"Mean": Adj. - 'humble, obscure, or lowly'

O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love,
Upon the mean altar of my heart.

Spiritual thoughts by
Daniel J. Clausen, author of HOW GODS ARE MADE

A division of Codex Spiritualis

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Real Templar Treasure Found?

One of the reasons why the Knights Templar have maintained a cultural relevance and mystique is due to reports, legends, and speculations that they uncovered some tremendous, earth-shaking treasures during excavations beneath the Temple Mount. Given the facts, some of these speculations may have warrant, but I will tell you now that I do not know if an exceptional treasure was found.

However, these stories do not exist without a cause. The Templars do possess something that others may not, and they gained it only by going to the Holy Land, dwelling upon the foundation of the Holy Temple, and searching down for what may be found. There are favorite speculations on what they dug up, perhaps the Ark of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail, or something else altogether.
But we must first understand how to find the Sacred Treasure.

Allegorical Interpretation
Since the Bible was written, there have existed different methods of interpretation, and they tend to break down four ways:
1. Literal Interpretation
2. Allegorical Interpretation
3. Typological Interpretation (Moral of the Story)
4. Eschatological or Anagogic Interpretation

A little Latin rhyme from the Middle Ages has been preserved until today to aid monks in their memory of these methods:
 Litera gesta docet, Quid credas allegoria,
Moralis quid agas, Quo tendas anagogia.

The rhyme is roughly translated:
The literal teaches what God and our ancestors did,
The allegory is where our faith and belief is hid,
The moral meaning gives us the rule of daily life,
The anagogy shows us where we end our strife.

Origen, an early church father, suggested the scripture could be interpreted by the Flesh, Soul and Spirit - a system that is roughly analogous to the rhyme.
An example of this in the Scripture would be Paul's Galatians 4:22-26 – An Allegory of Sarah and Hagar, where he says "For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia* and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother."

So What is the Templar Treasure?
We see that Paul saw this literal historical event with spiritual eyes and was able to see a divinely ordained reality that is only revealed when the events are interpreted spiritually. In like manner, all of history is the book of God where events may be seen with spiritual eyes and stories may be heard with spiritual ears - for the people in the Bible were not acting out Bible stories, but were living through history itself as they experienced it.

Here I will enumerate some of the spiritual understanding of the Templars:

1. Their Headquarters was sat upon the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in Christendom, yet they were not content to merely dwell upon the surface of the Holy Place. In like manner, a man may possess salvation through Christ and hold the title deed to heaven, and yet never dig, nor strive to obtain the riches of heaven upon earth. The Lord Himself said in Matt. 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." The Templar is one who is sworn to dig, excavate and mine beneath even the Mount of the Temple to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, even at the cost of all he has.

2. Excavating below the Temple Mount would lead you to the place upon which it was built, which is the threshing floor that King David purchased from the Jebusites, as told in 2 Samuel. A threshing floor is a hard surface where grain was thrashed to separate the wheat kernel from the chaff. This act of separation is to be understood as a discerning between useful and not useful, good and bad, spiritual and worldly. This is why it is written in Heb. 5:14, "But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." The Templar, through continuous use of his senses is made to be a threshing flail unto himself, to winnow all things that come before him to sort out truth from falsehood.

3. Below the threshing floor of the Jebusites is the foundation of Mt. Moriah, where Abraham brought his son to sacrifice as an offering to God.  Abraham, when he understood what God had asked of him, "rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him." Gen.22:3. In rising early, he demonstrated his prompt obedience, and it was obedience in the face of killing his one and only son. It is this response to Abraham's covenant with God that God himself held his hand and said, "I will provide a sacrifice", and God thus provided His own Only Begotten for the offering. A Templar will trust and obey the Almighty, even though his most beloved is slain before him.

4. Perhaps, having dug this far, one might discover a treasure. One of the most famed objected the Templars are supposed to have found is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark held the Tablets of the Law, and carried with it the very presence of God upon it. Should a Templar excavate this deep, he will indeed find that within his own heart, the law of God has been written by the finger of God upon the tablet of his heart, with the presence of the Almighty that shall never leave him, nor forsake him. He himself becomes a bearer of the Divine Law, and a carrier of the Holy Presence, and where ever he sets his foot, he stands in the dominion of the Almighty.

5. Lastly, one may discover the cup of Christ, the Holy Grail. Legend states that it was the cup present at the Last Supper, and Joseph of Arimethea used it to collect the blood of Christ at the Crucifixion. It signifies the forgiveness of sin and attainment of immortality. The wine in it symbolizes the blood that Jesus shed while making the supreme sacrifice for the sake of humanity, granting eternal life. If we, as Templars, discover the Grail, it will mean that we have walked the Via Dolorosa with Christ, shared in His sufferings, and the true treasure beneath the Temple - Life Everlasting - is ours.

6. The Templars strove to possess the city of God. Yet they did not defend the city for their own sake, but to guide and protect others on their journey to Jerusalem, in like manner, our quest as Templars is not for ourselves, but for the guidance of others on their pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem.The treasures we seek are for the furtherance of the Great Kingdom and its people, and so it is true, that indeed the Templars are wealthy beyond measure, with many riches found - for they are the guardians of the Treasures of God.

1st Sgt Daniel Clausen, Priory of St. Michael. OSMTJ Knights Templar of America

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Regarding Our Warfare

An Excerpt from the Introductory Manual of the Knights Templar of America

Regarding our Warfare
by 1st Sgt Daniel Clausen, Priory of St. Michael New England
The Knights Templar were founded as a religious military order in the days when Christians faced a violent threat from Islam. In those days the threat posed by physical oppression was a way of life. Civilization had not yet developed a desire to prevent armed conflict. On the contrary, kings and kingdoms still attempted to expand their territory by force and ideas were frequently suppressed by the sword rather than by the strength of reason.
Today, the fields of battle have changed. Although there is still a threat in the United States of mass shootings by individuals, the days of fielding an army within our own borders is seemingly gone, and should the need arise, it is the task of the secular armed forces to handle such threats. Within our ranks, there may be those who have the skill and training to utilize their second amendment rights to be guardians of the innocent wherever they may venture – may God use them. But one might be left to wonder what the major task of an Order of warrior-monks should do under this very different field of threats than what the historical Knights Templar faced?
The first thing we must understand is that though we are not in a physical warfare, yet we are in a battle against many threats in the modern age – and our fight ought to be no less vigorous, courageous or zealous. The threat may change, therefore tactics change, but the fact that we are warriors changes not.
In fact, one could argue that the nature of our current warfare is more Biblically aligned than our historical forebears. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul: 2 Corinthians 10:3 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”
The Apostle is clear that the mission of the Christian warrior is not skill against sword, shield, spear, or bow, which may kill the flesh, but against ideas and beliefs that are contrary to God and have the power to kill the soul. These are the real enemies. The true strongholds to siege are not made of stone and mortar, but the entrenched battlements of stubborn unbelief in the hearts of men and in our culture.
Jesus makes it clear to us the one we ought to fear: Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” This verse speaks specifically about those who warfare against us, who may persecute us and slay our bodies – they are not to be feared, but rather we fear only our Father in Heaven who has the power over the soul. Classically, knights battled those who could kill the body, but in our age, we battle those who endanger themselves and others with poisonous ideas that are capable of securing themselves the condemnation of their irreligion. It is our compassion that drives us to save them from themselves. It is our mercy that causes us to throw ourselves into the heat of this spiritual melee.
Therefore, those who bear the sword of Atheism, we engage them in a battle of knowledge. If they ride upon the steed of Islam, we set up a spear of reason to meet their charge. We don our armor with the understanding that the very people who bear these convictions are not our enemy themselves, but are rather the weapons employed by our perennial foe, Satan, who like a cruel dictator would use his own populace as human shields against the force of our press.
What does this mean in practical living? First, we must truly and deliberately arm ourselves with knowledge and with prayer for the purpose of engaging our culture and communities with a clear expression of the Gospel. This means we must actually talk to people about the difficult and sensitive topics of religion and belief. We must be trained not only in our Christian ways, but in the ways of the beliefs we oppose. Or do you suppose the Templars were only familiar with their own fighting tactics, and not the strategies of the Fatimids or the Ummayids? We study to show ourselves approved and educate ourselves not only in our arguments, but be prepared for what the world will confront us with.
But do not despair, fellow soldier. Just as a man has apprehension before going into battle, perhaps you have apprehension about engaging in a heavy discussion and debate. Nevertheless, a soldier must fight, and if they fight not, they are no soldier but a deserter, or else a coward. Men pray for their weakness in the trenches, and we must pray for our weakness in our debates. We must pepare for battle to tear down cultural strongholds and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. By doing this and training others to do so, we protect the souls of pilgrims on their way to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Furthermore, this requires that we must cultivate fortitude of character by the Holy Spirit to engage in this combat without descending into spite, anger, or pride.
Consider the Holy Armor the Apostle commands us to put on: Eph 6:10-20 "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
If you will note, the entire purpose of the Whole Armor of God is stated with a view to bold utterance to make known the mystery of the Gospel to hostile hearers. It seems that even the great Apostle Paul needed boldness through prayer and donning the Armor – it was not innate for him, it was provided and utilized.
Lastly, when we are not engaged in active warfare, we use the means given to us to bring solace and comfort to those who have been casualties of Satan's wiles. This involves everything from bringing food to the hungry, care for the orphan, prayer for the afflicted. These things we do in our own lives as individuals, corporately within our Priories, and universally as Templars. We use funds to aid persecuted Christians in some of the most difficult places in the world through established missions, such as Voice of the Martyrs. There is no lack of good a Templar may do if we take this seriously. Resist the temptation to view your Templar life as a club or fraternity. Your warefare is real, present, and pressing all around you. Do your duty, good Templar and prepare yourself today. And should you wage war today against the Spirit of Anti-Christ which is already in the world, in the great Day of the Lord you may be found worthy to fight alongside our King and His Ten Thousands of Holy Ones as He descends to "execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Jude 1:15.
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give the glory.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Quest for the Relics of DeMolay

