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Archive for April, 2008

P.S.

I’m not promoting the belief that “Man is the measure of all things” through the above Blog Banner. Rather, the Gospel message is going into the world, through the Church (hence “Heralds and Peregrines”) to counter-act this belief.

By the way, I took this picture of a street corner in Dublin. Quite interesting. Anyone out there know the story behind this?

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Lets take a “wee” break from Augustine, catholicity, sacraments and so on. One of my favorite christian bands, the little-known Foolish Things is dis-banding after may 11th. So here’s a small example of their music. Mostly great lyrics, and an original sound (certainly better than most christian bands out there).

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Tiny glimpses of Augustine’s ecclesiology, its relationship to authority, discipline and the sacraments. Some ideas to think on. Is the Reformation really a triumph of Augustine’s soteriology over his ecclesiology. I’m not so sure. Anglican articles XIX, XXIII, XXVI, XXXIV and XXI make me doubt it, though I could be wrong. From Chadwick, Augustine. 78-79. I’ve emphasized things that caught my attention, amongst other things, notice the close relationship between the practice of the sacraments and the church’s catholicity.:

[…] the parables of the kingdom (Matt. 13) taught the in the Lord’s field both wheat and tares should be left until the harvest of the last judgement. Therefore, no scandal could ever be sufficient ground to introduce division and to leave the one Church. […]

Amoung the signs of a true believer Augustine specified that he would always love the Church, warts and all […] the errors of individual bishops could not bring pollution on a community or upon episcopal succession. The grace of God did not depend for its efficacy on the personal sanctity of the individual minister, but on whether he did what God commanded to be done and thereby showed himself aware that in his sacramental action the whole Church is acting. For every act of the Church is catholic, universal. The sacrament is Christ’s, not the minister’s personal property, and salvation is always and throughout the work of God, not of man. Therefore a sacrament of baptism bestowed by an orthodox but schismatic priest must on no account be repeated. Baptism has stamped the soul with a decisive once-for-all seal, just as Christ died once-for-all to redeem. Admittedly, baptism given in schism could not be fully a means of grace until the recipient had been reconciled to the Church.

Apostolic succession mattered to the African Catholics too, for it was the external form that helped to safeguard the sacred tradition of apostolic teaching and sacraments. [Augustine] normally understood the “rock” to be Peter’s confession of faith in Christ the Son of God; and “we Christians believe not in Peter but in Him in whom Peter believed”.

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Prof. Michael Bird has a new post on the issue of text criticism in relation to the story of the adulterous woman in John 8. Its a difficult issue, and one tha should make us be careful of extreme biblicism, and think about the how to determine whether a text is inspired or canonical.

Can a non-inspired text, nevertheless be “canonical” due to its place and use within the church? Can the text be inspired even if it wasn’t in the original manuscripts, that is, be a true historical encounter that was transmitted orally and just recorded later? Does it belong in Luke, and get mixed up? Just a few things to think about.

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Augustine’s conversion drew him to embrace by faith 3 essential truths. Notice the continual references to the Love of God. I’ve also emphasized (with italics) other terms or phrases of interest. Notice at the end, the way Augustine draws together Faith in Christ and adherence to the Church, as well as the manner in which the latter is described. Interesting.

“First, the ordered world stems from the supreme Good who is also the supreme Power, not merely the best that happens to exist, but a perfection such that our minds cannot even frame the idea of any superior being. Therefore “He” is the proper object of awe and worship. We should not think of God as involved in a process of struggling from lower to higher as human beings do, but rather having a consistent creative and redemptive purpose in relation to the universe in general and rational creation in particular. The supreme level in the ladder of value is the love which is the very nature of God.

Secondly, human nature now experienced fails to correspond to the Creators intentions. Human misery is perpetuated by social and individual egotisms, so that man is haunted by ignorance, mortality and the brevity of life, weakness of will, above all by the arrogante and wilful rejection of his true good. In short, humanity needs the remedy of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins, or restoration under the love of God.

Thirdly, the supreme God has acted within the time and history in which we live, and which “He” trascends, bringing to us knowledge, life, strength, and (the greatest gift of all) humilty, without which no one learns anything. This act has its culminating focus in Jesus, model to humanity by His life and wise teaching and by His unique filial relation to the supreme “Father”. Jesus embodied the gift of God’s love by the humilty of His incarnation and death. Access to the movement of God to rescue fallen man is found through the assent of faith and through adhesion to the community of Jesus’ followers, a structured community entrusted by Him with the Gospel and with the sacramental covenant signs of water, bread and wine”.

Henry Chadwick. Augustine. pp. 28-29

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Every generation runs the risk of thinking that the questions and issues that it is dealing with are unique and original, having never been dealt with befored during the course of history. But indeed, as Solomon wisely noted, “There is nothing new under the sun”.

Case in point, Augustine, long before he converted to catholic* christianity, apparently went through quite serious existential turmoil. As Henry Chadwick describes (emphasis mine):

“Increasingly [Augustine’s] doubts plunged him into suspense of judgement. He became intensely interested in the theory of knowledge: how can we know anything? How can we be absolutely sure? How do we communicate with each other when words can be misleading, or construed in a sense quite different from that intended by the speaker? Is everyday language, so frequently defying the rules of logic, a source of light or fog?” (p.15)

*as opposed to Manichee, Arian or Donatist christian sects

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Still Deeper

Great new site on theology and discipleship: STILL DEEPER

Thanks to James Palmer for sharing the link.

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