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Friday, October 31, 2003

We are talking about several different things here.

When I suggested reading St. Ignatius, et al. I was giving the names of authors from the early church. They are contemporary witnesses to the practices of the early Church. No matter how knowledgeable James Dunn (Do you mean James D.G. Dunn, the theology professor at the University of Durham?) or Archbishop Dimitri the Texan might be, they are not living in the early days of the church. Their knowledge is not first hand. It is secondary at best. St. Ignatius and St. Justin Martyr and the compilers or the Didache ? First hand knowledge. They are primary sources.

As for knowing about communion, I heartily recommend reading the words of St. Paul and Jesus first. That's what I did. And because I believed what they said/wrote I began to doubt the "Jesus is not present and this is only a memorial" theory. But because I was surrounded by people convinced that that theory was true I thought I must be mis-reading the text. It was only when I read the early guys that I realized my misgivings about the theory were correct. I had a similar experience with baptism. I remember being horrified that my cousin was re-baptised about 7 years ago. At the time maybe I just thought, "Jesus only died and came back to life once in history, so baptism should only occur once in our history". I didn't know why I was so appalled, but I was. Now however, after having read more about baptism in the church fathers, I understand more than I did then.

Concerning differing practices in the early church: You give the example of the St. Peter and St. John in Jerusalem continuing to go to the temple. But, St. Paul went to the temple, too, when he was back in Jerusalem. And in his missionary voyages, he always went to the Jewish synagogues, until they threw him out. Jesus was clear, take the gospel to the Jews first. That is exactly what the Apostles did. And later, St. Peter went to Antioch and Rome. And St. Thomas to Persia and India. And St. Andrew to What is now Georgia, and St. Mark to Egypt. I do not think the practices around the early church diverged as much as you do. (Why do you think that, by the way?) But in all of these places they were serving the same eucharist, they were baptising, they were annointing the sick with oil and praying for them. The resurrection was taught everywhere the church went. We know from the earliest liturgies (St. James' & St. Mark's) and from the Didache and from St. Justin Martyr's writings that the basic outline of the liturgy was the same in Egypt as it was in Rome as it was in Jerusalem.

Now let me get back to the normativeness of the early church fathers. If they are passing on the teaching of the Apostles why should they not be normative? You have to remember, that at the time these Saints were writing, all the books of the New Testament still had not been circulated to all the churches. The normative thing was the tradition handed down by bishops. (I'm not sure what normative means, so I reserve the right to chage what I just wrote.)

Now as for Saddleback Church, it depends on what you mean by "it works". If by "it works" you mean it makes people happy and gathers a big crowd then I would have to admit that yes, it works. But by that standard, so do churches named 'Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses' or 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints'. But if by, "it works" you mean faithfully passes on the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles I would say it most certainly does not work. Yes, it is faithul to part of that tradition, but so are Mormons and Jehoah's Witnesses. Where are the sacraments? Where is the altar? Where are the clergy? Are any of the clergy divorced and re-married? What do they believe? I went all over their website and have no idea what they believe other than "God has a plan for your life and wants to be with you" (very consumer-friendly message there.) But I challenge you to go to their website and find one reference to the death and ressurection of Jesus. I even wathced the video of the guy praying a "sinners prayer" with people and welcoming them into the church, not one mention of what that sinner should have faith in other than God loves him/her and wants to be with him/her. Wow!
But you asked about culture and if the church should change for the culture, I don't know the answer to that, but the church can not stop being the church. Remember, from India to Britain it was one Gospel, one Baptism, the same Eucharist, the same episcopacy. When the fathers at nicea produced the creed, every Christian from North to South and East to West was expected to assent to it, forever.
Caleb is a frog
But aren't Ignatius, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus secondary sources? If I want to know about a bishop, is it better to go to Paul or to Ignatius? If I want to know abut communion, do I go to Jesus and Paul or Irenaeus? If I can't use secondary sources, the neither can you.