Brothers and Sisters of the Templar Order,

The Priory of St. Michael New England has been working and making slow advances toward a quest. Things have lulled as of late, so I invite you to aid us in this quest for the Relics of Jacques DeMolay.

Allow me to explain. The OSMTJ is descended from a public revival of the Order back in 1804 by Bernard Raymond Fabre-Palaprat. The Order was brought back into the public with much fanfare. By about 1815 they had published the Manual of the Order, which gives us the first clues as to the whereabouts of the Relics.
In the book, they relate the Inventory of the Templar Treasury which was put on display and sworn with the signature of 200 Knights.
The Inventory is as follows:
However, even during the creation of the book, the situation changed and the Treasure was moved from a Chest with Five Keys in the Magisterial Palace in Paris to a Chest with Eleven Keys in the Apostolical-Patriarchal Archives, under the supervision of the Grandmaster.
After this, the record is silent for quite some time. However, it is recorded in OSMTH history that Regent A.G.M Vernois deposited certain documents and items in the French Imperial Archives in 1870.
At this point, progress has slowed. The National Archives do have an online inventory that is searchable. However, research requests are not carried through their posted email. If you are interested in trying to track down information about this, please do. I have searched for things like "Ordre du Temple", "Vernois", etc, with little fruit. Not to mention, documents that are found are in French. Feel free to call them if you have a long distance plan. If you can make a research request, try it. Anyone who wishes to aid in the quest is welcome. Any original research is also welcome.
SSGT Daniel Clausen, Priory of St. Michael New England.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Complete the CAA Course Inexpensively

How to Complete the OSMTJ Knights Templar of America CAA Course Inexpensively

Brethren, blessings to you in the name of the Lord God Almighty, and in His Son Jesus Christ.
I have recently completed the CAA Course, although I was worried about how long it would take when I first saw the reading list. I am an avid reader, and a fast reader, but I am not a man of means. I still am a "poor knight of Christ." In light of that, I wanted to present how I was able to complete the reading assignments without breaking the bank.

Reading List:
1. How to Raise a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis
2. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman
3. The Templars by Michael Haag
4. The Resolution for Men/Women by Stephen Kendrick

So this is what I did. You can get a copy of How to Raise a Modern Day Knight used on Amazon for as little as $1.50 + Shipping (approx +3.99). Try HERE.
You can also get Resolution for Men/Women HERE for $1.99 (Click the New/Used tab).

Additionally, you can also keep a lookout for Kindle sales. I got Not A Fan on sale for $1.99, and because its digital, I didn't have to wait for shipping!

Then you can sign up with your pre-existing Amazon.com account with Audible.com for their 30 day Free Trial on Audiobooks. When you start the free trial, you receive 2 free credits for ANY books they have.
It so happens, they have both Not a Fan, and The Templars. Use your free credits to get the Audiobooks, and you can listen to them while driving, on your phone, on your PC, or anywhere else you can get the Audible app. Make sure to download the books to your device so you don't eat your data. Also, if you cancel your free trial, you get to KEEP the books you got with your credits. Cancel anytime.
Now you have all four books for the cost of less than one new book.

Don't forget to update the CAA instructors when you complete an assignment by emailing your progress at: templarinstructorcaa@gmail.com

I hope this helps your progress. Complete your assignments, God wills it!

SAA Daniel J. Clausen, Priory of St. Michael, New England.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Three that Crucify Christ

Three Against One
Christ was crucified due to three differing influences:
  • The Imperial State of Rome
  • The Religious Majority - Sanhedrin
  • The Mob of Masses

Each played a role. Each cried "crucify Him!" Each sought to see Him remain in the grave so that His influence and teaching might die with Him. Yet all their efforts failed, having had their verdict overturned by the great Judge of Heaven. However, the enemies of the Crucified One do not retreat very easily. Each of them still seeks to crucify the Living Lord in each of us - even this very day.
What do I mean when I say this?

Literal Truth and Spiritual Truths
The Three Enemies all literally crucified Christ as a fact of history. There is no claim here that the understanding of these is spiritual or mystical only, as some deniers might have. However, as with most of Scripture, the events that God has set into motion as part of His plan have layers of manifold understanding. In these three enemies of Christ, we find the same at war with Him today.

The Imperial State seeks to crucify Christ afresh by tempting man to solve the soul-sickness of man through political means. Often, men who claim to be citizens of the Kingdom forgo the means by which their King has prescribed to vanquish sin, and instead seek to enact laws of men to try and curb wickedness. Rather than offering all men to come into the Kingdom, they go door to door and offer men to join their political coalition.
Yet we know that the sanctifying work of God cannot be achieved by obeying laws. If it were possible, the ancient nation of Israel would have succeeded. And yet, it transgressed and transgress again - and this was in a nation where men were willing to follow the commandments of God. In the present age, to attempt to make godless nations obey the laws of God, which is by nature contrary to the natural man, is a fool's errand. We cannot use worldly means to achieve God's ends.
This is why we are meant to be a holy Nation unto ourselves - A Kingdom which is not of this world. Let us realize that we are strangers and pilgrims upon this earth, and let us not crucify the Lord afresh by siding with Rome.
We are marching out of Babylon, not reforming it. Though Nero blame us for the burning of Rome, it is not our doing.
A living Christ within us will separate us from of the world outside of us. He will cause us to change, person by person, through sanctification, rather than through the paltry means of scheming men.

