Friday, November 11, 2016

The Killing of Heresy



The Killing of Heresy

XIX The Faerie Queene
His lady, sad to see his sore constraint,
Cried out, ‘Now, now, Sir Knight, shew what yee bee:
Add faith unto your force, and be not faint;
Strangle her, els she sure will strangle thee.’ …
Therewith she spewd out of her filthy maw
floud of poison horrible and blacke,
Full of great lumpes and flesh and gobbet raw,
Which stunck so vildly, that it forst him slacke.
His grasping hold, and from her turned him backe;
Her vomit full of bookes and papers was,

                There is a great proliferation of books and papers, a vomit of heresy, throughout the Church.  It seems obvious that theology ought not be established on the basis of experience, but rather on revelation; it is perhaps not so obvious that theology ought not to be established on shaky foundation of philosophies. St. Gregory Palamas was right to warn of the hemlock of philosophy, a poison most insidious.   

            One of the characteristics of many philosophical writers is the tendency to work out their philosophy in the very process of writing.  They fall prey to error of Alexander Pope, “Presume not God to scan, the proper study of mankind is man.”  The problem is that man is inconstant and all of our understanding, apart from divine revelation, is so much theorizing; rather like trying to understand a storm at sea by gazing at the surface motion of the waves.


            In the foment of the 60s there was a vile broth of despairing existentialism, Samuel Becket, the Beat Poets, and writers like Altizer and Hamilton, Joseph Fletcher and others including that bloodless and immoral theologian Paul Tillich.  Mix in with that the modern Machiavellian Saul Alinsky, and you have the vile broth that brewed a vomit of books and papers.  “God helpe the man so wrapt in errours endless traine!” (Faerie Queen xviii).  So bound are they that their arrogance is boundless.  When arrogance and errour are entwined no quarter is offered for truth; for truth is a reproach and an embarrassment.  That is why our contemporary liberals are the new fundamentalists, and that is why there is little tolerance for conservative viewpoints.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The False God, Academia












Academia: Some of our young people in colleges need deliverance from the false God, Academia. The false God, Academia, is mockery and a pale substitute for true intellectual pursuit and learning. Gregory Palamas was right to warn of the hemlock of philosophy; it can be a poison most insidious, and even those who began in faith can be led astray.

XIX The Faerie Queene
His lady, sad to see his sore constraint,
Cried out, ‘Now, now, Sir Knight, shew what yee bee:
Add faith unto your force, and be not faint;
Strangle her, else she sure will strangle thee.’ …
Therewith she spewd out of her filthy maw
A floud of poison horrible and blacke,
Full of great lumpes and flesh and gobbet raw,
Which stunck so vilely, that it forst him slacke.
His grasping hold, and from her turned him backe;
Her vomit full of bookes and papers was.
*****
Anima Christi, sanctifica me.
Corpus Christi, salva me.
Sanguis Christi, inebria me.
Aqua lateris Christi, lava me.
Passio Christi, conforta me.
O bone Jesu, exaudi me.
Intra tua vulnera absconde me.
Ne permittas me separari a te.
Ab hoste maligno defende me.
In hora mortis meae voca me.
Et iube me venire ad te,
Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te.
In saecula saeculorum. Amen

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Sexual Implications of the Covenant of God


An Immoral Bishop
The Covenant of God with man is not a negotiated agreement, but a Divine fiat. God says in effect “You are mine. I have chosen you.” Humankind has the freedom to either affirm, or deny, the offered relationship, not to negotiate the various aspects of it; but there is a school of thought within the Church that wants to claim the benefits of the Covenant without accepting its moral commands.

Our “progressive” theologians today want to dicker with God over His sense of morality, which they think is outmoded, judgmental, and unrealistic. They say that as Christ is the fulfillment of the old sacrificial and ceremonial aspects of the Old Covenant, so also the moral commands are thereby nullified.

But the moral commands of the Old Testament find their full explication in the New Testament, and not a “’jot or a tittle’ will pass from the law until all is fulfilled” [Matthew 5:18]. Both Jesus and Paul make it very clear that marriage is a union between one man and one woman; and that the lusts of the flesh must be brought under the rule of God.

The question is; just who is God? Who is in charge? In establishing His Covenant with the people of Israel, God says, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. "You shall have no other gods before me” [Exodus 20:2-3]. The condition of the Covenant is expressed in the Ten Commandments. 

Humankind has the freedom of response and some in their arrogance deny the claims of God and want to pick and choose between the various commands. George MacDonald warns us that, “The one principle of Hell is “I am my own.”


Sunday, October 30, 2016

On Sexual Morality in the Church




Nowhere in the New Testament does it tells us that the moral law of the Old Testament is superseded by freedom from morality in the New Testament; even though it is clear in the New Testament that the Old Testament sacrificial system is fulfilled in Christ. We have from many quarters in our contemporary Church an illusion that if the Old Testament said, “Don’t do it,” that this no longer applies specifically to sexual behavior.[i] It doesn’t take much of a reading of St. Paul to discover that St. Paul agreed with the moral prohibitions of the Old Testament.

Even as St. Paul says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law,” He immediately says, “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” [Galatians 5:18-21].[ii]

Of the commandments of the Old Testament, Jesus says, “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:19].

In the Church today we have many, who from fear of the anger and rejection of those who want freedom from morals, or from their own sexual drives, will approve of things the whole of Scripture disapproves; even though Christ Jesus and St. Paul stand witness against those very things.



[i] A Semi-Marcion theology.
[ii] See also: Romans 1:24-32; I Corinthians 6:9-11.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When Love Becomes a Heresy





There is a lie that has spread like a malignant infection throughout the Church casting its spider web of deception upon the unwary. This lie separates the command to love from the moral teachings of Holy Scripture. It says that Jesus statement, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,” nullifies St. Paul’s observation, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [1 Corinthians 6:9-10]. 

This lie has spread like a virus from some of those in high places, from some of our schools and colleges, and from some of the seminaries of the Church. It masquerades as love and acceptance, but it is a love that denies, denigrates, and mocks holiness. This love is a mockery of the love of God, because love cannot exist without holiness. This lie so exalts love without holiness, that those who teach it, think that because love is the greatest commandment, that it cancels all other commandments. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

BUMP AND GRIND
















Bump and grind. Bump and grind. Years ago a young lady who had been faithful in Church came to me and said that she was going to stop going to Church because on Saturday night she and her mother went to a male strip club and going to Church made her feel guilty. 

“I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” [Psalm 101:2-3].

A friend of mine worked for a major American Hotel chain and it was his responsibility to entertain Arab businessmen visiting in Dallas. What they wanted was strip clubs where they could get a few drinks and watch the Bump and Grind, Bump and Grind. The end result was that as his faith grew, my friend had to go and get another job.

But it is closer than that, Bump and Grind. All you need to do is turn on your computer, go to Facebook, and click on any number of posts. Often when you do that the page that comes up is accompanied by a side column of sexually suggestive posts inviting you to see “Hot Moms,” or XX Women Who Stumbled into Adult Film World, or “Shocking Wedding Photos”, and similar invitations to enjoy a little “soft porn” whatever that is. Sex sells, and what is really for sale, is your soul. Bump and Grind. Bump and Grind.

As an aside, some of the people currently throwing stones at Trump are doing so to deflect their own guilt about their own viewing interests. Bump and Grind. We live in a sexually lewd age. Bump and Grind, but there is nothing new under the sun. Bump and Grind.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Judgment Songs















Fair warning! You don’t have to read this if you think that in our country and the Church everything is hunky dory. If you find the judgment songs offensive, they are, and so is the state of our society.


JUDGMENT SONGS

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” [Isaiah 5:20]!

Let Them Be Called Anathema : Priests, Princes, Prophets, and People.
[Ezekiel 22:23-31].

The Jaded Land

Anywhere we go throughout this jaded land
The faithless huddle in buildings made of stone,
Or brick, or board; their houses built on sand,
Crustacean shells for flesh and blood and bone
Shielding those who flee from God’s clear command.
There’s no life, no living among such dead,
No prophetic voices, no angelic singing,
No humble hearts for whom the Blood was shed.
Bishops, priests, deacons, people, cry no bitter tear.
All alike to the wicked world are clinging,
They will reap the whirlwind and despair.
Ichabod!  Their glory has departed!
They have no future, their past’s beyond repair.
Lo! They reject the Word with hearts undaunted.

