual sense, when events and characters in a story correspond to elements in our own lives; and (4) the eschatological sense, when a scene on earth foreshadows something of heavenly glory.

This symbolism is legitimate because it doesn’t detract from the historical, literal sense, but builds on and expands it. It’s based on the theologically sound premise that history too symbolizes, or points beyond itself, for God wrote three books, not just one: nature and history as well as Scripture. The story of history is composed not only of “events,” but of words, signs and symbols. This is unfamiliar to us only because we have lost a sense of depth and exchanged it for a flat, one-dimensional, “bottom-line” mentality in which everything means only one thing.

Let’s try to recapture the riches of this lost worldview by applying the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world — but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.

--Martin Luther


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is all well and good for people to remember Jesus Christ during Christmas to celebrate His birth.

However, American evangelist Billy Graham believes it is very important to honour the Saviour not just once a year but every day throughout the year.

"Just as we celebrate our children's birthdays every year, I believe it's entirely appropriate for us to celebrate the birth of God's own son, Jesus Christ, every year. Why not join every year with the shepherds on that first Christmas, 'glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen' (Luke 2:20)?" he writes on his advice column for the Kansas City Star.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...by faith we know that God wants to share the communion of his trinitarian life with us. In other words, he wants to make us his sons and daughters—in short, as the Christian tradition has not hesitated to say, his intimate friends. How better to accomplish this than by becoming one of us. While a shared human nature is fundamental to our relationships with others, it is only with particular human beings that we can have such relationships. Even a generous love for mankind as a whole is no substitute for knowing and loving particular people whom we can see, hear, address, touch, hold, and kiss. These people have names, they live somewhere, they have ethnic and social backgrounds, and so on. To bring us into the communion of trinitarian life, God first enters into the round of human existence and thus, as Aquinas loved to say, he adapts his action to our nature. He even has a mother whose “hand leaves his light / Sifted to suit our sight” (G. M. Hopkins). At the same time, God adapts our nature to his. “A Boy is born in Bethlehem,” we sing, “Wherefore rejoice Jerusalem / The Father’s Word on high doth take / A mortal form for mortals’ sake / … He took our flesh, to man akin / In all things like us, save in sin / That he might make our mortal race, Alleluia / Like God and like himself by grace, Alleluia, alleluia” (“Puer Natus Est in Bethlehem”). How could we share in the communion of trinitarian life if we were not made sharers—“partakers”—of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4)? Listen to St. Athanasius: “the Son of God became man so that we might become God”.

Read it all.

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Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly here or download the MP3 there. Note carefully the Richard Dawkins reference.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of our traditions on the hike is that we hand out Bible verses for reflection. They are drawn randomly, and, for the most part, each man pulls a different verse. The verse I drew was from Luke 9:18-20, Peter’s confession of Christ:

And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Now, I’ve done this enough to know that you can’t draw the wrong verse; somehow God just always gives each man the verse he needs. Nevertheless, when I drew this verse, I thought, perhaps smugly, “That’s strange. This verse should have been given to someone who is considering Christianity. I’m the priest—I know who Jesus is.”

I hadn’t hiked fifty yards before the weight of this verse hit me with far more force than it ever hit me as a new Christian many years ago. My whole career is about who others say he is. I spend lots of time and energy making sure my sermons, classes, and writings are theologically precise so that others may have the right answer about who Jesus is.

But what about me? Who do I say that he is?

Read it all.

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Posted December 29, 2015 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.

The Angels sing!

The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!

The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!

The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side the Sun of Justice.

And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God.

This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.

And behold,

Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;


And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.

Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ.

For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing:

Glory to God in the Highest; and with the shepherds:
and on earth peace to men of good will


--From Antioch in 386 A.D.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's always nice to learn something new. I was talking to some Lebanese students in London recently. They were looking forward to returning home for Christmas, and celebrating this great feast in traditional Lebanese style. In the West, we think of Christ lying in a manger in a stable. In Lebanon, I was told, Christians depict the nativity as taking place in a cave. The reasons for this are lost in the mists of time. Yet the image of Jesus being born in a cave is rich and suggestive.

As we reflect on what Christmas means for billions of Christians across the world, this image can help us unlock some of its themes, and help us understand why it is seen as being so significant....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 28, 2015 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A crucial event for the church’s confession of the doctrine of the Incarnation came at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D.451), when the church countered both the Nestorian idea that Jesus was two personalities—the Son of God and a man—under one skin, and the Eutychian idea that Jesus’ divinity had swallowed up his humanity. Rejecting both, the council affirmed that Jesus is one divine-human person in two natures (i.e., with two sets of capacities for experience, expression, reaction, and action); and that the two natures are united in his personal being without mixture, confusion, separation, or division; and that each nature retained its own attributes. In other words, all the qualities and powers that are in us, as well as all the qualities and powers that are in God, were, are, and ever will be really and distinguishably present in the one person of the man from Galilee. Thus the Chalcedonian formula affirms the full humanity of the Lord from heaven in categorical terms.

The Incarnation, this mysterious miracle at the heart of historic Christianity, is central in the New Testament witness. That Jews should ever have come to such a belief is amazing. Eight of the nine New Testament writers, like Jesus’ original disciples, were Jews, drilled in the Jewish axiom that there is only one God and that no human is divine. They all teach, however, that Jesus is God’s Messiah, the Spirit-anointed son of David promised in the Old Testament (e.g., Isa. 11:1-5; Christos, “Christ,” is Greek for Messiah). They all present him in a threefold role as teacher, sin-bearer, and ruler—prophet, priest, and king. And in other words, they all insist that Jesus the Messiah should be personally worshiped and trusted—which is to say that he is God no less than he is man. Observe how the four most masterful New Testament theologians (John, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and Peter) speak to this.

