Sunday, July 31, 2016

A monograph on S. Peter's exhortation to the Jews assembled on Pentecost,
 as it relates to infant baptism.

In three parts.

Part I
Repentance as it relates to infant baptism

Part II
A comparison of Acts ii.38-39 and Gen. xvii

Part III
The calling of the Lord and it's implications

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Back up... maybe

I'm going to give this blog a try once more. I have a couple of short works from Bible study classes that may be suitable as monographs. One is on the Biblical use of the word "liturgy" and another is on the use of the word "church". Though not complete at the moment, they could be expanded and properly formatted to work.

I also hope to take my postings from various discussion boards, put them together and polish them up make them monographs. The topics include esoteric bits of Restoration history and a defense of Christmas dating.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Book Review of "The Templars"

This book by Piers Paul Read is a bit of history written in an excellent narrative style. A type of writing normally referred to as a 'popular history'. The author covers much more ground than just the "Temple Knights" and it makes a good introduction to the Crusades. In fact, the author starts his narrative by going all the way back to Abraham and his near sacrifice of his son and explains the historical reason why Jerusalem and the Temple mount are important places for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

The Templars were started after the success of the First Crusade as a way providing protection for pilgrims on way to the Holy Land. While not the first religious order to be allowed to engage in military action (the Hospitalliers proceeded them), they were the first religious order specifically set up as a military order. Founded in 1119 by the efforts of Hugh of Payns the order took its name as 'The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Jesus Christ'. King Baldwin II gave them room at the former al-Asqa mosque built on the traditional site of the Solomon's Temple. Because of their location, the order eventually became known as the "Knights of Solomon's Temple", or the "Templars" for short.

The "Templars" was a true religious order with its members taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Eventually the Templars were bound to follow the Rule of Benedict modified to take into account the peculiarities of warfare. They took as their habit (the clothes they wear) the white robe with a red cross over the chest. In reality the order was established to "make knights into monks and not monks into knights".

As I stated earlier the book works as a good introduction to the Crusades. Indeed, entire chapters cover much of Crusade history with barely a mention of the Templar. One thing you'll discover is the mendacity of the supposed "nobility" of Europe. The Crusades were hardly a united effort against the Muslims and there seemed to be as many reasons individuals went to fight as there were individuals. Perhaps all of history is like that and its simplified too much in high school history classes.

At any rate the good work of the Templars in protecting pilgrims and the Holy Land from the infidels was richly rewarded by Popes and royalty. The Templars became so rich that they eventually became a sort of multinational banking consortium. After all they had to develop an efficient system of monetary exchange with all the gifts they received. Getting something from England to the Middle East was no easy feat.

As a military force, the Templars were the arch enemies of the Muslims. Even so, the Muslims respected the Templars military prowess and the Templars respected the Muslims fighting abilities. The author richly narrates several military actions and described the knights of the period as the equivalent of the modern-day tank. Despite the power of the Templar Knights they were still only a small force compared to the large armies of the Muslims and Western European kingdoms. Eventually, after about 150 years, the Muslims retake the Holy Land.

The secrecy and supposed riches of the Templars lead many to complain of their avarice. This sentiment was used against them by King Philip IV of France. The early 1300's saw the demise of the Templars by King Philip who accused them of numerous heresies, blasphemies and sodomy. In reality, it appeared that the King had designs on the Templars lands and holdings in France. The King was able to round up 15,000 Templars (knights and associates) in a single day in France. Eventually, many confessed to their crimes under torture, and many died, but on numerous occasions they retracted their confessions when brought before a special commision set up to investigate the charges. After the order was suppressed by the Pope at the Council of Vienne, many surviving members had to join other religious orders.

The author does a good service by providing a chapter at the end on the "verdict of history" on the Templars. He traces how other groups, such a Freemasons, and "historians" have used the Templars for their own end. Indeed, he even mentions the modern day attempt to the co-opt the Templars by prohomosexual groups; they were accused of sodomy after all.

The author's own verdict is that the Templars were, for the most part, made up of "common men". He didn't mean that in a bad way. For the most part they were illiterate and didn't get caught up in some grand vision, but were faithful to their responsibilities. Probably a good word for them would be "average Joes". One final thing that should be noted is that other than landholding and castles there was never found any vast store of wealth among the Templars. Much of the money raised was used to fight the Muslims in the Holy Land (which required an enormous sum). For the most part it appears that the Templars were faithful to their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ratzinger, Peter and the Papacy

Before reading the following it may be helpful to read the then Cardinal Ratzinger's Truth and Conscience. However, I quoted the relevant text below.

First a little recap on anamnesis, the "memory" in each of us:

The word anamnesis should be taken to mean exactly what Paul expressed in the second chapter of his Letter to the Romans: "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts while their conscience also bears witness ..." (2:14 ff.).

This anamnesis of the origin, which results from the godlike constitution of our being is not a conceptually articulated knowing, a store of retrievable contents. It is so to speak an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so that the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears its echo from within. He sees: "That's it! That is what my nature points to and seeks."

It is interesting, as you'll see in a little, that this refered to as a "memory" or an ability to "recall".

Ratzinger further states:

The anamnesis instilled in our being needs, one might say, assistance from without so that it can become aware of itself. But this "from without" is not something set in opposition to anamnesis but ordered to it. It has maieutic function, imposes nothing foreign, but brings to fruition what is proper to anamnesis, namely its interior openness to the truth.

This leads to his invocation of his concept of the papacy:

In the crisis of the Church today, the power of this recollection and the truth of the apostolic word is experienced in an entirely new way where much more so than hierarchical direction, it is the power of memory of the simple faith which leads to the discernment of spirits. One can only comprehend the primacy of the Pope and its correlation to Christian conscience in this connection. The true sense of this teaching authority of the Pope consists in his being the advocate of the Christian memory. The Pope does not impose from without. Rather, he elucidates the Christian memory and defends it.

I take the above as Ratzinger proposing that the Pope's primary responsibility or function is to remind other Christians, to bring forth fruit from their "anamnesis", and to be "an advocate of the Christian memory". Now here is where the "blow my mind" portion comes in and I don't know if Ratzinger had this in mind when he stated it but the apostle Peter speaks to the very same thing in 2 Peter 1:12-15,

12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

Now whats especially important is verse 15:

Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

Assuming Ratzinger's definition of conscience is biblical and his concept of the Pope is not a strict novelty, we can see that the apostle Peter may be laying out the very foundations of the Papacy. Notice that Peter, in some way, will "ensure" that a "reminder" will be available to Christians even after his death.

Now there's one thing that the Bishops of Rome can rightly be accused of. That is that they've claimed to be the successors of Peter and in some sense carry on his mission. I would say the entirety of Church history witnesses to this fact.

I know it may not rise above speculation but I can't think of anything else that Peter is said to have done just before his death other then establish the bishop of Rome as his successor. The only thing that may come close is the gospel of Mark. However, tradition states (to my knowledge) the gospel of Mark wasn't even Peter's idea at all. Furthermore a written work isn't of the same order as a living person. No, I think this "reminder" is to be more active, able to respond to different circumstances. Not a reliance so much on the individual to interpret but on the individual to receive.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The filth of the world

Lest one think when those of the world (and even fellow Christians) look at the Church they will see perfection, I offer the following:

The apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians, when referring to himself and his fellow apostles states:

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. - 1 Cor. 4:9-13

The apostles were beaten, stoned and delivered to the whips. Their bodies scarred, bruised and broken. Imagine a person you've seen where you had to advert your gaze, the revulsion almost uncontrollable. That image was the apostles. However, that is how it was supposed to be. Christ himself had no "comeliness". He Himself suffered the beating and ripping of flesh, so much so that he was a spectacle to men and demons. The apostles shared in his "passion". Again the apostle Paul to the Colossians:

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.

As an aside, what of the devil, what is his form, again the apostle Paul:

For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Those who followed Paul and hounded him with false teaching weren't beaten and broken. Their smooth features went along with their smooth words, how could they possibly be wrong? "Look at Paul", they say, "his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." Little did they realize, little do we realize that is the lot of Christ. "If they hated the master, how much more his servants."

But, we will say, that is the lot of Christ and his apostles, not us. Listen again to what the apostle says, "I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you." Little did these Corinthians know that among themselves were future generations of martyrs, even their own children.

However, these stripes aren't just physical, hear the apostle Peter:

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. - 1 Peter 2:11-12

Just as Christ was accused of evil, so shall we, His Church, be accused of evil. Christ has made us "reconciled in the body of His flesh" to suffer His sufferings. However, whereas Christ was sinless, we have sinned. Do we expect the world to forget our sins? May God have mercy on our souls for the reproaches we bring to His Body. Bring them we must, for "God has called sinners".

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Jesus Christ the Prophet

From a Scriptural point of view, the idea the Jesus was a prophet is overwhelming. The apostles considered Him a prophet. The people considered him are prophet. Even his enemies recognized that he was a prophet (or at least that He was considered a prophet).

However, its not just that He was a prophet but THE Prophet. The one foretold by Moses that the Jews were to hear, a new lawgiver. This leads to Christ's kingly ministry which will be covered in another post.

The prophets were the medium by which God communcated His will to mankind. They spoke as "moved by the Holy Spirit", thus their message was not their own but God's. Even Jesus Himself claims that "my doctrine is not mine" but the Father's. Here we can see that Jesus was the Prophet towards which all the other prophets pointed . Thus the prophets' ministry foreshadowed that of Christ's and Christ's ministry fulfilled that of the prophets.

Friday, June 17, 2005

2 Peter 1:15

10Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

In verse 15, is he referring to his epistles, Mark's gospel or something else. How will he "be careful to ensure" (be diligent in the KJV). In verse 10 he encourages the Christians to "be even more diligent to make your call and election sure". As they "give sure diligence" with their calling, Peter will "give sure diligence" to always have the things of the Gospel "on their mind" so to speak. The question arises of how this will be accomplished after his "decease". Could this be a reference to some future action such as handing off a pastoral authority? 1 Clement may give some insight:

And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture a certain place, "I will appoint their bishops s in righteousness, and their deacons in faith."


Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry