Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Five Hundred Year Old Schism is Nothing to Celebrate


Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation; most of the people celebrating it would be considered blasphemous heretics by Martin Luther, and those of us not celebrating it recognize that schism is not a thing to rejoice over.

Let us pray that our descendants will not be observing a 600 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Let us pray that we as the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church will be reunited, for the sake of the world.

 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."--John 21:20-23


Thanks for reading all of the way through; I hope you like my blog! If so, I'd love for you to check out my Patreon page and support me as I go through seminary. Oh? You don't know I'm in seminary? Well, I am! Yeah, if you wish you can check out my article on that, here. Be sure to check out my Facebook page, too! 

Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Response to Quad-Cities Anglican Radio on their Interview with Fr. Mark Rowe

One of my favorite podcasts is Quad Cities Anglican Radio. I actually happened upon it by chance; the name does not conjure up any sort of thoughts of Anglo-Catholicism, and there are plenty of Anglican podcasts out there already for me to listen to. So I kept myself subscribed to them, and more or less forgot they existed.

However, one day I looked at the names of their episodes, and found their topics to be interesting. After giving an episode a try, I was amazed to see how the hosts, both priests, were apparently very strong Anglo-Catholics. They quickly became one of my favorite podcasts.

The ACNA (Anglican Church in North America), which is what both they and I are currently under, recently came out with a statement concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood. Traditional Anglicans, myself included, reject the ordination of women to the priesthood (yes, it’s a controversial topic, and this article is not aimed at defending the historic position; I do plan on writing an article in the future on that subject). Unfortunately, the ACNA has some bishops who “ordain” women to the priesthood, and the statement released recently stated, in essence, that that practice will not change for now.

This is an unfortunate development within Anglicanism, and many of us are deeply upset about our bishops’ current position on the matter. So Quad-Cities Anglican has been doing a sort of tour of other catholic bodies of the Faith, seemingly (and this is perhaps reading too much into their actions) to hint that they and others are seriously looking at different jurisdictions.

Do I blame them? No, not at all. I don’t even think they’re doing anything particularly wrong. They first looked at what’s known as the Continuing Anglican churches, which just had a joint synod (that’s a very exciting development, too). As well, they recently visited a ROCOR (RussianOrthodox Church Outside of Russia) Western Rite conference, and spoke to some former Anglicans there.
This is where I started to find problems in what they were doing. No, no; it’s not wrong to look at becoming Eastern Orthodox. Not necessarily, at least (more on that, later). I sympathize with their frustration with the ACNA. I truly do.

My problem is particularly in their first episode at the conference, the one with Fr. Mark Rowe. Fr. Mark, a former Anglican (part of the very Anglo-Catholic and conservative Continuing Anglicans; he also was Roman Catholic before that…), joined the Orthodox Church after years of searching. One of the pivotal points for him was visiting an Orthodox monastery, in which he was asked four questions by a monk there.

The questions were—well, we’ll get to that in a moment. They’re, bluntly put, silly. The responses (or lack thereof) were what greatly frustrated me; both from Fr. Mark Rowe when he was Anglican and first receiving these questions, and the two Anglican priests interviewing him.

I want to stress that I consider the Orthodox--both Eastern and Oriental--to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I consider them full brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, they do not extend that same thought to Anglicanism (though there are historical exceptions). My problem is not that someone may want to join Orthodoxy, but rather that one is claiming that there is not Catholicity in Anglicanism, whatsoever. Furthermore, the responses to the following questions are, as indicated before, lackluster at best. 

First Question: “Is your church (currently) producing Saints?”

Response from the Anglican Priests:
No canonized saints being currently produced. They agree with Fr. Mark Rowe that, “The only answer is ‘no’.”

My Response:
What an insult to their own parish members. I’d be insulted by that claim towards my parish; there are plenty of Saints there. A woman, the week I listened to this, had given me money to help pay for my rent. She did it without me asking, and she did it with no fanfare. One at my parish in Tennessee adopts children in his old age, and will just as soon give the shirt off his back to clothe someone naked. But they are not  Saints?

As for canonicity, I find that a rather silly particular: are we being asked for an official canonization process? Is there something lacking in us not having the title “St.” preceding men like C.S. Lewis, who has his own Anglican feast day? And what about Canon Andrew White? Did he not cross the minds of our Anglican co-hosts as someone who most certainly is a Saint being produced by our Communion? Is the Orthodox Church currently producing Saints? Who? Seraphim Rose, the guy who apparently allowed “Gleb” HermanPodmoshensky to abuse young men at his monastery?
This question is rife with problems that, for the life of me, I do not understand how even an unlearned Anglican could be troubled by. Frankly, the response they gave is both intellectually dishonest and an insult to their flock.

Second Question: “If you could do, liturgically, for the most part, that which you do now, but do it within the Church that unequivocally is the Church founded by Christ, why would you not do it?”

