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Literally Humble


7:59 AM
Yesterday was one of surprises and blessings. My activities included: reading the Psalms on the back porch, coming to the office for a brief time and doing some work, having lunch with my son Seth, dropping the car off to get it fixed after running over some trash that fell of a truck in front of me, having a meeting with my pastor, and going to class. The between times, driving from place to place, were filled with contemplating the theologies of Rahner, which I find difficult to understand. Some of his ideas I agree with but there are other thoughts that I disagree with totally.

While driving around, a friend from the Downtown Rescue Mission called and needed money to buy a truck. He wrecked his and now doesn’t have a means of transportation to get to work and school. I wanted to say no, but I didn’t. I told him I would buy the truck for him as long as we didn’t go above $2,500. While at lunch, I got an email from George Veras, the marketing guy at the Hall of Fame. He apologized for the late notice but wanted me to do a 4 hour telephone call Friday and would pay me $10,0000. Coincidence? God is so good! I think, He has been waiting on me to trust and surrender so that He might show me his faithfulness.

I also have been noticing that there are times when I have felt led to either kneel or lie prostrate to God. Naturally, I didn’t. I simply sat there and would talk “to God” in a way that no one else would know what I was doing. This morning, I was led to kneel before leaving the house. This time, in the safety of the privacy of my own home, I knelt. What a blessing!

Why is it that I say I want to be pleasing to God and follow his will while at the same time, I fail to do it? Also, why do I fool myself into thinking I am following Christ but yet I always limit my surrender?

For me, I think it boils down to fear. The money issues are a fear that I will not have enough to live on or not keep up my lifestyle if I follow God’s leading in giving to those in need. At other times, it is that I am fearful of what others will think. What if someone walked into my office and saw me kneeling? What would they think? It’s not that I’m some holier than thou person who is wearing my faith on my sleeve or trying to cram the gospel down somebody’s throat. Besides, I don’t think that was Jesus’ way. He did, however, go off by himself to pray and in remembering him in the garden, he knelt. I also remember Daniel and company kneeling three times a day in their living quarters. Maybe these acts of worship and praise have a purpose.

Maybe these acts are used to allow God to reveal himself and his character to us. Maybe these acts are used to confirm our humility, our adoration, and our surrender to our King. Maybe in surrendering and in doing we get to experience God in reality and not just in the imaginings of our mind. He becomes real. At any rate, I am going to pray that God grants me the grace that In the future, I will listen to the impulses that he plants in my head and then be wiling to do them.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19

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Written by John Hannah

November 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

Wealth May Not Be Riches


After my last post, some friends suggested I read the book Radical. Good book but you can tell right away it is speaking from the Southern Baptist Tradition – the author skipped right over love and went straight to the sin problem. For me, I like Saint Ignatius’ approach. Once I am grounded in God’s love for me, then I can look at the shadows, those things which I have hidden from others and even myself because I can now realize that I am a loved sinner.

That brings me to my reflection this morning. Remember the story about the rich young ruler in Mark 10?
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

I was just wondering, what if Jesus didn’t mean the wealth of his possessions? What if Jesus meant that he should get rid of the wealth of his righteousness?

I know that I can get all puffed up about what I am doing in my walk with Christ, how I attend church pretty regularly, how I read the word, how I spend time praying, etc. What does it matter if I, that’s a capital I, do all these things? If we really do believe in the finished work of God the Father through His Son Jesus, if we really do believe in the unmerited favor of grace, shouldn’t we be more than willing to give up our righteousness in exchange for the righteousness that comes from Christ? Now, I’m not saying to go out tonight and get blasted! What I am saying is that nothing I can do counts with God. All that counts is what He does with, in and through me. So what can I brag about? Maybe that’s why Paul said this, “Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, we who worship through the Spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh, although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage, in observance of the law a Pharisee, in zeal I persecuted the church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless. (But) whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

What do you think? Should we be like Paul and give up our own righteous and religious works so that we count all things as loss for the riches found in Christ? The righteousness that comes from as a gift of grace, both imputed and lived.

Written by John Hannah

October 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Three Types of People


7:19 AM
As many of you know, I am taking myself through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in class. The last class covered The Second Week of the exercises. This week is a vacation week. How appropriate!