John’s Gospel frames its eyewitness narratives (John 1:14; 19:35; 21:24) with the declarations of its prologue (1:1-18): that Jesus is the eternal divine Logos (Word), agent of Creation and source of all life and light (vv. 1-5, 9), who through becoming “flesh” was revealed as Son of God and source of grace and truth, indeed as “God the only begotten” (vv. 14, 18; NIV text notes). The Gospel is punctuated with “I am” statements that have special significance because I am (Greek: ego eimi) was used to render God’s name in the Greek translation of Exodus 3:14; whenever John reports Jesus as saying ego eimi, a claim to deity is implicit. Examples of this are John 8:28, 58, and the seven declarations of his grace as (a) the Bread of Life, giving spiritual food (6:35, 48, 51); (b) the Light of the World, banishing darkness (8:12; 9:5); (c) the gate for the sheep, giving access to God (10:7, 9); (d) the Good Shepherd, protecting from peril (10:11, 14); (e) the Resurrection and Life, overcoming our death (11:25); (f) the Way, Truth, and Life, guiding to fellowship with the Father (14:6); (g) the true Vine, nurturing for fruitfulness (15:1, 5). Climactically, Thomas worships Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (20:28). Jesus then pronounces a blessing on all who share Thomas’s faith and John urges his readers to join their number (20:29-31).

--Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House, 2011), pp. 105-106

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Gospel is not that Jesus Christ comes to earth, tells us how to live, we live a good life and then God owes us blessing. The Gospel is that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died—so when we believe in Him, we live a life of grateful joy for Him. If these things didn’t happen, if they’re just parables, what you are saying is that if you try hard enough, God will accept you.

If Jesus didn’t come, the story of Christmas is one more moral paradigm to crush you. If Jesus didn’t come, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere around these Christmas stories that say we need to be sacrificing, we need to be humble, we need to be loving. All that will do is crush you into the ground. Because if it isn’t true that John saw Him, heard Him, felt Him, that Jesus really came to do these things, then Christmas is depressing.

First John 1:3 says, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son.” “Fellowship” means that if Jesus Christ has come, if Christmas is true, then we’ve got a basis for a personal relationship with God. God is no longer a remote idea or a force we cower before, but we can know Him personally. He’s become graspable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Jesus Christ. Offices.—He alone had to create a great people, elect, holy, and chosen; to lead, nourish, and bring it into the place of rest and holiness; to make it holy to God; to make it the temple of God; to reconcile it to, and save it from the wrath of God; to free it from the slavery of sin, which visibly reigns in man; to give laws to this people, and engrave these laws on their heart; to offer Himself to God for them, and sacrifice Himself for them; to be a victim without blemish, and Himself the sacrificer, having to offer Himself, His body, and His blood, and yet to offer bread and wine to God…


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This mediator must represent God to humankind, and humankind to God. He must have points of contact with both God and humanity, and yet be distinguishable from them both….the central Christian idea of the incarnation, which expresses the belief that Jesus is both God and man, divine and human, portrays Jesus as the perfect mediator between God and human beings. He, and he alone, is able to redeem us and reconcile us to God.

--"I Believe": Exploring the Apostles' Creed ( Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p.48

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
The Word of the Father, through which time was made, became flesh and made his birthday in time, and willed a single day for his human birth, he without whose divine permission no day rolls round. With the Father he precedes all the spaces of ages; born this day of a mother, he inserted himself into the courses of the years.The maker of man was made man [homo factus hominis factor]so thatthe ruler of the stars might suck at breasts,bread might hunger,the fountain might thirst,light might sleep,the way might be wearied by a journey,truth might be accused by false witnesses,the judge of the living and the dead might be judged by a mortal judge,justice might be condemned by the unjust,discipline might be beaten with whips,the cluster of grapes might be crowned with thorns,the foundation might be hung from a tree,strength might be weakened,health [salus] might be wounded,life might die.He suffered these and like indignities [indigna] for us so that he might free the unworthy [indignos]. He who did no evil suffered such great evils for our sakes, while we who deserved nothing good through him have received such great goods. For the sake of all this, he who was the Son of God before all the ages, without a beginning of days, deigned to be a son of man in the last days, and the One who was born, not made, of the Father was made in the mother whom he had made, so that he might exist here and now, made from the mother, from the woman who except for him would never ever herself have been able to exist."
(Sermon 191, 1; PL 38, 1010)

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Posted December 27, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us Acts 17:27 before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery—lest the creature should perish, and His Father's handiwork in men be spent for nought—He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling. And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father—doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord's body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.

--Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted December 27, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Preachers at Christmas often, and rightly, emphasize the lowliness of the Christ Child’s birth and its first annunciation to a gaggle of herders not highly esteemed by their countrymen. What St. Paul reminds us, in First Corinthians, is that this pattern of inversion – turning everything upside-down – continues throughout the public ministry of the Lord Jesus and reaches its dramatic climax in his death and resurrection.

Jesus doesn’t evangelize the principalities and powers (although they, too, are welcome to listen and learn): he goes to the outcasts, including lepers and prostitutes, to announce and embody a Kingdom in which Israel’s God is king, not just of the people of Israel, but of the whole world. The child “wrapped…in swaddling clothes and laid….in a manger” (Luke 2.7) will not establish God’s rule and kingdom by political cunning, or by a display of worldly wisdom, or by knocking emperors and procurators off their thrones or judgment-seats: he will reign from a different throne, an instrument of torture – the Cross. He will not be celebrated, like victorious Roman generals, with a “triumph,” a vast spectacle conducted in the capital of world empire: the signs of his “triumph” will be an empty tomb; the pierced hands and feet of a transfigured, glorified body that defies time and space; burning memories of a walk to Emmaus; a breakfast of grilled fish on the lakeshore; a commission to go and convert the world, issued to a group of nobodies.

It’s all inversion – all upside-down – all the way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 27, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The incarnation also reveals that the divine principle governing the universe is a radical commitment to the dignity and worth of every person, since we are created in the divine image.

