Reading in Communion

“Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear…” (Matt. 13:13) This is Jesus’ description of those who encountered Him but did not understand. Just because we see something doesn’t mean we see it. Just because we hear something doesn’t mean we’ve heard it. This is particularly true of Holy Scripture. Just because we read it doesn’t mean we’ve read it. Why do we read the Scriptures? I assume that…

People of the Book

How obvious is the Bible? In my part of the world, a simple, cultural Protestantism prevails, one where many people when asked what Church they go to will say, “I just read the Bible and try to do what God says.” They may or may not go to a Church. They may, if questioned have some general doctrines to which they subscribe, but generally this is not the case. Their Christianity is…

The Shape of Scripture and the Orthodox Faith

I have written frequently about the Orthodox understanding of the Scriptures. I offer a quote taken from a lecture by Fr. Andrew Louth, Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies at Durham University, priest in the Diocese of Sourozh (Great Britain) in the Russian Orthodox Church. This passage comes from the first lecture in the series. I heartily recommend the entire 8 lectures. I could not possibly have said it better: What does…

The Mystery of Christ’s Baptism

This week, the Church moves from the feast of Christmas to the feast of Theophany – the celebration of the Baptism of Christ. The intent of this feast is not to celebrate a succession of historical events (the Baptism of Christ is at least 30 years later than His birth). Rather this feast takes us into the depths of the mystery of Christ and His salvation of the world. Many Christians, reading the gospel accounts of…

Today – the Scriptures are Fulfilled

Standing in the synagogue in Nazareth, Christ reads from Isaiah (61) the passage: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he…

Fulfilled – The Christian Reading of the Old Testament

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet…” This is a familiar line in the gospels – particularly in St. Matthew. It signals a moment that the gospel writer (and thus the tradition) sees an action or saying of Jesus as somehow being a “fulfillment” of something within the Old Testament. For the confession of the primitive Church is that what Jesus did is “in accordance with the Scriptures”…

The Fire of Christmas

As a child of the South, accustomed to the tones and the tales of my region, I was well aware of the”fires of hell”. Roadside signs proclaimed the eternal destiny of those who were not saved. I have discovered in later years, that many adult Christians remain committed to the most literal possible version of the fires of hell and will argue as though heaven itself depended on the burning flesh of…

How the Church Reads the Church

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:2-3) The mental habits of the modern world are not unlike the scientific method. We examine things, study them,…

How the Scriptures Became the Scriptures

How did the Scriptures become the Scriptures? In particular, how did early Christians decide which books would be included in the Scriptures and which books would not – for there were far more writings of the time that were set aside than those that were accepted as being Scripture? Interestingly, the process did not happen right away. The writings that are today described as being the New Testament were largely or completely…

Hate Your Father?

Do you hate your father? Do you hate your mother? Christ says: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). Of course, any Christian with a modicum of understanding knows that such a verse is not to be taken literally. Christ does not mean that we should hate anyone.…