The Religious Majority seeks to crucify the living Lord in us by making the traditions of men as if they were the commandments of God. The Pharisees of Christ's day were formed from the long-term gathering and collecting of doctrines and reasoning over the centuries. These surmisals pile up, tainting the original message with the thoughts and commentaries of others coming after the fact.
In our case, this often manifests not only in doctrines and ways of thinking that do not exist in the apostolic forms of Christianity, but it also makes the modified version more palatable and acceptable to all. The true message of Christ will draw fewer. Though the invitation is broad, few answer, few follow.
As our brother, Deitrich Bonhoffer said, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die." For we all daily take up our cross and follow Him, die to self, and allow the Lord to raise us from the grave, fresh, new and glorified.
A Christianity without a cross is a Christianity without a crown. And this crossless, crownless Christianity is the message of the majority. Beware of it. First you shall die, but then you shall live.

The Mob of Masses crucifies the living Lord in us by means of ignorance and superstition. Knowledge is the companion of a lover of Truth, and nothing that is truly true is contrary to God, the Author of Truth. Our trust in God is not born out of fanciful stories and superstition, but upon fact and history. No other religion bears up under such claims.
Do not be swayed by group-think and the spirit of the age which seeks to mold your opinions based on hearsay and half-truths. Therefore, fulfill the commandment of Paul to his spiritual son Timothy - "Study to show thyself approved, as a workman that need not be ashamed."
We are not those who will be ignorant of the times, nor of the facts. Have a ready answer for the hope that is in you.
Do not be one who withers when questioned about the spiritual reality you experience. Do not be one that the prophet Isaiah spoke of, saying, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge."
We are not naturally minded, carnally minded, covering our ears and our eyes to things that challenge us. Lovers of Truth have a love of hard questions. The world continues to ask the hard questions. Let us give them the hard answers, unashamed.

In short, the three enemies that seek to crucify the living Christ in you are:
Rome: Using the means of men over the means of God. Worldliness as a means to seek God's ends.
Sanhedrin: Traditions of men over the commandments of God. Spiritual Compromise.
Mob of Masses: Ignorance and superstition. Group-think.

If you deny these enemies their will upon you, you are surely on the golden path and through your own victorious life of resurrection, "ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men."

Friday, January 1, 2016

Godly Ambition and Elder Care

Originally posted in 2011.
I have a confession. I want to be Great. I want to serve Jesus with all that I am. I want people to know that I serve God alone, whether it brings fame or ridicule. I am ambitious for advancement in the Kingdom. I have tried to study and build a base of knowledge and contacts, created a resumé of sorts for all kinds of Christian activities and experiences that someone may find valuable. Secretly wanting to be recognized for my contributions to the Kingdom.

This is all a great snare and a stumbling block to me, and the Lord batted me over the head to get my attention. Now, having ambition and wanting to be great are natural to the human condition and there is nothing odd about it. The Bible itself speaks of it and God engenders our sense of destiny and greatness by unlocking everything needed within us to make our lives count for something, to give what the world cannot - ultimate Meaning.

... but for a long time, I have had things very backwards and distorted. When I was an occultist, I sought power and greatness also. When I became a Christian, the greatness that Christ offers and the power of the Holy Ghost became tantalizing, so much so I became a sort of modern day Simon Magus.

It is a common enough teaching in the Church, to go up, you must go down. Jesus says in no uncertain terms "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant." Matt. 23:11. But in the church-world at large, it still seems that the greatest among us have gotten there by being great in the same worldly fashion, the rewards the same worldly rewards, the honor given is the honor the world gives. And regardless of what the Scripture says, the example that I have seen lived out before me in so many instances has been to seek to climb the ladder, sell your gifts, build your resume.. and then you can become great.

Now, let me tell you what God has shown me.
It was said by the early Christians: "Unless you make what is right left, and what is left right, what is above into what is below, and what is behind into what is in front, you will not learn to know the Kingdom."

 We know the Kingdom of God is contrary to every way of the world. Let me tell you that the things the world exalts ought to be shame to the believer, and the thing that the world shames ought to exalt the believer.
"Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-25

I have been working in a nursing home for 7 years caring for the elderly. I make only as much as I require. I have been tempted to be ashamed of my work because it has some dirty business in it, because I've been there for much of my working life and I occasionally receive comments like "so you're still there, huh?". I understand the implications and what it looks like. People tell me things like "Dan, you're so smart, why don't you go finish your degree and do something for real? Be a teacher or something.", or "So are you gonna be a nurse or a doctor?" ,"Still just preaching at the prison?"
My secret thought has been, "C'mon, Lord... I thought I'd be promoted by now too..."
 This has been my great sin. Either become successful in the world, or successful as a minister.

But let me tell you my friends, the Lord has blessed me and exalted me already far above what I deserve, because He HAS NOT made me great in any worldly fashion, nor given me any worldly honor, nor have I received any great thing at the hands of men for any of my religious activities.... but RATHER, He made me in the form of a servant, given me the task for lo, these 7 years, to care for those who cannot care for themselves. He has graced me with an environment where I must persistently put myself under for others.
I must be patient with residents that are impatient. I must be kind when they hit me or swear at me. Because of memory loss, I must answer the same question 40 times a day by the same person, each time as if it were the first.
I have been put in a situation where people are dying and seeing their last days and understanding the implications of a life without God. I get to tell the answer. I get to hold people's hand as they pass and prepare their cold shell after they have gone. I deal with the hurt family's as they see their loved ones declining. Because the God of all comfort has comforted me, I may comfort others - both the infirm of body and broken in heart.
I have been put in an environment that is HIGHLY EXALTED in the Kingdom, which is perfectly conducive to creating and maintaining spiritual growth. I am blessed beyond measure.

I should have seen it sooner. The Lord has said, "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"

So I have confessed to you a great sin I have had. But I have repented. I will not go Down in the Kingdom to go Up in the world. I will not be ashamed of my profession no matter what people may say, because God has given me a tremendous honor to serve a forgotten, poor and powerless people. If that will make me forgotten, poor and powerless also, so be it. For I am written in His Book, I have riches in heaven, and His strength is made perfect in weakness.

May He do with me as He wills. I won't complain or yearn any more. If I work in a nursing home for another 60 years I will not gripe against Him one bit. I'm not even just submitting to Him in obedience, I am recognizing what I truly have. If He gives me another assignment in ministry, I will do it graciously and humbly. But I will not strive with the world's means to attain God's ends. No resume can gain me what has already been given to me. I am already in greatness.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Case for the Legitimacy of the Shroud

The Shroud of Turin is an enigma to many. Some dismiss it as a medieval forgery, others worship it as a holy relic. Perhaps it should be regarded as neither, but rather as physical evidence of Christianity's central claim: the resurrection of Jesus.
If it is someday proven false, it bears no weight on the history of Christ. However, if it is proven authentic, it stands as both a call and an indictment on humanity. It would be proof of the Resurrection. Rather than be very technical, I will simply lay out some old known facts, along  with some very recent research. Lastly, I will close with some compelling circumstantial evidence.

Previously Known Facts
  • The Shroud bears an historically accurate image of a crucified man, complete with distortions from wrapping a three-dimensional person. It is no painting or piece of art. One can see his fingernails, as well as his teeth behind his lips. 
  • The wounds are consistent not only with crucifixion, but one particularly famous crucified man.
  • The most common view of the Shroud is actually a negative image, making it much like a photograph - a process and technology unknown until the late 1800's. This could only be created by the burst of energy previously hypothesized.
  • The image contains 3-D information, allowing the image to be rendered fully in three-dimensions. NASA has used planetary imagery software to create the rendered face of the man on the Shroud. 
  • The blood on the Shroud has been authenticated as actual human blood.
  • The Shroud contains fibers of plants and pollen native only to the Holy Land.