But just as basic is the notion that we have value because God values us. Steve Hayner, a theologian who died earlier this year, illustrated this point to me when he observed that gold is valuable not because there is something about gold that is intrinsically of great worth but because someone values it. Similarly, human beings have worth because we are valued by God, who took on flesh, entered our world, and shared our experiences — love, joy, compassion and intimate friendships; anger, sorrow, suffering and tears. For Christians, God is not distant or detached; he is a God of wounds. All of this elevated the human experience and laid the groundwork for the ideas of individual dignity and inalienable rights.

In his book “A Brief History of Thought,” the secular humanist and French philosopher Luc Ferry writes that in contrast with the Greek understanding of humanity, “Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity — an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 26, 2015 at 6:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to St Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, Jesus could have chosen to hold on to the safety of heaven, and to cling on to his divine nature, without taking the risk of being born ‘in the form of a servant, in the likeness of us’. But he didn’t. He chose to become one of us and yet without our tendency towards selfishness and total disregard to what is true.

Jesus takes to the road. He is not put off – he comes alongside us in our sin and suffering, and through his birth, death, and resurrection, makes it possible for us to begin again.

Jesus is a light that shines in the darkness which no darkness can put out. Do you remember the cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailovic playing in the ruins of the city when it was under siege, encouraging hope even in the darkest times of the Bosnian conflict? What will it take to make us into a people who make the music of hope in a world of fear? At Christmas the coming of the Christ child brings that hope to birth in us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 26, 2015 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The message of Christmas for you from Christ this morning is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. The coming of the eternal Son of God into the world as the God-Man, Jesus Christ, is a fact of history. But thousands of Americans fill out Gallup Poll religious surveys that they believe this fact but then live just like everybody else. They have the same anxieties that good things will be lost and the same frustrations that crummy things can't be changed. Evidently there is not much power in giving right answers on religious surveys about historical facts.

That's because the coming of the Son of God into the world is so much more than a historical fact. It was a message of hope sent by God to teenagers and single parents and crabby husbands and sullen wives and overweight women and impotent men and retarded neighbors, and homosexuals and preachers and lovers and you. And since the Son of God lived, died, rose, reigns and is coming again, God's message through him is more than a historical fact. It is a Christmas gift to you this morning, December 25, 1983, from the voice of the living God. Thus says the Lord: the meaning of Christmas is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. The fears that the few good things that make you happy are slipping through your fingers, and the frustrations that the bad things you hate about yourself or your situation can't be changed -- these fears and these frustrations are what Christmas came to destroy. It is God's message of hope this morning that what is good need never be lost and what is bad can be changed.

There are many in our church family who because of age or sickness will inevitably ask themselves the question today: "Is this my last Christmas?" Life is good and precious and we don't want to lose it. We can talk all we want about the good things of life, but if we don't have life we don't have anything. "What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your life?" O, how precious is our life. If you don't feel it now, wait 'till you get very sick. Then you will know why Hezekiah wept bitterly with his terminal illness and pled for added years (2 Kings. 20:1-7). The message of Christmas to you who see your death on the horizon is that you need never lose your life. It is good to live. Your life is precious and can be saved.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One is very often asked at present whether we could not have a Christianity stripped, or, as people who asked it say, 'freed' from its miraculous elements, a Christianity with the miraculous elements suppressed. Now, it seems to me that precisely the one religion in the world, or, at least the only one I know, with which you could not do that is Christianity. In a religion like Buddhism, if you took away the miracles attributed to Gautama Buddha in some very late sources, there would be no loss; in fact, the religion would get on very much better without them because in that case the miracles largely contradict the teaching. Or even in the case of a religion like Mohammedanism, nothing essential would be altered if you took away the miracles. You could have a great prophet preaching his dogmas without bringing in any miracles; they are only in the nature of a digression, or illuminated capitals. But you cannot possibly do that with Christianity, because the Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there nothing specifically Christian left. There may be many admirable human things which Christianity shares with all other systems in the world, but there would be nothing specifically Christian. Conversely, once you have accepted that, then you will see that all other well-established Christian miracles--because, of course, there are ill-established Christian miracles; there are Christian legends just as much as there are heathen legends, or modern journalistic legends--you will see that all the well-established Christian miracles are part of it, that they all either prepare for, or exhibit, or result from the Incarnation. Just as every natural event exhibits the total character of the natural universe at a particular point and space of time; so every miracle exhibits the character of the Incarnation. Now, if one asks whether that central grand miracle in Christianity is itself probable or improbable, of course, quite clearly you cannot be applying Hume's kind of probability. You cannot mean a probability based on statistics according to which the more often a thing has happened, the more likely it is to happen again (the more often you get indigestion from eating a certain food, the more probable it is, if you eat it again, that you again have indigestion). Certainly the Incarnation cannot be probable in that sense. It is of its very nature to have happened only once. But then it is of the very nature of the history of this world to have happened only once; and if the Incarnation happened at all, it is the central chapter of that history. It is improbable in the same way in which the whole of nature is improbable, because it is only there once, and will happen only once.

--C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyApologeticsChristology

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Posted December 26, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

..[Jesus of Nazareth] was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be “like God”—he was God.

Now, this is not just a pious commonplace: it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—he [God] had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.
--Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company,1949), page 4 (with special thanks to blog reader and friend WW)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 26, 2015 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The shepherds were the poorest of the poor, out on cold hillsides day and night. They probably weren’t religious people. They certainly weren’t powerful, influential people. They were the butt of jokes, the object of contempt and the outsiders. They were unlikely to consider themselves on a journey in search of meaning and personal fulfilment.

Yet to them the angels flew, not for private experience but for public declaration. They told of a once-for-all event that shifted the entire world, the whole creation. This event wasn’t just to be observed from far off, it was close, inviting, a God-for-them apocalypse, an event in which they are invited to participate. And they did.

Today, across the Middle East, close to the area in which the angels announced God’s apocalypse, ISIS and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse, an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas, one which is igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression. Confident that these are the last days, using force and indescribable cruelty, they seem to welcome all opposition, certain that the warfare unleashed confirms that these are indeed the end times. They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began. This apocalypse is defined by themselves and heralded only by the angel of death.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 25, 2015 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.

--Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 25, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 25, 2015 at 10:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those who think the idea of the Crusade is one that spoils the idea of the Cross, we can only say that for them the idea of the Cross is spoiled; the idea of the cross is spoiled quite literally in the cradle. It is not here to the purpose to argue with them on the abstract ethics of fighting; the purpose in this place is merely to sum up the combination of ideas that make up the Christian and Catholic idea, and to note that all of them are already crystallised in the first Christmas story. They are three distinct and commonly contrasted things which are nevertheless one thing; but this is the only thing which can make them one.

The first is the human instinct for a heaven that shall be as literal and almost as local as a home. It is the idea pursued by all poets and pagans making myths; that a particular place must be the shrine of the god or the abode of the blest; that fairyland is a land; or that the return of the ghost must be the resurrection of the body. I do not here reason about the refusal of rationalism to satisfy this need. I only say that if the rationalists refuse to satisfy it, the pagans will not be satisfied. This is present in the story of Bethlehem and Jerusalem as it is present in the story of Delos and Delphi; and as it is not present in the whole universe of Lucretius or the whole universe of Herbert Spencer.

The second element is a philosophy larger than other philosophies; larger than that of Lucretius and infinitely larger than that of Herbert Spencer. It looks at the world through a hundred windows where the ancient stoic or the modern agnostic only looks through one. It sees life with thousands of eyes belonging to thousands of different sorts of people, where the other is only the individual standpoint of a stoic or an agnostic. It has something for all moods of man, it finds work for all kinds of men, it understands secrets of psychology, it is aware of depths of evil, it is able to distinguish between ideal and unreal marvels and miraculous exceptions, it trains itself in tact about hard cases, all with a multiplicity and subtlety and imagination about the varieties of life which is far beyond the bald or breezy platitudes of most ancient or modern moral philosophy. In a word, there is more in it; it finds more in existence to think about; it gets more out of life. Masses of this material about our many-sided life have been added since the time of St. Thomas Aquinas. But St. Thomas Aquinas alone would have found himself limited in the world of Confucius or of Comte.

And the third point is this; that while it is local enough for poetry and larger than any other philosophy, it is also a challenge and a fight. While it is deliberately broadened to embrace every aspect of truth, it is still stiffly embattled against every mode of error. It gets every kind of man to fight for it, it gets every kind of weapon to fight with, it widens its knowledge of the things that are fought for and against with every art of curiosity or sympathy; but it never forgets that it is fighting. It proclaims peace on earth and never forgets why there was war in heaven.

This is the trinity of truths symbolised here by the three types in the old Christmas story; the shepherds and the kings and that other king who warred upon the children. It is simply not true to say that other religions and philosophies are in this respect its rivals. It is not true to say that any one of them combines these characters; it is not true to say that any one of them pretends to combine them. Buddhism may profess to be equally mystical; it does not even profess to be equally military. Islam may profess to be equally military; it does not even profess to be equally metaphysical and subtle. Confucianism may profess to satisfy the need of the philosophers for order and reason; it does not even profess to satisfy the need of the mystics for miracle and sacrament and the consecration of concrete things.

There are many evidences of this presence of a spirit at once universal and unique. One will serve here which is the symbol of the subject of this chapter; that no other story, no pagan legend or philosophical anecdote or historical event, does in fact affect any of us with that peculiar and even poignant impression produced on us by the word Bethlehem. No other birth of a god or childhood of a sage seems to us to be Christmas or anything like Christmas. It is either too cold or too frivolous, or too formal and classical, or too simple and savage, or too occult and complicated. Not one of us, whatever his opinions, would ever go to such a scene with the sense that he was going home. He might admire it because it was poetical, or because it was philosophical, or any number of other things in separation; but not because it was itself. The truth is that there is a quite peculiar and individual character about the hold of this story on human nature; it is not in its psychological substance at all like a mere legend or the life of a great man. It does not exactly in the ordinary sense turn our minds to greatness; to those extensions and exaggerations of humanity which are turned into gods and heroes, even by the healthiest sort of hero-worship. It does not exactly work outwards, adventurously, to the wonders to be found at the ends of the earth. It is rather something that surprises us from behind, from the hidden and personal part of our being; like that which can some times take us off our guard in the pathos of small objects or the blind pieties of the poor. It is rather as if a man had found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is as if he found something at the back of his own heart that betrayed him into good. It is not made of what the world would call strong materials; or rather it is made of materials whose strength is in that winged levity with which they brush us and pass. It is all that is in us but a brief tenderness that is there made eternal; all that means no more than a momentary softening that is in some strange fashion become a strengthening and a repose; it is the broken speech and the lost word that are made positive and suspended unbroken; as the strange kings fade into a far country and the mountains resound no more with the feet of the shepherds; and only the night and the cavern lie in fold upon fold over something more human than humanity.

--–The Everlasting Man (Radford, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2008 paperback ed. of the 1925 original), pp. 114-116

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 25, 2015 at 9:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Out of the thousand things which follow directly from this reading of John, I choose three as particularly urgent.

First, John’s view of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, strikes at the very root of that liberal denial which characterised mainstream theology thirty years ago and whose long-term effects are with us still. I grew up hearing lectures and sermons which declared that the idea of God becoming human was a category mistake. No human being could actually be divine; Jesus must therefore have been simply a human being, albeit no doubt (the wonderful patronizing pat on the head of the headmaster to the little boy) a very brilliant one. Phew; that’s all right then; he points to God but he isn’t actually God. And a generation later, but growing straight out of that school of thought, I have had a clergyman writing to me this week to say that the church doesn’t know anything for certain, so what’s all the fuss about? Remove the enfleshed and speaking Word from the centre of your theology, and gradually the whole thing will unravel until all you’re left with is the theological equivalent of the grin on the Cheshire Cat, a relativism whose only moral principle is that there are no moral principles; no words of judgment because nothing is really wrong except saying that things are wrong, no words of mercy because, if you’re all right as you are, you don’t need mercy, merely ‘affirmation’.

