Archive for the ‘Predestination’ Tag

Predestination and Salvation   1 comment

Above:  Christ as Emperor, Ravenna, Italy

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Romans 8:26-30 (Revised English Bible):

In the same way the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness.  We do not even know how we ought to pray, but through our inarticulate groans, the Spirit himself is pleading for us, and God who searches our inmost being knows what the Spirit means, because he pleads for God’s people as God himself wills; and in everything, as we know, he co-operates for good with those who love God and are called according to his purpose.  For those whom God knew before ever they were, he also ordained to share the likness of his Son, so that he might be the eldest among a large family of brothers; and those whom he foreordained, he also called, and those whom he called, he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Psalm 91:9-16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

9  Because you have made the LORD your refuge,

and the Most High your habitation,

10  There shall no evil happen to you,

neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

11  He shall give his angels charge over you,

to keep you in all his ways.

12  They shall bear you in their hands,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13  You shall tread upon the lion and adder;

you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.

14 Because he is bound to me in love,

therefore I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;

I am with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and bring him to honor.

16 With long life will I satisfy him,

and show him my salvation.

Luke 13:22-30 (Revised English Bible):

He [Jesus] continued his journey through towns and villages, teaching as he made his way towards Jerusalem.  Someone asked him,

Sir, are only a few saved?

His answer was:

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door; for I tell you that many will try to enter but will not succeed.

When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may stand outside and knock and say, “Sir let us in!” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”  Then you will protest, “We used to eat and drink with you, and you taught in our streets.”  But he will repeat, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from.  Out of my sight, all of you, you and your wicked ways!”  There will be wailing and grinding of teeth there, when you see prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves are driven away.  From east and west, from north and south, people will come and take their places at the banquet in the kingdom of God.  Yes, and some are now last who will be first, and some who are first will be last.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Romans 8:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/proper-12-year-a/

Matthew 25 (Similar to Luke 13):

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/fifth-day-of-lent/

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The text from Romans is one of those I read only partially until a few years ago.  Being raised United Methodist, I did not grow up assuming predestination of any form.  Yet, as my study of ecclesiastical history tells, the following facts are true:

  • The Apostle Paul believed in predestination.
  • St. Augustine of Hippo believed in predestination.
  • Roman Catholic theology has long included predestination.
  • The theology of the Protestant Reformers of the 1500s included predestination.
  • John Calvin believed in Double Predestination, the idea that all of us are predestined, some to Heaven and others to Hell.
  • Martin Luther arrived at Single Predestination, the idea that some people are predestined to Heaven and nobody is predestined to damnation.  Those predestined to Heaven will be Christians, and the rest have access to eternal afterlife through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

And, as Jesus makes plain, works play a part.  Read Matthew 25:31-46, which is similiar to Luke 13:22-30.  This formulation (faith and works) assumes that faith is intellectual, but Paul (as I have covered in earlier posts covering Romans–I am writing in a series) used the term “faith” to include actions flowing from attitudes.  Not all who claim to be of God are of God; deeds will make plain who is and who is not.

People have used God and Jesus to justify, among other things:

  • Racial chattel slavery
  • Jim Crow segregation
  • Racism
  • Xenophobia
  • Homophobia
  • Mysogyny
  • Male chauvinism
  • Economic injustice
  • Fascist dicatorships (as in Spain, during the Franco era)
  • Cultural imperialism
  • Warfare against those whose sole “offense” is to be different

There is a simple test for determining what is of God and what is not:  Is X compassionate?  Put another way, “What would Jesus do?”

He would love.  He would have compassion.  He did.

So should we.  Then we will know God, who will know us.  And our predestined state will not be an issue.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 12, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, SR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF OSTIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT, CARDINAL, AND LEGATE; AND SAINT DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL MARSDEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/week-of-proper-25-wednesday-year-1/

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Credo   1 comment

Above:  The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, a.k.a. Washington National Cathedral

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PREFACE

The word “creed” comes from the Latin credere, or “to believe or to trust.”  I emphasize trust, which is something one lives, rather than intellectual acceptance of theological propositions without further impact.

