This may surprise us Protestants

Those of you who read this blog somewhat regularly know that my home church is the Chinese Methodist Church of Australia – Eight Mile Plains. This is the local church (or “parish”) in which I serve week-in, week-out. And you also probably know that during weekdays (i.e. Monday-Friday), I’m usually compelled most days by some strange act or force to liturgical worship with a community of Christians within the Brisbane CBD (i.e. the Central Business District) during my lunch break.

Given that most churches in the CBD are pretty much closed up each day, the main two choices I have are St. John’s Cathedral around Cathedral Place (Anglican) or St. Stephen’s Cathedral on Elizabeth St (Roman Catholic). St. Stephen’s is the closest to my current office and I go along for lunchtime Mass (primarily for the liturgy of the Word as I can’t communicate come Eucharist time) or some quiet time.

St. John’s now has daily services (Matins at 8:30, Eucharist at 12:30 and Evensong at 4:30) but it is quite a bit of a hike away. Maybe when I move to my new job it’ll be easier cause it’s just up the road then. And at least I will be able to partake of the Eucharist more frequently than once a month, something which I have been desiring ever since I finished high school at Canterbury College a quite a few years ago.

Anyhoo, it might surprise you Protestant readers of this pathetic little blog about how Protestant today’s short homily was at St. Stephen’s. The Gospel alloted for today, the feast of St. Athanasius, was from John 12:44-50 (NAB):

Jesus cried out and said,
“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”

On the priest’s homily which included his reflection, he caught my attention and kept it.

Fr “Irish-accent” (as I shall call him as I don’t know his name) honed in on Christ’s words when he said that “if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life.”

Christ calls us all to repent of our sins for the Kingdom of Heaven/God is near. That repentance comes from putting our trust and faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior. Fr. “Irish-accent” went on to say that Christ in these verses is telling us that our faith in Him is what brings our salvation. The works we do will never merit our salvation or God’s favor. But our faith in Christ as our Lord, Master, Savior and God himself will. Our salvation comes from God simply as a pure, unadulterated, free gift out of God’s infinite mercy and love. Our response to this gift, how we respond to Christ’s words calling us to repentance and belief, faith and trust in Him, will be what condemns us on the last day. And that in this Eastertide, as Christians, do we live out the resurrection of Christ in our daily Christian walk that is as much of a witness to all around us as what we just say about our faith.

Yes, you read correctly. Sounds suspiciously evangelical to my ears. There was no mention at all about our salvation coming from our good works. A clear rejection of this tenet of medieval Catholicism. Like John Armstrong has written about on his ACT3 articles, there are evangelical Roman Catholics out there. See John Armstrong’s articles entitled, What Is an Evangelical Roman Catholic? and Why Being an Evangelical Catholic Matters. I’m rejoicing today on this feast of St. Athanasius, because of this clear agreement I have with Fr. Irish-accent and others that were at Mass today (not all, but definitely some, including Heather, the nice lady who’s old enough to be my mother and who works at St. Paul’s Book Store on Elizabeth St as well as being the reader at St. Stephen’s daily). I can say that the Spirit is moving in the Roman Catholic church. He is working at bringing back the evangelical tenets of the faith that we Protestants and Catholics share as our common Christian heritage. I have a feeling that SS. Peter, Paul, Augustine and Martin Luther (among others) would be rejoicing in heaven as I am here on earth today.

____________________________________

In other things, this is apparently a new release by InterVarsity Press. An Evangelical Protestant Mariology (no, we’re not talking about Mario from Super Mario Brothers)? This I have to read!

Going by the description at Koorong:

Beginning with Scripture, Perry probes the texts and traces the lengthy development of Christian thinking and practice related to Mary. From the earliest church fathers through the medieval thinkers and Protestant Reformers, and then on through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to present-day Catholic thought, Perry takes us on a fascinating and informative tour. Finally he concludes with a constructive – and even surprising – theological proposal for an evangelical Mariology that is rooted in, and demanded by, a high Christology. (emphasis mine)

I’m liking that last sentence.

Other titles that have piped my interest from Koorong’s recent academic and sale catalogues (should be good reading for lectio divina) include:

  • John H Armstrong (ed.), et al, Counterpoints: Understanding Four Views on Baptism (Zondervan)
  • Brian Vickers, Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness (Good News)
  • David Buschart, Exploring Protestant Traditions (InterVarsity Press)
  • Sung Wook Chung (ed.), et al., Karl Barth and Evangelical Theology (Paternoster).
  • Mark D Baker (ed.), et al., Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross (Baker)
  • Leonard Sweet (ed.), et al., The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (Zondervan)
  • Ray S Anderson, An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches (InterVarsity Press)
  • Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution (Zondervan)

Now time to get church stuff sorted out before I get some sleep.

Pax,
+ bf 2058hrs

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