Home Blog

Those Who Fail to Learn From History Are We

0
Learning from an ancient Creed
Those Who Fail to Learn From History are We - Episode 002

Why study Church history? They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We see this in every major political battle, where the new and rising star promises things that can never be fulfilled and set themselves up as “different” from the incumbent. As soon as they get into power, they forget nearly all those promises. And voters say, “I never saw this coming!”  Four years is enough for us to forget this and to repeat the cycle!

It’s worse in Church history. The church has a 2000 year history, which has seen nearly all the problems we face today before. But we are often ignorant of this history and deal with our problems alone. Why should we reinvent the wheel? Discover the wisdom of Church history in today’s episode of the GraceAppeal podcast (featuring an all-new intro).

Fake News vs Ancient Faith – Episode 001 (reissue)

0
Learning from an ancient Creed
Those Who Fail to Learn From History are We - Episode 002

We have all heard of #fakenews. Many people curate their social media (and their lives) to only see posts that affirm what they already believe. This tendency seems to be everywhere. It impacts both individuals and organizations (even the professional news media). And it can easily happen within religious (or cultural) communities. Every now and then, we have our comfortable way of looking at the world challenged. We realize we were caught up in fake news. But what is next? What does faith have to do with it? 

Why Did God Become Human?

0
Jesus, the God-man
We believe in one God and in one Lord and in the Holy Spirit

Was it necessary for God to become human, in order to accomplish our salvation? The English theologian St. Anselm of Canterbury claimed this was the best way to understand the Church’s faith in arguably his most important work Cur Deo Homo. From the very beginning Christianity has always professed that the eternally begotten Son of God, “came down from heaven . . . for us and for our salvation.”

To deny this belief that God became man has been held to be heretical. It is a teaching in “the spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:2). The early church faced this danger almost right away: “many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh” (2 John 1:7). This has been soundly settled, forever. Yet it is being questioned once again today by a people who don’t know their history.

Fake News vs Ancient Faith – Episode 001

1
Learning from an ancient Creed
Those Who Fail to Learn From History are We - Episode 002

We have all heard of #fakenews. Many people curate their social media (and their lives) to only see posts that affirm what they already believe. This tendency seems to be everywhere. It impacts both individuals and organizations (even the professional news media). And it can easily happen within religious (or cultural) communities. Every now and then, we have our comfortable way of looking at the world challenged. We realize we were caught up in fake news. But what is next?

Who is Jesus, Why did He come?

0
Behold the Lamb
Behold the Lamb

Who is Jesus, and why did he come? The Christian Faith expresses a Mystery revealed in the Bible. This mystery centres on Jesus, known as the Christ (or Messiah), our Lord and Saviour.

Who is Jesus: the Nicene Creed

First, consider the Nicene Creed (link). This Creed is the most universal standard of Christian belief. Believers recite this statement of basic christian faith every Sunday in churches all over the world. Reciting the creed reminds Christian that our Lord “came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”

Who is Jesus: The Incarnation

Second, consider the Mystery. We call this decent from heaven and our Lord’s existence among us–the incarnation. The incarnation is at the heart of the Christian Mystery. That a heavenly being from that unseen realm became one of us. And this was done, “for us men, and for our salvation.”

Who is Jesus: The Lamb of God

Third, consider the Bible’s explanation. When he Saviour appeared, a well known prophet declared, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29-50). There are four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible.  We know Matthew, Luke and John  as the Evangelists. However, the church has labeled the fourth, John, as “the Theologian.” The first three Gospels tell us the story of the Messiah. But John tells us what this story means.  Find out what John explains in a recent sermon I preached:

Who is Jesus: Find out More

Find out more about the Lord, and what Christians believe about him in my new GoodFaith podcast (coming soon!). The GoodFaith podcast will have a very specific focus. Today’s Western Christian finds the Church in a difficult place, with cultural, societal and legal hostility seeming to grow stronger every year. The GoodFaith consequently exports ancient solutions to modern concerns. The wisdom of the past provides a pathway to the future.

The Nicene Creed

0
Jesus, the God-man
We believe in one God and in one Lord and in the Holy Spirit

We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, visible and invisible.