PART ALPHA:  GOD

I trust in one God, whose nature exceeds the bounds of human comprehension.  The doctrine of the Trinity comes as close as theology can to explaining the divine nature.

I trust that we can and do understand scientifically many of God’s methods of working through nature.  As Galileo Galilei insisted correctly, “The Bible tells us the way to go to Heaven, not the way the heavens go.”  Science and religion ask different questions, and need not conflict with each other.

I trust that God cannot exist without caring.

I trust that God, the sole deity, encompasses both judgment and mercy.

I trust that human metaphors for God are useful, but that we ought not to fixate on them so much that we fail to focus on the truth behind them.

I trust that the historical figure known as Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate.  We have atonement through his Incarnation, gracious life, execution, and resurrection.

I trust that attempting to predict the timing of the parousia of the Christ is a fool’s errand and a vain pursuit.  God’s schedule and our expectations are obviously different.

I trust that we experience God via the method we understand as the Holy Spirit.

I trust that those not predestined to Eternal Life (knowing God via Jesus) can come to Eternal Life through the witness of the Holy Spirit.  Those who choose not to do so resist said witness and therefore lack Eternal Life.

I trust that this Eternal Life comes about by the process of being born from above, which might or might not involve a dramatic conversion experience.  (It might entail a series of events, only some of which one can recall clearly.)  Those who have had dramatic conversion experiences ought not to assume that those who have not had similar experiences need to have them.  God works in more than one way.

PART BETA:  ETHICS AND AGENTS OF GRACE

I trust that God speaks to us and communicates grace to us via many methods, among them the arts, the seven sacraments, all seventy-three books of the Bible, and nature, God’s creation.

I trust that we are called to minister grace to one another, to be the face of Christ to those to whom God sends us.

I trust that the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist are the literal bread of heaven and cup of salvation, transubstantiated forms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I trust that grace precedes and creates our free will, by which we can respond affirmatively to God, upon whom we depend completely.

I trust that the four canonical gospels are the proper lenses through which to read and interpret the rest of the Bible.  Jesus overrides everybody else, and compassion overrides legalism.

I trust that scripture, tradition, and reason are the appropriate factors to consider in matters theological and spiritual, and that we ought to interpret one through the prism of the other two.

I trust that one ought never to fear to ask any serious spiritual question or admit to any doubt.  Doubt can prompt one to seek legitimate answers, and to find them, God willing.

I trust that prayer ought to be constant, sometimes even thought or spoken.  Prayer and life, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, ought to be like sides of a coin.

I trust that each person bears the image of God.  So we ought to treat each other as God-bearers, extending to each other the dignity which corresponds to that status.  To do otherwise is to sin.

I trust that all human beings are equal in the sight of God.  This ought to compel us to treat each other as equals, loving our neighbors as we love ourselves while we love God fully and seek to enjoy and glorify God forever.

PART GAMMA:  THE CHURCH

I trust that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is essential to living as a Christian, for Christianity must play out within the context of community.  Jesus-and-Meism is a destructive misapprehension of the Christian faith.

I trust that we, the members of the Church Militant, need to study and learn from our forebears in faith, the members of the Church Triumphant.  We ought not neglect our history.

I trust that proper worship is reverent and liturgical, grounded in scriptural readings, the seasons of the Christian year, and the frequent celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

CONCLUSION

Above all, I trust in the power, love, and grace of  God, who loves us enough to identify with us and suffer for us.  Such a reality demands us to respond favorably to God daily, thereby reaffirming our baptismal vows and our sacred vocations.

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

salvation is of Christ the Lord.

–Saint Patrick (372-466), translated by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.  Amen.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 18, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUKE THE EVANGELIST, PHYSICIAN

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Born from Above   1 comment

Above:  Nicodemus and Jesus, by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov

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FIRST READING FOR WEDNESDAY

Jeremiah 31:1-7 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

At that time

–declares the LORD–

I will be God to all the clans of Israel, and they shall be My people.