Response from the Anglican Priests:
“I have no retort to that one.”
“I have no retort.”
To be fair, later, one of the priests defends Anglicanism in this one; what I respond with in my first paragraph is also what he says (he places it as a hypothetical; that one “might” argue such-and-such, distancing himself from the argument). He then “balances” that with claiming that we aren’t recognized by any of the five Patriarchates.

My Response:
The question presupposes that I am not part of the Church founded by Christ already, or at least am unsure that I am. Except that I am sure that I am; as sure as the Eastern Orthodox are.
We aren’t recognized by any of the five Patriarchates, but that’s easily chalked up to politics at play. I mean, that’s what 1054 itself is largely about, yes? And the debates between Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy are, themselves, due to mistakes and misunderstandings. As well, I would argue that Canterbury is certainly a Patriarchate—and if you are going to raise the heresy that is currently going on in the Church of England, I’m going to simply point to one of the past Patriarchs of Constantinople, the arch-heretic Nestorius, and many others, in response.

Third Question: “Why would you even take a chance on risking your salvation?”

Response from the Anglican Priests:
A defense of Anglo-Catholicism was given, with an admission that there is a “fly in the ointment” in the larger Anglican Communion.

My Response:
Yes, there is the "fly in the ointment" of women being "ordained" into the priesthood. There is, of course, also the greater problem of liberalism in the Anglican Communion in general. But in the 300's we had the Church Catholic literally taken over almost entirely by Arians--people who deny the full Deity of Christ. That was, interestingly enough, pushed by Eastern Bishops. We also had Nestorianism, again pushed not only by Eastern Bishops but literally named after the Patriarch of Constantinople. Later we had Monophysitism pushed by Eastern Bishops. Then Monothelitism pushed by Eastern Bishops. Seeing a trend, here? So the Eastern Orthodox have plenty of flies in their ointment's history.

Heresy gains major footholds sometimes; our job is to stand resolute against heresy, and speak the Truth in Love. 

Fourth Question: “If you were at liturgy in the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher—the Tomb of your Savior, Christ—could you take Communion?”

Response from the Anglican Priests: No.

My Response:
Why does that matter?

Seriously, if Mormons became militant and took over the Middle East, and set up a church at the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher, would that mean that they are the one true Church? When Rome took over Jerusalem in the Crusades, did that make them the one true Church? This argument depends upon the geo-political reality of today, and doesn’t really demonstrate any ecclesiastical ontology.

Also, you receive Communion; you don’t “take” it. Communion is not yours for the taking.

These were the four questions the monk asked Fr. Mark Rowe, which ultimately helped lead him to reject his Holy Orders and become Orthodox. I don't find them convincing, on even the slightest level. There are reasons people are frustrated with the ACNA; I count myself among the frustrated. But these are not reasons to leave. This sort of thinking is one of the reasons I abandoned my journey towards Eastern Orthodoxy, and instead joined Anglicanism.

Thanks for reading all of the way through; I hope you like my blog! If so, I'd love for you to check out my Patreon page and support me as I go through seminary. Oh? You don't know I'm in seminary? Well, I am! Yeah, if you wish you can check out my article on that, here. Be sure to check out my Facebook page, too! 

Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well! 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Why Sacramental Theology is So Essential to the Christian Life



There was a man, Nicky, and woman, Suzie, who one day decided to get married. They invited their families and friends to the wedding, had their preacher marry them, and went off to their honeymoon in the Rockies for a week. When they returned, they bought a house together, got jobs, and lived in the same home for their entire lives. The couple lived long lives: both died in their nineties. 

There's just one problem: during their entire lives, Nicky and Suzie never--and I mean never--were intimate. They never even held hands. Not a single time did they even accidentally physically bump into each other. 

Oh, sure, they intellectually knew so much about the other: Suzie could tell you, from memory, every job that Nicky had ever had. Nicky could tell you what Suzie's favorite TV shows were. They both knew each others' favorite cereals. If you gave them each tests about the other person, they'd surely ace them. 

Would...that be fully participating in marriage? 

I think we would largely agree that something essential is lacking in that relationship. 

But we have many Nicky and Suzie stories out there, today, in Christianity. We have "Christians", so-called, who aren't Baptized. We have people who have never received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. We have people who think that the Christian life is all about an intellectual ascent, or maybe merely an inward repentance, and nothing else. I'm not talking about special cases, like the thief on the cross, or the person who's dying and who's just heard the Gospel for the first time. I'm speaking of people who, for years, actively do not participate in the Christian life via the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. 

Baptism is our marriage into Christ: it is where we are physically enjoined to the death of Christ, so that we might rise with Him. That's in Romans 6, the entire chapter. 

If Baptism is our marriage, then--and I don't mean anything funny by this--the Eucharist is sex. 

1 Corinthians 10:16 seems to indicate as much in its usage of the word "koinonia"; it's meant to convey a most intimate connection. That's not necessarily sex, but I'm using it as an "if/then", and koinonia is certainly a very deep connection/participation/fellowship. 

