1. Paramount for all Christians is the Bible; it is of special authority in our theology. Here is the inspired record and interpretation of God’s love at work to liberate and transform our humanity and the world in which we live. While the Bible is the traditions and history of one particular people, the Jews, it also represents their understanding of God and shows the development of this understanding from a tribal God to the Christian’s universal God of Love. The Bible shows a developmental process in man’s understanding of God and there is great danger in emphasizing one part over another, of taking one part out of context from the whole. The process of revelation in the Bible witnesses to a dialogue between the inherited and the contemporary experience of the individual and the community. Under the best circumstances, reading the Bible from beginning to end we grow in our understanding of God just as the writers grew in their understanding. The Gospels fulfil the promises of the Old Testament and expand our understanding of God. Some Christians get stuck in the Old Testament stage with a vengeful God and all the “Thou shalt nots.” Others that emphasis the great councils that came after the Gospels tend to ignore those elements of the Bible that were causing the disunity that necessitated the calling of those very councils. Christ taught that his Church was a living Church and that the Holy Ghost has been sent to help us grow in understanding. Christians should welcome new ideas – even old ones laid to rest by the great councils – the Holy Ghost will help us grow and see the truth. Note that while the Bible is paramount for Christian and Jew, it is not the sole revelation of God! The Word has spoken to others besides Christians and Jews; their revelation is equally valid. Christians that do not except this are locked in the Old Testament stage of spiritual growth. Their God is a tribal God and they believe they are the centre and object of God’s activity in creation. This is very egotistical. In the New Testament this elected people view is rejected and Christ calls all men His brothers.
B2. The Bible begins with an impressive statement of faith in God, the Creator of heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible. God is the “I am who I am” of Exodus 3:14. The primary truth is revealed: the reality and unity of God, who is all transcendent, immanent and absolutely perfect. God exists from all eternity to all eternity. He is the only reality. As Islam says:
“”God – there is no god but He, the Living, the Self–subsistent. Slumber seizeth Him not, neither sleep. To Him belongeth whatsoever is in the Heavens and whatsoever is in the Earth. Who is there that shall intercede with Him save by His Will? He knoweth what is present with men and what shall befall them, and nought of His knowledge do they comprehend, save what He willeth. His Throne is wide as the Heavens and the Earth, and the keeping of them wearieth Him not. And He is the High, the Mighty One.”
; God is the Creator of all things that exit and hence the Father of all intelligent beings. God is a loving being who created man with free will so that he could respond to God in love. God wants constantly to enter our lives and selves to make us increasingly more like Himself. There is abundant biblical evidence to suggest that God is active in all nations amongst all peoples at all times. What the writer of the Old Testament could only describe as the hand of God, the breath of God, the word of God, the New Testament calls the Holy Ghost.
3. The authority of the Creeds derives from the fact that they are regarded as stating and defining rightly certain central beliefs which are found, explicitly or implicitly, in the Scriptures, and had always been part of the living rule of faith in the Church. Note that Scripture is still of special : authority when dealing with the creeds. As Anglicans say, “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 practice is clearly contrary to Holy Scripture and we will abandon it.” This applies equally to the Creeds and the teachings of the Church. The danger of creeds, dogmas, rituals or even sacred scriptures is that people consider them as the reality itself rather than a means to an end. They are only signs of God’s reality – the means by which we come to know Him. To see these creeds, etc. as anything more than mere signs (i.e. they have to be believed fully for salvation) is to elevate them beyond signs and to ignore the biblical injunction against all forms of idolatry: the putting of anything or anyone in the place of God.