New Facts and Research

Two Classic Retorts to the Shroud's Authenticity

The two strongest critiques of the Shrouds legitimacy have been:
  1. It was carbon dated to the middle ages, and.
  2. There is no mention of it in the historical record of it until the early middle ages.

These would seem enough to settle the issue on the surface, despite any other evidence. It is tantamount to a plain suggestion of forgery. However, given the new research, and a little historical understanding, both of these are easily resolved.
Regarding #1, it has been widely known that the original carbon dating for the Shroud was faulty, for two reasons:
  • The Shroud was burned in a church fire in the medieval era, burning both the Shroud and the chest containing it. Being infused with carbon from the soot, the Shroud would naturally carbon-date to the time of the fire.  
  • After the fire, the Shroud was repaired, stitched and restored in the areas it had been burned. Out of a holy sense of protection, the Vatican only allowed samples to the S.T.U.R.P. scientists from the repaired areas, not the original, again resulting in an inevitable dating to the middle ages.

Regarding the second retort, one simply needs to understand that before the middle ages, without the systematic copying and recording of Christian monks in monasteries, the historical record on ANY event, object, person, or even kingdom is exceedingly scarce. This is why that time period is commonly referred to as the Dark Ages. Such a silence is not unique to the Shroud, but to nearly anything in reference to this time period. Therefore, even if one would still find the silence suspect, it still falls within the rational scope of reason to accept it as natural for this period.

A Little Known Piece of Circumstantial Evidence

This writer happens to be acquainted with some of the children of the Head Scientist on the only officially sanctioned study on the Shroud, the Shroud of Turin Research Project, (S.T.U.R.P). As they tell it, their father entered the project as a full skeptic, expecting to have it disproven and wrapped up in about two weeks. They ended up studying it for years, and although the official findings were "Inconclusive" in relation to its authenticity, a few of the men, including the team head, became Christians, and raised their families as such. The testimony to the news and the papers was cautious, yet the testimony to the hearts of the men who studied it was strong enough to base their lives upon it. In its final report, S.T.U.R.P. wrote:

[1] "We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved."
In summation, what we have is a burial cloth consistent with ancient burial practice that has been dated to the first century, whose origin is in the Holy Land, bearing a radiated image of a crucified man, with a death certificate identifying the person as Jesus of Nazareth in the common languages of the time.

Although at the conclusion of the study in 1981, the Shroud could not meet the threshold to be proven by a scientific standard, it seems that in the present day, some 33 years later, we may now have the evidence to conclude as such.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Church Fail: Moral Teaching / Preaching the Commandments

1 Peter 4:17-18  
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

John 14:15
"If you love me, keep my commandments."

There are a lot of writings and blogs that pick on the church as a whole, some of it well-meaning, some of it is downright negative and inflammatory. However, they are not written without a cause. The American church is struggling. I say struggling, because, though numbers seem to be gained and lost with little net-change, the caliber of the believer's moral character is waning. So I hesitate to add to the chorus of critique, but we all must understand that such criticisms as this, for any well-meaning Christian, is out of concern, alarm, and even desperation.

First, we must understand that the church is a body, a collection, comprised of individuals. The quality of the individual spiritual life creates the measure of the church's spiritual life. The quality of an individual's spiritual life is measured in it's obedience to the Christian Life and commands as described by Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament. So to say the church is struggling, it is because individuals are struggling. The church is morally weak because the individuals are morally weak. The church is failing in its mission because the individuals are failing in their mission. I am among this failing crowd.

This brings me to my diagnosis: We are not teaching the moral precepts of the New Testament. We are not preaching the explicit commandments of the Christian Life given by Christ and the Apostles.

They may be mentioned, or read over. But they are not taught, expounded, and emphasized.

Sermons are often given on the basis of what people want to hear. Topics are given based on addressing the felt-needs of the community. Most preachers won't admit this. They "get a word" or some such. But the reality is people tend to go to church to feel better, and preachers try to make people feel better. But people's felt-needs tend to be the felt-needs of the flesh, not the Spirit, since the flesh speaks so much louder. The goal of the preacher should be to help the hearer subdue the flesh and grow in the Spirit.

So what we end up with are a continuous string of messages of "God is on your side", "Christ will bring you to victory", "Hang in there", "God will provide." Or we get some interesting tidbit from breaking apart a word and discovering the third cousin root of the Chaldee means something profound.
Not to mention many of these wonderful promises are actually conditional, at the very least one must repent, belong to Christ, be a new creature, and seek to obey the gospel.

The fact is, we major on the minors, while the explicit commands, injunctions, and adjurations of the New Testament go largely ignored.
We speak of intangibles. We may talk about "walking in the Spirit." But what does that look like? We may speak of being a "new creation in Christ." What does that look like?

The proof of this is the fact the church as a whole bears little or bad fruit, not the "much", "good fruit" that will "last" that Jesus promised.
Few evangelize. Most are entangled with the love of this present world. Many Christians are unkind. We are known in the world as judgmental, hypocritical and ignorant. Instead of striving for peace, many embrace war. Instead of embracing the poor, we clamor for wealth. "You will know them by their fruit." And they know us by our fruit too.
Anyone who reads the New Testament would come away with this assessment.

Therefore, when we preach the explicit commands, we must also preach and demonstrate what it looks like in action.

Important things to emphasize on a regular basis:

1. The Great Commission, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matt. 28-19-20

2. Personal Holiness, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation,  because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16, Matt. 5:48
"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."  1 John 3:3

3. Explicitly Against the Works of the Flesh,  "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal 5:19-21
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice" Eph. 4:29-31

4. Forgiveness,  "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 
Mat 6:15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt. 6:14-15

 5. Against Friendship with the World / The Otherness of the Kingdom, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" James 4:4-5
"My Kingdom is not of this world." John 18:36
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 1 John 2:25-17

6. Love in Action,  "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35

If there is something unchristian going on in your church, preach against it.
Otherwise, you become those preachers who Paul predicts, who preach to the "itching ears." It is the the responsibility of the preacher to guide, correct, and admonish the flock in the whole counsel of God, regardless of the consequences. You may lose some, but you are losing those who care not for the things of Christ. You lose the prideful, you gain and grow the humble.

Consider if you spoke against backbiting, gossip, murmuring, divorce, cowardice, marrying the divorced, lust, and adultery.
Consider if you emphasized generosity, evangelism, holiness, modesty, forgiveness, love, and heavenly pilgrimage.

One would increase, the other would decrease.

One is of the flesh, and will grow if not actively plucked up. One is of the Spirit and will not grow unless actively planted.

To end with the famous and wise Leonard Ravenhill, who said, "The world is not looking for a new definition of Christianity, it is looking for a new demonstration of Christianity."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Evidence of a Race of Giants in Prehistory?

I have compiled a document containing dozens of articles from many periodicals, including the New York Times, and Scientific American, citing of discovery of giant skeletons.

Look at that document HERE.

Here is a video I made with those articles as well:

This is the Introduction from that document, but look at the news articles yourself, even if just the headlines!

Evidence of a Race of Giants in Pre-History - From sources such as the New York Times and Scientific American.

Genesis 6:4
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

For those who are Biblically-minded, that which the Bible states is true in all circumstances, even if modern  science has yet to affirm it independently. There are many sound reasons for this:

• First, our very real spiritual experience of certain assertions of the Scriptures lend credence to others we have not experienced.
• Second, logic states that if one cherry-picks the Scriptures, calling parts true, parts myth, one undermines the ability for any of it to be true.
• But thirdly, and most importantly, there has never been an archaeological discovery that ever went against the Biblical record.