What I meant about ther not being a single orthodoxy or kerygma(there's that word again!) is that if you look at the N.T., you find different emphases in different writers. Peter and John still went to the temple for prayer every day. Paul went to the Gentiles. A gospel emphasis to the Jews of, say, calling Jesus the Son of Man or even Messiah would have meant very little to Greeks. So other titles and emphases would be needed with them. My basic point is that N.T. and first-century Christianity were not monolithic examples in practice.

But this brings up another question. It seems clear that the writings of Scripture are meant to be normative...that's probbly one reason why they were recognized by the church as God's Word. But why does the Orthodox church take things from Ignatius, etc, and make them normative also? Are you not, by making such things normative, removing any type of historical context in which such things were written.

Let me give you and example. Saddleback Community Church has their 'Purpose-Driven' church model. And it works rather well for them. Does that mean that model should be normative for all? No, because it is not going to work everywhere. What works in one church will no necessarily work in another due to such factors as culture, etc.
That's more uses of the word "kerygma" in one paragraph that I've seen since I read Paul Tillich's Systematic Theology back in the 80's.

When you say there was not a "single orthodoxy" or a "single kerygma" in the first century, I don't know what you mean. Are you saying the Apostle Peter preached a different gospel than the Apostle John? Perhaps, and this is my own personal opinion, the reson for the different emphases in New Testament writings is that they are largely correctional. Why talk about baptism to people who already have a firm understanding of it and practice it correctly? Same goes for the second comming, the eucharist, sexual morality, faith, hospitality, prophecy, etc. But as you said, you were over-simplifying. I might be over-responding to that over simplification.

I didn't know you were interested in early Church stuff. Have you read St. Ignatius' letters yet? Don't trust secondary sources. Ask St. Ignatius what the role of a bishop is. Ask St. Justin Martyr how to run a church service. Ask St. Iraneus what communion is all about. You have what they wrote, why ask some guy alive today what they said?

Cyndi and Anselm are both sick. No going out for them. You didn't say what Caleb is dressing up as.

Here is the link to two smallfarms. Hope this one works.
The mushroom bleu cheese crostini that I made today turned out to be most excellent. Here's how you make it. Take about 3/4 lb of assorted mushrooms (crtimini, shittake, etc), chop and saute them in some butter with about 5 garlic cloves for about 10 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of heavy cream and mix until all blended in. Add about 1/2 cup of bleu cheese until it melts in. Then add about 1/2 cup shredded prosciutto with salt/pepper. Bake it on top of baugette slices at 375 for about 6 minutes. It's kinda different, but really good. I hate bleu cheese, but these were great.
Okay, I'm back. That's a bummer that you can't make it to see the Johnny Cash concert. I would have been more surprised if you had bee nable to make it, considering it would be Sat night from 8-10 pm. I am going to tape it, however. If you have a VCR, I can loan it to you.

Who is Dallas Willard? He's a USC professor. He's written some really dynamite books, such as RENOVATION OF THE HEART, HEARING GOD, THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY and SPIRIT OF THE DISCIPLINES. You can read some of his stuff at (I think) dwillard.org.

I can't remember what specifically I had said regarding my professor and the early church. Was it along the lines of WHICH early church? No, I don't think that should be taken to extremes either, but I think the point is valid and that there was not necessarily a single orthodoxy in the first century or so. Im reading another book for that class by James D. G. Dunn called UNITY AND DIVERSITY IN THE EARLY CHURCH. One of the first things that ke looked at was the kerygma of Jesus, Acts, Paul and John and found that all of them emphasized much different things. It would be difficult to say that there was a single kerygma in the early church other than Jesus being resurrected and the need for faith. I am oversimplifying at this point, but Dunn says some good things.

Tell me more about Two Small Farms. The posted link sent me nowhere.

Are you taking ANselm out trick-or-treating or anything? We're going to a Harvest Festival at our church and Caleb is just the cutest from you'd ever want to see.
Jeff, who is Dallas Willard? I've never heard of him.

