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Agape' Forum

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!

A warm welcome to all! May the love of Christ inform what we say, and how we say it.

Please feel free to comment on the various articles that I have posted. I will attempt to answer your questions, and am always looking to incorporate your feedback as I seek to grow in my own understanding.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. - Proverbs 27:17 NIV

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Readings for the Third Sunday of Easter (April 14, 2013)

Collect - O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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First Lesson - Acts 9:1-20 (NIV)

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

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Responsive Reading - Psalm 30 (KJV)

1 I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

2 O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

3 O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

4 Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.

7 Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.

8 I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication.

9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?

10 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou my helper.

11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

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Second Lesson - Revelation 5:11-14 (NIV)

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

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Gospel - John 21:1-19 (NIV)

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Hi Brother Andrew

Is this a liturgical reading? I had to go look up liturgy to see what it was. From what I am understanding it is just a framework or a pattern followed for worship? It seems like when I think of liturgy I think of formal ceremony in the sense of high church worhsip.

Tomorrow at church, we will sing a few traditional songs out of the hymn book that the lay music director has picked. We may sing some contemporary praise songs too. We will pass the offering plate and maybe someone will sing or play some special music and then the pastor will preach. We will have a hymn of invitation. Then at the very end we all hold hands and someone prays then we sing a song called "Family of God" and then when that song is done we are done. We kind of do the same thing each Sunday, but it is not formal and just the people at our church decide what order and which songs and what scripture will be read.

Not that you asked, but I thought I would explain anyways :)

I have enjoyed reading your comments. I am glad you are back at the DP.

...

A belated Happy Birthday, sister bear!

While I originally intended this to be a quick "in kind" response to your brief description of your congregation's service structure, it has, over these past couple of days, turned into a detailed explanation of my Sunday liturgy, complete with quite a bit of analysis of what I am thinking and doing while everything is going on. It may be more than you wanted to know, dear sister, but, hopefully, it will give you greater insight as to how a "sacramental" Christian like me thinks, and why. As always, I look forward to your observations and questions.

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On a Sunday at my Episcopal parish, I sometimes go to the 9:00 am liturgy (contemporary, with a praise band), and sometimes to the 11:00 am liturgy (traditional, with a choir). I prefer the 9:00 liturgy, but, for various reasons, often find myself there at 11:00 instead. (Prior to attending, I will have fasted from sundown onward the night before, which is my general practice in preparation for receiving Holy Communion.) In general, the liturgy proceeds as follows:

We "warm up" as the praise band leads us in a few songs (or the choir sings something). The liturgy then formally begins; the congregation stands as the cross is brought up the center aisle (lifted high, on top of a pole, by one of the altar servers, who always wear white robes) to the altar area (the members of the congregation will generally bow as the cross passes them on the way to the front). Our clergy (pastor and two deacons, if all are attending that liturgy) follow along in procession behind the cross. (The clergy also wear vestments, which vary in color depending on the time of year; right now, in the Easter season, the colors are white, with gold trim. I match by wearing a white shirt and gold tie.) One of the deacons will proceed with a book containing the Gospel accounts raised overhead; I nod my head as that passes by, as seems appropriate.

If it is the 11:00 liturgy, the choir will also accompany the procession, bowing toward the altar area before "peeling off" to each of the side aisles and heading back to the rear, where the choir and organ are located. Note: There is another cross affixed above the altar (a crucifix -- Jesus on it -- during Lent; an "empty" cross during the rest of the year), and, in general, it is considered appropriate to bow toward this cross when passing in front, or when about to enter the altar area. During the procession, we sing the entrance hymn (or praise song).

Then we have the Collect (opening prayer), followed by the series of readings. The congregation is sitting during this time (although I kneel, as I personally do not think it appropriate to sit while the Bible is formally being read; the pews are equipped with "kneelers," wooden constructs covered in padding that are attached to, and swivel out from, the pew in front of the one an individual is seated on). The readings are:

First Lesson - Old Testament or Acts - spoken from the pulpit by a reader while the congregation remains silent

Responsive Reading - Psalms - at 9:00, spoken by a reader; at 11:00, sung by the choir - with the congregation adding their voices

Second Lesson - Epistles or Revelation - spoken from the pulpit by a reader while the congregation remains silent

At this point, the congregation stands and the praise band will lead another song (or the choir will sing something) while the cross is brought back from the altar halfway down the center aisle, followed by a deacon lifting high the Gospel accounts (as I always try to sit up front, the cross and Gospels pass me again, so I bow, and nod). From the middle of the center aisle, the deacon then reads the Gospel selection (I suspect that the symbolism is that Christ is proclaimed within the midst of the people). The cross then leads back to the altar, followed by the deacon raising the Gospels (with another bow, and nod, from me).

The pastor or deacon will then offer another prayer, then give the "homily" (sermon). The homily will usually be based on the Gospel passage, but might instead discuss one of the other readings, or something entirely different. This past Sunday, for example, the Second Lesson was Revelation 21:1-6, and the homily focused on the Church as Christ's bride. (Needless to say, I was happy about that!)

At this point, if not later, we will do the corporate confession of sin. (This part seems to "move around" within the liturgy depending on the time of year and, perhaps, other factors; I have not yet sorted out the timing issues.) We all (including the pastor) kneel facing the altar. Most of the time, the confession goes like this:

Deacon: "Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor."

All of us (including the pastor) then say...

"Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen."

(During the recitation, I beat my chest with my fist, per Luke 18:13; being "liturgical" does not mean that we cannot "individualize" our worship in non-disruptive ways.)

At the end of the prayer of contrition, the pastor stands up, turns around, and pronounces absolution upon the rest of us, who remain kneeling:

"Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen."

(In addition to kneeling, I also have my head bowed and hands raised, palms up, in what I hope God sees as a submissive posture, as I receive forgiveness). At this point, dear chosen lady, please recall my The Christian Priesthood and Confession post, where I argue that, because we all share in Christ's Priesthood, any of us can forgive sins in Christ's name -- I stress this because I do not view the pastor as having an exclusive, special connection to God. Nevertheless, he is acting in Christ's name, and I manifest submission to that just as if Christ himself is pronouncing forgiveness (as I believe is actually happening, through the pastor). I think that the confession and forgiveness is an important step in preparation for communing with Christ.

The congregation sits down and the pastor asks for those celebrating birthdays or anniversaries to come forward; any who fall into those categories will kneel at the altar rail (separating the altar area from the rest of the church), to receive a special prayer of blessing from the pastor. (While only the pastor verbalizes the prayer, I participate by kneeling and extending my hand in an act of joining in the bestowing of blessing -- I am a priest too!)

The pastor then formally ends the first part of the liturgy (traditionally known as the Liturgy of the Word) by telling us to greet one another in peace. (One then hugs, or shakes the hand, of those around him while saying something along the lines of "peace be with you.") The pastor then notes the announcements in the bulletin before beginning the second part of the liturgy (the Liturgy of the Sacrament, if I remember the traditional name correctly) by calling forward those who will be taking up the offering. During the offering, there is another praise song or music from the choir, while the pastor and deacon prepare the wafers and wine (mixed with water) for the upcoming Holy Communion.

(I don't remember if it is before or after the offering, but, during the 9:00 liturgy, the younger children who, up until this point, were in Sunday School, come in for the rest of the service. They come up the center aisle toward the altar, with the one in the lead carrying a wooden cross, while the congregation sings the first verse of "Fairest Lord Jesus." I bow to the cross as it passes by; at the altar rail, an altar server takes the cross and the kids peel off to each side and go to wherever their families are sitting.)

We then kneel again and offer up prayers for the parish, for the larger Church, for the nation, for the people in the middle east, for the sick and those that have recently died, etc. (during this time I offer up prayers for my children and, as of recently, my ex-wife; you have a lot to do with the latter, as you once asked me, "You pray for her, yes?" and I have been mulling that over in subsequent months, finally admitting that, yes, I ought to be doing so). If the corporate confession hasn't been done yet, it takes place somewhere in there. The congregation then stands and recites the Nicene Creed (but I do not participate in reciting the part in [brackets], the Filioque clause):

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

From this point forward, the liturgy focuses on Communion. As in the modern Roman Catholic Mass, the pastor faces the congregation. (In the Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, and pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic liturgies, the pastor has his back to the congregation and is facing the altar cross.) I will quote at length from the Book of Common Prayer, inserting occasional comments:

The people stand. The Celebrant (pastor) sings or says: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Celebrant: It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Celebrant and People:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The people kneel, then the Celebrant continues: Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all. He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.

At the following words concerning the bread, the Celebrant is to hold it or lay a hand upon it; and at the words concerning the cup, to hold or place a hand upon the cup and any other vessel containing wine to be consecrated.

Celebrant: On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

Celebrant: After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Celebrant: Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Celebrant and People:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Celebrant: We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

Celebrant: All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ. By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. AMEN.

