Author Archive

What your delegates will be voting on…

Posted: March 11, 2014 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

Hey Church, as many of you already know, the convention of the Diocese of South Carolina is coming up this weekend.  I still remember travelling to one of my first diocesan conventions as a junior at The Citadel (interestingly, that convention was held here at Trinity.  It was my first time here!)  Before we left, my chaplain, Doug Petersen, looked at me and said “Iain, just remember, laws are a lot like sausages.  Everyone knows they’re good, but nobody should ever have to see them get made.”  I assure you, diocesan conventions in South Carolina aren’t just legislation machines!  This year’s convention will begin with a series of workshops with some top notch presenters.  These are open to the public, so feel free to register and come on down!  http://www.diosc.com/sys/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=554:223rd-convention-workshops&catid=144:conventionnews&Itemid=257

Also of note are three particular resolutions the convention will be voting on.  Resolution R-1 is a resolution for the diocese to become a member of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans by signing onto the Jerusalem Declaration, a statement of faith addressing contemporary issues of faith for global Anglicans today.  I see this as a very positive step as Anglicanism was originally constructed as a confessional and liturgical church centered around the 39 Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  Over the years, many have drifted away from these standards.  It is heartening to see them returning to the central place they deserve. Not only that, this aligns us with literally millions of Anglicans around the world who desire to stand together in proclamation of the gospel.

In the meantime, the second resolution calls for the formation of a committee to be made by Pentecost of this year to begin the discernment of our future affiliation as Anglicans.  You can see both of these resolutions here: http://www.diosc.com/sys/images/documents/conventions/223_conv_resolutions.pdf

The third resolution of note is a resolution from the floor, Resolution R-3.  This resolution is in response to happenings that have developed since the first resolution was proposed.  The Global South Primates have offered primatial oversight to The Diocese of South Carolina.  What this means is that while South Carolina discerns its pathway for affiliation in the future, (to be prayerfully sought out by a committee formed by resolution R-2) we will have pastoral oversight from the archbishop of another province of the Anglican Communion.

I see these resolutions as encouraging steps towards what Anglicanism is at its best.  For centuries, Anglicanism has been known as a sort of Reformed Catholicism. We are reformed in our doctrine, which is to say that we are a church that looks to the Scriptures as the supreme authority over faith and life and see in those same Scriptures the centrality of Jesus Christ and the gospel.  And we are a church in catholic order, which is to say we have a polity like the historic church with Bishops in communion with one another in global fellowship.  It is my opinion that these three resolutions honor these commitments to reformed and gospel centered faith and catholic order. If you have further questions feel free to call or contact your convention delegates, John Ed Copeland, Tom Webb, Danny MacDonald, and Bob Bell.  In the meantime keep me and your delegates in your prayers!

I read once — but cannot remember where — a children’s story of a king who had an infestation of mice in his palace.  He went to his counselors who advised him to hire some cats.  Soon the cats cleared the palace of the mice but the cats multiplied. He returned complaining about his infestation of cats.  So his wise men counseled him to get some dogs.  Well the dogs soon supplanted the cats, sleeping upon the king’s bed and being a general nuisance—howling at night and barking at his guests.  So returning again to his counselors to get rid of the dogs they all agreed that lions would scatter the dogs—which of course they did.  But before long the lions were lounging on the beds and couches and eating his store of fine meats.  “What am I to do now?” he quizzed his wise men?   They said, “Get some elephants!”  Well the elephants drove out the lions but then they played havoc with his Great Room and hallways, leaving unseemly droppings and crushing furniture.  “Now what?” he asked his advisers.  “Bring in some mice” said the wise men, “they will scare the elephants away!”  Far too often we try to deal with our problems with solutions that only lead to other problems and we end up back with the mice because we never bothered to ask the question, “Why are the mice in the palace in the first place?”

Read the rest here… 

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Annual Address 2014: Writing the Song of Moses

Posted: January 29, 2014 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

The following is the text of the address I made Monday night at our Annual Parish Meeting.  

