Posts Tagged ‘HolySpirit’


Holy Spirit painting

Holy Spirit painting (Photo credit: hickory hardscrabble)

Church has become closed in some instances and the challenge is as John XXIII said of Vatican II, the doors may be locked but let’s open the windows and allow the Holy Spirit to blow through and cleanse us of the winter dust.

Is the church international, the Christianities as a whole willing to allow for the Holy Spirit to blow through even if it means losing local congregations, but the result being a healthier body of Christ?

Here are a few quick points that I would challenge any denomination/local congregation to take on and see just how much they trust God and the discipling of their congregations to continue to do God’s work? Do we as believers worship God or Money?

The challenge:

1) Will we follow the teaching of Christ and render onto Caesar that which is Caesar. Will the church surrender their non-profit status within Canada?

2) Will our Clerics become true clerics and not agents of the government. Will we surrender our ability to marry, and move to a more blessing system for civil marriages of faith family members.

3) Will we cease living in deficitis, and take a hard look at what we can afford. Will we use our buildings to transform our socieities.

4) Will we release the Gifts that exist within our congregations, affirm that all work is done out of the love of God and is thus a Holy Vocation.

5) Are we willing as churches as a whole to sit down with one another and stipulate what we as a universal church are going to do to live out life as the Body of Christ regardless of our denominational labels?

6) Quit plug n’ play programming church families to death, and create an honest ministry to grow disciples of the living Cosmic Christ?

Are we up for the challenge? Or are we just happy with the status quo?


O Divine Master

We know we are a judgmental people of yours

Always looking for something,

That makes us better than another

Yet you love us

You see us

As your beloved children

O God

Grant us your eyes

To see the world

Your ears

to hear the voices

The cries of our brothers and sisters

O Lord

Grant us your heart

That we may know

All are blessed

Regardless of their sort or condition

For it is in our pride

It is in our searching

For the “Great Sin”

That we lose you

In our own hearts

Restore us Lord.

Dad let us just see

The world that you loved so much

To send us your Son

As you see it

So we can bring

Your kingdom here

On Earth as

You have it in

Heaven.

Alleluia.


Introduction

             Entering once more into the study of hermeneutics as one that once taught the subject brought back memories of dry and/or inaccessible tomes that left little of use except perhaps as a doorstop or insomnia aid. What greeted online was a simple twenty-five page workbook that was not only accessible to the student, but also practical for the preacher or teacher. This simple work starts with the concept of what hermeneutics is to how the disciple of Christ should apply it to their ministry. Let us enter once more into the hermeneutical spiral first with a summary, then an interpretation before the ending of whether or not this is a useful resource.

Summary

            Hermeneutics is the method one uses to interpret literature of the past (p.1) and as such it is (p.1):

  • A science because it is guided by rules within a system.
  • An art due to how the rules are applied.
  • Applied by skill and not mechanical imitation.

This is what hermeneutics is, and why it exists you ask? Primarily for two reasons (p.1):

  • The scriptures show us God has spoken.
  • Because God has spoken we require a reliable way to interpret scripture.

This is the genesis that leads into how one can come to be an interpreter of the Bible. The challenge then as one works through the sections of the workbook is to take the Bible in hand and work through a passage with these tools. The tools you ask?

The 3 questions that are to be answered from page 3:

  • What is the prevailing view respecting scripture?
  • What is the main method of interpretation?
  • What qualifications were regarded as essential in an interpreter of the Bible?

These three questions lead the journeyer into what the workbook stipulates as a qualified interpreter (which will be explored in the interpretation section of this paper). The author(s) who remain unknown then lays out the principles of interpretation (again, will be outlined in the interpretation section of the paper).

The workbook also outlines common mistakes of provincialism and traditionalism (p.3) for the interpreter and the five basic schools: (a) allegorism; (b) literalism; (c) devotionalism; (d) liberalism; and (e) neo-orthodoxy (p 4-5).  All are good components to the whole as an introduction it provides a broad tent in a short span of time for equipping the teacher.

