Treasures New and Old : Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
It’s a common phenomena. At one time or another we have all probably done it. We read a book. We attend a conference. We listen to a podcast. We watch a TED talk. Then, we feel compelled to share and teach others what we have just learned. Moreover, we don’t merely teach and share… we evangelize on the basis of our newly acquired knowledge. Even our vocabulary changes. Having attended a conference on systemic racism, every third sentence starts with a comment about “white privilege”. Listening to a really great podcast about the place of women in the Church, our conversation is peppered with references to “patriarchy”. Having read a book on Christians and their relationship to government, we now refer to governmental structures as “empire”.
Admittedly, this phenomenon is born out of enthusiasm. It is similar to what we commonly refer to as the “zeal of the convert”. This is also something that most of us have witnessed for ourselves. A friend becomes a Roman Catholic. We rejoice with him or her in their new found faith. Suddenly, however, we witness our friend becoming “more Catholic than the Pope”! They consider the Mass said in English to be tainted by Protestant ideas. They will only attend a Latin Mass, preferably with all of the pre-Vatican II ceremonial. Not content with simply invoking the saints, they inform you about their special devotion to saints whose names you have never heard. The minutiae of Roman Catholic faith and practice becomes their specialty.
This, of course, is not limited to Roman Catholic converts. It extends to Lutherans, the Orthodox, Methodists, Evangelicals of varying stripes, Calvinists and, yes, to Anglicans as well. Happily, most (but by no means not all) grow out of this initial zeal. In time, most will moderate and begin to integrate their pre-conversion experiences and learning into their new found faith. This is not suggesting any diminution of their faith. Instead, they seem to have understood on a personal basis that, “…every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old”. I believe such integration is essential. Indeed, it is a part of who I am.
I started my faith journey as an evangelical. I have worked with and around Congregationalists, Confessional Lutherans, Orthodox and Roman Catholics. I have even read a good bit of Calvin and Calvinist theologians, although I felt little attraction to that tradition. I believe that all of these experiences and all of these influences make me a better Anglican. Let me explain.
It is a common mistake to regard the Anglican 39 Articles as a confession of faith, similar in some way to the Book of Concord or the Westminster Confession. In actuality, the 39 Articles are a guide to the manner in which Anglicans are to “do theology”. It is interesting that Anglicans often refer to themselves as the via media, or “the middle way”. It is also of interest that the term via media appears nowhere in the 39 Articles or The Book of Common Prayer. Moreover, the meaning of the term has changed through the centuries. Originally, Anglicans considered themselves a “middle way” between the Calvinists and the Lutherans, or as a “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and the continental Reformers. Yet others, however, regard it as the “via media based upon the sound triumvirate of scripture, reason and tradition”. By the nineteenth century, Anglo-Catholics regarded Anglicanism as the via media between all Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
Now, while this is the background, it misses the point. I think the via media is about integration of new and sometimes divergent views. The 39 Articles place the truths of the Reformation, newly discovered on the continent and in England, and places those truths within the context of history (tradition), scripture and reason, while carefully avoiding over defining those truths. They include and integrate many influences – Rome, Lutherans, Calvinists and, of course, Anglicans. The articles incorporate much more than they reject. They are not primarily caught up with defining exactitude of belief (outside of the Creeds). As Elizabeth I commented, she did not desire a “window into men’s souls”. It is the incorporation and integration of the “new” with the “old” and, occasionally, the divergent, that is the hallmark of the way in which the 39 Articles inform us as how to do theology.
As I indicated in the beginning of this article, we are often confronted with new knowledge and experiences. The temptation is to turn such knowledge, or experiences, into our new “hobby horse” assailing all and sundry with our newly acquired acumen. Too often, we teach before we learn. Indeed, I know many pastors and teachers that I could literally trace their trajectory as they moved from one new enthusiasm, to the next, and to the next… To really do theology, we might consider taking that new enthusiasm and consider how we might integrate it into something larger, something more vital. How does it relate to Scripture? How does is relate to history and tradition? Does it make sense? If not, why not? This may mean waiting and studying a bit before sharing your next “new thing”. Yet, it might also lead you to discover more than you might imagine… treasures new and old.
Hmm? Timely wisdom.
I hope so… It has really guided me in doing theology for years…
Is this article aimed at Michael’s new enthusiasm about the hell book he is reading? 🙂
I think we all think we are “the middle” path
The Narrow Lutheran Middle – good book written by a WELS guy
No… not directed at Michael. He merely reported something he was reading… other folk brought the Inquisition…
As to “via media”… we came up with the phrase first ?
I put a smiley ? next to my comment.
“Is this article aimed at Michael’s new enthusiasm about the hell book he is reading?”
That’s how I read it.
I thought this bears repeating and emphasizing:
” To really do theology, we might consider taking that new enthusiasm and consider how we might integrate it into something larger, something more vital. How does it relate to Scripture? How does is relate to history and tradition? Does it make sense? If not, why not? This may mean waiting and studying a bit before sharing your next “new thing”. Yet, it might also lead you to discover more than you might imagine… treasures new and old.”
Over the decades I’ve followed Him I have always been skeptical, asking questions, trying to get to the “bottom line” of all the noise and stuff presented to us. For myself that “bottom line” has always been the practical everyday living part of faith.
The simple main question I learned to ask myself about everything is, “why do I need to know this?”
The next most important question(s) I ask myself are, “who am I and why and I doing this?”
I think these personal questions have helped me get over the “enthusiasm” you mention and to really learn something. I also found most people could care less about what I am doing if it doesn’t benefit or effect them in some way.
A few thoughts generated by your article. Thank you!
If Duane wanted to speak to me on that matter he has my phone number and we speak at at length at least once a week.
As a priest and spiritual director he encourages me to think through such things and examine the doctrines I already hold.
Anglicans are not confessional so we’re free to read and think about various doctrines and incorporate what seems right.
As a friend, he is not one who would ambush me on my own blog.
Ideas don’t scare him…or me.
I really don’t understand the distinction of being “not confessional.” It sounds sort of hip and modern, at first glance, as though someone is a free spirit and open thinker (and whereas the confessionals are close minded and sectarian), but is that really the case and is it a good Christian thing?
Apostle Paul calls Pastor Timothy a confessional Christian in the most positive way. I would think all Christians would want deep roots in what they believe and be willing and bold to confess their beliefs. One can respect another’s confession without agreeing with it. But if someone spends years or decades and still hasn’t found a confession of faith, which covers the bases of the principle articles of faith, that seems rather sad.
If that is the way you read it… you read it wrong! Actually, I talked to Michael at length about that particular thread and told him that I was appalled… not with him but with the judgmental and inquisitorial nature of many of the comments. Especially galling were the remarks from those who admitted openly that they had not engaged much study in the area, nor had they any familiarity with the sources Michael was referencing. That, in my opinion, is the worst kind of scholarship. Indeed, it does not even rise to the level of scholarship or intellectual inquiry. It is merely ill-informed opinion without the willingness to engage (“engage”, not believe) another opinion with honesty and candor.
I was in a confessional group at one time and fidelity to every jot and tittle was required.
It was suffocating and allowed no variation.
I simply think that it takes a huge amount of hubris to declare that one group has it all figured out.
It’s a comfort to many…but I can’t do it and remain honest.
I have regard for the Lutheran Confessions and, to some degree, the Westminster Confession. I have learned and continue to learn from both. That is far different from subscribing to either…
Duane, I appreciate your comment at 9:38 am and take it in the most positive manner. However, when I converse with non-Lutherans I am not expecting your subscription to my confession nor even your regard for it; I am expecting and hoping for the non-Lutheran that they have a coherent orthodox Christian theology that their faith grasps in full assurance.
I often mention Xenia as an example of someone who is firmly rooted in a tradition that has significant differences from mine. Yet, because of her firm faith in an orthodox tradition, I rejoice that she is a sister in Christ. I would count Josh in the same category, coming from a completely different direction. They may not use the term “confessional”, but I think if one pressed them about what they hold firm to, we would find something synonymous to a confession from both of them.
I don’t have full assurance in anything but the person and work of Christ.
If that makes me unorthodox, I’m ok with that…
This is funny.
People think that reading certain books is an act of apostasy and expect my spiritual betters to discipline me.
Good Lord have mercy…
Why are you starting off defensive and dismissive?
“I don’t have full assurance in anything but the person and work of Christ.” That pretty much clarifies nothing. That statement can be as encompassing or as limiting as anyone wants to make it say. But whatever that enigmatic statement means to you, I rejoice with you that in it you have full assurance.
Lord have mercy, indeed…
Different people engage new ideas differently.
If i find something compelling I like to “try it on and wear it for a while”.
It’s a way of discerning if something is true how it affects all the associated doctrines, how it affects day to day faith and practice, and what the issues incorporating it may be.
Interesting. I thought Anglicans were confessional. The 39 articles, etc..?
As I said in the article, it’s integrating the “new” and placing it next to the old… we all do it in a slightly different manner.
To have “full assurance” in a whole slate of propositions as opposed to other slates of propositions require full assurance in ones ability to make those kinds of judgments.
I don’t have that kind of confidence in myself.
Xenia might be right.
My former Reformed friends may have nailed it.
There is a slight chance that the Lutherans may have the system down. 🙂
I respect and learn from everyone…and try to live what I’m certain of…
We do not subscribe to the 39 Articles, but we consider them to be foundational to the Anglican expression of the Faith.
“I was appalled… not with him but with the judgmental and inquisitorial nature of many of the comments.”
Cool. I believe I’m done here.
That would be a pity…
Duane or Michael, out of curiosity and not a challenge. How do you not subscribe to something that is foundational?
I would think that ‘foundational’ would be the very thing we would subscribe to.
We recognize the 39 Articles as existing within a certain historical context and, therefore, are read and understood within that context. It is, by the way, how I also read the Lutheran and Reformed confessions.
When you say within an historical context are you suggesting that some or all could have been true and confessed at one time but now may be invalid?
The big issue between confessional Lutherans and say the ELCA is that the confessional still hold that the BoC is still representative of true biblical understanding where the ELCA holds them as Lutheran documents that hold only historical value.
We all define “foundational” differently.
My guess is that we all subscribe to the creeds.
I’d hate to see you go, but I’m always going to engage with good scholarship on assorted issues, whether they fit a confession or not.
I truly would hate to see you go.
I think the documents can be both – historical (addressing issues of a certain time and place) and be representative of a certain approach to scripture and tradition which may be held to be true. The Book of Concord contains the creeds, which I still confess. On the other hand, I’ve not run into Charles V at Starbuck’s lately ?…
Oh good grief.
Michael tells us he is looking into a doctrine that most Christians throughout the ages consider to be wrong, if not heretical. He’s reading some interesting books on the topic. He’s doing a lot of thinking.
We have not read these books, being as we just now became aware of them, yet unless we have read these books, we are not permitted to comment of the topic, even if some of us have been to seminary (Josh), some of us have advanced degrees in apologetics (MLD), some of us have other advanced degrees (Jean) and some of us have been Christians and studying the faith for five decades (me).
Reuben the god-hater gets kudos, G-man likewise. The Bible-quoters and those who are settled in their faith are found to be “appalling.”
Duane, do you also hold the creeds at the same ‘at a distance’ firmness? They too were written in an historical setting.
As I said earlier, I am not challenging, just trying to understand.
“…kudos, G-man likewise”
Xenia, excuse me?
I get NO kudos from Michael for my doctrinal positions. He and I merely (or importantly) reaffirm an ongoing love and patience with each other while we wrestle with God like the patriarchs who have set the example to do so,
Jesus, set up (and skillfully exposed as frauds) the religious and the legal experts who muttered at His provocative stories of unconditional acceptance and inclusion.
Going to seminary or having advanced degrees in apologetics are worthless as described in 1Cor13 if there is not love.
“Jesus, set up (and skillfully exposed as frauds) the religious and the legal experts who muttered at His provocative stories of unconditional acceptance and inclusion.”
Not in any of the Bibles I’ve ever read. Sorry.
“Going to seminary or having advanced degrees in apologetics are worthless as described in 1Cor13 if there is not love.”
G – You and I were once friends. Do you want to tell everyone who broke that fellowship, or do you want to keep making hypocritical comments like this one?
I think G is referring to the time Jesus told the Jewish leaders they were of their father the devil as his form of unconditional acceptance and inclusion.
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around to listen to Jesus. 2So the Pharisees and scribes began to grumble: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’
…or what woman who has ten silver coins and loses one of them does not light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors to say, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost coin.’
…”son, you are always with me,” the father said, “and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to celebrate and be glad…”
Ooh, a threat? I remember threats from bullies when I was a kid, they never ended well for the bully.
No problem, I broke off the friendship due to you being stridently argumentative with me and my other friends on Facebook.
I wish you no ill, but I do have my boundaries, as do you.
What’s your point?
Let’s get back to the point at hand here, this is Michael’s blog and as the owner of this front porch he can welcome or dismiss whomever he wants. I cheer him for his spiritual journey, his determination to continue TheWayOfJesus, learning from Him, weighing His teachings, His lived examples, and His choice to err on the side of the downtrodden. If he asks me to step away from his porch I will still drop by at the side door and bring him my love, as deficient as it might be.
Gotta move pixels and align copy.
( |o )====:::
I have homeschool and a cat at the vet. I can’t engage much. Not sure it would matter…
The point of being appalled by some of the comments have nothing to do with seminary, degrees, etc. What appalled me were the absolute assertions that were made, with few questions being asked to further understanding and reasonable discussion. If one had not read the book – certainly not required – it might have been germane to at least ask questions about it in the first instance…
That is correct, and what a bunch of softies here. Duane writes an article which should make us be a bit more introspective about ourselves and it was like throwing an M80 into a crowd.
There’s sure a lot of tension for many who state they are “assured” of what they believe.
Again, I learned something from Duane’s article and appreciate what he wrote. Additionally I appreciate Michael for continuing to ask questions, explore, learn and strengthen his faith in the finished work of or Messiah, Jesus.
Two thumbs up and may the rest of those who need to chill a bit, may His peace and assurance move you today.
Thank you again Duane, and for the lesson in unintended consequences.
As to the Creeds, no. They are ecumenical in nature and part of the Church’s inheritance regardless of stripe, sect or tribe. The filioque, however, is an example (even in the Creeds) of an historical context.
Duane, I asked a couple of times (on previous threads and the last one) how the author engaged the 5 foolish virgins and the goats and a reasonable person would say it’s all hyperbole or Jesus was just trying to scare them to be ready or whatever.
But no, I just got a continual whooping because I would not read the book.
I would have hoped that Michael would have engaged more than just put downs.
The parable of the sower Jesus explaining why some get into the kingdom and others don’t. I do not read the sower as being similar to baseball hall of fame voting – you may not get in on the 1st or 2nd ballot, but you are eligible to get in the kingdom by the 10th ballot.
And if anyone wants to know what these 2 books are about and the takeaway is, just look them up on Amazon and read the positive reviews. Those who are fans love to highlight the ‘winning point’s.
Some of these books get 100 positive reviews and you can paste it together pretty good.
Do not read the negative reviews as they would be quickly dismissed.
“Kingdom” is The Present, experienced In Communion with The Divine and The Community.
Kingdom is knowing you’re already at the party and bidding others who tell themselves that they’re not worthy that they are beloved of The Father, and couldn’t be any more or less a child of The Father.
Hell is being at the party while muttering and grumbling that there are “unworthy ones” who are present, who don’t meet up to performance or tribal requirements or belief systems, and trying in vain to figure out a narrative that fits that story that “the unworthy ones” just don’t belong.
Are you trying to cause trouble??
Not sure we need to go to this discussion… again.
G, you are the king of the red letter only crowd. Here are some red letters right out of the mouth of Jesus. What point is Jesus making here? In clear language it is not the point you are making.
Matthew 25:10-13 – And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (How are there some who Jesus will curse saying he does not know them?)
Matthew 25:29-30 – For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (how are there some Jesus identifies as ‘worthless’)
Matthew 25:45-46 – Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (why is Jesus punishing some — eternally according to the red letters?
I will step away from this although I would love to hear G’s reply.
… You heard it here first…?
Back to pixels, points, tracking & leading.
Pixels and points, jots and tittles, …. Hmmm…. Photo shopped and extrapolated…. This is a muddy, foggy world and we have a freeze warning tonight…..
I enjoy everyone’s points of Faith, but i do pray we all, readers and commenters, get centered and stabilized…. something about perilous times? err something. ?
Phenomena is the plural.
Phenomenon is the singular.
Yes, had to go singular to fit the sentence…
Sounds like my life…
“What’s your point?”
That you are full of crap. You talk a big game but you exclude every person who isn’t exactly like you.
I respect your insight and your heart on different matters in this blog, I do. Can you try to chill when others are stating the “what if’s of different research? I feel that you (at times) become defensive and a tad bombastic. We are all in the same team. Just saying.
““What’s your point?”
That you are full of crap. You talk a big game but you exclude every person who isn’t exactly like you.”
There it is, that winsome way which is so very endearing. It draws me i to want to interact with you, like fresh baked bread, irresistible.
MCgarret – Yes, I will chill forever.
G – You are just a hypocrite of the highest order. A highly self-righteous one at that. Tell more of those empty dad stories for us!
Josh, I would like to ask you to chill on the chilling. 🙂
Every blog needs at least one Southern Gentleman. 🙂
Josh and G-Man
I think your personal history is better discussed elsewhere. This is not the place…
Duane – I’m taking it all elsewhere. I just happen to know G is a phony. His sanctimonious garbage here always gets the best of me.
I’d like to thank Duane for holding the fort on what has been a difficult day for me personally.
The ongoing strife and harsh feelings grieve me, but I have higher priority grief right now.
Those who choose to leave in anger will be missed and not just a little.
The door as, always, will be left open.
The treasures within scripture are amazing, especially the ones which reinforce the nearness of God, and His presence in others.
So much of my theology has changed thanks to these beautiful passages.
May I attempt to contribute a less inspiring version of one of Michael’s well crafted “Make your own application” vignettes?
Man! It seems this theme is so timely:
Just yesterday at the office, as I was attempting to explain to a coworker, whom is my sister in the Lord, and whom I am responsible to mentor and supervise, that her failure to perform in a prompt manner, a delegated administrative task, had jeopardized a critical requirement to my supervisor.
There is no doubt that my point was correct, however …because there was perceived resistance to the on the spot correction, as I was being interrupted and cut off, …I began fuming inside, as I was gritting my teeth at the thought that my spiritual intimacy with my sister in the workplace, seemed to have compromised the more formal supervisor relationship that would normally exist.
I was offended that my position was apparently held in so low esteem, …that I was continually being talked-over, by a subordinate.
My kettle of ‘righteous indignation’ was brewing on the stove and beginning to whistle under the heat and pressure of this indiscretion.
As anyone here would rightly predict…the kettle sounded off and boiled over …venting the steam, causing my sister’s hand to be scalded. It only took a second to recognize that although my point was administratively ‘correct’, …the thoughtless, unrestrained means by which it was communicated, far exceeded the corrective value in the point itself.
Collateral damage from the raw emotion was evident by the tears I saw falling down her cheeks. The cathartic release of frustration over what I saw as defensive posturing hijacking my attempts of effective communication …now ushered in vital spiritual and emotional clarity.
My heart was filled with remorse and sorrow over witnessing the hurt I had without forethought, inflicted upon my sister. I went to her side and apologized for the excessive force I had sinfully allowed to deviate from the central point, and expand in scope and intensity.
I confessed that I felt deeply ashamed of myself, in that I see my preiminent relationship with her, as a brother in Christ, and our workplace rapport is of secondary importance. All the more condemning, that I had failed spectacularly…to act in love, and asked that she forgive me. To which she hasn’t yet responded.
You can win the ‘battle, …but lose the war’. What value do we ascribe a shallow ‘victory’ when we march onto conquered ground, and the spoils of the war we waged, are just smoldering ‘scorched earth’?
‘Make your own application.’ (As Michael would say)
“We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
This is “An online Community of faith” not a conversation with the outside unbelieving world, so any comparison of the discourse here to evangelistic discourse is invalid.
Further, without seeing the overall context and just based on the short quote, it is clear that Ms. L’Engle has a false understanding of the function of biblical “light.”
Madeleine happens to have been a friend of mind (she wrote the Foreword to one of my books). While liberal in some areas, she was Anglican/Orthodox in her spirituality. She was, by the way, adept enough in theology to engage in a theology forum that I was involved with at the invitation of Metropolitan John of St. Petersburg. Her children’s book, ‘The Glorious Impossible’, indicates that she has a pretty good understanding of “biblical light”…
Sounds like Madeleine was practiced in the art of attraction, drawing others to consider the beauty of Christ. I’m so very glad you experienced her lovingkindness.
She was a complex person, with tremendous talent and ability. One of he lesser known books is about her marriage, titled ‘Two-Part Invention’ (fantastic title, by the way!). There’s actually a person on this blog who very much reminds me of her…
Based on the short quote and G-Man’s use of the quote, I disagree. Here is how St. John talks about light:
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness HAS NOT OVERCOME [OR COMPREHENDED] IT…. “He came to his own, and HIS OWN PEOPLE DID NOT RECEIVE HIM.” [my emphasis]
Here’s how St. Paul talks about light:
“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, BUT INSTEAD EXPOSE THEM. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But WHEN ANYTHING IS EXPOSED BY THE LIGHT, IT BECOMES VISIBLE, for anything that becomes visible is light.” [my emphasis]
So to say “a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it” is not the function of “light” in the writings of St. John and St. Paul and it may also present an erroneous human anthropology as well.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Jesus
Shine! Let ’em wonder what you got. – Newsboys
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Jesus”
Xenia, I don’t know if you posted this quote in agreement with me or in disagreement. But in its context, Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the good work of proclaiming Christ and the Kingdom. That proclamation also brings persecution (5:11-12), but they must not lose their saltiness or put the light under a basket (i.e., shut up) despite the persecution.
If we had a light shining contest G Man style, the Mormons would win and everyone would be going to hell.
Xenia, you get it.
“Further, without seeing the overall context and just based on the short quote, it is clear that Ms. L’Engle has a false understanding of the function of biblical “light.””
So, here’s the problem. “…it is clear that Ms. L’Engle has a false understanding of the function of biblical light…”
Did you know her or anything about her Christian faith? No…
Have you heard her lecture, teach, give a seminar? No…
She wrote 34 books (fiction and non-fiction) and four books of poetry. Have you read any? Probably not, but might have seen the movie version of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’….
Nevertheless, she has “a false understanding of the function of biblical light”. Why? Because it can be used for a theological tirade which, in itself, is flawed.
This is not the way one does theology… at least, that is, theology which deserves discussion.
It wasn’t my tirade that used Ms. L’Engle.
According to Wikipedia, Bart Ehrman has “written and edited 30 books, including three college textbooks. He has also authored six New York Times bestsellers.” What shall we make of Ehrman’s theology based on the volume of his output?
If anyone wants to discuss the motif of light in the NT, I would be happy to do so, on the basis of Scripture.
No, you just used the quote as a straw man. Your arrogance is only exceeded by your apparent inability to be gracious…
And… since you brought up the quote and made a sweeping judgment on the basis of the quote, may I ask if you have ever read anything by Ms. L’Engle? Especially germane in light of your original comment.
So back to the creeds. I honestly thought that if you subscribe to the creeds that my definition made you “confessional,”. But I guess confessional means subscribing to another more specific tribal confession?
I think there is a difference between “Creedal” and “Confessional”. All my Reformed brethren are “Creedal” in that they subscribe to the creeds, but they are also confessional as they subscribe to the Westminster Confession as a particular definition of what that might mean…
“No, you just used the quote as a straw man.”
Not a straw man Duane. I used the quote so that G-Man would know I was responding to him and in opposition to the assertion he was making by using that quote.
As far as I can recall, I had never heard the author’s name before today.
I wonder if anyone can source the quote. Did she really say this or was it like many Facebook memes…made up? I can’t number the Luther quotes online that have no source.
Here’s a starter…
I also wonder who or what this irresistible light is? Is it Jesus? Because if it is it seems to me that almost everyone resisted his light when he walked the earth.
Is this attractive light that everyone will want, is it me and my testimony?
This is pretty cool too, our brother George MacDonald had an influence on our sister Madeleine.
Love this about George…
According to biographer William Raeper, MacDonald’s theology “celebrated the rediscovery of God as Father, and sought to encourage an intuitive response to God and Christ through quickening his readers’ spirits in their reading of the Bible and their perception of nature.”
MacDonald’s oft-mentioned universalism is not the idea that everyone will automatically be saved, but is closer to Gregory of Nyssa in the view that all will ultimately repent and be restored to God.
“As far as I can recall, I had never heard the author’s name before today…”
Yet, you are willing to make the sweeping statement that she has “a false understanding of the function of biblical light” and to do it on the basis of a single quote you have not sourced. That, my friend, is character assassination, not scholarship…
Duane, a false understanding, if she has one on this particular matter, is in any event not co-extensive with one’s character; in fact it has nothing to do with character. I have no reason nor desire whatsoever to impugn the author’s character.
When you make such sweeping statements, that is exactly what you do…
Duane, you are the one, if anyone, making sweeping statements. My statement began with: “Further, without seeing the overall context and just based on the short quote”. That limited my statement.
Can we move on to either the topic of light or some other topic. You’ve made your point, which I acknowledge.
Why do we have to use such wooden ways of understanding metaphors?
“Xenia, I don’t know if you posted this quote in agreement with me or in disagreement. But in its context, Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the good work of proclaiming Christ and the Kingdom. ”
That’s one strictly reformed interpretation…it is not necessarily the only acceptable one.
For me, as an artist and musician, I find it all like dancing about architecture.
Ancient structure is where we find something to lean on, hold up the roof, create a portal.
Negative space is where we live, move and have our being and dance.
A poet speaking of her illumination and warmth from a beckoning light breathe into us an experience that some would deny us, yet we cannot but dance, sing, and cry when touched.
Michael – so can you give your alternative understanding of what Jesus was saying?
“let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
If “good works” are simply works of mercy, such as alms giving or feeding the poor, are those works restricted to Christians? No, they’re not. Any number of religions and atheists engage in those same works. What then would cause someone who sees those works to give glory to the Christian Father?
Not to mention that Jesus is the “light of the world.” Is not the light that shines, Christ and His Word?
Dave in the wee small hours of this morning told of a work experience that left him sorrowing … not a bad thing, but beware of tears… they are not always the result of being hurt… at least, not among us women… sometimes, but not always… and it does sound like you showed great grace in the end of the matter…
Jesus drives the metaphor home. What his disciples must show is their “good works,” i.e., all righteousness, everything they are and do that reflects the mind and will of God. And men must see this light. It may provoke persecution (vv.10-12), but that is no reason for hiding the light others may see and by which they may come to glorify the Father—the disciples’ only motive (cf. 2Cor 4:6; 1 Peter 2:12). Witness includes not just words but deeds; as Stier remarks, “The good word with out the good walk is of no avail.”
Thus the kingdom norms (vv.3-12) so work out in the lives of the kingdom’s heirs as to produce the kingdom witness (vv.13-16). If salt (v.13) exercises the negative function of delaying decay and warns disciples of the danger of compromise and conformity to the world, then light (vv.14-16) speaks positively of illuminating a sin-darkened world and warns against a withdrawal from the world that does not lead others to glorify the Father in heaven. “Flight into the invisible is a denial of the call. A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow him” (Bonhoeffer, p. 106).
D. A. Carson, Matthew, EBC 8; ed. Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), paragraph 44614.
Thanks for posting the commentary. Generally, I agree with it. However, this needs to be maintained:
“Witness includes not just words but deeds; as Stier remarks, “The good word with out the good walk is of no avail.”
There is a little bit of an overstatement here, as though the Word were by itself too weak to accomplish God’s purposes. But, even if it were completely accurate, we would have to admit that “yes,” the good walk must accompany the good word, but the good walk without the good word also accomplishes nothing regarding glorifying the Father. Therefore, the good word is indispensable.
This is where I believe the mainline denominations have dropped the ball theologically. They have placed all their eggs in social justice and what they consider good works, while neglecting the proclamation of Christ crucified for our sins and the particularity of the kingdom of God for only those who confess Christ as Lord.
Our Father in heaven is glorified when His Son is confessed as Lord. That is the main thing, would you not agree?
“There is a little bit of an overstatement here, as though the Word were by itself too weak to accomplish God’s purposes.”
No, it’s not.
“This is where I believe the mainline denominations have dropped the ball theologically. They have placed all their eggs in social justice and what they consider good works, while neglecting the proclamation of Christ crucified for our sins and the particularity of the kingdom of God for only those who confess Christ as Lord.”
Evidently, you’ve never heard an Anglican liturgy.
Michael – well I must admit you came up with a different interpretation. Hey, I don’t have all the fancy electronic commentaries so I had to go dig in my garage to get my volume 8 Expositor’s Bible Commentary. (I am envious of your book budget).
It sounds like a pretty high bar to hurdle to qualify to witness for Christ. “What his disciples must show is their “good works,” i.e., all righteousness, everything they are and do that reflects the mind and will of God.”
In almost 40 yrs I have failed to reach that level of ‘christian life’ – all righteousness?? Everything I do reflecting the mind and will of God?? Not there yet so I guess I must keep my witness to myself.
I mentioned earlier, I don’t think my works – all my righteousness is the light I am to shine. I think Christ’s proclamation for salvation of the world in my light that I shine.
My book budget now consists of Amazon gift cards I get on holidays and my birthday.
In the past I went without lots of things so I could buy books and be the best teacher I could be.
None of us reach a state of complete righteousness ,but we try to be quick to repent and we strive to be a good witness of Christ.
There is no worse witness of Christ than a jackass braying out “the Gospel” when he is known for being anything but Christlike…
‘Duane, you are the one, if anyone, making sweeping statements. My statement began with: “Further, without seeing the overall context and just based on the short quote”. That limited my statement.’
Don’t try to be a trial lawyer… it just does not work.
Well that’s a new one Duane. Thank you for sharing.
I appreciate your thoughtful feedback, sharing that your insight comes from a woman’s perspective as well, reflects all the more value in it. I know it is possible that tears can be employed as a tactic …but it’s far beyond my ability to identify motives.
The workplace demographics are unique amongst coworkers and clients alike, in which I am the outlier. I believe I have a larger responsibility to set the correct example, and subdue the Pharisee lurking within.
Catching disturbing glimpses of my own heart is despairing enough, without the added futility of believing I can examine another human’s. I just want to maintain a clear conscience, and not be hardened to the pain of others.
Michael said, “Those who choose to leave in anger will be missed and not just a little.” Funny, I came here tonight just to see if one person was still among us. We need to admit that there is too much strife here (IMO), while at the same time know that, for me at least, everyone involved has an important voice.
I’d hate to see PP lose any of you.
■ 16* Verse 16* is the summarizing key of the pericope. The perspective changes from the persons addressed to their works. The linguistic sign for the change is the transition from “lighten/give light” (λάμπει) to “let shine” (λαμψάτω, vv. 15*/16*). For Matthew, however, that does not mean the introduction of a new category, because for him people are made up of their deeds, and they live in them. The disciples—that is, the Christians—are the light of the world by letting their works shine44 just as salt is only salt when it salts. Thus the indicative “you are the light of the world” is at the same time a claim that must be made real in deeds.
“Good works” is a fixed expression that can be understood in two ways. If one understands it as a translation of the Jewish מַעֲשִׂים טֹובִים, the thought is of those demands of God that are not legally prescribed by the Torah, such as especially works of charity and almsgiving.45 On the other hand, in later early Christian writings (Pastorals, Hebrews, 1–2 Peter, 2 Clement) the term is related to Christian ethics in general. In my judgment Matthew refers here to a Jewish topos of proving oneself before others through good works, a topos that is not specifically rabbinic and suggests rather good deeds in a general sense.46 This is also a central idea in 1 Peter. It is interesting that Matthew and 1 Peter (influenced by Matthew?) are in agreement that mission and proving one’s works in living a life of integrity are decisive precisely when one is persecuted (Matt 5:11–12*).
The contents of the good works are to be determined in terms of the preceding beatitudes and the following antitheses. If the first eight beatitudes were a general reflection of Christian virtues, one could understand the section vv. 11–16* as, so to speak, a concrete challenge to the persecuted community to take them seriously in its situation. Verse 16b* states the goal of the conduct: the works of the Christians have a missionary function. Here the Matthean priority of deed over word is clear. Just as discipleship means fulfilling Jesus’ commands, so also in preaching the life of the Christians receives a, if not to say the, decisive place. In such a conception of a “Christianity of the deed” a special preaching office cannot force its way into the foreground. Bearing witness with one’s life remains the task of the entire community.
Luz, U. (2007). Matthew 1–7: a commentary on Matthew 1–7. (H. Koester, Ed.) (Rev. ed., pp. 207–208). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
The facts and functions of light in our lives and world bring us a great responsibility. Our Lord is very explicit about this: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (v. 16). This is a command, not a suggestion. Jesus says, “If you are light, then shine!” This is not an option. Let us keep the emotion of this imperative before us as we consider what he says. The mode of shining, he tells us, is “good deeds.” The word he uses is kalos, which carries the idea of attractiveness or beauty, rather than the more common agathos, which means good in quality. Jesus wants our light to shine through beautiful, attractive works! Of course, he is not recommending self-conscious, staged works. Yet he does suggest that we should let them be beautiful. Our Lord would thus tell us that works of compassion and caring are top-priority. John Stott says it well:
Indeed, the primary meaning of “works” must be practical, visible deeds of compassion. It is when people see these, Jesus said, that they will glorify God, for they embody the good news of his love which we proclaim. Without them our gospel loses its credibility and our God his honour.4
Hughes, R. K. (2001). The sermon on the mount: the message of the kingdom (pp. 87–88). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
“The saying on salt thus anticipates the commission to make disciples out of the Gentiles given by Jesus, yet carried out by the Eleven. Through the disciples’ preaching of the words of Jesus, the world will be preserved and saved from God’s impending judgment….
“Jesus’ description of his disciples, ‘You are the light of the world,’ expresses their relationship to him and their function to preach his message…. Hiding the light is as absurd as salt losing its saltiness. Jesus here puts forth no threat that the light will be put out or taken away as with the seven churches in the Book of Revelation [cit. omitted], but requires that the light should be put on a lampstand to light the entire house, a reference most likely to the world. The word for lampstands is used in Revelation [cit. ommited] for the churches. The lampstand can be taken away. The church failing to carry out its purpose of preaching Jesus will no longer be church….
“The one who hears the message of the followers of Jesus and sees their works of mercy will understand that God has established a special relationship with the followers of Jesus so that now Jesus is recognized and acknowledged as God.”
– The Sermon on the Mount: David P. Scaer, The Church’s First Statement of the Gospel.
Lutherans are admittedly a minority opinion in Christendom. Three things IMO that distinguish Lutheran theology, but put us in a minority status, are (i) our intense Christocentric, (ii) Gospel-centric and (iii) means-centric (i.e., the proclamation of the Gospel through preaching and the Sacraments) hermeneutics employed in Bible interpretation.
I’m not trying to proselytize, but just disclose the backbone of our theology for comparison purposes.
Merve Emre’s The Personality Brokers is a book I’ve been thinking of grabbing that gets into the business of personality testing, in case folks here haven’t heard of that book and author yet.
ack … that was meant to be a comment for the linkathon! Sorry
Lutherans are admittedly a minority opinion in Christendom. Three things IMO that distinguish Lutheran theology, but put us in a minority status, are (i) our intense Christocentric, (ii) Gospel-centric and (iii) means-centric (i.e., the proclamation of the Gospel through preaching and the Sacraments) hermeneutics employed in Bible interpretation.
Jean, your (i) and (ii) I see absolutely no different than my reformed faith. Even (iii) is pretty darn close to reformed.
Agreed. Classical Anglican theology is also extremely Christo-centric, places high value on a Gospel orientation and is, of course, sacramental. It’s part of the Reformation inheritance and, at Vatican II, much of it was brought into RC theology…
Steve and Duane,
That’s very encouraging to read. If I am ever in the position of having to shop for a new church, I would look for those three pillars to predominate the practice and preaching.
Duane,. I think I would have difficult time in RC church considering the counsel of Trent.
Take a look at some of the Vatican II documents… you’ll be surprised.
Vatican II may soften the blow a little but the current RCC catechism takes it all back.
I think there is so much in the RCC Catechism, that it obfuscates much of Vatican II, but it’s still there…
But it is the catechism that is taught and relied upon.
I have no desire to denigrate the Roman Catholic Church. My wife is Catholic. I gave three pillars of my tradition and prefer to share what I believe, rather than denigrate other traditions. I believe that the Catholic Church proclaims Christ, the Gospel and administers the Sacraments.
However, Catholics and Lutherans are different. That is just a fact. I can go into any church and read the liturgy, the prayers, the hymns, listen to the preaching, etc. and ascertain where Christ is glorified, where the Gospel is preached and how the Sacraments, if any, are administered.
I could never pray the following:
“The Hail Holy Queen (The Salve Regina)
“Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy,
our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to you we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
your eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this, our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”
I’m not saying anyone is damned for praying that, but it is not the Christocentricity or Gospel-centricity that I hold to.
As you know, in RCC theology, the devotion to Mary, is considered to be Christo-centric as it is focused on the Incarnation. I’ll be doing some writing on Mary in the future which may provide a forum for discussion.
By the way, I pray The Angelus every day…
Putting doctrine and theology aside, the RCC is very appealing from it’s community aspect. I live in a very Catholic area with many Catholic churches, hospitals and high schools, colleges all within walking distance of my home. It’s a big part of the culture here and sometimes I do feel like I’m missing out on something. Particularly when the Pope came to Philadelphia I’ve never seen so much community involvement. It was actually a lot of fun to watch in TV.
“kalos, which carries the idea of attractiveness or beauty…”
Michael, that’s beautiful.
And here’s an awesome concert clip!
Good works, just because.
Marian focus is interesting. My ex-laws, RCC from Mexico, seemed more focused upon The Lady of Gudalupe rather than her Son. Not being from that culture, it’s hard to comprehend though I observe the syncretism therein.