Something for the Europhiles

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Du liegst insgesamt:
5680 km daneben

Yeah, like you know the capitals of Europe better. Though given that I’ve never gotten farther East than Dublin, I think I did pretty good. Video games aren’t all bad you see, especially the war strategy kinds.

This one not only tests your geography, it also tests your German.

Let me tell you if it wasn’t for Kiev, Bucharest, and Bern I’d be pretty proud of myself. Every other dart at least got to the right country. Wien almost got me, but my dart held true, though it was only afterwards that I figured “replace the ‘w’ with a ‘v’ and add a ‘na’ to the end”.

Thoughts on…

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languages and such which part of me appreciates.

I suspect this is the part of me that decides not to study languages once the class is over, thus leaving me with the shreds of three ancient and two modern languages knocking around in my brain waiting ever so anxiously for me to open the closet door and give them attention once more.

The fact is I enjoy their company and have proven to be quite decent at learning such things. I’m generally among the top students in the class, and have always been complemented on my pronunciation. Except for Spanish, which was not one of the languages I’ve ever tried learning, but did try to pick up a few phrases back in high school and was laughed at when I tried to use them because I spoke Spanish with a French accent — the language I was trying not to learn in high school. My good grade in that French class, by the by came almost totally from my ability to kiss up to the teacher and by doing over the top skits such as the one where I put together a dozen really bad pickup lines and proceeded to use them, getting slapped after each one.

I might also add to this list my brief flirtations with learning Irish, consisting of my purchasing an Irish tutor cd-rom, and mastering such phrases as “You are very beautiful.” I suppose one shouldn’t give up on a language because one phrase doesn’t seem to work out all that well, but it turns out that the Irish all speak better English than I do (even the ones who primarily speak Irish), so that was that. I still pull out that cd-rom every once in a while, especially when I’m moving or need to put my stack of cds in a different corner of the room.

Pandas in the wild

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They seem cute and cuddly… but there is a rage, oh there is a rage.

You may never look at them quite the same again.

Tasks for the day

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Pious exercises nourish the soul with divine thoughts. What state can be more blessed than to imitate on earth the choruses of angels? To begin the day with prayer, and honour our Maker with hymns and songs? As the day brightens, to betake ourselves, with prayer attending on it throughout, to our labours, and to sweeten our work with hymns, as if with salt? Soothing hymns compose the mind to a cheerful and calm state.

–Basil the Great

New radio station

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Okay, I finally clicked on the link, and it quite surprised me. Curious really. Here I am a unrepentant Wesleyan/Baptist/Pentecostal/neo-Fundamentalist Evangelical and my favorite Christian television station is EWTN and now my favorite Christian radio station is now Ancient Faith Radio.

My theology is reaching terminal complexity I think.

Evangelical?

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“The Church is by its very nature missionary, its first task is evangelization,” he said. “At the start of the third millennium, the Church feels with renewed vigor that the missionary mandate from Christ is more current than ever.”

and

“If the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, at the start of the third millennium it is proper to expect a renewed flowering of the Church, especially where it has suffered the most for its faith and the witness of the Gospel.”

There’s nothing new about such words… it’s just that folks in an Evangelical tradition don’t expect to be nodding along with everything a Bishop of Rome has to say.

Oh, and apparently the news of the day is word of the First Papal Joke:

…he apologized for arriving late from an inter-religious meeting.

“Germans are known for being punctual — it seems I’ve become a bit of an Italian,” he joked.

His humor… it’s infallible.

I suspect he and I would get along quite nicely, once I got over being intimidated by how much farther advanced in the faith he is, and if he could get over the fact that I’m still terribly Protestant.

reconciliation

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I’ve been putting this off a couple of days because it seems a daunting task. I want to express my perceptions on the ecumenical goal of reconciling the various strands of the Christian Church. In this topic there are huge differences of opinion, substantial barriers, and each tradition has something they will refuse to give up. Expressing a “why don’t we all just get along” attitude tends to either insist on someone else doing the “getting along” or waters down the issues so much that what is united really isn’t worth much to anyone.

Not surprisingly I’ve been accused of being somewhat opinionated over the years, and even arrogant. This is one of those posts that will likely enhance that reputation, though I’m not writing this with either in my heart or mind. This is just an expression of my perspective, coming out of an old time fundamentalist family, now firmly within the Evangelical traditions, mixing a Pentecostal and Baptist background. Thus, I speak from the outer fringes.

Real unity, unlike the supposed unity of the WCC, must include even these fringes.

I may not get everything down here, and am quite open for this being a discussion, so likely there will be future posts on this topic. But this is what comes to mind now.

This is what prompted my present ponderings:

There is but one Christ and therefore, at the deep level of theological understanding, there can be only one Church, and the Catholic Church claims to be that Church most fully and rightly ordered through time. That is not in tension with ecumenism; it is the foundation of the ecumenical quest for full communion among all Christians.

So Richard Neuhaus writes in his Rome Diary.
The problem is that the Catholic Church’s claim is disputed by most everyone not within the Catholic Church. Neuhaus agrees with this, which provoked his own Romeward journey. The Orthodox certainly don’t. And while I support a proper understanding of the foundations of the Roman church, I can make a good argument that the Catholic Church was neither fully nor rightly ordered throughout the last 2000 years. It had bright moments, and very dull moments. Thus, this claim is entirely in tension with ecumenism. Reconciliation is not the return of the Faithful to the Church of Rome.

Reconciliation is the restoration of the unity of all churches based on a common belief in the Triune God through the power of the Holy Spirit who unites all those who believe into the Body, of whom Christ is the head. I claim allegiance to none but Christ.

That being the case, I still think the Orthodox Church has a better claim if anyone can make it. They hold to earlier traditions, for the most part, and are located in the earliest of locations. They hold onto a more primitive liturgy and faithfully, for the most part, reflect the order and emphases of earlier communities. I disagree with Orthodox ecclesiology… but they have the Romans beat solid in any claim for consistency.

This of course leads into the most potent problem in any real ecumenical dialogue. For the Churches to find unity there has to be a substantial change in the entire focus of the Catholic Church. There can be no Pope.

In 1054 the Church split into two, though it had slowly drifted into separate streams for a long time before this. The question boiled down to the authority of the Bishop of Rome. The various Church leaders, especially the five patriarchs of the most important Christian communities, held that the Bishop of Rome had a priority, first among equals, but not superiority. The Bishop of Rome was not considered the single head of the Church. The Bishop of Rome thought he should be such.

Excommunications were thrown East and West, and the Churches split.

Reconciliation is possible only if, first, the Pope is willing to relinquish power, reduce the theological emphasis placed on him, and relegate his role to involvement in a community of leaders. The Catholic Church must, first of all, assert precisely the opposite what Father Neuhaus is saying, namely that by asserting sole power the Church of Rome itself broke the unity of the Church that was based on a more fluid hiearchy.

Reconciliation is also only possible when there is developed a concept of the Body of Christ that is flexible in most matters with only key doctrines providing the central communion. These doctrines are contained in the creed. There will never be unified agreement on the nature of the Eucharist nor the perfect form of Church government. Only a unity that has the core doctrines of the faith as the only canon will be a lasting unity.

With this, however, is also a vital exploration that each tradition needs to begin. This is a pneumatological exploration which redefines major aspects of ecclesiology with a robust awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. I would argue that many of the great theological disputes have at their core a misapprehension of the Triune roles, thus leaving major doctrines supported by what is essentially binarian considerations.

Christ is made to do too much. The Spirit barely makes an appearance. Yet, in the first chapter of Acts we are told that it is the Spirit who will empower the People of God, and the Spirt who will counsel and direct the Faithful while Jesus waits for his eventual return. Most questions of ecclesiology are based on a pneumaless doctrine. Finding a renewed pneumatology would then do wonders for establishing a bond that is not based on christological substitutes, but rather based on the power which binds all of us equally. That which represents Christ in much ecclesiology is an emaciated reflection of the fullness of the real reflection of Christ in all of us.

There’s a lot in that worth volumes of discussion… but for this setting I leave it at that, and say that a real unity in the Church will never be found until there is a pneumatological discovery both theologically and in ministry which likely has no other comparison besides Pentecost itself. This is where Theology can help build the unity if it is willing to dare the questions.

So, these three things: A relinquishing of control by the established hierarchies; a foundation of communion based on the Creed, not on the various accumulated theology of the split traditions; and a complete pneumatological revolution in the theologies of all traditions which discovers the fullness of the work of each Person in Salvation history. In each of these three areas all the traditions would have to show humility and submission and flexibility. All would have to let go long held barriers, and be willing to accept a fluidity in the broader understanding of Christian belief.

Until these three things happen, there will not be a reconciliation, no matter how many conferences gather to discuss the issue.

That being the case, I am still hopeful, because Ecumenical unity really is more of an issue between the various governments of the denominations. For the most part, those not involved in the hierarchies are quite willing and able to find communion based solely on the shared faith in Jesus. Thus, I’ve communed with Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, and Presybterians. None of these, except the latter, would officially allow me communion. Most people don’t care about the specific differences, and so the unity of the Church, officially, is dependent on the three mentioned changes, but in reality it almost certainly will increase from the bottom up, so that the leaders will be the last in this line.

The ones with the most to lose in a unified Church are the ones who will be the last to find an acceptable reconciliation. Meanwhile the Spirit will work through the various traditions, continuing to use all of us weak vessels for the ultimate goal of leading this world back to wholeness and perfection in Christ.

At least that’s what I think.

improve your blogging experience…

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Bored with the standard methods of bookmarks and finding links? Weary of the toil of reload buttons and navigation bars? Improve your blogging lifestyle today!

Christocentric

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“The university was in chaos,” he said. “It was horrible. The students kept professors from talking. They were verbally abusive, very primitive and aggressive, and this aggression was especially directed against Ratzinger. He had the most students coming to his lectures, but his personality was a magnet for this aggression. He had something fascinating about him, and this made him an object of hatred.

The NY Times has a very interesting article on the shaping of the Pope. As communism in his homeland shaped John Paul II, the ‘uprisings’ of the late 60s shaped Benedict XVI. Curiously, it is the echoes of these uprisings which remain the key points of contemporary Europe. Schroeder and Chirac rose these waves to help shape the present continent. Their rhetoric is slowly exhausting itself… and something will be needed to fill the vacuum in the not too distant future.

Benedict has spent the last many decades in consideration of the present matters of the Catholic Church. I suspect he is going to go at his job with a tactical and strategic focus that catches everyone by surprise.

I heavily doubt there will be much movement towards ecumenical reconciliation… but I think a lot of other very curious steps will be taken in the reformation of the Roman Church.

That kinda explains some stuff…

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I had a tendency to keep lecture notes. Then I realized if I didn’t like a class the first time around, I likely wouldn’t like the filtered version. But, some class notes survived the Great Purge of ’02.

Among these was a brilliant class I had at Wheaton called “Discovering an Evangelical Spirituality”. Curiously, I think such still is waiting to be fully discovered. This class was taught by a succession of guest lecturers… and these lecturers made up the pantheon of Evangelical Spirituality speakers. I just looked at some notes from a lecture given by John Ortberg and this little gem stood out:

If not experiencing authentic transformation religious people will fill artificial distinctives to differentiate themselves.

Thus the loss of the Spirit and the rise of all sorts of ‘moral discussions’, including the recent attacks on the judiciary by some Evangelical leaders.

Funny how Romans were certainly more corrupt and capricious, yet the NT is filled with all sorts of other emphases. We need a return to Pentecost methinks.