Not comfortable with that? We can use this instead: if Baptism is birth, then the Eucharist is feeding for nourishment. 

However you want to look at it, Baptism and the Eucharist are important parts of the Christian Faith. Jesus claims that we have no life in us unless we "truly truly...eat [His] Flesh and drink [His] Blood". Back to 1 Corinthians 10:16, it asks rhetorically if Communion is not a participation in the Body and Blood of Christ; St. Paul also claims that we must be careful to discern the Body of Christ, or we partake to our own judgment (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). 

Sacramental theology is the belief that we are actually, truly, connected to Christ in some mysterious way, through the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. That's what "Sacrament" means: mystery. Unlike much of modern American Christianity, it teaches that there is a tangible, incarnational element to our Faith that we can physically interact with. 

Jesus didn't simply leave us with a book (well, He never did that anyway; let alone "simply" do that). Jesus left us with a cleansing and a meal. It was by eating that we fell in sin; how fitting that by eating, we are brought back into a most intimate fellowship with God. 



Thanks for reading all of the way through; I hope you like my blog! If so, I'd love for you to check out my Patreon page and support me as I go through seminary. Oh? You don't know I'm in seminary? Well, I am! Yeah, if you wish you can check out my article on that, here. Be sure to check out my Facebook page, too! 

Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well! 







Thursday, October 5, 2017

Long Awaited Update from the New Seminarian

Hey, all! I'm in seminary now!

So, this entire year has been rather eventful: from my brother and his family becoming Roman Catholic (former Baptists), to me starting a relationship with a girl (some girl...likes me? I know; I'm amazed, too!), to starting a new podcast, to a car crash, to lots of traveling, and finally, to applying and now attending a seminary, I've been through quite a bit!

What seminary am I at? Well, Trinity School for Ministry, of course! It's an Anglican seminary, with a strong Evangelical bent to it. You might think that a cranky Anglo-Catholic like myself would want to stay away from an institution with such a push...and you'd be right, probably. While I'm Anglo-Catholic, I'm not (always) cranky.

But sincerely, I don't want to be unbalanced. There is this understanding of Anglicanism where we are "three streams" of Christianity: Liturgical, Evangelical, and Charismatic. I don't want to segment myself into simply one of those streams; I want to embrace the fullness of the Faith. Catholicism, properly understood, embraces the fullness of the Faith, and I want to do likewise.

Trinity is an amazing seminary, with excellent professors and a welcoming, loving spirit. The education has, so far, been top-notch. As well, there is a Lutheran track for my Lutheran friends! What I love best is how the seminary is equipping us for ministry, rather than simply filling empty heads with knowledge (mine's more emptier-er than others).

Please keep me in prayer, as finances are tough during this time.

That's where you guys come in.

I've set up a Patreon page in order to help with the finances for my time in seminary. I'm going for an M.Div, so that means I'll be here for three years. As of now, I'm doing full time work and full time school; while I am so far managing that balance as much as I can, it is incredibly stressful and does not allow me to fully immerse myself in my studies. Donating to my Patreon will help me, immensely, in being able to devote my time to my academic studies.

Thanks for sticking with me while I continue this crazy ride through life, continuing to follow my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, however imperfectly that is done. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

For the Wages of Sin is Death, Not Torture: Why I Hold to Annihilationism (Part 2: Scripture)

Sorry; this was finished much later than I was hoping. I partly forgot to finish it and partly was busy with school and the Christmas Season.

In the last article on this subject, we talked about the reasons, nature, and goals for punishment. I want to, in this article, look at specific passages talking about the nature and goals of punishment. This is Part 2 in my explanation and defense of Annihilationism (Part 1 can be found here).

Before we start, I want you to do something for me. I want you to challenge yourself on a few presuppositions:

Find me a verse stating that souls are inherently immortal.

We come to Scripture, many of us, with the Platonic error of assuming that souls are inherently immortal, and therefore either can't die or by default will never die, wicked or righteous. What verses claim that?

Find me a verse stating that the punishment for sin is eternal conscious torment.

Aha! You might say. You probably came up with Revelation 20:10 or Matthew 25:46. Eh...just hold on to those verses; they'll be dealt with soon enough.

Also, I want to assure you that Annihilationism is NOT the following:

It is NOT the claim that there is no punishment for sins.

It is NOT the claim that the punishment for sins is temporary.

It is NOT the claim that there is no hell.

There; are we good? Okay, now, onward!


The Nature of the Punishment: Death, not Torture

Scripture repeatedly tells us, point-blank, what the nature of the punishment is.

Romans 6:23

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The wages of sin is...death? Not torment? But can't death simply mean "separation from God" or something? 

I mean, it can and, I would argue, does have that definition. The problem is that that definition would still point to annihilation. If God is the Source of life, and you are separated from God...you are separated from the Source of life. No one is truly and fully separated from the Source of life until the Judgment. Even the reprobate today receive the grace of God: "The rain falls on the just and the unjust." 