 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,

was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],*

who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

******

*The phrase “and the Son” (Latin filioque) is not in the original Greek text.

Faith and Pleasing God

0
Faith and the Message of the Apostles
What was the Message of the Apostles?

The opening lines of great literature tends to be very memorable and great writers lays out significant themes in these lines. The opening lines of Irenaeus’ Apostolic Preaching express a prayer that the reader may “preserve your faith entire and so be pleasing to God” (1.1a [at 1]). This prayer introduces a world of ideas. In this first commentary on his work, we will begin to explore this world of ideas (summarized in my earlier Outline Post). Here, Irenaeus really calls upon the reader to hold firm to the faith preached by the apostles.

Perhaps the most helpful young reformed theologian in Canada today has put it this way, “everyone should read this book three times before the year’s end.”

Having taken up his challenge, I read the book through twice. Now on my third time I am analysing it a little more deeply.

Irenaeus On The Apostolic Preaching Outline

2
Faith and the Message of the Apostles
What was the Message of the Apostles?

I have been reading Irenaeus’ great work, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. This is an amazing and important book. In it, Irenaeus explains how the Christian faith has an organic, natural, or evolving relationship to the message of what we call the Old and New Testaments. he does not do this by giving his own assessment. Irenaeus instead, bears witness to the preaching of the Apostles on this subject (link). Who was this author? How did he know what the Apostle’s preached? What did he include in his book? 

An Inheritance of Faith – The Thirty-Nine Articles

0
An Inheritance of Faith - The Thirty-nine Articles
An Inheritance of Faith - The Thirty-nine Articles

The Thirty-nine Articles are the theological standard of the Anglican Communion.  Charles I, made it known that he agreed with the “Archbishops and Bishops of both provinces and the whole clergy in Convocation holden at London in the year 1562 for the avoiding of diversities of opinions and for the establishing of consent touching true religion.” He further declared:

That the Articles of the Church of England . . . do contain the true doctrine of the Church of England agreeable to God’s Word: which we do therefore ratify and confirm, requiring all our loving subjects to continue in the uniform profession thereof, and prohibiting the least difference from the said articles. . .

This Declaration is printed in my 2012 Cambridge Standard Edition of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), as it has been in every proper copy of the central liturgical influence in the English speaking world.

Many years ago, as part of my theology and church history courses, I studied the Articles of Religion, as they are properly titled. I have always appreciated the clarity and brevity of this National Creed.

One devotional book that had a huge impact on me was J.C. Ryle’s Holiness (Amazon; .co.uk; .ca). Later, as a teenage camp counsellor, I took Ryle’s 2 volume Commentary on the Gospel of Luke as my daily reading and found him an insightful guide in coming to a greater knowledge of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Amazon; .co.uk; .ca).

Ryle on the Thirty-nine Articles

Recently, I began reading his Knots Untied: Being plain statements on disputed points in Religion from the standpoint of an Evangelical Churchman (Amazon; .co.uk; .ca). Once again, I found him insightful and helpful. But one of the most powerful chapters in this book was Ryle’s chapter on the Thirty-nine Articles.

The Anglican Communion in the 21st Century

0
Anglican Communion in the 21st Century
Anglican Communion in the 21st Century

The Anglican Communion in the West has been a frequently cited source for the secularism thesis. This thesis argues that as a society advances, it inevitably and invariably declines in religious belief and becomes secular. As our societies continue to advance technologically and politically, it is natural to ask if there is a future for the Christian Church in the 21st Century?

I have always loved Church history. Church history begins in the biblical book of Acts, recounting the early adventures of the Apostles. It proceeds through the age of the martyrs and apologists winning over the Roman Empire in a few generations. This church, from a position of strength, then moved into the explosive missionary movement of the 3rd-10th centuries reaching every area of Europe. Then in the new millennium, despite internal fracturing, the church began expansion to every part of the globe leading eventually the modern missionary movement in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. And it continues to have an impact on the lives of billions and billions of individuals, and the communities and nations they form.

But for those of us living in northwestern Europe, or in North America, it can seem that Christianity is a spent force. But is this assertion true?