Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Fifth Luminous Mystery

Jesus' Institution of the Holy Eucharist

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou amongst women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke (22:14-20)
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.


On the night before He died, Jesus sat in the Upper Room with His disciples, in order to celebrate the Passover with them. But this Passover would be different than any other that they had celebrated. For at this celebration, Jesus' disciples would partake not of an ordinary lamb, but of The Lamb who would take away the sins of the world.

I could use this post to launch into a defense of the Catholic Church's teaching of Transubstantiation--and I may end up making comments to that effect throughout, and more likely, in the comments section if others bring it up--but this series was not intended to be, strictly speaking, an apologetic series, but simply my reflections on meditating on the Rosary. And when I meditate on Jesus' Institution of the Holy Eucharist, my mind is not caught up in sorting out how Jesus becomes truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in what was once bread and wine. Instead, I reflect in awe and wonder that He does in fact make Himself truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in what was once bread and wine. With all due respect to Aristotelian Physics, Thomistic Scholasticism, and Tridentine Dogma, the entire point of Jesus' coming to us in the Bread and Wine is not to become an academic abstraction, but an utterly concrete experience.

In my meditation on the Transfiguration, I cautioned against an over-familiarity with Jesus that accentuated His friendship and minimised His kingship. Yet we can, many times, swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, making Christ a lofty transcendent King on His Throne "up there", infinitely distant from us, His lowly serfs. We can so easily miss what He said to His disciples at this very Last Supper, "You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master's business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father" (John 15:14-15, NJB). Consider, then, Jesus' friendship. We are not servants, nor even acquaintances, but as He tells the Disciples, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you" (Luke 22:15). He "eagerly desires", or as the New Jerusalem Bible puts it, He "ardently longs". And, knowing that that Last Supper was, in fact, the First in which He comes to us hidden in the Host, shall we not understand Him to have that same eagerness and longing to spend that time with us?

Let us again marvel at this Gift, which the Church rightly calls the Source and Summit of our Faith! The Hidden Jesus (as the children of Fatima to whom our Blessed Mother appeared, called Him) Who full of humility came to us originally as a Baby so that we might lovingly cuddle Him in our arms; Who suffered horribly so that we could, as redeemed children, be held in His loving arms; now even more humbly shows us His love, and bundles His infinity up so that we may welcome Him into ourselves, in an utter act of mutual surrender. He Himself becomes "our daily bread" for which He taught us to pray; the Living Bread which came down from Heaven and gives us eternal life. And though He is Hidden, He is as physically, tangibly present as He was when He calmed the sea, cured the sick, suffered, died, and rose again! He truly is Emmanuel: God with us--who promised to be with us even to the end of the age, and who keeps that promise, abiding with us in every Tabernacle throughout the world, inviting us to participate in Calvary and make His sacrifice our own.

And that is precisely the flipside of the blessing of His Presence. Through His gift of Himself in the Eucharist, He makes His sacrifice present to us. We participate in His sacrifice of two millenia past by making it literally, spiritually present on the altar. Just like the ancient Hebrews participated in the lamb's saving passover blood by eating it, so we too participate in the Lamb of God's saving Passover blood by eating Him in Holy Communion. We bring Him into our very being, and His grace transforms us to be more and more like Him!

Just as with His Apostles of two thousand years ago, Jesus ardently longs to be with us. He has made Himself readily available to us. All He asks is for the faith to respond to His invitation: "Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person's side" (Rev. 3:20).

Jesus said, "This is My Body...This is My Blood..." Let us have the faith to take Him at His Word, and receive Him, truly present, as often as we can. Let us take the time to adore Him as He remains present in the Tabernacle, or in the Monstrance, remembering that He is also in our hearts and our bodies. Let us love Him with the same selfless abandon with which He has loved and continues to love us.

Adeste, fidelis.
O come, let us adore Him, truly Present: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
Amen.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: The Rosary.)

15 comments:

Christopher said...

Very enjoyable, Gregory. Thank you for your article.