Matthew 10:28

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." 

This passage speaks so clearly to what death is in the context of its relationship to hell. Here, what Jesus says is that what happens to the body at death by the hand of man (destruction, cessation of life in the body, but not cessation of life in the soul), happens to both soul and body in hell (destruction, cessation of life in both body and soul). 

2 Thessalonians 1:9

"They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might."

The wicked suffer the punishment of "eternal destruction", and they will no longer be in the presence of the Lord or the glory of his might. The destruction lasts forever, unlike the 1st death. This is compounded by the fact that they will no longer be in the presence of the Lord. The Lord, Who is, of course, omni-present.

Matthew 25:46

 "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

After spending quite a few verses detailing how the righteous and wicked will be judged, Jesus states that the wicked will receive eternal punishment, but (and the word "but" is essential, here!) the righteous will receive eternal life."

"But Barely Protestant! Jesus just stated that the wicked will receive 'eternal punishment', right? Surely, that means that the wicked are tormented for all eternity!"

Nope. At least, not necessarily. And when you define the punishment for sins as Scripture does, it really doesn't make sense to claim that the punishment is eternal torment.

A man who is sentenced to be killed for his crimes, what is his punishment? Death. Death is his punishment.

"But Barely Protestant! It says 'eternal punishment'! Death isn't eternal! It's, well, momentary, and...well, okay, it actually is eternal, I guess, but, well, it doesn't hurt eternally! So there!"

The first death isn't eternal, sure. After all, we all get Resurrected. However, the righteous and wicked are Resurrected to be judged, and the punishment of the wicked is known as "the second death". In addition to this, the Scriptures repeatedly state (as has already been seen) that the punishment is death. If the first death is not eternal, and the punishment is known as "the second death", then it makes sense that Scripture would call this "eternal punishment": the punishment (death!) is eternal! This isn't contrived, but a consistent reading of what Scripture repeatedly says about the punishment for sin. 

I could go on and on with these passages, but I want to finish this article up some time this century, so I will instead give references to a few more along these lines:

(This list is taken from Preston Sprinkle's article on the subject. Preston Sprinkle co-wrote with Francis Chan Erasing Hell, a book responding in part to Rob Bell's Love Wins; after co-writing that book, Preston Sprinkle now leans heavily towards the concept of annhilationism, though he is not yet thoroughly convinced. As well, I and many annihilationists would differ from him on certain claims, even in the above-mentioned article. Here is the first part of a two-part interview Preston Sprinkle did with Rethinking Hell on the subject; it's a very good listen!)

Verses talking about the punishment being "destruction" or "perishing":

Matthew 7:13, John 3:16, John 17:12, Acts 8:20, Romans 9:22-23 (hey, Calvinists! it's in your favorite chapter!), Philippians 1:28, Philippians 3:19, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 1 Timothy 6:9, Hebrews 10:39, 2 Peter 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

Verses talking about the punishment being "death":

Romans 1:32, Romans 6:21, Romans 7:5, Romans 8:6, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 and 56, 2 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 7:10, James 1:15, James 5:20, 1 John 5:16, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 20:6 and 14, Revelation 21:8.

Verses talking about the punishment being the "end":

Romans 6:21-22, 2 Corinthians 11:15, Philippians 3:19, 1 Peter 4:1.

Verses talking about the punishment being "disintegration/corruption":

Galatians 6:8, 2 Peter 1:4, 2 Peter 2:12.

This barely scratches the surface; for instance, we've not even hit on the Old Testament passages! But I hope these are enough to at least help you rethink your understanding of what Scripture says about the nature of final punishment.


The Goals of God's Judgment

The way Scripture talks about creation after the Judgment leaves me with only two options: Annihilationism or Universalism. Why? Well, let's look at what Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 15:24-28

Here, we see a future in which all of creation is under the rule of Christ, Who gives His Kingdom to the Father. It explicitly states that "the last enemy to be destroyed is death". Even death itself will be no more, after all of the wicked are destroyed.


Colossians 1:19-20

We see God reconciling ALL things to Himself through Christ. This paints a picture, along with 1 Corinthians 15, of there being a time where there is no more death or rebellion against God. Now, in the traditional understanding, is there still rebellion? Of course there is. Those in hell would be still rebelling against God, would they not?

Isaiah 66:22-24

Here, we see a depiction of the result of the final judgment, after a poetic passage proclaiming that "From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the LORD." All flesh shall worship the Lord, and the dead bodies of the wicked will be eaten by worms and burned in unquenchable fire. Notice that the people, the wicked, are dead. This isn't talking about torment, but rather their dead bodies; their carcasses. The worm "dies not" until it has completely eaten the flesh, and the fire is "unquenched", meaning it will utterly destroy what remains, without interruption.