The Second Week is about surrendering to Christ. One of the meditations in the Second Week is on the three types of people. In actuality, it isn’t three types of people at all, but a progression of faith in Jesus. The first person is that person who has decided to follow Christ in external things. The rich young ruler who asked Jesus what it took to get into heaven and had obeyed all the commandments of God is a perfect example of the first class of person. The second person prays that they would prefer neither riches or wealth, fame or disgrace, health or sickness, nor long life or short. Their preference is to do only that which brings the greater glory to God and causes them to walk more closely with Him. The third person has come to the point where the desire to identify with Christ is so strong that they pray for a life of poverty and disgrace just as Jesus lived. This morning, I was pondering  Luke 12:13-32.

“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!” But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

As I read this, I thought about how much I was like this man. My barn is my savings accounts and my retirement accounts. Three years ago, I had built a barn that I was sure would give me the ability to enjoy my retirement years and leave a little nest egg for the kids. Like most people my age, my retirement account has taken a big hit over the last few years. Not only that, I have a vision to open a retreat center for those with addictions. You know the ones I’m talking about, addictions to substance abuse, addictions to work, addictions to possessions, and addiction to people pleasing. To do this, I’m going to have to use some of those depleted monies. This is a huge struggle inside me. I really like my barns! I think to myself, “If I weren’t married it would be different” or “I need to leave some inheritance for the kids” or “With inflation and all will Elise and I have enough?” I want to do what Christ wants me to do but I have so many responsibilities. I feel like Peter getting out of the boat during the storm and immediately beginning to sink. However, as I continued to read, Jesus provided the answer.

He said to (his) disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

I think He wants me to become more like the third type of person, don’t you?

Written by John Hannah

October 14, 2010 at 7:31 am

Experiencing God II


This morning, Jesus woke me up early. To show me something, but, now that I think about it, it started last night. As I had written in my journal previously, I had been experiencing darkness of the soul the last few days. I had written that it was not because of a negligence on my part. Last night, I saw that I was wrong.
When I got in from the appearance and eating, I turned on the iPod and started watching movie clips from Fr. Bill and then started listening to music. Finally, it was time for bed but decided that I would read a Psalm and do my Examen. I read Psalm 106 because that had been given me as my passage for catechism class. As I read it, I naturally started praying it. Praising God for His never-ending love and compassion, his provision. I wasn’t really experiencing very much because the darkness was blocking out the light. Then I began to read how Israel would praise God when He did a major miracle during the exodus but would soon forget and fall away into sin. All the darkness for the last couple of weeks was due to my ingratitude. I was so busy worrying about money and just being so worried about performing my time with God that I was negligent in building my relationship with Him. Even as I write this, God is blessing me with the warm and fuzzies. 
Getting back to this morning. After showering and getting dressed, I started thinking about the illustration Fr. Bill had taught in the Hearts on Fire, The Spiritual Exercises class. He drew up an illustration of a triangular sun representing the light of the Trinity with a stick man under it. I began to think of Gods light on us and how Bill had used the image to explain How once we come into the son’s light we see our shadow, our fleshly self. Even as I type this new knowledge is springing into my head. So, here is what I have been given thus far. When we think of the sun, we know it provides warmth and life itself but also think of it as a as a bad thing, in that too much of it will cause sun burn and eventually skin cancer. we stay under the shade tree and never let the light shine on us. Isn’t that the way most Christians think about God? We know God loves us but we’re also scared of Him. However, as Fr. Bill says, once we come into the light, our shadow is cast and we are able to see our dark side and become aware of the deeper needs that drive the false or shadow self. Then I thought about the passages in Psalms where it says, “our lives are like sand.” I believe sand, when exposed to heat, becomes glass. Glass is transparent and you see right through it. In the same way when experiencing God’s heat, the reality and the magnitude of God’s love, the grace of the Holy Spirit begins to work in us. We know we are loved for who we are and can be operand honest. We do not have to constantly be seeking the things that help us feel accepted, appreciated and loved by others. We start to see our completeness in Christ. Therefore, we no longer have to hide our true selves and pretend to be who we aren’t. The other thing that happens as we turn to God’s glass, people see through us. They no longer see the darkness of our shadow but they can see God.

John Hannah
6:43 AM

Written by John Hannah

September 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

Posted in God

My Version of the “Our Father”


The other morning I was praying as Jesus taught us to pray. It came out something like this. Hope you get as much out of reading it as I did saying it.

Dad in heaven, I love you. I worship the ground You walk on. I respect and admire you and I want to be pleasing to you. I want to be like Jesus. When people see me, I want them to see You.

Dad you love me more than I love myself. Because You are a loving Father and You only want what is good for your creation, allow me to join You in building your kingdom here on earth by surrendering to your will and following you. Let me know what it is you want me to do today and as I walk through the day. Let me be aware of your presence leading me into circumstances and situations where you want me to act.
Not only that, but give me the wisdom, the strength and abilities, and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ, to accomplish the chores that you’ve allowed me to work alongside you. Let me do a good job so I’ll know you’re proud of me. I know you always love me but I want you to delight in me.

Dad, You always forgive me. Just like the prodigal son, when I come over the hill, You run out to celebrate my return. Dad, let me know how much you love me so that I’m free to love others.

Please keep me from being drawn away from your presence by wanting to control the situation myself; by chasing after things or doing things that build me up that false self; that American Idol, that pride and ego in me; and keep me from the trickery of the evil one.

Written by John Hannah

September 2, 2010 at 10:46 am

Posted in God

Experiencing God


This morning, Jesus woke me up early this morning. To show me something, but, now that I think about it, it started last night. As I had written previously, I had a darkness of the soul the last few days. I had written that it was not because of a negligence on my part. Last night, I saw that it was.
When I got in from the appearance and eating, I turned on the iPod and started watching movie clips from Fr. Bill and then started listening to music. Finally, it was time for bed but decided that I would read a Psalm and do my Examen. I read Psalm 106 because that had been given me as my passage for catechism class. As I read it, I naturally started praying it. Praising God for His never-ending love and compassion, his provision. I wasn’t really experiencing very much because the darkness was blocking out the light. Then I began to read how Israel would praise God when He did a major miracle during the exodus but would soon forget and fall away into sin. All the darkness for the last couple of weeks was due to my ingratitude. I was so busy worrying about money and just being so worried about performing my time with God that I was negligent in building my relationship with Him. Even as I write this, God is blessing me with the warm and fuzzies.
Getting back to this morning. After showering and getting dressed, I started thinking about the illustration Fr. Bill had taught in the Hearts on Fire, The Spiritual Exercises class. He drew up an illustration of a triangular sun representing the light of the Trinity with a stick man under it. I began to think of Gods light on us and how Bill had used the image to explain How once we come into the son’s light we see our shadow, our fleshly self. Even as I type this new knowledge is springing into my head. So, here is what I have been given thus far. When we think of the sun, we know it provides warmth and life itself but also think of it as a as a bad thing, in that too much of it will cause sun burn and eventually skin cancer. we stay under the shade tree and never let the light shine on us. Isn’t that the way most Christians think about God? We know God loves us but we’re also scared of Him. However, as Fr. Bill says, once we come into the light, our shadow is cast and we are able to see our dark side and become aware of the deeper needs that drive the false or shadow self. Then I thought about the passages in Psalms where it says, “our lives are like sand.” I believe sand, when exposed to heat, becomes glass. Glass is transparent and you see right through it. In the same way when experiencing God’s heat, the reality and the magnitude of God’s love, the grace of the Holy Spirit begins to work in us. We know we are loved for who we are and can be operand honest. We do not have to constantly be seeking the things that help us feel accepted, appreciated and loved by others. We start to see our completeness in Christ. Therefore, we no longer have to hide our true selves and pretend to be who we aren’t. The other thing that happens as we turn to God’s glass, people see through us. They no longer see the darkness of our shadow but they can see God.

John Hannah
6:43 AM

Written by John Hannah

August 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Posted in God

Convictions of Patriarchal Traditions


Throughout human history, communication has been a troublesome issue. Most times, the words used to convey the thoughts are appropriate. However, the speaker or writer may wish to relay a message that the hearer of the words misconstrues. This is often due to varying connotations that the speaker and hearer automatically imply to the communication because of their individual experiences. This too holds true for Scripture and Tradition. If this is so, why would one hold to Scripture and tradition as presupposed truths?

