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June 2019 2 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
I was asked not so long ago what kinds of things Christians did in the Early Church (first to fourth century) as a form of spiritual discipline, on a personal level as well as a corporate one. Though the concept of an individual “personal spiritual life” would have been quite foreign to first century believers as faith and Church was very much a corporate venture that had personal implications, rather than the other way around as it can often appear to be thought of today. Much of what made Christianity structured, disciplined and set apart from society, has largely been lost in practice, or forgotten and relegated to the annals of history by many practicing Christians today. With that said, let’s take a look at what the most common practices were of the ancient Church.   Reading/Memorising Scripture Memorising Scripture – specifically the Psalms and Gospels Singing/praying the Psalms as worship to God Both of these principles are based on Psalm 1:1–3 and Colossians 3:16. “Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates profligacy.” Commentary on Psalm 1, Basil the Great (4th century)   Prayer and Fasting Another common practice that was expected of believers was regular fasting, since Jesus had said “when you fast”, not “if”. Typically, fasting was done every week on Wednesday and Friday, based on Matthew 6:16–18, and also to honour the days of the Passion and crucifixion in later tradition. “But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; … but fast on the fourth day (Wednesday) and the Preparation (Friday). … [But pray] as the Lord commanded in His Gospel (the Lord’s Prayer) … Thrice in the day thus pray.” Didache (c. 50 – 70) Alongside fasting, praying the Lord’s Prayer three times a day (morning, noon, evening) was a common discipline. From around the third century, liturgy and prayers in a church...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
The Nicene Creed — what is it and why is it called that? This creed gets its name from a time and place: the first ecumenical Church council held at Nicaea, which is now known as İznik in northwestern Turkey, in 325 AD. Now that may raise another question for you: what is an ecumenical council? Well, to explain more about the Nicene Creed, we are going to have to take a look at The First Council of Nicaea in order to better understand why this creed was written. First things first though; an “ecumenical council” is ideally a Church-wide meeting where all the Bishops from all across the Church come together to hold a very large and very important meeting to discuss topics and issues affecting the whole Body of Believers, with the results intended to be binding on all believers. Most often, these Councils were called to combat heresy and false teachers who had come about and gained enough popularity that it warranted an official response, with the creeds being the result after proper orthodoxy had been ratified. Seeking unity, the Council was convened by Constantine I in response to the Arian controversy which had gripped the Greek-speaking East. The teaching of Arius of Alexandria were considered heretical by most bishops of the time, fearing that it would cost people their salvation. 1800 bishops were invited by Constantine (that was every bishop across the Roman Empire), but only around 250-320 turned up from across the Empire, except Britain, according to the various surviving documents from different attendees. This Council was an extremely historic event as nothing quite like it had happened before since the Council of Jerusalem around 50 AD (Acts 15), which convened in a similar manner to counter controversial and false teaching which was upsetting the Church Body. As with that Council, the Nicene Council and its outcome was intended for the whole of the Church global. What actually happened at Nicaea I won’t go into too much detail about everyt...

May 2019 2 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Theology, Fasting
The topic of fasting often comes up in online discussion groups that I'm a part of, more often in Protestant circles where the practice is more often sidelined in low churches. So let's take a look at the practice of fasting from a practical and historical view, as it seems to be a spiritual discipline which has been pushed aside in many churches today, with prayer, worship and bible reading taking more precedence in a Christian's life instead (not that those are bad things to do!). Why fast? There are many reasons to fast, and recent studies have shown a lot of health benefits that can be derived from fasting. But on the spiritual side of life, there are also many benefits, one of the main ones being self-control. Fasting is participation in the Gospel. It is the ‘death’ of the flesh through denial, so that we can enjoy the resurrection of Christ in the spirit (Rom 8:13, Col 3:5). It’s pure discipline and obedience (Jesus did say when not if – Matthew 6:16-18; Mark 2:20). It’s putting to death the body – killing the flesh in order to live by the Spirit. (Gal 5:17) It’s training you in self-control, discipline and willpower; growing and nurturing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8). For healing and deliverance of others (Mark 9:29; Matthew 17:21). To prepare to hear from God via visions and revelation (Acts 10:30). For preparation for Church leadership (Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:23) To not be ruled by your desires and cravings – impulse control (1 Corinthians 7:5). To focus on God and not ourselves, in prayer and worship (Luke 2:36-38). To be in control of your body and to make your desires subject to you, not vice versa (1 Corinthians 7:5). For self-denial to overcome temptations and learn discipline (1 Peter 5:8). For repentance. For prayers for your enemies/persecutors and forgiveness.(For a more in-depth examination of early Christian thought on fasting and the reasons for doing so, se...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Texts is now available to buy as Paperback or Kindle! I am happy to say that the new book is now available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon! Other eBook formats will be available soon as it rolls out. This book is the companion to my other book (40 Days with the Fathers: A Daily Reading Plan), and includes twenty-three Early Church texts in full—including all additional footnotes from the original editors and translators so that you can get as close as possible to reading these ancient texts without needing to know ancient Greek or Latin. It's structured in such a way to read a chapter a day over a 40 day period which will help digest these long texts, and also serve as an easy introduction to what is often the more scholarly/academic side of things. Order your copy today to get the Paperback at the special low price of £19.99 (RRP: £21.99)! In the UK? Go to Amazon.co.uk In America or worldwide? Go to Amazon.com Thank you for your interest and support of my work! Luke J. Wilson...

March 2019 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, My Books
Available soon will be a companion book that will include all of the source texts in full, which I had hoped to get out in time for Lent, but it’s unlikely to be ready in time this year. So if you have my book and would like to read along each day with the Church Fathers as well, I’ve compiled a list of online sources where you can read the original texts. If you don’t have the book and would like it, you can order it now from Amazon and still get it in time for Lent by clicking the following link: Amazon.com; or if you would like to pledge some support towards my book writing in return for some nice perks, you can do so on my Patreon page: https://patreon.com/LukeJWilson. If you would like to be notified of the release of the new Companion Book, you can sign up to the mailing list at the top of the homepage at https://fortydays.co.uk.  Day One: The Didache http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm Day Two & Three: Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0101.htm Day Four: Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0136.htm Day Five: Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0104.htm Day Six: Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0105.htm Day Seven: Ignatius, Epistle to the Trallians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0106.htm Day Eight: Ignatius, Epistle to the Romans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0107.htm Day Nine: Ignatius, Epistle to the Philadelphians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0108.htm Day Ten: Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnæans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm Day Eleven: Epistle to Polycarp http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0110.htm Day Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen: Justin Martyr, First Apology http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm Day Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty: Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church http://www.newa...

February 2019 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Book Film Reviews, Book Review
This short little book on the Reformation and some of the leading men who helped to kick-start it and continue to fan its flames has been very enjoyable to read. It really is a “sound bite history” as the chapters are short and snappy, and really only cover the absolute basics of each of the Reformers lives. The book has seven chapters, with six of them dedicated to an individual who had a pivotal role in the beginnings of the Reformation: Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, John Huss, John Calvin, Hugh Latimer and George Whitefield. The Reformation:A Sound-bite History I found it to be very educational and easy to read and digest; gleaning just enough information to be easily remembered without it feeling like a heavy and dull historical study. Though, it being written by someone who is a Baptist, if you're well read enough in church history you will likely notice some of the Baptist bias towards certain doctrines that are mentioned as being held by some of the Reformers which grate against typical Baptist views. For example, the frequent implication that anyone who still held to some form of “real presence” in the Eucharist hadn't come to the 'pure Gospel truth' yet (despite this being consistent with historical Christianity prior to the Roman Catholic Church’s specific doctrine of transubstantiation). "Widespread ignorance of church history of one reason why the church often falls into errors which it has fallen into before." But aside from those minor issues, the book did well to not feel like it was pushing a certain viewpoint on you and was just trying to give a decent overview of the historical settings and people involved. Well worth a read, whether you are a Protestant OR a Roman Catholic! I gave this book four stars.  Buy the book here....

January 2019 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Book Film Reviews, Book Review
Straight off, this book will challenge you in your thinking and quite possibly in your practice and outworking of life as a Christian—especially if you are from an evangelical/Baptist/non-denominational background. Will the Real HereticsPlease Stand Up The book starts of taking you carefully through some of the practices and beliefs of the early church and those who knew the Apostles personally. It all feels very hopeful and like you're being led onward in a journey towards a certain goal, much of which I'm sure you'll find agreeable in what Bercot points out as discrepancies between early Christianity and today. Then we get to a few points about the Reformation. Some of the critique I think was a little harsh and not necessarily accurate, painting a fairly negative picture of Martin Luther. Some of the points raised were a fair statement against some of the doctrine and theology that came out of the Reformation period (such as Luther being heavily influenced by Augustine's theology more than earlier church fathers). After the high of the first few chapters, these chapters came as a bit of a punch in the gut. I would also recommend looking up all of Bercot's claims as there does sometimes seem like there is a strong bias of opinion coming through certain chapters, which takes away from the feel of the book trying to give an objective look at the topic at hand. But that aside, Bercot leads you back on this journey, aiming to uplift you once again with hope as he takes you towards a positive look at the Anabaptists. I knew before reading the book that Bercot is an Anabaptist himself, so I was wary that this book might just end up being advertisement for that denominational group as the new modern answer for getting back to early Christian practices. Whilst there are positive points made for the early Anabaptist movement being as close as possible to the early second century church, Bercot isn't shy to criticise the group in its modern form as having lost th...

December 2018 3 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Theology, Christmas
In the days leading up to Christmas, I wanted to share a sermon from a man known as Leo the Great (aka Pope Leo I), who was a Pope from 440-61 AD. He was one of the most significant and important men in Christian antiquity, as he tried to combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity in the West, such as Pelagianism. This sermon of his about the incarnation of Christ and what it means for us has always stuck with me since I first read it last April when writing my own book on the Early Church Fathers. It's not that long, so take the time to read it through and let the words sink in as we prepare for Christmas to remember and celebrate the birth of our Saviour and Lord, Christ Jesus. On the Feast of the Nativity, I. I. All share in the joy of Christmas Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Christmas
It's that magical time of year when the lights go up, the trees get decorated and a familiar bearded man in a red suit pops up everywhere. He goes by a few names: Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nick. But who was the real Santa Claus? Well, to answer that, we need to go way back in history to the fourth century to a Bishop called Nicholas of Myra (present-day Demre, Turkey). Memes abound about St Nicholas and Arius Some early lists place him as one of the Bishops who attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and there are some questionable legends which states that he was temporarily defrocked (a removal from office) and imprisoned during the Council for apparently slapping the heretic Arius across the face! The following is an excerpt from a book called The Book of the Saints, which details some of the main aspects we know about St. Nicholas’ life and the miracles attributed to him: ST. NICHOLAS was born into a wealthy family at Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Diocletian, attended the Council of Nicaea, and died at Myra, where he was buried in the cathedral. Nicholas was chosen Bishop of Myra and devoted himself to helping the poor. Tradition says that Nicholas devoted himself to works of charity. Hearing that an impoverished father had to sell his three daughters into prostitution because he had no money for their marriage dowry, Nicholas threw a small bag of gold into the poor man's window on three different evenings, and his daughters were able to marry. Finally, he was discovered as the bearer of these gifts. At one time, he saved three innocent young men from execution by the powerful civil governor, Eustathius. At another time he came to the aid of seamen who called for his help during a storm at sea off the coast of Lycia. Suddenly appearing on their ship, he manned the ropes and sails beside the weary sailors and brought the vessel to port. Another tale relates that during a famine in hi...

Luke J. Wilson | | Current Events, Missions
You've probably seen it in the news lately: John Chau, the American guy who tried to evangelise the secluded Sentinelese tribe off the coast of India. Much of the debate in secular media has centered around the grief of his friends and family; how he could have brought outside disease to the tribespeople and potentially killed them all (despite this not being their first contact with outsiders, with no known ill effect), or that he ventured there completely in ignorance with no preparation or wisdom — something which the missionary agency, All Nations, has recently debunked. But the question I want to look at is this: was Chau's mission total madness or is he a modern-day martyr? Well first, what is a martyr? The dictionary definition is simply: “a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs”, and the word itself comes from ancient Greek meaning “witness”. For those who may be unfamiliar with the whole story (as much as we can see), John Chau had said since 2011 that he felt called by God to go and tell the good news of Jesus to the Sentinelese people. After many years of preparation, about two weeks ago in late November, he succeeded in getting to the remote island via a fishing boat (which was illegal to visit under normal circumstances). But after a few attempts at making contact, he is believed to have been killed. The fishermen saw some tribespeople dragging Chau’s body across the beach, so it has been assumed that he is dead – and no one knows any differently to date. So in the strictest sense as the definition above, he may not be a martyr as he wasn’t necessarily killed because of his beliefs, as the tribespeople couldn’t even understand his preaching, and on the face of it, it does seem like madness. In the broader sense of the word, I think it’s fair to call him a martyr, as that would be one who “sacrifices his or her life, station, or something of great personal value, for the sake of principle or to sus...

November 2018 3 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Sin
Sin is like a mold on us, like a rotting, black skin disease. If only we could see it on us, we'd be disgusted and repulsed! Zombies are popular on TV etc. right now, think of the grossness of those images and realise that when we sin and keep sinning, that's what we end up looking like before God! We are living stones, together building up the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Cor 6:19). Think about that for a moment. Think of the splendor of Solomon's temple when it was built (re-read it again if you can’t remember: 1 Kings 6:14-36). We are that and SO much more! But now imagine it with mold and mildew and all that horrible black damp growing and spreading across the walls. Totally unbefitting of a holy temple for the Lord! You'd clean it up straight away if that happened in your home, but for some reason we just let it fester in the temple of God like it's no big deal. But what happens if it's left? It can destroy the wall with rot and become poisonous causing sickness. These days we can just buy some spray to squirt on the walls and wipe clean, but how did God command his people to deal with mold and mildew in the Old Testament? Leviticus 14:45He shall have the house torn down, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and taken outside the city to an unclean place. Pretty drastic, right? But it's a serious thing! And sin is an even more serious thing to God, much more than mold in a house, but if WE are that house and WE have that mold then how much more serious will God take that? How much more will God tear down our bodies in order to save us from the disease festering in our lives? Look at what Paul told the Corinthian church to do with a man living in sin: 1 Corinthians 5:5you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Did you catch that? They were to hand this person over to Satan! How? By putting them out of the church— excommunicat...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
Free Early Church Resources I've created a few resources to aid with your studies or interest in the Early Church. The below maps are converted from the appendices in my book. I'll also soon add some hi-res versions as A3 poster size to purchase as well. Below the maps is an interactive chronological timeline of when the New Testament and Early Church texts were written. At the time of writing, I have covered most of the Ante-Nicene (pre-325 AD) period. Geographical Locations of Early Church Texts Approximate locations of where the NT and Ante-Nicene texts were written (or sent). Blue book icons represent the New Testament books, the red crosses are a selection of the Early Church Fathers texts. Zoom in and click on the icons for more details.   Journey of Ignatius to his Martyrdom The whole journey covers about 1524 miles (2454 km)! Blue pins are the known route that Ignatius took Green pins are where he stopped to write his epistles (zoom in and click the pins for info) Red pins are the conjectured route   Chronological Timeline of the New Testament and other Early Church Texts and Events A timeline of when the New Testament and other early Patristic works were written*, plus significant historical events which may have influenced certain writings. KEY:Orange = New TestamentDark Green = Apostolic Fathers (c.70 - c.150 AD)Light Green = Ante-Nicene Fathers (pre-325 AD)Light Orange = Post-Nicene FathersBlue = Significant Historical EventsBlack = Major Time PeriodsTeal = First Seven Ecumenical CouncilsRed = Widespread PersecutionsLight Red = Localised/Regional PersecutionsGrey = Disputed FactsYellow = Major Schisms * Much of the dating and research has been taken from the works of Schaff, Lightfoot, Harmer et al. Powered by Time.Graphics  ...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
Take a journey through the first 400 years of Church History in only 40 days! "40 Days with the Fathers" is a daily reading plan/devotional spread out over forty days; and over the course of this reading plan you will read extracts and commentary on 23 different early Church texts from a selection of some of the most influential Church Fathers, such as: Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, and Leo the Great. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?” — well now you can read for yourself and see how God continued to grow His Church! Revised Edition includes: a chronological timeline of the Early Church texts, a map displaying where the New Testament and early texts were written and sent, plus a map of Ignatius’ journey to martyrdom in Rome. As a small added bonus, at the end of each chapter there is now a "Notes" section so you can jot down any thoughts you have whilst doing your daily reading. Available Now From: Download a free sample chapter! Preview Photos      ...

October 2018 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
The Apostle's creed — what is it and why is it called that? Outside of the New Testament, this is one of the oldest creeds we have, dating back to the sixth – eighth century in its current form that is commonly known today, but having its origins much earlier — as far back as the second century in a shorter form known simply as the “Old Roman Creed”. The Apostles creed is also sometimes referred to as the “Rule of Faith” as it is a summary of the Gospel and is the basis for pretty much all modern theology. The points of the creed cover all the major pillars of the Christian faith which aims to safeguard what is true orthodoxy (right belief), which one must agree and adhere to in order to be counted amongst the Christians. Most often, the need for creeds arose in opposition to heresy so that the Church could point to what was historically taught by Christ and the Apostles to show what was ancient and true, as opposed to new and “novel” doctrines. The Old Roman Creed The text of the Old Roman Creed survives in a letter from a bishop Marcellus of Ancyra, which was sent to Julius, the bishop of Rome, dating back to around 340–360 AD where it was mainly used as a baptismal text in the Roman church. Roughly 50 years later, Tyrannius Rufinus (an Italian monk) wrote a commentary on this creed whilst translating it into Latin, where he made a note about the view and belief that this creed had been originally written or determined by the Apostles themselves shortly after Pentecost and before they left Jerusalem, hence the name this creed eventually came to be known as. I mentioned last week in my introductory post to this series, that there’s a handful of creedal statements within the New Testament, and one in particular in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is similar in structure to the Apostle’s Creed, though not necessarily in wording. Let's take a look at the Old Roman Creed and the Apostle’s Creed side by side to have a look at what developed and was ...

September 2018 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
I’m starting a new four part series over the coming weeks which will be looking at the different historical creeds of the Church which have been recited, used and handed down for two millennia, beginning with the very first formal creed: the Apostles Creed. This series will be a mixture of historical background plus a commentary on the creed itself to see where each statement is based in Scripture, and why we can trust them to accurately portray the Faith. What are creeds and why should we accept them? The word “creed” comes from the Old English crēda, and from Latin crēdo meaning “I believe”. A creed is basically a set of beliefs which you profess; a statement of faith. Many non-creedal (or non-denominational) churches have a ‘statement of faith’ on their websites to highlight and specify where they stand on certain doctrines – which is essentially just stating their own type of creed instead of listing an ancient and historically accepted one. Even those who declare “no creed but Christ”, or “I just believe the Bible”, are ironically making a creed, albeit a short one with no solid definition. The Church has been declaring creeds for as long as it has existed, despite the sometimes common accusation that creeds are “unbiblical” or “non-biblical”; statements which couldn’t be further from the truth! Even in the Apostles time they were making statements of faith in short creedal formats, and a few of them are preserved in the New Testament, primarily in Paul's letters. One of the longer examples can be found in the first letter to the Corinthians, and has a similar form and wording to what came to be known as the Apostle’s Creed: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:that Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures,that He was buried,that He was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas,then to the Twelve.Then He appeared to over 5...

May 2018 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Theology, Gifts of the Spirit
Often in any discussion on the gifts of the Spirit and whether they are still active today (Cessationism vs Continuationism), the topic of Apostles comes up and whether the gift/office is still active today in the Church. Detractors of the Continuationist position will often quip that ‘if there were modern-day apostles, they would be world famous!’ – though I’m not sure why. Even the original Twelve weren’t “world famous” in the sense that they mean. But I digress. This isn't a question of practice, or opinion, but to examine the Scriptures to see what they say about the gift. Scripture gives us an indication that this gift, or role, wasn’t just for the original Twelve, and it also says how long we should expect the gifts (all of them) to be in operation within the Church. Paul writes about this to the Ephesus church in his letter: Ephesians 4:11-13 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (emphasis mine) This is sometimes called the “Five Fold Ministry”. Compare this with 1 Cor 13:8-12, which parallels this thought using sightly different words about coming to maturity and being fully grown, and of seeing Jesus “face to face”. To put it simply, these gifts don’t end until we meet Jesus face to face, either in death or at The Resurrection, which makes complete sense if these five major roles are to “to equip the saints” and for “building up the body of Christ”. So if these five gifts are for the continued benefit of the whole Church body, then it makes sense that we should see others who possess them, and the apostolic gift is often the most controversial one (along with prophet). So let's see how many apostles there were in the ...

April 2018 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Easter
Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day to remember and praise, but not just because Jesus was raised to new life, but because in that moment it sealed the promise of our own hope in God. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can now be partakers in that new, eternal life! 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” "Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul writes, showing the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ. This should now be our battle cry as we go forward in Christian life; death has no hold over us who are sealed by the Holy Spirit through baptism, raised to new life in Christ. I won't go into this topic too much now, as I've written on it plenty before here and here. I just wanted to focus our minds on the victory we have because of Jesus and what he did for us this day, centuries ago. I'll close with this worship song which celebrates the resurrection, which I really like. Focus on the words of the song and praise God for Jesus! Happy Easter, everyone. ...

March 2018 4 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
So often we hear this phrase said about Jesus, that he was “the lamb of God” and that he “takes away the sins of the world” — but what do those things mean and how did he take away sin? John 1:29The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (cf. Jn 1:36) The New Testament writers repeatedly refer to Jesus as a lamb; but not only that — as a ransom too. Jesus even introduces himself that way at one point: Mark 10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (cf. Matthew 20:28) To better understand the terminology and analogy we need to go back to the Torah, the Old Testament, and look at this from a Jewish perspective and what the sacrificial lamb initially meant. The main comparison that is drawn between Jesus and the old sacrifices, is that of the Passover lamb. The link between the two is really quite amazing and to be honest, I didn't realise just how much of this Jesus fulfilled in himself until I was writing this. First we need to go back to the very first Passover to see what it meant for Israel. The whole story can be found in Exodus 12, but the relevant parts to the lamb are about how it should look and be prepared, and the reason for the blood covering: Exodus 12:5-7, 13 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. […] The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. The instructions about the Passover meal also go on to say that no bones of the lamb may be bro...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Sometimes the question, or accusation/criticism maybe, is posed by atheists and critics of Christianity that Jesus didn’t really sacrifice anything because he is God and also because he got his life back three days later. So where’s the sacrifice if you know that what you give up will be given back, and given back even better than you previously had it? It’s an interesting question, and one that should cause us to stop and think about what we, as Christians, say to non-believers in case the question is ever given to us. Most people will say Jesus  gave up his life for us – but is that such a big deal if he knew he’d have it back in three days; and then to be taken up to heaven and resume his Godly-divine status he had before the incarnation? Well, yes. Obviously all the pain and suffering that Jesus had to endure before his death was a big deal, and it showed, as we can see from the Gospels when Jesus says to his disciples that he is “deeply grieved, even to death” (Matt 26:38). Luke 22:42-44‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. We can see from the quote above that Jesus really wasn’t looking forward to this, despite knowing its purpose. He even needed an angel to come to physically come to him to give him the strength to go on with this plan! Suggesting that this was a walk in the park for Jesus and making light of what he was about to go through is just ignorance of the reality of the situation. There’s also a significant detail in the Luke passage above which gives us a medical insight into what Jesus was going through in these moments: the sweat of blood. This is actually a rare condition known as Hematidrosis, and in certain conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress and/or mental anxiety, t...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
So now we are at the end of the temptations that Jesus endured in the desert, and I wanted to look at what happens at the end. So often I think this aspect is overlooked when we read of this time in Scripture. Let’s take a look at the text: Matthew 4:11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Luke 4:13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. The two Gospel accounts both give us a varying perspective with different details. Afterwards, the devil leaves and angels “suddenly” come. This is almost a temptation in itself; one to think we are all good and safe now we've won the battles. But look: the devil left him “until an opportune time”. We are never beyond being tempted, or far from that tempter who ‘prowls around like a roaring lion’ (1 Peter 5:8). Christ withstood his temptations, and as a model for us, so can we. But it's a constant battle. 1 Corinthians 10:12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. As Paul writes in the quote above, we must watch ourselves and not get too confident that we think we're strong enough not to get tripped up. Temptation can strike at any time, and if we're not prepared it could lead us into sin (James 1:14-15). James 1:12A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. This is why we mustn't get complacent in our situations just when it seems, or feels, like we have it all together. We must always “put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) and make as little “opportune” times as possible for the enemy to strike at us. Remember, Jesus lived as a human to know what it was like to be a human; he went through these temptations, and others no doubt, as he lived out his life. That is why the writer of Hebrews says that he is able to ...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Here we are at the final temptation that the devil directly attacks Jesus with (I say directly, because next week I’m going to look at the more subtle attacks and temptations we can face). Let’s begin with the text: Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (cf. Luke 4:9-12) There’s quite a few things wrapped up in these few short verses. For a start, the devil took Jesus to the “holy city” (ie. Jerusalem) – but whether this was in body or in spirit, we just don’t know and can’t say for certain; maybe it was in a similar way to how Philip was transported in Acts 8:39. Intrigued by this though, I decided to look up a few details to see just how far they travelled (however it happened). Jesus was baptised by John in the river Jordan, and according to Mark, the Spirit “immediately” drove Jesus into the wilderness from there (Mark 1:9, 12). According to Google maps (and more likely, Church tradition), the spot where he was baptised is close to Jericho. Directly next to this area is the Judaean Desert, which would be the wilderness where Jesus spent his time. On the other side of this desert is Jerusalem, which is about 27 miles away from the spot by the Jordan where the baptism took place. I’ve put together a quick map so you can get a better idea of locations: Approx. locations of events Anyway, I digress slightly. The point being, is that where Jesus was and where he was taken was not exactly just around the corner! Coupled with the fact that the devil took Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple, this was quite a journey. Now the other t...

February 2018 5 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Here we are on the second Sunday of Lent, and this week I am looking at the next temptation Jesus faced in the desert against the devil, the one of worship and glory. Let's take a look at the text: Luke 4:5-8 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God,    and serve only him.’” (cf. Matthew 4:8-10) Last week we saw how Satan tempts Jesus through his hunger and used his physical weakness as a way in to try and trip him up. This week we are looking at misplaced worship and the temptation to look to things other than God. As we begin to look through these temptations of Jesus, we begin to see that they weren't entirely random but are in fact another way in which Jesus reverses the sin that first began in the Garden. It is yet another proof that Jesus is the second Adam who has overcome sin! Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden for a moment: Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Contrast that with what John writes in his first epistle: 1 John 2:15-16 The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of life (or in riches) comes not from the Father but from the world.   The sin that separated Adam and Eve from God in the beginning is the same in essence as what John says comes from the world and not the Father. These are the same areas of sin and temptation that the devil was using on Jesus in the desert t...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Welcome to the first part of a short series I'm writing during Lent. We’re on the first Sunday of Lent, and so I’m going to be looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he endured. A new post will be up every Sunday, and you can view the series overview here: Lent 2018. Mark 1:12-13And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. That’s all Mark has to say on that time Jesus spent there, and John doesn’t mention the forty days at all. That leaves only Luke and Matthew which mention the temptations or any details about what happened in the desert. So let's look at the first temptation that Satan tried on Jesus. Luke 4: 1-4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” (cf. Matt 4:1-4) The first thing that jumps out at me here, is that the devil didn’t come to tempt Jesus until after the forty days were up. He waited until Jesus was “famished” and then struck while he was weak. What can we learn from this? That the devil is tricksy and won’t hit you when you feel like you have it all together, but will rather wait until you are in a more susceptible and weakened state of mind. Like James (1:14-15) says, we get tempted by our “own desire, being lured and enticed by it” to try and get us to fall into sin by acting upon those desires. So we need to guard our minds and keep our focus on God in those times to try and ensure that we are aware of the escape that God has given us, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 1 C...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Lent is just around the corner, and so this year I've decided to write a short series over the next 40 days looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he faced. I'll post a new blog each Sunday of Lent looking at each temptation, and then finish the series just before Easter Sunday looking at “how was Jesus a sacrifice?”. Series outline: Temptation one: Pride (1st Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018) Temptation two: Worship and Glory (2nd Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018) Temptation three: Testing God (3rd Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018) Temptation four: Complacency (4th Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018) Topical: What did Jesus sacrifice? (5th Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018) Topical: How was Jesus a sacrifice? (6th Sunday of Lent, March 24th, 2018) Celebration: O Death, where is your sting? (Easter Sunday, 1st April 2018) Stay tuned for the first installment in a few days time, and if you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe so you will be notified by email when each new post goes out!...

Luke J. Wilson | | Apologetics, Trinity
I saw this video doing the rounds on Facebook, and thought it was too good not to share here as well. Very few people tend to articulate the Trinitarian doctrine well enough to: a) still make sense, and b) not slip into heresy. Just reading the comments section on this video proves point b) quick enough, with many people giving their take on it (and usually espousing some form of Modalism). I won't make a big post on the Trinity now, but I may do one soon off the back of this one, as it's clearly still something believers (and non-believers) struggle to understand, or explain without heresy! For now though, sit back and take about 5 minutes to listen to this former Muslim explain one of the core beliefs of Christianity very well:   Some additional information: The man in the video is Nabeel Qureshi who has wrote a few books on his journey to Jesus from the Muslim faith; one of them being: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. He also has sadly died in 2017. I haven't read his books, and only just found out about him after looking up more info on this video, though his book is definitely on my wish list now....

Luke J. Wilson | | Theology, Angels
I've seen and heard this question asked numerous times before, and I've even wondered it myself in my earlier years as a new Christian. Is there salvation for angels and can demons go back to their previous, uncorrupted state? 2 Corinthians 11:14And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. As far as scripture is concerned, Satan can pretend to be angelic for the sake of deceit, but that's about it. There's no mention of redemption for angels or demons — that's the long and short of it. So let's explore four areas of Scripture to see what we do know. #1 They have been imprisoned for judgement by God. 2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus and committed them to chains (or pits) of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; This judgement is eternal for them and there appears to be no second chance; their judgement is sealed: Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; #2 They have been imprisoned for judgement by the saints. Not only has God set a judgement, but we who are in Christ will have the role of actually judging the angels as well. How's that for a hefty responsibly! 1 Corinthians 6:3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters? #3 Judgement is final We can also see from Revelation some more details about what this judgement entails for the devil and those who followed him: Revelation 19:20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who […] were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. Revelation 20:10And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. #4 Salvation is for humans Salvation appears to be only something that G...

January 2018 2 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Current Events, Technology
You may have seen the videos and articles being shared around social media lately about Google's new voice-activated digital assistant, Google Home, not knowing who Jesus is. Shock, horror — right? No. It's just more faux outrage and fuel for America's persecution complex. I mean, so what? Google isn't a Christian run company, they have no obligation to Christ or the Church. Why are we letting something like this bother us so much? It's just another thing in the ever growing list of things-to-be-mad-about-that-don't-really-matter on social media. Where is our faith rooted? What is the foundation and rock upon which we stand? Is it in how well a 'smart speaker' can read Wikipedia? Or what decorations Starbucks put on their cups? Or how non-Christians greet you during the holidays? No. Our faith is in Christ. If it's so easily shaken by this nonsense then maybe it ought to cause us to look a bit deeper within and see what our foundations truly are; where our 'centre of gravity' and peace is. Because if all of these external factors shake you so much, your foundation probably isn't as securely in Christ as it should be. He gives us "peace ... which surpasses all understanding" (Phil 4:7) — a peace that isn't the same as what is in the World (Jn 14:27). Therefore the World shouldn't be able to unsettle us with such peripheral things. In as close as a comparison as I can think of, look at what Paul said to the Corinthians when they worried about meat and idols from their local markets: if you faith isn't strong enough to not be bothered by such things, avoid them (I'm paraphrasing, obviously). If Google offends your conscience, don't buy their smart speaker. Simple. Paul didn't tell them to go into a "holy outrage" about it. Why? Because these things really should have no effect on us or our faith. Just move along. Concern yourselves with the real cause for outrage, like injustice and poverty and actual persecution of our fellow brothers and sisters who,  in m...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Christianity
The topic of human suffering is a subject many Christians struggle with, and is an issue many theologians have written about over the centuries — so it's definitely not something I can fully address in a single blog post! But there are some general principles we can find in Scripture that many Christians can/do accept, which should act as a starting point to addressing this subject, such as: We live in a fallen world due to sin (Gen 3), and so things aren’t perfect and neither are people, therefore suffering can happen from illness, nature, and human action (or inaction). Not all suffering is necessarily “bad”, from a Christian perspective. For example, if we are made to suffer due to our faith, we should rejoice to be counted as partakers in Christ’s suffering — 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. And, Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Sometimes suffering can be used to test our faith to make us stronger, which we see an example of with Peter in the Gospels: Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, listen!...

December 2017 2 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Apologetics, Christmas
It's that time of year again when certain groups of people like to share memes and videos that apparently "prove" Jesus to be a carbon-copy of ancient Egyptian gods. This has been debunked so many times, yet it's still so pervasive on social media, mindlessly shared over and over again. This myth about Jesus being a copy of other pagan "dying-and-rising gods" doesn't have its roots in Egyptian legend, but rather in the claims of a film called Zeitgeist. A quick search online will bring up many websites which have gone through the claims of this film with a fine tooth comb, and debunked each one. Here's one such example, which lists out the major claims and gives a detailed response to each: Analysis and Response to Zeitgeist Video. To quote a pertinent part of the above website, Dr. Norman Geisler, a Christian systematic theologian and philosopher, gives a good response to the major claims against the resurrection: Dr. Norman Geisler, author or coauthor of more than 80 books, writes, “The first real parallel of a dying and rising god does not appear until A.D. 150, more than a hundred years after the origin of Christianity. So if there was any influence of one on the other, it was the influence of the historical event of the New Testament [resurrection] on mythology, not the reverse.  If you don't want to read a long essay of the subject though, this video by Inspiring Philosophy breaks it down nicely in just under 5 minutes: Other myths debunked If not Osiris, Jesus is often claimed to be copied from the Egyptian god Horus... or the Roman god Mithras. Apparently everyone just copied whoever came before them, and hoped no one would notice! All of these claims are equally as nonsensical as the others, and have "facts" which are completely fabricated to push an agenda of causing Christianity disrepute. But if you look into the actual myths of these ancient gods, you will see that none of them have any resemblance to Jesus or the New Testament. Here...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church
Why read the Early Church Fathers? Maybe for some of you reading this, the question might better be phrased as: who are the Church Fathers? No doubt you will be familiar with some of their names: Augustine, Jerome, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr et al. You may have even read portions or quotes by some of these men. But that still doesn't really explain to you who they are and why you should care, much less actually read any of their works. My new book deals with a selection of some of the most influential Early Church Fathers, sometimes also referred to as the Apostolic Fathers (if they lived between AD 70-150), or collectively as the Ante Nicene Fathers for all of those in the period of time preceding the Council of Nicea (AD 325). It is these men who wrote doctrine and defences against heresy and helped to continue and shape the Church in its most formative years. Some of the earlier Christian leaders of the 2nd Century were discipled and taught by the Apostles themselves. Those include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Still others in mid-2nd century were then taught by those who knew the men who were taught by some of the Apostles. One of the more well-known Bishops who was second generation to the Apostles was Irenaeus (best known for his extensive apologetic works, Against Heresies). From chapter 21 onward in my book, I look at a few writers from beyond this period (around 356) up until AD 449 where we can observe some distinctive changes in thought and practice. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?”. So Why Read What They Wrote? The Bible didn't just...

November 2017 1 posts

Arnold Fruchtenbaum | | Apologetics, Trinity
Table of Contents Jewishness and the Trinity 1. God Is A Plurality The Name Elohim Plural Verbs used with Elohim The Name Eloah Plural Pronouns Plural Descriptions of God The Shema II. God Is At Least Two Elohim and YHVH Applied to Two Personalities III. God Is Three How Many Persons Are There? The Three Personalities in the Same Passage Conclusion New Testament Light I was recently in some discussions/debates online about the nature of God and whether the "Trinity" exists, or if God is purely singular and exists in different forms rather than different persons.   This idea that God has different "forms" or "modes" is what is known as Modalism (also sometimes called Sabellianism). This doctrine was condemned as heresy by Tertullian around 213 AD, and later by the bishop of Rome around 262 AD. A more modern sect of Christians, often called "Oneness Pentecostals", still hold to this heretical doctrine today. Now, to be clear: I do believe in the Trinity and accept that it is the orthodox position to hold. But that doesn't mean I've always fully grasped the concept. This is something Christians have struggled to define for centuries, hence the sometimes confusing and lengthy language of the creeds (see here, here, here and here for example). So after reading this debate online with some Oneness believers, I decided to look more into the Trinity to try and get my head around it as much as possible. On my searching and reading, I came across an article by Arnold Fruchtenbaum on the Jews for Jesus website. He had taken the time to really look into the Tri-unity of God from a Jewish/Hebrew perspective to bring some clarity to the issue. I found the article to be very helpful for my own understanding, and very illuminating to see the plurality of God in oneness hidden within the Hebrew language, something that is often lost in translation to our English bibles. I'm no Hebrew scholar, so rather than try (and pro...

October 2017 2 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Halloween
It's that time of year when you begin to see various articles and debates online about Hallowe'en, and whether it's something that Christians should have any part in. To some people the answer is a straightforward “no”, while others say it falls into the realm of Christian freedom and personal discernment. But what about if you're unsure or somewhere in the middle of those two positions, how should you decide what is the right thing to do? We can all see that the modern celebration of Halloween is focused quite heavily on darkness and evil beings. Here in the UK it's not quite so prevalent; it seems more like an excuse for adults to dress up and have a party as much as the kids do (although with more alcohol involved). American society has really taken the holiday to its extremes with some of the decorations I've seen online and on TV and films, to the point that suicide and murder victims left in public view have been mistaken for scary props! Origins of the holiday Has Hallowe'en always been like this though? Let's take a look at its origins to see where this holiday comes from to help us decide whether we should partake or not. Did you know that Hallowe'en actually started out as a Christian holiday (Holy Day)? “Hallowe’en”, or more precisely, All Hallows Eve (from the Old English hallowed meaning “holy”), is an ancient holiday in the Christian calendar to mark the day before All Saints Day on November 1st. All Saints Day is a day to celebrate and remember the martyrs and all those who have died and gave their lives for the Faith. Originally, this yearly festival began in the 7th century when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon, a Roman temple to the gods. This then became a church called St. Mary of the Martyrs, and the date of the consecration, May 13th, was to be celebrated annually thereafter as the Feast of the Holy Martyrs. This was then later changed to November 1st by Pope Gregory IV in 835 AD to commemorate the dedication of St....

Luke J. Wilson | | Current Events, Early Church
In light of the sad, recent events in the Las Vegas shooting — and similar events in America— I often see Christians across social media jumping to the defence of gun ownership whenever there is even a slight hint at gun control in America. But how has gun culture become so ingrained in American Christianity when we can observe a clear theme and pattern of thought in the first few centuries of the Church, which goes completely against this? Update 7th Nov 2017: It's so sad to have to update this post on the same subject so soon, almost a month to the day. Yet another shooting, this time in Texas where 26 people have been shot dead in a church of all places. But despite this, America tightens its grip on their guns, and Trump says tighter gun laws would have made no difference to the situation. Days earlier though, when a terrorist killed 8 people in NYC by running them down with a truck, President Trump was quick to tweet about implementing "extreme vetting" of immigrants. Yet again, voices are loud for everything else except curbing gun ownership, and the silence from the Church in America is still deafening. You can read more in the link below, but here's a few examples from the early Church with regards to war and violence, and using or owning weapons: “It is not lawful for a Christian to bear arms for any earthly consideration.” — Marcellus ~298 AD “Under no circumstances should a true Christian draw the sword.” — Tertullian 155-230 AD “God wished iron to be used for the cultivation of the earth, and therefore it should not be used to take human life.”  — Cyprian ~250 AD “The servants of God do not rely for their protection on material defenses but on the pine Providence.”  — Ambrose 338-397 AD I don't have an answer to this cultural problem, and I'm not sure we can ever fully solve the issues of gun violence in the States now; but one thing that I do know is this: the Church in America needs to repe...

August 2017 1 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, My Books
40 Days with the Fathers: Available to order now! 40 Days with the Father: a daily reading plan by Luke J. Wilson   The time has finally arrived: my new book is now available to order!I'm so excited to share this with you after many months of work, research and editing. I hope that you enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it! Order your copy now from my new website: fortydays.co.uk to get it at a reduced rate. If you order today then it should arrive just in time for Christmas!If you do enjoy it, don't forget to leave a review on Good Reads or on Amazon.Keep in touch and receive updates about me or the book at my new Facebook page: Luke J. Wilson  Order Your Copy Today ↣       _________#outlook a { padding: 0; } body { width: 100% !important; min-width: 100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%; -ms-text-size-adjust: 100%; margin: 0; Margin: 0; padding: 0; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; -webkit-box-sizing: border-box; box-sizing: border-box; } .ExternalClass { width: 100%; } .ExternalClass, .ExternalClass p, .ExternalClass span, .ExternalClass font, .ExternalClass td, .ExternalClass div { line-height: 100%; } #backgroundTable { margin: 0; Margin: 0; padding: 0; width: 100% !important; line-height: 100% !important; } img { outline: none; text-decoration: none; -ms-interpolation-mode: bicubic; width: auto; max-width: 100%; clear: both; display: block; } center { width: 100%; min-width: 580px; } a img { border: none; } p { margin: 0 0 0 10px; Margin: 0 0 0 10px; } table { border-spacing: 0; border-collapse: collapse; } td { word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-hyphens: auto; ...