Objections:

"But," some of you might say, "what about the Rich Man and Lazarus? What about Revelation 20:10?"

The parable (or true account, if you wish: it doesn't change this question either way) of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 12:19-31) is not about hell. Specifically, it's about the intermediate state, known as hades. Whether this depiction is to be taken as a factual account or a metaphor, the point is that this is depicting what happens before the Judgment. This is evidenced by the fact that the Rich Man asks Abraham to let Lazarus witness to his brothers, who are still alive.

As for Revelation 20:10, the Book of Revelation itself is a very confusing read. First, let me ask this: do you believe that there will be (or there was) a literal seven-headed, ten-horned beast with a vampiric prostitute riding its back?





I'm guessing not.

The thing about Revelation is that it gives a LOT of imagery that John sees, and writes down. Sometimes the imagery is interpreted by an Angel or revealed in the book itself. For the imagery of eternal torment in Revelation 20:10, there is an interpretation of it given. In verse 14, we see an interpretation of the "Lake of Fire":

"Then Death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the Second Death, the Lake of fire;"

As well, the imagery of the Beast being thrown into the Lake of Fire is, in part, taken from similar imagery in the Book of Daniel. In Daniel 7, we see the Fourth Beast being thrown into fire is interpreted by the angel in verse 26 as the destruction of the kingdom it represents. Christian exegetes largely consider this to be the same beast as in Revelation, the one thrown into the Lake of Fire. If these images both depict the same event, it seems to be undeniable that the imagery in Revelation 20 is meant to be interpreted as death and destruction. And remember, that's what Revelation 20:14 seems to state, as well!

Apocalyptic imagery is almost always weird. We need to take the Biblical interpretation of the imagery at face-value, not the imagery itself. So don't take the imagery in which torment is depicted as more literal than the angelic interpretation in Daniel 7:26 and the explanation in Revelation 20:14.


Conclusion: 

Are there other objections? Probably, though, none that I can think of right now. At least, none that are Biblical. If you think of any, comment below and let me know. I'll try to answer them. My next article in this particular series will talk about the Early Church and what they thought on the subject. You may be surprised with that one, as well!


Check out Rethinking Hell, a great website of conservative Christians from various denominations who defend this concept of hell. As well, they have a podcast and YouTube channel. They're a really great source on this subject. Enjoy! 




Thanks for reading all of the way through; I hope you like my blog! If so, I'd love for you to check out my Patreon page and support me as I go through seminary. Oh? You don't know I'm in seminary? Well, I am! Yeah, if you wish you can check out my article on that, here. Be sure to check out my Facebook page, too! 

Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well! 



Friday, December 9, 2016

Response to "12 Reasons Millennials are OVER Church"



This past week--oh wait! First: I graduated! I'm so happy! Now, on to Seminary!

Ahem. Anyway, this past week I came across an interesting article titled, "12 Reasons Millennials are OVER Church", I tend to avoid these types of articles, but it was shared on the page of a non-denominational pastor friend of mine by one of his parishioners, so I decided to read it.

The article comes from a man who claims to want to love and promote the Church, but is finding her flaws too numerous and deep to feel comfortable doing so. He then lists his and, he assumes, other Millennials' reasons that "we" are done with the Church.

I want to go through his article, point-by-point, and respond to his contentions; I found some good, some bad, and some, well, wrong assumptions in the reasons he gave. I hope this helps you all:

Response to Reason #1: Nobody's Listening to Us


I...honestly, I don't see this. This is an assertion, not based in any fact. He provides no reason to claim that this is the case. It certainly isn't the case in my parish, as I am heavily involved in it and listened to, as a Millennial. And my parish is INCREDIBLY traditional. I've also been to, well, a LOT of the churches in my city in Middle Tennessee. I can tell you that, of necessity, most of these churches are listening to Millennials. If they aren't, they're not growing and in fact are dwindling.

Response to Reason #2: We're Sick of Hearing About Values and Mission Statements

This one is rather confusing to me. He first admits that it's important to move in the same direction, but then complains that many churches have tools that help us understand that direction: those tools being "values" and "mission statements".

"'Love God. Love others." Task completed.' he states.

But it's not that simple. That is what all of the law hangs on...but there are questions involved in that. Who is God? What does it mean to "love"? Is it loving to approach my friend who is sleeping with his girlfriend and say, "Hey, brother, we are called to keep ourselves pure until marriage"? or should I ignore it "out of love"? Is love an emotional feeling or a commitment? And if it's the latter--which it is--then what does that commitment entail? What commitments do I have to God and man?

I mean, if "all that matters" is "Love God. Love others." then why is the Bible so darn huge? Why didn't God just tattoo that on each of our arms and call it a day, if that's all that matters?

The fundamental problem I see in this point (and I suspect we'll see it more and more throughout this article) is that there is this American pragmatism mindset going on. We can sort of, apparently, whittle down the Faith to JUST these two commands.