Celebrant: And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

People and Celebrant:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Note: At this point, chosen lady, the pastor lifts a large, round wafer over his head and breaks it in half. Despite this action, and the next portion of the liturgy, I do not believe that the intent is to indicate that Christ is being re-sacrificed; I certainly do not believe that, and would never participate if I thought that this was somehow occurring, or meant to occur. Rather, my understanding is that we are in heaven with Christ our Priest -- as we always are, per Ephesians 2:6-7 -- and are participating in presenting Christ our Sacrifice to the Father. While Christ our Sacrifice died once, almost 2000 years ago, Christ our Priest always lives to intercede for us, per Hebrews 7:23-27, and we are united to him in his Priestly ministry. My understanding is that the Orthodox share my viewpoint; I think that the Catholics and Lutherans do as well, except that they believe that Christ is coming to Earth to be present in the Communion elements, while I, along with the Orthodox, believe that we partake of Christ in heaven.)

Celebrant: Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
People and Celebrant: Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia!

Celebrant: The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

The big moment (for me) finally arrives: Communing with Christ! The pastor, deacons, and alter servers partake of Communion standing, within the altar area itself (followed, at 11:00, by the members of the choir coming forward to receive, as they will sing while the rest of us receive); while this is going on, I am saying my own private prayer of preparation that is a condensed version of my Letter to Christ, particularly the last two paragraphs. While fluid and informal, my prayer tends to be something like the following:

"Thank you, Lord, for loving us enough to come and die for us. Now, transform us by that love into the bride you are worthy of, the one that you will be pleased to spend eternity with. Bring us safely to that blessed day when we will see you face to face, and know you as we are known. We want to experience your love, dear Husband."

At last, we are invited forward, row by row. As I step into the center aisle, I bow, or go down on one knee, and make the sign of the cross. Once a spot opens up at the altar rail, I proceed to it, kneel, and put my hands out together. First comes the wafer, placed into my hands, accompanied by the words, "the Body of Christ, the bread of heaven." (I acknowledge this by bowing my head as the wafer is placed into my hands.) At this point, I have a choice while I wait for the cup to reach me: I can consume the wafer, then drink from the cup when it comes; or, I can hold on to the wafer, so as to partake of the bread and wine together (and this is what I do). I hold the wafer up so that the altar server with the cup can see it; the server then takes the wafer, dips it in the wine, and puts it in my mouth with the words, "the Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation" or, alternatively (since I am receiving both elements at once), "the Body and Blood of Christ." (When receiving, I lift my hands up, palms out, in a gesture of submissively offering myself to Christ.)

At this point, dear sister, I pause to address an issue that you have raised more than once: Why do I "receive" Communion, rather than "take" Communion? As I will explain in my upcoming Holy Communion multi-post, the paradigm that I employ regarding Communion is not the dinner table, but the marriage bed; within this paradigm, Christ is the Husband and has the male role, while the Church is the wife and has the female role. To my way of thinking, the female does not "take" the male; rather, she "receives" him. I am really glad that I am not an altar server, for I then would commune with Christ while standing up; as it is, I receive kneeling, hands out and open, while Christ is placed in my mouth (in my mind a submissive, reverent posture).

As I receive, I close my eyes, and allow myself a few seconds of "just me and Jesus." I thank him for being willing to love me, sinful and unworthy though I be, and express my hope that he be honored and pleased by my giving myself to him. All the while, I am bowing my head, crossing myself, and blowing kisses (yes, really; I probably look ridiculous, but I don't care, and no one has ever said anything negative to me about it -- Episcopalians, for better or worse, tend to be tolerant, broadminded people, and their letting me be me is one of the reasons I attend there). I cut it short because I know that someone is waiting behind me for my spot on the altar rail. I get up, return to my seat, resume kneeling, and pray for those who are still receiving.

Note: The Episcopal Church has an "infant Baptism" understanding and practice (in fact, we had such a Baptism during 11:00 liturgy this past Sunday). Since it is also the position of the Episcopal Church that "any Baptized Christian" may partake of Communion, one will often see young children at the altar rail. It is left to the parent to decide, concerning both the bread and the wine, if the child will partake. (My former, Orthodox congregation viewed it similarly, except that it was more the expectation that young children would partake, rather than just the acceptability of them partaking.)

After everyone is done, there is a post-Communion prayer said by all (with the congregation kneeling):

"Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Meanwhile, some of the leftover Communion elements have been packaged up "to go"; these are then given to one or more ladies to take to those who cannot come to Church (the hospitalized, etc.), but who still want to receive Communion. The ladies are sent off with a adapted quote from 1 Corinthians 10:17: "We, who are many, are one, for we all share in one bread, and one cup."

The congregation then stands for a concluding praise song (or hymn), while the cross proceeds out of the altar area, followed by all of the altar servers, choir (at 11:00), and clergy, with a deacon holding aloft the Gospels. Everyone makes one final bow to the passing cross, and I also add one final nod to the Gospels.

The deacon stops after having traveled most of the way down the center aisle, turns around, and says, "Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit."

The congregation responds with, "Thanks be to God!"

The service is officially over at that point, but I approach the altar rail one final time, kneel, and say a concluding prayer, thanking Christ for loving us, asking him to love us again "on Thursday, next Sunday, and everywhere and always when your people gather," and asking him, once more, to transform us by his love "into the wife you are worthy of, the one you will be pleased to spend eternity with." I also ask him to help me with any (usually work-related) challenges that I foresee arising in the week ahead.

One other thing: There are two large stained glass windows up front, one on each side of the Altar; one is an image of Christ (the other is St. Barnabas, as we are "St. Barnabas Episcopal Church," and no, I don't have any particular insight as to why some traditions tend to name their churches after saints). I sit up front and on the one side, where I can use the image of Christ as a "focal point" during worship. In general, the church is quite pretty on the inside, with lots of stained glass windows; having been built in 1882, it is the oldest continuously-used public building in my city.

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I realize that what I wrote above became rather intimate in places. Please know that I do not mean to give offense, and that I do attempt to exercise restraint in what I write; in fact, I have deliberately avoided getting too "deep" in discussing Communion until I could lay it all out in my "Holy Communion" multi-post. As the multi-post keeps being pushed to the back burner, and as I am hearing that maybe Daily Paul will be shut down (say it ain't so...), I have decided to be a little more free with my keyboard. I ask your forgiveness, dear sister, if I wrote anything unacceptable in this post.

Please share your thoughts with me on what I have written above, and on my other articles that you have not yet commented on. (Hint, hint: Sexuality: Divine and Human -- Is it that you have already read this, lady patriot, but have avoided commenting because you find it offensive, and are too nice to say so? Please let me know, and I will quit bugging you about it.) I would like to get as much of a dialogue in as we can before the site shuts down and we are cut off from each other.

One final thing: I posted a new forum topic on Sunday titled A Baby Step Toward Liberty. No one responded with a post, and it quickly fell off the radar screen. Would you mind looking at it, and, if you feel that it is comment worthy, bumping it up by posting something? I don't want to bump up my own thread (just like I never upvote myself), but I would like to give DP another chance to look at it.

Thank you, dear chosen sister. I consider you a friend, and will miss our conversations if, as I hear, we are going to lose DP. God bless.

P.S.: If you have not yet reconciled with Nonna (or even if you have), you may gain some insight from what she posted here. To return your own good advice back to you, perhaps you should pray for her, lady patriot.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

I will make my reply and thoughts about your series my next

priority. I have been gone and busy the last couple of days and am thinking the next 2 days will be the same. I am hoping at some point to get my garden in...I am behind. I will answer tho. I have avoided indepth discussion for the last week or so as it will require me to think :) and not just talk off the top or near the top of my head.

I appreciate the time you have taken to write things down for me so I could have a better understanding of liturgy. I will also read the other series you have requested of me.

Thank you for bringing Nonna to my attention. I hadn't realized that I needed to patch things up with her. But realized after you brought her up that I struggled with the concept. She may have me blocked. I have tried talking with her multiple times and she does not reply. Do you know more than I know? i.e. how did you know that I needed to reconcile when I didn't even know?

...

I did not mean to say, chosen lady...

... that you were, in any way, at fault for the problem with Nonna (I don't know how the problem arose originally). I knew that there was a problem because I read a couple of your posts. In one, you indicated that a post of hers had "really hurt my feelings." In another post, you wrote that she was "knifing me in the back." I am sure that you would agree with me that it is always a sad thing, and tends to damage the Christian witness, when two self-identified Christians are publically, and personally, at odds with each other (and, again, I am not saying that you are to blame).

Regarding my rather long "liturgy" post (and I apologize for it being so long; the snowball just started rolling downhill)... It is not, primarily, a doctrinal treatment; rather it is mostly descriptive, both in terms of what is happening liturgically, and in my reaction to what is happening. It is rather intimate in places... Please know that I was not trying to be an exhibitionist; it is just that, when it comes to Communion, and to Christ as Husband (and the two topics are very much integrated in my thinking), I have a difficult time not saying (and writing) more than I should. I ask your forgiveness in advance if any thing I wrote in that post causes offense. On the bright side, because it is not primarily doctrinal, it probably will not require a doctrinal response from you; just "break in" with observations or questions as you read through my description.

