Ecclesiology is the study of the Christian church: its identity, origin, purpose and structure. The precise nature of each of these attributes can vary greatly according to context, however I believe there are underlying values and concepts which provide the basis for defining ecclesiology in every context.
The Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth: fully God, fully human. The Word of Yahweh became flesh and was a tabernacle of presence among men. Jesus is the son of God, son of man, perfect in every way, the one human in all human history to successfully and perfectly carry the image of God, fulfilling the purpose for which God created mankind. He atoned for mankind in a glorious and sacrificial act of propitiation, opening the gates of freedom and peace, and redeeming us to our Creator. He intercedes for us and rules all of creation, seated at the right hand of God. All this was foretold by ancient prophets, at times with unlikely or surprising details, all of which were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
The human creature is classified in scientific taxonomy as Homo sapiens, a species recognizable as distinctly unique standing amid the rest of creation. Our particular capabilities, capacities, and accomplishments have bred much introspective questioning. Centuries of self-recorded human history reveal endless questions about where we came from, why we are here, what our ancestors have done, what our purpose is now, and if there is any hope for our future.
Psalm 23 is a beautifully crafted poem, well known and often memorized for good reason. It is an encouraging example of resolute faith in Yahweh and the comforting peace that comes with it. I have been meditating on the passage while resting my own mind and body, in a grassy paradise beside the most refreshing waters I know, in the midst of family and overflowing abundance. It seems a fitting meditation. The following are some brief notes from studying the chapter and comparing various exegetical resources.
I love the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, especially in times of emotional difficulty. It provides in some ways a contrast to the wisdom of Proverbs, with a somewhat more cynical, jaded perspective. This tone is cathartic to a throbbing soul, at least for me. Rather than focusing on simple cause and effect formulas for living a life blessed by wisdom, it considers the unpredictable and unexpected, the situations beyond our control and hard to explain. However, it does so rather stoically and philosophically, compared the emotional and conceptual grandeur of Job. It helps us to mentally transcend the vanity of emotion and earthly pursuits, while at the same time remembering to relish every gift of pleasure and fulfilment we are afforded, appreciating every moment simply for what it is.
An explanation of my beliefs about the Bible as it pertains to doctrinally crucial convictions. I believe the Bible is inerrant, divinely inspired, has been accurately preserved, and continues to be personally relevant to every human alive. This is not a thorough defense as to why I believe these things, but I will expound on what these facets mean and why the Bible is so important to me.
I can remember in detail the evening that I sat down and prayed the five-year-old version of what is commonly known as “The Sinner’s Prayer.” It was May 6th, 1998. I was attending the weekly AWANA Cubbies program at my family’s church, First Bible Baptist Church in Greece, NY. We had finished our lesson and were settling in for perhaps the most highly anticipated event of the evening: snack time! It was a large group of preschool kids, and we were all sitting at those short little preschool kids’ tables waiting anxiously for our portions of animal crackers. They were the extra tasty kind that night, the kind with frosting on them! I was sitting by myself, not secluded but not actively engaged with anyone either.
Newton's "third law" has a spiritual parallel, that I am calling the "law of spiritual dynamics." Romans 7:21 says "So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand."
Whenever I endeavor to do good, whenever I draw close to righteousness, there will be a resistance and opposition. It comes both from within, from my evil flesh, and from the spiritual forces of evil at work in the world. It will often manifest with intensity directly proportionate to the fervor with which I seek to do good.
Thankfully, unlike Newton's third law, which says that in physical matters the reaction will be "equal and opposite," I am comforted in knowing that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Nevertheless we must be watchful, aware, and prepared for this reactive opposition.
Based upon the text of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus.
A crisp but gentle sprite who giggles as sleepy sugar snow floats down to bright new blades of grass.
A welcome morning warmth like a slowly growing glow from a nearly forgotten sun.
The smell of thawing earth with ripe dew-covered will to push a life of color into breezy air and lengthy rays of light.
People are books. More accurately, people are like books. This can be a useful simile overall, whether applied to friends and family members, or to a new relationship or conversation.
