Final sections from my 1988 Lenten Journey


10. Who is this Word that spoke by the prophets and became incarnate in
the man Jesus Christ? The Word is an eternal idea like the personification of
wisdom in the Old Testament. As the active agent of God, the Word has eternity.
Proverbs and Ecclesiastes describe Wisdom as the power of God and
the agent of creation. The Word referred to in both John and Hebrews as
pre-existent with God, is the wisdom of God that is reflected in the reason and
moral sense of  upright  men and in the order and beauty of creation.
A Qumran text describes it thus:

"By his knowledge all has come into being and by his thought

he directs everything without him nothing is done."

The use of the term "Word" in the New Testament also comes
from Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Jesus. Philo set out to synthesize
the Jewish concept of WISDOM with the Greek concept of LOGOS. Philo defines the
Word as the image of God’s mind in creation, in the law and in man’s reason.
Thus we get in the Letter to the Hebrews, Christ "reflects the glory of
God … upholding the universes by his word of power" and in the Gospel of
John, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God … all
things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was
made."

In John 14:10,
it seems almost that Christ himself is using the term "Word" in this
sense

when he says,

"The
words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but

the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works."

Paul also
subscribes to the concept of the Word dwelling in Christ; in Colossians
2:9 he writes:

"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and

you have come to fullness of life in him, who is the head of

all rule and authority."

and in Paul’s
quote of an early Hymn in Philippians 2:6-11:]

"Who
though he was in the form of God did not count it robbery

to be equal
with God but emptied himself taking the form of a

servant,
coming into existence in the likeness of men; and

being found in human form he humbled himself and became

obedient to the point of death (even death on a cross).

Therefore God
has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the

name which is
above every name, that at Jesus’ name every knee

should bow in heaven and earth and under the earth — and

every tongue confess ‘Jesus Christ’ to the glory of God the

Father."

11. It is difficult to distinguish between the Word in Christ and the
Holy Ghost. Like the Word, the Holy Ghost is described as the concentrated and
focalized power of God. The Nicene Creed emphasizes that the Holy Ghost is the
giver of life, who proceeds from the Father… and who has spoken though the
prophets. In the Gospels, the Holy Spirit was viewed not as a personal figure
but rather as a power and appeared graphically only in the form of the dove
descending on Christ. The Holy Ghost is portrayed as not subject to the will of
the prophet or even the anointed one; it seems to have a will of its own, to be
free. Revelation of the Holy Spirit in the prophetic word or in the word of
knowledge becomes Holy Scripture, which as divinely breathed cannot be broken.
I am not sure there is a difference between the Word and the Holy Ghost. Christ
has the Holy Ghost descend and remain with him during his mission and Christ is
the Word incarnate. The Holy Ghost that spake by the prophets speaks most
perfectly in Christ. Christ talks both of sending a comforter and of being
always with us. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit to all who believe takes
place only after the ascension of Christ. It is the beginning of a new time of salvation, in which the Holy Spirit (Christ as the Word) is sent as the
Paraclete to the church remaining behind in the world.

12. In Hebrews 3: 1 readers are reminded to consider Jesus, who
is both apostle and high priest. As apostle he represents, not his own
interests but those of the one who sent him. Here the divine initiative in
salvation is stressed; we can do nothing to effect our own salvation. God must
offer grace. As high priest he mediates between God and man, bring God’s will
to men and interceding for men in the divine presence. Hebrews 3:2 shows how Jesus perfectly carried out his mission as
Messiah: "He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was
faithful in God’s house.

Hebrews 5:1 goes on to explain Christ’s role as a high priest:

"For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to

act on behalf
of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and

sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and

wayward,
since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of

this he is
bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well

as for those of the people. And one does not take the honour

upon himself,
but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So

also Christ
did not exalt himself to be made a high priest,

but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son,

today I have
begotten thee" as he says also in another place

"Thou
art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."

 

                Note that in the
above passage it is emphasized that Christ is appointed and that the begetting
of Christ, as Son, occurs when the Holy Ghost descends on him and remains with
him at his baptism by John.

                 Christ is the
fulfilment of the Old Testament faith which saw a triumph of God over all
present sources of frustration. God’s Kingdom would be established by an
anointed one (Messiah) of the line of David, King of Israel in the tenth century B.C.
Christ brings the newKingdom by defeating death and at the same moment (the symbolism of the
temple curtain ripping after his death) doing away with the need for an earthly
temple and high priest. As Hebrews 8:1 states, "Now the point in
what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at
the right hand of the throne of Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary
and the true tent, which is set up not by men but by the Lord." Christ is
Messiah, Son of God, the prophet, the high priest and the Paraclete. He lives
and is with us, that is the whole point of Easter. There is no need for a Pope
or High Priest: Christ lives and is always with us, the only mediator
necessary.

 
13. The point of Easter is that God whom Jesus called his Father raised
him to the fullness of life. As violently as death had been imposed upon him,
he had embraced it out of fidelity to his mission and love for humanity whom he
called his brothers and sisters. By raising him from the dead. God made him
Lord and Christ, the source of forgiveness and renewal for all who believe in
him. However the Holy Ghost can speak through the consciousness of anyone even
if they neither know nor believe in Christ. All who seek God, though they know
not Christ, can be moved by grace, can do His will, and can achieve eternal
salvation through Christ because Christ died for ALL mankind! The ‘good news’
of Easter was, is and always shall be that the same, fully human Jesus who was
crucified, dead, and buried, was the seen alive in a radically transformed spiritual
body by the Apostles and other believers. His visit radically transformed them
into true fisher of men! Jesus’ achievement was important because his obedient
fidelity to his vocation   gave moral and
redemptive value to his self sacrifice, the crucifixion thus is the supreme
redemptive act and also the means of expiation for the sins of man. Original
sin is essentially the assertion of self in its separation from God. The nature
of sin is self-centredness, the putting of self in the centre where God alone
should be. We are all born doing this; that is original sin. Most of us
continue to put ourselves first all our lives; that is why the general
confession must stay in the Anglican communion service. We continually need to
be reminded that we are all sinners. Sin as 
the misuse of our freedom has led man into total opposition against God,
who in return delivers him over to death.

"But God shows his love for us in that, while we were yet

sinners,
Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

"Through
him you have confidence in God, who raised him from

the dead and
gave him glory so that your faith and hope are in

God." 1 Peter 1:21

14. God
is understood by most Christian to be one God but three persons. God is seen:

a. as
Creator, Lord of the history of salvation. Father, and

Judge,
who revealed himself in the Old Testament;

b. as the
Lord who, in Jesus Christ lived among men and was

and is
present in their midst as the risen Christ;

c. as the
Holy Spirit, who is experienced in prayer as that

inner
voice praying and also comforting them.

 

                I find this
doctrine of the Trinity difficulty to understand. In the New Testament, it is
hard to see the Word incarnate in Christ and the Holy Ghost as two separate
persons. The word "person" designates an individual being, a
separate, stand alone being. The Bible emphasizes that man is created in the
image of God. We should be able to understand the concept of the Trinity from
some parallel in us. In man, there is the body, the mind and the soul but only
one man not three men. God is the ONE and there are the Father, the Son and the
Holy Ghost as parts of the ONE. I don’t think I am far wrong in this
interpretation of the Trinity. Irenaeus, an early church father, seems to be
saying something similar when he called the Word and the Holy Spirit the two
hands of the Father. This interpretation certainly answers the Question of the
three being equal: all three are subordinate to the whole.

 

15. On the night before he died, the New Testament tells us, Jesus took
part in a Passover meal with his apostles. On that occasion he took bread and,
when he had given thanks, he brake it; and gave it to he disciples, saying,
"Take, eat; this is my Body, which is given up for you: Do this in  remembrance of me." Likewise after
supper he took the Cup; and, when he had given thanks, he gave it to them
saying, "Drink ye all, of this; for this is my Blood of the new Covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins." And then he
said, "Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me."

                This command is the
key to our worship; we are to break bread and drink wine as often as two or
three are gathered together in his name. In insisting on a Mass being
celebrated at every service, the High Anglicans, together with other
traditional Catholic churches, are no doubt correct. However, I do not believe
in a repeated sacrifice or that the bread and the wine actually change into the
body and blood of Christ. The natural body and blood of our Saviour Christ, they
are in heaven and not here. The Mass is a sign given by our Lord with the gift
that is given through the sacrament. It is both a pious rite carried out by
Christians in memory of Christ and an act of the living Christ reaffirming his
mediation (as our high priest) between God and men.

                The Holy Ghost,
during the Mass, forms in us that intimacy with the Father which is the
all-determining reality of Jesus’ life and death: his real presence in the
bread and the wine. Like the majority of Anglicans, I believe there are only
two sacraments: the Eucharist and Holy Baptism. I believe that the Word became
incarnate in the man Jesus when it descended on him and remained with him at
his baptism in the Jordan. Holy Baptism is a particularly significant sign, a
sign of God becoming Emmanuel, present for all as He was for Christ. It also
symbolizes the coming of the Holy Ghost promised by Christ.

16. The early Christians maintained that the unity of the early church,
which exhibited a vast array of institutional, theological and worship forms,
consisted not of an external constitutional dogmatic and liturgical uniformity
but of a "unity of the Spirit" maintained, "in the bond of
peace… just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call, one
Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all
and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:2-6). The Lund Principle of the
World Council of Churches states this idea in modem terms:  "The churches should do all things that
are possible to be done together and only do separately those things which for
conscience sake they must do separately."

                I do not believe
that we Anglicans, or even we Christians, have an exclusive redemption: Christ
died for all and God is present in all world religions. The many varieties of
religions in the world are simply pictures of God, taken from different angles.
These different religions are provided by Him so that all people are saved by
believing in Him and living a life of service to their neighbour according to
their conscience. The unifying principle is God himself. Religion is not
primarily about holy places, holy rites and vestments, holy days or holy
clerical castes, it is about people, about justice, about the healing of a
torn, tortured, needy world. It is about the 
naked, the hungry, the downtrodden, the weak, the wandering homeless.
While God speaks and acts in other religious cultures, it is only to Christians
that he is manifest as Father, Son, Spirit. This means that to Christians is
given the joy and the responsibility of recognition and proclamation of the
Triune God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, but this does not mean that other
revelations are any less true to the Creator.

                I am an Anglican.
My church’s stand is summed up as follows: "Show us that there is anything
clearly set forth in Holy Scripture that we do not teach and we will teach it.
Show us that anything in our teaching or practise is clearly contrary to Holy
Scripture, and we will abandon it." The Anglican Way is summed up thus:

"Our
system is simple and intelligible. We expect every

one to be
able to understand it, and to make use of it

all. The
individual is not supposed to make selections

from it as he
pleases and to discard the rest. Yet it

leaves him
sufficient moral and intellectual freedom to

be fully
educative… Of course, any one who is entrusted

with freedom
will make some mistakes. The Church can

afford to
take that risk, because it knows that no

mistake or
failure is beyond repair. Naturally everyone

to whom the
exercise of Private Judgement is abhorrent

will not find
himself at home in such a system as this.

But it may be
worthwhile to point out that to decide to

forego all
private judgement is in itself an exercise of

private
judgement on the most comprehensive scale

imaginable
and with very far-reaching results."
R.H.

Maiden, The
Anglican Communion
, p 19.

17. Why do we not keep the Jewish sabbath? The old Sabbath marked the
close of the first stage of divine activity. Creation; the new Lord’s Day marks
the beginning of the second stage, Regeneration. The Sabbath ended the week
with the Nunc Dimittis of resignation; the Lord’s  day begins the week with a Te Deum of
renewal. The Council of Laodicea forbade Christians to abstain from work on the
Jewish sabbath, calling this practise ‘Judaizing’.

                Justin Martyr,
writing in the 2nd century, wrote: "But Sunday is the day on which we all
hold a common assembly, because it is the first day of the week on which God
… made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the
dead."

                Also from a 2nd
century Church father: "Wherefore also, we keep the eighth day withjoyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose from the dead."

 

18. It is easier to worship Jesus as the message rather than to follow
the message he came to preach. Jesus said, "Not everyone that saith unto
me. Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of
my Father who is in heaven." There is a new richness of content in Jesus’
concept of God. Fatherly attributes come to the fore in his teaching. God is
one who loves, cares, gives, listens, welcomes, seeks, accepts, forgives,
provides. However, Jesus’ teaching regarding God as Father was not new; what is
new is his individual unique feeling of sonship. Both the Old Testament and the
contemporary Jewish theology emphasized God’s role as father, his protective
and nurturing care of his family, the discipline which he imposes on his
children, the love and affection which he displays, and the intimate
relationship which they (the Jews) enjoy with God. Christ expanded on this by
calling God by the familiar ‘Abba’ — what a young Jewish child called his
father.

                Christ said,
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have
come not to abolish them but to fulfil them." Christ taught that man has
nothing from himself but owes everything, even his being, exclusively to the
will of his divine Creator. He is joined with all  their fellow creatures through a relationship
of brotherly solidarity. We are given dominion over the Earth, not to rape it
but to husband it, to nurture it, to be in "brotherly solidarity"
with all creation. Christ’s sermon about the lilies of the field is a message
not to worry about the future but  to be
at peace with creation, to be in harmony with nature. Christ taught that God is
in every man; he states: "As you did it not to one of the least of these,
you did it not to me," and "If you have seen your brother, you have
seen your Lord."

                Christ taught that
every individual can have an unmediated relationship without priest or
minister, without rite or ritual, to God, "as God is present in the midst
of his gathered people."  We are
instructed to shine forth in the world, not to withdraw from the world or to
become celibate. The most important single thing that any person can ever do in
this world is to marry the right person by the right authority in the right
place – a harmonious family life is a gift of God. But, we are also to follow
Christ’s example and teach the Kingdom of God by living his life. God is good,
and He expects all to be good, in the plainest and most unvarnished sense of
the term — "to do justice and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy
God."

We need not
bid, for cloistered cell,

Our neighbour and our work farewell,

Nor strive to wind ourselves too high

For sinful
man beneath the sky;

The daily
round, the common task

Will furnish all we need to ask—

Room to deny
ourselves, a road

To lead us daily nearer God.

 

About thebows99krug

Hi, I am Eric, a retired librarian. I was born in St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto and raised in the downtown area north of the Art Gallery, south of the University of Toronto. I went to Orde Street Public School, Harbord C.I., University College at the UofT and the UofT's Faculty of Library and Information Science. I meet my wife Patricia at FLIS; our first date was on November 15, 1968. We were engaged February 14, 1969 and married on June 21, 1969. Our family includes son, James; daughter-in-law, Erin; (both writers), grand-daughters, Vivian and Eleanor; and Pooka, a small but fierce gray tabby. I would like to hear from any other class of '63 alumni of Harbord C.I. and class of '67 alumni of UofT's University College.
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