The Letter of the Word

This term I’m taking the course Doctrine of the Word for my Master of Religious Studies program. It’s a deep dive at the concept of the Word (including spoken, written, Incarnate, revealed) and the purpose of the Word (the means by which the Divine seeks conjunction with humanity). The last couple of weeks we have been looking at the written Word and focusing on the importance and significance of the literal sense. We did an exercise to help us better understand the grand arc of the story of Israel, and another assignment on Scriptural exposition, using some basic guiding principles to help us understand what the Lord might be saying to us through the literal sense. 

One of the themes that has continued to emerge for me is the layers of the Word. The stories of the Word are mostly about real people who lived and made choices (good and bad), who had relationships with the the Lord or who rejected Him, and while there is great value in learning from them and their experiences, it is ultimately in seeing ourselves in these stories that we find meaning. The stories are about us as a People and our journey with one another towards the Lord, about us as individuals and our own regeneration, our personal relationship with the Lord, and about the Lord Himself, His glorification, the story of His Humanity and Divinity and the lengths He goes to accommodate Himself to us, to meet us where we are. 

These multiple layers of the Word and their meaning are awesome to explore and while they are found in the natural, spiritual and celestial senses of the Word, they are all contained in the literal, in the external. Just by reading the stories with an open heart and mind, we can be led by the Lord to see how the story of Israel from Abram and Sarai to the Exile and Return or the interactions between Jesus and the disciples reveal something about us as a Church, as individuals, and about the Lord Himself.

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Just what did He do?

What the Old Christianity teaches:

“The belief that the passion of the cross was redemption itself is the fundamental error of the church; and this error, together with the error respecting three Divine persons from eternity, has perverted the whole church to such an extent that there is nothing spiritual left in it. What at the present day more fills and crams the books of the orthodox, or what is more zealously taught and inculcated in the schools, or what is more frequently preached and proclaimed from the pulpit, than that God the Father, being angry with the human race, not only put it away from Himself, but also included it under a universal damnation, and thus excommunicated it; but being gracious, He persuaded or inspired His Son to descend and take upon Himself this determined damnation, and thus appease the anger of His Father; and that under no other conditions could the Father look with favor upon mankind? And further, that this was actually done by the Son; in that by taking upon Himself the damnation of the human race He suffered Himself to be scourged, to be spit upon, and finally crucified by the Jews as one “accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:23); and after this had been done the Father was propitiated, and from love for His Son canceled the damnation, but only on behalf of those for whom the Son might intercede, and that the Son thus became a Mediator perpetually before His Father. ” —True Christian Religion 132

What the New Christianity teaches:

“Redemption was a subjugation of the hells, a restoration of order in the heavens, and the establishment of a new church, because without these no one could have been saved. Moreover, they follow in order; for the hells must be subjugated before a new angelic heaven can be formed; and this must be formed before a new church can be established on earth; because men in the world are so closely connected with angels of heaven and spirits of hell as on both sides to be one with them in the interiors of their minds.” —True Christian Religion 115

Little By Little

“Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until thou be fruitful, and inherit the land.” (Exodus 23:30)

Do you ever wish that the Lord would give you a sign? Maybe if you’ve read this passage you don’t think of asking for signs:

“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign. But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:39)

But maybe, like me, you wish some things would be more obvious, or something big would happen to course correct your path. Or you seek a big change. “Something dramatic needs to happen and then I’ll______.” “I just need this to change and then I’ll start _____.” Whatever it is, I think we are all prone to waiting for something. Waiting until January first to start a resolution. Or the first of the month, or the first of the week. Can’t stop and make a change in the middle of the week. Nope. “I will go off caffeine this week!” and if I drink some Tuesday, the week is a goner. Gotta start fresh next Monday. Can’t go caffeine free the rest of this week. At least that’s the way my mind works.

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Home Worship

This week we are sharing images of a variety of home worship areas. Last week’s article finished with this quote from Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which fits nicely as we contemplate these warm and thoughtful family worship set ups.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”