That’s where we are right now; and John’s Christmas message issues a sharp and timely reminder to re-learn the difference between mercy and affirmation, between a Jesus who both embodies and speaks God’s word of judgment and grace and a home-made Jesus (a Da Vinci Code Jesus, if you like) who gives us good advice about discovering who we really are. No wonder John’s gospel has been so unfashionable in many circles. There is a fashion in some quarters for speaking about a ‘theology of incarnation’ and meaning that our task is to discern what God is doing in the world and do it with him. But that is only half the truth, and the wrong half to start with. John’s theology of the incarnation is about God’s word coming as light into darkness, as a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces, as the fresh word of judgment and mercy. You might as well say that an incarnational missiology is all about discovering what God is saying No to today, and finding out how to say it with him. That was the lesson Barth and Bonhoeffer had to teach in Germany in the 1930s, and it’s all too relevant as today’s world becomes simultaneously, and at the same points, more liberal and more totalitarian. This Christmas, let’s get real, let’s get Johannine, and let’s listen again to the strange words spoken by the Word made flesh.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 25, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

God with us means more than God over or side by side with us, before or behind us. It means more than His divine being in even the most intimate active connection with our human being otherwise peculiar to Him. At this point, at the heart of the Christian message and in relation to the event of which it speaks, it means that God has made himself the one who fulfills his redemptive will. It means that He Himself in His own person —at His own cost but also on His own initiative—has become the inconceivable Yet and Nevertheless of this event, and so its clear and well-founded and legitimate, its true and holy and righteous Therefore. It means that God has become man in order as such, but in divine sovereignty, to take up our case. What takes place in the work of inconceivable mercy is, therefore, the free overruling of God, but it is not an arbitrary overlooking and ignoring, not an artificial bridging, covering over or hiding, but a real closing of the breach, gulf and abyss between God and us for which we are responsible. At the very point where we refuse and fail, offending and provoking God, making ourselves impossible before Him and in that way missing our destiny, treading under foot our dignity, forfeiting our right, losing our salvation and hopelessly compromising our creaturely being—at that very point God Himself intervenes as man.

--Church Dogmatics (IV.1) [E.T. By Geoffrey Bromiley and Thomas Torrance of the German Original] (London: T and T Clark, 1956), page 12

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 25, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She was five,
sure of the facts,
and recited them
with slow solemnity
convinced every word
was revelation.

She said
they were so poor
they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
to eat
and they went a long way from home
without getting lost. The lady rode
a donkey, the man walked, and the baby
was inside the lady.
They had to stay in a stable
with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)
but the Three Rich Men found them
because a star lited the roof.
Shepherds came and you could
pet the sheep but not feed them.
Then the baby was borned.
And do you know who he was?
Her quarter eyes inflated
to silver dollars.
The baby was God.

And she jumped in the air
whirled around, dove into the sofa
and buried her head under the cushion
which is the only proper response
to the Good News of the Incarnation.

– John Shea, The Hour of the Unexpected

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchChildrenPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 25, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s a story so strange we could not have dreamed it up by ourselves, this story of how God was incarnate in Jesus the Christ. An embarrassing pregnancy, a poor peasant couple forced to become undocumented immigrants in Egypt soon after the birth of their baby, King Herod’s slaughter of the Jewish boy babies in a vain attempt to put an end to this new “King,” From the beginning the story of Jesus is the strangest story of all. A Messiah who avoids the powerful and the prestigious and goes to the poor and dispossessed? A Savior who is rejected by many of those whom he sought to save? A King who reigns from a bloody cross? Can this one with us be God?

And yet Christians believe that this story, for all its strangeness, is true. Here we have a truthful account of how our God read us back into the story of God. This is a truthful depiction not only of who God really is but also of how we who were lost got found, redeemed, restored, and saved by a God who refused to let our rejection and rebellion (our notorious “God problem”) be the final word in the story.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twas much,
that man was
made like God before,
But that God should
be like man
much more

--John Donne (1572-1631)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Christmas Eve at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in mid-town Charleston, as in other parishes across our diocese and nation, children and their families will gather for the annual Christmas Pageant. Scripts that have been more or less memorized and rehearsed will be played out before the admiring eyes of family and friends. Performances will lurch forward in the usual manner. Archangels with wings and halos will stand in pulpits or announce with trembling voices from the lectern microphones: “Be not afraid, Behold I bring you good news of a great joy that will come to all the people….” Shepherds will arrive at makeshift stables where the Holy Family gathers ‘round a manger. Perhaps Shepherd #1 will speak his lines boldly and clearly; Shepherd #2’s muttered words will hardly be heard past the second pew; and Shepherd #3 will too obviously read his part from a page taped to the back of the stuffed lamb he nervously clutches to his chest. Of course there will be the normal missed lines…as well as the directions uttered from off stage. But there will also be those electrifying and unscripted moments that bring surprised laughter and joyous tears that every mother and father and grandparent cherishes—the unscripted and electrifying moments when grace and candlelight abounds.

There were such moments of course two thousand years ago when the interplay between God’s script and the unscripted response of his people played itself out on the world’s stage occurring as it did in a minor country, among a seemingly unimportant tribe; and yet with electrifying purpose (as astonishing as it may seem to the eyes of the skeptical) God through the incarnation and atoning work of Jesus Christ brought salvation for all people (Titus 2:11).

One scripted and yet unrehearsed moment was after the Angel Gabriel sent from God proclaimed to Mary the God-scripted-lines, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you: therefore, the child to be born will be holy—the Son of God.” And then the entire unseen heavenly host and all the rest of the created order of the universe held their collective breath and waited for Mary’s unscripted and unrehearsed lines which her few but godly years had been preparing her to speak: “Behold, I am the bondservant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularismWicca / paganism* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ironically, after all of this, Christmas lost its luster for me. The rank materialism became too much to bear, and the Christmas season morphed from being a time I savored into something I tried to survive each year. Santa Claus, Christmas trees, the holiday jingles—they all felt like pagan oppression. When people complained about a war on Christmas I often smirked and thought to myself, Where do I sign up? Honestly: When a sale at Crate & Barrel gets entangled with the birth of Jesus Christ, something has gone horribly wrong.

