Pe scurt despre cultul sfintilor

Icoană a Sf Columba, dăruită fiului meu, la hirotonia lui in Church of Scotland.

NOTĂ: Am scris acest scurt text ca răspuns la întrebarea unei vechi prietene evanghelice, pornind de la atitudinea refractară a unur evanghelici din jurul ei cu privire la ceea ce ea numea „închinarea la sfinți”.

Dragă A,

La solicitarea ta, iată, încerc să scriu câte ceva, foarte schematic, și fără a intra în prea multe detalii, în legătură, așa cum spui tu, cu „închinarea la sfinți”.
Mai întâi, o precizare terminologică extrem de importantă. Sub raport teologic, numai lui Dumnezeu i se cuvine inchinarea („latreia”, în limba greacă).
Când vorbim despre „cultul sfinților” (aceasta este expresia teologic corectă), ne referim la venerare („doulia”, în grecește), adică la respect profund, asemeni celui datorat de exemplu părinților, fie ei fizici sau spirituali, și chiar mai mult de atât.

Cultul sfinților, și practica asociată cu acesta, a rugăciunilor către sfinți sunt fundamentate pe conceptul teologic (prea puțin înțeles in protestantismul evanghelic) de „comuniune a sfinților”. El se referă la faptul că noi cei credincioși, care suntem acum în trup, suntem în strânsă comuniune cu cei care au plecat în veșnicie, și care, conform învățăturii lui Cristos, sunt vii, poate mai vii decât noi. Căci Yahweh, Dumnezeul lui Avraam, Isaac si Iacov, este „un Dumnezeu al celor vii, nu al celor morți”. Iar dacă ei sunt vii, teoretic cel puțin, ne putem adresa lor, cerându-le să mijlocească pentru noi, exact așa cum ne solicităm unii altora ajutorul în rugăciune.

Desigur, în textul canonic al Scripturii nu există un exemplu în acest sens (există ânsă cel puțin unul în textele deuterocanonice, ori apocrife), și cu atât mai puțin nu există o poruncă. Așa fiind, din perspectivă strict biblică, cei care au rezerve față de această practică nu se află nici în păcat, nici în neascultare. În egală măsură însă, nu găsim în Scripturi nici implicit, nici explicit o poruncă împotriva acestei practici tradiționale. Ca atare, cei care sunt rezervață față de rugăciunile adresate sfinților ar trebui să se ferească de a judeca sau de a-i eticheta (de exemplu ca fiind idolatri) pe cei care îi venerează pe sfinți.
Precizez că „cultul sfinșilor” este prezent nu doar in catolicism și ortodoxie (unde avem de-a face cu o formă „hard” a acestuia), ci și în protestantismul magisterial, la anglicani (biserica mea), dar si la luterani, in forme mai „soft”, însă doar rareori la reformați, din pricina icoloclasmului strict al acestora și deloc la evanghelici, care au preluat de la calvini atitudinea față de acuste practici.

Desi distinctia dintre inchinare si venerare este, din punct de vedere teoretic, extrem de importanta in teologia ortodoxă, din pacate cei mai multi preoți nu-și educă enoriașii cu privire la aceasta, ceea ce dovedeste ca, în practica pastorală, ei nu dau prea mare importanta acestei distincții. Ori, conform teoriei, daca un crestin „se inchină” sfintilor (sau relicvelor acestora, ori icoanelor) în loc să le venereze, rezultatul este că au căzut în idolatrie. Banuiesc că preoții se bazează pe îngăduința și condescendența lui Dumnezeu, „slăbiciuni” pe care este evident că credincioșii evanghelici, în „mărinimia” lor ecumenică, nu prea le au față de catolici și ortodocși.

Așa cum reiese din cele de mai sus, această înțelegere a „cultului sfinților” are implicații, cu adăugirile de rigoare, și cu privire la „cultul relicvelor” și la „cultul icoanelor”. Dar despre acestea poate alta data.

A Prayer for Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans

Almighty God,

we grieve the loss of Rachel and we pray for her family,
and so we remember before you today your faithful servant Rachel;

and we pray that, having opened to her the gates of eternal life,
you will receive her more and more into your joyful service,

that, with all who have faithfully served you in the past,
she may share in the eternal victory of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

BCP (edited by Scot McKnight)

Scot McKnight – Why Anglican? – 1

More than twice a month I am asked “Why did you become Anglican?” The answer to the question is complex, and I want to answer that question in part by saying up front that I don’t believe in ecclesiastical superiority. I don’t think any single church or denomination is the one true church. I’ve heard more than a whiff of this from folks as varied as Plymouth Brethren, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic (in spades, frankly), Baptist, Evangelical Covenant, and United Methodists. So in this series I’m not saying that the Anglican Communion is the one-true-and-always-faithful church in the world.