P.S.: I have invited Granger to also read what I wrote, and to respond by pointing out, for your information, the differences between my Episcopal liturgy and her Catholic Mass. If you have not been to a Catholic Mass, you may find what she writes (if she chooses to write it) to also be informative.

God bless, dear sister and friend.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Hi Andrew,

Not coming from a sacramental tradition I have no experience of worship of God thru anything but Spirit and thought. I do not look at objects in worship. There are no parades of sacred objects in the worship services I am part of. All worship is directed in Spirit to The Spirit: God. http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=spirit+and+truth

As far as the Lord's Supper the expression you gave, what you experience is not at all my experience. I am a chaste bride espoused and waiting for The Bridegroom http://www.biblestudytools.com/kjv/2-corinthians/11-2.html

And as in the manor of the Jewish tradition: My groom’s Father has arranged for me; I do not know when my groom will arrive to take me away and consummate the marriage. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/relat...
(Also note that my groom is at the moment preparing a place for me: http://www.biblestudytools.com/kjv/john/passage.aspx?q=john+...

At which time I will see him face to face and know him as I am known: http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=then+face+to+face&c...

But until then the Holy Spirit has been given to me as an earnest of my salvation. http://www.biblestudytools.com/kjv/ephesians/1-14.html

When I take the Lord’s Supper I am doing so in remembrance http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=this+do+in+remembra... of Him and what he did to purchase me as his bride.

To be quite honest, I see sacramental worship perhaps as approaching an opportunity to turn man-made objects into idols, worshipping the created instead of the Creator http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=ALTAR+stone&c=&t=kj... and I see an ecclesiastically controlled governing and worship system as having the ability to maintain control over me and my relationship with my God. I see no human as my priest or standing in the gap between me and my God. Only His Son, has the credentials to represent me: http://www.biblestudytools.com/kjv/hebrews/passage.aspx?q=he...

So while you say “It is not, primarily, a doctrinal treatment; rather it is mostly descriptive, both in terms of what is happening liturgically, and in my reaction to what is happening.” I cannot help but answer according to what I understand as doctrine. http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=doctrine+reproof&c=...

Andrew, I have been quite honest in my words, and I have not softened them. They are my exact thoughts. I have hesitated in my reply because I do not want to offend you or to appear to sit in judgment of your experience with worship. So it has taken me a bit of time to answer because I wanted to be careful in my answer. Your description of liturgical worship does sound very experiential, but I cannot agree that we have experienced consummation. The Jewish wedding tradition is a shadow of Christ and his bride. Until Christ returns, the halt, maimed and blind (Gentiles) have been called to the marriage feast because those that were bidden, the Jews, would not come as invited.

Part of consummation is becoming one: I will be changed in a twinkling of and eye when that time comes! http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=twinkling&c=&t=kjv&...

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. http://www.biblestudytools.com/kjv/revelation/19.html

I hope you will have time to study: http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/relat... and consider the picture of Christ and his church in the representation.

When I am finally with Christ, I will ever be with Him thru eternity as a wedded wife should be. But for now I am betrothed and am keeping myself spotless so that I might be a chaste virgin upon His arrival. http://www.biblestudytools.com/kjv/1-thessalonians/4-17.html

...

Thank you for your response, sister bear!

I find your response to be very encouraging, for it seems, on the marriage of Christ to his Church, that we agree far more than we disagree. To me, the most basic, and most important, question concerning the Christ/Church marriage is: Is the marriage real, or is it merely a metaphor for something else? I find it heartening that you affirm that the marriage is real (but, as yet, unconsummated); to me the timing of consummation is an important, but less fundamental, question, one that I will address in a response that, hopefully, I will post before the weekend is over. (I clicked on all the links embedded in your post, dear sister, and found the Jewish wedding link to be interesting and informative. Thank you.)

That leaves a third important question: Who are the participants in the marriage? In other words, who does Christ express eros toward? I will eagerly await your answer to that question after you read my Sexuality: Divine and Human multi-post.

I do want to presently address some other topics that you raised in your post:

"I do not look at objects in worship. There are no parades of sacred objects in the worship services I am part of... To be quite honest, I see sacramental worship perhaps as approaching an opportunity to turn man-made objects into idols, worshiping the created instead of the Creator..."

You have raised an important issue, and I absolutely share your position that we should avoid idolatry, and worship none other than our triune God. However, an object can portray Christ, such that one may relate to Christ through the object.

To employ an illustration, suppose that I am at work, and start thinking about my children. I have a picture of each of them in my office; if I pick up one of the pictures and kiss it, what would my intent be? Am I intending to show affection for the picture, or for the child of mine that the picture portrays?

The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. - Exodus 17:5-6 NIV

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. - 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NIV

While water gushing forth from the rock that was struck was, in itself, miraculous, God would eventually use that to portray the greater work of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. - Isaiah 53:5 NIV

Similarly, Christ was manifested in the burning bush, such that Moses was commanded show reverence:

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. - Exodus 3:1-6 NIV

Please allow me to explain further, concerning the various objects mentioned in my post...

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. - Galatians 6:14 NIV

Since the early centuries, Christians have seen the cross as both a symbol for Christ and for his saving work. At my liturgy, the congregation bows to show their respect for Christ, and for his sacrifice on our behalf.

I have a cross on the wall near the door of my office at work, and I make a practice, if no one else is in my office, of stopping on the way out and taking a moment to give Jesus a kiss (by touching my hand to my mouth, and then to the cross), bow my head, and think a word or a phrase ("Blessed Love" or some such). This all takes about five seconds -- but it is five seconds that I would not have given to Christ had that cross not reminded me to do so. Five seconds, over and over again, throughout the day, because that cross reminds me that Jesus is there with me at work.

I have another cross on my living room wall at home; as the living room is closest to the front door, I pass by that cross whenever I am coming into, or leaving, the residence. Whenever I pass by, I am reminded to stop, bow, cross myself and/or blow a kiss, and whisper something to our dear Husband. When I prepare something to eat, I will take it into the living room in front of the cross, bow my head and extend my bowl, and say, "Thank you, Lord." As my joints are becoming cranky as I get older, I can no longer sleep comfortably in a bed; I therefore sleep in a reclining chair, in the living room, directly in front of the cross. The last thing I see as I am closing my eyes at night is the cross, so I say, "Good night, Love." In the morning, one of the first things in see is the cross, so I say, "Good morning, Love." If it is a Saturday morning, and I have nowhere else I need to be, I will lay there in my reclining chair and let time pass, praying intermittently but, mostly, content to lie there thinking about things while in his presence.

My wife and I were separated at the beginning of 2009, and that year proved to be the most difficult of my adult life. At times, the loneliness became almost overwhelming, and I had to rely on Jesus for companionship as I had never needed to before. Whether at home, at work, or at church -- and I am usually in one of those three places -- I see the cross, and I know Christ is there.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. - Psalm 138:2 KJV

If God has magnified his word even above his own name, should I not nod my head when the book of the Gospels proceeds past me? Should I not seek to assume a respectful posture when the word of God is read? (I am not criticizing my fellow congregants who do not nod and who remain seated; each of us must do as our understanding and conscience dictates.)

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? - 1 Corinthians 10:16 NIV

At the very least, the Communion elements portray Christ as intimately as anything else in the Christian life. Why, then, should I not kneel at the altar rail to receive Holy Communion? Why not bow my head when the wafer is placed in my hands? Why not assume a yielding posture as the bread and wine are placed in my mouth? Would I not do these things for Christ himself?

As you know, dear sister, I see Holy Communion as more than merely symbolic. While various positions have been advanced over the years and across denominations as to how Christ is manifested in the Communion elements, the viewpoints can, in my opinion, be simplified down to three (for brevity, I will refer to "wine," although I view nonalcoholic grape juice as also being valid):

1. The bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ, such that Christ is objectively present in the Communion elements, and every recipient, regardless of spiritual state, receives Christ. This view is asserted by the Catholic and Lutheran Churches, along with some Orthodox and some Anglicans.

2. The bread and wine signify, and convey, the Body and Blood of Christ, such that the Christian receives Christ. This view is held by the "Calvinist" Reformed, along with some Orthodox, some Anglicans, and some Methodists. (At least historically, some Reformed Baptists also held this position -- see Questions 98, 99, and 107 of the 1689 Baptist Catechism.) This is my position.

3. The bread and wine merely symbolize the Body and Blood of Christ. This view is held by the "Zwinglian" Reformed and the Mennonites, along with most Baptists, most theological liberals, and, probably, most modern-day American Evangelicals.

While I would consider positions 1 and 2 above to each be "sacramental," I recall reading years ago from some Calvinist source or other that "sacraments are signs and symbols that convey what they symbolize," and I think that this is a good way of looking at it. As applied to Holy Communion, how does this happen? There is another Calvinist saying that comes close to my view: "The faithful believers are 'lifted up' by the power of the Holy Spirit to feast with Christ in heaven."