But then I realized that I had allowed the secular celebrations of Christmas to crowd out its transcendent meaning. As theologian N. T. Wright points out, it’s Christmas that is the moment when God launched a “divine rescue mission” of humankind.

God didn’t just condescend to come to earth as a human. He came as a helpless infant. The King of Kings was born amid barnyard animals and piles of hay after His lowly parents were turned away from better lodgings. When the Magi came to see the Lord, there was no security on hand to judge whether they were worthy. The Messiah was approachable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My dear brothers and sisters,

Receive Christian greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour and Lord.

As our Christmas celebrations begin, I pray that familiar words, hymns and customs will by God’s grace kindle in our hearts a new sense of wonder and thankfulness for the gift of Emmanuel, God with us.

At Christmas we think of Jesus as the helpless baby lying on a bed of straw. Yet ‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:17) and the Jesus we worship now is not the baby of Bethlehem but the risen Christ glimpsed in the vision of John in the first chapter of Revelation whose face is like the sun in its full brilliance (Revelation 1:16). This is the glorified Jesus who will be revealed to all as Lord, Saviour and Judge at the end of human history.

So if we think of Jesus as Saviour, we must also therefore confess him as Christ the Lord. Here in the Anglican Church of Kenya it is common for preachers to introduce themselves by saying that they have accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour. That is so important. Jesus is indeed a wonderful Saviour, but we must not limit his work just to our personal experience. He is the central figure in all human life and history, whether he is recognised or not, and what marks out the Christian is a life that witnesses now, in word and deed, that Jesus is Christ the Lord. If that is lacking, a personal testimony from the past is empty words.

To confess Jesus as Lord brings hope and strength into the most challenging situations. For example, our neighbours in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan have shown us what it looks like to witness to Jesus as Lord in the statement issued from their recent House of Bishops meeting.
They are able to sustain hope in continuing to call for peace, unity and love in their two nations despite the trauma of years of suffering and civil war and they courageously call to account those who would rather give children bullets and guns than pencils and paper.
But at the centre of this hope is Jesus, so they also recognise that the church must guard the gospel which alone can bring lasting change to the hearts of men and women. If Jesus is Lord, then he must govern our relationships through his word and the bishops agreed that their Church should break its ties with the Episcopal Church of the Unites States (TEC) following that Church’s decision to change its canons and its liturgy to allow for ‘gender neutral marriage’. For the same reasons, the Anglican Church of Kenya also affirmed that it was no longer in relationship with TEC at our Provincial Synod earlier this year.
The clarity and courage of these brothers is an encouragement to me as we prepare for the meeting of Primates called by the Archbishop of Canterbury next month (http://gafcon.org/crossroads/). With many others, I long to see our beloved Communion united and its divisions healed, but this must be in a way that truly honours Jesus as Lord and head of his body, the Church. It is easy to be like parents who by false kindness allow their children to follow destructive patterns of behaviour, but we are called to care for the household of God, to guard the gospel of grace and to preach the word ‘in season and out of season’ (2 Timothy 4:2).
So as we look beyond Christmas to the New Year, let our lives be lived in true devotion to Jesus as Lord. To confess with the first Christians that ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a comfort and a challenge. It is a comfort because we know that we are under his protection and that as Lord of the Church, he will not let the powers of darkness triumph despite our sin and brokenness. It is a challenge because it is a call to a love for Jesus which is stronger than the love of a comfortable life which leads to compromise and decline.
Finally let us especially keep in our prayers this Christmas those brothers and sisters for whom the confession that Jesus is Christ the Lord can cost even their lives. In some parts of the world Christmas is a time when attacks by extremist movements are most common. Pray that God will protect, provide and give them perseverance and that those of us who are free to gather without fear may take every opportunity we have to make Jesus known as Lord and Saviour.
Last Sunday here in Nairobi thousands of us in All Saints Cathedral sang the great advent hymn ‘Come thou long expected Jesus’ and may I particularly commend to you the second verse as a prayer to express the desires of our hearts for the Anglican Communion and the witness of all believers in the year ahead:

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
May Christ the Lord, the Prince of Peace, be with you and all you love this Christmas.

--(The Most Rev.) Archbishop Eliud Wabukala is Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of KenyaGlobal South Churches & Primates* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.

In case someone should think that what we say about this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord himself says: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. There is another passage of Scripture which reads: He who fears God will do good, but something further has been said about the one who loves, that is, that he will keep God’s word. Where is God’s word to be kept? Obviously in the heart, as the prophet says: I have hidden your words in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Keep God’s word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.

Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.

If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son with the Father will come to you. The great Prophet who will build the new Jerusalem will come, the one who makes all things new. This coming will fulfill what is written: As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly man. Just as Adam’s sin spread through all mankind and took hold of all, so Christ, who created and redeemed all, will glorify all, once he takes possession of all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdvent* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many orthodox Primates did not attend the last Primates Meeting in 2011 under the chairmanship of his predecessor, Rowan Williams. They were not prepared to share in fellowship with provinces like The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) which had rejected the clear teaching of Scripture and the collegial mind of previous Primates Meetings and the Lambeth Conference 1998 by pressing ahead with the blessing of same sex unions and ordaining those in such relationships.

This time, GAFCON and the other orthodox Primates are willing to attend, but they know that after many years of debate, action is needed to restore the spiritual and doctrinal integrity of the Communion they care for so deeply. They are clear that their continued presence will depend upon action by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a majority of the Primates to ensure that participation in the Anglican Communion is governed by robust commitments to biblical teaching and morality.

It has been suggested that the way forward is for the Anglican Communion to abandon the idea that there should be mutual recognition between the provinces and that it should instead find its unity simply in a common relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This is not historic Anglicanism....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaAnglican Church of KenyaChurch of England (CoE)Episcopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wheaton administrators insisted it was Hawkins' comments — not her decision to wear a hijab — that was at the root of the problem. She was asked to provide a theological response to several other statements as well, though the college did not provide details.

