Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday reflection

   It is that time of year, a time of fasting and penitence where we are called to reflect on our faith, and our lives and we prepare to, in a sense continue this journey with Christ up to his passion and, ultimately, his resurrection. As the time fast approaches, and I think of my first year on the Church calander I've been left reflecting on my faith, and on where I am at right now. Life, seems to be a never ending rush as every moment blazes on past us but earlier today in the mists of it all I found myself thinking about the cross that will soon be imposed on my forehead....betwixt my eyes.

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return" we are called to recollect to that ancient story of our ancestors in the garden who, for the promise that they could become "like God" brought sin into the world. And with it death, and we are reminded that all passes away, that each moment is fleeting but among this call to reflection on, deeper still, I think anyway, has grabbed hold of my consciousness.

That cross, that will soon find its place between my eyes, kind of anyway, reminds me of my savior who died for me, who came into the world to make whole. And the cross causes me to think that as I repent, and pray I need to remember to keep my eyes on the "author and perfecter of our faith" which brings me to the point

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3

 "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."- Hebrews 4:14-16 

That cross will serve as reminder of Christ and that he is the great high priest and perfecter of our faith, as well as that I am temporal, living only for a moment. So, for those of us who will be going to recieve the ash cross today, let us repent and remember our great high priest, and approach him in humility, and love as we enter this season. Let us keep our eyes fixed on him today and evermore. Taking the time out of the chaos, to reflect on him, and our lives remembering the short time we have.  

I am linking here access to a passage from St. Clements epistle to the Corinthians on repentance:

                            May the Peace of Christ be with you, and may you have a blessed ash Wednesday. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

About me and this Blog

   So, pretty much as soon as I started this up I had people ask me why I named this blog "Crossing the Phoenix" that is a very good question. So, at the suggestion of others I am going to introduce my self, and explain why I came up with this name.

To begin with, I will explain my journey, for those of you who do not know I am a currently a sophomore at a local community college, I intend on transferring somewhere and majoring in Psychology- might be a topic here or there- and or something relating to theology/ministry. But, as of now I'm just working on getting my associates degree. I am almost there too!

                                              FAITH JOURNEY 
I was raised in a nominal Jewish family,had a Bar Mitzvah, and attended Hebrew school Tuesday nights and Sunday morning, a slight conflict since I became a Christian when I was 10, until after my Bar Mitzvah I would have kept going but I had problems with a few people there.

At any rate, shortly after coming to the faith, I started attending Awana at a local baptist church and then after going there for a few months I was invited by a family friend to attend a small Charismatic church the young christian that I was saw no problem with it, though it was a bit awkward at first as I was the only non Hispanic person there (On the plus side I learned a lot of Spanish).  I was attended that church for 7 years when I started to question some of their beliefs, I was invited by a friend to go to his youth group and from there started attending that church -which was the same one I went to for Awana- it was also where I got to know my Girlfriend :-D, at any rate the more I studied the Scripture, the more things I saw as wrong with my old "bible and nothing but the bible" church (Long story that I don't want to cover here). Anyway, I started attending the Baptist church, and started diving into books about the Christian faith written by other Christians, and found my way into considering Calvinism, went to a lutheran church and was introduced the the Liturgy and Sacraments (these will likely come up in posts), and started having deep discussions with other Christians. Before I knew it I started to read the Early church, and see things in Scripture I had never seen before which leads into the name.

                                         Crossing the Phoenix 
So, why the name? Well, in Greek mythology the phoenix was a bird that would die and rise again (did I mention I like history and mythology?) So, it's not hard to see why the phoenix eventually came to represent the resurrection of Christ thus, the blog ultimately says "crossing the resurrection". I chose this title because my blogs will largely focus on Scripture and the Early church and after all our faith is a faith based on the resurrection and our future resurrection. (see 1 Corinthians 15) So, now that you know a bit more I hope you enjoy, learn a bit, and that the facebook page can be a place of open discussion.

                                May the peace of Christ be with you.

P.s.; If you can help a friend of mine out for going to study abroad it'd be appreciated.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sola Scriptura (Part 2) The Early church

Next, I will be addressing Sola Scriptura according to the Early Church which, by the way, did not hold to sola scriptura. So, in this post, I will be addressing the views of the Early Church. This is important because Jesus, being the good shepherd, would not leave his flock (the church) with out a shepherd/s as a bulwark against false teaching (See Ephesians 2 and 1 Timothy 3:14-16) and we know that the apostles appointed teachers, and overseers in every city, think of Timothy and Titus (see Titus 1:5 for example) this ultimately gets into a topic I will address in another post but, for now, I think this is all important in understanding why the views of the Early Church on tradition is important, for we have a faith that is handed down and Scripture was not canonized until a few hundred years after the advent of the Church. (You can research this on your own, and check out Athanasius' letter on the subject) -
//Well, according to William A. Webster, Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Battle Ground Washington,”
The sixteenth century Reformation was responsible for restoring to the Church the principle of Sola Scriptura, a principle that had been operative within the Church from the very beginning of the post apostolic age. Initially, the apostles taught orally, but with the close of the apostolic age, all special revelation that God wanted preserved for man was codified in the written Scriptures. Sola Scriptura is the teaching, founded on the Scriptures themselves, that there is only one special revelation from God that man possesses today, the written Scriptures or the Bible. Consequently, the Scriptures are materially sufficient and are by their very nature, as being inspired by God, the ultimate authority for the church. This means that there is no portion of that revelation which has been preserved in the form of oral tradition independent of Scripture. We do not possess any oral teaching of an Apostle today. Only Scripture therefore records for us the apostolic teaching and the final revelation of God."   Further, here are some quotes from Ecfs".

 "When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered using written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, "But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world." And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth;" - St. 
Irenaeus. So, we see that this saint at the least taught Sola scriptura, see he contradicts the heretics by use of scripture. Meanwhile, the heretics try to argue a sacred tradition that is passed orally as opposed to written down, this would also contradict your understanding of some of the above scriptures you quoted." //

 Hmm…that would almost be convincing if you had not butchered that quote from it's proper context.  Here's the rest of what you are missing from St. Irenaeus."
2.2." But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsullied, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition." Well there we go tradition that originates with the apostles, and separate from scripture, leaving you undable to say the tradition is scripture, so no the concept of tradition did not originate with gnostics, Manicheans, or another sect.

 //"Well, I know of other Ecf's that taught sola scriptura. It is none other than Gregory of Nyssa.”
"Gregory of Nyssa also enunciated this principle. He stated: The generality of men still fluctuate in their opinions about this, which are as erroneous as they are numerous. As for ourselves, if the Gentile philosophy, which deals methodically with all these points, were really adequate for a demonstration, it would certainly be superfluous to add a discussion on the soul to those speculations. But while the latter proceeded, on the subject of the soul, as far in the direction of supposed consequences as the thinker pleased, we are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings.7" again from William A. Webster, Pastor of Grace Bible church in Battle Ground Washington //
 I love that you are looking at what the early church taught that is really, really cool however 1. Do you know that Nyssa also said "the unique generation of the Son, he explained that it was enough that 'we have the tradition descending to us from the fathers, like an inheritance transmitted from the Apostles along the line of holy persons who succeeded them.' And he also said.”

Let our author, then, show this to begin with, that it is in vain that the Church has believed that the Only-begotten Son truly exists, not adopted by a Father falsely so called, but existing according to nature, by generation from Him Who is, not alienated from the essence of Him that begat Him. But so long as his primary proposition remains unproved, it is idle to dwell on those which are secondary. And let no one interrupt me, by saying that what we confess should also be confirmed by constructive reasoning: for it is enough for proof of our statement, that the tradition has come down to us from our fathers, handed on, like some inheritance, by succession from the apostles and the saints who came after them. They, on the other hand, who change their doctrines to this novelty, would need the support of arguments in abundance, if they were about to bring over to their views, not men light as dust, and unstable, but men of weight and steadiness: but so long as their statement is advanced without being established, and without being proved, who is so foolish and so brutish as to account the teaching of the evangelists and apostles, and of those who have successively shone like lights in the churches, of less force than this undemonstrated nonsense?"
 And further, he said "Instead, the sheep stray from nourishing pastures, that is, from the traditions of the fathers, lodge outside the fold, and are dispersed throughout alien pastures. When the fruit of such a teaching brings about this situation, the form of a wolf now hiding under a sheep's skin will show itself.

Let us now examine the teachings of Apollinarius of Syria, to see whether they increase or decrease the flock, gather the dispersed or scatter those who have been gathered, and whether or not they support or manifest hostility towards the teachings of the fathers. . . For who does not know that God appeared to us in the flesh? According to pious tradition, he is incorporeal, invisible, incomposite, both was and is boundless and uncircumscribed, is present everywhere, penetrates all creation and has manifested himself in our human condition."

Sola Scriptura? Part 1

The phrase sola scriptura is from the Latin: sola having the idea of “alone,” “ground,” “base,” and the word scripture meaning “writings”—referring to the Scriptures. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)." (  That sounds all and good but how does that hold up to scripture? -
Now I won't quote it all here; I'll Just reference it I think it further significant that early church doctrine as found in the Bible was on AT LEAST 1 occasion decided at the convening of a council. "Say what? No, it cannot possibly be true!" Acts 15: 1-3 (ESV)

"But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers."
 So, we see here a dispute very early on in the church, this dispute being, basically, how much of the Laws of Moses must believers follow? Need they be circumcised? Keep Kosher? The high holidays? Frankly, there was not president in scripture, how then would sola scriptura answer this question? One would assume since they are the new Israel they'd keep all the laws of Moses right?
 //"Now wait one darn minute there are things in scripture about this Paul is pretty clear on this issue isn't he? Read Colossians, read Galatians that's all scripture."//
 Yes, we can say Paul seemed pretty clear on the issue, and he got it from….? Thank you further, his writings were epistles (letters) valued because he was known to have been sent by Christ, apostle roughly meaning "sent one", and thus churches valued it as letters written by a man of the church, a disciple of Christ, however in the early years of the church cannon was not yet decided and Paul's letters definitely were not scripture yet. Now, if I may continue so, caught at these cross roads what is the early church in doing? And how are they to decide? That's right they have a council.    Acts 15: 6-11 (ESV)

"The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between them and us, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”  
 Well. Why don't you look at that? Peter taking a stand at a council met to decide doctrine wow that's something! Even scripture has leaders of the church deciding doctrine and where the church stands on issues. Now, it is true that James does go on to speak up and quote scripture, though the scripture doesn't directly have to do with this at all it shows the council's decision was in line with scripture, something prima Scriptura sees no issue with at all. The above, again directly from Scripture does, however, seem to throw a wrench in the sola scriptura argument.
 //"Well, that is interesting, however, what about this

 II Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of Godb may becomplete, equipped for every good work." (ESV) "
"So, the council still quoted scripture and this passage seems to say that scripture is all we need"//
 Hmm.. That is interesting and at first seems like a powerful argument until you ask well what scripture? Remember
 Paul was writing to Timothy well before most of the New Testament was written…Paul was likely referring to the Old Testament because that's all there was to scripture at the time minus, perhaps, a handful of letters that were not yet canonized but if it's complete the O.T. doesn't give the full testimony of the life of Christ so what is going on here? And further, as it likely had to be addressing the O.T. yet we know at Galatians that we're no longer bound to much of the Old Testament. If this logical point isn't enough to let is take a moment to consider the context of the above verses.
  "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
 Note, and this may be a stretch, that Paul separates what Timothy has learned from having been acquainted from scripture. Now, what was he taught if it's not directly connected to scripture? Well, let's keep this in mind as I quote a few other passages

 "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." (ESV) 2 Thessalonians 2:15
 //"Hmm but what about II Peter 1:16-21."
“16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[a]with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (ESV)

 "Well, Peter says (essentially) that he's about to die, and wants to leave the Church with something to hang onto, and the reason he wants them to hang onto it is in chapter 2, where false teachers are coming. So, what he says between 16 and 21 is intended to keep the Church from these false teachers.
 And he first makes the case that we (exclusive we) were eyewitnesses, we (exclusive we) heard the voice, and we (exclusive we) saw Christ's glory. So, when we come to verse 19, it seems that he is using another exclusive "we" to associate those eyewitnesses with the prophetic word, and then tells them about "prophecy of Scripture" (scripture being specifically writings) not being of a prophet's own (interpretation is the translation, I think revelation is better, but that's a different discussion), and then says that this prophecy was produced as men spoke from God as the Holy Spirit carried them along

That's it. Peter doesn't mention any verbal traditions or anything the apostles have said but rather only refers them to the writings of those who were eyewitnesses of Christ's ministry (he later includes Paul in chapter 3.)
 So, it seems to me that by prescription, Peter points the church exclusively to these writings as the anchor that will hold them firm, and as such, only these writings should be considered the primary authority for the Church.
 And the reason seems obvious. Traditions can be altered through time. Who knows? It's possible that the traditions about Mary were expanded and modified over time before the Church finally adopted what the final form of the tradition produced. We see this in the Byzantine Text Type, where traditional passages not part of the original are added (John 7:53-8:11, Mark 16:9-20, for example) by scribes with the best of intentions.
 But writings are not so easily altered, and the fact that we have many types and families of the original text, we can discern the original from the various copies that are around, and we can discover what scribes added or altered along the way. (Much to the chagrin of the KJVOs, but that's another story)”//

Of course, scripture is primary and most important, so all is judged based on its authority. The point is that they left and taught people what came after them right? But sure I'll look at your point. How often does Paul say "as it is written" and it sounds like a creed or something yet outside of his quote is nowhere in scripture, add that to the fact that scripture was not canonized for a few hundred years after that? Of course, all tradition must be weighed by scripture for scripture is the highest authority and the only perfect one but I think scripture is pretty clear, often in what it does not say, and in what it does say, as seen above, that there is more that was left to the church.
 For that matter conceder this, his emphasis on being witnesses of. Well, was he not a witness of the resurrection? And were there not people trying to deny the resurrection? Was he not a witness of the crucifix? Were there not people seeking to deny Christ's bolide existence and death? Thus I submit, as we already know based on other scripture there were concerns about such people, which maybe just maybe Peter might have been referencing a bulwark against these deceivers.