Thus said the LORD:

The people escaped from the sword,

Found favor in the wilderness;

When Israel was marching homeward

The LORD revealed Himself to me of old.

Eternal love I conceived for you then;

Therefore I continue My grace to you.

I will build you firmly again,

O Maiden Israel!

Again you shall take up your timbrels

And go forth to the rhythm of the dancers.

Again you shall plant vineyards

On the hills of Samaria;

Men shall plant and live to enjoy them.

For the day is coming when watchmen

Shall proclaim on the heights of Ephraim:

Come, let us go up to Zion,

To the LORD our God!

For thus said the LORD:

Cry out in joy for Jacob,

Shout at the crossroads of the nations!

Sing aloud in praise, and say:

Save, O LORD, Your people,

The remnant of Israel.

FIRST READING FOR THURSDAY

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

See, a time is coming

–declares the LORD–

when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, though I espoused them

–declares the LORD.

But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days

–declares the LORD:

I will put My Teaching into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts.  Then I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, “Heed the LORD”; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me

–declares the LORD.

For I will forgive their iniquities,

And remember their sins no more.

RESPONSE FOR WEDNESDAY

Psalm 121 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  I lift up my eyes to the hills;

from where is my help to come?

2  My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

3  He will not let your foot be moved

and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.

4  Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel

shall neither slumber nor sleep;

5  The LORD himself watches over you;

the LORD is your shade at your right hand,

6  So that the sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

7  The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;

it is he who shall keep you safe.

8  The LORD shall watch over your going out and your coming in,

from this time forth for evermore.

RESPONSE FOR THURSDAY

Psalm 51:11-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13 Give me the joy of your saving help again

and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

14 I shall teach your ways to the wicked,

and sinners shall return to you.

15 Deliver me from death, O God,

and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,

O God of my salvation.

16 Open my lips, O Lord,

and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

17  Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,

but you take no pleasure in burnt-offerings.

18  The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

GOSPEL READING FOR WEDNESDAY

Matthew 15:21-28 (J. B. Phillips, 1972)

Jesus then left that place and retired into the Tyre and Sidon district.  There a Canaanite woman from those parts came to him crying at the top of her voice,

Lord, son of David, have pity on me!  My daughter is in a terrible state–a devil has got into her!

Jesus made no answer, and the disciples came up to him and said,

Do not send her away–she’s still following us and calling out.

Jesus replied,

I was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Then the woman came and knelt at his feet.

Lord, help me,

she said.

It is not right, you know,

Jesus replied,

to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.

She returned,

Yes, Lord, I know, but even the dogs live on the scraps that fall from their master’s table!

Jesus returned,

You certainly don’t lack faith; it shall be as you wish.

And at that moment her daughter was healed.

GOSPEL READING FOR THURSDAY

Matthew 16:13-23 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

When Jesus reached the Caesarea-Philippi district he asked his disciples a question.

Who do people say the Son of Man is?

They told him,

Well, some say John the Baptist.  Some say Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

He said to them,

But what about you?  Who do you say that I am?

Simon Peter answered,

You?  You are Christ, the Son of the Living God!

Jesus said,

Simon, son of Jonah, you a fortunate man indeed!  For it was not your own nature but my Heavenly Father who revealed this truth to you!  Now I tell you that you are Peter the rock, and it is on this rock that I am going to found my Church, and the powers of death will never have the power to destroy it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in Heaven and whatever you permit on earth will be what is permitted in Heaven!

Then he impressed on his disciples that they should not tell anyone that he was Christ.

From that time onwards Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he would have to go to Jerusalem, and endure much suffering from the elders, chief priests and scribes, and finally be killed; and be raised to life again on the third day.

Then Peter took him on one side and started to remonstrate with him over this.

God bless you, Master!  Nothing like this must happen to you!

Then Jesus turned round and said to Peter,

Out of my way, Satan!…you stand right in my path, Peter, when you think the thoughts of man and not those of God.

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The Collect:

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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I solemnly assure you,

no one can see the kingdom of God

without being begotten from above.