“This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.”

So spoke Shakespeare’s Henry V on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt.  This speech has echoed down the ages as a prime example of mideival leadership.  In it, he spurs his troops onward with the thought of the ongoing glory they will enjoy for years to come.  John’s Revelation records a similar song where the saints of God sing the glory of the victories won in Revelation 15:2-4.

“And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…”

It is interesting that the saint’s song is here called not only the song of the Lamb, but the song of Moses as well.  Isn’t God alone to be praised in heaven?  Of course.  However, the great acts of salvation are brought to bear in real life through God’s use of weak, empty, earthen vessels like Moses, you, and me.  What this means is that each of us will spend eternity recounting before God all the great acts of His salvation even as He has worked it through His own servants.

Forever, I will sing the praises of God for how He worked salvation in my own life not only by the accomplishment of my redemption on the cross, but of how His servants proclaimed that good news to me when I was lost in darkness, and how I persevered in faith because of the faithful ministry of His people.  I will forever praise God for sending a young undergraduate named Robert Sturdy to share the Gospel with me, so that for the first time in my life I understood that we are made right with God by faith and not by works.  I will praise God for the ministry of The Reverend Sandy Key, the chaplain at The Citadel who first showed me what godly character in ministry looked like so that I believed him when he told me about Jesus.  I will praise God for the ministry of saints at Trinity like Rod Sanders and Frank Sloan who have kept me encouraged through the trials of ministry.

Likewise, each of us will sing the praises of God for the work of His servants in our lives.  The question is, will God’s praises be sung because of our lives works?  Are we laboring for that which will result in eternal glory?  The mission of Trinity is “to Share the Gospel and make Christ-centered Disciples.”  This means nothing other than equipping each of the saints to so labor that their works will be to the eternal praises of the one who has saved them.

This work happens in unassuming ways.  Small groups, bible studies, one on one bible reading are all means by which we are training one another for the work of the ministry.  It is our desire not only that every person at Trinity would be trained and equipped to follow Christ, but that each of us would be trained and equipped to exercise our gifts to help others to grow as disciples of Jesus.

In the course of the past year, it has become increasingly obvious to me that our ministries are currently overextended, hampering our ability to fulfill this mission.  Chris Bear and I began discussing how to resolve this last fall.  It became clear to us that Trinity did not have the strength or the momentum to continue to support Coastal Fellowship and move forward with our mission.

After much prayer and discernment, Chris and Zhenya Bear have decided to go off staff at Trinity and make Coastal Fellowship a mission of the Diocese independent at Trinity.  From now on any support Trinity gives to Coastal Fellowship will be given as support to another ministry as outreach.  Chris will stay on our staff through May to help support me as I search for a new associate and Coastal Fellowship will continue to use the space in our chapel.

I applaud Chris and Zhenya for this step of faith.  They have courageously stepped out in obedience to where they feel God is leading them.  Let us not be guilty for not supporting them in prayer.  The congregation of Coastal Fellowship is to be applauded as well.  They have stepped up to the plate pledging to support Coastal Fellowship to the tune of $50,000.  I have been amazed at what has been accomplished through this enterprise in the last year and a half and I think that Coastal Fellowship will benefit from having Chris full time as their pastor and Trinity will be blessed as well having an associate who’s energy and time isn’t split between what is effectively two churches.

This associate will be tasked with creating the structures needed to produce a culture of discipleship at Trinity so that existing members can be resourced for spiritual growth and mission and new members can be grafted in to our body.  Please keep this search process in your prayers.  As you know, the associate’s position at Trinity is essential to our health and engagement in the mission of the Gospel.

And so as we enter on a new year of ministry, I am once again amazed at God’s grace and his working in this parish.  I look forward to seeing what He has in store for us in 2014!