A question: does it seem strange to you that Christ puts a condition on His friendship with us? "You are my friends if you do what I command." What do you suppose is the meaning of Christ's words there? I'm trying to wrap my head around it, but a sprinkle of skepticism about the translation of that passage is prickling at the back of my mind.

Would you consider our friendship free-flowing and loving if I told you that you are my friend if you do what I say? Bit of an odd statement, don't you think?

Gregory said...

Hey Chris.
As to John 15:14, every translation available for perusal on the Faith Database has it pretty well exactly the same. Every translation at Blue Letter Bible says it, too. So all the Catholic and Protestant versions at my fingertips are unanimous. As is the Vulgate. Can't read the Greek, but according to what BLB and TFB tell me, what it says is what it means.

It interests me that when a passage of scripture makes you uncomfortable, Chris, you immediately assume that the translators are wrong, rather than your understanding.

You ask me what I suppose the meaning of Christ's words are? I suppose that they are exactly what He said. I mean, how else ought we to understand such a concise If...then...statement?

I would say that any notion of friendship with God that fails to acknowledge His divine and kingly claims upon our obedience is precisely the facile understanding of Christianity that I warned about in my article on the Transfiguration.

Your interpretation of Christ's friendship with us to be "free-flowing and loving" may be the root of the problem that you're having. Where does Scripture use those terms to describe His friendship? Both the Old and the New Covenants are couched in terms of obedience-dependent friendship with God who has already condescended infinitely in order to even befriend us. Shall we not expect that friendship to be on His terms?

Melissa Watson said...

Even when you talk about friendship in human terms, friendship is usually an if...then statement. I'm not going to continue to be your friend if you are constantly pushing me from your life or hurting me. God, granted has promised that he will continue to be our friend but being the just God that God is he cannot accept our vow of friendship at simply a word knowing who we are and what we do but makes it clear that if we enter into a friendship with Him that is superficial then it isn't true. We have the opportunity to know God in many ways but those who know God as friend - an everlasting and true friend for all time must not take it lightly but understand that His friendship requires something of us. It is somewhat like how salvation has been explained to me using the gift analogy - God gives us a gift and it is free but if we don't open it we cannot receive it. There is a condition on our salvation that we must accept it and within accepting it comes a recognition of God and all that He is. So, too being friends with God requires an act of reception on our part and that reception is doing what He tells us to do, not simply because He tells us (which in and of itself should be enough) but because he promises that we will be like Him. We are no longer "servants" as He states because by entering into a friendship with Him we know what he knows - "his Father's business". There's the difference so clearly laid out. Jesus the King of Kings doesn't want to rule over us as a tyrant would but to befriend us and give us the opportunity to befriend Him in the only way we can.

Hidden One said...

CJ, you asked, "A question: does it seem strange to you that Christ puts a condition on His friendship with us?"

While you asked Gregory, and both he and Melissa have responded, I have a slightly different angle of response.

I would find it horribly strange to me if Christ did NOT put a condition on his friendship with us. Without such a condition, He becomes a being distant in mental conception, yet held to be close; One who commands obedience, yet lacks all justice; One who sits there and lets me crucify Him without Him showing any pain - with no proof of suffering, it is as though He suffers not at all. He becomes irrational, justified by His omnipotent omniscience but unjustifiable in His Wisdom. His love becomes as though unrequited because it does not respond to being loved in return. He Himself becomes meaningless to me: my actions have no consequence - my salvation is assured even if I stand stubborn against all of His teachings and commands. I oppress my Saviour as though He is oppressing me. This Friend without conditions is really no friend at all.

sarah said...

Hidden One, your response is very insightful and very refreshing; thank you for sharing this wisdom. :)

I wanted to add that I don't have any concerns about the translation of the passage Christopher mentioned, but the *interpretation* does concern me.

Commonly, if-then statements are expected to be understood as presenting a condition. I think this is true in this case too; however, the condition is not 'IF you do what I say, THEN (and only then) you are my friends;' I think this emphasis contradicts the gospel, whether we are servants or friends.