To them the Word of God is clear, “These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you” [Psalm 50:21 ESV]. 


Blind Lust is a Fool to Wanton Gaze

Blind lust is a fool to wanton gaze
At emptiness tricked out to daze
Not heeding the emptiness within.
What soul lies behind those wanton eyes,
Decked out with death and dead’ning lies?
That breast uplifted, those silken thighs,
Those welcoming arms, those hidden harms,
Bid the blind unwary enter in.
The fool enters through the gate of pleasure
Tasting the lascivious fruit of sin,
Not seeing death its hidden treasure.
Blind lust is a fool to wanton gaze
At emptiness tricked out to daze,
Heeding not the nothingness within.

Remember that “death lies close by the gate of pleasure” [St. Benedict], at least certain types of pleasure.
















The Wicked Nod and Smile

The wicked nod, smiling ever sweetly
And the simple smile in glad return
Not knowing those wicked smiles will burn.      
Even though the wicked man acts comely
His hidden intent is often deadly.
To control you alone his heart doth yearn,
For this he labours, that your heart should churn.
He controls when he treats you cruelly,
For he knows when you by fears are ridden
His own fears may be quietly hidden.
Wicked is as wicked does, smiles mean nothing,
Control is all. Over you he’s flaunting
Usurpation of your private power
For when you are weaker, he is stronger.

Always write what you know? This is one of the things I know; that there are wicked men and women, even as there are many who are good. Sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you.  




















Lecher Priest

God save us all, we have a lecher priest
Whose every word and smile is oily sweet,
Whose love denying love is just a cheat,
Whose words and actions show his inner beast.
He did not start thus, no, not in the least.
He once longed with ev’ry trembling heartbeat
To be a star, to be a true athlete,
Presiding at the altar and the feast.
His heart was never silver, only tin,
His feet were partly iron, partly clay
When he began to show the beast within.
Hidden within his heart was sad dismay
And all alone he faced his inner sin.
Where was the Church upon that fateful day?














Abuse!

The child was bothersome,
So she slapped it up
the side of the head
and it yowled,
which bothered her
even more
challenging
her control
which she barely had.
So she slapped it up
the side of the head
again.
Then the child grew up
never understanding
why it bothered her so much
when her child was bothersome.
So she slapped it up
the side of the head
and it yowled
which bothered her
even more
challenging
her control
which she barely had.

Jesus tells us that whatever we do to others we do also to him (Matthew 25:40).  This applies not only to feeding the hungry, giving the thirsty a drink, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and those in prison.  It also has a broader application to issues such as child abuse.  The voices of the Church, the voices of you and me, need to be heard, and where we can, we are responsible for reporting abuse, and for education.


















The Trumpet

What glad trumpet shall my soul awaken
When the pillars of the earth are shaken?
What resonating tones will sound
Gathering all my moldy bones around?
What ringing cry shall tear asunder
Heaven and Earth in awesome wonder?
Shall I be glad?  Shall you be sad?
When the angels come to sort the good, the bad?
Surely, clearly, when all is said and done,
When eternity’s new day has now begun,
Naught of human evil shall endure
But only those whose humble hearts are pure.
He seeks the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind,
He calls home the ones whose tender hearts are kind.




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Reflection on Church Planting




In the 1990s I planted a church in a small suburban town near Dallas. At the beginning we had a small start-up group from another local parish. Within a year we had a congregation of around 75 people, and in the next few years we had one of the fastest growing congregations in the Dallas area. It was by intentional design that 90% of our people were previously unchurched, many of them recruited through a telephone evangelism approach. [That worked in the early 1990s, but wouldn’t work today.]

At the beginning we had very little internal conflict; and the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and delight in the Holy Spirit claimed the center of our attention. For a couple of years, we held Sunday worship in a school cafeteria. When we moved to a location in a nearby shopping mall the congregation continued to grow. Our new Mission began to draw not only previously unchurched people, but also a number of people who began to transfer in from other parishes in our denomination. Be aware that Church Growth is not the same thing as transferring already churched people from one congregation to another.

As the number of previously churched people increased; internal conflict began to increase. Characteristic of that was an incident at a baptism. In lieu of a baptismal fount we were baptizing adults in the swimming pool of one of our members. Our music at that time was contemporary gospel music accompanied by guitars [I must say that is not my first preference, but it is what we had, and what was available. I prefer a balanced music program ranging from contemporary to classical, with a good proportion of traditional hymns.]

In The Book of Common Prayer there is blessing of the baptismal water. A new member who had transferred in from a larger congregation was serving on the Altar Guild took me aside and objected, “Now what are we going to do with all the Holy Water?” I was impressed with her lack of empathy with the newly reborn Christian who had just been baptized. Then she asked, “Why can’t we make them sing our kind of music?” By that she meant the kind of music she sang in her previous church. That was the first note of problems yet to come; and it was to be followed up with other similar critiques of our common life as a new congregation. Those conflicts arose almost completely from the previously churched people, and their attitude was going to infect others in the congregation.

As we began to make plans for a new church building our percentage of previously churched people increased, and we had to deal with more serious conflicts. Nothing brings out conflict in a congregation faster than what kind of floor we should have in the worship area, among a hundred other similar details. Some, but not all, of the previously churched people wanted a building just like the building they had in their previous church, after all that is the true architectural representation of what evokes worship. [Make no mistake, my favorite church building is Canterbury Cathedral in Kent where I have attended Evensong a number of times, but that won’t do for America.]

What was the source of the infection that the previously churched brought with them into our mission congregation? The previously churched people brought with them a critical spirit. They were the only authority; their traditions, their presuppositions about the nature of church, and in most of them, their lack of personal faith. What was the source from which this poison arose? The source of the poison was the ineffectively evangelized congregations from which they came. The solution is the evangelization of the Church itself.

What was it that I was missing? I failed to recognize, and speak consistently, to the effect of the critical attitude of previously churched people on our new congregation. Yet even though it aggravated me [and it should have], I brought many of them to faith. Still I had failed to address the presenting problem of their critical attitudes that sprang from their presuppositions about the nature of the church and its ambience. That was going to result in ongoing problems as the congregation continued to grow.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Robin P. Smith, Oblate OSB


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Confessions of a Recovered Fabian Socialist


 


When I was young and living in Canada, I read “News from Nowhere”, and felt the draw of Fabian Socialism, and voted for the New Democratic Party in Canada. When I immigrated to the United States and became a naturalized American Citizen I also became a registered Democrats. Really, who wouldn’t want to vote against Nixon!

When Nixon was pardoned by President Ford I wrote Ford a letter explaining that as the Rector of a Massachusetts Episcopal Church, and as a Democrat who had voted for Ted Kennedy, I was of the opinion that although Nixon was pardoned, rather than brought to the bar of justice, that the country had had enough of the whole painful saga and that Ford had done the right thing.  I was amazed to receive a personal thank you letter from Ford who also let me know that he had forwarded my letter to Ted Kennedy. 

Subsequently I received a scathing letter from Kennedy asking how, as a man of God, I could take such a sinful position?  To which I replied that as one who had voted for him, but was not as wealthy as him, I wasn’t sure that justice had been done at Chappaquiddick, and if I were he I wouldn’t say anything.  Shortly after that two men in conservative blue suits turned up during a Sunday morning Eucharist, took notes through the sermon, and left at the passing of the Peace.  My guess was that, like many dissenters during that era, my name was on a list somewhere.

I had voted for George McGovern, and I also voted for Jimmy Carter, but the second term for Ronald Reagan made me wonder about the Republican Party. For several years I wavered between the two parties. What finally soured me on the Democratic Party was Bill Clinton’s sexual adventures with Gennifer Flowers.  Regardless of theoretical principals, I just can’t get myself to vote for the Clintons. I can’t get beyond their immorality, fabrications, and their version of big money sponsored government.

When I became a citizen I was never asked where my true allegiance lay.  My allegiance lies with the Kingdom of God and with its King.  That allegiance determines the nature of my response as a citizen of the United States.