Archive for the ‘Apostasy’ Tag

The Sins of the Fathers, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Effects of Acid Rain on a Forest in the Czech Republic, 2006

Photographer = Lovecz

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Exodus 34:1-10 or 1 Kings 22:29-43

Psalm 62:1-8, 11-12

Hebrews 5:12-6:12

Mark 9:30-37

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The key mark of discipleship is servanthood.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-394)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some themes recur in the readings for this week:

  1. God is faithful.
  2. Trust in God.
  3. Do not commit apostasy.
  4. People reap what they sow.
  5. Christ is the exemplar of the type of service that defines greatness.

Genesis 34:7 requires unpacking.  The principle that God punishes or forgives members of subsequent generations based on the sins of an ancestor exists also in 1 Kings 21:29, Nehemiah 9:17, Deuteronomy 5:9, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 103:8, Joel 2:13, and Jonah 4:2.  Yet we read the opposite view–individual moral responsibility–in Ezekiel 18 and Jeremiah 31:29-30.  The Bible contradicts itself sometimes.

The best explanation for the opinion we read in Exodus 34:7 comes from Professor Richard Elliot Friedman:  effects of one’s actions are apparent generations later.  I recognize ways in which actions of two of my paternal great-grandfathers influence me indirectly.  This is one example of something, that, from a certain point of view, looks like intergenerational punishment and reward by God.

The decisions of others influence us.  Some of them even restrict our options.  We may suffer because of the decisions of those who have preceded us; we may suffer because of their sins.  This is the way of the world.  Yet we are morally responsible for ourselves and each other, not those who have died.  No, they are responsible for their sins, just as we are responsible for ours.

May we–individually and collectively–refrain from visiting the consequences of our sins on those who will succeed us.  We owe them that much, do we not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/devotion-for-proper-22-year-b-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Signs, Part II   2 comments

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Exodus 32:1-14 or 1 Kings 19:1-15

Psalm 59:1-5, 16-17

Hebrews 4:1-13

Mark 8:22-33

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Yahweh, God of Hosts, God of Israel!

Awake to punish all the nations,

show no mercy to wicked traitors.

–Psalm 59:6, Mitchell J. Dahood (1968)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That attitude is consistent with God’s Plan A in Exodus 32, after the idolatry and apostasy at the base of the mountain.  Aaron’s poor excuse still makes me laugh, though.

So I said to them, “Whoever has gold, take it off!  They gave it to me and I hurled it into the fire and out came this calf!

–Exodus 32:24, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Exodus and Mark contain stories of dramatic, powerful encounters with God.  We read of visual and tactile experiences. We also read of short-lived faithfulness, of much grumbling, of obliviousness, of recognition followed by official denial, and of fidelity.

The juxtaposition of the formerly blind man (Mark 8:22-26) and the obliviousness of St. Simon Peter (Mark 8:32-33) highlights the spiritual blindness of the latter man.  The stories also challenge us to ponder our spiritual blindness.

Even Elijah, who had recently confronted the prophets of Baal Peor then presided over their slaughter (1 Kings 18), had to deal with his spiritual blindness.  While hiding from Queen Jezebel and feeling sorry for himself, he encountered God, who, in that context, revealed self not in dramatic ways (as Baal Peor would have done), but in a still, small voice, or, as The New Jerusalem Bible (1985) renders the text,

a light murmuring sound.

Do we fail to notice messages from God because we seek dramatic signs?

Sometimes, in the Gospels, one reads of Jesus performing a miracle, followed by people demanding a sigh.  One’s jaw should drop.  One should seek God for the correct reasons and not become attached to dramatic signs.  God whispers sometimes.  God whispers to us, to those similar to us, and to those quite different from us.  God judges and forgives.  Signs are abundant.  How many do we notice?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/devotion-for-proper-20-year-b-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Uncomfortable and Difficult   2 comments

Above:  Elijah Slays the Prophets of Baal

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Exodus 24:12-18 or 1 Kings 18:1, 17-40

Psalm 58

Hebrews 3

Mark 8:14-21

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I teach a Sunday School class in which I cover each week’s readings according to the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL).  The RCL has much to commend it, but it is imperfect.  (Of course, it is imperfect; it is a human creation.)  The RCL skirts many challenging, violent passages of scripture.  This post is is a devotion for a Sunday on an unofficial lectionary, however.  The note on the listing for Psalm 58 reads,

Not for the faint of heart.

Indeed, a prayer for God to rip the teeth from the mouths of one’s enemies is not feel-good fare.  Neither is the slaughter of the prophets of Baal Peor (1 Kings 18:40).

I remember a Sunday evening service at my parish years ago.  The lector read an assigned passage of scripture with an unpleasant, disturbing conclusion then uttered the customary prompt,

The word of the Lord.

A pregnant pause followed.  Then the congregation mumbled its proscribed response,

Thanks be to God.

The theme uniting these five readings is faithfulness to God.  Jesus, we read, was the paragon of fidelity.  We should be faithful, too, and avoid committing apostasy.  We should also pay attention and understand, so we can serve God better.  Hopefully, metaphors will not confuse us.

I perceive the need to make the following statement.  Even a casual study of the history of Christian interpretation of the Bible reveals a shameful record of Anti-Semitism, much of it unintentional and much of it learned.  We who abhor intentional Anti-Semitism still need to check ourselves as we read the Bible, especially passages in which Jesus speaks harshly to or of Jewish religious leaders in first-century C.E. Palestine.  We ought to recall that he and his Apostles were practicing Jews, too.  We also need to keep in mind that Judaism has never been monolithic, so to speak of “the Jews” in any place and at any time is to open the door to overgeneralizing.

To condemn long-dead Jewish religious leaders for their metaphorical leaven and not to consider our leaven would be to miss an important spiritual directive.  To consider our leaven is to engage in an uncomfortable, difficult spiritual exercise.  It does not make us feel good about ourselves.

We also need to ask ourselves if we are as dense as the Apostles in the Gospel of Mark.  To do that is uncomfortable and difficult, also.

Sometimes we need for scripture to make us uncomfortable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/devotion-for-proper-19-year-b-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Scandal of Grace VI   1 comment

Above:  Jesus and the Woman of Canaan, by Michael Angelo Immenraet

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Exodus 19:2-8 or 1 Kings 8:1-21

Psalm 56

2 Corinthians 13:5-14

Mark 7:24-37

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God exceeds our wildest imaginations.  Yet God pities us, heals us, calls us become more than we are, and empowers us to accomplish that purpose.  God calls us to be a people of priests.  God equips us to shine the divine light into the world of the nonevangelized and the apostate, and to disciple the converted.

You, O reader, almost certainly do not read these devotions in the same manner in which I do.  I know how much, contrary to my aversion to much repetition, I repeat myself.  I know how often I repeat myself in these posts based on different lectionaries.  I know that I have already repeated myself many times regarding the Gospel pericope for this Sunday as I repeat myself yet again–this time, regarding an ancient, supposedly orthodox hermeneutical tradition that is wrong because it violates the dogma of the perfection of Jesus.

At least since the time of St. Ephrem of Edessa (306/307-373), Jesus initially rejected the plea of the Syro-Phoenician woman heal her daughter, but the woman changed our Lord and Savior’s mind through her persistence .  This tradition has informed every analysis of the pericope I have read in commentaries and heard in sermons, regardless of how liberal or conservative they were.  St. Ephrem was orthodox, certainly according to the standards of his time.

That element of supposed orthodoxy is heretical.  (That charge means much coming from me, one who owns a shirt that reads, “heretic.”)  The thought of Jesus honestly calling he woman a “little bitch” (the closest translation in English) is one that runs afoul of sound Christology.

Jesus, who had purposefully entered Gentile territory, was testing the woman.  He was making comments so she would refute them.  He liked her answer, the one he wanted to hear.  Then he healed her child.