While it's true that all of God's laws hang on these two commands...that's not the same as being able to distill all of Christianity down to this. Here, let me give you an example:

What's The Lord of the Rings about?

Well, it's about some small guy trying to destroy a ring.

Okay, yes. It's about that. But it's MORE than simply that. While it is true that without Frodo you have no story that can be accurately called "The Lord of the Rings", you can't simply go to passages where ONLY Frodo is talked about, then claim that you've read the series. You can't tell people only those sections, then claim that you've told them the whole story.

Jesus didn't tell us that the Law and Prophets hang on these two laws because He wanted us to reduce our lives to that; Jesus told us that the Law and Prophets hang on these two laws because He wanted us to not lose focus on what the Law and Prophets are pointing to. There is a world of difference.

Christianity is a life and cultural narrative that is designed to train us to love God and others. If you whittle it down to "love God and others", what you're doing is taking away what God has taught us that that looks like.


Response to Reason #3: Helping the Poor isn't a Priority

It...isn't?

I am always confounded by assertions like this. They are constantly made, yet never backed up.

Here's a list of the top 50 charity organizations in the U.S., according to Forbes.

Hm, how many of them are either Christian or at least were started by Christians?

The Roman Catholic Church, by far, is the largest charity organization in the world. (Yes, it's a Facebook post, but it's backed up by a variety of sources that are cited there.) Roman Catholicism is only a little more than HALF of Christianity, by the way. The other half does a heck of a lot, too.

Also...why the dichotomy of feeding/clothing the poor and teaching the poor? Are Bible studies at his church dismissing poor people, not allowing them in? If so, that's, well, a very big problem. But if not, I don't get why he thinks teaching the poor about Christ is not helping them. Sure, they need food and clothing and all. But they also, and more importantly, need Christ. Let's do both, not only one or the other.

Maybe he's stuck in a certain denomination that is not very charitable? Maybe he should join an historical, liturgical church; we tend to be bigger on the charity front.

I do note the irony in him complaining about how "utterly American our institution has become". I mean, the American pragmatism, American consumeristic mindset, and the fierce American individualism burst at the seams in this article.

Response to Reason #4: We're Tired of You Blaming the Culture

Here, the solutions are better than the generic complaint: yes, get rid of the "end times" "Left Behind" crap. Yes, teach us how we should be different from the culture...which implies that we think the culture is bad...which seems to go against what your original complaint in this was...okay...next one.

Response to Reason #5: The "You Can't Sit with Us" Affect (sic)

First, please learn the difference between "affect" and "effect" (I'm sorry, I'm a bit of a grammar Nazi; I bet I'll have a grammatical error or too in this article, now).

Once again, no statistics to back this up. Also, it seems to contradict his complaint about us having "too many Bible studies" and other forms of fellowship.

Are there churches like this? Sure. Are there churches not like this? Judging by his attitude, no.

Since there's not much else I can say in this particular response, I'll park on one repeated problem. The author keeps making assertions about how much the Church sucks, but doesn't ever really back it up with anything beyond personal feels.

One of the problems I've been seeing with certain parts of the Church, and this article is an example, is that we really LOVE to hate on the Church and simply assert all of these bad things. Is the Church perfect? No. But to act like the Church sits on her butt all day and does nothing is just foolish.Worse, it creates this false narrative about the Church, and that narrative "becomes true" because people keep saying it. It's like gossip; no, it IS gossip.

I'm sorry, but how you feel doesn't square with the facts. Maybe don't rely upon feelings as much, and try to see what the actual case is. If your local parish isn't doing anything for the poor, or is excluding people, then leave and find one that is. Or better yet: fill in that hole, somehow.

Response to Reason #6: Distrust and Misallocation of Resources


No statistics with this one, either! In fact, the only statistics I've seen so far are at the beginning. And guess what those statistics are on? The feels of Millennials.

And I'm sorry, fellow Millennials, but we seriously need to stop this.

Guess what? You feeling like the Church is thoroughly corrupt doesn't magically mean that the Church is thoroughly corrupt. I'm sorry, but your feelings don't dictate reality. I may feel like someone hates me; that doesn't mean they hate me. What it looks like is someone lying on the floor, complaining that no one cares that he's on the ground, and every time someone tries to come up and help him up, he refuses to move. Then, when that person leaves, he complains again that no one cares that he's on the ground.

So say it with me: "My feelings don't dictate reality." Say it again: "My feelings don't dictate reality."

One more time: "My feelings don't dictate reality."

Response to Reason #7: We Want to Be Mentored, not Preached At

Once again: we have that in liturgical, traditional churches. I'm an acolyte at my parish; I have an abbot as a mentor, as I am a third order Benedictine monk. I have five priests who mentor me. Seriously, go to a liturgical denomination if you don't find these in your church. Here, here's the website to my branch of Christianity: The Anglican Church in North America.