Know Thyself

Posted: July 9, 2013 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

I’m speaking tonight at the Men’s Night for Campus Outreach Greenville’s Summer Beach Project.  We’ll be talking about what Gospel-Centered sanctification looks like.  Essential to a Christocentric understanding of sanctification is a knowledge of the governing idols of our hearts.  I have compiled a list of 10 questions for them to work through to discern the idols of their hearts.  In addition to these questions, I’d like to encourage your slow and prayerful working through of two other documents.  One is a list of ‘x-ray questions’ published by David Powlison originally in “Seeing with New Eyes,” and later in “How People Change ” by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane.  The other is the orphan vs child of God worksheet published by World Harvest Mission in their Sonship Training.  Here’s my feeble attempt at something similar.  Enjoy.

Idols of My Heart:

  1. What do I ultimately live for?  What do I strive to avoid?
  2. What do I want people to remember me for?
  3. What has the power to “make or break me?”  What is it that I am only ok when I have it?
  4. What circumstances have the power to illicit extreme behaviors from me i.e. despair, outbursts of anger, frantic pace of work, bitterness and unforgiveness, etc?
  5. What has the power to make me anxious?  What can occupy my mind against my wishes?  Over what do I lose sleep?
  6. What is the first thing I think about when I wake up?  When I go to bed?
  7. What criticism can I be crushed by?  This is my identity.
  8. Finish this sentence: “If I only had _________________________________ then I would finally ____________________________________________________________________________.”
  9. Finish this sentence: “I have a hard time loving people who _____________________________.”
  10. What do you have a hard time forgiving or getting over?

Yesterday our Bishop, Mark Lawrence, preached on Luke 7:36-8:3.  This section tells the story of a promiscuous woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and annointed them with oil.  Mark handled the text wonderfully showing the tender love of Jesus for the most marginalized of sinners.  When the Pharisee who’s house Jesus is in complains that Jesus is allowing Himself to be associated with such a woman, Jesus informs him that “He who has been forgiven much loves much.  He who has been forgiven little loves little.”  As he was preaching, something else stood out to me about this text.  

Luke makes a point of recording in Jesus’ reply the Pharisee’s name.  When the Pharisee is considering how scandalous it is for Jesus to be involved with this woman, Jesus says “Simon, I have something to say to you.”  Why give this detail?  Jesus confronts scores of Pharisees who disapprove of His friendliness towards ‘sinners.’   Why record this one?  One simple answer is that that is what Jesus said.  I think Luke intends more than this though.  

Emerging scholarship has begun to recognize the use of a sort of name dropping as a means of what we would today consider academic citation.  So, when Luke is telling a story, he tells you one of the key players as a way of saying “This is my primary source.  If you want to verify my story, go talk to him.”  What if this is the case in this passage? What if Luke is recording Simon the Pharisee’s name because Simon was his source for this particular story?  I think it changes the thrust of the story significantly.  

Imagine Luke the historian interviewing Simon the Pharisee.  Imagine Simon telling him this story.  I cannot see Simon telling him the story grimacing around the name of Jesus.  I cannot see him telling Luke about this day inserting commentary on how inappropriate it was for Jesus to be with this woman.  In other words, I think it is highly likely that this conversation did something to Simon or else he would not have been telling so many people about it that it attracted the attention of someone wanting to verify the details about Jesus’ life.  

If I had to guess, I would think that Simon would tell the story something like this: “I had heard of Jesus and I had my suspicions.  I invited him into my home to see if He was as dangerous a heretic as He was made out to be.  He came to my door and I didn’t offer him water to cleanse his feet, oil to refresh himself with, or even the courtesy of greeting him with a kiss.  I wanted to vet him out first before I offered him any hospitality.  Then this woman comes in.  She was obviously a lady of the night.  She begin to weep over his feet, annointed them with oil, and dried them with her hair.  I thought ‘How scandalous!  Some prophet.  He can’t even identify a prostitute when he sees one.’  It was as if Jesus saw into my soul.  Immediately he explained to me that those who are forgiven much love much.  I saw how wrong I had been not only about this woman, but about myself.  Jesus knew this woman’s sin better than I did, and yet he forgave her.  Her heart was bursting with gratitude, but despite all my theological and moral precision, my heart was as cold as a cadaver!  He who has been forgiven much loves much?  How true.  I slighted Jesus.  I despised those He loved.  I was too self-righteous to ever seen my need for grace.  He loved me and forgave me despite all this.  You can’t imagine how much I love Jesus now!”  