Denny Burk, a professor of biblical studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said his greatest concern about Hawkins' explanation was the lack of clarity about the particulars of Christianity. Without further explaining the nuances of her argument, she implicitly denied Christian teachings, he said.

"We're people of the book, but our books are very different," he said. "They're witnessing to two different ways of salvation. The Bible is witnessing to Jesus Christ, the son of God. That's unique of all the world religions, and that uniqueness was what I thought was missing from what she said."

But Miroslav Volf, a theology professor at Yale Divinity School and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, praised Hawkins' gesture as extraordinary and an apt Advent devotion. He said her comments about Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God speak to the common ground the two religions share.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy SpiritTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school in Illinois, has placed a professor on administrative leave after she posted on Facebook that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.”

The official school statement Tuesday about associate professor of political science Larycia Hawkins’s suspension said Wheaton professors should “engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”

Following a protest and sit-in of about 100 people Wednesday afternoon on campus, President Philip Ryken and later Provost Stanton Jones said they would not be lifting the suspension. It wasn’t clear how long Hawkins was suspended for, but some of the student leaders who had been involved in talks with administrators said it was through the spring semester.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted December 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In AA, you always introduce yourself by name and say,“... and I am an alcoholic.” Amongst other things, the Twelve Steps requires you to admit your own powerlessness and to turn your life over to the care of God. I know I am still an alcoholic – my sponsor in AA has been sober for thirty years, and he is still an alcoholic too–but I’m a grateful alcoholic, because I found Jesus.

One Sunday last Fall I came to St. John's Parish for the first time; they were asking for help with the Feeding of the Multitude, so I signed up. I’ve been part of St. John’s ever since. Sometimes I attend services in the church, and other times I go to Walton Hall – I love to sing There Is Power In The Blood – but it doesn't matter where I go, He is with me. It is phenomenal what Christ has done for me, the joy He’s given me.I regret missing it for so long.I can’t start over,but I can make a new beginning. Now I’m trying to be sensitive to see what His purpose is for the rest of my life.

Read it all (page 3).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholism* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fifty years after the first major Catholic document rejecting anti-Semitism, the Vatican released a new document on Thursday reiterating that Catholics shouldn’t try to convert Jews and calling for a joint effort in the fight against religious discrimination.

Jewish leaders on hand for the Thursday presentation largely welcomed the document, although one complained that it doesn’t go far enough in recognizing the centrality of the land of Israel for Judaism.

Called “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable,” the document is a theological reflection that builds on five decades of interreligious dialogue that began with Nostra Aetate, a 1,600-word declaration from 1965 that helped reshape Catholic-Jewish relations.

The new document underlines the importance of Catholic-Jewish relations, calling the bond unique “in spite of the historical breach and the painful conflicts arising from it.”

Among other points, it plays down, though it does not reject entirely, missionary efforts directed at Jews.

Read it all and a BBC article is there also.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted December 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I had expected to see a giant of a man. In fact, Howard reflected the humble Scottish roots of his home. Rather than a six-foot plus giant, Sally and I met a man who she could look at eye to eye, but his welcome and heart was the size of Texas. It was common to hear that he was meeting with students not just to review the current chapter dedicated to their thesis (what the British call a dissertation) but to pray with them. He opened his home to welcome those students and host them, making sure their arrival in Scotland and a foreign land had left them feeling at home.

He engaged in theological discussion and debate as a conservative of deep conviction who demanded that one’s work be thorough but also fair to the views being challenged. He spoke with a soft voice that communicated with clarity and gravity about the way one should regard the Scripture. That captured people’s attention. The depth of his awareness covering a sweep of topics was stunning. Despite all of that ability and knowledge, what struck one about Howard was his humility and devotion to God. His critique was delivered with a gentleness that not only made clear what might be misdirected but also that showed he cared about how that critique was received.

One incident after my time in Aberdeen is still clear to me. On a return visit to Aberdeen, we brought our family with us. Our two girls had been born in bonnie Scotland, but my son had not. It was the first and only time Howard met our son, who was a very young, playful, five-year-old boy at the time. The Marshalls had a tea warmer in the shape of penguin. Another aspect of Howard’s personality is that he had a classic Scottish wit. So Stephen spotted the warmer and was drawn to it. He offered Stephen to let him play with it and got down on the floor with him to share in the moment. Stephen took advantage of his new playmate and promptly placed the penguin on Howard’s head, leaving both of them laughing and my wife nothing short of horrified. But that was Howard, sensitive to where people were coming from with an eye to where they could go. When I remember Howard Marshall, it is this moment that most typifies him as a person.

Read it all from Darrell Bock.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On October 30, 2015, a joint Lutheran-Catholic statement was issued after a protracted consultation by theologians of both confessions: “On the Way: Church, Ministry and the Eucharist.” The opening phrase means on the way to full mutual recognition and intercommunion, which both sides acknowledge as having been the will of Jesus and as being the intended final relationship between the two communities. [As a sociologist I must observe that there is also a tacit empirical assumption here—that the disunity between churches weakens the credibility of the Christian faith. This may be true in Europe, where both Lutherans and Catholics come out of a history of state churches—and where secularization, as a decline of religion, has gone farther than on any other continent. In the United States this alleged nexus between Christian unity and the plausibility of the faith is less persuasive.]

“On the Way” was published jointly by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest and more liberal wing of Lutheranism in this country (known, not always affectionately, as Aunt Elka), and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There has also been input from the Lutheran World Federation, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and the World Council of Churches (to which most Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches at least nominally belong despite cacophonous disagreements). This document builds on an earlier joint statement in 1993 on the doctrine of justification, which has been a major disagreement between Lutherans and Catholics: The statement concluded in a somewhat tortured argument that there really were (or were no longer) any fundamental disagreements. It therefore decided, logically enough, to withdraw the solemn mutual condemnations (so-called anathemas, “accursed be…”) between Rome and its “separated brethren” (a phrase now considered impolite).

