Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sacraments

Shortly after posting that I was running out of sacred cows to tip, I realized I'd have to put some thought into the sacraments. 

Sacraments: an outward sign combined with a prescribed form of words and regarded as conferring some specific grace upon those who receive it.  
The following are the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church:
  • Baptism
  • Confirmation
  • Holy Eucharist
  • Penance (Confession) 
  • Anointing of the Sick 
  • Holy Orders 
  • Matrimony (Marriage) 

There is a lot of talk these days about defending the sacrament of marriage.  I am a little surprised to discover that for the protestant tradition, marriage or matrimony has not been considered a sacrament.


Most protestant traditions have held onto only 2 of the 7 sacraments of the RCC:
  • Eucharist (Lords Supper or communion) 
  • Baptism


Lords Supper 

I just did a post on some Lords Supper Thoughts.  I do see Jesus commanding His followers to remember His body and blood covenant by celebrating this meal together.  However I am concerned that what we traditionally call the Lords Supper, or communion is quite different than what Jesus was referring to.  If we feel this is a sacrament, I'd love to see believers following the example of Jesus and the early church on this.

Baptism 

I've recently put together some baptism summary thoughts. I concluded that immersion by water is a great symbol of being baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The command for us in Matt 28:18 - 20 is likely referring to baptism or immersion with the Holy Spirit (and Father, Son).  I suspect God is most interested in the matters of the heart. The early church, and most Christians throughout history have made an outward expression of this with immersion in water.  But I don't think I would conclude that the outward immersion by water should be on a top two list of the things God expects of us.


What do you think? Are these two items special sacraments?  Are we OK with the definition of sacraments in that these actions confer some specific grace upon those who receive it?

Or should other outward actions be added to this list?

What about loving one another?

Isn't love the outward sign that should identify those who belong to Christ?  Shouldn't that be considered a sacrament?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:33-35 NIV)

If you think we need a list of sacraments,  what do you think should be on the list?

Did Jesus make such a list for us?  If not, should we hold onto the list of the RCC? Or should we hold onto the shorter list of the reformers?

Related Posts:


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lords Supper Thoughts

I want to put together some thoughts about the protestant tradition referred to as communion or Lord's supper.

What do we mean by communion?

The word communion comes from Latin communio, which mean mutual participation, or common. The corresponding term in Greek is κοινωνία, which is often translated as "fellowship".

I'm all for mutual participation when believers gather, and sharing things in common.   However I'm not sure quitely sitting in rows and passing plates with little cups and little crackers is the best fit for mutual participation or sharing much in common.  I believe real fellowship includes deeper interaction and sharing of ones lives with each other.

What do we mean my Lords Supper?

Similar concern here.  In Scripture we see the Lords supper was a full meal. It wasn't a quiet time with people sitting in rows passing the 'elements' as is the tradition today.

Why Bread?

Bread was the staple food for that culture. Jesus claimed to be the bread of life. He is what sustains and gives life to His followers.  But what if Jesus had come to an Asian culture? Would he have shared rice with his followers instead?  What about potatoes or tortillas for other cultures?  I think the symbolism with bread is great, I just want to push a little here to consider the heart of the matter.

Grape Juice or Wine?

Many have no issue substituting grape juice for the wine.  Why not substitute the bread with pizza?  :) We drink the wine (or red liquid) to remember the blood covenant Jesus makes with us for forgiveness of sin.  I suspect God is OK with juice as long as we understanding the meaning of it all.

Love Feast

It seems clear that the early church met regularly to celebrate something they called a love feast or agape feast. It seems it was a full meal held on a regular basis. Those who had food would bring it, and everybody would eat. It seems the meal included breaking of bread as part of their celebration. 

Administered by whom?

There is no New Testament evidence that would suggest only ordained clergy can serve the bread and wine/juice. 

Have I missed anything?  Do we think the communion or Lord's Supper traditions we have are better or more meaningful than those of the early church?  Is there more room for reform?

Related Posts:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blood Covenant and Kingdom

I am continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom with this passage in Matthew 26:27-29 (NIV):

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
I'm looking at this passage because it was next in my studies of the kingdom. So what do we learn about the kingdom here?  Other passages speak about the kingdom or reign of God as a present reality.  This passage  seems to be of future time and place where God's rules.

And don't tell some conservative Christians, but it seems like wine may be served.  Some Christians I know are uncomfortable going to places where they know wine will be served... this may be an issue for them, so maybe it is best if we don't tell them and just let them be surprised.  :)

And what does Jesus say about His blood?

Another aspect of this passage that I find interesting is what Jesus says, and doesn't say about His blood. I've been taught to view Jesus' blood as a payment for sin.  I now see problems with this legalistic framework and am not a fan of the penal substitutionary attonment theory.  So I now enjoy reading passages like this with a fresh set of eyes.  

Throughout time there have been many cultures that have had some sort of blood covenant ritual.  In our culture we have a handshake covenant that still means something to many.  The roots of the handshake includes a form where the people would cut their hands and shake with bloody hands.

Also we see in Genesis 15 a covenant between God and Abraham where animals were cut in half.



Then in Genesis 17:10 we see the covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
"This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. "
Exodus 24:8 speaks of a covenant where Moses had just met with God and given the people the 10 commandments (plus a few pages more).
"And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Take a moment to think about each of these covenants between God and man.  Imagine Moses throwing blood on the people.  Yes it is hard for us to understand, this goes beyond our cultural norms. What do you think the meaning or significance of the blood was in these covenants?

Do we think the blood was a payment for sin in any of these other examples?

The wording Jesus used sounds similar to what Moses used "blood of the covenant".  He could have said, this blood is payment for your sins, but He didn't.

Jesus is saying He is making a covenant, promise or commitment with His people. The blood used in making this covenant will be His own blood.   When we drink together celebrating the Lords supper, we repeat this sign, and remember this covenant and commitment. This is a covenant or promise for the forgiveness of sins.

Related Posts:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Unpatriotic Blasphemers and Traitors

Today is Canada Day for me.  I am celebrating by being a bright shade of red - a sunburn from a day at the beach yesterday.  Today we plan to hang out with some friends and go see some fireworks in the evening. South of our border Americans will celebrate in a few days in a similar way, but on a larger scale.

Some food for thought from Tertullian as we join these patriotic celebrations.
We are charged with being irreligious people and, what is more, irreligious in respect to the emperors since we refuse to pay religious homage to their imperial majesties and to their genius and refuse to swear by them. High treason is a crime of offense against the Roman religion. It is a crime of open irreligion, a raising of the hand to injure the deity ... Christians are considered to be enemies of the State ... we do not celebrate the festivals of the Caesars. Guards and informers bring up accusations against the Christians ... blasphemers and traitors ... we are charged with sacrilege and high treason ... we give testimony to the truth.
-Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD)
The Christians were considered irreligious in their response to the religion of Rome.  They did not worship the Caesar like the nation expected.  They refused to confess that Caesar was Lord.  This is what made them enemies of the state, and they were persecuted for this.

The kingdom that Christians pledged allegiance to was the kingdom of God.  They confessed that Jesus was Lord.

Here are a few more quotes:


    I recognize no empire of this present age.
    -Speratus, from "Acts of the Martyrs"

“I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command” - Tatian (c. 120–180)

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

So what do I think? You can quote me on these. :)
"I love the people in Canada, but my love for people sees no boundaries of politics or race."

"May God's kingdom come and God's will be done, here and now as it is in heaven."