This is the great beauty of the grace of God revealed in Jesus.  No one, not the most profligate sinner or the most precise Pharisee is too far from God’s grace.  We often speak of God’s grace as if it’s only for the prodigal.  But God is as pleased to forgive a stony hearted religious zealot as He is to welcome the most broken libertine.  When I came to Christ in college, there was no denying that I needed grace.  My life was as worldly as anyone’s.  However, I continue to need that grace as much today as ever I did, if not more.  I have been the Pharisee and the Sinner.  Thank God His grace extends to both!

Phil is a friend and brother in Christ serving Christ and the people of St Michael’s ACNA in the arctic tundra of southeastern Wisconsin.  He is a doctoral candidate in Lutheran studies at Marquette University.  His zeal, knowledge, and thoughtfulness not only on the Gospel and the Scriptures, but on historical Anglicanism have been a real encouragement to me.  I hope you enjoy!

 

“A High Reformation Principle for Sorting Out Vexed Issues in the Church Today”

by Phil Anderas +

Confessing Anglicans today are divided on the question of whether women’s ordination is in accord with the teaching of Scripture and consistent with the doctrinal heritage of the Church. On the one hand, there is great exegetical disagreement regarding the status of women in pastoral ministry in the New Testament itself. That, certainly, is the really decisive question for a Church committed to the authority of Holy Scripture. On the other hand, there is disagreement about how the Church should relate exegetical findings to the received traditions those findings sometimes challenge. This second problem is more subtle, and less frequently addressed today. But the question itself is an old one. The Reformers had to face it head on. And they did. In this short essay, I explain the practical principle that Martin Luther formulated as a solution to this problem, in hope that it will help confessing Anglicans faithfully navigate the theological challenges we face today.

 

Quick aside to those Anglicans who aren’t keen on brother Martin: while I learned this principle from Luther’s 1539 treatise On the Councils and the Church, Luther is the first to admit that the principle isn’t his own invention. In substance, he borrowed it from Augustine. And the great Reformers to the south and to the west of Wittenberg—including the Reformers of England—borrowed it too, either directly from Luther or Augustine or often enough, from both. Hence John Calvin’s Reply to Sadoleto (also 1539) and John Jewel’s Apology of the Church of England (1562) do not differ substantively from Luther’s On the Councils and the Church in the articulation and application of this principle. Indeed, in their attempted adherence to it, a real consensus amongst the magisterial, high-church, or conserving wing of the Reformation comes to the fore. Not, to be sure, that the principle was entirely irenic in either its formulation or its effects: for this consensus differentiates the Lutheran, Reformed, and English Reformation—conserving Reformers, all—from the papal traditionalism of the Church of Rome on the right hand as well as from the radical or Anabaptist application of sola scriptura on the left.

 

But back to the matter at hand. The practical principle can be summed up easily enough: a conserving Reformer assumes the basic trustworthiness of the tradition he has received. Even so, he tests everything he receives in the clear light of Holy Scripture. In the event of a manifest contradiction, he rejects tradition and holds fast to Scripture. But if the received tradition is either supported by Scripture, or is at least not contradicted by Scripture, it is retained. So there are three steps: (more…)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

“So, what are we now?”  I have been asked this question countless times in 2013.  Of course, by now, though I’m not quite sure how to answer it, I at least know what the question means.  It means, “Are we Episcopal?  Are we Anglican?  If so, what kind of Anglican are we?”  What lies behind that question, however, is more varied.