When assertions are made by conjecture about what is not known, foolish things occur. For example, the higher critics of a century ago used to claim Biblical prophetic books were written after their recorded events to give the appearance of accurate prophecy. The prophetic predictions were simply too sharp to be believed. But when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, with entire scrolls of our present-day Old Testament which were scribed before the events recorded in those books, it irrefutably affirmed the accuracy of prophecy.
Again, for centuries, scholars and archaeologists claimed the Bible must have made up various cultures and nations they contended with, since they could find no evidence of them archaeologically or in the writings of other civilizations. The Hittites, they claimed, for example, never existed. But at some point, they not only
discovered they existed, but were a fierce and dominant force in the ancient world. Now, it is true, there are things in the Biblical record that science has yet to discover, but science must build it's house on what is known, not what is unknown, and what science knows of Biblical archaeology has continuously affirmed the Biblical record, without exception.
One of the “myths” of ancient times that exists not only in the Bible, but in the cultural myths and histories of many civilizations, is the reality of a race of Giant men from pre-history. Science laughs and scoffs today, yet, in this compilation we find that not only have these things been discovered with certainty many times, but there has perhaps been an effort to obscure this information. The reader should note the many curious involvements of the Smithsonian Institute in the aftermath of these discoveries, after which the discoveries are never heard from again. Truth is never obscured, but for a time. One day, all things will be brought to light, and those things which are in the sphere of faith will rest as established fact.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I'm Forgetting Who I Was, And I Don't Like It.

This year, I celebrate my 10th anniversary as a Christian. As happy as I am about that, I have noticed a certain unfortunate side-effect: The circle of people in my life now no longer know who I once was. For the record, I am happy they didn't know the old me, but then again, the drama of the sanctifying power of Christ is lost. They can't see the before and after, only the after.The people in my life now simply assume I have always been basically a moral, very religious person. When I tell people otherwise, they think it is a bad joke. I used to be unrecognizably different.

I am one of those people who had a very dramatic conversion, not only in the sense of joy and zeal, but from the mess I was delivered from. 

  • I regularly explored mind-scapes derived from the highs of psychedelic drugs. I considered myself a "psychonaut", an astronaut of the mind.
  • I actively hated and persecuted Christians.
  • I studied the occult traditions from diverse religions and mystical practices from across the world.
  • I would invoke demons and angels in blood rituals.
  • I deceived the simple-minded into believing in false gods for my own gain.
  • I developed a philosophy which espoused no universal moral law, and I would do evil things simply to demonstrate I was not bound by the same moral constraints as others, and then boasted about it.

So to me, I guess the sad thing is not only that other people are forgetting, but I am forgetting too.
I heard this would happen.
You begin to forget what you are saved from, and I determine never to do that. However, the credibility of my past is certainly fading. Where once my occult knowledge was equal in depth to my now Christian knowledge, I have now forgotten so much from lack of study and care, I only remember broad principles and facts. I'm left with bumpersticker phrases like "as above, so below" and "an' harm none, do what thou wilt." Mind you, I do not long for my occult knowledge, but I am finding myself in the place where I say I used to be an occultist, yet I can barely speak the jargon anymore. Without something to jog my memory, I probably know less than a Wikipedia page.
The last vestiges of my past, my occult library, I intentionally kept boxed up in the closet for a keepsake, or at least, documentary evidence of what I once knew. Alas, a few years into marriage, my wife made the rightful point that those probably shouldn't be kept around our house anymore, and I discarded them.

Truly, my old self is dead, lost behind me in the cloud of forgetting. However, where I am today was not attained through much hard work, but by the sanctifying power of Christ. I just hope I can still remind myself where I've come from, so that grace may wash me, and so that others will know the unyielding, undeniable power of God to save, even those who were his sworn enemy.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Church Fail: Virginity

[Note: This post is in no way meant to be anti-marriage, but pro-celibacy. Neither is addressing this topic a reflection or thought of regret upon my own blessed marriage.]

This issue may seem trivial to many, but I am committed to following the doctrine of the Lord - the whole counsel of it. Many are undisturbed by the differences of the apostolic church and our present day manifestation. Addressing this issue is simply to show another area where we err to our own detriment.

Virginity in the modern secular world has become a badge of shame. One is made to feel unwanted, undesirable, and unattractive, or else called a "prude" or "stuck up". In the modern Christian world, virginity is merely the purgatorial state that one must endure before finding the "one" in marriage. God forbid, if they make it to 30 unmarried, there must be something wrong with them. Most Christian young people believe they are just waiting until the person God has for them shows up. Unfortunately, this view has more in common with Disney princesses than it does with the Bible, for the New Testament shows virginity and singleness, not only an intermediate state to endure, but as a virtue to be coveted and exalted, not just for a time, but for a lifetime. This means that for some, there is not God's chosen out there waiting for them, if they have been called to be a virgin. I know so many who are waiting and waiting, because they feel it is expected of them to find someone and marry, but that may not be the will of God for your life! Consider how foreign the Scriptural view is on this topic by considering what I have just said, and reading the following relevant verses:
"But he said to them, 'Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.'"  Mat. 19:11, 12
"I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am." 1 Cor. 7:6, 7
"And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. . . I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord . . . So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage does even better."  1 Cor. 7:35-38
"Now this man, [Philip], had four virgin daughters, who prophesied." Acts 21:9  
"Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. . . It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb." Rev. 14:1, 4
You see, dear friend, how to Christ and the Apostles, marriage was good, but remaining a virgin was thought better? I know this sounds almost like heresy to some today, but it is not. It is the original teaching of the church. This is further solidified by the practice of the earliest apostolic churches, who kept an "order of virgins," who received alms from the church, like widows, for the women who had no man to provide for them monetarily.
Christ was a virgin, John the Baptist was a virgin, Paul was a virgin, every unmarried Apostle was a virgin. (history only records Peter and Philip as having married.). Do not despise what has been given to you as a gift. When has innocence, purity, chastity, child-likeness, angel-likeness, Christ-likeness, ever not been virtuous? Let them who can receive it, receive it. 

Now, consider some testimony of the early church on the subject:
"Many who have been Christ's disciples from childhood - both men and women - remain pure even to the age of sixty and seventy years." Justin Martyr
"How many voluntary eunuchs are there! How many virgins espoused to Christ! So many male virgins, so many voluntary eunuchs, carry their glory in secret, carrying no token to make them too illustrious." Tertullian
"The first type of celibacy is virginity from birth. The second is virginity from one's second birth - that is, from the font, which either in the married state keeps pure by mutual agreement, or else perseveres in widowhood by choice. A third class remains, monogamy, when after the intersection of a marriage once contracted, there is thereafter a renunciation of sexual relations." Tertullian 
"What else is virginity than freedom from liberty? It has no husband for a master. Virginity is freed from all affections. It is not given up to marriage, nor the world, nor to children." Novatian
"These have dedicated themselves to Christ. They have departed from carnal immorality and have vowed themselves to God, in both the flesh and the spirit. In order to complete their work, which is destined to a great reward, they no longer explore how to be adorned or please anybody, except the Lord. For it is from Him that they expect to receive their reward for their virginity." Cyprian
"A virgin is not ordained, for we have no such commandment from the Lord. Rather, virginity is a state of voluntary discipline - not for the reproach of marriage, but to have more time for godly service." Apostolic Constitutions
There are literally dozens of very edifying and beneficial statements on the topic by the early church, but I hope those will suffice. This is not a call for all to be virginal. This is not an erroneous catholic teaching requiring priests to be celibate. This is not to transition us into monks and nuns (though the origins of these orders find themselves in the original virginal orders). This is simply to teach what Christ and the Apostles taught, which is: For the Christian, to remain a virgin and unmarried is a preferred state over marriage. Marriage is not sin, and in it you do well. But as Paul says, "he who remains unmarried does better."