Interpretation

            But why does hermeneutics exist? Surely, the revelation that is needed to understand scripture comes from the Holy Spirit? Yes this is true. But as the old saying goes, God did not place the gray matter between our ears just to keep our heads from caving in, God expects us to come to a deeper understanding. It is this understanding that lends itself to what the workbook stipulates is the qualifications of an interpreter and then the principles of interpretation.

According to the workbook a valid interpreter needs to be qualified by (p.3):

  • Being born again in accordance with the doctrine taught in John 3.
  • Have a passion for and know God’s word.
  • A Deep reverence of God.
  • Possess an utter dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

These qualities one may say then discredits the science and art that is hermeneutics, but it does not. For being born again truly is the acknowledgement of the Holy within us, but also the need for divine love. The passion and knowledge of the scriptures will allow someone to further discover history, geography, culture, genres, languages and customs of the peoples of the Bible, but also within the diverse Body of Christ today.

It is the reverence of God that allows us to see the true beauty within the scripture regardless whether you approach the Bible as the Jesus Seminar does or as a Fundamentalist King James Bible Baptist preacher for the reverence will lead you to your knees to allow for the Holy Spirit to open up your soul.

Now it is known what qualifies one, what are some guiding principles? (a) priority of original languages; (b) accommodation for revelation; (c) progressive re-evaluation; (d) historical propriety; (e) awareness of ignorance; (f) differentiating interpretation from application; (g) checking principle[1]; (h) induction; (i) preference for the clearest interpretation; (j) upholding the unity of scripture; and (k) analogy of the faith (p. 9-11). These are coupled with word studies within the original language and ensuring one interprets for the correct genre that the certain book is written in (p.11).

The ideal that these principles guides one to when coming to the scriptures is humility. That is an understanding that as an interpreter it is not us alone that holds the meaning, it is through collaboration with others upon the journey (believer or non), but also full collaboration with the Holy Spirit in the Tri-unity with the Godhead. That is the key principle that all these lead to.

The interpretation is not done in isolation.  The principle of induction lends the interpreter to discover the true meaning of the passage not to place a meaning upon it. The interpreter is not a lone wolf crying at the moon, they are a link in an ever flowing chain to discern truth. There is the strong reminder that there may be one interpretation for a piece of scripture, but many applications (p.10). Is this a true statement or just a straw man argument? As one explores the many faceted sides of the Christianities it becomes evident that there can actually be multiple interpretations, just think of the way Coptic or Orthodox or Catholic or Pentecostal Christians will approach understanding the Holy Spirit and His work within the church, as well as his role in the Godhead. To be crass the fact there is an Eastern and Western Nicene Creed shows that there is at least a dual understanding of how the Holy Spirit relates to the Godhead with the West stipulating of the same substance while in the East the Holy Spirit is created by God & Jesus. This in itself makes the principle of one interpretation, many applications faulty.  Although this short exploration is not for a student new to hermeneutics which these principles allow for a foundation to begin a proper exploration of the texts by the Interpreter.

Now the beauty of hermeneutics is that it encompasses a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding for it takes into account literature review; art; culture; anthropology; sociology; theology; doctrine; history; geography; etc to create a fully defined picture of where in history the story is placed.  Doctrine is a principal sticking point for unity within the faith, and even within the scriptures. Doctrine can allow for understanding within one’s own tradition of Christianity, but is problematic when one tries to dialogue in regards to some tenants of the faith with other traditions.

Doctrine as a principal illuminates the two challenges written of earlier being provincialism and traditionalism. Provincialism in and of itself is an insulated and narrow focus based around one’s own experience, while traditionalism sticks to the ideal of “we have always done it this way” theory of experiencing the world. Either or both of these when brought into the hermeneutical spiral can prove disastrous for allowing the revelation of the Spirit, but also the step of checking points when scripture crosses over into secular disciplines.

This leads us to the ideal of language preferences. One is to lean on the original languages of the texts as the purest source. Yet historically what exist for the texts of the Bible are not the original autographs, but copies, which is fine as archaeologically there is stronger proof of the veracity of the documents than any other. However even the original autographs in a time of oral tradition are they the most valid. Okay a rather circular argument, there is a rationale for the early languages which is plausible but in the inability to hold to the original languages if one can have at least three distinct translations available to read the passages within and compare word choices it can aid coming to that original meaning.

All these principles in spite of the hiccups and challenges are meant to enable the interpreter to place the story in time. Once the story has been placed in time then the interpreter can truly open themselves up to the moving of the revelation of the Holy Spirit. This is the heart of hermeneutics.

Conclusion

             Hermeneutics is simply the process of interpreting ancient literature. It is both an art and a science that is guided within the interpreter’s heart, soul, body and mind by the Holy Spirit to come to a conclusion on meaning. This meaning is not in isolation, it stands on the shoulders of history, while also entering into life within the current breathing Body of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

Sacred Hermeneutics retrieved from        https://ntsmoodle.com/file.php/9/Sacred_Hermeneutics.pdf  26 September 2012.

 


[1] This is to ensure that secular studies are checked if the passage borders on matters of science or history; double checking doctrinal documents to keep interpretation within the rule of faith; and great expositor’s of the past.

 


It is interesting as we continue the debate within the church around who can and cannot be called by God. It is interesting because we have merged The Academy and the Spiritual. Yet where has it left us in the West?

With a cleric shortage, and a restoration movement underway. Think of what has brought us to this point:

The original Apostles (those who broke the ground) were tradesmen; harlots; unwed mums, sex abuse survivors, tax collectors, fishermen, terrorists, and mass murderers…

Yet as time progressed we became “official” and in becoming official we moved into needing licenses, more than the story and the Holy Spirit…trusting in God that whatever our calling is in our lives God is the one that called us, the community affirms and lifts us up (for it takes a community church to raise up a follower of The Way of Jesus of Nazareth).

Notice that there is no real academic requirements, no need for a bible college degree, or a seminary degree or even as the Reformers of the 15th Century were a “doctor of the church” or in depth theologian. But this is where we went post Constantine as we advanced forward we became more radically structured. Those that did not fit the “orthodoxy” or “orthopraxy” where declared “heretics” and eliminated.

As we moved forward we shaped an educational training program that stipulated one must have this academic acuity; be free of mental illness; be “typically developing”, have a penis, in some instances be of the nation of the national church, be heterosexual, have one wife and children (or when the church was realizing it was losing too much control pre-reformation, divorce their wife and cast their children out into the cold).

Yet as we watch each of the institutional norms has been pushed over, late 1800’s to mid-1900’s if you had a vagina it was realized God could call you to the ministry (note we knew this before Constantine, and it was even recorded in the New Testament). That the Holy Spirit would empower us to do things even greater than what Jesus accomplished.

Those who experience the world without sight or sound have received the call. If you have been divorced it is a-ok. As long as you are homosexual and willing to swear off companionship–sure—or maybe we should say yes…Those with developmental disabilities serving the sacraments and praying…the differently abled coming into fruition in the community…

Amazing how during this reformation we are seeing the academics of the church institution struggling for enrollment and making ends meet, yet at the heart of the matter is that there are many within the institution trusting within the Holy Spirit. This trust is leading to a removal of labels, a realization of what it means to live in a Trinitarian style community based around the Trinitarian Great Commandment of loving God with our everything, loving our neighbour as ourselves. This community created by God, Called by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to form itself on what this deep love and justice means.

This is where the reformation is leading us, as an institution struggles there are many that are just opening themselves to the Spirit, and yes, the changes that are happening in the labelless church is a blessing. For we truly only see the beloved of God, the beloved that on the 6th day God called very good and blessed; when he turned us out of paradise clothed us, loved us, gave us creation to build paradise in.

Lets as a people choose to live in this Spirit of inclusion, hope, love, and justice.


Holy Spirit painting

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of...

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Opened sharing a bit of my story, the PG or G version of some incidents in the struggle of being a Christian in Recovery for a lifetime (which long time readers will know)…then moved into the fact that as an institution the church is in Crisis.  Reg Bibby and other sociologists have pointed out that a church a week closes in Canada, 400 in the last few years have vanished. The crystal cathedral went bankrupt and was bought out, Rick Warren has bankrupted Saddleback church twice. Bill Hybels formerly apologized to his congregation of Willow Creek for not doing enough to make disciples.

Plug and play programming has failed us.

Diana Butler Bass speaks of a new awakening, one where the Holy Spirit is moving within believers to renew the church even as the institution is dying around us.

Matthew Fox, the renewer of true Christian Mysticism, speaks of prayer as life, LIFE with God not as some formula or set words.

John shelby Spong speaks of his love of scripture, but his inability to read it for the black and white on the page, but rather for the depth of beauty of the story of life with God while acknowledging the texts of horror that lie within.

All this comes together with my life experience of Christian Recovery to come to these two simple lines today:

God is Love, Love is God

Emerge 2012

March 3 @ 2 p.m.

2 simple lines of scripture in how many thousands, yet 2 simple lines that carry such a wealth and depth of what it means to trust and walk with God.  Where does the Shema come from? The obvious answer is the book of Deuteronomy written by Moses, and you would be partly right…You come to ABC you will get to explore who actually wrote the Torah and the single author versus multiple sources, that’s not the point today no matter how much my geek bone wants it to be.

A people who had walked with God in the wilderness, who legend tells us built an empire with God, moved from a theocracy to a monarchy, then division, crumble, conquering, led into exile by the super power of the day. Some say 10 of the tribes would never return. Walking under a persecution that makes the Rwandan Genocide or modern day Afghanistan under the Taliban if you’re  a woman like the safest place on earth to be. These are a people that new what it meant to turn away from God or to walk deeply in God’s heart. They felt the dryness of the desert and the ecstaticness of joy.

It was during the return, Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall…yet his teammate, compadre, Ezra was with a group of priests reclaiming holy ground…the temple…and in this reclamation they “discover” a lost scroll. A regiving of “The Law” and in the midst of this retelling is this summation:

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

What God Requires

12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul? 13 Keep the LORD’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

 

For legalism had led to exile, so let’s get to the literal heart of the matter…then there is 400 years of silence from God supposedly, or simply God working in more covert ways than before. And BAM! We got a revolution.

A simple revolution, I’m not a fancy theologian, I have studied most of my life the sacred scriptures of many, but what I honestly believe is theology is where the living word meets you. Your life experience + learnings +the Holy Spirit while reading the word= Theology. We just need to be open to the Holy Spirit and where she is going to lead us.

I was a child of 11 when I was told there was no place for me in church, at 19 I was struggling once more to find my place in this world when I stumbled across these words in the Gospel of Matthew, red letters in a Gideon’s new testament while cleaning my room, and I was this close to throwing the testament out as the spine was snapped and pages falling out:

Matthew 22:35-40

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”[a]

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.[b] 38 This is the greatest and most important[c] command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend[e] on these two commands.”

The Shema came to us between 6-4000 years ago. Almost 2,000 years ago when challenged to rank the legal system Jesus reminds us of it, and then builds on it. For a teen who was searching for God in spite of systems these words hit hard.

For you see love is a reciprocal ideal. If I give this unconditional love to God, it is because God has given it to me. If I love my neighbour then I must love myself. It is a 3 part love, a Trinitarian ideal…L-O-V-E.

A revolution to a people oppressed by rules. Those in the synagogue and marketplaces of Jesus’ time were more used to hearing what shall thee not do rather than, what shall we do…

What are you told what is the big “don’t” on the sin list?

(Audience feed in)

No to Sex. No to drugs. No to alcohol. No to this music, that dress, No to dancing, no to make up, no to this type of show or movie. No to this…

And you know what Jesus’ response was? It wasn’t picking out of the 617 laws, or the sayings of the prophets or the commentaries, or what the religious leaders said, or even what the Roman Empire dictated…Jesus simply laid it out for you: Love God, neighbour and Self with your all. Why?

Genesis Day 6. God made us in Her image. He called us very good. She blessed us and He called us Her beloved.

That’s why. Simple. Lovingly crafted to live out of and into a love that transcends all. A revolution that started at creation—the big bang theory kicked it off, 6,000ish years ago the Great Commandment was laid down, almost 2,000 years ago Jesus hits the religious authorities between the eyes with it in a ministry devoted to living life with God’s children.

A ministry where out of living this 3 part love, hope was renewed in the world. Institutions were shook to their core, and those who gave more credence to prominence, to wealth, and to tracking of attendance numbers.  What was Jesus message in all of this? It was simply what I have learned in my 25+ years of working to make my corner of the world a better place, the only number that matters is 1.

The one person before you now and yes, that one person before us we most forget about in our acts of love, ourselves, matters as well.

So I am asked to speak about what it means to serve and walk with God, it means humbling ourselves in confidence. It means walking with those who we like hanging out with, but taking steps out in faith to those we don’t like or get jittery around. It is about ensuring those with no voice, reclaim their voice, those who are hungry get fed, those without shelter or clothes get those, it is realizing that God’s family is a beautifully diverse collection of colours, genders, abilities, orientations…it is realizing that God is not one of exclusion…this love, this grace love gift that we reciprocate doesn’t come with strings, its not God’s put this out there so I need the magic spell, or the right amount of check marks in the did it, didn’t do it columns that was the system Jesus entered into to shatter and revolutionize. No this love gift is two ways, but we already have been given it by God, God’s just waiting for us to open our hearts fully.

So let the revolution continues. Look around this city, this world, we are all God’s children, and we are all given the same love and the same challenge to use this love to transform this planet for Kingdom is not a future promise, it is a command to build here.

I know these are the important words of God, because when I was preparing for ministry and in discernment for a pulpit call, one of those walking with me came with a prophetic word that summed up how he felt the Spirit guiding my life ministry, it is in the Gospel of Mark:

Mark 12:28-34

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Primary Commands

28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?”[a]

29 “This is the most important,”[b] Jesus answered:

Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One.[c] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[d][e]

31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself.[f] There is no other command greater than these.”

32 Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher! You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. 33 And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding,[g] and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer.

How are you going to love God, neighbour and self today?

 

 


Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

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English: The photo was taken by Joe Murray, an...
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Last night the Rainbow Chapel held its last event, we bore witness as the Calgary Canucks defeated the Drumheller Dragons 4-1 at the Max Bell Arena.  The Alberta Junior Hockey League is family fun, community building and renewing where all can come together…much like what we attempted to do with the Rainbow Chapel.

Yip the Rainbow Chapel was a simple home base ministry that reached out to all of God’s children regardless of well pretty much anything.  We were a ministry based on inclusion of all.  Throughout the years even before we named it, there was the chapel in existence, involving sacraments, breaking bread together, prayer, retreats, meditation, services….so whether you just knew us through a participant, spiritual direction, mentoring, the Denny’s Bible Study, Timmy’s Book Club gathering, Brunch n’ Bible, Contemplative Worship; House Church; Communi(on)ity, Movie n Pizza Nights or Summer Book Club…know that our prayer is simple that we continue to discover the Holy Mystery and live out of that love.

In Unitarian Circles they snuff out the chalice at the end of a gathering; in Mainline Churches they extinguish the Christ Candle…the mythology being that the service is complete and the gathering is dispersing…yet it is backwards, for it is not that the gathering is complete, or Christ has left the building.

Rather the extinguishing of the light on the altar… the reflection and meditative of the gathering is the act of the Holy Spirit blowing through and this light igniting each and everyone of our own lights again…an outward act of a soul renewal…it should be as powerful a sacrament as communion for this is saying we are taking the light of Christ within us to shine out of us…

Just as Jesus stated in John 15:12 (CSB):

12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.

As the light is extinguished we take that love internalized, and the Benediction is not the end of worship, but the beginning for a new week or personal and communal transformation within this love…so the chapel leaves you with a simple Benediction:

In the name of our Loving Creator; the wisdom and compassion of our brother, Jesus of Nazareth; and the comfort and joy within the family of the Holy Spirit may you be blessed with love, and out of this love live…for ever and ever…amen.

Christ Light– Out 🙂

May you RE- IGNITE it each day within.