Sometimes we need to say something, to express our faith audibly.

God exceeds our wildest imaginations.  It welcomes and beckons those who are similar to us and those who have little in common with us.  If that makes us uncomfortable, we have a spiritual problem.  If we do, we need to take it to Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS À KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, U.S. BAPTIST MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/devotion-for-proper-17-year-b-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Apocalypse and Hope   1 comment

Above:  The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Acts 9:32-43

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

2 Peter 3:8-14

Mark 13:1-13

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The apocalyptic tone of 2 Peter 3:8-14 and Mark 13:1-3 is actually good news.  God is the king of creation, of course, despite appearances to the contrary.  The word of God continues to spread, despite violent attempts to prevent that.  The end of the current world order will precede the rise of the divine world order.

One of the themes in the New Testament is the importance of remaining faithful–of not committing apostasy–despite many short-term reasons to do so.  Avoiding prison, continuing to live, and preventing suffering all sound like good reasons not to do something, do they not.  They are, much of the time.  However, Christian fidelity sometimes leads to incarceration, suffering, and/or martyrdom.  Yet, if we suffer with Christ, we will reign with him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/devotion-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-b-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Obliviousness, Deliberate and Otherwise   3 comments

Above:  St. Philip the Deacon and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Acts 8:26-40

Psalm 22:22-31

2 Peter 2:12-22

Mark 12:18-27

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge.  Ignorance of scripture is a matter in Acts 8:26-40, in which St. Philip the Deacon (not the Apostle) evangelized a man on the path to finding faith in Christ.  That pericope fits well with the assigned portion of Psalm 22, with its global emphasis.  Ignorance of scripture is also a matter in Mark 12:18-27, in which Jesus fielded another in a series of trick questions–this time, about the resurrection of the dead, of which the Sadducees rejected.  Apostasy–rejection after acceptance–not ignorance–is a matter in 2 Peter 2:12-22.

The readings from 2 Peter and Mark point to deliberate obliviousness.  We human beings are deliberately oblivious to much.  This is not always negative, for we have finite time, and we need to choose where to focus.  I am deliberately oblivious to almost all television, the majority of movies, and bad (that is to say, nearly all) music.  I am also a Western classicist, and I enjoy many old movies.  The three and a half hours required to watch Lawrence of Arabia (1962) are always time spent well.

When we are oblivious to God, however, we occupy the realm of the negative.  When we seek a proper path, we need reliable guides.  May we walk in faith and, when God calls upon as to do so, may we function as reliable guides, so that all the nations of the earth will serve God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CORNELIUS HILL, ONEIDA CHIEF AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HIS SON, HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES MOFFATT, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, ABBOT; AND SAINTS EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS AND GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, ABBOTS AND TRANSLATORS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/27/devotion-for-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter-year-b-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Judgment and Mercy, Part XI   Leave a comment

Above:  Joshua and the Israelite People

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of good things:

graft in our hearts the love of thy name, increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness, and by thy great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Joshua 24:14-24

Colossians 1:24-29

John 17:20-26

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Due to thematic similarity between the readings for this post and the previous one, I could slip into excessive repetitiveness easily.  Nevertheless, I have tried not to do so.

Different Biblical authors had divergent opinions about how forgiving God is.  God was unforgiving of apostasy and apostates in Deuteronomy 29 and Hebrews 10:26-31, for example.  In Luke 9:62, Jesus, after listening to excuses for not following him, said,

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Yet God was forgiving in Deuteronomy 30.  This forgiving attitude did not indicate the absence of negative consequences of sins, though.

Heaven and Hell, which I understand to be realities, not places with geography and coordinates, are real.  God predestines some people to Heaven, but nobody to Hell.  God damns no person, but people damn themselves.  God, in my theology, extends successive opportunities to repent.

Judgment and mercy exist in balance throughout the Bible.  I do not pretend to know where one ends and the other begins.  Yet I understand that we ought to take faithful response to God seriously.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF ADVENT:  THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS SON, MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++