Let them who can receive it, receive it!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Letter from St. Paulinus of Nola: An appeal to a soldier to leave the military

Saint Paulinas of Nola (354 – 431) was a distinguished lawyer who held several public offices in the Roman Empire. After the death of their son, Paulinas and his wife Therasia gave away all of their property and riches and dedicated their lives to the poor. Paulinus was chosen bishop of Nola by popular demand. Among his close friends was St Augustine of Hippo.

Paulinus’ writings include a letter to Crispinianus, a soldier in the Roman military. Paulinus exhorts Crispianus, a Christian, to leave the military and devote his life to God. His letter is below.

Letter 25, to Crispinianus

1. Though I am unknown to you personally, I already know you in spirit. Victor, my dearest son in the Lord, ensured that I knew you, though distance separates us, by telling me of your scrupulous life. So I have begun to love you as a future comrade in Christ, for Victor recounted to me how he was an associate and attendant of your mess in that worldly military service in which you are still occupied. This has induced me to take the liberty of writing to you through him. For I hope that you will come to the true path by the same road as he, since in him you have sent one of your comrades ahead to us, and the Church holds him as your pledge that she may gain you after him.

There is nothing, my blessed son, which can or ought to be preferred to Him who is the true Lord, the true Father, the eternal Commander. To whom is it right to devote our lives more than to Him from whom we received them, and for whom we must preserve them to the end, because we live by His kindness? If we have been a soldier for Him in this world, we shall then deserve to pass over to Him. But if we love this world more, and prefer to be a soldier for Caesar rather than for Christ, we shall later be transported not to Christ but to hell, where the cause of the princes of this world rests.

2. So we ought not to put loyalties or fatherland or distinctions or riches before God, for Scripture says: “The fashion of this world passeth away.” And those who love this world will also perish with it. This is why the Lord Himself speaks these words of the Gospel in witness: “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever doth not take his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.”

Of the riches of this world, which some embrace and love as the highest and necessary good, He says: “Treasuries shall not profit wicked men, but justice delivers from death.” Again He says through a prophet: “All were destroyed who were exalted with gold and silver.” In the Gospel, too, He cries out in condemnation of the rich men of this world: “Woe to you rich; for you have your consolation. Woe to you that are filled; for you shall hunger. Woe to you that now laugh; for you shall mourn and weep.”

3. Therefore do not any longer love this world or its military service, for Scripture’s authority attests that “whoever is a friend of his world is an enemy of God.” He who is a soldier with the sword is the servant of death, and when he sheds his own blood or that of another, this is the reward for his service. He will be regarded as guilty of death either because of his own death or because of his sin, because a soldier in war, fighting not so much for himself as for another, is either conquered and killed, or conquers and wins a pretext for death-for he cannot be a victor unless he first sheds blood. So the Lord says: “You cannot serve two masters,” the one God and mammon, that is, Christ and Ceasar, even though Caesar himself is now keen to be Christ’s servant so that he may deserve kingship over a few peoples. For it is not some earthly king who reigns over the whole world, but Christ God, for “all things were made by Him and without Him was made nothing. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Whatever He pleases He does in earth, in the sea, in the deeps.”

4. Let us follow Him, then. Let us be soldiers for Him. The soldier who wears armour for Him is never unarmed. On them that fight for Him He bestows the glory of eternal life, the distinction of the heavenly kingdom, the riches of His inheritance, and an everlasting share in the knowledge of God. But Scripture says: “He that loveth money shall not be justified,” and “he that seeketh after earthly possessions shall become entangled in them.” So divine Wisdom speaks through the mouth of Solomon in Ecclesiasticus: “Many have been brought to fall for gold, and the beauty thereof hath been their ruin. Gold is a stumbling block and casts down those that follow after it. But only fools shall perish by it.” So flee from it, my son, as from the appearance of a serpent. Trust in Christ, who in the Gospel solemnly states to all men: “A man’s life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.”

5. Perhaps, however, the confidence of youth, your family tradition of distinctions, and your increased riches prompt you to say: “I am still young and have time to complete my army service, marry, have children, and afterwards serve God.” You are answered not by me but by the Lord speaking through His prophets and apostles. The prophet says: “Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day, lest His wrath come on a sudden.” The Gospel indicates with what eager haste we should seek conversion when it says: “From the days of John the Baptist until today, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.”

Such violence is welcome to God, for it disturbs no one and is achieved without harm to any. Direct your hands to the plunder which is sinless and brings salvation. Why should you trouble about the provision of solders’ pay which involves the violence you loathe, when doubtless your integrity makes you mild in levying even the regular taxes? Whereas without rousing anyone’s hatred and with God’s grace you can be violent in seizing the kingdom of heaven. When it “suffereth violence,” Christ rejoices at being attacked, because with His abundance of love and power He is capable both of donating what He holds and of retaining what He gives. For when He allows His saints to reign in His kingdom, He will reign amongst those whom He has adopted as comrades in His heavenly kingdom. Scripture says that God’s kingdom will be shared with His saints and that those saints are themselves God’s kingdom. If God is good and you are converted, you will discover this by reading, and understand it by believing.

…(Paulinus discusses the difficulties of family life)…

8. Listen, then, my son, and give me your ear. Break off all ties which bind and entangle you in this world. Change your secular military service into something better-start being a soldier for the eternal King. I hear that you now help and protect civilians; I pray that you may become the count of Christ. Again, you in secular military service are wont to pray for advancement to the rank of protector, but if you prove yourself before God, you will begin to have Him as your Protector. See to what kind of military service I invite you as a comrade, for God will be to you what you hope to be to a man. Once you begin to follow Him, you begin your service as a count, and the end of your service will be kingship not on earth or in time, but in eternity and in heaven.

Source: Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola. Translated an annotated by P.G. Walsh. (Westminster, MD: Newmann Pres: 1966-67).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Warning to Parents - William Gurnall

To the parents of ignorant children,

Parents, your children have souls which God expects you to nourish with at least as much care as their physical needs. Who will teach them if not you? No one is surprised to hear that a ship put out to sea without a compass has sunk or run aground. Why should we be surprised to see children wander far from God, when they have received no spiritual direction?

We see a pattern set for us by the saints of old. David, busy king that he was, thought it his solemn responsibility to instruct his son in the way of the Lord: 'Know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.' (1 Chron. 28:9). And what need I tell you of Timothy's mother and grandmother, who taught him the Scriptures from the time he was a child? I believe a man calls in question his own Christianity if he does not bother to acquaint his child with God and the way the leads to Him. I will even go so far as to say I've never known a true saint who was not deeply concerned about his child's relationship with the heavenly Father.

You will give a poor account at the Last Day if all you can say is, 'Lord, here are my children. I bred them like gentlemen and left them wealthy.' What a mocking witness to your own folly that you would do so much for that which rusts, and nothing for a knowledge of God unto salvation, which endures forever!

A careful study of the principles of God will show how serious this matter is. If we neglect the spiritual training of our children, we fail on three fronts:

1.You obviously fail your children when you leave them ignorant. Faith and unbelief are fundamentally different, not only by definition, but in the way they operate as well. Faith will not grow without planting, and will even die where it is planted unless it is watered and fertilized with the Word of God. Atheism, irreligion, and profanity, on the other hand, not only grow without planting, but will not die without forceful plucking up. Indeed, they thrive best in an untended soul - until simple ignorance and disbelief in the child become willful attitudes in the man.

What a grave injustice is done through your neglect! Your child is not born with a Bible in his heart, or in his head. Satan has already done his work in the womb at conception. Now you must do yours. The strain of faith you plant in your children's heart must be hardy enough to spring up and choke out the tares of Satan. And the best season for planting faith is in your child's youth.