While I agree that we partake of Christ in heaven, I believe that we, as Christians united to Christ, already are in heaven:

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places... And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 1:19-20, 2:6-7 KJV

I believe that, while being here on earth partaking of bread and wine, we are simultaneously in heaven receiving Christ himself. My concern is therefore not with a change in the bread and wine, but rather with our location, as we "act out" our "heavenly existence." I believe by faith that I am in heaven communing with Christ, even though my senses tell me only that I am in a church building consuming bread and wine. I therefore see "dimly" and "know in part," but eagerly look forward to the approaching day when I will see Christ "face to face" and will know him "fully":

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB)

While our presence with Christ in heaven is a supernatural reality, it is also an ongoing reality, and I therefore do not perceive my view as requiring an "on the spot" miracle during Holy Communion. Also, while the celebrant is, in a sense, functioning in the role of Christ our High Priest, any Christian can do that, because we are all united with Christ in his priesthood (please recall, dear chosen lady, what I wrote in The Christian Priesthood and Confession). While I view Holy Communion as a corporate activity that should be done in a congregational setting rather than privately, and while there are sound practical reasons why a trained minister who the congregation has chosen as a representative (and we have; my pastor would not be the pastor had not my congregation chosen to call him to the position) should conduct the liturgy, I am not dependent on any particular Christian tradition, any particular religious leader, or any particular liturgical wording to have a "proper" or "real" Holy Communion experience.

Likewise, I do not need the pastor to pronounce forgiveness at the end of our corporate confession in order to obtain forgiveness; Christ himself can do that. However, because Christ, in my view, can and does forgive through Christians (again, because we share in Christ's Priesthood), and because my conscience does not object to Christ doing so, I gladly receive forgiveness through the pastor. To me, the idea that we jointly confess, and are jointly forgiven, reaffirms the corporate aspect of our salvation; we are the Church, the bride that Christ "bought with his own blood" (Acts 20:28 NIV).

Concerning liturgical wording: While it is true, as I quoted in my prior post, that the Episcopal liturgy includes the following statements...

"Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him."

... and that many Anglicans (the general, worldwide name for Episcopalians) believe in an actual transformation of the Communion elements (position 1 above), I do not so believe. I believe that the Communion elements themselves remain bread and wine, but that these earthly things correspond to the heavenly reality of Christ's Body and Blood such that, when I receive the bread and wine on earth, I am also receiving Christ himself in heaven. This is so only because I am in "heavenly places" as part of my unity with Christ. If a non-Christian, therefore, were to partake of Holy Communion, he would only receive bread and wine, and not Christ himself, because he is not united to Christ in heaven.

Furthermore, since I consider the elements to remain bread and wine after Holy Communion ends, I personally would not engage in Eucharistic Adoration, although I recognize that a Christian, in terms of the intent of his heart, is not committing idolatry if he believes that the fullness of Christ is present in the post-consecrated host. Dear sister, I share your concern that we not slip into idolatry, and recognize that there is the potential for that. I believe that my "position 2" (Calvinist/Orthodox) sacramentalism guards against the potential for idolatry in a way that a "position 1" sacramentalism does not.

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"I see an ecclesiastically controlled governing and worship system as having the ability to maintain control over me and my relationship with my God. I see no human as my priest or standing in the gap between me and my God. Only His Son, has the credentials to represent me..."

In our dialogue (which I enjoy very much, chosen lady), you have returned more than once to the concern that sacramental theology can correspond with ecclesiastical tyranny, and I grant your point. However, I have also found the following scenario to be more than hypothetical: A recent Bible School graduate (let's call him Mr. Jones), starts up a new "church plant" and (of course) becomes the pastor. It is a "nothing but the (King James) Bible" congregation that is strongly opposed to all "doctrines of men" and to all "worldliness," including alcohol consumption, modern praise music, and women wearing pants (in fact, women are not allowed to wear pants in this church).

Years pass, and the church grows; Pastor Jones retains firm and unchallenged control over the congregation (after all, its his church, since he planted it); the members are expected to share his doctrinal and moral views and, if you don't agree with him about something, you are free to leave. Pastor Jones is quite dynamic as a preacher, and is able to hold the congregation's attention over the entire hour of his sermon; the sermon tends to be quite negative, however, being filled with barbed attacks on other (supposed) Christians, and especially on Catholics. Pastor Jones puts a heavy emphasis on evangelism, and so the church has an ongoing Friday evening street preaching ministry; the members shout the Gospel at passing motorists, and, when engaging pedestrians in conversation, seem instinctively suspicious, quickly categorizing those who don't say the "magic words," or who disagree concerning some point of doctrine, as "not saved."

While the scenario above is, to an extent, a composite, it is, for the most part, a description of a real-life congregation that you and I discussed a few months ago. The name of the congregation is "The Bible Baptist Church" and its members make up the "Corner Group" that I interact with on Friday evenings (the interaction has dwindled, as it appears that the majority of them have concluded that I am "lost," and should simply be ignored).

Please understand, dear sister and friend, that my point is not to insult you or your faith tradition, but to say the following: Heavy handed, controlling ecclesiastical leadership can spring up out of "non-sacramental" soil, too. I have sat through three sermons by "Pastor Jones" (not his real name), and conversed with him on a few other occasions, and it is my opinion that, though his congregation is about as far from "sacramental" as one will find, he is nowhere near as kind, caring, and pastoral as my congregation's Father Brian is (or as Father Mark, my Orthodox pastor, was). And the attitudes exhibited by Pastor Jones seem to infect his entire church; I have little doubt that if I began to regularly attend his "non-liturgical" congregation, and started, during worship, to cross myself and "blow kisses" toward the bare wooden cross behind the pulpit (as I do toward the stained glass window depiction of Jesus at my own church) that I would be greeted with hostility and soon asked to either desist, or leave.

Dear sister, you were, as you put it, "quite honest in [your] words," which were not "softened." Please allow me to, in turn, write rather plainly for the next few paragraphs...

My impression, (and please correct me if I am wrong), is that your fear of spiritual tyranny -- and who is likely to perpetrate it -- comes from the history books, rather than from modern-day, real life experience. There is no question that the Inquisition (both Roman and Spanish) tortured and murdered a great many, and that the Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Calvinists have all engaged in deadly persecution at one time or another (you Baptists are to be commended, as you are one of those Christian traditions -- along with the Mennonites, Quakers, and some others -- who do not have a significant history of persecuting others).

As someone who has attended (in ascending order, from less to more sacramental/liturgical) Amish, Baptist, non-denominational, LDS (not by choice, but because my kids were attending there), Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, Orthodox, and Catholic churches over the course of my adult life, it has been my experience that the keys to avoiding spiritual and other forms of abuse are the same as in the civil realm: liberty and equality. I have found that those congregations that choose their own leaders and that adhere to the priesthood of all believers tend to be safer and healthier than those with installed, unaccountable leaders and an exclusive priesthood.

The fundamental prerequisite for the abuse of any population is that the system in place must allow for the abuse to happen. "Government by consent of the governed" and "all men are created equal" have protected us, as Americans, from the sort of tyranny that reigns in countries like North Korea and Saudi Arabia (and groups such as the Native Americans, Blacks and WWII Japanese have suffered precisely because our foundational American principles were, shamefully, not truly extended to cover them).

Concerning churches, it is no coincidence that the predatory doctrine and practice of polygamy arose within a tradition that has a "Divinely appointed" leadership that the rank-and-file are expected to unquestioningly obey, and that views women as being fundamentally unequal to men. More recently, the clerical pedophelia scandal arose within a tradition that gathers all ecclesial power to one man, and that considers the laity to be, by definition, spiritually inferior to the clergy.

My point, dear sister, is that, while differences in liturgical practice and sacramental understanding may reflect ecclesiastical oppression, they do little to cause it. While I share your concern about spiritual freedom, please believe me when I say that I am, with my "Jesus loves me through Communion and forgives me through Confession" perspective, just as free as the "Bible only" Christian next door. (I also suspect that I perceive Christ's love in my life just as much as my "Bible only" brother does, and perhaps even as much as my "Bible only" sister does as well.) Please be willing to keep an open mind and evaluate my theological ideas -- as I should yours -- on their own merits, and not preclude them because the history books say that the "bad guys" held to those ideas. (That is not to say that we shouldn't learn from history, and I will continue to try to clarify my position to avoid misunderstanding.)

Eventually, dear lady patriot, I may run out of things to say about sacraments (or DP may be shut down, and end our discussion). When that day comes, it may be that we will have to "agree to disagree" on some issues. To "pre-quote" a section from my upcoming Holy Communion multi-post:

"I freely admit, however, that sacramental theology is not for everyone... If this is the case for you, dear reader, I suggest continuing to participate in the Lord’s Supper, but with an understanding that does not pose the theological conflict that my perspective does."

Please understand, dear sister and friend, that I consider you to be a wise, mature Christian who has obviously immersed herself in Scripture for many years. In short, I do not at all consider our differences of opinion to spring from any Biblical ignorance on your part, and I hope that you, likewise, do not attribute such ignorance to me (that is not to say that I couldn't develop much better devotional habits; that is definitely something that I should improve upon). Sometimes, two Christians who each love God's word will simply disagree on some issue of interpretation.