The emphasis that is consistent with the gospel is that if, as in WHEN we do what Jesus commands, then, obviously, we have shown ourselves to be loyal, aligned, FRIENDS even, of Jesus.

An analogy from human experience would be from me to my children, 'if you pick up your toys, then you are mummie's helpers.' Or to my husband, 'if you tell me what you think and feel, then you are my friend.' The emphasis is on the reality of the evidence of the action-- do what I command-- and not on what would otherwise make one NOT what is clearly shown by what is done. In other words, the men Jesus addressed showed validly, obviously, that they were His friends by doing what he commanded, but to not have done so, wouldn't disclude them from friendship; it's just that if we do what He commands, we show our loyalty, and act according to the title 'friend' and there is then no question about it.

Jesus befriends sinners, so the idea that the if-then excludes those who do not follow His every command at every instant are not friends, is contrary to the gospel.

The same issue arises with the use of the word 'may' in scripture. Many people think that 'may' is a word that conveys an allowance to do whatever one wants, as in, 'you may or may not do such and such' when it can mean 'you must.' I think this is often an issue of poor literacy and the watering down of language taking its toll.

I'm sleep-deprived and making supper, which accounts for my bumbling though this thought and expressing it poorly. Feel free to restate it concisely.

Christopher said...

Gregory: It's quite easy to look up passages on this-and-that site. Not an invalid thing to do when faced with a translation issue. Thank you for taking the time. Sincerely.

My wife pointed out that she has no problem with the translation, just the interpretation. An insightful point. But I'd like to step behind it a little because I'm of the mind that an interpretation is very directly affected by the translation.

Given that, I went to the Greek and discovered that the world for 'friend' in this passage is φιλους (philous), which is the plural form for φιλος (philos) and is denotatively, and literally "loved ones" (pl.), or "beloved" (sg.). Connotatively, or in Koine (the vernacular Greek of the day) it was used for 'friendship' and 'friend' also.

So, when I read the passage now it reads more like this in my mind:

"You are my loved ones if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you loved ones, for all that I have heard from my father I have made known to you."

Now, before you brushed me aside with your hasty generalization,

"It interests me that when a passage of scripture makes you uncomfortable, Chris, you immediately assume that the translators are wrong, rather than your understanding."

I was hoping we would be able to deal with the oddness this passage presents to me. However, I think that Melissa, and especially Paul and Sarah have fleshed the passage out a little for me, and I have gained a much deeper appreciation for the passage.

Let me tell you a little about me: I'm inclined to ask questions when something strikes me as 'weird', 'odd', or when I notice something I haven't really given attention to before. I don't feel anything about it; I don't take up a negative skepticism; I simply grow curious. And that's all this passage presented to me: an item of curiosity.

Now, perhaps you didn't appreciate my question because you're rather frustrated with me because of my comments on your note on Chivalry. Or perhaps you're frustrated because I posted a bit of an indictment of Pope Benedict XVI on my blogsite. I'm not sure.

In any case, the strawman/ad hominem implications in your hasty generalization noted above, the use of the word "facile" to suggest my misunderstanding of 'friendship' with Christ, and your attempt to bait me into taking up a solo scriptura position by asking me to find "free-flowing and loving" in Scripture, all lead me to think that you might not be doing too well in your life right now. It's not usually like you to run headlong into such a briar-patch of illogicality when faced with a simple question.

I'm sorry if my take on things rubs you the wrong way. I can't help that. At least the benefit of our frictions, however, can be the proverbial truth, "iron sharpens iron, just as one man sharpens another." It doesn't have to be as personal as it seems you've taken it.

Yours with love,
Christopher

Gregory said...

Sorry for the delay. It's been one (or two) of those weeks.

Good discussion. That's what I like to see :)

Chris:
Gregory: It's quite easy to look up passages on this-and-that site. Not an invalid thing to do when faced with a translation issue. Thank you for taking the time. Sincerely.