The fairy stone is a unique and all but lost family tradition here. It started and ended with my great grandmother, Marge Sturgis. I only partook in the tradition for one week as a child, but to me, the value of this story is not so much in the tradition of it, as what it tells of her personality and sense of imagination. It was a superstitious story of grandma's fabrication—I sometimes got the sense she had a whole delightful world of mythology, all her own, living in her head, that only she understood, but into which she would give us little awe-filled glimpses.
The person of Jesus Christ is a unique and highly controversial topic. The bible teaches that he possesses full deity, yet walked the earth as completely human as any other man. This union of God and Man is called the hypostatic union. Because that attribute of Christ is essential to Christianity, heretical fallacies must be avoided.
My decision to pursue a career in the arts may be ascribed to four key factors: affinity, ability, passion, and philosophy. Ultimately I believe that God directed me to where I am and what I do, but these four factors are what I see as the primary instruments He used in doing so. Combined, they led me to study graphic design, photography, and, my current profession, web design. I could expound in much greater detail upon what follows, but will try to keep it brief.
I lean against the buff Oak and catch whiffs of dried herbs and desert sage, distant aromas carried along the breeze of stormy weather lurking at the horizon.
I am going to briefly explain why I believe that anyone who isn’t awe-struck by airplane streaks across the sky during a sunset is simply not paying attention.
We are told to never be content with what we have, to never settle for less than more. I challenge you to take joy in any simple pleasure you are ever afforded. Are you warm? dry? clean? healthy? Do you have friends? family? a roof? freedom? You obviously are using a computer with internet. We don’t deserve the least of pleasures yet we ignore so many. Even if you disagree regarding entitlement, there is little excuse for unappreciative apathy.
Bottle-capped geyser, never felt wiser, to drown an ear in bubbly fear and set the oceans free.
This, my friend, would be the end to ghastly pressure beyond measure.
I find myself transfixed and contentedly so, to sit and stare in utter awe at the bushes outside the window beside me. Though they barely move in the breeze, their form is ever changing in perception, undulating with radiant propensity for existential significance, not the least of which is manifested in a breathing glow that swims and flies and dances among so many needles of evergreen wonder.
My head is sent spinning, caught on the gust of an unexpected song, left unwinding in stupefying motion.
Imagination fell short by miles of nearing in precedent the delight within her soul.
At that I join the choir of those proclaiming this as madness.
Madness it must be, and to madness I must go.
After a while.
Love. Few words in our language carry so much weight, yet are flung so frequently from the surface of every English speaking tongue. Romantic love is often lauded above all else, and despite its age equaling exactly that of humanity itself, remains garbed with wonder and mystery. Science has yet to explain or quantify the effects which artistic endeavors have been so often dedicated to express, how this phenomenon endlessly enraptures, bewitches, enrages, and further proves apt to puppet the full range of human emotion from a cortex of immense power we call love.
I have been recently bestowed with some emotional states of being, of intense proportion, that are not commonplace in my life. My examination of such emotion was both bewildering and enlightening.
Ohhhh the glory of harvest! Such magnificence is nearly unbearable, in all her shy, unbeckoned potentiality, hiding behind skirts of self-imposed obscurity, that blinding smoke of oblivion.
A friend posted this on Facebook last night:
“So I been thinking about this for a long time and I can’t come to a decent conclusion. So I figured I’d ask my question here.
What is Rock and Roll? If you had to pick a band that personifies rock and roll who would you choose? Some people say that AC/DC are what rock and roll is. Others say Led Zeppelin is the one.
So who would you choose? Think on this. I want a real answer.”
Not being committed to any other engagement, and being profoundly passionate about music and especially R&R, I had to write a response. Though a little longer than I expected, I ended up with an answer worth saving.
Where smiles align with their faces and find
That the place is forever and never to be.
That’s where the night will wish into sun,
And drop what it does so for sand in the dark.
Find stillness and quiet and listen to trees;
They’ll tell you the secrets locked up in their leaves.
In collaboration with my brother, Mike.
Having thoroughly enjoyed Collington’s previous release, “feet on the ground,” I was thrilled to have the opportunity to preview his latest album.
The following is a summary of Dr Humphrey’s White Hole Cosmology, a possible explanation of the cosmological events of creation week in the Bible. I do not know who originally created this list; I will add credit if anyone informs me of such. I am not implying my agreement or endorsement of the views represented henceforth, but present them as thought provoking and certainly worth consideration.
