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.
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.
Regarding disagreement among the bishops and the whole clergy on women’s ordination (WO) in the Anglican Church in North American (ACNA), Joel Martin reads the tea leaves in the interview below and says, ‘Unity and expediency are trumping truth and … Continue reading
The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. First weekend of July, main site in Princeton. New York and Philadelphia are both only an hour away. Think about it. I hope you can go!
The Easter bunnies are not good for food: rabbit starvation and all that. Checkmate, Christcucks. Pesach is where it’s at.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Rabbi Abbahu said, ‘The blessed Holy One created and destroyed worlds before he created these, saying, “These please me. Those did not please me.” ’ If it be possible that God created and destroyed whole worlds before the heavens and earth that now exist – and he will make a new heavens and a new earth for those who love him now, for the sake of Jesus Christ – is it not possible a fortiori that he has created other mankinds before the Adamite, mankinds from whom Cain needed a mark of protection, mankinds whom God in his justice, not being bound to show mercy but to whom he will show mercy, utterly destroyed in Noah’s Flood?
For beyond (or, should we say, farther in than) the letter of Scripture – which is but the clothing, a true form but not the substance itself – is a world of truth, as Rabbi Simeon, though a Pharisee, rightly explained in the pages of the Zohar:
See how precisely balanced are the upper and the lower worlds. Israel here below is balanced by the angels on high, concerning whom it stands written: ‘who makest thy angels into winds’. For when the angels descend to earth they don earthly garments, else they could neither abide in the world, nor could it bear to have them. But if this is so with the angels, then how much more so it must be with the Torah: the Torah it was that created the angels and created all the worlds and through Torah are all sustained. The world could not endure Torah if she had not garbed herself in garments of this world.
Thus the tales related in the Torah are simply her outer garments, and woe to the man who regards that outer garb as the Torah itself, for such a man will be deprived of portion in the next world. Thus David said: ‘Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,’ that is to say, the things that are underneath. See now. The most visible part of a man are the clothes that he has on, and they who lack understanding, when they look at the man, are apt not to see more in him than these clothes. In reality, however, it is the body of the man that constitutes the pride of his clothes, and his soul constitutes the pride of his body.
So it is with the Torah. Its narrations which relate to the things of the world constitute the garments which clothe the body of the Torah; and that body is composed of the Torah’s precepts, gufey-torah [bodies, major principles]. People without understanding see only the narrations, the garment; those somewhat more penetrating see also the body. But the truly wise, those who serve the most high King and stood on mount Sinai, pierce all the way through to the soul, to the true Torah which is the root principle of all. These same will in the future be vouchsafed to penetrate to the very soul of the soul of the Torah.
See now how it is like this in the highest world, with garment, body, soul, and super-soul. The outer garments are the heavens and all therein, the body is the Community of Israel and it is the recipient of the soul, that is ‘the Glory of Israel’; and the soul of the soul is the Ancient Holy One. All of these are conjoined one within the other.
Woe to the sinners who look upon the Torah as simply tales pertaining to things of the world, seeing thus only the outer garment. But the righteous whose gaze penetrates to the very Torah, happy are they. Just as wine must be in a jar to keep, so the Torah must be contained in an outer garment. That garment is made up of the tales and stories; but we, we are bound to penetrate beyond.
For to his Son the Everlasting says, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. These garments are what St Paul in Galatians calls the ‘elements of the world’, under which we were in bondage, as children are to tutors and governors.
What Ecclesiasticus says is true, after the words of the Psalmist, who said, LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. For, following the Psalmist, he instructs the reader in the same principle:
My son, go on with thy business in meekness;
so shalt thou be beloved of him that is approved.
The greater thou art, the more humble thyself,
and thou shalt find favour before the Lord.
Many are in high place, and of renown:
but mysteries are revealed unto the meek.
For the power of the Lord is great,
and he is honoured of the lowly.
Seek not out things that are too hard for thee,
neither search the things that are above thy strength.
But what is commanded thee, think thereupon with reverence,
for it is not needful for thee to see with thine eyes the things that are in secret.
Be not curious in unnecessary matters:
for more things are shewed unto thee than men understand.
For many are deceived by their own vain opinion;
and an evil suspicion hath overthrown their judgment.
But there is nevertheless what we can see, and mysteries are indeed revealed to the meek, the little children, who receive what is given.
So it is when we consider the Nephilim and the worlds and mankinds God may have created and destroyed before the ones that now appear. Thus appear the reprobate in our memory, whom God was not bound to save, for this purpose: to cast in brighter light and to bring near to us in his light, the one who dwells in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; even the everlasting Torah, the only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.
Natalie Portman is not a 10. Some of these other women are also rather too high. So no, I don’t agree.
In a godly society, people would look better than they do. That they don’t is a sign of sickness.
‘God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?’ The sure … Continue reading
Wilhelm Röpke in A Humane Economy: ‘The countryman, whose work is dictated by the changing seasons and is dependent on the elements, feels himself to be a creature of the Almighty like the corn in the field and the star following … Continue reading
The Rev. David Robertson has written about Selma, racism, and apartheid in the Church.
In Sunday school I remain being ‘indoctrinated’ with the belief that ‘red, and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight’, long before being anti-racist [sic] became the fashion of the day. Although human sin has distorted that image and resulted in the gross sin of racism, Christ came to restore that image. He died that we might be one. As Paul says, in Christ there is no Barbarian, Scythian, slave or free.
As the Apostle says,
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Old humanity is being made, in Christ and by the Holy Spirit, into one new humanity. It almost goes without saying that the gospel of Christ brings together folk who might otherwise have little to do directly with each other: slaves and masters; Greeks and Jews; and even the least civilized Scythians on the edge of the world. That a White church institution should spend $10 million to move from the edge of the city centre to the suburbs, all to avoid serving Blacks, is clean contrary to the gospel. Likewise, it is no Christian spirit that moves Black Christians to object to White Christians’ presence in ‘their’ church. These are things Mr Robertson saw in Jackson, Mississippi, and having heard from others who come from Jackson I know the hearts of Christians need to be changed by the faith that they profess.
But I am not so sure that ‘churches based on ethnic or racial grounds’ are never biblically justified.
In a way, yes, no church based on ethnicity or race is justified: a church must be based on the faith of Jesus Christ. To pervert that basis and exchange it for similarity in looks and (sub)culture is hæretical. Today’s American society seems to have disintegrated so much that there are – though not so called – churches for the young and churches for the old. Even within a congregation with a broad range of ages, separation by age and life stage is so regimented that Christians in one group may feel discomfort at the mere presence of different people at ‘their’ events. So far has our society been splintered that few people will question it; and so, formed by consumeristic capitalism, they embrace separation in church as much as they have embraced identity politics, even if they sometimes go to events of token unity. In this separation we give the lie to the prayer of our Lord: Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The Church’s unity is basically mystical and not institutional, but it is to be observable enough that the world takes it as evidence that the Father has indeed sent his only-begotten Son. So this unity, though of spiritual and invisible origin, is not wanting in tangible reality. Faith is prior to the Church’s unity, not constitutive of it. Belonging in the one true Church is not a human work, since faith is not a human work, but showing the world that this unity is genuine is a human work. Thus much it is wrong to ground our common work in ethnicity or race, because that is not the foundation of the Church: the Church’s foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord.
On the other hand, though our natural gravitation toward others like ourselves must not be allowed to break up the social bonds of Church and commonwealth, I do not think we can simply say that no segregation is ever warranted. I affirm the importance of being our Christian selves as one, but I also hold that we must be ourselves as many. Even the nation of Israel had twelve tribes, and these twelve distinct but related groups formed a single people. And today, in the one and holy Church, there are many nations and tongues. To insist that each be dissolved in the whole is, no less than the vision of separate but equal islands, to deny that the faith is one: it is to deny that Christians are one until they have given up their cultures and identities for the authority of the centre. Such a call is crueller in principle than the detestable enormities of Rome, for it separates sons from their fathers and daughters from their mothers. It may be the call of liberalism, and the call of the July Monarchy that ruled over France from 1830 to 1848, but it is not the call of the Christian faith. There are other bonds, other loyalties, which are not greater than the bond of peace which is the Holy Ghost, but which no part of God’s word dissolves, because those bonds are made and consecrated by God himself. And God is one, and what he hath himself joined together, let not man put asunder.
So what we need to identify are those natural bonds which God has made. As Aquinas has said, ‘Gratia non tollit naturam sed perficit’: grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it. Parent and child, husband and wife, these are sacred bonds that the Church has no authority to break. Beyond these are other bonds that we must examine before pronouncing upon their maintenance the name of sin. To set oneself against the presence of different folk is to set oneself against the gospel; but to commit oneself to loyal service to one’s own people while loving those of other nations and together acknowledging the same God, as well as the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, is only to attend to nature as God has made it.
There is much sin that separates the Church, but there is also local loyalty that rather builds up the Church than fragments it. Let us discriminate these carefully.