The gist of “On the Way” is a list of “32 agreements” (there is also an honest acknowledgment of issues on which there still is disagreement). Coming to the document as a non-theologian one is likely to be less than overwhelmed by what is supposedly agreed upon...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some much-loved Christmas songs add things to the narrative which aren’t all together helpful. ‘Away in a Manger’ is one such culprit – how do we know Jesus didn’t cry? And don’t get me started on ‘Little Donkey’. I mean, a little donkey, carrying Mary, following a star? Really?

I know some of you will be fuming by this point, and I’m being deliberately provocative, but take a moment to think it through. The Bible Christmas story has no donkey, no innkeeper, no kings apart from Herod. What it does have is God’s promised saviour come to live with his people. It’s a life-changing story, one that promises eternal life.

What I’m getting at, in my roundabout, ranty way, is this: we have reduced the greatest story we can tell – the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ – to a series of clichés and non-Bible sentiments. The world is crying out to hear this story of salvation, so let’s tell it with all the shock, surprise, joy, drama, grief, happiness and life of the biblical account. This awesome, powerful story doesn’t need a donkey or a badly acted innkeeper. It needs people willing to share the good news and the difference it has made to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventChristmasParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Known as the Magdala Stone, the block was unearthed in 2009 near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, where a resort and center for Christian pilgrims was going to be built. Government archaeologists are routinely called in to check for anything old and important that might be destroyed by a project, and in this case they discovered the well-preserved ruins of a first-century synagogue and began excavating.

The site turned out to be the presumed hometown of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’s most faithful followers. The dig also revealed an ancient marketplace and fishermen’s quarters along with the synagogue.

Experts have raised the tantalizing possibility that Jesus may have taught in the synagogue when he was in Galilee. A local coin found in a side room was minted in A.D. 29, when Jesus is thought to have been alive.

Read it all.

Filed under: * TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

In order to understand the joke at the beginning of the sermon, you need to know that last week the rector accidentally said "shopping on Good Friday" and brought down the house--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted December 9, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
--C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), p.228

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted November 23, 2015 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us...Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ's power to raise us to a spiritual life — The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God's power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." And then he says, concerning them, "God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^" Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, "We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, " I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again...."

--"Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyEschatology

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Posted November 12, 2015 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio overwhelmingly voted Sunday to leave its denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), citing what supporters of the outcome called an increasingly progressive social justice agenda and a drift from the authority of Scripture.

Read it all and you can find the links to all the key documentation there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 8, 2015 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But I am besides my purpose when I fall to bewail the cold affection which we bear towards that whereby we should be saved, my purpose being only to set down what the ground of salvation is. The doctrine of the Gospel proposeth salvation as the end, and doth it not teach the way of attaining thereunto? Yes, the damsel possessed with a spirit of divination spake the truth: "These men are the servants of the most high God who show unto us the way of salvation" [Acts 16:17] -- "a new and living way which Christ hath prepared for us through the veil, that is, his flesh," [Heb 10:20] salvation purchased by the death of Christ.

--Learned Discourse on Justification (my emphasis)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted November 3, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How can we ever begin to know the rejoicing that will take place when the Lord brings all of us home in immortal bodies? The morning stars will sing together and the angels will shout for glory. Think of having complete fulfillment, knowing that our homecoming brings unspeakable joy to our wonderful Lord! So why do we prefer lingering here? Because we are not only earthbound in body; we are earthbound in our thinking. But when we leave this place, we will never dwell on it again. Our eyes and hearts will be fixed on Christ.

When we stand at the graveside of a loved one, we sorrow. But those united with Christ in death are also united with Him in the joy of resurrection. There was no joy at the tomb of Lazarus. It was a somber and woeful time—until Jesus arrived!

Words cannot describe the shock of seeing a dead man alive again—and the joy of knowing that we, too, shall one day hear the Lord Jesus call our names. Contemplate it for a moment and imagine hearing His voice speak your name. If that does not cause joy to bubble inside of you, it is doubtful anything else will.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyEschatology

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Posted October 29, 2015 at 7:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After much deliberation and discussion we agreed on the following decisions:

1. We discussed the importance of unity among us. We affirmed the importance of blessing and encouraging each other. We are committed to working together for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.

2. We were happy to receive a report from Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina, which receives Primatial oversight from the Global South. We praise the Lord for his faithful stance in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. We studied the letter of invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the upcoming Primates meeting. We have agreed to attend the meeting, and welcome the invitation for the Primates to suggest the items of the agenda. We appreciate this very helpful approach, one that gives us a sense of ownership and responsibility to our meeting. We agreed on the agenda items which we will request.

4. We grieved one more time at the unilateral decisions taken by the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA to redefine marriage and to accept same-­‐sex marriages (Resolutions A036 and A054). We see these latest resolutions as a clear departure from not only the accepted traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion, but also from that of the one Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church, which upholds the scriptural view of marriage between one man and one woman. (Lambeth Resolution 1:10, 1998.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2015 at 10:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Millennials, like the rest of us, are human beings. I know that’s not a terribly surprising thing to say, and I haven’t actually heard anyone deny that fact. But with the coming of age of each new generation, it seems there’s always a flurry of books and articles competing both for the honor of naming that generation and of describing what’s unique about them. And of course, so long as we’re okay using sweeping generalizations, each generation does tend to exhibit characteristics setting it apart from those who came before and will come after. Usually that has to do with the historical and cultural context in which they came of age. So one generation was deeply affected by the post-World War II world, the next by the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, the next by the Cold War, and on and on.

I’ll leave it to the professionals to do the work of describing exactly what’s affected millennials and how it’s affected them. As a Christian pastor, my task is to do the even harder work of reminding people—including millennials themselves—they’re not that different from the rest of us. The world has been around for a very long time, and the deepest problems plaguing millennials today have plagued every generation throughout human history. What’s more, the greatest solution we can offer millennials is the same as it’s ever been. That doesn’t change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyApologeticsChristology

1 Comments
Posted October 18, 2015 at 5:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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