Speaking of disagreement, my sense is that we really don't diverge on issues that sharply (nothing like the situation between many members of the "Corner Group" and I). I sometimes get the impression, as I did when first reading the post to which I am now responding, that you do perceive us to be in sharp disagreement; I am attributing that to my needing to state my position more precisely, so I have attempted to do so.

If I wounded you in anything that I have said above, please let me know so that I can attempt to make amends. Please know that I consider you a dear sister and friend and would not deliberately disparage you in any way. As always, I welcome your observations and questions. God bless, chosen lady.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Brother Andrew, I think of one Scripture

Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory
http://www.biblestudytools.com/colossians/1-27-compare.html

Christ is in the Believer so I find it different to my experience to acknowledge Christ represented by a cross.

Now I've thought of another:

1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV
Pray without ceasing.

All day the Believer communes with Christ. He is the forefront of every thought, decision, and action. But I think it nice that you take those extra special moments to commune with Him. I just kinda talk God throughout the day.

I see what you mean about a church "belonging" to a man. Yes, that is the counter side. And those people in that church can be in bondage to that man perhaps even in a worse than thru a leturgical setting as I considered. Thank you for rounding out my thoughts.

I think maybe some Christian groups have not had the same violent history because those groups did not weild power thru the state or visa versa.

I don't want to read about divine sexuality. Is that OK? I think of God's love as agape love, not eros love.

Thank you for taking the time to read thru the post I left you. The marriage attendants are defined on the next page of that study http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/relat...

I haven't read it yet :)

Thank you for caring whether you have wounded me. I had worried that I might have. We are talking frank, so if I say something that sounds harsh please know there is a soft voice behind it. I am not yelling or screaming, just talking in a calm voice. If I offend you, please say so as well, as I remember someone who thought I NEEDED to have my quiet time in the morning...well, that messed me up. So, I don't want to be a hindrence to you in such a way.

...

Thank you for your response, chosen lady!

Note: This post has, toward the bottom, been significantly edited.

Today (May 05), the 300 million Orthodox Christians are celebrating Pascha (Easter). If you like, sister bear, please join me in posting a Paschal greeting to our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

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"Christ is in the Believer, so I find it different to my experience to acknowledge Christ represented by a cross... All day the Believer communes with Christ. He is the forefront of every thought, decision, and action. But I think it nice that you take those extra special moments to commune with Him. I just kinda talk to God throughout the day."

In this regard, you are further along than I am in your Christian walk. I am not yet at the place where Christ is at "the forefront of every thought, decision, and action." Instead, I tend to forget to include Christ, and the cross brings him back into my mind.

Concerning the "Jewish Marriage" Bible study that you linked to, I read the entire "chapter" (there were 6 lessons, if I recall correctly). The focus is exclusively on who the marriage participants are (Christ and the Church), rather than on why Christ wants to be married to us, or on what the marriage will be like; in that respect, the study, while interesting, was somewhat disappointing to me.

I tried to clarify for you my understanding of what does, and doesn't, happen to the bread and wine during Holy Communion; Did it help at all? Prior to my clarification, were you thinking that I held to "position 1" (transformation of the elements themselves)? Now that you know that I do not so hold, does that bring us closer to agreement -- in other words, is "position 2" an acceptable middle ground?

"I don't want to read about divine sexuality. Is that OK? I think of God's love as agape love, not eros love."

Of course, dear sister. Please forgive me for pushing something on you that you are not comfortable with. If I may ask some sincere, non-argumentative questions about your understanding, as I am genuinely curious:

What would an eternal, "agape only" marriage with Christ be like?
What do you look forward to in such a marriage?
Why did Christ so desire to be married to us that he was willing to die to redeem us for himself?

As I think about it, perhaps the reason I have sensed such sharp and persistent disagreement from you concerning our respective understandings of The Lord's Supper/Holy Communion is because Divine eros is central to my understanding, but not to yours. Do you agree?

Now that I know of your discomfort with the eros concept, I would be inclined to simply avoid, in our correspondence, any topic (such as Holy Communion) that, for me, features eros. The problem is, eros is foundational to my theology, spirituality, and eternal hope, and I therefore anticipate that we would be quite limited in what we could still talk about. For my part, I do not want to make you uncomfortable, dear friend, but I also do not want our spiritual dialogue to wither away.

EDIT: With your permission, dear chosen sister, I would like to, in a followup post, say a few words about what my understanding of eros is, just to make sure that our disagreement isn't simply a misunderstanding over terminology. May I do that? Please let me know how you wish to proceed, dear lady, and I will follow your lead.

EDIT: As I look back, I realize that I need to ask you to forgive me concerning something I said. In my previous post, I made the following statement:

"I also suspect that I perceive Christ's love in my life just as much as my 'Bible only' brother does, and perhaps even as much as my 'Bible only' sister does as well."

First, I want to clarify that, when I wrote "'Bible only' sister," I was not referring to you in particular. Rather, I was referring to the fact that I perceive female Christians to generally have a fuller, more pervasive sense of God's love than their male Christian counterparts do. Regardless:

1. It was prideful for me to compare myself to my brothers and sisters in this manner.

2. It was disrespectful and judgmental for me to use the term "Bible only" in this manner.

Dear sister and friend, please pray that God will forgive me, and that he will root pride, disrespect, and judgment out of my heart, transforming me by imparting the "more excellent way" of humility and charity.

Thank you and God bless, dear chosen lady.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Brother Andrew,

I am in some kind of mental state where it is diffucult for me to want to focus on hard work. I saw my doctor yesterday and he thinks it is a norepinephrine deficiency. So we are working on that. I suffer from depression. It has been so since I was a child. After our first son was born I hit rock bottom and that is the first time I sought medical help. After receiving that help, I realized that it was the first time in my life that I had experienced any relief from the plague of depression. So, it is an ongoing battle and medicines must be adjusted now and then. So, I also talk with Josf and I have to think hard to talk with him and I have not been talking to him. I think I have to think hard to talk with you, and so I must be avoiding the topics. We go beyond chit chat or easy off the top of the head answers.

I read your reply after you wrote it and I did not take any of your words as if they needed any forgiveness. I put of replying and put of replying. I think it is my medication.

Today is a beautiful sunny day and I need to work in the yard and all I want to do is sleep. I am so tired.

But I want to answer this off of the top of my head because Scripture immediately came as I read it:

"Dear sister and friend, please pray that God will forgive me, and that he will root pride, disrespect, and judgment out of my heart, transforming me by imparting the "more excellent way" of humility and charity."

Andrew, I do not pray and ask God to forgive people. I practice I John 1:9. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I confess my sins to God and he forgives me. If I have wronged another person, I also ask them to forgive me. But when I sin, it is agaist heaven. When David sinned he said he had sinned against God and God alone. http://beta.biblestudytools.com/kjv/psalms/51.html

So, Andrew, I have no unforgivenss toward you and you can go directly to God and ask Him for forgiveness. Andrew, we have a Great High Priest who has passed into the heaven. He intercedes on our behalf. http://beta.biblestudytools.com/kjv/hebrews/4.html specifically vs 13 thru 16.

Now, my doc has cut my meds in half and I can bearly keep my eyes open so I am going to sleep now.

:)

I am sorrowed to hear, dear chosen sister...

... about your recent difficulties with your health. With the consent of you and your husband, I will add you into my regular prayer routine. I will wait for your response. God bless, dear lady patriot.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

The Christian Priesthood and Confession

In my opinion, an important aspect of our salvation is that we are united to Christ. When the eternal Son of God became incarnate, he miraculously derived his human nature from his mother Mary:

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. - Galatians 4:4-5 KJV

In so doing, the Son became a descendant of Adam, and is therefore related to the entire human race. This allows him to serve as a "kinsman redeemer" (see, generally, Ruth) for his Church...

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. - Acts 20:28 KJV

... and to gather the fullness of the elect into her:

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. - Revelation 14:6-7 KJV

The Church is united to Christ in marriage:

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. - Ephesians 5:28-32 KJV

As individuals, we become united to Christ at conversion:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession –- to the praise of his glory. - Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV

From one perspective, our unity with Christ is what applies his saving work to us. We have died to sin, and been raised to new life, because of his death and resurrection:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. - Romans 6:5-8 NIV

Because Christ has ascended into heaven, we, likewise, have ascended:

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places... And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 1:19-20, 2:6-7 KJV

Because Christ is our Prophet, we thereby have the authority to proclaim the Scripture to each other, and to the world (and to read and understand it for ourselves):

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. - Acts 3:22 KJV

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20 NIV

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:11 NIV

Because Christ is the enthroned King who is inheriting all things, we will reign with him:

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. - Revelation 3:21 KJV

Coming to the point of this post, because Christ is our Priest...

