Friday, August 21, 2015

Discussing Mere Christianity: Exploring the History, Meaning, & Relevance of Lewis' Greatest Book

Mere Christianity is one of the most read and beloved Christian books of all time. Taught by a variety of C.S. Lewis experts and advocates, this first of its kind video curriculum explores the meaning, history, and contemporary application of the book. The study guide is designed for use with the DVD. 8 sessions.

There are 8 video and discussion sessions and we hope you will join us at 9:30am each Sunday beginning September 13th ( we won't start without you if you are traveling over Memorial Day weekend!)

We invite you to join us for this study of one of the greatest Anglican minds of the last century. Cost is $9.00 for the workbook. Study notes provided free. You will need to provide a copy of "Mere Christianity". Lots of options locally as well as on line from $1.99.

Please call John Dixon at 804 513 3732 to RSVP. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Doctrine of Purgatory: The Anglican Position

The Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory has been troubling to many Christians for centuries. According to Jacques Le Goff, it was formulated between 1170 and 1200 (Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, University of Chicago Press, 1984). Peter the Lombard, after studying the works and teachings of St. Anselm, St. Augustine and Gregory the Great, had contributed significantly to its birth. The idea behind this doctrine is that there is a physical place (not a state) where the souls of those who died, without properly atoned for certain sins, will go to be purified first. This doctrine is covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in three paragraph on two pages (para. 1030-32; pp. 268-69).

Discussing this with a friend the other day I found that she believed that Anglicans accept the Roman doctrine of purgatory. I replied, "what makes you say that?" The answer was that "because you pray for the dead." It is true that we pray for the dead and the dead pray for us and with us. But that does not support the doctrine of purgatory!

The Anglican Tradition teaches that there is a state (not a place) in which the souls of all of the faithful departed exist before the Resurrection of the dead. This is called an Intermediate State (See Bishop N.T. Wright’s For All the Saints), which is also held by the Eastern Church.

The Roman doctrine of purgatory does not fit in the Anglican liturgy in which we proclaim, based on the scripture, that Christ is the "propitiation for our sin" (the comfortable words*). This view of purgation (satisfaction of pain is required) does not stand before the Anglican Eucharist’s canon that clearly states that Christ is the "full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world". In For All the Saint N.T Wright states:
"I cannot stress sufficiently that if we raise the question of punishment for sin, this is something that has already been dealt with on the cross of Jesus. Of course, there have been crude and unbiblical versions of the doctrine of atonement, and many have rightly reacted against the idea of a vengeful God determined to punish someone and being satisfied by taking it out on his own son. But do not mistake the caricature for the biblical doctrine. Paul says, in his most central and careful statement, not that God punished Jesus, but that God ‘condemned sin in the flesh’ of Jesus (Romans 8.3). Here the instincts of the Reformers, if not always their exact expressions, were spot on. The idea that Christians need to suffer punishment for their sins in a post-mortem purgatory, or anywhere else, reveals a straightforward failure to grasp the very heart of what was achieved on the cross."

The doctrine of purgatory denies the cross of Jesus because it teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus is not enough, it’s not "full", it’s not "perfect", it’s not "sufficient". Believers, after death, must pay for their sins before getting to heaven. That’s what the Roman magisterium teaches. The 1549 English and 1928 American Prayer Books use the term growth to talk about the Intermediate State which is the a state of "continual growth" in God’s "love and service". During this period, the focus is not on penance, nor on pain, nor paying for sins (Christ did all that on the cross already). The main theme here is growth "in the knowledge and the love of God" of the faithful departed who "died in thy faith and fear". It has nothing to do with pain, penance, or satisfaction for sins.

As Christians, we pray for the faithful departed so that they may grow in the love and service of God and together with them, we pray in thanksgiving (in the Eucharist) for the mystery of the dead and resurrection of Jesus Christ in which we are all saved.

Peace and blessings!
Fr. Thierry

*Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to him.
COME unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.

So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Discerning Truth Without Personal Interpretation

We spoke to Randy Alcorn's novel ideas on interpretation and I promised a follow up on a better way to understand the Scriptures without being at odds with 2 Peter 1:20. Here is a brief outline.

Many find the rule of discernment written centuries ago by a monk named Vincent who lived on an island of Lerins off the coast of France the most cogent and rational way to guard against error. We think the rule is a sturdy ship in a sea of contradicting theologies among thousands of denominations and independent churches. Such scandalizes the atheist, agnostic and pagan as well as many Christians with competing doctrines that turn God's word into an exercise in subjectivetivity akin to arguments between wine tasting snobs on bouquet and overtones of leather and cherry, etc. We think there should be an objective standard for us all to work from and Vincent, in our view, supplies the most logical and practical method

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