–John 3:3, The Anchor Bible

Jeremiah 31 speaks of, among other things, an internalized relationship and covenant with God.  Words will cease to be necessary, for the relationship will be intrinsic.  Both passages from that chapter remind me of an often misunderstood concept from John 3.  The Evangelical misapprehension of “born from above,” thereby transforming it into “born again,” as in the perceived necessity of a dramatic or defined conversion experience, is an error.  There are many of us who lack such an experience yet who are close to God, and who are hopefully getting nearer.

The Gentile woman understood something profound.  So did Simon Peter, although he had no idea of the full implication of what he confessed.  At least it was a start.  We humans are spiritual beings having physical experiences, so how can we not brush up against God?

And it is no wonder to me that God slips into our minds, bypassing our five senses.  I have assumed this for years, and circumstances (inside my cranium) have confirmed my conclusion.  If we are open to God, we will learn quite a bit just by being quiet.  And not all of us will require metaphorical conks over the heard to draw nearer and nearer to God.  Yes, some people do have dramatic experiences with God, and therefore clearly defined conversions.  Yet one ought not to assume that one cannot be a Christian without such an experience.

Perhaps Single Predestination applies to this theme.  Some of us come to God via the witness of the Holy Spirit, which works in many ways, some of them subtle.  Others of us are among the predestined to Heaven.  There is no need for a conversion experience in such cases, is there?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH, AND SPOKESMAN FOR OPPRESSED AND EXPLOITED PEOPLE

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND HUMANITARIAN

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 2, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/week-of-proper-13-wednesday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-13-thursday-year-2/

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Single Predestination   2 comments

Above: Paul Writing His Epistles, a Painting from the 1500s

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1 Kings 3:5-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said,

Ask what I should give you.

And Solomon said,

You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him,

Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

Psalm 119:129-136 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

129 Your decrees are wonderful;

therefore I obey them with all my heart.

130 When your word goes forth it gives light;

it gives understanding to the simple.

131 I open my mouth and pant;

I long for your commandments.

132 Turn to me in mercy,

as you always do to those who love your Name.

133 Steady my footsteps in your word;

let no iniquity have dominion over me.

134 Rescue me from those who oppress me,

and I will keep your commandments.

135 Let your countenance shine upon your servant

and teach me your statutes.

136 My eyes shed streams of tears,

because people do not keep your law.

Romans 8:26-39 (New Revised Standard Version):

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long;

we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus put before the crowds another parable:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.

He told them another parable:

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Have you understood all this?

They answered,

Yes.

And he said to them,

Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

–Romans 8:28-30 (New Revised Standard Version)

I consider myself a serious student of the Bible–a student, not a teacher or scholar.  There is always something more for me to learn, and what I do know about the Bible outweighs my accumulated learning concerning it.  So I have no problem admitting freely that there are certain passages and verses I have not really read for years.  I have read the words, but I have moved along.

Romans 8:28-30 is one such passage.  Yes, I knew 8:28, but focused on that, not 8:29-30.  I began to focus on this passage in late 2008.  My methodology was quite Episcopalian; I examined the scriptures carefully, read what Christian theologians have made of these verses, and employed my reason in pondering all this information.  The preponderance of scripture, tradition, and reason has convinced me to be become and remain a Single Predestinarian:  God has predestined some people to Heaven, but nobody to Hell.  The witness of the Holy Spirit and the missions efforts of the Church are available to invite all others into the path leading to eternal life in this life and the next.

Being raised United Methodist, I imbibed deeply of free will and the rejection of any form of predestination.  The Methodist concept of salvation available to all according to all, with only the free will choice to reject it standing in the way, is a democratic theology consistent with the American ethos.  It is a powerful idea which has affected U.S. history and culture, helping to liberate women and slaves spiritually while negating social hierarchies.  Despite these positive contributions, it is a flawed idea.

Calvinism, in any form, is a textured and subtle theological system, one which does not lend itself to bumper sticker statements. This confusion is mildly amusing when it becomes the fodder for jokes, but does not aid in spiritual contemplation.