The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. - Hebrews 7:23-27 NASB

... we are all priests:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

Regarding the Hebrews 7 passage referenced above, please note two things: On the one hand, Christ died "once for all"; on the other hand, Christ "always lives to make intercession" for us. Christ is both Priest and Sacrifice, for he "offered up Himself." As our Sacrifice, his role is completed; he has conquered death, and "cannot die again" (Romans 6:9 NIV). As our Priest, his ministry is ongoing, and it is based, I argue, on the perpetual presence of his imperishable blood before the Father:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. - 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

I believe that the forgiving, purifying, transforming power of Christ's "once for all" sacrifice is applied to us over time, as we live the Christian life:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9 NIV

Please note that two things happen when we confess: we are forgiven, and we are purified. Confession is therefore pastoral, in that God uses it not only to reconcile, but to sanctify, thereby bringing us one step closer to the holy, transformed existence that is our destiny.

While Christ our Sacrifice atoned for every sin we would ever commit, I do not believe that we are therefore forgiven of all of our sins "past, present, and future" at the time of our conversion. Rather, when we are regenerated, Christ our Priest obtains forgiveness for all of the sins we have already committed, and continues to obtain forgiveness for new sins as we confess them during the ongoing Christian life. It is a question of when the "once for all" forgiveness is applied to us.

Because we, as Christians, share in Christ's priesthood, we can, and should, pray for each other:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. - Ephesians 6:18-20 NIV

Furthermore, we can, in Christ's name, forgive each other:

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." - John 20:22-23 NKVJ

Since we can pray for, and pronounce, forgiveness, it is therefore appropriate that we confess our sins to each other:

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. - James 5:14-16 NASB

Please note that, while our jointly held priesthood means that we can confess our sins "to one another," we are to nevertheless "call for the elders." Why would this be? Returning for a moment to the subject of our union with Christ in his prophetic ministry, we see that we have no need for anyone to teach us...

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. - Hebrews 8:10-11 NKVJ

... and yet, Christ has appointed teachers for us:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. - Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

Thus, for pastoral reasons, we voluntarily allow those who have shown themselves to be "above reproach," "respectable," and "able to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2 NIV) to represent our corporate prophetic ministry. Similarly, because the "prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much," we choose elders to "pray over" us and to hear our confessions (James 5:14-16 NASB); their "priesthood" is derived from ours.

I firmly believe that "government by consent of the governed" is not only an American principle for civil government, but also a Biblical principle for every human institution, including the Church. (God himself has entered into a voluntary covenantal relationship with us; the reality that he works in our hearts so that we choose him does not negate the fact that we do choose him.) Thus, while it may seem that my argument has simply circled back around to the idea of a "priesthood," there is, in my own mind, a big difference between a hierarch who claims an exclusive connection to Christ, and who keeps us in a state of subjection, and a representative who is chosen by us, and who derives his priestly authority and functionality from a relationship with Christ that we all equally share.

I realize that what I have written here raises legitimate questions...

May a Christian confess his sins directly to God through Christ?

Of course, and he should do so if he cannot, with a clear conscience, confess through another Christian. I do think, however, that there are benefits that often result from an "indirect" confession. Recalling my experience as a practicing Orthodox, Confession to the pastor included my relating of the sin, his advice on how to overcome it, and his pronouncement of forgiveness (Penance was never assigned to me, and I was told that it is not a normal part of Orthodox Confession). I sometimes found that "coming clean" to another Christian was, in itself, helpful, as it cultivated humility and "brought the sin out into the open." Furthermore, if the pastor is experienced and wise, his counsel can be very beneficial (please note that Orthodox priests, unlike Catholic priests, are usually married, and that they therefore will often have much more "real world" life experience). Finally, I found it encouraging to hear a Christian that I respected tell me that my sin was forgiven, and that I could set my guilt aside and move forward.

What happens if, among a Christian's multitude of sins and shortcomings, he neglects to confess one?

This is where we need to view confession as pastoral, rather than judicial. I believe that Christ our Priest has the absolute, unrestrained ability to obtain forgiveness for us, because the Father has accepted Christ our Sacrifice as perfect and complete. The notion that I can remember to confess every errant thought is ridiculous, and Christ doesn't want me to spend my day doing nothing but confessing (well, not most days; Good Friday might be an exception). I am sure that many sins are simply interceded for, and forgiven, without any involvement on my part. My Episcopal congregation also has a corporate, "catch all" prayer of confession during the service, after which forgiveness for all is pronounced. Since I believe that I actually receive Christ in Holy Communion, I see that as a source of forgiveness as well. If, however, God has laid on my heart that I have sinned, and that I need to confess that sin, then it is for my benefit that I do so. God works out all things for our good!

What if a Christian, while on his way to Confession, gets into a car crash and is killed?

God is in control of all events, and if he has elected us to heaven, then he will work out the circumstances so that forgiveness is granted.

Doesn't the very notion of Confession contradict the idea of salvation by grace through faith?

This is actually an argument advanced against sacraments in general, and I intend to take up this objection in more depth in an upcoming post. In brief, God grants us repentance...

Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. - 2 Timothy 2:25-26 NIV

... and Confession is a response to that repentance. Faith that God will forgive also plays a role, but that, too, is a gift from God:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God –- not by works, so that no one can boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

If God ordains us for salvation (and I believe that he does -- see, for example, John 15:16, Acts 13:47-49, and Ephesians 1:11-14), then he also ordains the means through which he will bring that salvation about. Ultimately, it comes down to the heart: If a person believes that Confession is his own meritorious work whereby he "earns" salvation, then, for him, it has contradicted the Gospel of grace through faith (and raises the disturbing prospect that he might not have been brought into a saving relationship with Christ at all). I do not view Confession this way (praise God), but, rather, as a means that God graciously uses to apply the unmerited forgiveness and transforming power of Christ to my life. I believe that the proper attitude with which we should approach Confession is something like the following:

"I am sorry, Lord Jesus; please intercede for me before the Father. Dear Father, please forgive me, not because I deserve it, but because your Son is interceding for me with his precious body and blood." ... make the Confession... "Thank you for forgiving me, and give me a heart filled with gratitude so that I can go, and sin no more."

I do think that those traditions and congregations that adhere to the "sacramental" practice of Confession have a responsibility to instruct their members on how it should be understood in light of the Gospel. This is especially the case when the Confession includes Penance at the end.

Isn't Confession a "Catholic" doctrine and practice?

I agree with the "Catholic" understanding on some matters (such as Confession, for the most part), but not on others (such as the notion of a priesthood that does not include all Christians). In my view, it is small thinking to oppose an idea just because another, disliked Christian tradition supports it.

Isn't "Penance" unbiblical?

As I mentioned before, Orthodox Confession does not normally include Penance, and I have never felt a need for it. I am unaware, frankly, of the Biblical basis for Penance. In a recent discussion, I learned that my Episcopal pastor will attach a Penance to a Confession on a case-by-case basis, depending on the background of the parishioner. For example, he will give a Penance (such as reading a chapter of Scripture) to someone from a Catholic background, if that person sees Penance as a meaningful conclusion to Confession. This seems to me to be an effective and pastoral way of handling the situation, as long as the pastor clarifies to the parishioner that the Penance comes after forgiveness, and is done out of gratitude, rather than being something that is done to earn forgiveness. Knowing that my pastor has solidly Biblical beliefs, and a caring shepherd's heart, I am confident that he can handle Penance appropriately.

Isn't Confession a tool used by ecclesiastical leaders to keep Christians in fear and bondage?

Tragically, this is sometimes the case (and can be the case with sacraments in general). In my opinion, the danger becomes much greater when the doctrine of an exclusive priesthood is maintained, and when the lay Christian has no say over who the ecclesiastical leaders are. As I understand it, neither of these dangerous tendencies are currently a problem in either the Orthodox Church in America (where I used to attend) or the Episcopal Church (where I attend now). In circumstances where "fear and bondage" are a reality, I say praise God when Christians are delivered from that into what is for them the blessed freedom of a strictly direct-confession Christianity. For me, Confession is, at the present time, mostly either direct or corporate, but I like having the option of individual Confession through my pastor (or others; in accordance with what I wrote above, my belief is that any Christian can forgive sins in Christ's name) when circumstances warrant.

In my opinion, even a Christian with an "all sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven at conversion" outlook should, at least privately and directly, be willing to say "I am sorry" to God. Other forms of Confession can be misunderstood, and are not for everyone. For some, however, corporate and public, and even individualized, Confession is a beneficial part of the Christian life.

-------------------------

Let me close with a hymn by Charles Wesley, composed in 1742. It is noteworthy, as it seems that there are few Protestant hymns that focus on Christ's intercession in heaven:


http://youtu.be/V0qZ3h_dMGs

Liberty patriots, please feel free to post comments and ask questions, and I will attempt to respond. God bless.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Great points, especially the point concerning

Confession. This brings new light on the idea of the priesthood of the believer, and the ideas of confession to elders. In the PCA, (Presbyterian Church of America) elders are elected by the people, so at least PCA holds to the same view you do. In the PCA, elders often also take the role of 'shepherding' a group within the congregation through small group leadership.

The questions and answers you posted are well phrased and informative, as well. Personally, I have found that when you go to the offended party first, (Matt. 18:15-17), it almost always will clear things up without further steps, especially if you are dealing with a mature believer. But there are issues when the sin is not against another person besides God himself, and at those times it is often helpful to have pastoral advice. Personally, I believe that a mature pastor's wife can serve in this role for women, our associate pastor's wife when we lived in another state (OK) happened to be quite gifted in this area.

Sometimes when I am praying a prayer group, God will prompt me to pray an Identificational Repentance prayer (Meaning, I am praying for a group or individuals or am standing both in the gap for them, and identifying with their position as believers who still sin) Often it is in an area of my own life where I know there is progress, but there is still sin there. Once this happened the day a missionary to Thailand was there, and I was praying concerning difficulties with submission. (and yes, My husband was there.. I cleared praying with him first, since I believe that fulfills the requirement of married ladies to have their heads covered when praying or prophesying) So the speaker actually thanked me (indirectly) for praying so honestly, and mentioned that women in his culture have the same difficulties.

Then one of the praise band member's wives thanked me directly...It was truly humbling.

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Thank you for the kind words, Libera_me!

Are you lifelong PCA? (I am not surprised that you are Presbyterian, as the Calvinist tradition seems to attract those with sharp, analytical minds, and those adjectives certainly apply to you.) Over the years, I have been a member of three PCA congregations; one of these was a congregation where most of the women practiced covering their heads during worship, a practice I heartily approve of. (I am reminded of that by your comment about having "heads covered when praying or prophesying," and I think that seeking to respect your earthly husband in what you do publicly is a very good thing.)

That PCA congregation also practiced weekly Communion, which is a big reason why I presently am a member at my local Episcopal parish (along with the local Catholic parish, the only one I am aware of within easy walking distance that partakes of Holy Communion every week).

I also recall a non-denominational church that I attended for several years that would, on the once a month "Communion Sunday," have elders up front that people could pray with before (or after) they received Communion (I bring this up because it seems that even those who have not considered, from a doctrinal standpoint, the principles raised in my "The Christian Priesthood and Confession" post, will sometimes instinctively adhere to those principles). That congregation would also have women up front as an option for a woman who wanted to pray with another woman; I agree with your position about women mentoring other women, for, as the Apostle Paul wrote:

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." - Titus 2:3-5 NIV

I hope you don't mind me saying, for I mean it as a complement, that your "Identificational Repentance" prayer practice is what I would consider to be acting as a "priest" on another's behalf (as you, along with all Christians, are united to Christ in his priestly intercession). I find it interesting that you often will pray in this capacity about a sin that you yourself struggle with, for, as it is written:

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet he did not sin." - Hebrews 4:14-15 NIV

Any observations or questions? God bless, dear sister.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Being raised in a small town..

We had three choices: Baptist, Catholic and Lutheran. We attended the Lutheran Church, but my dad had some real beefs with certain doctrines. He would listen to Billy Graham, and even some of the Charismatic/Word of Faith types as well. Fast forward a few years.. Moved to Tulsa, at Victory Christian Center,(no hymns, all praise choruses) learned about the depths of the heresy behind the WOF movement. (Word of Faith) We are now joint attending a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church and a PCA Church. (We were also attending a Messianic Congregation...but that is a longer story)

I had actually seen some progress on this issue, and oddly enough, was not content with the progress due to a major flare up of 'old nature' that week. Funny God decided it would be fun to find a creative way to encourage me, On top of that, we went to the PCA Church that Sunday, as well as the Messianic Congregation on Sabbath (which was where I prayed), and the Pastor spoke on 'Identificational Repentance', which was something I learned about from, of all people, James Rutz. (The writer of two delightful books, if you can get past a couple of 'smart remarks' about thinkers. the Open Church, and Megashift.)

I personally think that both men and women need both someone to disciple and someone to disciple them. Having children makes the first part easy, but without a small group connection, the second part can be exceedingly difficult, even if you attend church every Sunday. (It is easier with a Messianic congregation in some ways, because they often either have prayer and a meal afterward, some do this every week,or open prayer before the service.)

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Readings for the Second Sunday of Easter (April 07, 2013)

Collect - Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; 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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First Lesson - Acts 5:27-32 (NIV)

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

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Responsive Reading - Psalm 118:14-29 (KJV)

14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:

20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.

21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

23 This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.

27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.

29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

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Second Lesson - Revelation 1:4-8 (NIV)

John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

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Gospel - John 20:19-31 (NIV)

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Sexuality: Divine and Human (Part 1)

In Genesis 1:28 (KJV), God told the first man and woman to "Be fruitful, and multiply". Did Adam and Eve seek to obey God's command while still in the Garden of Eden? Or did human sexual activity not occur until after the fall of man in Genesis 3? Does examining this topic shed any light on our relationship with Christ? This four-part series explores these questions.

As I understand it, there are four Christian views on the Theology and morality of human sexuality; ranked from "low" to "high," the views are:

1. Sexual intercourse is an inherently sinful act, one that Christians should not engage in. To my knowledge, this position has historically had little support except among some in the monastic communities. The Orthodox Church considers this view to be error, and so, undoubtedly, do most Christians.

2. While not inherently sinful, sexual intercourse relies on eros (the Greek term for sexual love), which exists only within fallen humanity. Allowed as a concession for procreation, sexual activity is incompatible with true holiness. This position is associated (perhaps unfairly) with St. Augustine and the pre-modern Catholic Church. It may also be that this position was widely held by English-speaking Protestants during the Victorian Era, which may affect the outlook of religious groups that arose out of that context.

3. Sexual intercourse has no Theological relevance, and its morality is context-specific (acceptable only within marriage, for example). This is the view of most modern American Protestants.

4. Sexual intercourse is part of what makes marriage a sacrament, and, when done properly within that context, is a means of grace. Furthermore, appropriately expressed human eros portrays the marriage of Christ to his Church, and sexual activity, when properly understood, can be an act of worship. This is my view, and the position of many Orthodox. Modern Catholicism, under the influence of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, also seems to be moving in this direction.

Concerning the above positions, a key question is: Where does human eros come from? For an answer, Part 2 will consider whether God has sexuality.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Sexuality: Divine and Human (Part 2)

In Part 1, I outline four views of human sexual intercourse. Concerning the outlined positions, a key question is: Where does human eros come from? For an answer, we should consider whether God has sexuality. (By "God" I am referring to the Divine nature, the homoousian -- "same essence" -- of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) Put in a simplistic way, I conceive of four Christian positions regarding God and gender:

1. God is male. As I understand it, this is the LDS view.

2. God is female. Christian feminists sometimes adhere to this view.

3. God is the fullness of sexuality, both male and female, and eros is a facet of Divine love. This is my view, and, I suspect, the view of most Orthodox and Catholics.

4. God is the absence of sexuality, neither male nor female, and God, therefore, does not express eros. This is probably the view of most Protestants.

Most Christians adhere to either position 3 or position 4 (although I do see why one could adopt position 1, given that God is referred to in the masculine in Scripture). Concerning why I affirm position 3, that God does have sexuality, note that God, after raising Jerusalem from infancy, declares to her:

I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. - Ezekiel 16:7-9 KJV

The bolded portions leave little doubt as to what is in view. There are also several other passages in the Prophets that refer to Israel as a wayward wife who provokes God to anger (see, for example, Jeremiah 3, Ezekiel 23, and Hosea 4). As an interesting counterpart to Ezekiel 16, please note this passage from Revelation 21:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband... And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God... - Revelation 21:1-2, 9-10 (KJV)

(Please note that God brings the "new Jerusalem" (the Church) to "the Lamb" (Christ), and how it mirrors the very first human marriage, where God brought Eve to Adam (see Genesis 2:18-25). I view this as an example of how human marriage foreshadows the marriage of Christ and the Church.)

I also look to Song of Solomon as supporting my view that God manifests eros. The Song is commonly viewed as an allegory of God's love for Israel, or Christ's love for the Church, and this allegorical interpretation is seen as justifying its canonical status.

Finally, please turn with me to 1 Corinthians 13:12:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

The bolded word is ginóskó, which refers to a first-hand, experiential knowledge. It is used elsewhere as a euphemism for sexual intimacy, as in Luke 1:34: "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" The bolded/italicized word that appears twice in 1 Corinthians 13:12 is epiginóskó, which contains a prefix that "intensifies" ginóskó. I interpret the passage as evidence that Christ and his Church express eros toward each other.

If, as I contend, eros is a facet of Divine love, then it makes sense that humans derive their capacity for eros from being made in God's image. I will expand on this in Part 3.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Though God is often refered to as "male" (The Father & The Son)

The Holy Spirit is often personified as "she" which may explain why there is a direct command not to "grieve the Holy Spirit". Also, The book of Genesis refers to creation of mankind as "Let us make mankind in our image, and our likeness." Then says: "Male and Female did He Make them. (PS. I lean toward 3 myself)

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

You are anticipating my argument, Libera_me!

When you write...

The book of Genesis refers to creation of mankind as "Let us make mankind in our image, and our likeness." Then says: "Male and Female did He Make them."