The Bible is a collection of books written by many authors throughout history with differing cultural backgrounds and with differing purposes in their communications. This concern compounds as one realizes that most of those who wrote the majority of these books were wishing to preserve an oral recounting of history and the revealing of God through that history. Tradition, especially in the sense of the writings of the patristic fathers of the first seven centuries, is a source of elucidation. In expounding upon the teachings, those directly taught by the apostles or those to whom the teachings were passed, further explain the meanings of the words written in Scripture and The Word, who is God revealed in man. As these teachings are applied within the church, we gain clearer insight into the truth of God’s revealing of Himself to humans. Not only that but through study and investigation, theologians continually gain insights into the fullness of God’s revelation. However, problems may occur. This paper concerns the Tradition as it relates to writings and pronouncements of the church. It provides an exploration and an explanation of historical issues related to Tradition made evident by Nichols. In addition, the paper explores my personal views regarding Tradition and discernments that for now, to me, are true

As to personal experience, a primary reason for choosing Loyola in acquiring my Masters in Pastoral Studies and my considering converting to Catholicism is the Tradition of the Catholic Church. In my quest to know God, the writings of the patristic fathers became a source of understanding. As I progressed to reading other recognized Saints of the Church, there was a sense of having missed an invaluable resource to aid and support my spiritual journey. Friends within the protestant church began to question the rational of my choices in regards to theological growth. To me, however, it made perfect sense. As an athlete, I would prefer a coach who played the game not one who had only read books about the sport. In the same way, the early church fathers had played the game. Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna, according to tradition, received their training directly from the Apostle John who was a witness of the ministry and resurrection of Jesus. This first hand knowledge and apprenticeship led me to commit to their authority in explaining Scripture. In the same way, I have witnessed the distortions of history within our own country. As a southerner, I realize the distortions in historical accounts of the civil war and the civil unrest of the 1960s. In the same way, it is always better to learn from those who were involved or who were descended from those who were. For instance, most southerners will recount that the civil war was purely economic. The government forced southern plantation owners to sell cotton to the northern textile mills by levying exorbitant tariffs on the cotton farmers. As a result, they could not receive the higher prices being offered by English buyers. The economic stress intensified when southerners felt they would be required to replace slave labor with salaried workers. How does this relate? Simple, the writings of the patristic fathers served to support and hold in check those wishing to interpret Scripture. Their writings served as an overseer to better insure the proper reading and understanding of the Christian Church’s history and theology. Therefore, the Traditions look to uphold Scripture and make it more understandable and not act as a detraction or replacement. However, the heretics of American History have their equal within the church.

The Fathers of The Church were arguably the definers of the Christian faith, as we know it today, “the monument of Tradition.” The author points to ideals that argue the truth of this statement. The first argument Nichols points to is their work and writings that led to the creed and liturgies used today. Although the founding fathers were from various cultures, used different languages, and addressed many different issues, nevertheless, the commonality of their rationale and morality is of the same ilk. They are from the same family in that they concentrate on the fundamentals of the faith. Their writings, although multiplicity, reveal a unity of faith. The fathers also reveal a unity in theology. They do not divide the “growing in the knowledge of God” into separate and distinct theologies. Rather, they bring Theo-centric theology, which presents God as the primary reality; Christ centric theology, which teaches that humans have separated themselves from God but can return to God through the Spirit of Christ; ecclesial-centric theology, which explains that Christ sent His Spirit to be the head or source of the Church; and mystery-centric theology, which defines experiencing God through the celebration of the sacraments, into a shared experience of faith. A second aspect of the patristic teachers’ communications is that their writings addressed the needs of the church at that time. In administering their pastoral duties, they demonstrate to future generations an example of pastoral leadership within the church. Although many argue that because our culture is much different from the culture in which they lived, their model is no longer valid. However, I argue that even though cultures change, what is human, the essence of humankind never changes. Therefore, the application, modus operandi, or methodology might be changed so that hearers continue to hear the intended message but the message should always be the same. A third way looking at the writings of the patriarchs is to see the connection of their theological thinking to their life of prayer, the conscious striving to be in union with God, Son and Holy Spirit.

Using the writings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as his basis, Nichols suggests that the acceptance of the writings within the community of believers is in itself a reason for acknowledging the Tradition of the Patristic Fathers. Ratzinger suggests that the early fathers of the church have formed the constitution of the church in regards to “creed, liturgy, and church order.” Nichols also suggests that, “they are both a locus, perceived location, and a criterion for all theological work.”

However, in the early and High Middle Ages, The Church began to elevate the Traditions of the Church to an equal status with Scripture rather that an elaborator of Scripture. In reflecting upon the history of the time, it is understandable how this thought became prominent at that time. The Church became had become more of a political entity seeking a kingdom on earth. I was reminded of the revelation of the high priest found in the Gospel of John. In John 11:49 we read, “Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” Although the revelation was true, the high priest spoke out of context. There is little doubt that Jesus came to earth to pay the penalty for the many. Jesus’ sacrifice is “the good” being revealed in the revelation to the church of that time. However, Jesus did not come to perpetuate the Jewish church nor empower its clergy. Knowing the political ambitions of many leaders within the Church at that time, it is understandable how three thoughts, the Petrine office held more authority than Scripture, that only ecumenical councils could interpret Scripture and that oral traditions handed down within the Church could be used to defend Church practice, were enforced. Given these beliefs, it is also understandable how men like Luther and Calvin arose. Although the Church immediately dismissed these theologies, it is also true that once made Catholic (i.e. Karl Barth’s theology looks very similar to the theology of Luther and yet Pope Pius XII called him the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas), these theologies now play a role within segments of the Church. Organizational theory holds that every organization comes into being for a good reason. However, as the organization matures, the purpose of the organization shifts to become “to perpetuate the organization.” As more people turned to the protestant faith, the community of believers mandated that the Church reflect on its theology. As a result, The Church council at Trent somewhat softened their views regarding tradition and ridded itself of nonpublic apostolic tradition coming out of nowhere. The Church also explained its teaching on justification as a response to Luther and stated that “alongside and coexisting with Scripture belongs confessional, liturgical and ethical traditions which came from ancient times that bear witness to revelation.” In essence, the Church amended the errors and reestablished the principles of faith.

The revelation, evolution and openness of the Church continue. With the publication of Dei Verbum in 1965, The Second Vatican Counsel reported, “Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful. That is why the Church from the very beginning accepted as her own that very ancient Greek translation; of the Old Testament which is called the Septuagint; and she has always given a place of honor to other Eastern translations and Latin ones especially the Latin translation known as the vulgate. But since the word of God should be accessible at all times, the Church by her authority and with maternal concern sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into different languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. And should the opportunity arise and the Church authorities approve, if these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated brethren as well, all Christians will be able to use them.” Bibles have been made more available to the community of believers and an explosion in Biblical studies have been introduced within the communities, this openness is vastly different from what had been, and remains for many, the common perceptions of many protestants. It was also revealing that during the Second Vatican Counsel protestant, the separated brethren, observers were welcomed to see what was taking place and invited to participate in scriptural interpretation. However, The Church continues to honor their mandate to protect their flock and act as custodian of the faith. Therefore, it remains cautious and protective of the community of believers as stated in Dei Verbum, “But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.” A key component for me concerning this statement is that the teaching office is not above the word, but serves it. The word, as it pertains to the revelation God through Christ, is preeminent. Therefore, Dei Verbum reaches a reasonable conclusion, “It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”

Given the attention to detail in regards to the tradition and Scripture, one would think The Church would have singularity of belief. However, this is not the case. As Nichols states, “Today, while theological pluralism is taken for granted by some, the need for unity in theological culture is not so widely recognized…it is equally clear that all theology articulations of Christian revelation, if they are to be truly Catholic, must share certain features.” Pluralism in expression of faith may be acceptable, however the singleness of God’s revealing Himself through Christ and His purpose of providing forgiveness to provide the believer with a reunited in relationship with God must be singular. In the opening remarks of chapter 15, Nichols made comment on several occasions when The Church returned to the patristic fathers and the resultant reform, renewal and conversion of important theologians to the Catholic Church. Returning to the basics, in most cases, provides stability so that growth is built on a stable foundation. Rather than trying to find ways we can justify our beliefs in our theology, maybe we should return to the Scripture and the early fathers of the church and adapt our beliefs to their instruction. Maybe theologians in their quest for understanding should not cling to intellectual pride but collaborate with those that oppose their hypothesis to confirm and bring their thoughts into dialogue with the patristic teachings, to modify or deny their insights. If the Old Testament is the revelation of the coming Christ, maybe we should learn from Josiah and cleanse the church of our “vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven that have entered His temple.”

Let me sum up my reflection using another quotation from Dei Verbum, “Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently, it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything revealed. Instead, tradition is used to purify Scripture to distill in a way that all hearers of Scripture will comprehend the common message in unity. Therefore, both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are accepted and honored with the same sense of loyalty and reverence. Scripture is preeminent as the inspired writings of people seeking to communicate the history of their experience with the personal and revealing God in Jesus. In many cases, the authors garnish their stories to appeal to the understandings of the listening audience, just as we relate events to others in our lives. However, with the help of other accounts and using tradition as a source of reference, the meaning or revelation of God, which is what the true theologian is seeking, the truth of The Scriptures is purified and clarified.

Written by John Hannah

August 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Posted in God

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