The good news is that the wisdom that Solomon sought is available to all by grace, either in the form of predestination or the witness of the Holy Spirit; that the extremely valuable Kingdom of God is within the grasp of all, either in the form of predestination or the witness of the Holy Spirit.  The mustard seed grows into a giant shrub that goes where it will.  Yeast, traditionally associated with corruption in Judaism, becomes a symbol of extravagant grace.  The pearls are extremely valuable; the pursuit of them indicates single-minded devotion.  The parable of the fish in the net is akin to that of the mustard seed, for both contain the good and the bad, the pure and the impure; God will sort out everything at the end.

The mustard plant provides shelter for many varieties of animal life.  Some of the neighbors do not get along, but there they are, together.  And Jesus says this is a metaphor for the Kingdom of God.  The net collects the good fish along with the rotten ones.  Who is a good fish?  Who is a rotten one?  Do you not get along with your neighbor species in the mustard bush?  Leaving decisions as to who is pure and who is impure, who is good and who is rotten, to God is the better part of wisdom.  We might even be confused about our proper classification.

Fortunately, grace is present, in one form or another, and there is hope for us yet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 11, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF DAVID I, KING OF SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, QUAKE FOUNDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on January 11, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/proper-12-year-a/

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Reflections Upon the Eighteenth Anniversary of My Confirmation   1 comment

On December 22, 1991, at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, I entered The Episcopal Church.

St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia

(Image from the former website of the parish)

This confirmation would have surprised me even six months previous, when I was a contented United Methodist.  Yet the passage of time can bring surprises, as it did to me in 1991, the year I graduated from high school, began my first quarter of college, and chose the denomination to which I wanted to belong.

In June 1991 my family and I left the Alapaha United Methodist Church, Alapaha, Georgia (of which he was pastor in 1989-1991).  Alapaha UMC was where I had chosen which activities in which to participate–in other words, where I began to make mature choices about my religious life.  And I was content there.  The new appointment, the four-point Sumner Charge (Sumner, Damascus, Shingler, and Ty Ty) did not suit me, however, so I began to look elsewhere.

Alapaha United Methodist Church, Alapaha, Georgia, Easter Sunday, 1991

(Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor)

Growing up, I craved more frequent Holy Communion.  Also, having a Protestant upbringing yet possessing keen interests in Roman Catholicism and church history, The Episcopal Church was a natural fit.  And I have remained active and content within this denomination since.

As I look back after all these years (It does not feel like that many!), I recognize that I made a wise choice in 1991.  The Episcopal Church provides ample room to explore the best of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, the border of which Anglicanism straddles.  Over the years my Protestant-Roman Catholic balance has shifted several times.  Currently it is moving into the Lutheran-Reformed zone, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is my first back-up choice for an affiliation if I am ever unfortunate enough to find myself stuck in a reactionary corner of The Episcopal Church.  (There are fewer of them than there used to be, but some persist.)  Spending quality time with the Lutheran Book of Concord and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Book of Confessions has convinced me of certain merits of Lutheran and Reformed Christianity.  I have come to accept Single Predestination, for example, so I can no longer be a Methodist, for Methodism rejects predestination.

(Yet, despite certain Protestant proclivities, I carry many Roman Catholic tendencies, as well.  I say the “Hail Mary,” for example.)

Another issue that attracted me to The Episcopal Church and keeps me there is liturgy.  The Book of Common Prayer (1979) orders worship reverently and beautifully.  One year sooner or later another BCP  will supercede it, and that will be fine.  Prayer books should be icons–through which we see God–not idols–which we worship in lieu of God.  A danger inherent in religion is the ossification of  traditions.  Thus, in the Episcopal context, Prayer Book revision becomes an occasion for many uncharitable comments, sentiments, and actions.  This in unfortunate and wrong.  Rather, I prefer living, flexible traditions that link us to the past yet can change to take us into the future.

As I complete these 18 years I look ahead to the future of my faith journey.  Where will it take me?  Time will tell, and I am optimistic.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2009

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR