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Primacy of Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega (sin or no sin)
Christianity Today ^ | January, 2008 | Philip Yancey

Posted on 08/06/2008 8:58:59 AM PDT by koinonia

More than two centuries before the Reformation, a theological debate broke out that pitted theologian Thomas Aquinas against an upstart from Britain, John Duns Scotus. In essence, the debate circled around the question, "Would Christmas have occurred if humanity had not sinned?"

Whereas Aquinas viewed the Incarnation as God's remedy for a fallen planet, his contemporary saw much more at stake. For Duns Scotus, the Word becoming flesh as described in the prologue to John's Gospel must surely represent the Creator's primary design, not some kind of afterthought or Plan B. Aquinas pointed to passages emphasizing the Cross as God's redemptive response to a broken relationship. Duns Scotus cited passages from Ephesians and Colossians on the cosmic Christ, in whom all things have their origin, hold together, and move toward consummation.

Did Jesus visit this planet as an accommodation to human failure or as the center point of all creation? Duns Scotus and his school suggested that Incarnation was the underlying motive for Creation, not merely a correction to it. Perhaps God spun off this vast universe for the singular purpose of sharing life and love, intending all along to join its very substance. "Eternity is in love with the inventions of time," wrote the poet William Blake...

(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...


TOPICS: Catholic; Evangelical Christian; Orthodox Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: christ; dunsscotus; incarnation; primacy
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Mr. Yancey continues...The evangelical tradition emphasizes the Atonement and Christ's life within us. We urge children to "accept Jesus into your heart," an image both comforting and confusing to a child. More pietistic strains speak of "the exchanged life" in which Christ lives both in and through the believer. Yet far more often—164 times in Paul's letters, according to one author—the New Testament uses the image of us being "in Christ." At a time when theories of the Atonement seem incomprehensible to moderns and when the Christian subculture easily shrinks into a defensive posture, we could learn from the Christ-centered view of creation once expounded by an obscure theologian from the High Middle Ages.

When Mary gave birth to a baby in Bethlehem, she participated in an act of divine creation that continues to this day. Paul's phrase "in Christ" hints at a reality made vivid in his metaphor of the body of Christ: the church extends the Incarnation through time...

Duns Scotus called his approach "the Doctrine of the Absolute Primacy of Christ in the Universe." Those who root their identity in Christ have a holy mission to reclaim territory that has been spoiled. The Christian ministers to the poor and suffering not out of humanistic motives, but because they too reflect the image of God; insists on justice because God insists on it; and honors nature because it stands as God's work of art, the background setting for Incarnation....

Among Jesus' final words, in Revelation, are these: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." John Duns Scotus must be smiling.

1 posted on 08/06/2008 8:58:59 AM PDT by koinonia
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To: koinonia

More of the banal Paul trumps Gospels nonsense.


2 posted on 08/06/2008 9:01:58 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia

***We urge children to “accept Jesus into your heart,***

I work hard to purge that image from my kids, who hear it in Sundays School, Youth Group, etc....


3 posted on 08/06/2008 9:02:48 AM PDT by Gamecock (The question is not, "Am I good enough to be a Christian?" rather "Am I good enough not to be?")
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To: koinonia
In essence, the debate circled around the question, "Would Christmas have occurred if humanity had not sinned?"

I wonder if the Medieval sources actually mentioned Christmas specifically ... or if this article's author doesn't believe or wish to acknowledge that the Son of God was incarnate nine months (give or take) before Christmas.

4 posted on 08/06/2008 9:19:03 AM PDT by Tax-chick (When life gives you habaneros, make hot sauce!)
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To: kosta50
More of the banal Paul trumps Gospels nonsense.

This is not meant to be confrontational. I know very little about the Eastern Orthodox church. Does it regard Paul's Epistles as less important than the four Gospels?

5 posted on 08/06/2008 9:22:32 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: dangus; OpusatFR; DallasMike; wequalswinner; ArrogantBustard; Pyro7480; GrannyML; Alex Murphy; ...

Discussion on the Absolute Primacy of Christ... Ping.


6 posted on 08/06/2008 9:31:03 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: ModelBreaker
Does it regard Paul's Epistles as less important than the four Gospels?

The Orthodox (and Catholic) Churches have only Gospels on the altar. The rest (of the NT and OT) must be interpreted to conform to the Gospels, not the Gospels to the rest of the Bible.

7 posted on 08/06/2008 10:05:10 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia
I think they've grossly mischaracterized Aquinas' position. Yes, the Incarnation was a remedy for man's fallen state, but since mankind was certain to fall, the Incarnation was part of the initial plan for creation, not "plan B," as the characterization of Aquinas makes it seem. I'm not sure of all that Aquinas may have said on the matter, but quite sure the Easter matins exultet prayer must've been part of the liturgy by Aquinas' time ("O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which we have gained a redeemer"). Surely Aquinas wouldn't've regarded the mass as heretical?

Actually, looking this up, St. Thomas directly addressed the exultet. From the Catholic catechism :

But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away."307 And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'"
From the original source:
Objection 3. Further, human nature has not been made more capable of grace by sin. But after sin it is capable of the grace of union, which is the greatest grace. Therefore, if man had not sinned, human nature would have been capable of this grace; nor would God have withheld from human nature any good it was capable of. Therefore, if man had not sinned, God would have become incarnate.

Reply to Objection 3. A double capability may be remarked in human nature: one, in respect of the order of natural power, and this is always fulfilled by God, Who apportions to each according to its natural capability; the other in respect to the order of the Divine power, which all creatures implicitly obey; and the capability we speak of pertains to this. But God does not fulfil all such capabilities, otherwise God could do only what He has done in creatures, and this is false, as stated above (I, 105, 6). But there is no reason why human nature should not have been raised to something greater after sin. For God allows evils to happen in order to bring a greater good therefrom; hence it is written (Romans 5:20): "Where sin abounded, grace did more abound." Hence, too, in the blessing of the Paschal candle, we say: "O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!"


8 posted on 08/06/2008 10:08:54 AM PDT by dangus
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To: kosta50
The Orthodox (and Catholic) Churches have only Gospels on the altar. The rest (of the NT and OT) must be interpreted to conform to the Gospels, not the Gospels to the rest of the Bible.

I've never heard of this before. I hate to ask "are you sure?", but I'm going to wait and see how the (Latin) Catholics respond this one.

9 posted on 08/06/2008 10:20:28 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: koinonia; kosta50; ModelBreaker; All

Thanks for the ping.

I hadn’t known that only the gospels were on the altar. The Catholic Church certainly does regard the writings of Paul, like the gospels, as infallible. Sacred Tradition must depend on the letters of Paul, as it does on the gospel Various passages which seem to deny spiritual authority (such as where Paul claims he hasn’t received a word on a given topic of marriage) do not negate the fact that the Church history of incorporating such writings into scripture has affirmed such teachings. (Protestants often Paul’s hesitance while making hay of the author of Maccabees’ apologetic introduction.)

That said, the gospels consist of the actual utterances of Christ. In contrast, the letters consist of Paul’s divinely aided understanding of such utterances. Therefore, when Paul questions whether marriage is ideal if the final age is imminent, we must understand that Paul is correct in applying Christian principles, guided as he is by the Holy Spirit, even if he is uncertain about future events.

Anyone attempting to interpret Paul therefore has the task which would be difficult without the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which works through His church as a corporate body, as well as through an individual in harmony with that church): One must recognize that Paul is addressing the circumstances of his day without stumbling over the heresy of modernism, which proposes that novel circumstances overturn human nature or morality, or that a modern understanding of Christ may be superior to that of the apostles.


10 posted on 08/06/2008 10:26:25 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

Confusing mistakes:

“Various passages which seem to deny spiritual authority (such as where Paul claims he hasn’t received a word on a given topic of marriage) do not negate the fact that the Church history of incorporating such writings into scripture has affirmed such teachings. (Protestants often Paul’s hesitance while making hay of the author of Maccabees’ apologetic introduction.)”

SHOULD READ

“Various passages, which seem to deny Paul’s spiritual inspiration (such as where Paul claims he hasn’t received a word on a given topic of marriage) do not negate the fact that the Church history of incorporating such writings into scripture has affirmed such teachings as infallible. (Some Protestant apologists often ignore Paul’s hesitance while making hay of the author of Maccabees’ apologetic introduction.)”


11 posted on 08/06/2008 10:28:43 AM PDT by dangus
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To: kosta50; ModelBreaker; Alex Murphy

Kosta wrote: “More of the banal Paul trumps Gospels nonsense.”

I think Yancey’s key point is not the “Gospels vs. St. Paul”, but a challenge to Evangelicals to read the Gospel with St. Paul.

If Paul says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6). It seems that for us to be predestined in Christ before creation as his children, God would surely first have had to have in mind the Incarnation of him in whom we were to be predestined.

Besides, the Prologue of the Gospel of John doesn’t speak of Redemption when speaking of the “Word (Logos) was made flesh (sarx)” (John 1:14). Rather, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. (John 1:12)


12 posted on 08/06/2008 10:39:31 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: dangus

Yancey’s information is not 100% accurate. Aquinas and Duns Scotus never knew one another, in fact, Duns Scotus would have been 8 years old when Aquinas died.

The fact is that Aquinas did not take a strong stance on the subject. In fact he wrote that “this is not a very important question” given the actual economy of grace and he himself admits that the opposite “opinion can also be called probable”. His stance in his Summa theologica is that “it is more probable” that “the work of the Incarnation was ordained by God as a remedy for sin, so that, if sin had not existed, the Incarnation would not have been.”

When Duns Scotus came on the scene and said that it was “absurd” to say that God’s greatest work in all creation (the Incarnation) was “occasioned” by sin, the disciples of Aquinas then took a strong, definitive stance based on what Aquinas called “more probable” (for the thomists or disciples of Aquinas it was not more probable, but quasi-infallible dogma—makes for good debates :)


13 posted on 08/06/2008 10:51:30 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: Alex Murphy
I've never heard of this before. I hate to ask "are you sure?", but I'm going to wait and see how the (Latin) Catholics respond this one.

Don't be afraid to ask the question if you're asking it with sincerity (and I truly believe you are).

Yes, it is only the Gospels that are to be placed on the altar.

he signs the book with the thumb of his right hand at the beginning of the Gospel which he is to read, then himself on the forehead, the mouth and the breast: and while the ministers respond, Glory be to thee, O Lord, he censes the book thric From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):

GIRM 122: On reaching the altar, the priest and ministers make a profound bow . . . It is a praiseworthy practice that the Book of the Gospels [having been carried up by the lector or reader -GCC] be placed upon the altar.
GIRM 173: [in reference to a Mass with a deacon -GCC] When he reaches the altar, if he is carrying the Book of the Gospels, he omits the sign of reverence and goes up to the altar. It is particularly appropriate that he should place the Book of the Gospels on the altar, after which, together with the priest, he venerates the altar with a kiss.

And from the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite ("Tridentine Mass"):

"These being ended, if it be a solemn Mass, the deacon places the book of the Gospels on the middle of the Altar, and the celebrant blesses incense as above: . . . "

In the Low Mass in the EF, the Gospel is read from the Missal (there not being a separate Lectionary) and is not incensed.

14 posted on 08/06/2008 11:05:58 AM PDT by GCC Catholic (Sour grapes make terrible whine.)
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To: GCC Catholic; Alex Murphy
Sorry Alex... that third line I wrote is supposed to just be

"From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):"

I have some random pasting weirdness going on... silly gremlins in my mousepad.

15 posted on 08/06/2008 11:09:36 AM PDT by GCC Catholic (Sour grapes make terrible whine.)
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To: Tax-chick

The theological basis that the Messiah would enter into the world in about March is fairly sound, but is perfectly consistent with a Dec 25 Christmas. In fact, Catholics have since the early days of the Church recognized March 25th as the date that Christ was conceived, and therefore fulfilling such prophecies. March 25th, (or, actually April 6 accounting for the Julian calendar) incidentally, is the day that Christ died; the ancient Jews and Christians believed that great prophets died on the day they were conceived. (This feast is called that of the Annunciation, referring to the annunciation of Gabriel to Mary regarding the conception of Christ.)

The historicist arguments are quite presumptuous, ignoring the impact of the “Roman Warm Period,” for instance.

The syncretist arguments, that Christmas has a pagan origin, are thoroughly bankrupt: Some allege, for instance, that the date of Christmas is based on the date of Sol Invuctus, whereas that festival was moved to the date of Christmas in the third century. There existed a Judeo-Christian holiday on Dec. 25th (or the closes Jewish-calendar equivalent) as early as four centuries earlier, when the Macabbeans established that the 25th of Kislev be celebrated as the return of the Spirit of God into the Holy Temple (the Feast of the Dedication).

Niether the Feast of the Dedication, nor the ancient Judeo-Christian supposition that prophets were conceived on the day they die establish for certain that Christ was born on the 25th, but they certainly establish a pious and biblical reason for choosing that day to celebrate his birth.


16 posted on 08/06/2008 11:16:31 AM PDT by dangus
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To: Alex Murphy

The reason may be quite simple:

At Catholic masses, there are three readings. The first is from a New testament letter. The second is from the Acts of the Apostles, Revelations, or the Old Testament. The third is the gospel. (There is actually a fourth, the psalm, between the “first reading” and “the second reading.”)

The psalm and the first two readings may be read by a layperson, from a parapet or lectern which is not considered part of the sanctuary. The gospel may be read only by a priest.


17 posted on 08/06/2008 11:21:22 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus
That said, the gospels consist of the actual utterances of Christ. In contrast, the letters consist of Paul’s divinely aided understanding of such utterances. Therefore, when Paul questions whether marriage is ideal if the final age is imminent, we must understand that Paul is correct in applying Christian principles, guided as he is by the Holy Spirit, even if he is uncertain about future events. Anyone attempting to interpret Paul therefore has the task which would be difficult without the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which works through His church as a corporate body, as well as through an individual in harmony with that church): One must recognize that Paul is addressing the circumstances of his day without stumbling over the heresy of modernism, which proposes that novel circumstances overturn human nature or morality, or that a modern understanding of Christ may be superior to that of the apostles.

I don't have a big problem with this, except that Paul met Jesus in the flesh on the road to Damascus. So he's a little more than an interpreter of of Jesus' sayings as related to him by the other Apostles (he probably never read the Gospels as the Epistles almost certainly predate the Gospels by many years). I suspect the authors of the Gospels were well acquainted with Pauls writings and did not feel the need to add to them; as the purpose of the Gospels was different--document Jesus ministry for future generations, not describing Christian Theology in detail.

And, it seems obvious that Paul was the man chosen by God to work out the backbone of Christian Theology (much of which is very vague in those portions of Jesus sayings reported in the Gospels) and to record it for us fortunate folks 2,000 year later. He also had the task of figuring out how the Resurrection fit into and fulfilled the Jewish Scriptures--he brought the big picture to life. God chose a truly extraordinary man for this task. I happened to read the first chapter of Romans this morning and marveled again at his intellect and God-given insight.

18 posted on 08/06/2008 11:22:46 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: kosta50
The Orthodox (and Catholic) Churches have only Gospels on the altar. The rest (of the NT and OT) must be interpreted to conform to the Gospels, not the Gospels to the rest of the Bible.

That is very interesting. I was not aware of that.

19 posted on 08/06/2008 11:23:25 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: koinonia

>> Duns Scotus <<

No-one ever said SCOTUS was infallible. Even though liberals treat certain justices as if they were.


20 posted on 08/06/2008 11:24:27 AM PDT by dangus
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To: Alex Murphy

>>I hate to ask “are you sure?”, but I’m going to wait and see how the (Latin) Catholics respond this one.<<

Uhmm..Yep.


21 posted on 08/06/2008 11:37:29 AM PDT by reagandemocrat
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To: ModelBreaker

>> I don’t have a big problem with this, except that Paul met Jesus in the flesh on the road to Damascus. So he’s a little more than an interpreter of of Jesus’ sayings as related to him by the other Apostles (he probably never read the Gospels as the Epistles almost certainly predate the Gospels by many years). I suspect the authors of the Gospels were well acquainted with Pauls writings and did not feel the need to add to them; as the purpose of the Gospels was different—document Jesus ministry for future generations, not describing Christian Theology in detail. <<

My only point was that the gospels include the actual words of Jesus; Paul doesn’t.

>> And, it seems obvious that Paul was the man chosen by God to work out the backbone of Christian Theology (much of which is very vague in those portions of Jesus sayings reported in the Gospels) and to record it for us fortunate folks 2,000 year later. <<

I’m VERY uncomfortable with trying to promote Paul as a top dude. His works take up by far the largest portion of the Table of Contents, but barely the largest portion of the actual text. (Luke and John give him a good run of the money.) You call the gospels “vague”; I’d suggest that they are a little more alien to our western logic. Paul explains the events of the gospels into our western logic. But if Paul’s letters explain the gospel, than the gospel is not a lesser authority than that which is explained!

And you’re presumption that Paul didn’t know the gospel when he wrote his letters since his letters were written first is deeply problematic: Matthew and Mark had origins earlier than Paul’s earliest letters (c. 50 AD), and certainly Paul heard what would become the content of the gospels told to him by the apostles.


22 posted on 08/06/2008 11:38:40 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

Very interesting, although not the point I was making. My point was that the Lord was incarnate from the moment of the Annunciation, whatever calendar date that was, rather than at the time of His birth.


23 posted on 08/06/2008 12:03:16 PM PDT by Tax-chick (When life gives you habaneros, make hot sauce!)
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To: Tax-chick

Oh, OK. Am I wrong, or doesn’t the Incarnation often refer to Christmas simply because he was revealed on that day.


24 posted on 08/06/2008 12:14:57 PM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

I assume that references to Christmas as the celebration of the Incarnation reflect the inadequate knowledge of human biology of some our traditional sources. In this day and age, I think that, as a matter of principle, Christians should emphasize Christ’s Incarnation - the fact that He was fully God and fully man - from the moment of His conception.

I was also thinking, at the time of my original post, of the fact that posts on this forum sometimes indicate some confusion about Christ’s fully human and divine Personhood.


25 posted on 08/06/2008 12:20:17 PM PDT by Tax-chick (When life gives you habaneros, make hot sauce!)
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To: dangus
You mentioned the Easter Exultet (written by St. Ambrose--long before Aquinas day) and the famous “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” At first this may seem to contradict the position of John Duns Scotus (+1308). However, some observations need to be made.

First, notice that these lines speak of a Redeemer. Nowhere does it say that sin was necessary for the Incarnation, or that Adam’s fall occasioned the eternal predestination of Christ and his Incarnation. Simply put, if Adam had not sinned Christ would not have had to come as Redeemer and so the sin of Adam can be said to be necessary if Christ is to come as our Redeemer. ‘No sin, no Redeemer’; but it does not follow ‘no sin, no Incarnation.’

Another point to reflect upon is this, is the Roman Catholic liturgy inviting us to rejoice in Adam’s sin? “O happy fault”!?! Not hardly. This is Ambrose's poetic hymn praising God for the victory of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. He invites the earth to “rejoice”—obviously a poetic expression. He then says that this night was chosen by God “to see” the Risen Lord—poetry, since the night has no eyes to “see.” The Exultet is a poetic Easter proclamation of joy and victory which Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus were both well aware of.was . Besides, to be happy and rejoice at another’s fall would be a sin against charity.

I don't think Roman Catholics are exulting in Adam’s sin and disobedience in the Exultet. But I'm sure that they are rejoicing with all Christians in the triumph of God over sin, Satan and eternal death through the Paschal mystery.

“O happy fault,” not because it caused the Incarnation, but because God in His mercy willed to remedy our woe in such a perfect way.

If you have a few minutes, you might find this interesting--it tackles the whole thing head on. Exultet

PRAISED BE JESUS CHRIST!

26 posted on 08/06/2008 12:29:13 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: Tax-chick

>> I assume that references to Christmas as the celebration of the Incarnation reflect the inadequate knowledge of human biology of some our traditional sources. <<

I doubt that. Looking at his language, Luke certainly knew quite well Christ was present at conception.


27 posted on 08/06/2008 12:30:25 PM PDT by dangus
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To: Tax-chick

Excellent comments, by the way. Just a clarification: Christ is one Divine Person (the Word), but with two natures: human and divine. That’s the Incarnation, and I agree that we do well to emphasize this (not that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas to the full).

God bless!


28 posted on 08/06/2008 12:32:45 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: dangus; Alex Murphy
The reading of the Old Testament in the Cathlolic Mass is, I believe, a latter-day (a post Vatican II experiment) addition. The Orthodox never read from the Old Testament during the divine liturgy, except during Lent. The liturgical text itself (St. Joh Chrysostom's liturgy going back 1,600 years) includes 2 Psalms, which are sung by the choir and laity as antiphonal responses.

The Reading of the Apostle (Epistles) is from the lectionary by a lay person. In those churches where there are pews, the congregation sits during the readings of Pauline letters. I want to emphasize that the Apostle is a separate book and is never carried to the altar, and neither is the Old Testament.

Everyone stands when the priest/deacon sings/reads the Gospels. This is in keeping with the Judaic roots of liturgical practice of standing only when the Torah is read.

The Old Testament readings, including and in fact predominantly, the Psalms, is done during the evening services (vespers). The only time when the OT is read (from the beginning until the end) is during the forty days of Great and Holy Lent.

29 posted on 08/06/2008 12:33:29 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia

Index bump


30 posted on 08/06/2008 12:35:16 PM PDT by American_Centurion (No, I don't trust the government to automatically do the right thing.)
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To: koinonia; dangus
Just a clarification: Christ is one Divine Person (the Word), but with two natures: human and divine.

Yes, that is what I was after with "fully human and divine Personhood," only much better. It's over 100 here, so I'm a little garbled!

In some countries, mainly in South and Central America, the Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated in recognition of all unborn human beings. Iirc, it's even written into law in a few nations, not just a Church-led celebration. I really think that Christians here should emphasize this as well, especially since so much nonsense has accreted onto the celebration of Christmas. Something to propose to my family and the Knights of Columbus at my parish!

31 posted on 08/06/2008 12:48:15 PM PDT by Tax-chick (When life gives you habaneros, make hot sauce!)
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To: dangus
Luke certainly knew quite well Christ was present at conception.

Good point. However, other sources are not always so perceptive.

32 posted on 08/06/2008 12:52:14 PM PDT by Tax-chick (When life gives you habaneros, make hot sauce!)
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To: kosta50; dangus; Alex Murphy
The reading of the Old Testament in the Cathlolic Mass is, I believe, a latter-day (a post Vatican II experiment) addition.

I don't have a Missal handy, so I can't give an exhaustive list, but in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, there are (I think) 2 or 3 Sundays/Holy Days of Obligation where the "Epistle" was actually a reading from the Old Testament instead of from a NT book. In addition, Ferial Days contain several extra readings from the Prophets in addition to a NT Epistle reading.

I would think (though I'm not sure) that days celebrating Old Testament figures might have "Epistle" readings from the OT as well.

33 posted on 08/06/2008 12:52:37 PM PDT by GCC Catholic (Sour grapes make terrible whine.)
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To: koinonia; ModelBreaker; Alex Murphy
If Paul says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world...

Christ didn't teach that and Paul doesn't give any OT reference to back up his claim.

Christ says in no uncertain terms that he was "sent except [or only] for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mat 15:24), and he also explains what that means: no Gentiles and not even Samaritans (cf Mat 10:5-6). NT makes it equally clear that the witness to the Gentiles was not planned but a result of Israel's rejection of Christ (cf Act 13:46)— basically a "do or die" step.

The Old Testament surely doesn't seem to suggest that God predisgtined Israelites to fail, or that he wanted to be the God of the Gentiles. To the contrary. God of the OT is constantly sending his prophets to get Israel to come back to him. He makes no effort to convert the Gentiles, not even Ishmaelites (Arabas).

Let's face it, Paul had to do what he did because the Church was expelled from Israel, and, depsite his miracles, the Jews overall did not believe in Christ, nor for that matter that he even existed.

The Jewish rabbi by the name of Trypho is quoted as saying by Justin Martyr (c. 150 AD) [emphases added] "You follow an empty rumor and make a Christ [Savior] for yourselves ... If he was born and lived somewhere he is entirely unknown."–Justin Martyr the Phliosopher, Dialogue with Trypho

So, it's pretty obvious why Paul had to take up his swork to the Gentiles, and it wasn't any npredestination but Israel's rejection of Christ. The ministry to the Gentiles is simply not in the OT or in the Gospels. It is a knee-jerk reaction to the realities that ensued.

34 posted on 08/06/2008 1:24:28 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
Christ says in no uncertain terms that he was "sent except [or only] for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mat 15:24), and he also explains what that means: no Gentiles and not even Samaritans (cf Mat 10:5-6). NT makes it equally clear that the witness to the Gentiles was not planned but a result of Israel's rejection of Christ (cf Act 13:46)— basically a "do or die" step.

What of the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-19)? "And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

And Acts 1:8? "But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth."

The ministry to the Gentiles is simply not in the OT or in the Gospels.

Also, what of Malachi 1:11, where the "clean oblation" is regarded to be the Eucharistic sacrifice? "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts."

35 posted on 08/06/2008 1:33:58 PM PDT by GCC Catholic (Sour grapes make terrible whine.)
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To: GCC Catholic; Alex Murphy
This is from the Catholic News Service (CNS) [my emphasis]:

The real problem, if not outright tragedy, is that most Catholics don't even remember what the Catholic Church was like from her inception in the 1st century until 1964, that is when your church leaders changed everything into something hitherto unknown, semi-Protestant and even outright unrecognizable.

Why, many John-Paul II generation Catholics probably think, the new Pope is trying to "change" the Church unaware that it was changed primarily under JPII, and the current Pope was one of the major architects of those changes. I suppose, he is doing his best to undo what the Church should have never done, fully realizing the gravity of a mistake which he authored along with others.

36 posted on 08/06/2008 1:42:17 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50

Old Testament Psalm 21 (22), the one Christ quotes on the Cross says, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations.”

And what of Isaiah 11:10? “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”

There are many others, but these come to mind at the moment.

GLORY TO CHRIST! AMEN!


37 posted on 08/06/2008 1:47:53 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: GCC Catholic
What of the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-19)?

The Great Commission (which conflicts with Mark's account),if it was part of the original manuscript, says "making disciples" (maqhteusate)of all tribes/or nations (panta ta eqnh.

The word ethnos in Greek can mean any heterogeneous group, a multitude, a gathering of people, a tribe, or even a nation pretty much one and the same thing). It is not specific to a "nation." Of course, we like to translate it as the nation for obvious reasons.

He could have just as well meant (which would be in agreement with his own statement about why he was sent) tribes of Israel.

And Acts 1:8? "But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth."

Utmost part of the earth would have surely included the holy Aostolic See of Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch, etc. where the Church was to be established in its fullness.

Instead, he talks about Judea and Samaria, all converging to Jerusalem. There is a reason for this. If you read about his encounter with a Samaritan woman who gave him water, he also mentionns Jerusalem.

That's because Samaritans are Jews, their names are Jewish, their scripture is Torah, and in fact they practice OT Judaism to this day, along with animal sacrifices. But they believe that the Temple is not supposed to be in Jerusalem and that makes them "heretics" in the eyes of the mainline Judaism.

So, he was expressing a desire and wish of bringing Samaritans "back" into the fold, that they may accept Jerusalem as the "Mecca." He makes no mention of his churches established in gentile lands, as if they don ;t matter; he only speaks of Judea and Samaria in particular.

The word "earth" means country or state. This is a concept to be found in Slavic and the languages, where the word for country or state is the same as the word for earth. In fact the Russian island in the north is called Novaya Zemlya, meaning New Earth.

In Greek, the word ge (as in geology) means arable land, the ground, territory or a region, not unnecessarily the entire earth, but it can mean that too. So, form the context he was apparently talking about Israel as a whole.

Also, what of Malachi 1:11, where the "clean oblation" is regarded to be the Eucharistic sacrifice?

From the context, it is obvious that he is talking about animal sacrifices. God is "offended" with lame animals; he wats nothing but pure stock. Indignantly he says "would you offer such (imperfrect gifts) to your governor?"

The word goy (goyim for plural) means a confluence of people, a tribe, or a nation such as Israel (one language, one faith); it is also used for the descendants sof Abraham, and even of the Jews. This word is equivalent to the word Gentile and basically means unbelievers. The OT (I believe Gensis) calls certain tribe of Hebrews as "goyim" (Gentiles).

And as for the incense, it is part of the Jewish liturgical service. The OT God is know for liking the "sweet smell"—what anthropomorphism!

38 posted on 08/06/2008 2:35:20 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia
The word gentile in the OT doesn't mean the same as what Paul created. It simply meant those who did not believe. Even some of the Hebrews in the OT are called "Gentiles."

The word "nation"means just gathering of the people, a tribe (one language), and not a universal concept.

Just as the word for earth indicates a country (such as Israel), and not the whole globe.

39 posted on 08/06/2008 2:40:33 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
From the context, it is obvious that he is talking about animal sacrifices

Actually the Hebrew has "mincha," which was a grain sacrifice, and not "zevach," which meant animal sacrifice.

40 posted on 08/06/2008 2:49:12 PM PDT by maryz
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To: kosta50; Kolokotronis
Returning to the subject of this post, Ad Orientem has an excellent presentation on the primary motive of the Incarnation by Archpriest G. Florovsky.

Click on the icon of the Incarnation to see it. It’s worth the read.

From my limited knowledge (hence the ping to Kolokotronis, if he's around) it seems that the Divine Liturgy and the Sacred Icons of Christ in the Orthodox Churches more focused on Christ’s glory and man’s elevation in Christ rather than on atonement from sin. (No Christian, I would assume, denies man's need after the fall to be redeemed from sin).

I was also under the impression that “theosis” or deification in Christ according to Saints like St. Gregory of Nazianzen and St. Gregory of Palamas was more central to the Orthodox spirituality rooted in the Incarnation which obviously lends itself to the so-called “absolute primacy of Christ”—absolute because God’s immutable decree was the Incarnation (sin or no sin) and our "theosis" in Him—as opposed to a “relative primacy of Christ”—relative to man’s need for redemption from sin--Aquinas' position that without sin there would never have been Christ the King of Glory: no sin, no Incarnation, therefore not an absolute primacy.

CHRISTE ELEISON!

41 posted on 08/06/2008 3:01:33 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: maryz
Actually the Hebrew has "mincha," which was a grain sacrifice, and not "zevach," which meant animal sacrifice

Mal 1:9 talks about "zabah" (obviously referirng to animal sacrifice). That's why I said in context.

"Minchah" means any offering, including meat offering as well as grain offering.

42 posted on 08/06/2008 9:01:51 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
The real problem, if not outright tragedy, is that most Catholics don't even remember what the Catholic Church was like from her inception in the 1st century until 1964, that is when your church leaders changed everything into something hitherto unknown, semi-Protestant and even outright unrecognizable.

Yes, that is a huge problem. I was scandalized the first time I really understood what was changed in the 1960s (I'm 23, so all that happened was well before my time. So many Catholics are completely ignorant of it though. So many others don't mind that the Roman Rite was deformed (yes, I'll use that word) into something that was unrecognizable as such... because it was easier.

Also, the CNS article is not completely accurate; As I said earlier, a small number of feasts did have readings from the OT. One such feast is the Immaculate Conception, which had a lesson from Prov. 8. Admittedly, the OT readings are few and far between in the Extraordinary Form, though they do come up as Introit and Communion verses (which unfortunately would not have been re-read in the vernacular).

Thank you also for you explanations in 38; that gives me something to chew at for awhile.

43 posted on 08/07/2008 6:09:42 AM PDT by GCC Catholic (Sour grapes make terrible whine.)
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To: kosta50
Well, my source said grain offering.

Mal 1:9 talks about "zabah" (obviously referirng to animal sacrifice).

Do you mean Mal 1:9? I don't see it:

ט וְעַתָּה חַלּוּ-נָא פְנֵי-אֵל, וִיחָנֵּנוּ; מִיֶּדְכֶם, הָיְתָה זֹּאת--הֲיִשָּׂא מִכֶּם פָּנִים, אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת.

44 posted on 08/07/2008 6:17:38 AM PDT by maryz
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To: koinonia; Kolokotronis
Kolo is probably enjoying his summer vacation, possibly even in Greece, but hopefully we will hear from him sooner than later. :)

Orthodoxy is completely focused on the resurrection. This is the pinnacle of his becoming a man. He defeats death by dying for all of us. One just wonders why did God choose to become man so he can die, and in dying (in his human nature) defeat death (by his divine nature).

Couldn't God simply defeat death without all that? Of course he could, but there is a little element that exists in humanity and it's called freedom, which was given to man by his Creator, along with all the consequences that result from it.

To the western mind, God is the author of evil as well as good (Reformed theology), and God devised the whole thing, made sure Adam would fall so that he can send his only-begotten Son (who is one and the same God) to suffer and die to satisfy some sort of "divine justice." As professor Alexander Kalomiros observed, in the western mindset, being saved means being spared God's wrath, being saved from God!

The western theology of redemption, especially Reformed Protestant theology of redemption, is grounded in the concept of human justice attributed to God, and is rather grotesque from an Orthodox point of view.

In Orthodox theology, we are saved by being restored to the original created state (of communion with God) through a spiritual struggle (in Slavonic podvig), through a process known as theosis. In other words, we become reunited with God.

It's very simple and free of any legalistic mumbo-jumbo: separation from God is perdition; reunion with God is salvation.

God is the source of life and indeed Life itself. Being in communion with God is life, and separation from God is death. The only reward is life in God and the only "penalty" is death without God. There is no legalism whatsoever, and our destiny is based on our cooperation or rejction of God, who is our spiritual physician.

The Patristics didn't deal with Incarnation without the fall concept because it is was an alien thought to the early Church, and I really can't see Fr. Florovsky speaking on behalf of any broad Orthodox community by embracing such an idea, God intervenes in our lives, in the economy of our salvation, and Incarnation is the ultimate such divine intervention.

The idea of an Incarnation without the fall negates that God intervenes in real time, and all we are witnessing is a movie that has a beginning and the end and we are simply spectators who were dragged into the move theater against our will.

The movie will play itself out with or without our participation; we can sleep through it; talk to each other; or watch. The end will be the same, as determined by the movie-Maker. At the end of the show, some will be rewarded and some punished, as was determined before the movie was even made!

That is in essence western, particularly Reformed theology which tends to place St. Paul above the Gospels, and the NT on the same level as the OT. The various Protestant groups have an amalgam of semi-Catholic, semi-Patristic theologies mixed with elements of Reformation.

The Catholic theology, while decidedly more Patristic then the rest of Western Christianity, remains locked in legalistisms fully embraced with the emergence of Anselm's theology of justification late in the 11th century, and its scholastic backbone which is diametrically opposed to, and soundly rejected by, Palamite Orthodoxy.

It was precisely Anselm who addressed the whole issue of Incarnation in his famous Cur Deus Homo, introducing the concept of satisfaction demanded by God (a profoundly OT concept), which in and of itself is an oxymoron given that God cannot be dissatisfied or lacking in anything.

Legalistic theologies tend to anthropomorphize God, a very pagan approach at its core. That's why Calvinists, for example, find the rought-and-tough God of the Old Testament so much more appealing and why they do their best to try to stuff Christ into the OT God model rather than the other around.

We can recognize the Reformed in Anselm's vocabulary, since they borrowed it directly from him and, by extension, from the Catholic Church. His theology is directly responsible for such "pillars" of Catholic theology as the "treasury of merit," for example, and Calvinist substitutionary theology ("penal substitution"), which is an oxymoron because it asserts that God is penalized by his voluntary death!

45 posted on 08/07/2008 6:40:54 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia; Kolokotronis
I was also under the impression that “theosis” or deification in Christ according to Saints like St. Gregory of Nazianzen and St. Gregory of Palamas was more central to the Orthodox spirituality rooted in the Incarnation which obviously lends itself to the so-called “absolute primacy of Christ”—absolute because God’s immutable decree was the Incarnation (sin or no sin) and our "theosis" in Him—as opposed to a “relative primacy of Christ”

I have never heard this before. The whole basis of Palamite theology is rejection of scholasticism. Instead, monasticism forms the backbone of Orthodoxy, a life of prayer and abstinence, struggling and climbing the ladder of divine ascent.

Incarnation is extreme humility in which God humbled himself in order to offer himself as ransom for our freedom from death. Such ransom could not be made without Incarnation, and without the fall Incarnation would not be required.

If we accept that God gave Adam wide freedom (he could go anywhere and eat anything in the Garden but one fruit), then we do not have a micromanager God. It was God's decision to give us reason and with reason the freedom, and the responsibility. When we abuse the freedom, we lose it.

The get-out-of-jail card is repentance, and finding freedom in God rather than on our own. God, by his divine intervention in the economy of our salvation, affects our destinies according to what we do; our deeds will be judged. The Bible is clear on that ((cf Mat 25).

And it is equally clear that God changes our destines depending on which way we choose:

The entire OT and Christ's own teachings revolve around two issues: God intervenes to save his beloved people over and over, and God forgives if we repent. Incarnation was God's intervention to save us from certain death. There was not a trace of any other selfish reason for such sacrifice. It's really that simple.

46 posted on 08/07/2008 6:42:44 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50; Kolokotronis
Kolo is probably enjoying his summer vacation, possibly even in Greece, but hopefully we will hear from him sooner than later. :)

******************

Good for him! I was wondering why I hadn't seen him recently. Thanks for the info. :)

47 posted on 08/07/2008 6:48:48 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: maryz
Do you mean Mal 1:9? I don't see it:

ט וְעַתָּה חַלּוּ-נָא פְנֵי-אֵל, וִיחָנֵּנוּ; מִיֶּדְכֶם, הָיְתָה זֹּאת--הֲיִשָּׂא מִכֶּם פָּנִים, אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת.

Of course not! :) It is Mal 1:8, my typo. Sorry.

48 posted on 08/07/2008 7:01:17 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50

I see the more relevant context in Mal 1:7.


49 posted on 08/07/2008 7:31:30 AM PDT by maryz
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To: GCC Catholic
Yes, that is a huge problem. I was scandalized the first time I really understood what was changed in the 1960s (I'm 23, so all that happened was well before my time.

You are blessed for recognizing that. It is indeed shocking how something completely new can become the "norm" in less than one generation. But if that's all you know, you'd believe that's how it always was and any attempt to bring the Church back to her traditional path is seen as "changing" the Church.

So many others don't mind that the Roman Rite was deformed (yes, I'll use that word) into something that was unrecognizable as such... because it was easier

Of course. Catholics used to receive communion only if they confessed, and fasted 12 hours before receiving communion, and abstinance form passions, just as the Orthodox still do.

Cathoic communion now resembles the host give-away. Anyone, properly prepared through confession, prayer and fasting or not, can receive on his conscience. Well, that's just way too Protestant if you know what I mean. It's easy and it invites people to make up their own theology.

But the Church our Lord left us also left the clergy repsosible for the state of our conscience! If it all defaults to our conscience, what's their job?!?

Also, the CNS article is not completely accurate; As I said earlier, a small number of feasts did have readings from the OT

I am talking about the standard Sunday liturgy, not feast day services, which always contain relevant readings that are normally not part of the standard liturgy. The Orthodox Church uses the 1,6000 year-old Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for most of the year and on 14 occasions the older Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, which is essentially the same but with more prayers and therefore longer.

The Church always used to read Pauline Epistles and the Gospels on those regular Sundays. The incursion of the Old Testament was implemented after Vatican II, I imagine, as an attempt to make the Catholic Church all things to all people (to paraphrase St. Paul) that they may be saved. But there is no salvation in ecumenism. God doesn't want luke-warm. The Church did not survive by being luke-warm. :)

50 posted on 08/07/2008 7:31:53 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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