April 2017 14 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | Apologetics, Easter
Table of Contents Jesus was raised bodily – and historically The resurrection is what makes Christianity unique! Evidence from Paul The mystery of the resurrection The nature of the resurrection The resurrection is more than physical What with Easter still ringing in our ears, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the topic of resurrection, but from a historical standpoint and why we can trust it as a real, world-changing event. So, what really is the resurrection? How will we be resurrected, and what does it mean for us that Jesus rose again? Let’s explore what this means for us as Christians, and see what the Scriptures say. Jesus was raised bodily – and historically Let’s look at the way Jesus was resurrected first, since he is the “firstfruits” of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-23). The historical, bodily resurrection of Christ is central to our faith. Without it, we may as well pack up and go home, which Paul makes clear to the Corinthian church: 1 Corinthians 15:12-15 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. I saw a survey recently about this very topic, which suggested that a worrying amount of self-identifying Christians in Britain don’t believe that the resurrection of Jesus happened at all! Fewer than one-in-three Christians in Britain believe “word-for-word” the Biblical story of Jesus rising from the dead … A survey for the BBC carried out to mark Palm Sunday found that 23 per cent of those calling themselves Christians “do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead” at all. ...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Forty: St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII: ON THE LORD'S RESURRECTION, II Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the Gospel, incarnation and resurrection of our Lord. Why: To encourage the Church in the power of the incarnation and the true faith and the nature of Christ and to give a new meaning to Passover in light of Jesus When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 195 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Here we are, at the final day of Lent. I hope you've found it an interesting journey through Church History, covering various authors and topics from the first four centuries of the Church. And what better way to end this series than with a sermon on the resurrection! “The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative”, Leo declares as the opening statement of this sermon. What is this Easter mystery? “The cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals” which is both a “mystery and an example” for us to follow. It's “a sacrament where by the Divine power takes effect” and “an example whereby man's devotion is excited” to be “inseparably united to” Christ, who is “the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness (Jn 14:6). Christ took our nature upon Him for our salvation In the beginning, when the “whole body of mankind had fallen”, our merciful God had purposed in himself to make a way to reconcile “His creatures made after His image [...] through His only-begotten Jesus Christ”. Leo goes on to say that if we had not fallen from how God m...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-nine: St. Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI) Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the season of Lent as the Easter festival approached. Why: To encourage the Church to fast during this season in order than they may put away temptations and overcome their vices, to be guided by God in all things. When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 191 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a Lenten sermon from Pope Leo I that he preached in the run up to the Easter festival, in which “the greatest and most binding of fasts is kept, and its observance is imposed on all the faithful without exception; because no one is so holy that he ought not to be holier, nor so devout that he might not be devouter.” Lent is a time of self-reflection and discipline, a time where we look at the life of Jesus and mourn his death as the disciples did, before we realise the reality of the resurrection which comes in a few short days. “Who is there who would not wish for additions to his virtue, or removal of his vice?” Leo asks rhetorically, referring to the benefits of the Lenten fast and discipline. “Blessed, therefore, is the mind that passes the time of its pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and loiters not in the things through which it has to walk”. Leo refers this back to what Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 as a way of living in such a way that we don't get too caught up in this life and this world that we forget about the divine promise and the life we are called to live. Matthew 7:14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are f...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-eight: St. Leo the Great: Sermon XXI (On the Nativity Feast I) Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the Nativity at Christmas time, about the incarnation of the Word of God. Why: To explain the incarnation and preach the Good News of our Lord and Saviour becoming man for our sake so that we may be saved and born again. When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 189 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a Christmas sermon from Pope Leo I. This may seem totally out of place during Lent and you may be wondering why this was included, but there is some sense and logic going on here! This reading marks the beginning of the final three days of Lent, and the topics covered all work together in the build up to the glorious resurrection of Christ. This sermon reading deals with the first coming of our Lord as a baby, the mighty Word of God incarnated as a small and fragile child to save the world. Tomorrow’s sermon goes over aspects of Lent itself, in which we celebrate and remember the life and ministry of Jesus; and then finally, the last sermon is on the resurrection where we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death and sin which is what Easter is all about. So in short, these sermons cover the major points in the life of Jesus, which is quite fitting to close this series with. Celebrating Christmas is to celebrate “the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity”. "There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-seven: St. Leo the Great: Letter XXVIII (called the "Tome") Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A defence of the twofold nativity and nature of Christ against the false teaching of a priest called Eutyches. It is a doctrinal letter sent by Pope Leo I in the year 449 to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, on the Church's teaching about the person of Christ. Why: An apologetic defending the faith to ensure sound teaching is passed on and understood by all to affirm that Christ has two natures, human and divine, united in the one divine Person of the Son of God. When 3 June, 449 AD You can find today’s reading on page 182 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a defence of the faith against certain things that a priest called Eutyches was teaching, written by Pope Leo I. Eutyches was speaking against the teaching of the Archbishop of Constantinople, Nestorius, who said that the human experiences of Christ were only part of the ‘the man’ which was distinct from the ‘God the Word’ part of Jesus. To combat this, Eutyches went too far in the other direction and declared that Christ was "a fusion of human and divine elements" which created a new, single nature in Jesus, rather than a twofold nature which the Creeds declare. This actually led to himself being declared a heretic also for this belief! Now Leo is writing against the teaching of Eutyches because it seems that he was unwilling to accept any correction to his doctrine. “But what more iniquitous”, Leo says,  “than to hold blasphemous opinions, and not to give way to those who are wiser and more learned than ourself?” Leo i...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-six: St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 5-9 Who: Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397; born probably 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons; died 4 April, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church. What: The treatise was composed for use during the latter part of Lent, for the benefit of those about to be baptised, the rites and meaning of that Sacrament, as well as of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. For all these matters were treated with the greatest reserve in the Early Church, for fear of being misused by unbelievers. Why: Ambrose states that after the explanations he has already given of holy living (in previous texts not included here), he will now explain the Mysteries. Then after giving his reasons for not having done so before, he explains the mystery of the opening of the ears, and shows how this was of old done by Christ Himself. When: About 387 AD You can find today’s reading on page 173 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Continuing on from yesterday, we'll jump straight into the second, and final part, of Ambrose's catechism on the mysteries. Continuing on the mystery of baptism, Ambrose explains that Christ is Himself present in Baptism, and because of that “we need not consider the person of His ministers”, since it is spiritually Christ baptising us. He then goes on to give a brief explanation of the confession of the Trinity, which is usually said by those being baptised, and how confessing belief in Father, Son and Spirit doesn't mean accepting one more than the other, but that they are all equal. But one thing of importance they must also confess is “the cross of the Lord Jesus alone”. Which I suppose means that they accept the Gospel and reject all other religions and beliefs that they may have. Fire from heaven Ambrose also makes a link between a couple of times in the Old Testament where a sacrifice was consumed with heavenly fire, and the baptism of fire we receive in the N...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-five: St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 1-4 Who: Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397; born probably 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons; died 4 April, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church. What: The treatise was composed for use during the latter part of Lent, for the benefit of those about to be baptised, the rites and meaning of that Sacrament, as well as of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. For all these matters were treated with the greatest reserve in the Early Church, for fear of being misused by unbelievers. Why: Ambrose states that after the explanations he has already given of holy living (in previous texts not included here), he will now explain the Mysteries. Then after giving his reasons for not having done so before, he explains the mystery of the opening of the ears, and shows how this was of old done by Christ Himself. When: About 387 AD You can find today’s reading on page 167 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   This is another similar lecture to the catechisms we read over the last few days from Cyril of Jerusalem, except these are by the Bishop of Milan: Ambrose. Taught during this season of Lent, the latter part of the 40 days is when the mysteries were explained. It was only after baptism that it was considered the acceptable time to teach these things though, otherwise it was considered to have “betrayed than to have portrayed the Mysteries”. Open, then, your ears, inhale the good savour of eternal life which has been breathed upon you by the grace of the sacraments After the deacons have said the above, the following words were then declared over the catechumens: “Epphatha, which is, Be opened” (Mark 7:34). Similar to what Cyril taught, the new converts renounced the devil by facing West, and then turning East towards Christ, as though face to face, they declared their acceptance of Him. The bishop gives a message or blessing to the convert, who is instructed to acknow...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-four: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 162 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's final lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on the Sacred Liturgy and Communion and is an exposition based on 1 Peter 2:1 1 Peter 2:1Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Any of my liturgical friends may enjoy this one today. Cyril gives us a breakdown of the liturgy spoken in the church service when they are about to receive communion. I couldn’t help but get a little excited when I read this lecture as it reminded me so much of my Anglican upbringing: the liturgy used in some parts, is word-for-word, which just goes to show how well preserved this has been down through the centuries. For example, in the Anglican order of service, the Liturgy of the Sacrament has these phrases: The Lord be with you and also with you Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give thanks and praise. Holy, holy, holy Lord… These are word-for-word what Cyril writes about when explaining the way in which a church servic...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-three: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 159 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on the Body and Blood of Christ and is an exposition based on 1 Cor 11:23-25 — For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” This whole lecture is about the Eucharist and it goes into some details about what happens spiritually during it, which will probably offend certain Protestant ears. Cyril explains how this bread and this wine are no longer merely just bread or wine any longer despite appearances. It seems as though some doubted this or perhaps were a little sceptical, because Cyril goes on to explain that since Jesus himself declared the bread to be his body, and the wine to be his blood, “who shall dare to do...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-two: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXI Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 156 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on “chrism” and is an exposition based on 1 John 2:20-28 1 John 2:20,28But you have been anointed by the Holy One … that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming. This was a new one to me today, I've never come across the word chrism before. From the passage of Scripture this lecture is based on, I guessed it was something to do with anointing and on looking it up I found that it's actually a type of oil used in baptism: “a mixture of oil of olives and balsam”. Roman Catholics still use it today too for anointing the sick and in baptism. What Cyril describes in this lecture is the practice of anointing the recently baptised with this special oil as a sign of the Holy Spirit's sealing upon them, since they have “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27) and are adopted as sons (Eph 1:5) and are now partakers of Christ also (Heb 3:14). Because Jesus “was in reality crucified, and buried, and raised” and they, in baptism, also were partakers ...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty-one: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 153 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on baptism and is an exposition based on Romans 6:3-14 Romans 6:3,14 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? … since you are not under law but under grace. Now, these people that Cyril was teaching had already gone through the act of baptism, so now he was going over the symbolism and realities of what that meant to them personally. In describing the baptism rite to make one of his points, Cyril gives us a small insight into how the Church in the fourth century performed this, which I always find interesting to see how things have changed or stayed the same over the centuries. Before entering the waters, the one being baptised would strip of their tunic, symbolising “putting off the old man with his deeds” (Col 3:9) and would then be naked as Christ was naked on the cross. In doing this they may no longer pick up the old garment now, meaning to old self not the physical tunic, “which waxes corrupt in the lusts of deceit...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Thirty: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XIX Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 150 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today we begin a new series of texts to read by Cyril of Jerusalem. He actually wrote lots of lectures to teach new converts, but we're only beginning with lecture nineteen where he begins to teach on certain “mysteries” of the Church – such as anointing with oil, the Eucharist and renouncing Satan etc. These lectures were given after people had been baptised into the faith and were undergoing what is called “catechism”, which basically means, a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for religious instruction. This lecture is on the renouncing of Satan and the turning from worldly things to be focused on Christ now, based on 1 Peter 5:8-14, specifically, verses 8 and 9: Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. Cyril recounts how that when they went into the...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-nine: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 81-94 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 144 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Here we are at the end of the Life of Anthony in the final chapters of Athanasius’ biography, and the final chapters of Anthony’s life at the grand old age of 105! By this point in his life he had become widely renowned and respected far and wide, so much that judges and rulers would come and seek his advice on things, or sought out encouragement in their faith. Many looked up to Anthony as a father figure, even the emperor Constantine Augustus, and his sons Constantius and Constans the Augusti, who “wrote letters to him, as to a father, and begged an answer from him” since they themselves had come to the faith. Despite rulers and kings writing to him and seeking his advice, Anthony thought nothing of it and didn’t allow himself to become puffed up with pride over the status of men. After meeting and seeing the various people who would visit, Anthony would retreat to the “inner mountain” where he resided and spent much of his time in prayer. It was here that those who accompa...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-eight: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 71-80 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 140 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Well here we are at the penultimate reading before we read the end of this biography and move on from the Life of Anthony. Today we see the ways in which the Greek philosophers would come and listen to Anthony speak and how they would sometimes discuss things with him, or at other times would mock him and the message of the Cross. They came to mock Anthony because he had never “learned letters” and so was unable to read or write, so the Greeks thought he would be an unkempt and ignorant man, reared in the mountains and unable to reason properly. Anthony vs Greek Philosophers At one time during some event, Anthony noticed there were two Greek philosophers present (due to the way they were dressed), and so he approached them asking them why did they “come to a foolish man”, to which they said they didn’t think he was foolish, but “exceedingly prudent”. I’ll admit, I had to look up what prudent meant so I could understand what the Greeks were meaning. In this context it mea...

March 2017 28 posts

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-seven: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 61-70 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 136 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Here we begin with a couple more examples of the healing miracles which were done through Anthony, which carry over from yesterday's chapters. Many people would travel from far and wide to see and hear Anthony, or to receive prayer for sickness or for freedom from demons, but he “used to ask that no one should wonder at him for this; but should rather marvel at the Lord for having granted to us men to know Him as far as our powers extended.” Two examples are given of a time when Anthony was asked to visit some monks on a boat, and there was a stench so bad in that place that Anthony said it was unusual and not natural. The people on board just said it was due to the cargo of meat, but as Anthony preached, a boy in the crowd yelled out and Anthony rebuked the demon in him, setting the boy free and with it, the stench left. The other time was of an official who had been possessed so badly that he would not know where he went and ate his own excrement! The man ended up by Anthony who sat...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-six: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 51-60 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 131 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we pick up at the start of a new chapter in Anthony’s life. He’s just relocated to a new mountain further in the Egyptian desert with the aid of the Saracens and with what is described as a ‘divine love’, Anthony was moved to love the area he found. But it soon became a small burden to him as people would seek him out and look to visit him, or to bring him bread. This area was a three day and night trek from where he previously lived, so the thought of other people taking this treacherous journey concerned him dearly. Eventually, after asking some to bring him corn and seeds, he managed to till the ground to be able to make his own bread and grow his own herbs to save others from needing to bring him food. Sometimes the wild animals would ruin his garden looking for food and water, but at one point Anthony gently captured an animal and said to it, “Why do you hurt me, when I hurt none of you? Depart, and in the name of the Lord come not nigh this spot” and as though they c...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-five: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 41-50 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 126 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we continue with a little more teaching and experience from Anthony on demons and the spiritual battle we are all in as believers. This chapter opens with a strange anecdote from the time that Anthony was still living in his “cell” (the secluded room on the edge of the Nile, not a prison!). “Once someone knocked at the door of my cell”, he says, and getting up to answer the door, he sees “one who seemed of great size and tall” standing there. Enquiring who this person was, he answered, “I am Satan”. Unphased by this, Anthony just asks him what he is doing there at his door! Satan then just bemoans that all of the “monks and all other Christians” just blame him “undeservedly” and curse him “hourly”, to which Anthony simply asks him, 'then why do you bother them in the first place if you don't want to be blamed for it?'.  Maybe this is what inspired the Rolling Stones song title Sympathy for the Devil (sorry, couldn't help myself!). Satan then goes on...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-four: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 31-40 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 122 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we continue with Anthony's exposition on the trickery and deceptions of demons who try to cause the faithful to stumble and be fooled by their power. You don't often hear much taught on this area of Christian spirituality these days, at least, not in the church circles I've been a part of in the last few years, and not in so much depth as you can read here. But even from my own various experiences with this, I can attest to what Anthony is teaching and explaining here, and it really goes to show the level of deception that demons bring. Athanasius is writing this biography nearly 1700 years or so ago, and yet the demonic trickery explained here is really no different than what I've seen myself in my own short lifetime— which really goes to show the weakness of the enemy and the lack of weapons he has to work with if nothing has changed all that much in all this time! Our Lord really is greater and stronger! The deception of demons Anthony really draws it just how little power t...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-three: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 21-30 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 117 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf We continue with the next part of Athanasius's biography of ‘Anthony the Great’. In these chapters, Anthony is continuing his teaching to the people which he began since leaving the fort on the Nile where he had been living in solitude for twenty years. Beginning with warnings on how we should avoid being led by anger and lust, quoting from James, because they will lead us to death and not into God's righteousness (James 1:14-15,20), he instructs that instead we must be watchful against our desires and the enemy, guarding our hearts (Prov. 4:23), since that can lead us down a path towards deception and sinfulness. We battle against demonic forces From here he begins some lengthy teaching on how our battles aren't against flesh and blood, but the “authorities”, “cosmic powers” and the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12), whose number is great in the “air around us”, he says. Going into a little more detail on the deceptions of demons, Antho...

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Day Twenty-two: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 11-20 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 112 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we will see what began as a simple desire for personal growth with God, eventually became one of the most influential movements within not only early Christianity, but the faith as a whole. Anthony is regarded as the father and founder of desert monasticism, and today we will see how it all started. The old hermit that Anthony met previously, he asked to go into the desert with him to dwell, “more eagerly bent on the service of God”. The old man declined due to his age, but also because “there was no such custom” of living in the desert, so Anthony left on his own to live in the mountains and the devil attacked him again. Twenty years of solitude After going into the desert, Anthony arrived at the Nile and found an abandoned fort on the other side of the river, where he set up camp to live, surviving only on bread which was brought to him by some friends every so often. Anthony spent twenty years alone in this fort, save for the demonic attacks he suffered. At one poin...

Luke J. Wilson | | General Articles, Lent
Day Twenty-one: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 1-10 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 106 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Just from reading a little background research on this book, I'm excited to read it! It sounds as though it was a very influential text, not only on the Church as a whole in setting the way for ascetic monasticism, but on convicting a great many who read it, bringing them to conversion. One such person you may recognise the name of, who had this experience, was Augustine! Athanasius even opens his letter by saying that, “I know that you, when you have heard … will be wishful to emulate [Anthony’s] … pattern of discipline”. Being a bit partial to the monastic lifestyle, I'm curious to see how I personally respond to this. In this letter, Athanasius says he planned to enquire of those monks who had spent more time with “Anthony the Great”, but due to the season of sailing coming to an end, and the letter being urgent, he decided to write down all that he personally knew about this monk, “having seen him many times, and what I was able to learn from him, for I was his attendan...

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Day Twenty: St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 19-27 Who: Third century bishop of Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and martyr from Africa What: A letter to encourage the unity of the church against schisms and heresy during massive Roman persecution Why: A disturbance had happened in the church because of a priest called Novatian — a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians. Cyprian wrote to counter this and argues that there can only be one united Church, and the Novatian breakaway was a false church and that Novatian was an antipope.When: Around 249 AD You can find today’s reading on page 102 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Here we come to the final chapters of Cyprian’s letter. This flows straight on from yesterday’s judgement on those who would draw people away from the Church towards their own schisms and heresies. Though, he makes a distinction between those who have lapsed in their faith, and those who intentionally lead people astray; ...on the one hand, he who has lapsed has only injured himself; on the other, he who has endeavoured to cause a heresy or a schism has deceived many by drawing them with him. In the former, it is the loss of one soul; in the latter, the risk of many.  He goes on to say that if you go astray through lack of discipline or temptation, then you can repent and be forgiven, but the intentional heretics risk unforgiveness and their souls; hence why it is written, he says, “hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (Rev 3:11). Speaking more about the crowns we attain, Cyprian delves into confessing sins and how that the mere act of confession doesn’t save us or give us the “full desert of the crown”, but “it initiates our dignity” which is why Jesus said, “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 24:13). Everything we do and say during our Christian walk in this life is a “step by which we ascend to the summit of salvation”, ...

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Day Nineteen: St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 10-18 Who: Third century bishop of Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and martyr from Africa What: A letter to encourage the unity of the church against schisms and heresy during massive Roman persecution Why: A disturbance had happened in the church because of a priest called Novatian — a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians. Cyprian wrote to counter this and argues that there can only be one united Church, and the Novatian breakaway was a false church and that Novatian was an antipope.When: Around 249 AD You can find today’s reading on page 97 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Continuing on from yesterday's theme about those who depart from the true and unified Church, Cyprian moves into saying that this is the reason heresies are frequently appearing — “while a discordant faithlessness does not maintain unity”. 1 John 2:19 They went forth from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, surely they would have continued with us. He goes on to say that the “Lord permits and suffers these things to be” so that personal liberty may still exist, but that God will use these for his own glory to show that which is genuine in contrast to the false, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 11:19Indeed, there have to be factions (Gk. Heresies) among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. Of these people, Cyprian makes reference to Psalm 1 as those who sit “in the seat of pestilence”. He has much harsher words about them too, which I just have to quote in full so you can really understand how serious this matter of creating heresy and schism was taken: [They are] deceiving with serpent's tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech does creep like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of every one. No min...

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Day Eighteen: St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 1-9 Who: Third century bishop of Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and martyr from Africa What: A letter to encourage the unity of the church against schisms and heresy during massive Roman persecution Why: A disturbance had happened in the church because of a priest called Novatian — a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians. Cyprian wrote to counter this and argues that there can only be one united Church, and the Novatian breakaway was a false church and that Novatian was an antipope.When: Around 249 AD You can find today’s reading on page 92 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Bishop Cyprian of Carthage is another one I'm only familiar with by name, but this treatise of his we're beginning to read today is apparently one of his greatest works. Written during a time when the new Roman emperor wanted to restore Rome to its former glory, he decreed that all Christian bishops be killed and any laity to be forced to recant in the face of death. Many Christians at this time were martyred but there were many who also abandoned their faith and sacrificed to the gods in exchange for their lives, or bought a certificate to say they had when they hadn't. This was all considered sin and blasphemy by the Church, though many felt regret and wanted to be forgiven and restored. “But how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commanded him to do?” Cyprian argues, since the faith of many had become weak. It is not “persecution alone that is to be feared”, Cyprian writes, since “caution is more easy where danger is manifest” but to be all the more vigilant in times of peace because the enemy “creeps on us secretly” in sneaky ways, which is why he has earned the name “Serpent”. Novatian rose up as an “antipope” (someone who rejected the people's choice of pope) and caused a schism saying he wanted to restore the “true Church” and ...

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Day Seventeen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 60-68 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. You can find today’s reading on page 84 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf So we come to the final chapters of Justin Martyr's first apology, and what an interesting and lengthy read it has been! These final chapters move on from prophecies about Christ, and cover a few other areas of Christian doctrine and belief, such as: baptism, the Eucharist and weekly worship among other things. Plato and The Trinity The first chapter of this reading today concludes from the previous few about the prophetic announcement of Jesus and how even “heathens” recognise the things God has put in place, even without realising it. Case in point here, Plato. As touched on yesterday, Plato mentions in his work, Timoeus of Plato, about “the Son of God” being placed “crosswise” in the universe, which Justin goes on to say that although Plato misunderstood the symbolism of the cross from the writings of Moses, which he “borrowed in like manner”, he inadvert...

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Day Sixteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 48-59 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. You can find today’s reading on page 77 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf In these chapters today, Justin is continuing with his long exposition of the prophecies concerning Christ, covering every aspect of the life, ministry and death of Jesus. He quotes Scripture at length in order to fully prove his points in order to show the Emperor, to whom he writes, and indeed any of us reading his works today, the undeniable reality that Jesus was the expected and long-awaited Messiah. I won’t quote massive amounts of these chapters, since it would be redundant, so I’ll just highlight each prophecy and give the Scriptural references which are used in Apology as proofs for Jesus's Messiahship. Finding the actual quotes is sometimes difficult because Justin has a habit of combining various verses from different chapter of the same prophet into one sentence! Christ’s Life and Death Foretold Jesus’ life and ministry foretold from a combination of Isa 35:5-...

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Day Fifteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 36-47 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. You can find today’s reading on page 70 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Following on from yesterday's theme of prophecy which predicts Christ, Justin explains the different types, or “modes”, of prophetic messages. From utterances which foretell the future, to speaking on behalf of the Father, he goes on to say how the Jews missed the prophecies that pointed to Jesus – even those which showed that he would be crucified; and so the Jews hate the Christians who keep showing these things from the Scriptures. What follows is some really interesting interpretation of prophecy in the Old Testament which not only is used to prove the power of God, but also to show that the different ways prophecies are spoken demonstrates who inspired them; ie. some are from the Father, some Christ and others, the Spirit. This in itself is demonstrating a view of the Trinity within prophecy, too. The Father Quoting various passage from Isaiah, Justin makes the point ...

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Day Fourteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 24-35 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. Persecution and false gods Mark 13:13...and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. This next part of the apology really shows the truth of Jesus's words here. Justin continues on from the thought in the previous chapter (yesterday’s reading) about how the things which Christians believe are not far off from what the Greek say and believe, yet despite this, they are still “hated on account of the name of Christ”. Even though the Greeks worship some animals which others will hunt and eat, and that there is no consensus on which animals are gods and which are food, these people can still worship freely without fear, but Christians are persecuted and threatened with death simply for being called as such. He then goes on to outline the various different gods and magicians that the Greeks believed in and how in all their various and blasphemous ways, yet all under one name or doctrine, they a...

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Day Thirteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 12-23 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with succinct compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out. Living Righteously Chapter twelve kicks off straight into a long dialogue about the righteousness of Christians and how they are the Emperor's “helpers and allies in promoting peace” due to their very nature and lifestyle in following Christ. Everyone is under God's watchful eye, Justin argues, no one can “escape the notice of God”, and because of this, “each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions”. The point he's trying to make is that if everyone understood this, they should be more inclined to live a virtuous life before God, and that is what the Christians preach. They are not wrongdoers, but rather are trying to counter that behaviour, and if the Emperor honestly valued the truth and wanted to uphold his reputation for “piety and philosophy” he would act reasonably, unless of course he, “like the foolish, prefer custom to truth”! Justin didn't mince his words at all. A Rational Faith Continuing with the argument for acting rationally towards C...

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Day Twelve: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 1-11 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD I've been wanting to read Justin Martyr’s apologies for some time now, so I'm glad for the opportunity during this reading plan. Over the next six days we’ll have read the whole essay. The first of his major works (that we still have), this defence of the Faith is addressed to the Roman Emperor with a very long name, Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Caesar, and his adopted sons and the Senate. Justin appeals to their sense of justice, love of reason, philosophy and pursuit of truth in order that the charges often brought against Christians may be fully investigated to see whether any punishment should fall upon the Christian population or not. During this time, Christians were being punished purely for identifying as “Christians” with little more evidence used against them than maybe “evil rumours” which were doing the rounds. Justin argues that even with convicted criminals, they at least investigate the claims before punishing that person, but in the case of Christians, they only “receive the name as proof” against them, which is unjust. The Emperor’s sons were philosophers, which in Greek and Roman times was more like a profession, since it had its own clothing style to display this (similar to how you'd recognise a vicar today by the whi...

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Day Eleven: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to Polycarp (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: A letter addressed personally to Polycarp giving him advice and encouragement as a bishop, plus some instructions on marriage to the church, which are reminiscent of Paul’s epistles. Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD This is the final letter by Ignatius, and it ends with him writing personally to his fellow bishop Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (modern day Izmir, Turkey) who was the leader of the church in which yesterday's reading was addressed to. Whereas the previous letters were all written to the church as a whole, with praise and exhortations of their bishops, this one is addressed directly to a bishop personally. Ignatius aims to encourage Polycarp in this letter by acknowledging his strengths and steadfast faith, and also by reminding him off his duties and role as a bishop. There's a brief warning against “those who seem worthy of credit”, but actually “teach strange doctrines” which may fill Polycarp with some “apprehension”. This warning would seem to be against Docetism again, as in all of Ignatius's previous letters, which leads him to write this short creed about Christ just to reiterate the Church’s stance on the matter, and although it’s only short, I do like it, especially the parallelism: Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes; impalpable and impassible, yet who became passible on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes. What follows this are a few instructions, or maybe advice, to...

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Day Ten: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Smyrnaeans (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: A defence against the heresy of Docetism and an intriguing insight into the possible origins of evil spirits! Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD The opening chapters of this letter pulls no punches in regards to the heresy of Docetism. Ignatius commends this church for “being fully persuaded” in the truth of Christ – that he was born of a virgin, was baptised and truly did suffer and die on the cross for us; not, as some were saying, that “He only seemed to suffer”. To these, Ignatius says that they “only seem to be [Christians]” because of their false teaching! He defends the resurrection by telling of how the Apostles ate and drank with, and touched the risen Christ since “He was still possessed of flesh”, but to this he also adds that he believes Jesus is still possessing a body of flesh, whilst being spiritually “united to the Father”. I'm not sure if he means this in the same way we might today when we talk about the glorified/resurrected bodies, since you don't often hear people say they are “flesh”, but it's probably just a semantics issue here. With regards to the unbelievers who taught that Jesus wasn't really in the flesh, Ignatius gives us a strange insight into a belief about where evil spirits come from. Because they teach that Jesus only seemed to have a real body after his resurrection, so these people will als