Children under the age of seven are not held responsible for crimes in America because they are said to be unable to form criminal intent. As evident in the story of a six year old from Michigan, the legal view of children and criminality can have a significant impact on people’s lives and the outcome of major criminal court cases. The scientific support for such must therefore be observable and convincing enough to uphold this legal stance. Moral development, emotional development, social learning and brain development are all relevant factors in situations leading to crime. To understand the legality of child crimes one must thereby consider the prevailing psychological concepts relating to such developmental components.
Spoiler: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there are perfectly ethical uses for hacking. Though there is debate over the meaning of the term, a positive application is possible regardless of any one definition. Both good and bad reasons and uses for hacking exist. In other words, hacking can be unethical, but it does not have to be.
There are many legendary scientists and theories that provide insights invaluable to modern research, and which broke both hardened and uncharted grounds in their day. However, Christians have a crucial element to add to any perspective, and it can have a significant impact on how we use our predecessors’ findings and conclusions. I see the five grand theories as valid (if not true) explanations for different facets of the infinitely complex diamond that is human development. In fact, the major tenets of all five seem fairly compatible with each other when the weight of influence is distributed, if not evenly, across every aspect of the perspectives.
While Beowulf is far from my favorite piece of literature (shoot me), the classic hero is a prime example for a discussion of pride which I have been mulling over after a discussion with a friend of mine. There are polar conceptions of pride, and talking about it recalled to memory a discussion in school about Beowulf.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (ESV)
The Christian gospel is perceived in as many different ways as there are different people who hear it. There are, however, certain general categories, and I will share a few that I have noticed.
I do not read enough to recognize authors simply by their writing style, but the subject matter in A Grief Observed is certainly uncharacteristic of Lewis. His writings tend to be objective, logical paths of discussion of truth on matters such as morality, nature, and goodness. A Grief Observed is instead an outpouring of personal emotion and feeling, deeply and passionately dark and heavy in nature.
The conflict between good and evil in the world is pervasive and undeniable. Its effects have been observed and contemplated by people all throughout history. Because there are many other fundamental opposites in the universe, a dualistic philosophy may be a very logical arrival. While much of our existence does in theory seem dualistic, good and evil are not quite that simple. This arises mainly from the fact that “good” and “evil” are not merely cosmic forces.
Though Christ ascended from the earth, he sent to his disciples for all time the Holy Spirit to equip them in continuing His work. He baptizes us and dwells within us, guiding us in our life on Earth. Through the Holy Spirit, the church has been prepared and provided for so that it may function as Christ’s body. One fascinating and powerful aspect of our provision is that of our spiritual gifts.
I firmly believe the Bible is inerrant, inspired, and authoritative. These concepts are closely correspondent and strengthen each other. There are several basic arguments for these properties, which I will briefly outline. It is more relevant to someone with a basic acceptance of the bible, as opposed to someone who rejects it completely.
In chapter seven of The Problem of Pain Lewis presents six paradoxes. The paradox in his first proposition is very fascinating to me. I have actually thought about the problem before, but not to conclusive ends. As usual, Lewis was able to articulate the matter in an almost transcendentally clear and understandable way.
There is grave danger in misunderstanding the goodness of God. Unless we have a good working understanding of the goodness of God, we may unwittingly fall into a type of devil-worship. The problem, ironically, simply comes from a misinterpretation of a perfectly valid, and, in fact, very important truth realization.
In The Problem of Pain Lewis tells us about the numinous and about how it relates to fear. He says the fear of the numinous could be otherwise stated as dread and awe. It can be explained as the sort of dreadful awe that comes with belief in the supernatural. People are naturally equipped with a strange supernatural dread and awe of the concept of spirits and the like.
The word heaven is used very frequently in the bible. Many people just automatically assume that each case always refers to the same thing. They assume there is only one meaning of the word. However, that translation is used to represent several different original ideas.
Human beings enter the world of life when they are born with a vast storage space in their mind that is constantly expanding. At the same time, it also constantly matures in its processing complexity. All this space starts off empty, though, and has no facts with which to interpret any aspect of their surrounding environment. It has only its rudimentary programmed instincts which allow it to stay alive. Thus, once a child has acquired the ability to communicate to the level of inquiry, the child will naturally begin to ask any questions necessary in order to fill gaps in their understanding and interpretation of their sensory input.
Some have posited that earth, if chosen instead of heaven, will turn out to have been only a region of hell, and earth, if put second to heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of heaven itself. While it may not be true in a purely literal sense, the concept and experience certainly is. In other words, hell, heaven, and earth may be distinctly separate places, but one can at least have a “hellish” or “heavenly” experience on earth based on their attitude towards it.
Books about the bible by scholars are not necessarily bad thing, but it is crucial to caution one’s self when diving into them. Many people put too high a value on scholarly books about the bible, and may even spend more time reading them then they do the real thing.
Lewis explains that in his view the “grand miracle” is the incarnation of God in Christ. That is, the physical coming of God as the son into a man’s body through human birth. The reason he believes that this event is the pivotal, central miracle (the “Grand miracle”) is because every other miracle is a preparation for, exhibition of, or a result of that one event. In other words, every other miracle that we can see recorded actually points ahead, inwardly, or retrospectively to the incarnation.
Some people, in their attempt to refute the possibility of miracles, must argue that they go against the laws of nature. They say that miracles by their very nature contradict the natural flow of events. However, in light of our understanding of God’s nature, that is not a necessary or even reasonable conclusion.
Lewis has stated that only a super-naturalist can ever really truly see nature. The basic reasoning behind this type of view is that to super-naturalists the whole of creation, which includes both nature and men, is something of an epiphany. It is God’s love made manifest in his attributes. Such various attributes of his can be found all throughout nature—beauty, order, intelligence, love, unity, reason, power, harmony, etc.
The local church is a believer’s immediate access to “plugging in” to the body of Christ. Just as each Christian is a small yet vital member of the vast church of Christ, each local church is a unique and important part of the global church. The human body is an excellent illustration to how that works.
Humor can be either detrimental and sinful, or innocent and healthy, depending on the use and context. Humor is a gift granted by God that allows humans to have pleasure through a curious experience called being amused.
Screwtape’s comment that the “Ever increasing craving for an ever decreasing pleasure is the formula” provides insight and warning as to how pleasure may harm us. Pleasure, though a gift granted by God, can if abused lead to the treacherous downfall of any Christian. Proverbs 21:17 warns that “He who loves pleasure will become poor.”
Human freedom allows us to choose to sin and disobey God’s commandments. It enables us to act in discordance with His will, even if such is quite clear to us. For this reason, in The Screwtape Letters Screwtape was telling wormwood of the advantages of free will.
One does not often know another’s heart and soul, their past, or their present situation. It is easy to accuse someone of hypocrisy when they commit a sin that goes clearly against Christian principles. However, they may be at a point in their spiritual transformation where they have come a long way from the amount or magnitude at which they used to sin.
Amidst the fear and uncertainty often surrounding thoughts of death, Christianity offers hope and even joy when it comes to such thoughts. CS Lewis has given some excellent perspective on the matter. He is very thorough and careful and explains everything from a wide point of view, and thereby avoids unnecessary confusion or offense.
The issue of generosity and giving is one I have contemplated many times. A chief conclusion I have made is a desire to maintain a mindset of earning money for the purpose of giving money.
The continuity amidst the various conceptions of the “law of nature” manifested across the globe is indeed crucial. It is perhaps the strongest practical testament to the existence of an externally (supernaturally) administered standard of morality. It is a simple, yet often overlooked concept. This evidence for the law of nature presents a major problem to any worldview or religion which denies the existence of an absolute standard.
I am fascinated, maybe obsessed, with the uniqueness of people’s musical tastes, preferences and listening habits. I am constantly prodding my friends with questions regarding music, asking them to listen to songs so I can know their thoughts on them.
All you people You are doing what I do.
You are saying what I say.
You are watching what I watch.
You are listening to what I listen to.
Quotations taken from the ESV (English Standard Version) translation of the bible.
The Book of James is a letter with many powerful and convicting truths that provide practical help for daily Christian life. James uses a lot of imagery and straightforward language, which I personally appreciate immensely. He aims to guide and instruct his brothers in Christ to a unified life that carries out the work of Christ, pleases the Father, and yields spiritual fruit.