Chris, did you change your mind in what you were saying when you wrote that paragraph? You started out almost minimising my looking up various translations, and then sincerely thanking me for doing so...

My wife pointed out that she has no problem with the translation, just the interpretation. An insightful point. But I'd like to step behind it a little because I'm of the mind that an interpretation is very directly affected by the translation.

I would assume that to be obvious--but the point remains that every English Bible I could find states the verse in almost the exact same way--as well as the Spanish translation at Blue Letter Bible, the French translation on my shelf, and even St. Jerome's Vulgate. It honestly gets to a point where nitpicking about "the translation" seems--I'm not even sure how it seems. Pointless? Grasping at straws?

Given that, I went to the Greek and discovered that the world for 'friend' in this passage is φιλους (philous), which is the plural form for φιλος (philos) and is denotatively, and literally "loved ones" (pl.), or "beloved" (sg.). Connotatively, or in Koine (the vernacular Greek of the day) it was used for 'friendship' and 'friend' also.

So, when I read the passage now it reads more like this in my mind:

"You are my loved ones if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you loved ones, for all that I have heard from my father I have made known to you."


I looked up "Friends" in my Strong's, and interestingly, "Philous" is almost exclusively the only Greek word for "Friends" in the New Testament. The only other words, used once each, are both in Mark, and refer to a person's fellow townsfolk. In fact, both of those words are simply pronouns (in a "me and mine" sort of sense). (Friend, in the singlular, is always the same word except in three instances in Matthew--twice in parables and once referring to Judas, all the same word, "hetairos", meaning "comrade" or "clansman".)

So again, I haven't seen much to dissuade me from taking the word "friends" in John 15:14-15) as being "friends"--which, as far as I've ever understood, were people whom we love. So again I'm at a loss for why we're going through this word-game?

Now, before you brushed me aside with your hasty generalization,

"It interests me that when a passage of scripture makes you uncomfortable, Chris, you immediately assume that the translators are wrong, rather than your understanding."

I was hoping we would be able to deal with the oddness this passage presents to me.


Rereading what I said above, Chris, I'm not sure I hastily generalised anything. Perhaps had I said "this passage" rather than "a passage", you wouldn't have found it a "hasty generalisation." But I don't actually find myself implying that this is something you do often, in my above statement.

I quoted a Scripture as a part of my post, which had very little to actually do with my post, except in two ways: 1st, it emphasised our friendship with Jesus; 2nd, He happened to say it in the context of the Last Supper. I would have quoted just verse 15, but it seemed structurally incomplete without verse 14, so I inculded that verse, too.

All that said, in my mind, the word in question in this entire passage, and on which the interpretation would hang, is not "friends" but "if".

However, I think that Melissa, and especially Paul and Sarah have fleshed the passage out a little for me, and I have gained a much deeper appreciation for the passage.

I agree. Their wisdom and insight are fantastic.

Let me tell you a little about me: I'm inclined to ask questions when something strikes me as 'weird', 'odd', or when I notice something I haven't really given attention to before. I don't feel anything about it; I don't take up a negative skepticism; I simply grow curious. And that's all this passage presented to me: an item of curiosity.

Now, perhaps you didn't appreciate my question because you're rather frustrated with me because of my comments on your note on Chivalry. Or perhaps you're frustrated because I posted a bit of an indictment of Pope Benedict XVI on my blogsite. I'm not sure.


I do apologise if I overreacted to your question above, but because the verse was rather extraneous to my point in my post, and because recently you have chosen to find considerable fault with my posts of late--including bringing things far afield from the topic into the discussion--you'll forgive me if I was of the mind that you were trying to pick another fight.

In any case, the strawman/ad hominem implications in your hasty generalization noted above,

I would again deny that I made any hasty generalisations. I merely commented, in an ironic tone, on what you were doing with this particular passage. If you're not comfortable with that tactic, perhaps you should reconsider your own response to Sharon in the Open Forum 2.

the use of the word "facile" to suggest my misunderstanding of 'friendship' with Christ,

I did not use 'facile' to imply anything about your relationship with Christ. I used it as a call-back to the Transfiguration post, where I began by saying,

"The book of Proverbs tells us that 'the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom' (Prov 1:7). So often today, however, it seems that we've traded holy fear for an almost inappropriate familiarity with God. From the ridiculous 'Buddy Christ' of Kevin Smith's Dogma to t-shirts declaring that 'Jesus is my Homeboy', to a more accurate, though still somewhat unbalanced sense within Christianity of a merciful Lord who is always and only forgiving, closer than a brother, etc., we can tend to forget that the flipside of the coin of mercy is God's absolute justice. We can sometimes emphasise the friendship of Jesus and minimise the Kingship of Jesus."

That sort of "relationship" with Christ is indeed "facile"--that is, too easy. As Hidden One pointed out above, that's precisely the sort of relationship one has with God when one does not take the condition into account.

"and your attempt to bait me into taking up a solo scriptura position by asking me to find "free-flowing and loving" in Scripture,"

I never was attempting to bait you into a solo scriptura position. Now who is making hasty generalisations. I simply do not believe that Scripture ever describes Christ's relationship with us as, to use your words, "free-flowing and loving" (which, admittedly, conjures up 60's hippie lifestyles). I'm sure that exact phrase isn't used, and would have been ridiculous to ask you to show it to me. But the very idea that your phrase conveys, I think, is also alien to Scripture. God loves us freely, yes, but His friendship with us is something else. God loves everyone, but for so many, that love is unrequited. Friendship is not built on unrequited love (which again, H1 pointed out). Even sinless Adam and Eve had a condition placed on their friendship with God.

all lead me to think that you might not be doing too well in your life right now. It's not usually like you to run headlong into such a briar-patch of illogicality when faced with a simple question.

Once again, I don't think that I made any hasty generalisations. Neither did I misrepresent your position on either your relationship with God or your stance on Sola Scriptura. You evidently misinterpreted my response just as I misinterpreted the motive behind your question. However, had your motive been what I had assumed it was, my response would in no way have been illogical.

I'm sorry if my take on things rubs you the wrong way. I can't help that. At least the benefit of our frictions, however, can be the proverbial truth, "iron sharpens iron, just as one man sharpens another." It doesn't have to be as personal as it seems you've taken it.

Yours with love,
Christopher


I haven't taken things (in this conversation) personally. But you have picked fights in the past, and I just wanted to assert that I wasn't going to let you kowtow me. Let me tell you something about myself, Chris. You intimidate me at times (in the same way that many at EBC were intimidated by you). You probe and pry into things that I don't even consider. You make issues out of things that I think are non-issues, and then you challenge me on them. Well, this is my response. I can be assertive about the non-issue of the fact while still making an attempt to address that issue, because I've realised that to you, this may actually be something troubling you--but by golly, I'll let you know how it sounds to me.

It honestly, at times, comes across to me like the article that I read today on Yahoo News about Jewish reaction to Pope Benedict's lifting the excommunication on 4 SPPX Bishops. They're in a tizzy because one of those Bishops is a holocaust denier, and that by lifting his excommunication is a tacit agreement with this man's antisemitic views. However, the reason the ban was lifted is because this man, and the others, have agreed to submit to papal authority--that is, they have recanted their position which led to their excommunication. He was not excommunicated because he was antisemitic, as sinful as that position is. Therefore, the Pope cannot be criticised for re-communicating the bishop because of his antisemitism. The complaint by these Jewish spokespersons that the Pope has harmed Catholic-Jewish relations is an utter non-sequitur.

And, quite honestly, that's how many of your complaints and criticisms have seemed to me in the past, which is why at times, I do run out of patience for them and come off sounding a little harsher than perhaps I should.

I'll try to figure out a different way of telling you when I think your arguments sound like that.

God bless
Gregory

Gregory said...