For some, it is simple curiosity.  They love being a part of Trinity, and the broader association of our church is less important to them.  For others, it comes out of a place of grief.  Our entire spiritual and religious life has been formed in The Episcopal Church.  We feel a bit like people without a country.  For still others, we are finding it hard to invite people when we don’t know who we are.  As varied as these concerns are, they stem from the same root.  Identity.

I think few of us really give the issue of our identity its due attention.  Who we think we are sets the course for our lives.  When people never get a secure sense of who they are, they can spend their lives in an aimless kind of wandering, never really knowing where they fit in.

Our identity begins forming early in life, and continues to do so based on who we are, what we do, where we live, what we like, etc.  I have a cousin who years ago dropped out of college despite the fact that he had walked onto the football field and was making decent grades.  When another family member asked him why he said, “You and me, we’re just not the kind of people who go to college.”  Despite having the ability and talent to succeed in college, his identity was wrong.  That’s why that question “So, what are we now?” is so important to answer well.

In his epistle to the churches, the apostle Peter addresses the identity of the church.  He tells them, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [Christ’s] own possession.”  Who are we?  Peter says we are a chosen, royal, and holy possession of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He says we are a race of people formed into a nation of priests who live in the service of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who are we?  We are Christ’s.  We are His treasured possession.  We are honored dignitaries in His service.  Before we are Smiths, or Jacksons, or Petersons, or Americans, or black, or white, we are Christ’s.

Having our identity in Christ makes all the difference.  When we understand that we are Christ’s, then we understand that we are not our own.  We were purchased at a heavy cost.  We are not a people who stand on our own merits, but we are a redeemed people.  We are not failures, rejects, or victims, but beloved adopted children, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”(Romans 8:17)  We are not individuals, but we belong to the body of faithful people throughout the ages, those who have lived by faith, not by sight.  We have a family joined together not with blood of genetic heritage, but by the shed blood of Christ.

Because this issue of our identity is so important, I’ve invited our Bishop to address just that at a luncheon forum following our 11 o’clock service.  Bishop Mark Lawrence will be addressing the question “Who are we?”  in a presentation followed by a brief time of Q&A.  But remember, no matter who we are, no matter what we call ourselves, no matter who we are related to, our identity is first and last in the Lord Jesus Christ.

To the Dregs

Posted: March 30, 2013 by boydmonster in Hell
Tags: ,

A mortal man spending eternity in hell, being mortal and therefore finite, will still not have endured all of its torments. Christ however, being eternal God, drank to the dregs the justice of divine wrath. The result being that the torments He endured on the cross on our behalf were infinitely more severe than all the torments of all the damned combined. In order to free us from the penalty of our sins Christ suffered infinitely on the cross.

Where was God today?  How many people have asked that question through the ages?  From young parents losing a child, to victims of the horrors of war, to young teenagers having their hearts broken for the first time, almost all of us have wondered where God was when the pain came.  When Jesus hung on the cross, His detractors asked similar questions, “He saved others, let Him save Himself,” they said, “If you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross.”  Jesus’ only response, if it can be considered a response, came as He quoted psalm 22 before His death, “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani!”  Translated “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me!”  The crowds who heard him misheard his words and thought he was calling for Elijah (Eloi and Elijah being pronounced similarly enough in Aramaic that when a crucified man screamed them they could be confused).  Thinking that he was calling for Elijah they gave Jesus one last chance, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down.”  While they may have misheard Jesus’ words, they misinterpreted what was happening on the cross.  They thought the only evidence of God’s action in the crucifixion would have been if Jesus was taken down from the cross.