... you are quoting the very same passage, to the very same end, that I do in Part 3.

Concerning the question of Divine sexuality, I regard it as critically important that position #3 be correct. In particular, positions 1 (only male) or 4 (no sexuality) would require me to reconstruct, from the ground up, my theology, spirituality, and eternal hope. (Position 2 -- God is female -- would be somewhat less problematic, but would leave me not being "in the image of God" to the same extent that women are.) I could say more now, but I will leave you to read Parts 3 and 4, as I think that you will discern my reasons for concern in reading what I wrote there.

I look forward to reading your concluding observations or questions at the end of Part 4. God bless, lady patriot.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Sexuality: Divine and Human (Part 3)

If, as I contend, eros is a facet of Divine love, then it makes sense that humans derive their capacity for eros from being made in God's image:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. - Genesis 1:26-28 KJV

Please note, first, the use of the plural: Let us make man in our image. In addition to being a classic proof text for the Trinity, it shows, in my opinion, that we humans are made in the image of the homoousian, the common Divine essence, rather than in the image of just one of the Divine Persons.

Second, both men and women are created in God's image: male and female created he them. If it were the case that God is exclusively male, then it would seem to me that women would not be in the image of God to the same extent that men are. There is no hint of this in the passage, however, and I regard this as an indication that the homoousian encompasses the fullness of sexuality, both male and female.

Finally, the command to "be fruitful, and multiply" is given in the context of the creation of mankind, before Adam and Eve sinned. I see this as confirmation that human eros comes from God in the creation, rather than from the corruption wrought by sin.

My conclusion is that Adam and Eve had the capacity to express eros for each other from the time that they were created, and, being at that time untainted by any rebelliousness toward God, they would have hastened to fulfill God's command to procreate. (I therefore see no reason why they would have remained childless if they had not sinned; as it happened, however, the events of Genesis 3 intervened, apparently before Eve conceived any children.)

Unquestionably, eros can be, and often is, twisted by sinful man into an unholy, destructive lust. I believe, however, that God’s grace enables us to recover the true nature and purpose of eros; when we do, not only can the husband and wife portray the fullness of Divine sexuality when they become "one flesh" in sexual intercourse, but they even testify to the Gospel by revealing the love that Christ and his Church have for each other. In Part 4, I will ponder how it is that the Divine, holy Son of God could possibly have felt eros for sinful, fallen humanity.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Sexuality: Divine and Human (Part 4)

After creating Adam and placing him in the Garden of Eden, God determined that he should have a wife:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. - Genesis 2:18-25 KJV

Please note that none of the animals were suitable to be a wife for Adam, and that the solution was for God to make a woman from part of Adam’s body. As God would later command Israel not to “mate different kinds of animals” (Leviticus 19:19 NIV), it appears that the problem was that Adam was not the same kind of being as the animals -– in other words, that he had a different nature, and this difference in nature made it inappropriate for Adam to express eros toward one of the animals. This raises an obvious question: If God and man are different kinds of beings, if the uncreated Divine essence is fundamentally dissimilar to creaturely humanity, then how could God the Son appropriately feel eros for us? I think that the answer is found in the creation account:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.Genesis 1:26-27 KJV

I theorize that humanity being made in the image of the homoousian creates a “point of contact” between the two such that it is at least minimally appropriate for God’s eternal Son to set his romantic affections upon us. Please note that, even after the sin and judgment in the Garden, the image of God remains in mankind, as God affirmed after the Flood:

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. - Genesis 9:1-7 KJV

At this point, a different objection might be raised: Considering that God made a woman for Adam, and considering that homosexual activity is strongly condemned by God’s law (see Leviticus 18:22), How can it be that God’s Son would have desire not only for female members of our race, but for male members as well? At this point, I recall that historic Christian doctrine affirms that Christ has two natures:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:1-2, 14 NASB

The preincarnate, eternal Son of God is of one essence with the Father, and I argue that this common essence contains the fullness of sexuality, both male and female; this remains true regardless of the sexual identity of the human nature taken on in the incarnation. The Son, therefore, can legitimately express eros for both male and female humanity. (For the same reason, the entire Church –- male and female –- can, in her role as the bride of Christ, legitimately respond with eros for Christ.)

In taking on a human nature, Christ expanded the grounds for “suitability” with his redeemed bride. We then come to the final aspect of eros compatibility:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know [ginóskó -- see Part 2] the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV

And, again:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. - 2 Peter 1:2-4 KJV

As I touch on elsewhere, I believe that Holy Communion is the special marital act whereby Christ expresses eros toward us. As Christ lovingly fills us with his fullness, he does more than merely purify our corrupted humanity (important though that is); he actually shares his own Divine nature with us! By his sacrificial, passionate, romantic love, he transforms us so that we are more able to receive that love, and to reflect it back to him. Furthermore, Christians become more like one another as the Divine homoousian is poured into us, and this gives us a greater unity; this may, at least in part, be what is meant in 1 Corinthians 10:17:

Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. - 1 Corinthians 10:17 NASB

On one level, the Gospel is a story of the interplay between agape' (sacrificial love) and eros (sexual love). The Divine, eternal Son of God felt eros for his future, human bride, leading him to come into our world and take on a human nature. He then, in the supreme act of agape', died to redeem his bride from sin, judgment, and death. He now loves us both sacrificially and romantically, and sanctifies us so that we sacrificially care for all, while returning the romantic affection to him. As he graciously shares his nature with us (a process that, I believe, will continue throughout eternity), our marriage will become ever stronger, ever richer, ever more glorious.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

Interesting! With the command in Corithians not to take part ...

in idol festivals, this puts a whole new spin on why Paul advised one to be careful what you do in the market in front of others, believer or not.

He does continue to use the marriage analogy, even through the discussion of eating meat offered to idols, with it being permitted in some cases:(ie {I Cor. 10:23 - 31}, if purchased in the market, not eaten at an idol feast, and not in front of a weaker brother whose conscience will not permit him to).(I Cor. 10:14 - 22) The contrast is especially strong when he writes (vs 22) "Are we trying to arouse His jealousy? Are we stronger than He?", in reference to actually attending one of these 'feasts'.

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Thank you for your feedback, Libera_me!

In your post, you refer to Paul continuing to "use the marriage analogy." Do you believe that the marriage between Christ and his Church is real, or is it only an analogy?

God bless, sister patriot.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

I used 'analogy' to avoid treading on shaky ground...

but if Y'shua (Jesus) walked on water....maybe I should have given it a try. I would say at this point we are at the 'betrothal' stage: pledged to be 'married' to Christ, we are awaiting the return of our Bridegroom to take us to the 'Father's house. (In the times of the Bible, a son, especially the oldest, would bring his bride to a home he had built within the confines of his father's 'homestead'. The Father had to approve of the home built before the son could go and bring his bride there.) This is why, when asked when the elect would be brought to Him, he answered," no one knows the day or the hour (of this event), not even the Son, but the Father only."

OTOH, a betrothed woman was considered a 'wife', and the relationship was considered inviolate. If the woman had sex with her betrothed before the wedding, it was frowned upon, but was not punished. If someone else had sex with her, they were both put to death, unless in the country, or a rape situation. (Women in the countryside were given the benefit of the doubt, and assumed innocent)

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

I find your "homestead" background info interesting, Libera_me

... and am impressed by, and agree with, your understanding of the Mosaic Law's precepts concerning a betrothed woman.

In analyzing what you have written on the topic thus far, I understand you to affirm that the Christ/Church marriage, while not yet consummated, is real in the sense that it involves the expression of eros. If that is the case, would you agree with my conclusion that Christ could not appropriately express eros toward all Christians (male as well as female) unless the Divine Homoousian contains the fullness of sexuality?

On a related issue, do you agree with my contention that it was Christ's desire to obtain us for himself that led him to give his own life to redeem us? Can this be affirmed while still upholding the sacrificial, gracious nature of agape' love?

Thank you and God bless, lady patriot.

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

I would say yes, to the first

and a more hesitating yes, to the second. The Scriptures do say that 'for the joy set before Him, He carried the cross, despising its shame'.
However, I disagree wholeheartedly with the Song "Above All", where the line,

Like a rose, trampled on the ground
He took the fall, and thought of me
Above All

Drives me to righteous indignation. That is too individualistic, and to say He thought of anyone above His Father when He died presumes far too much. This submission to the Father's will is in the forefront of Jesus' mind as he goes to the cross. (And as He is hanging there, and as he died, as well)

So I would say, that the main purpose Jesus had in going to the cross was to obey perfectly His Father in Heaven. However, one can have more than one reason for doing something , and both be valid. Consequently, I also affirm that He went to the cross to obtain us for Himself.

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

CHRISTOS ANESTE!!!

CHRISTOS ANESTE!!!

"We’ve moved beyond the Mises textbook. We’re running in the open market." - Erik Voorhees

Alithos Anesti!

He Has Risen Indeed!

A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand

War Prayer - Mark Twain. Sketch drawing.

8 minutes.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul