For YouTube, donʼt you think singing is easier than talking?
For YouTube, donʼt you think singing is easier than talking?
The Byzantine monk Symeon the New Theologian, in Discourse 24.3, says that what unlocks the treasure enclosed and sealed up in the word of God, ‘eternal life together with the unutterable and eternal blessings which it contains’ (24.2), is God the Son himself, who has said, ‘He who loves me will keep my commandments, and my Father will love him, and I will reveal myself to him.’ The only way for the chest of knowledge to be opened, Symeon says expressly, that we may enjoy, partake of, and contemplate its good things, is for God to ‘[live] in us and [move] among us’, and perceptibly to reveal himself to us; thereupon we consciously contemplate the divine mysteries hidden in Scripture. These mysteries, says Symeon, consist in perfect love toward God and neighbour, contempt of visible things, mortification of the flesh. And it is in seeing immortality, incorruption, the kingdom of heaven, adoption as sons through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, that we indeed become sons by adoption and grace, and are called heirs of God and fellow-heirs of Christ.
But it is not clear to me whether Symeon sees this work of God himself – for he says no one but God can do it, since it is ultimately God and not the fulfilment of the commandments and the practice of the virtues that opens the door of knowledge – as being given all at once or over a protracted length of time, and how it is related to those works of ours. He does say it is by means of our fulfilling the commandments and practising the virtues (both given by God, as the commandments and the virtues) that God opens the door of knowledge to us, but he does not say explicitly how God uses these things to open the door. Instead, he contrasts those who enjoy the blessings and those who ‘lack the knowledge and experience of any of the things of which we have spoken’, who ‘have no taste of their sweetness, of the immortal life derived from them, since they lean on the mere study of the Scriptures’; for the latter ‘wish to commend themselves as though they were to be saved apart from the exact observance of Christ’s commandments, and so they altogether deny the power of the Holy Scriptures’. Nevertheless, by denying that our own fulfilment of the commandments and practice of the virtues is itself the power that opens the chest of treasure, Symeon seems to disclaim any notion of God’s respecting these things as meritorious works: they are instruments in some way, but God is the one who unlocks all these gifts to us when we cease to commend ourselves (trusting in our own meagre merits?) apart from the exact observance of Christ’s commandments, which is the true power of the Holy Scriptures!
To a Protestant, the expression here is unfamiliar, but the substance seems very much related to what Protestant divines held about regeneration in the broader sense. This intuition leads me to wonder how a Reformed scholastic such as John Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury, might have interacted with the thought of Symeon the New Theologian on the topic of regeneration. In a letter to Samuel Ward, Master of Sydney Sussex College, Davenant does treat carefully and sometimes subtly of regeneration in relation to infant baptism and perseverance of the saints. In that letter, Davenant’s purpose is different, but his categories might fruitfully be brought to bear on Symeon’s somewhat mysterious account here of the way in which God enlightens the soul and thus unlocks the treasure borne by Scripture, a treasure that none can reach by commending themselves, but that God himself must unlock.
Ruth Whelan, in ‘Sanctified by the Word: The Huguenots and Anglican Liturgy’, part of the edited volume Propagating the Word of Irish Dissent 1650–1800 (Four Courts Press Ltd, 1998), 74–94, gives us a look at the Huguenot refugee community in Ireland which complicates the picture often painted of French Protestants readily conforming to the established Anglican worship of the English-speaking countries in which they resettled. Though the French Protestants recognized the Church of Ireland and the Church of England as fellow Reformed churches, with whom they basically agreed in doctrine, differences in practice shaped differences in piety between them and Anglicans who conformed to the Book of Common Prayer. Practices that strictly were adiaphora (in themselves indifferent) were nevertheless, for much of the Huguenot refugee community, part of the Huguenots’ ethnoreligious identity.
The article also shows us some history that could be useful for dealing with the problem of Phyletism – which Wikipedia calls ‘the idea that a local autocephalous Church should be based not on a local [ecclesial] criterion, but on an ethnophyletist, national or linguistic one’ – as well as with the practical mess of the Byzantine communion’s overlapping ethnic-associated jurisdictions in America.
Æthiopian music like this can probably be adapted into Chinese music. It already sounds similar.
Because Hong Kong in those days did it better.
Fear God, and what else shall you fear? Shall you fear armies or the wrath of the king? Is the Lord your stumbling-block or your sanctuary? Isaiah 8.
Now back to Zion goes the pilgrim’s eye,
Translating holy leaves into Chinese,
The sages for Aquinas. Riding high,
He circumambulates the Dipper’s keys.
Around the four directions goes his sign,
Yet stays where northern lights have made their home,
Facing the south, where province-cauldrons nine
Are come to offer to the lord of Rome.
For this is where we find Jerusalem,
And holy Zion in the pious heart;
This is the dwelling, faith the bosom’s gem,
Where Holy Ghost and Holy Church ne’er part.
By faith is fair Jeshurun in Cathay,
A promised temple for a coming day.
St John Chrysostom on having children study the Bible, in a homily on Ephesians 6.1–4:
Don’t say, ‘Bible-reading is for monks; am I turning my child into a monk?’ No! It isn’t necessary for him to be a monk. Make him into a Christian! Why are you afraid of something so good? It is necessary for everyone to know Scriptural teachings, and this is especially true for children. Even at their age they are exposed to all sorts of folly and bad examples from popular entertainments. Our children need remedies for all these things! We are so concerned with our children’s schooling; if only we were equally zealous in bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! And then we wonder why we reap such bitter fruit when we have raised our children to be insolent, licentious, impious, and vulgar. May this never happen; instead, let us heed the blessed Paul’s admonition to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Let us give them a pattern to imitate; from their earliest years let us teach them to study the Bible.
Having just come back from the 2017 Thematic Bible Conference in Princeton, I heartily approve. Even children can learn through inductive Bible studies to study the word of God for themselves, and even older high-schoolers should learn to make ready and lead a systematically inductive Bible study. It can be done, if only we will get it done by faith.
One wonders how often such a measure, to prævent treasonable dissension and ensure lawful stability – thus creating law where law might not be – would be of use. Those who are committed to the ideology of liberal democracy, of course, will probably be horrified at such a prospect. But I think it ought not to be ruled out; nor in these times, with the New World Order liberal system showing its fragility, is it wise to double down on ideas that have not stood the test of time.
For the Lord says of those who cause believers to stumble,
Thus, Yianni raises a fair point about the laxity of the Roman churches:
It would be entirely suitable for the Lord to show forth his justice unmistakably, that the wicked might tremble and fear to blaspheme against his ever blessed and holy Name.
I am quoting one of the Psalmist’s imprecatory psalms.
If that filthy Jesuit meets a bitter and cursed end, still dead in his sins and unwilling to repent, I myself will wash my feet in his blood. Don’t @ me about how hateful that is. The Psalmist said it first, not I.
Indeed, it befits a Christian to do so. Our Lord, who humbled himself to die the death of the Cross for the salvation of miserable sinners, is the God of both mercy and justice, of both forgiveness for repentant sinners and everlasting damnation for the wicked. The sword, when it comes justly, is not a thing to mourn but a thing to hail as showing forth the righteousness of God, a sign of the blessed Last Day when all things shall be set right in Christ.
I’m glad the Rev. Luke Lau, at Montgomery Chinese Baptist Church, did not do yesterday what White Left 白左 evangelical Christians do about Father’s Day. Instead, he preached a normal sermon that did not insult fathers but honoured fatherly love and exhorted everyone to live lives that honoured God.
Perhaps, though, the Church in America and elsewhere ought to bring the day honouring fatherhood back to the feast day of St Joseph, on 19 March, for two reasons: (1) to tie things explicitly to the life of the Church and her saints, and (2) to resist commercialistic trends by which, as the Father’s Day Council said in the 1980s, ‘[Father’s Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries’. After all, as my father says, of all the useful things in the world, money is the most useless. To orient ourselves toward commercialism, then, rather than the life of God in his saints, is to forsake the things that are worthy for the things that are not; it would be far better, then, for human society to use a day on which the fatherhood of God was expressly glorified in the self-sacrificing life of St Joseph.
If you were planting a church in Sodom and Gomorrah, would you allow ‘winsomeness’, as judged by the standards of those around you, to overshadow the need to proclaim openly and forcefully the reality of the coming wrath as well … Continue reading