Also, if you see these holes in your church...fill them. Stop dichotomizing between "you" and "the Church". Are you not part of the Church? You are? Then do something about it. I've seen a few holes that need to be filled in my parish. Guess what? I'm filling them.

Response to Reason #8: We Want to Feel Valued

He says something very concerning, here:

"Millennials are told by this world from the second we wake up to the second we take a sleeping pill that we aren't good enough.

"We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.

"We need a church that sees us and believes in us, that cheers us on and encourages us to chase our big crazy dreams."

I REALLY want to be very snarky with this part. This, this sort of encapsulates everything that I hate about my generation. But I'll be nice.

You don't decide how you feel, but you decide how you react to how you feel. Sure, others can bring you down and lift you up, and they should do the latter and not the former. However, complaining that people aren't praising you enough is the epitome of self-centeredness.

Self-centeredness is a sin.

Here, let's read something that Jesus said about this; Luke 17:7-10:

Especially look at that last verse: "We are but unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty."

If you think you're good enough, guess what? You're not a Christian. The entire point of salvation presupposes that you're not good enough. You don't save people who don't need to be saved. That's why we need each other, and that's why we need the Church.

The most beautiful line I've ever heard about the Church is that it is, "One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread."

We aren't enough, ESPECIALLY the way we are. To say that we are is to say that we don't need to grow. It's to say that we don't need the Church. It's to say that we are perfect. If you're perfect, you don't need Church in the first place.

We aren't enough, but the point of the Church is to MAKE us "enough"; to conform us into the Image of Christ. God loves us too much to lie to us and say that we are enough. That, and God doesn't lie.

So, sorry, but the truth is that you and I are broken people. The truth is that God is healing us of our brokenness, and He does so THROUGH the Body of Christ. And what is the Body of Christ? Yup: The Church.

Until you understand that, you don't understand a thing about Christianity.

Response to Reason #9: We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One is)

I actually have no significant disagreements with this one; I agree wholeheartedly that we need to talk about controversial issues, and I would add that we need to talk about more than that. We need to talk about theology and Church History and WHY we believe what we believe, as well.

Response to Reason #10: The Public Perception

I agree on this one, as well! And in fact, my whole frustration with this article is because of my agreement with this point.

You want a better public perception?

Stop making it sexy and hipster to hate on the Church.

Stop spreading unsubstantiated claims about how much the Church supposedly sucks.

Stop spreading lies about the Church.

Stop contradicting yourself on point #8.

Because the truth is that you don't seem to value the Church herself. You seem to think that the Church is only good if and when you perceive that she is doing everything to your perfect satisfaction.

I thought you were all about people being enough with "No conditions or expectations."? Sounds like you have "conditions and expectations" for the Church.

Response to Reason #11: Stop Talking About Us (Unless You're Actually Going to Do Something)

I largely agree: our words need to be backed up by actions. I do find it interesting that he complains about Millennials being stereotyped unfairly...when his entire article does that with the Church...

Response to Reason #12: You're Failing to Adapt

Sam Eaton (the author of the article I'm critiquing), I'm going to address the entirety of this one to you, personally.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "adapt"; judging from your words under this point...I'm not the biggest fan. I mean, I think the reason that the Church is not growing as much as it should in the West is BECAUSE it's trying to be "relevant" and hip and all of that crap. I don't want my parish to cater to me, like some desperate girl. I come to the Church so that I can be changed, not her.

And here is the fundamental problem with the attitude in your article: the reasons given are largely selfish. The Church is not about the individual "you". The Church has a job: to expand the Kingdom of God. The Church's job is not to make you have fuzzy feels.

The Church is "irrelevant" and "approaching extinction"? I won't take that as hyperbole, because nothing in your article has suggested that it is.

Christianity is the largest religion out there, almost doubling the next largest. Christianity has more influence in this world than any other system or philosophy out there. And you think that the Church is facing extinction? You think the Church has lost influence?

Maybe certain denominations in certain parts of the US have lost influence, sure. But I think you've been projecting your non-denominational or Baptist or whatever-type of denominational experience onto the entirety of Christianity.

Regardless, my point is this: you serve others. Others serve you. But you serve others. That means not lying about and whining about how people aren't serving you enough, aren't reinforcing your ego, aren't telling you literally that you're perfect just the way you are, as this article that you wrote states is a necessity (see point #8).

Can it be frustrating to see people not helping out in the Church? Yes, but just to let you know: when you have a service geared towards getting butts in your seats, as is the predominant form of worship in Evangelical churches, you're going to attract people who are there only for the entertainment.

When people are only there for the entertainment...they're only there...for the entertainment.

When your primary goal is to attract people to your church, then those people you attract are primarily there because you persuaded them. When you cater to people, they tend to not work.

Maybe catering to Millennials isn't the best thing to do in a society where all we do is cater.

Maybe we need to call our generation to step up, and to take action. You've personally taken action; I see you run a suicide prevention ministry. Sincerely, praise God! We need more of that!

But your article works against that ministry when you pretend that that ministry (and others like it) doesn't exist.

Conclusion: 

I got a bit snarky at the end. That can happen; my apologies. Part of it is that I'm seeing where you are and remembering that I used to be like that as well. We're probably around the same age: we're both Millennials, at least. I've seen and been through this song and dance.

If we want to really do the Kingdom of God, then we need to stop spreading lies (intentionally or not) about the Church. We need to stop with this whole self-centered understanding of the Faith and the Church. We need to stop thinking that there is us as individuals, and the Church, and the two are separate things. We ARE the Church. That means that any failings you see are in part your fault, too. It's a team effort. Have you ever worked on a team? It can suck, sometimes. But we don't get to pick which team is the one that brings us into Communion with Christ. It's not "God, my Bible, and me under a tree". When you read the Scriptures, from Old Testament to New, ESPECIALLY in Paul, you see that unity is a major concern. That's why Paul talks about the dangers of back-biting and gossip. Those things seriously damage the Church, and your unsubstantiated complaints about the Church, based upon nothing more than a false narrative, only brings more people into the "I hate the Church" mindset. That mindset is based upon a narrative that is both untrue of and destructive to the Church.




Thanks for reading all of the way through; I hope you like my blog! If so, I'd love for you to check out my Patreon page and support me as I go through seminary. Oh? You don't know I'm in seminary? Well, I am! Yeah, if you wish you can check out my article on that, here. Be sure to check out my Facebook page, too! 

Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well!






Friday, November 18, 2016

So You Wanna Listen to Podcasts?

Heck, I have time! Let's get right to it: if you're looking for some great podcasts, I've got a few for you to check out!


These are the ones I primarily listen to right now (or at least want you to listen to right now!):


Anglican Studies

This is the first podcast I started listening to in my journey in Anglicanism, suggested to me by a friend who now runs a podcast himself (more on that later). If you hate horrible "dad" jokes...well, listen to it, anyway. It won't kill you (insert lame dad-joke, here). The podcast is a series of lectures from a very High Church Anglican; he goes over such subjects as the history of the Church, Sacramental theology, Apostolic Succession, and many other important aspects of a catholic Christian Faith. Please, please, PLEASE check this one out!

Click here for a hyperlink to Anglican Studies, or find it on your podcast app.


1928 Daily Morning Prayer:

This is the latest one I've discovered, and it might just be my favorite. I will tell you that one of the struggles I face is doing Morning Prayer by myself; I don't like doing it that way. This podcast lends a voice and reminds me that, while I am the only one in the room going through the Daily Office, I am not alone in doing so. Bonus: it uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer! Yay!!!

Click here for a hyperlink to the 1928 Daily Morning Prayer, or find it on your podcast app.


Eucharist:

Remember that friend of mine who introduced me to the Anglican Studies podcast? Well, he's a priest in San Francisco now, at a congregation called Eucharist Church. Their podcast includes sermons as well as in-depth book studies; they also have a great lecture series on Benedictine spirituality (he and I are both Benedictines). He's an awesome, humble, and godly guy, and is one of my mentors. Check out the podcast, and if you're in the San Francisco area, check out the church!!!

Click here for a hyperlink to the Eucharist podcast, or find it on your podcast app (I gave the iTunes link because he loves Apple--I hate Apple, but that's okay).


Always Forward:

I'm looking at becoming an Anglican priest, which likely will involve me helping build at least one church in my life.This is a podcast for Anglicans who are looking at helping spread the Faith. What is so great about this podcast is that it helps point to the uniqueness of Anglicanism in its approach to Missiology and Ecclesiology (missions and the Church). If you've not grown up in an Anglican church, or know very little about how missions and Church work in Anglicanism, this is certainly the podcast for you! Check it out!

Click here for a hyperlink to Always Forward, or find it on your podcast app.


Rethinking Hell:

You may or may not know this: I'm an Annihilationist. I believe that the punishment for sin is not eternal torment, but rather eternal death. Confused? Concerned? This podcast will help you understand the reasoning behind Annihilationism (or Conditional Immortality) better. It's filled with critiques on sermons critiquing this understanding of Hell, interviews, debates, and a whole lot of information concerning the Scriptural and Historical defense for Annihilationism. If you're open-minded, you should check it out. If you're not open-minded, you should, well, I guess you should still check it out. It may or may not change your mind, but this podcast should at least help you see why I and others came to the conclusion that the wages of sin is death rather than torment.

Click here for a hyperlink to Rethinking Hell, or find it on your podcast app.


And that's all I have! Please, once again, check out these podcasts. I hope that they will help you in your Faith journey!!!

Thanks for reading all of the way through; I hope you like my blog! If so, I'd love for you to check out my Patreon page and support me as I go through seminary. Oh? You don't know I'm in seminary? Well, I am! Yeah, if you wish you can check out my article on that, here. Be sure to check out my Facebook page, too! 

Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well!