Likewise we only see God’s hand when he takes us down from our little crosses.  When He spares our child, gives us the grade, provides for our budget, or heals our disease.  In 2 Cor 5:19, Paul says “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them.”  What Paul is saying is that God was not less present in Jesus’ abandonment on the cross, but by leaving Jesus on the cross to the death, He was more present and more active than at any time in history.  God was there, in the abandoned Christ, working redemption and forgiveness.  Where was God on Good Friday?  He was in not only in heaven, judging our sins in the man Christ Jesus, but He was in Christ, atoning for us through His sinless life and death.  He was there at the cross glorifying Himself more than He has in any healing, military victory, or miraculous delivery.  The God we worship is not only present when we are delivered and relieved, but He is ever so much more present through our suffering and pain, working a redemption better than we ever could have hoped for.  

“No man’s sufferings ever have been, or ever can be, as voluntary as were the sufferings of Christ… It is the divinity of Christ that tests his human heroism on a pinnacle beyond the reach of any rivals in heroic martyrdom… He only had complete and absolute power to save himself all through his Passion, and all through it at every second he actively refused to do so. This magnified beyond conception the intensity of his ordeal. The crucifixion is the unique example of an entirely and totally voluntary acceptance of extreme suffering and of agonising death in the presence of total ability to escape them at any moment.”

K.C. Thompson, Once For All quoted in Michael Green, The Empty Cross of Jesus.

I ran into an old friend from my college days at a conference several years ago.  When I asked him how his new campus ministry was going, this was his response.  “Iain, pray for us.  We’re dealing with a real enemy of the Gospel on our campus.”  Who was he talking about?  He was talking about Bart Ehrman, the distinguished professor of religion at UNC Chapel Hill.  At the time I thought, “is it really fair to call an academic honestly teaching what he believes to be true an enemy of the Gospel?”  However, after reading up on it a bit more over the years, I’m not so sure Ehrman is simply an academic honestly putting forth his views.  Rather, as I read Ehrman I experience someone with a very strongly held agenda who puts that agenda forth as if it were the only possible conclusion a rational human being could make.  Ehrman consistently concludes that orthodox Christianity is an invention of the later church.  However, in putting this view forth, Ehrman is habitually misleading in his depiction of the scholarly world.

In many of his books, Jesus Interrupted, Misquoting Jesus, etc, Ehrman makes many claims that undermine the historical understanding of Christianity.  He claims that the bible is fraught with contradictions that destroy its credibility for any type of orthodox Christian faith.  According to Ehrman, the doctrine of Jesus divinity was created by the later church, but is absent from Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospel accounts.  He asserts that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion are woefully irreconcilable, such that all we can really be certain of is that Jesus was crucified.  He holds forth the idea that New Testament authors were liars masquerading as apostolic writers.  Morover, Ehrman claims that there are dozens of other texts that never made it into the corpus of Scripture, because they didn’t pass one party’s view of early Christianity.  Rather, according to Bart, early Christianity held to an irreconcilable diversity in its claims about who Jesus was.  Of great certainty, according to Bart, is that neither Jesus nor his first followers claimed that he was divine, but rather this doctrine was invented by the church a generation after anyone had ever heard the voice of Jesus of Nazareth in person.  More than that, Ehrman makes the assertion that all real biblical scholars have known all of this for some time.

Ehrman’s views, of course, are fairly commonly held today by scholars and lay people alike.  Furthermore, many of the issues Ehrman takes up in the New Testament need to be dealt with, rather than being simply brushed away as many believers do.  However, Ehrman habitually talks about these issues as if his position is the only conclusion intellectually honest and rational people can come to.

For example, Ehrman calls the authors of the New Testament ‘liars.’  According to Ehrman, “Most scholars will tell you that whereas seven of the 13 letters that go under Paul’s name are his, the other six are not. Their authors merely claimed to be Paul.”  These writings are called pseudipigraphic, a term that Ehrman defines as “writing that is inscribed with a lie.”