You also fail yourselves by leaving your children in a state of ignorance, for you heap upon yourselves the consequences of their sins as well as your own. When a child breaks one of God's commandments, it is his sin; but it is also the father's if he never taught the child what the commandment of God was. Wicked children become heavy crosses to their parents. When a father or mother must trace the source of wickedness to his or her own neglect in training the child, cross is laid upon cross and the load becomes unbearable. Can there be a greater heartache in this life than to see your own child running full speed toward hell, and know that you were the one who outfitted him for the race? Oh, do your best while they are young and in your constant care, to win them to God and set them onthe road to heaven.

Most important, you fail God when you rear an ignorant child. Scripture tells of those who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Among others, this includes parents who lock up the knowledge of salvation from their children. Where is the parent who will rob hs own son's house? Yet this is what you do if you neglect his spiritual education. For you keep in your own pocket the gold talent God intended you to give your child. If you leave no godly inheritance, what will happen when you die, and the truth of the gospel is buried alongside your rotting bones?

If you are God's child, then your children stand in closer relationship to the heavenly Father than the children of unbelievers. God depends on you to nurture them as you have been nurtured, and to protect them at all costs from the devil's education. Training your children up in the ways of the Lord is no casual suggestion, but a solemn command given to all Christian parents. Your refusal to obey, whether the product of deliberation or neglect, will pay you bitter wages when you stand before the King of kings in judgement.

-William Gurnall, Christian in Complete Armor

If you need guidance and rearing children in Christ, I recommend Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Non-Violence in the Early Church: Complete Quote List

Non-Violence in the Early Church
For those who are unconvinced by the consistent, recurrent testimony of Scripture, and the plain example and practice of Christ and the Apostles on the subject of Christian Non-Violence, I present the exhaustive list of quotations from the early Church in the first 400 years. Featuring quotes from hearers of the Apostle John and hearers of theirs.

Justin Martyr (100-165)
We who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ. We who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,— our swords into plowshares, and our spears into implements of tillage, — and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified.”

"We do not wage war against our enemies."

"We will not ask you to punish our oppressors. Their present wickedness is sufficient punishment."

Aristides (120)
Whatever Christians would not wish others to do to them, they do not to others. And they comfort their oppressors and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies. Through love towards their oppressors, they persuade them to become Christians.”

Tatian (120-180)
I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command… Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it.”

Irenaeus (130-200)
But if the law of liberty, that is, the word of God, preached by the apostles (who went forth from Jerusalem) throughout all the earth, caused such a change in the state of things, that these [nations] did form the swords and war-lances into plowshares, and changed them into pruning-hooks for reaping the corn, [that is], into instruments used for peaceful purposes, and that they are now unaccustomed to fighting, but when smitten, offer also the other cheek, then the prophets have not spoken these things of any other person, but of Him who effected them.”

"He commanded [His followers] . . . not only not to strike others, but even, when they themselves are struck, to present the other cheek. . . [He commanded them] not only to not injure their neighbors, nor to do them any evil, but also when they are dealt with wickedly, to be long-suffering.

Athenagoras (133-190)
We have rejected such spectacles as the Coliseum. How then, when we do not even look on killing lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death?”

We, a numerous band of men as we are, have learned from His teaching and His laws that evil ought not to be requited with evil, that it is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it, that we should rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another.”

"We have learned not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us. Not only that, but to those who strike us on one side of the face, we have learned to offer the other side also."

"What, then, are the teachings in which we Christians are brought up? 'I say unto you, love your enemies; bless those who curse you. Pray for those who persecute you.'"

Clement of Alexandria (150-215)
"An enemy must be aided, so that he may not continue as an enemy. For by help, good feeling is compacted and enmity dissolved."

"We do not train our women like Amazons to manliness in war, for we wish even the men to be peaceable."

Let the Athenian, then follow the laws of Solon, the Argive those of Phoroneus, and the Spartan those of Lycurgus. But if you record yourself among God’s people, then heaven is your fatherland and God your lawgiver. For we are not to delineate the faces of idols, we who are prohibited to cleave to them; nor a sword, nor a bow, following as we do, peace. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.”

Above all, Christians are not allowed to correct with violence the delinquencies of sins.”

"The spiritual man never cherishes resentment or harbors a grudge against anyone - even though deserving of hatred for his conduct."

"Paul does not merely describe the spiritual man as being characterized by suffering wrong rather than doing wrong. Rather, Paul teaches that a Christian does not keep account of injuries. For Paul does not allow even to pray against the man done wrong to him, For he knows that the Lord expressly commanded us to pray for our enemies."

Tertullian (160-220)
But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may turn himself unto military service, and whether the military may be admitted unto the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, for who it is not required to take part in sacrifices or capital punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters—God and Caesar. . . .But how will a Christian war, nay, how will he serve even in peace without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come unto John, and had received the formula of their rule; albeit, likewise, a centurion had believed, still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier."

To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians. Do we believe it lawful for a human oath to be super-added to one divine, for a man to come under promise to another master after Christ? Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? Indeed, if, putting my strength to the question, I banish from us the military life."

"'Nation will not take up sword against nation, and they will no more learn to fight.' Who else, therefore, does this prophecy apply to, other than us? For we are fully taught by the new law, and therefore observe these practices. The practice of the old law was to avenge itself by vengeance of the sword. It was to pluck out 'eye for an eye,' and to inflict retaliatory revenge for injury. However, practice of the new law points to clemency. It changes the primitive ferocity of swords and lances to tranquility. It remodels the primitive execution of war upon rivals and enemies of the Law into the peaceful actions of plowing and cultivating the land."

"Men of old were used to requiring 'eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth' and to repay evil for evil, with interest! . . .But after Christ has supervened and has united the grace of faith with patience, now it is no longer lawful to attack others even with words, nor to merely say "fool," without danger of judgment. . . Christ says, 'Love your enemies, and bless your cursers, and pray for your persecutors.'"

"If someone attempts to provoke you by physical violence, the admonition of the Lord is at hand. He says, 'to him you strikes you on the face, turn the other cheek also.' Let outrageousness be worn out by your patience. Whatever that blow may be, joined with pain and scorn, it will receive a heavier one from the Lord."

"For what is the difference between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, the the latter did evil afterwards. Each stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man.

"Christ plainly teaches a new kind of long-suffering, when He actually prohibits reprisals that the Creator permitted in requiring 'an eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth.'"

"If, then, we are commanded to love our enemies (as I have remarked above), whom have we to hate? If injured, we are forbidden to retaliate, lest we become bad ourselves. Who can suffer injury at our hands?"

"How often you inflict gross cruelties on Christians. You do this, partly because it is your own inclination, and partly in obedience to laws. . . . Yet, banded together as we are, ever so ready to sacrifice our lives, what single case of revenge for injury are you able to point to? However, if it were held to be right for us to repay evil for evil, a single night with a torch or two could achieve an ample vengeance. But away with the idea of a divine sect avenging itself by human fires!"

"We willingly yield ourselves to the sword. So what wars would we not be both fit and eager to participate in (even against unequal forces), if in our religion it were not counted better to be slain than to slay?"

"God puts His prohibition on every sort of man-killing by that one inclusive commandment: 'You shall not kill.'"
"The Lord will save them in that day, even His own people, like sheep. . . No one gives the name of 'sheep' to those who fall in battle with arms in hand, or those who are killed repelling force with force. Rather, it is given to those who are slain, yielding themselves up in their own place of duty and with patience, rather than fighting in self-defense.

"'And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks.' In other words, they will change their dispositions of injurious minds, hostile tongues, blasphemy, and all kinds of evil pursuits into pursuits of moderation and peace. 'Nation will not lift up sword against nation.' That is, they will not stir up conflict. 'Neither will they learn war anymore.' That is, the provocations of hostilities. So you should learn from this that Christ was not promised to be powerful in war. Rather, he has promised to pursue peace. Now you must deny either that these things were foretold (although they are plainly seen) or deny that they have been fulfilled (although you read of them).

"Is the [military] laurel of triumph made of leaves, or of corpses? Is it adorned with ribbons, or with tombs? Is it we with ointments, or with the tears of wives and mothers? It may be made of some [dead] Christians too. For Christ is also believed among the barbarians.

Hippolytus (170-235)
A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath; if he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected. If a catechumen or a believer seeks to become a soldier, they must be rejected, for they have despised God.”

Origen (182-254)
And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our founder, we reply that we are come, agreeably to the counsels of Jesus, to ‘cut down our hostile and insolent “wordy” swords into plowshares, and to convert into pruning-hooks the spears formerly employed in war.’ For we no longer take up ‘sword against nation,’ nor do we ‘learn war anymore,’ having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of those whom our fathers followed.”

“…for neither Celsus [a pagan critic], nor they who think with him are able to point out any act on the part of Christians which savors of rebellion. And yet, if a revolt had led to the formation of the Christian commonwealth, so that it derived its existence in this way from that of the Jews, who were permitted to take up arms in defense of the members of their families, and to slay their enemies, the Christian Lawgiver would not have altogether forbidden the putting of men to death; and yet He nowhere teaches that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to any one, however wicked. For He did not consider it to be in accord with His laws to allow the killing of any individual whomever. For His laws were derived from a divine source. . . . For our laws do not allow us on any occasion to resist our persecutors, even when it is our fate to be slain as sheep.”

"Celsus says, "They also have a teaching to this effect: that we should not avenge ourselves on one who injures us. Or, as Christ expresses it: 'Whoever will strike you on one cheek, turn the other to him also.'"

"We revile no one, for we believe that 'revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.' And we read, 'Bless them that curse you; bless and curse not.' Also, 'Being reviled, we bless.'"

Cyprian of Carthage (190-258)
Wars are scattered all over the earth with the bloody horror of camps. The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder–which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual–is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless, but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale!”

"When a Christian is arrested, he does not resist. Nor does he avenge himself against your unrighteous violence, even though our people are numerous and plentiful."

"Christians do not attack their assailants in return, for it is not lawful for the innocent to kill even the guilty."

"The hand must not be spotted with the sword and blood - not after the Eucharist is carried in it."

"We may not hate. And we please God more by rendering no return for wrong. Therefore, we exhort you to make satisfaction to God. Do this while you have the power, while there yet remains in you something of life . . .We do not envy your comforts, nor do we conceal the divine benefits. We repay kindness for your hatred. In return for the torments and penalties that are inflicted on us, we point out to you the ways of salvation."

"The Christian has departed from rage and carnal contention, as if from hurricanes of the sea. He has already begun to be tranquil and meek in the harbor of Christ. Therefore, he should allow neither anger nor discord within his breath. For he must neither return evil for evil, nor bear hatred."

"Even our enemies are to be loved."

Commodianus (240)
"Do not willingly use force, and do not return force when it used against you."

Lactantius of Bithynia (240-317)
"Therefore they are to be accounted as savage beasts who injure a man; who, in opposition to every law and right of human nature, plunder, torture, slay, and banish.”

"Why would [the just man] carry on war and mix himself with the passions of others when his mind is engaged in perpetual peace with men? Would he be delighted with foreign merchandise, or with human blood, he who does not know how to seek gain? For the Christian is satisfied with his standard of living. He considers it unlawful not only to commit slaughter, but also to be present with those who do it."

"Religion is to be defended, not by putting to death, but by dying. Not by cruelty, but by patient endurance. Not by guilt, but by good faith. For the former things belong to evil, but the latter to good. . . For if you wish to defend religion by bloodshed, tortures, and guilt, it will no longer be defended. Rather, it will be polluted and profaned. . . And, therefore, when we suffer such impious things, we do not resist even in a word. Rather, we leave vengeance to God. We do not act as those persons who would have it appear they are defenders of their gods, who rage without restraint against those who do not worship them."

"The Christian does injury to no one. He does not desire the property of others. In fact, he does not even defend his own property if it is taken from him by violence. For he knows how to patiently bear an injury inflicted upon him."

"We do not resist those who injure us, for we must yield to them."

"If anyone should be so shameless as to inflict injury on a good and just man, such a man must bear it with calmness and moderation. He will not take upon himself his revenge. Rather, he will reserve it for the judgment of God. He must maintain innocence at all times and in all places. And this commandment is not limited to merely his not [being the first to] inflict injury on another. Rather, he should not even avenge it when injury is inflicted on him. For there sits on the judgment-seat a very great and impartial Judge."

"Why do contests, fights, and contentions arise among men? Is it because impatience against injustice often excites great tempests? However, if you meet injustice with patience, then no virtue can be found more true. . . In contrast, if injustice . . . has met with impatience on the same level as itself, . . . it will ignite a great fire that no stream can extinguish, but only the shedding of blood."

"In what respect, then, does the wise and good man differ from the evil and foolish one? Is it not that he has unconquerable patience, of which the foolish is destitute? Is it not that he knows how to govern himself and to mitigate his anger - which others are unable to curb because they are without virtue? . . . What if a man gives way to grief and anger and indulges these emotions (which he should struggle against)? What if he rushes where ever injustice will call him? Such a man does not fulfill the duty of virtue. For he who tries to return an injury desires to imitate that very person by whom he has been injured. In short, he who imitates a bad man cannot be good."

"When provoked by injury, if he returns violence to his assailant, he is defeated."

"If desire is restrained, no one will use violence by land or by sea. No one will lead an army to carry off and lay waste the property of others. . . . For what are the interests of our country, but the detriments of another state or nation? To extend the boundaries that are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state, to improve the revenues - all these things are not virtues. Rather, they are the overthrowing of virtues."

"How can a man be just who hates, who despoils, who puts to death? Yet, those who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things. . . When they speak of 'duties' relating to warfare, their speech pertains neither to justice, or to true virtue."

"When God forbids us to kill, He prohibits more than the open violence that is not even allowed by the public laws. He also warns against us doing those things that are considered lawful among men. For that reason, it will not be lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself. Nor is it lawful for him to accuse anyone of a capital charge. For it makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or by the sword instead. That is because it is the act of putting to death itself that is prohibited. Therefore, with regard to this commandment of God, there should be no exception at all. Rather, it is always unlawful to put a man to death, whom God willed to be a sacred creature.

Archelaus, 277
Those soldiers were filled with wonder and admiration at the grandeur of the man’s piety and generosity and were struck with amazement. They felt the force of this example of pity. As a result, many of them were added to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and threw off the belt of military service.”

"'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' That is the expression of justice. However, His injunction that a man who is struck on the cheek should suffer the other one also - that is the expression of goodness. Now are justice and goodness opposed to each other? Far from it!Rather, there has only been an advancement from simple justice to positive goodness."

Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373)
And this is at least incredible, inasmuch as even now those Barbarians who have an innate savagery of manners and cannot endure to be a single hour without weapons; but when they hear the teaching of Christ, straightway instead of fighting they turn to husbandry, and instead of arming their hands with weapons they raise them in prayer, and in a word, in place of fighting among themselves henceforth they arm against the devil and against evil spirits, subduing these by self-restrains and virtue of soul. Now this is at once a proof of the divinity of the Saviour, since what men could not learn among idols they have learned from him.”

Theonas of Alexandria (300)
"Do no one any injury at any time; provoke no one to anger. If an injury is done to you, look to Jesus Christ. And even as you desire Him to forgive you your transgressions, you also forgive others theirs."

Martin of Tours (316-397)
Hitherto I have served you as a soldier; allow me now to become a soldier to God. Let the man who is to serve you receive your donatives. I am the soldier of Christ; it is not lawful for me to fight.”