I've been thinking about what you said concerning your professor's response whenever someone mentions the early church. I think it would be good not to take that to extremes. For instance, a woman from Milan was going to Rome. The church at Rome had prescribed a less rigerous fasting schedule (Wed. & Fri.) than did the church at Milan (Wed., Fri. & Sat.). So she asked her bishop, St. Ambrose what she should do. He said something like, "When you're in Rome do what the Romans do. When you are in Milan, do what I tell you to do." So here is an example of two early churches doing the same thing, that is fasting as a community, but doing it differently. It is also important to remember that as far flung (Britania to India) as the church became, and as different as some of the local liturgies were from each other, the entire church everywhere had certain things in common, such as the belifef that Jesus came back from the dead, that the wine and bread became his body and blood. Even some small and seemingly insignificant things, such as the distinctive garment of the diaconate were the same from India to Britainia.

So, do you know how to put a link in the text of your posts?


I've been playing clasical music for Anselm Samuel, who is now 19 months old. Started him on Tchaikovsky. He loved the 1812 0verture (he kept shouting "Oooooh!") and he clapped his hands for Marche Slave. He was not impressed by Romeo and Juliet.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

I think you know Cyndi and I read out lound to each other at night. And no it is not all 3rd century mystical ascetics, either. Right now we are reading through Laura Ingalls-Wilder's Little House Series. We finished The Little House in the Big Woods and loved it. I highly recommend it.
St. Isaac of Syria said, "Do not distinguish rich from poor, do not try to find out who is worthy and who is unworthy. Let all men stand before you equal in good."

I just read this this morning and have been thinking about it. Obviously, it is a pretty good application of the "wheat and tares" parable, but in general, here is the deal with the Saints: Almost everything they tell us to do is really hard. They might as well just quote Jesus at us, saying "Be ye therfore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
Hooray! I am no longer alone! Jeff is blogging!

I never understood the Jabez thing. I'm glad John MacArthur hit it head on. I didn't think it was bad.(Okay, it was a little bad. It was self-centered. Okay, okay. I guess it's really bad, in that regard.) But I didn't think it was necessarily Christian, either. It was a prayer any monotheist could pray. If the statement "lex orandi, lex credendi" is true, it is much better to pray the Trisagion Prayer or the Jesus Prayer.

I emailed Adam Bernal, Sr. Pastor of Jubilee (Two senior pastors?)to ask about their inclusion of the dual procession doctrine in thier Statement
of Faith
. He used a lot of words but really summed up what he was saying in the first sentence: "First things first, any doctrinal belief regarding the concept of the Holy Spirit is going to be open to debate and quite frankly will never be resolved on
this side of Glory." Well, call me closed-minded, but it isn't open to debate. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree since I agree with Jesus and the fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council, who are unambiguous: The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.

I can't make it to the Johnny Cash tribute. Nov. 15 is the beginning of Nativity Lent and we are having a vigil service. As much as I love Johnny and pray for him and June Carter, a TV special in honor of him would be incongruous with the penetential nature of the the season. But thanks for inviting me.

One more thing. I got my delivery yesterday from Two Small Farms. My goodies this week include Erbette Chard, Potatoes, the most amazigly good golf ball-sized tomatoes, a big hugh bunch of basil, scallions, butternut squash, and baby bear pumpkins (they are yummy with real maple syrup). You need to sign up for this. It is amazignly cool. It is the highest quality produce I have ever had and it is grown by local farmers.


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Okay, I'm finally blogging (I hope). Let's see with what odds and ends I can start with tonight and see if any of it makes sense or not. First of all, I'll probably check and respond about once a day or so, depending upon time contraints, etc. Second, I think it would be fine to make it open to public viewership. We might get some intersting responses. But we also might write a bit differently if we know that outside people might read it as well as just us.

Now, to your comments about Protestantism being so 'now' focused and why that is. I think it stems from the fact that people want to read whatever it is that is new. When is the last time that 'David Copperfield' appeared on the New York Times bestseller list? That does not make whatever is old bad, just less interesting than what is out now.

Remember the success that Bruce Wilkinson's book 'The Prayer of Jabez' had a couple of years ago? That was the hot thing. Churches did sermons on it. i think it was a pile of hooey to think that you could discover something new and revolutionary in Scripture which no one else had ever seen. John MacArthur has a Pastor's COnference every year, and in the year of jabez, the conference had a seminar called 'The Prayer of Jabez; Exegesis Gone Mad'.

I for one will read whatever it in that is good. Some of my favorite Christian reading comes from a time long ago. Tozer still feeds me. Brother Lawrence is wonderful also. But the danger in some of the older books is that they can become dated. Witness Leonard Ravenhill's 'Why Revival Tarries', a great book written about 1950. But there are references in it to the need for the church to withstand the godless Communists. It is a powerful book, but those passages are almost laughable now.

So, to sum up for me. Right now I'm reading enough theology for class that i don't need any of that in my personal readings. I highly recommend Dallas Willard's book 'Renovation of the Heart', which deals with spiritual formation in Christ. He has a challenging way of writing which is impacting my life pretty seriously these days. In the coming days, I'll probably comment a bit on that.

That's a bit sad about Jubilee's cut-and-paste approach to a statement of faith. Good churches don't do that. Churches which aren't overly concerned with good theology (charismatic churches come to mind) tend towards that way of thinking.

Of, by the way, there's a Johnny Cash tribute concert being broadcast on CMT on Nov 15. Do you want to come over and see it that night?

We're also having a potluck in the office on Friday. I'm trying something new...Crostini with mushrooms and bleu cheese. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I got to meet AllDorm's board of advisors today. (Oh the joy's of being a VP are endless.) I was a little nervous. I'd met one of them a couple of months ago, but that was a different situation. Today they wanted to know what I've been doing for the last 10 months and what I'm going to do for them in the future. It was strange to be in a position where I had to present the best case scenario and at the same time ask them for some help. They did have one good idea. But I can't put it here because it is a secret.
Jeff, apparantly, is still having problems logging in. I hope he gets the problem resolved soon. It is lonely in here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I've been emailing back and forth Archimadrite Stephen of the Italo Greeks . I don't know all the political stuff behind it, but it seems that they used to be part of the Orthodox Church, but because they were in Italy they were separated from the Orthodox Church. Anyway, according to Archimandrite Stephen, his communion is going to be comming under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Jerusalem sometime in December.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Well, It is looking lonely here. Jeff hasn't posted anything.

It has been a pretty difficult day. I had to come home at noon because of illness. My wife had to go to work at 3:30, so I had to take care of the boy while not feeling well. He go sick two and trew up his dinner. Cyndi called at 7 and said someone at her work called in sick and she had to stay till 11:30.

Once the boy and I did evening prayers and he fell asleep I straightened up the house. It is a mess right now becase we are getting ready to move on the 9th of November. Oh, it's a good life if you don't give up.

I wrote a little one page flyer with which to hit all the evangelical church parking lots. Essentially it says, "You're a Bible-believing Christian. Why don't you check out the church that wrote the Bible?" And it lists all the south bay Orthodox churches that do the services in English. I wish St. Nicholas (Greek) in San Jose did their services in English. I love their priest. The old one. Not the young one. But he's good too. Just young.
Jeff, what do you think about letting people make comments on what we write? Here is a list of potential comment hosts.

Also, I'm trying to figure out how my posts can be one color and your another color. If I can figure it out, what color would you like to be?

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Jeff, I work with a guy who goes to Jubilee! in Milpitas. He asked me to take a look at their statement of faith and let him know what I thought. Well, the main thing I noticed was that they teach dual procession of the Holy Spirt so I asked him about that. Now, I am not making this up...He said, "Someone probably just cut and pasted that from some other church's website." Can you belive it? The issue that has divided Christianity between east and west since A.D. 1054 is not even given a second's thought! While I don't think that Jubilee is representative of the theology of more than 30% of Protestants, I do think that they are representative of the overarching Protestant tendency to ignore everything that happened before the 16th century, and most of what happened before the middle of the 20th Century.

You told me once that that you don't like going into a Christian bookstore and only finding titles from the last 10 years. What is it about Protestantism that makes it so "now" focuesd? Or do you think it might be that in America, everyone is so "me" focused that Ameircan Protestants forget that Christians have been doing church for nearly 2,000 years?

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