I became Anglican because of the church calendar. (Not only because of the church calendar but it was part of the process.) Non-calendar Christians usually observe Christmas (not always Advent, though it is growing) and Good Friday and Easter. That’s about it. The rest of the year is up to the preacher, the pastor, the elders and deacons, and up to the congregation. Many pastors wisely organize their churches to be formed over time through a series of themes — or books of the Bible (Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Piper preached through Romans for almost two decades) — but none can improve on the centrality of Christ in the church calendar. Continue reading “Scot McKnight – Why Anglican? – 1”

Random Thoughts on My Canadian Friend Don Posterski – May God Rest Him in Peace!

Don Posterski

UPDATE: On Wednesday, June 13th, at 2pm, Toronto time, my dear friend Don Posterski went to be in glory with Christ and the saints. May he rest in peace!

I met Don for the first time in early 2000, just a few months after I joined World Vision, to work in the Middle East and Eastern Europe Region (MEER), as Director for Faith & Development (F&D – the sector of which Don was in charge in WVI, earlier called Christian Impact – CI, and then Christian Commitments – CC)). Soon after that, he invited me to join him in the WVI Commission on the Church, which, due to Don’s wisdom and his ability to lead a team of very diverse and hard headed members, was the most significant initiative in which I was involved in my 20 years in WV. I wish I had a picture from any of those significant meetings, but I do not. Therefore, I will try to compensate (over)illustrating other events.

Later that year, in October, I invited Don to join my team in Sinaia, Romania, for the first regional event of our sector, called the Christian Life Conference. There, the main speaker was Jim Houston, who taught on Christian Discipleship, while Don taught on building church partnerships, Tim Dearborn taught on witness to Jesus Christ and I taught on spiritual formation. It was a great event, which participants remember fondly, almost 18 years later. Again, Don gave the measure of his unique leadership style, by keeping himself in the background and encouraging others to serve with their gifts. (Again, sadly, I lost all pictures from that event.) Continue reading “Random Thoughts on My Canadian Friend Don Posterski – May God Rest Him in Peace!”

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light the Candle of Love

AdventWreath

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also.

In the Book of Deuteronomy we find these words:

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
— Deuteronomy 10:17-19a
From the Gospel of John we hear:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
— John 13:34-35
Let us pray:
Teach us to love, O Lord. May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives. As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior. Amen.

(Source, HERE)

Third Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light the Candle of Joy

Third Advent Candle

Today we relight the first two candles of the Advent wreath. The candle of HOPE and the candle of PEACE.

Now we light the third candle of Advent.

This is the candle of JOY. As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth.

From the Book of Isaiah we read the words of our Lord:

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”
— Isaiah 65:18

From the New Testament, the words of Paul to the people of the church at Galatia:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
— Galatians 5:22-25

Let us pray:
We joyfully praise you, O Lord, for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives. Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Create us anew as we wait, and help us to see your glory as you fill our lives with your living Spirit. Amen.

(Source, HERE).

An Interview with Caitlin Curtice – A Native American Christian

(RNS) — Kaitlin Curtice grew up Southern Baptist and now attends an Anglican church. She doesn’t necessarily identify herself with either denomination, she said, but she does call herself a Native American Christian.

Then she watches a look of confusion cross people’s faces. “They don’t understand what that means,” Curtice said.

The popular 29-year-old worship leader has been working that meaning out in her writing — including a blog, titled “Stories,” and a well-reviewed book published this month by Paraclete Press, “Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places.”

Kaitlin Curtice, Native American Author, Speaker & Worship Leader

When she isn’t traveling around the country to speaking engagements, Curtice is in Atlanta with her husband, two young sons and two dogs. She home-schools the boys, she said, and with them, she is learning their Potawatomi language and culture.

This first book of Curtice’s is full of stories about everyday moments infused with meaning, the books that “opened something up” in her and reconnecting with her Native American heritage. She talked about all these things earlier with RNS.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

* * *

Early in the book, you mention your journey to learn more about your Potawatomi heritage. What set you on that path, and what has that journey looked like for you?

We live in Georgia, and there are a lot of Native historic sites here. It’s Muscogee Creek land and Cherokee land — there are areas you can go hiking, and there will be a plaque that tells you who lived there. We went hiking at one of our favorite places, Sweetwater Creek, and my youngest son was 1, and he was hungry, and I had to breastfeed him. I was like, well, I’ll just try and feed him while we walk because there’s no place to sit down.
It was just this moment where God stopped me and time stood still and God was like, “This is what your ancestors did on the Trail of Death. This is what your great-great-great-grandmother did.”
It was that moment where somebody points at you and says, “This is who you are, and this is who your children are, and this is what you’re called to be.” It was just really beautiful, and it just switched on this light for me. From then on, it was just constantly reading and writing and processing and trying to learn as much as I could and having these memories of childhood come back to me that I had forgotten.

Read HERE the entire interview.