At it’s best these claims are mere sensationalism.  As Ehrman well knows, the term pseudipigrapha refers to texts that are attributed to an author who didn’t actually write them.  For example, the most ancient documents of the book of Hebrews have no signature.  Older manuscripts attribute the work to Paul.  As Ehrman well knows, pseudipigraphic writing was common in the ancient world.  Authors often attributed their works to famous people to lend credence to their message.  Ehrman claims, however, that the motivation for these pseudipgiraphic writers was to deceive their audience.  (Ironically, this is indisputably the case for many of those works Ehrman claims were unfairly excluded from the New Testament Canon such as the Gospel of Thomas, The Acts of Peter, etc.).

Moreover, Ehrman’s claim that “most scholars” reject six of Paul’s thirteen letters is misleading.  It would be more accurate to say that there are six Pauline letters whose authenticity is questioned in the scholarly community.  This does not mean that most scholars question each of those six.  For example, the scholarly community is fairly equally divided over whether 2 Thessalonians is genuine or not.  In every case, there are well-respected scholars who uphold the authenticity of each of the Pauline Epistles.  The picture that Ehrman paints of a unified scholarly consensus is overly simplistic to the point of being disingenuous.

You see, it is not necessarily Ehrman’s claim that is misleading, but how he articulates it.  From reading Ehrman, you get the picture that only the most knuckle dragging of Neanderthals could possibly disagree with him.  “But scholars everywhere,” he writes, “except for our friends among the fundamentalists — will tell you that there is no way on God’s green earth that Peter wrote the book.”[1]  Elsewhere, he says, “Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors.”(emphasis added)  What Ehrman fails to acknowledge in these ad hominem attacks is the amount of credible scholarship there is that disagrees with his own radical views.  In fact, Ehrman is a distinct minority in his own academic field of textual criticism, the study that seeks to recreate original ancient documents based on the surviving documents.  The vast majority of textual critics do not uphold Ehrman’s conspiracy theories that the New Testament was fabricated by the early church, but rather tend to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence in favor of the New Testament’s veracity.(For example, see Ehrman’s own mentor, Bruce Metzger.)

Is Ehrman, then, “an enemy of the Gospel?”  I don’t know.  What does seem clear is that Ehrman has an agenda to undermine biblical faith that he feels passionate enough about not to present the full story for critical minds to examine.  This agenda pops its head up consistently in his popular writings, teaching, and speaking engagements.  Of course, orthodox believers who uphold the truth of the Scriptures aren’t completely innocent of the same faults.  We often present only those facts that uphold our side of the story.  In more extreme camps of fundamentalism, the valid issues Ehrman brings up are dismissed as fringe elements rather than being respectfully discussed and debated.  The irony is that in his efforts to combat fundamentalism, Ehrman uses the exact same tactics dismissing valid scholarship that questions his own position.

For further reading, Ben Witherington has provided a more scholarly review of one of Ehrman’s books here.


[1] Of course, the questions surrounding Petrine authorship of 2 Peter are much more universal than with the questioned Pauline letters.  However, what Ehrman doesn’t relate is that the first epistle bearing Peter’s name itself contains the signature of the scribe Silvanus, leading some scholars to conclude that Peter dictated the letter to an amanuensis.

How to Write a Worship Song in Five Minutes

Posted: February 18, 2013 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=GhYuA0Cz8ls&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGhYuA0Cz8ls

Mother Don’t You Love Me?

Posted: February 6, 2013 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

“When I was a little child, and had been troublesome to my mother–her reproof or punishment would often be followed by my trembling question, “Mother, don’t you love me?” And my mother’s reply invariably was, “Yes, I do love you; but I do not love your naughty ways!” Poor mother! Doubtless I tried her very much, and this was the best that grieved parental love could say. But our heavenly Father has sweeter, choicer words than these, for His erring children.

His love is Divine, so He says, “I have seen his ways–and will heal him!” O sweet pitifulness of our God! O inexplicable tenderness! O love surpassing all earth’s loveliest affection! Do not our hard hearts yield under the power of such compassion as this?

God knows all our wickedness, He has seen all our waywardness; yet His purpose towards us is one of healing and pardon–and not of anger and estrangement.”  Susannah Spurgeon

Steve Jones has written this article for the Sun News.  I am grateful to him for allowing Trinity’s voice to be heard in part and to clear up some misconceptions that had been spreading in the last few weeks.  Overall, he has tried to listen to both sides of the story.

That being said, there are a few points I would like to address concerning this article.  First, there were a few inaccuracies.  The report that 300-400 members were not at the annual parish meeting where the vote was made is simply false.  There were somewhere near 150 members present out of a little less than 350 members.  Notice was sent out to each member via first class mail as well as multiple email reminders, announcements at services, and at least 5 public meetings beforehand where the annual parish meeting was announced as well.  Unfortunately, this level of attendance is fairly typical for this sort of meeting.  The idea that the rest of the church wasn’t there through some sort of malfeasance is simply false, and I would suspect the vast majority of those who disagreed with the vote would agree with that.  

Furthermore, there was no rigging of the vote.  Robert’s Rules of Order were followed diligently during the meeting with ample time for discussion from anyone who wished to speak up.  A motion could have come from the floor to table the discussion, which would have stopped the vote from happening.  No one chose to do so.  Furthermore, the idea that scores of vestry candidates were waiting to be nominated, but that they were restricted from doing so is almost comically inaccurate.  Just like every year I’ve been at Trinity, we had to scour the earth to find people willing to serve on vestry.  In fact, some of those nominated declined to serve.  I’m grateful that we were able to find a group of people who were not only willing, but excited to serve.  In my time as a priest, I have sat through several controversial votes both on the parish and diocesan level.  Every time, there are some people on the minority side who feel cheated and so they cry ‘foul’ regardless of whether any misdeeds were done.  I feel confident that the silent majority at Trinity feel the same way.

Also, while I am grateful to Mr Jones for giving Trinity a voice, I have to say that the article seemed a bit unbalanced.  It seemed as if only those who were left behind at St Stephen’s and only those who left Trinity were affected by this.  I have spoken to some of those who left St Stephen’s, and while they aren’t making any accusations against my former colleague Wilmot, they are hurt by his decision not to stand up to The Episcopal Church.  Wilmot is grieving because he’s lost people to whom he’s been a priest, but they are grieving because they feel like they’ve lost their priest.  I might add, that Trinity is feeling grief over the loss of those who have departed here.  It is not entirely fair to say that only those who are remaining loyal to TEC are grieving and feel hurt.  

Finally, I have to add that the description of the church in The Sun News is not one I recognize when I look at Trinity.  Trinity continues to be a place where the Gospel is working to change people’s lives.  It continues to be a community of love and care.  And it continues to be a community seeking to welcome people from all walks of life to taste and see the goodness of the one who loved them and gave Himself for them.  It is my sincere hope that we won’t lose sight of this in the midst of the cloud that seems to be hovering over us right now.  

January 4, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to you in this Christmas season to share some news. Today, parishes representing approximately 75 percent of baptized members in our Diocese joined in filing for a declarative judgment in a South Carolina Circuit Court against the Episcopal Church (TEC).  We are asking the court to declare that The Episcopal Church (TEC) has no right to the Diocese’s identity and property or that of its parishes.

We are saddened that we feel it necessary to ask a court to protect our property rights, but recent actions compelled us to take this action.  As you know, The Episcopal Church (TEC) has begun the effort to claim the Diocese of South Carolina’s identity by calling for a convention to identify new leadership for the diocese, creating a website using the Diocesan seal and producing material that invokes the name and identity of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Our suit asks the court to prevent TEC from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent it from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before TEC was formed.  It also asks the court to protect our parish and Diocesan property, including church buildings and rectories, which our forefathers built and even shed blood over, and you have maintained without any investment of any kind from the national church.

The underlying point is that the Diocese disassociated from TEC in October 2012, after TEC attempted to remove me as your bishop.  The congregations, participating in the lawsuit, many of the Diocese’s largest and oldest, join many others in disassociating from TEC.

Read the rest here: