The Bible as a magical dinner plate

I’ve never been one to cook very much, in fact, my wife teases me about how I must think that food magically appears on the table in front of me.  We then joke that when we go out to eat, she loves to partake in the magic of food just suddenly appearing on a plate in front of her after she puts in her order.

I have found that we Christians frequently treat the Bible in this manner.  We just have this book that magically appears in front of us, all polished and pretty with gold letters and leather binding.  Few of us stop to wonder: how did we get this book of holy scriptures?

In answer to that question, most Christians would quickly exclaim, “Oh! I know!  It came from Greek and Hebrew sources written thousands of years ago.  And really smart scholars translated it into English.”

But even in that answer there is this element of magic.  How did all of these books come together to form the Bible?  Was there a primordial, biblical soup of thousands of writings and whichever ones congealed together were the ones we stuck with?

Lately I have been learning a great amount regarding the Bible, and especially the New Testament.  Contrary to popular belief, the mission of the apostles was not to write a Bible, but to build the Church, the Bride of Christ as guided by the Holy Spirit.  The Bible we have now took hundreds of years of discussion before finally being canonized in its present form(s).

In fact, the Church is not a product of the Bible, but the Bible is a product of the Church.  After hundreds of years of tradition and teachings being passed down from the disciples through the Church Fathers, we finally received the Bible we have today.

***Update***

I have completed a nine-part series of short posts that discuss briefly the history of the church and the canonization of the Bible.  It begins at the ascension of Jesus and goes through the Protestant Reformation and into today.  It also addresses sola scriptura arguments.  You can view the introductory post and outline here.

Intro to Iconography – part 2

So, you’re visiting an Eastern Orthodox Church and you notice that people are coming in, approaching paintings of dead guys and gals, bowing slightly, and then kissing them.  As a Protestant, you know this must be idolatry, right?  What else could it be?

(If you missed Part 1, click here to read it)

A Lesson from Japan

Continue reading Intro to Iconography – part 2

Intro to Iconography – part 1

Who are the solid people anyway?

“Like ghosts we walk upon the earth, the ground it groans” sings Michael Gungor of the uber-talented band Gungor.  He takes inspiration from CS Lewis’ writings in which he questions our very concept of reality.

When we think of spirit beings or ghosts, we tend to visualize something that is misty, a vapor that can’t even be grasped.  The spirit world seems foggy and illusive, much like trying to clasp your fingers around steam as it rises above a pot of boiling water.    Continue reading Intro to Iconography – part 1

Christ’s Descent into Hades – icon explanation

This is one of my favorite Eastern Orthodox icons.  It is referred to as Christ’s Descent into HadesAnastasis or Resurrection Icon.  It is the primary icon of Pascha (Easter).

Some key features:

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Attending

A guide for your first venture to an Eastern Orthodox Church

What in the world is a “liturgy”?

The Sunday morning service at an Orthodox Parish is called the Divine Liturgy.  We follow a liturgy compiled by St. John Chrysostom in the 4th century.  Up until St. Chrysostom, the early church always worshiped in the form of a liturgy, however, several different (and very lengthy) ones were in use, and St. Chrysostom edited and compiled the liturgies into the one most commonly used now.

Am I welcome?

Almost all Orthodox Parishes are very open to visitors.  While they probably won’t have greeters at the door, this doesn’t mean they don’t want you there.  Be sure to linger after it is completed so you have a chance to speak with the priest.  And don’t be afraid to tell people you are new and just checking this Orthodox thing out.  Many people you meet there will be converts, so they understand where you’re coming from.  Most parishes serve lunch afterward.  Staying for the meal is one of the best ways to get to know others.

What’s with the constant singing?

Most of the service is chanted or sung.  About the only speaking you will hear   Continue reading Things I Wish I’d Known Before Attending

Why Orthodoxy? Part 2

History of the Ignored

As I mentioned in my previous post, I heard from reading church history books that there was something called the Orthodox Church.  I didn’t have much interest in it though as many books passed it off as being insignificant, very ethnic (Greek, Russian, etc), and somewhat Roman Catholic.

As far as I know, the Orthodox Church never fought any great wars, never led crusades (in fact, they were the victims of one Continue reading Why Orthodoxy? Part 2

When the Divine crashes into your story

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up on a mountain…” (Mat 5,1)

I’ve read over that passage perhaps hundreds of times and never realized the significance of it.  Matthew is trying to grab our attention with this “up on a mountain” phrase.  He knew this is where our story meets that of the divine.

Up on a Mountain

When Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, an angel of the Lord entered human history and changed its course.  Where did this happen? Up on a mountain.

When Moses was sitting around with a bunch of sheep, probably feeling his life was pointless Continue reading When the Divine crashes into your story

Why Orthodoxy? Part 1

Something’s Not Quite Right

I’ve grown up non-denominational for the most part, and have been in modern/contemporary churches most of my life.  Shortly after graduating college, I become discontented with the church as a whole.  I felt like there was something wrong with it.

The church seemed too political, too hateful, too judgmental, and too consumeristic.  I was out of church for most of three years before joining back up with a modern, hip church nearby.  After being away from Christian Culture for a while, my wife and I were a bit disturbed by things we witnessed Continue reading Why Orthodoxy? Part 1

My First Liturgy Experience

Hands Off!

If there is only one thing that most of us can’t tolerate, it is a big change in our style of worship.  Think about it, a pastor can change, the style of the building can change, the leadership/elder board can change, but don’t you dare touch that style of doing church!  One example of that is seen when a traditional church decides to begin catering to the modern crowd.  Many angry old folks end up leaving with their hymn books in hand. Continue reading My First Liturgy Experience

St John the Merciful

St John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria

St. John the Merciful lived during the 7th century.  Tragically, his wife and children all died and he decided to become a monk.  His love and generosity earned such a reputation that he was begged by Emperor Heraclius and his fellow clergy to occupy the highest position in that region as the Patriarch of Alexandria.

Most of us who have grown up Protestant begin to feel a bit suspicious of religious people in power.  We use phrases like, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” or even shorten it to, “power corrupts.”  I find St. John the Merciful to be inspiring because he takes this stereotype and turns it upside down.   Continue reading St John the Merciful