4. The starting point for the Christian and Jewish understanding of man is the recognition that man is created after the image of God. This idea views God and man joined with one another through a mysterious connection. It is this special relationship between God and man that accounts for God, at all times (and to all peoples) sending messengers or prophets to preach the unity of God and to warn men of the Judgement. From the beginning of human history, there were divinely chosen and guided individuals who appeared to awaken humanity to God and who were endowed with vast wisdom and with divine revelations. I believe Christ was such a special chosen one who became filled with compassion for humanity, abhorred evil and purified his mind renouncing material pursuits in favour of the pursuit of the highest goodness and began to encourage others to live above the ordinary level of living that consists in satisfying the base urges at the expense of one’s duty to God as well as to others. I believe that Christ’s soul was purified by His suffering of all those feelings and desires and attitudes that separated it from God and that He was, as the Letter to the Hebrews states, made perfect. Though Buddha, Mohammed, etc. were also divine messengers or prophets, they are not equal to Christ as only Christ was made perfect and became one with God and died for our sins and was raised from the dead. I believe Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate revelation!
5. Jesus Christ, to be able to redeem us, must have been fully human. To be fully human, as all the Gospels insist he is, Jesus must have two human parents. The New Testament states that Christ is “in all things like us.” Also the Messiah must be of the house of David. Christ is the Messiah. Mary is not of the house of David; Joseph is. In the Gospels the genealogy of Jesus is traced back to David through Joseph:
” and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” Matthew 1:16
“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” Luke 2.3
All the Gospels are emphatic that Jesus was fully man. The understanding of the human reproductive system in the ancient world considered the mother to be simply a vessel (like the soil in which the seed is planted) to contain and feed the child. It was the father alone who contributed all the human material that would develop into the future person. Without a human father, the Hebrew writers and Apostles would not have considered Jesus to have been fully human.
Matthew either misquoted Isaiah 7:14 in describing Mary as a “virgin” or it was changed later by Marianists when they were almost deifying Mary in the fourth century. Some Biblical scholars say as much both for the Matthew version and the verse where Mary expresses surprise at being told she will bear a son in Luke. Isaiah speaks of a “young woman” who shall conceive and bear a son. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament verse quoted, the word for “young woman” is ambiguous as it can mean either “young woman” or “virgin”. The Hebrew is not ambiguous, there, it is definitely the word for “young woman.” Matthew alone specifically mentions that “before they came together she was found to be with child.” Luke, with his own unique version of the extraordinary birth of Jesus, does not quote or refer to the Isaiah passage at all. In Luke, the implication is that the Holy Spirit will play a part but he does not specifically rule out Joseph being the father. Neither Mark nor John (nor Paul’s letters for that matter) have any hint of the virgin birth story. It should also be noted that in Luke’s birth story, Mary’s surprise could well be surprise not at being told she will bear a child but at that child becoming the Messiah.
6, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. At that time in Jewish history betrothal was an official relationship; it often involved cohabitation culminating in legal recognition of marriage when the woman proved she was fertile. Most authorities agree that the virgin birth concept in Christianity did not become important until the fourth century. In Matthew the alteration of the text describing Mary as a “virgin” is fairly obvious; in the rest of his gospel, he does not mention the virgin birth again. Matthew is more concerned with defining Christ as “Emmanuel” – God present. Though not proof that Joseph is the genetic father of Jesus, there is a verse in John 6:42 where the Jews ask, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph whose father and mother we know?”
7. Considering Roman Catholic teaching on Mary, Jesus’ own attitude to his mother in Mark (the earliest Gospel), is startling. There is the passage where Jesus is surrounded by a crowd and Mary and his brothers come and have word passed to the front that they want to speak to him. Jesus looks around at the throng and replies, “These are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister and my mother.” Also in John, when Mary asks him to intervene in the situation where the host at a wedding feast had run out of wine, Jesus responds quite sharply, saying to Mary, “Woman what have I to do with you?” From the Gospels themselves it can be seen that Jesus’ development into the preacher of the Kingdom of God took place in very sharp opposition to his family, who were so little convinced of his mission that they held him to be insane (Mark 3:21). If Mary herself, was aware of the virgin birth, why then would she be unaware of his mission? And all the Gospels stress that Jesus separated himself from his family. It is only in Luke’s Acts that a member of Jesus’ family is mentioned as playing an important roll in the Church. James, the brother of Christ, is recorded in Acts 12:17 as being head of the Jerusalem Church.
8. The Gospels always insist on Jesus’ humanity. Christ is a deified man in whom God dwelt fully. The Holy Ghost descended at his baptism and remained with him throughout his brief mission. It is only in this sense that Christ’s last words have meaning: i.e. it is the Holy Ghost that he feels leaving him at the end.
“Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani” which means “My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
“Eli, Eli lama sabachthani,” that is “My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” Luke 23:46
“It is finished” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Christian mystics have long claimed that the soul may be lifted into a union with God (as Christ promised) so close and so complete that it is merged into the being of God and loses the sense of any separate existence. One such mystic describes it thus, “we can nevermore find any distinction between ourselves and God…we are one being and one life and one blessedness with God.” This is what Christ achieved and what he means when he says “I and the Father are one.” Christ is the first to achieve this, the pioneer. Christ’s human nature was so utterly bereft of self, and apart from all creatures, as no man’s ever was, and was nothing but a house and habitation of God. Christ did not begin as perfect; he was made perfect by God and then became one with God. The key to understanding this is in Hebrews 2:10:
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things
exist in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer
of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who
sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin.
That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren saying “I
will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the
congregation I will praise thee.”
It is through the Word that Christ, on earth, was God: “the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Jesus’ disciples recognized him as the Messiah, the anointed one. He himself, is not recorded to have used the word. The titles, Prophet and Rabbi also were applied to Jesus. (Which incidentally means he must have had some education or training in Hebrew tradition. The fact that James, has brother, became head of the Church in Jerusalem after the resurrection also indicates that the family must have been fairly well off and could afford to send the children to some sort of Hebrew school.) Jesus’ own enigmatic self-designation was “Son of Man” which refers to his suffering or to his further role as judge (Isaiah 53; Daniel 7:13).
Throughout the New Testament he is referred to as the “Son of God.” The meaning of “Son of God,” to the New Testament writers was “one who has a unique relationship to the Father, one who carries out the will and purpose of the Father, and who therefore has a unique and supreme revelatory function.” All Jews of the period considered themselves to be “sons of God” as the chosen people of God. The New Testament writers do not equate the “Son” with the “Father;” in fact they consistently subordinate the Son to the Father. The most notable feature of Jesus’ spirituality was that, without in any way denying the Laws, he did not relate to God through the Law but directly as son to father. Jesus invited his hearers to share in the same relationship.
9. Christ, as a man, had to be prepared to receive God. This is made clear in Hebrews 5:7:
” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and
supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able
to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.
Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he
suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of
eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God
a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”
I believe God became incarnate in the man Jesus at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus’ self- understanding of his mission, according to the Gospel of John, comes when he is baptized and a voice from heaven says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” It after this that Jesus really begins his mission and becomes greater than John the Baptist. The Gospel of Mark understood the baptism of Jesus Christ as the adoption of the man Jesus Christ into the Sonship of God accomplished through the descent of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John, the divinity of the person of Jesus is understood as the result of the descent of the divine Word, a pre-existent heavenly being, again, at the baptism by John in the Jordan. This is evident in John 1:30, John the Baptist is quoted as saying:
“I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with
water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and
remain this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”
Also Hebrews 1:3 shows that the writer understood that the Word was reflected in Christ:
“He [Jesus] reflects the glory of God and bears the very
stamps of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of
The promise of the resurrection is that we will be united with God and with Christ as one. This is what Paul teaches. In Paul’s letters, the reoccurring phrase “in Christ,” implies personal union, a participation in Christ’s suffering, resurrection and destiny. The Christ with whom Paul desires union is not the man Jesus (the one “after the flesh”): he is the resurrected Christ who has been exalted and glorified so that he is one with God and the Holy Ghost.
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
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 new
Kingdom 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 with
joyfulness, 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.