Sarah:
Hey, thanks for stopping by. Your answer is insightful, as usual. I did, however, have some curiosity regarding "if=when". I agree that this is a good way to understand the condition, because it implies that we are not taking the first step in our friendship with Christ--we aren't earning it, we are simply responding in Grace.

However, I'm wondering whether the "THEN (and only then)" understanding is completely alien to this passage (and the Gospel)? Let me illustrate from your examples, even:

An analogy from human experience would be from me to my children, 'if you pick up your toys, then you are mummie's helpers.'

Is it not very true to say that when your children do not pick up their toys, they are, in fact, not mummie's helpers?

Or to my husband, 'if you tell me what you think and feel, then you are my friend.'

If Christopher consistently did not tell you what he thought or felt--if he did not communicate with you--would it not be fair to state that he is, in fact, not your friend? Perhaps we have a different definition of friendship. I don't mean once in a while, but if in an ongoing way, he shut you out, as Melissa pointed out above, you wouldn't consider him your friend, even, I would think, if he were still your husband.

In other words, the men Jesus addressed showed validly, obviously, that they were His friends by doing what he commanded, but to not have done so, wouldn't disclude them from friendship; it's just that if we do what He commands, we show our loyalty, and act according to the title 'friend' and there is then no question about it.

I think that not doing what Jesus commands certainly would disclude them from His friendship. In John 15, verse 6, He implies that such a one would be thrown into Hell. That statement is made just eight verses before the verse in question (verse 14) and is part of the selfsame discussion. I wonder how many of Jesus' "friends" He throws into Hell? If we take the whole of John 15 in context (which I didn't initially, because it wasn't the focus of my blogpost), it becomes very clear that Christ loves all of us (v 9), but we must abide in His love (vv 4-5, 10), which we do by obeying His commands (vv 5, 10, 14), and if we don't obey His commands, we are not abiding and will be thrown out into the fire (v 6).

Jesus befriends sinners, so the idea that the if-then excludes those who do not follow His every command at every instant are not friends, is contrary to the gospel.

I believe that there is a very big distinction between "befriending" someone and "being someone's friend." To "befriend" someone is to initiate friendship with that person. Which Christ does, with all of us. Since we are all sinners, Christ has no choice but to befriend sinners, or no one at all. However, if we as sinners befriended by Christ do not continue to abide in His love--that is, if we do not repent and respond to His grace, then we can lose that friendship that He has offered to us. I believe it was George MacDonald who said, "God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way." And that is the point.

God bless
Gregory

Gregory said...

Melissa and Hidden One:

Thanks for stopping by, and for saying so much more ably what I had to lumber through in my own inadequacies.

God bless
Gregory

Christopher said...

"I haven't taken things (in this conversation) personally. But you have picked fights in the past, and I just wanted to assert that I wasn't going to let you kowtow me. Let me tell you something about myself, Chris. You intimidate me at times (in the same way that many at EBC were intimidated by you). You probe and pry into things that I don't even consider. You make issues out of things that I think are non-issues, and then you challenge me on them. Well, this is my response. I can be assertive about the non-issue of the fact while still making an attempt to address that issue, because I've realised that to you, this may actually be something troubling you--but by golly, I'll let you know how it sounds to me."

An honest admission. Thank you for letting me know. I'll try to avoid the 'intimidation' thing in the future. Believe me, it's never intentional since I have nothing but complete and total respect for your cognitive prowess, and erudition. I often ask my questions, or make my pryings because I'm genuinely interested in your perspectives -- they are usually quite different than mine.

On the same note, the many people who were intimidated at EBC by that niggling quality in my thinking were typically convergent thinkers, so my divergent thinking often took them for a loop and they had no understanding of how they suddenly ended up off their main point. To me, it was all connected, and I could trace my way back to show them. Is that what intimidates you, too? If it is, I could add to my comments the necessary tracks back to the convergences you've put down. Would that help?

Let me know.

God bless you,
Christopher

sarah said...

Gregory, thanks for your thoughtful response. :) I would like to clarify my own points a bit, with the benefit of yours.

Me: An analogy from human experience would be from me to my children, 'if you pick up your toys, then you are mummie's helpers.'

Gregory: Is it not very true to say that when your children do not pick up their toys, they are, in fact, not mummie's helpers?

Your conclusion doesn't follow from my perspective, which is one of ultimate conclusion. What I mean is that if my children don't clean up *every* time without fail, that is if their not cleaning up was sin, and if they still faltered in consistent willingness or action regarding cleaning up, they would still be my helpers since they do clean up at least some of the time, and their intentions point toward an overall desire to do what I've asked- even though they forget, have moments of unwillingness, etc... and they live in relationship with me, being attentive to my voice.

I wasn't clear about my perspective here, so your response helped me to see where we may end up agreeing, or not, but at least I could try to clarify.

So, likewise, we are not completely perfect in our willingness and action regarding obeying Christ's commands in each opportunity/incidence (habits of the old Adam), but we are still his friends even so. I guess I am trying to convey a macroscopic view rather than microscopic (which I would define as pertaining to single actions rather than a lifetime of obedience- macroscopic).

Clear as mud. :)

Gregory: However, if we as sinners befriended by Christ do not continue to abide in His love--that is, if we do not repent and respond to His grace, then we can lose that friendship that He has offered to us. I believe it was George MacDonald who said, "God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way." And that is the point.

I agree; I didn't intend to diminish the work of the Holy Spirit. Indeed we cannot remain as we were when we first were called. I agree with you on the macro-view. The habits of the old Adam don't exclude us from the kingdom, however, which is what I was trying to convey.

I don't know if you'll agree or not, but I wanted to add that I also believe that when we accept salvation and begin the process of sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer bound by or to sin; we are entirely free; however, we have the habits of the old Adam and do the very thing we hate, but not as those condemned, but as those whose sin has already been judged and condemned and who have since been set free from condemnation. I don't think we cease to sin, just that our sins are not counted against us (and we still must cope with the consequences too, in our lives, unless the Lord lifts those for us according to His own will).

Of course none of this means anything without repentance.

:) The Lord bless you!
Sarah

Gregory said...

Chris:
You write:
An honest admission. Thank you for letting me know. I'll try to avoid the 'intimidation' thing in the future. Believe me, it's never intentional since I have nothing but complete and total respect for your cognitive prowess, and erudition.

I don't think it is an intentional thing on your part. It's just a flaw in my personality to judge certain people as superior to me (whether it's really the case or not), and then to become rather passive toward that person (to the point of passive-aggression). I do it with my bosses, as well. It's something I'm trying to consciously work at, and since I haven't quite got the hang of confronting someone I legitimately respect (and thus am intimidated by), I can come off a bit snarky. I'm working on it.

I often ask my questions, or make my pryings because I'm genuinely interested in your perspectives -- they are usually quite different than mine.

Indeed. 'Cause I'm right and you're wrong ;) kidding!

On the same note, the many people who were intimidated at EBC by that niggling quality in my thinking were typically convergent thinkers, so my divergent thinking often took them for a loop and they had no understanding of how they suddenly ended up off their main point. To me, it was all connected, and I could trace my way back to show them. Is that what intimidates you, too? If it is, I could add to my comments the necessary tracks back to the convergences you've put down. Would that help?

Let me know.

God bless you,
Christopher


I typically can see where you're heading with certain things--at least most of the time. But yeah, it might help if you lay it out every so often from the start, because sometimes it comes off as being the same sort of evasive and non sequitous answer that you get so annoyed with when it comes from others, such as Hidden One.

Which, drawing that parallel, might help you understand why I find it so annoying coming from you!

God bless you too
Gregory

Gregory said...

Sarah:
You write:
Gregory, thanks for your thoughtful response. :) I would like to clarify my own points a bit, with the benefit of yours.

By all means. Misunderstandings suck :)

Me: An analogy from human experience would be from me to my children, 'if you pick up your toys, then you are mummie's helpers.'

Gregory: Is it not very true to say that when your children do not pick up their toys, they are, in fact, not mummie's helpers?

Your conclusion doesn't follow from my perspective, which is one of ultimate conclusion.


This is where I think I misunderstood. You took "Mummie's Helpers" to be a titular phrase, whereas I took it in a more existential way.

What I mean is that if my children don't clean up *every* time without fail, that is if their not cleaning up was sin, and if they still faltered in consistent willingness or action regarding cleaning up, they would still be my helpers since they do clean up at least some of the time, and their intentions point toward an overall desire to do what I've asked- even though they forget, have moments of unwillingness, etc... and they live in relationship with me, being attentive to my voice.

I wasn't clear about my perspective here, so your response helped me to see where we may end up agreeing, or not, but at least I could try to clarify.


Thanks. That clarification helped greatly. Your second example, about Chris telling you how he feels and what he thinks, was a bit more clear in that regard, and that's why I worded my response to that example differently--stressing an ongoing behaviour indicating a specific act of rejection on his part, if he continually refused to relate with you.

So, likewise, we are not completely perfect in our willingness and action regarding obeying Christ's commands in each opportunity/incidence (habits of the old Adam), but we are still his friends even so. I guess I am trying to convey a macroscopic view rather than microscopic (which I would define as pertaining to single actions rather than a lifetime of obedience- macroscopic).

Clear as mud. :)


I'm with you so far, to an extent. I see where you are coming from, but I would, coming from a covenantal perspective that acknowledges different degrees of sin (mortal and venial), say that that macrocosmic view of our friendship with Christ consists of each and every microcosmic choice that we make in that friendship--including those choices we make to reject that friendship. If we reject that friendship, through mortal sin, a new act of reconciliation is required to restore that friendship. We do not simply remain Jesus' friends while at the same time deliberately snubbing that friendship.

Gregory: However, if we as sinners befriended by Christ do not continue to abide in His love--that is, if we do not repent and respond to His grace, then we can lose that friendship that He has offered to us. I believe it was George MacDonald who said, "God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way." And that is the point.

I agree; I didn't intend to diminish the work of the Holy Spirit. Indeed we cannot remain as we were when we first were called. I agree with you on the macro-view. The habits of the old Adam don't exclude us from the kingdom, however, which is what I was trying to convey.


I think that depends on what those habits are, and how much of our own understanding and will are involved in consenting to the temptation toward those habits.

I don't know if you'll agree or not, but I wanted to add that I also believe that when we accept salvation and begin the process of sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer bound by or to sin; we are entirely free; however, we have the habits of the old Adam and do the very thing we hate, but not as those condemned, but as those whose sin has already been judged and condemned and who have since been set free from condemnation. I don't think we cease to sin, just that our sins are not counted against us (and we still must cope with the consequences too, in our lives, unless the Lord lifts those for us according to His own will).

I don't think that I do agree with your above statements that our sins after accepting salvation are not counted towards us. Otherwise why would Scripture warn us against such sinfulness as Christians? In the same chapter in which St. Paul tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, he warns us that we must therefore leave the habits of Adam, to which we are no longer bound, but that continuing to live by them will indeed condemn us; but living in the Spirit--that is, in Christ Jesus--is what will save (Romans 8:12-13). In other words, salvation itself is the process of sanctification, and we can stall that process, or even reverse it, when we choose to follow our sinful nature and not live by the Spirit.

Of course none of this means anything without repentance.

:) The Lord bless you!
Sarah


Of course not. But what does repentance mean if our sins aren't counted against us? What need is there of repentance? Or, are those sins only afterward not counted against us by our repentance? Is it repentance that brings the freedom from condemnation that Paul proclaims in Romans 8:1? In that case, if there is no repentance, then one has indeed forfeited his friendship with Christ through his wilful, lucid choice to sin.

And that is the point I've been trying to make--the point I think Jesus is making in John 15.

God bless you too,
Gregory

Hidden One said...

"Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand." ~Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Anonymous said...

barqueofpeter.blogspot.com; You saved my day again.