Friday, 27 February 2015

The Feast of Saint Oswald of Worcester

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast called us to faith in thee, and hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of thy Saints, and especially of thy servant Oswald of Worcester, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we with them attain to thine eternal joy; through him who is the author and finisher of our
faith, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Oswald, pray for us, and for Worcester.

I lived much of my life in Worcester. Quite a nice city with an impressive cathedral.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Introduction to Catholicism: A Complete Course

The Didache Series: Introduction to Catholicism: A Complete Course, 2003 Midwest Theological Forum

In another review, I complained that I had yet to see a Catholic equivalent of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. In the comments, somebody kindly suggested this book. It's currently out of print, but I managed to get a second-hand copy. This is not actually a Catholic equivalent of Grudem's Systematic Theology; it's a Catholic equivalent of You Could Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. With it's photographs of clean cut people, this book really does feel a lot like a Jehovah's Witnesses' book. Not that this is in any way a criticism. Catholics and Evangelicals could learn much from the way that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is able to effectively communicate its religious view through literature.

This book is unfortunately not the kind of book I was looking for, but it is a still a useful one. This is basically a work of catechesis, following a similar path to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, with explanations of the sacraments and the Ten Commandments. Inspiring stories about saints and Catholic heroes are included at the end of each chapter for further reading. Discussion questions are included, making it ideal for use by an RCIA group.

This is an excellent text for RCIA and I hope it is republished at some point.

Pay for other people to be Entertained?

BBC News: No long-term future for BBC licence fee, MPs say

The fee is "becoming harder and harder to justify" given changes in the media, according to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The MPs suggested every household could pay a new compulsory levy instead.

I do not own a television and have no desire to watch television. I am quite outraged at the suggestion that I should be expected to pay for other people's entertainment.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Feast of Saint Matthias

O ALMIGHTY God, who into the place of the traitor Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles; Grant that thy Church, being alway preserved from false Apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Matthias, pray for us, that we may be faithful unto death.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Father Ed's Blog: The Anglo-Catholicism landscape post Ordinariate

Father Ed's Blog: The Anglo-Catholicism landscape post Ordinariate

'This point is emphasised when one ponders the ecumenical landscape. Let’s get real. The ordination of women, and the ordination of practicing homosexuals within Anglicanism has killed hope of formal unity between Canterbury and Rome. Conversation will continue. We must maintain good relations. But hope of a formal union is over. So anyone claiming to work for the sort of unity that seemed possible forty years ago is living in la la land. And if one is not working for such unity- as the shift of liturgical clothing by Anglo-Catholics from cotta and stole to hood and scarf in recent years might suggest- then what exactly is the Catholicism to which you adhere?

Because the Church of England has made a permanent statement about its Catholic claim when it tinkered with the three fold order. Pope Francis said the door is forever closed on women priests for Catholics. He is right. Therefore the Church of England would need to release every woman ordained and then refuse to create more for true unity to be possible. And this isn’t going to happen. So what do Anglo-Catholics make of this dilemma?'

The Feast of Saint Polycarp

God of all creation, who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp a place in the company of the Martyrs, grant, through his intercession, that sharing with him in the chalice of Christ, we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

St. Polycarp, pray for us and for all bishops.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Rite of Election with Cardinal Nichols

I was at Westminster Cathedral today for the Rite of Election, when those of us intending to be received into the Catholic Church this Easter are officially recognised as either candidates for confirmation or catechumens to be baptized.

It was very awe inspiring to see so many people across the Westminster diocese seeking admission to the Catholic Church. Eight of us from the RCIA group in our parish attended.

The service, presided over by Cardinal Vincent Nichols the Archbishop of Westminster, was very beautiful and dignified. I enjoyed it immensely.

It was my first visit to Westminster Cathedral. It certainly is an impressive place, with its Neo-Byzantine architecture. Naturally I bought some souveneirs in the Cathedral gift shop. I bought another figurine of Our Lady, a leather bookmark, a CD of music performed by the Westminster Cathedral Choir and a St. Helena prayer card.

I briefly got to shake hands with the cardinal after the service, but I think by that time he was very weary of shaking hands and appearing in photographs with people.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Offering the Lamb, by Michael Keiser

The Very Rev. Michael D. Keiser, Offering the Lamb: Reflections on the Western Rite Mass in the Orthodox Church, 2006 AuthorHouse

I find the subject of Western-rite Orthodoxy quite fascinating and so was naturally keen to read this book. Unfortunately, like Keiser's other book, Children of Promise, it fails to offer the insights into Western Orthodoxy that I was hoping to find.

Offering the Lamb is a lot like Vassilos Papavassiliou's Journey to the Kingdom. It goes through the various elements of the Western-rite mass, largely based on St. Tikhon's Anglican-derived liturgy. He uses these elements to expound the Orthodox theology of the Eucharist. Usefully, the Saint Tikhon Eucharistic liturgy is included as an appendix. It is quite interesting to read this unusual member of the Book of Common Prayer extended family.

Keiser defends the continuing use of Western-rite liturgies in Orthodoxy on the basis of the Orthodox Church's catholicity. He also offers some useful, but basic information about the different liturgies in use today. However, as with his other book, he fails to address the sorts of questions that a book of this sort ought to answer, such as whether the differences in the western mass from the eastern has any theological implications, or possible criticisms of the use of Western rites by Orthodox Christians. This book is an edifying read, but not a very exciting one.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Philokalia Abridged

G.E.H. Phillips, Phillip Sherrard and Bishop Kallistos Ware (eds) Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts; Selections Annotated and Explained, 2012 Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT

Yesterday I finished reading this book of selections from the Philokalia, that classic text of Eastern Orthodox spirituality. The Philokalia proper consists of five volumes, an intimidating prospect for any reader. I decided that life is too short for that and settled with this concise version. I will comment on what I have read, but I am conscious that I am dependent on the decisions of the editor who may have had their own biases.

It quickly becomes clear that this is a spirituality intended for monks. The Philokalia texts frequently refer to how one should live in one's cell and doing manual labour. This is understandable given it is written for monks, but it does make this spirituality very difficult to transfer to the live of lay people. Catholic spirituality seems to offer so much more for those living an active.

The Philokalia encourages the reader to rid himself of all passions. I think there is a value in this. I firmly believe that God is impassible; that is without passions or emotions. But I am not sure that we human beings are meant to achieve a state of being without passions. Is there no place for passion for one's wife or husband? What about passion in politics, or the passion brought on by aesthetic pleasure? All these things can potentially be destructive, but I don't think they are inherently bad. To attempt to do away with all passions seems a denial of our creatureliness.

I am even more troubled by the idea of ridding our minds of forms and concepts. Are not the Word of God revealed to us in forms and concepts? Presumably to do away with forms and concepts would exclude meditation on Scripture.

I am totally with the Philokalia writers in seeing the end of the Christian in theosis or deification. However, I am troubled by the route that they offer in getting us there. The continual emphasis is on practices and activities that we need to do to achieve theosis. I'm sure they would deny it, but it does seem an awful lot like theosis is something that we achieve through effort rather than the grace of God. I see little in these writings about the work of the Holy Spirit in helping to get us there or the grace that transforms our character. It is continually do this, do that and you will achieve deification.

What I took away from this book that was positive, was the value and worth of the Jesus Prayer and I am resolved to say it continually as much as I can. I think our Eastern Orthodox brethren have much to offer us, but at least as far as the Philokalia writers go, there is a lack of balance. For all that was good and useful that I found in here, it reassured me that I had made the right decision in opting to convert to Catholicism rather than Eastern Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Catholic Luther, by Dave Armstrong

Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong has written a number of 'quote books.' This one, available only as an e-book, is perhaps the most interesting of them.

This book collects a number of statements by Martin Luther that appear more Catholic than Protestant. In these quotations, he speaks favourably of such Catholic practices and doctrines as purgatory, the necessity of good works, the intercession of saints, the Papacy and the veneration of Mary. Some of these quotes are taken from the early years of career in which Luther had not made a decisive break with Rome, but others are taken from later in his career, indicating continuing sympathies with some Catholic distinctives.

This is an interesting read. Of course, Luther's theology was somewhat unsystematic and so it is not surprising that there are some inconsistencies or that he is often equivocal on some subjects. Yet I think many Protestant readers would be surprised on reading this book.

The aspiration of the Reformers was not to start a new church, but to purify the historic church and to return to what they saw as the teaching of the Church Fathers. In the case of the 'centrist' Reformers, Calvin and Zwingli, I think they utterly failed to do this and ended up revolutionizing the Christian faith and departing almost entirely from the teachings of the Church Fathers. However, this book shows how much Luther tried to achieve the aim of a Patristic Reformation.

This book will be of interest to both Protestants and Catholics and all who want to bridge the gulf between separated brethren.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Rome Sweet Home, by Scott and Kimberly Hahn

Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism, 1993 Ignatius Press

Scott Hahn was a former Protestant pastor and theologian, who in his youth loved trying to convert Catholics to Protestantism. Later in life, he converted to the Catholic Church and his wife, Kimberly followed him into the Church several years later.

I read the shorter account of Scott Hahn's testimony on the internet at the time I was first considering conversion to Catholicism. I found the story very powerful, particularly, as like him, I was very anti-Catholic in the past. The book version gives us the additional benefit of Kimberly Hahn's account of her own journey. I think I actually find her sections of the book more interesting and enjoyable because of her prolonged resistance to conversion.

This book is really moving. You really feel for the couple during their dark years, when Scott was a Catholic and Kimberly was still a Protestant. Even if you disagree with her conversion, you have to admire the fact that she held fast to her convictions on the indissolubility of marriage and the husband's headship, even when she opposed her husband's faith.

I particularly liked the story about how Kimberly could not bring herself to say the Hail Mary until the day of her first confession, on which she finally manages to say the prayer while helping a little girl to remember how to say it. I personally had no struggle with Mariology. I used to come up with all that rubbish about ancient gooddess worship, but deep down I envied Catholics. I remember in the past looking at a statue of Mary and wishing I could venerate the Blessed Virgin. When I started going to mass regularly I just said the Hail Mary without any inner struggle.

One criticism I can see Protestant readers making is the fact that Scott does not spend long talking about his changing views on justification while still a Protestant, a shift which Kimberly follows him on. For most conservative Protestants, the doctrine of justification is central to the Gospel and any compromise or revision like the New Perspective tends to get fiercely opposed. I can see Protestants accusing the Hahns of being on shaky ground from the start.

This book had a powerful impact on me and is a great story of a couple moving deeper into the truths of Christ and His Church.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Feast of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius

O God, who enlightened the Slavic peoples through the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, grant that our hearts may grasp the words of your teaching, and perfect us as a people of one accord in true faith and right confession. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, pray for us and for all Slav nations.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Daily Telegraph: Worried about Muslims in Britain? Here's the answer

Daily Telegraph: Worried about Muslims in Britain? Here's the answer

Article by James Kirkup

Research published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion in 2013 is useful here.
Based on BSA data and interviews with hundreds of British Muslims, it found that they were indeed more socially conservative than other Britons on gender roles in the home, divorce, premarital sex, abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.

But comparing Muslims with other Britons, it concluded that “much of the difference on socio-moral opinions was due to socio-economic disadvantage and high religiosity, both factors which predict social conservatism among all Britons and not just Muslims.”

In other words, Muslims’ moral and social attitudes, the old-fashioned and illiberal attitudes that worry so many people aren’t so very different from those of other poor and badly-educated non-Muslims.
Many commentators and politicians approach integration as a cultural question, arguing that more should be done to persuade British Muslims to accept “British values”. Perhaps we’d be better off taking an economic perspective, accepting that a better aim is making them better off.

Worried about the rising number of Muslim children in our schools? Then you should hope they pass their exams, go to good universities and get well-paid jobs. Especially the girls. Really, turn more Muslims into fully paid-up members of the Waitrose-shopping, Audi-driving, Boden-wearing middle-classes and their values will take care of themselves.

Eclectic Orthodoxy: “People on sinking ships do not complain of distractions during their prayer”

Eclectic Orthodoxy: “People on sinking ships do not complain of distractions during their prayer”

'You must indeed pray for the right things; but the right things are not the noble high-minded things that you think you ought to want, they are the vulgar and rather infantile things you really do want. Genuine prayer is honest prayer, laying before your Father in heaven the actual desires of your heart—never mind how childish they may sound. Your Father knows how to cope with that.

People often complain of “distractions” during prayer. Their mind goes wandering off on to other things. This is nearly always due to praying for something you do not really much want; you just think it would be proper and respectable and “religious” to want it. So you pray high-mindedly for big but distant things like peace in Northern Ireland or you pray that your aunt will get better from the flu—when in fact you do not much care about these things; perhaps you ought to, but you don’t. And so your prayer is rapidly invaded by distractions arising from what you really do want—promotion at work, let us say. Distractions are nearly always your real wants breaking in on your prayer for edifying but bogus wants. If you are distracted, trace your distraction back to the real desires it comes from and pray about these. When you are praying for what you really want you will not be distracted. People on sinking ships do not complain of distractions during their prayer.

Never mind then if your prayer seems “selfish” or childish. If you will be honest in prayer, acknowledging that you are not very altruistic, that you do worry about your own interests, if you just try to be, and admit to being, as you are, the Holy Spirit, I promise you, will lead you into a deeper understanding of who you are and what you really want. For prayer is not only a matter of asking, it turns out to be about learning as well, about growing up, about discovering yourself. When you lay your desires, your true desires, before God, you begin to see them in better perspective. Quite often you find that they are not, after all, the things you really want most of all. If you bring these desires out into the light, not only the light but the divine light, the light of the Lord, you begin to see them as important but not the most important thing to you. And so through the practice of praying, God will often lead you nearer and nearer to realizing that in the end what you want most of all is God himself.'

I liked this post. This is probably my approach to prayer. I pray for the things that are on my mind, whether they are selfish or not.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Exciting Lecture to be held in St. Albans

I would like to draw your attention to a coming event. Father Thomas Plant will be giving a lecture on 28th February. This will be held at Marlborough Road Methodist Church in St. Albans at 10:30 AM- 3:30 PM. The topic will be The Prayer Book and Anglican Identity:

What does it mean to be Anglican, and how can the Book of Common Prayer help us to answer the question? On this study day, we will look at how the Book of Common Prayer, in its various editions from 1549 to 1928, has both reflected and shaped controversies over what the Church of England is or should be. In the first of three sessions, we will explore the history of the Prayer Book from 1549 to its final authorised form in 1662, and its use for both Reformed and episcopalian polemic. The second session will involve group work, as we piece together comparisons of Prayer Book liturgy and doctrine with those of contemporary Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed liturgies. Finally, in the third session, we will explore the continuing influence of the Prayer Book today, with particular reference to the deposed book of 1928 and modern Anglican liturgy.

There is an entrance fee of £20. You can book a place by emailing Payment by cheque can be sent to St Albans Cathedral Study Centre, Sumpter Yard, St Albans, AL1 1BY.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness, that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God, may with the help of her intercession, rise up from our iniquities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us, for France and for all who are sick.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Feast of Saint Scholastica

As we celebrate anew the Memorial of the Virgin Saint Scholastica, we pray, O Lord, that, following her example, we may serve you with pure love and happily receive what comes from loving you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Litany of Saint Scholastica

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us, Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

Saint Scholastica, pray for us. (repeated after each invocation)
St. Scholastica, true sister of St. Benedict,
St. Scholastica, chosen by God from eternity,
St. Scholastica, predisposed to faith by the grace of Christ Our Lord,
St. Scholastica, consecrated to God from thine infancy,
St. Scholastica, always a Virgin incorrupt,
St. Scholastica, espoused to Jesus Christ,
St. Scholastica, scholar of the Holy Ghost,
St. Scholastica, mirror of innocence,
St. Scholastica, model of perfection,
St. Scholastica, pattern of virtues,
St. Scholastica, glory of the monastic life,
St. Scholastica, mother of numberless virgins,
St. Scholastica, imitator of the angelic life,
St. Scholastica, full of faith in God,
St. Scholastica, replenished with hope of the goods of Heaven,
St. Scholastica, ever burning with the love of thy Spouse,
St. Scholastica, resplendent with humility,
St. Scholastica, trusting as a daughter in the Lord,
St. Scholastica, intent on prayer,
St. Scholastica, quickly heard by the Lord,
St. Scholastica, famed for the praise of perseverance,
St. Scholastica, who didst enter the courts of Heaven in the form of a dove,
St. Scholastica, who dost now follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes,
St. Scholastica, who dost rejoice in the delights of thy Spouse forever,
St. Scholastica, adorned with a crown of glory,
St. Scholastica, advocate with God of those who invoke thee,
St. Scholastica, generous patron of those who imitate thee,
St. Scholastica, holy and innocent Virgin,

We sinners, Beseech thee, Saint Scholasica, to hear us.
That you would deign to help us by your most holy and efficacious prayers to God,
we beseech thee, hear us.
That you would deign to cherish and preserve, by your protection, the Benedictine Order
(and this monastery) and all who dwell therein, we beseech thee, hear us.
(That you would admit us into the number of your children,) etc.
That you would deign to raise up, increase, and preserve our devotion toward you,
(That you would deign to preserve in us the perfect observance of the Rule of your blessed
brother, our most holy father Saint Benedict,)
That you would deign, by your supplications, to moisten the dryness of our hearts with the dew
of heavenly grace,
That by your intercession you may eternally unite us to Christ, the Spouse of our souls,
That you may lead us to eternal joys, and to Jesus (our most sweet Spouse),
That you would vouchsafe to hear us,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, O holy Virgin Scholastica,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Who, to show the innocence of her life,
did cause the soul of your blessed Virgin Scholastica
to ascend to Heaven in the form of a dove,
grant, we beseech You,
by her merits and prayers,
that we may live so innocently as to deserve to arrive at eternal joys, through Jesus Christ,
Your only-begotten Son Our Lord,
Who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
God, forever and ever. R. Amen.

Saint Scholastica, pray for us and for all women consecrated to God.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Feast of Saint Maron

Saint Maron, father of the Maronite Christians of Lebanon and Syria.

Saint Maron, pray for us, and for all Maronite Christians.

Byzantine Theology, by John Meyendorff

John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 1974 Fordham University Press

As an introduction to Eastern Orthoodoxy, I recommended Journey to the Kingdom, by Vassilos Papavassilliou. Spending a lot of time looking at the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church is not the best way to learn about it. Nevertheless, many will want a deeper knowledge of Eastern Orthodoxy in its historical context. Byzantine Theology, by the excellent John Meyendorff offers a great perspective on this.

I first read this book over seven years ago when I was studying for my PhD. At the time it shocked me into realising just how theologically shallow my fundamentalist evangelicalism was and caused me to long for a richer and deeper tradition.

The Byzantine Empire was the cultural and theological cradle of Eastern Orthodoxy and all the various ethnic jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church share the legacy of Constantinople. Meyendorff traces the history of theology in the Byzantine Empire from the time of the Christological controversies through to the Council of Florence and the aborted reunification with the Catholic Church.

Three parties are identified in the development of Byzantine Theology. Unsurprisingly, the first is the Imperial government. The emperors sometimes acted as champions of Orthodoxy, but more often than not, they led the church into compromises with heresy such as Monothelitism. Meyenbdorff challenges the frequent assertion of Caesaropapism by arguing that a monastic party was the true defender of Orthodoxy, frequently coming into conflict with the Imperial party line. The author also identifies a third party, the Humanists who treasured the legacy of pre-Christian Hellenistic philosophy. Once again, Meyendorff challenges a frequent misconception, that is that Eastern Orthodox thought was heavily grounded in Hellenism. The key theologians of Orthodox Byzantium spent much of their time combating attempts to mix Christianity and Neo-Platonism. He even paints a picture of Pseudo-Dionysius as offering a challenge to Platonic thought.

I would say this is one of the best books on Eastern Orthodoxy I have read.

Friday, 6 February 2015

BBC News: Pope backs smacking of children 'if dignity maintained'

BBC News: Pope backs smacking of children 'if dignity maintained'

Pope Francis has backed parents who smack their children, providing the child's "dignity" is maintained.

He made the remarks during his weekly general audience at the Vatican, which was devoted to the role of fathers in the family.

The Pope outlined the traits of a good father, as someone who forgives but is able to "correct with firmness" while not discouraging the child.

Some child welfare campaigners have questioned his comments.

The Pope said: "One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say 'I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.'

"How beautiful," he added. "He knows the sense of dignity. He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on."

Bravo! I'm delighted that the Holy Father has seen fit to defend the Biblical disciplining of children.

This is really going to annoy the secular-liberal establishment.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Feast of Saint Agatha

May the Virgin Martyr Saint Agatha implore your compassion for us, O Lord, we pray, for she found favor with you by the courage of her martyrdom and the merit of her chastity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Agatha, pray for us, that we may be faithful unto death.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Truth at Home: Reviving a Neglected Ordinance: The Meaning of the Headcovering

Truth at Home: Reviving a Neglected Ordinance: The Meaning of the Headcovering

'I doubt anyone would deny the significance of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, however, when we come to the issue of the headcovering, most Christian folks I know are quick to throw it out as an outdated cultural custom. My goal is to show you step by step why I believe this practice is still binding for Christians today.'

ModestGeneration910: Head Coverings Uncovered!

ModestGeneration910: Head Coverings Uncovered!

'Based on the above research, study, and prayer over the course of a year God has convicted me strongly that I should cover my head when praying or prophesying. For me, most importantly I want to testify to the angels about God in this way. It is a very simple thing to cover my head while praying or giving a word of prophesy to someone. There is so much freedom in what the head covering could look like. It can be a headband, a pretty scarf, multiple scarves, a hat, a cap, a thin lace veil, I mean literally whatever you want it to be! I do not believe that this verse in any way teaches that your actual hair has to be covered or that it has to look any particular way. What's important here is that the woman who is choosing to cover her hair is doing so out of an understanding of this passage, a clear conviction from the Lord, and a heart that is submissive to his will and not her own. If this is not done from love like any other obedience it is a filthy rag to God. Therefore this blog is NOT me telling all Christian women to cover their heads while praying or prophesying or even encouraging them to cover. Nope, this blog post is me simply uncovering the mystery behind this passage and encouraging my sisters in Christ to pray about this and take a fresh look at these verses on their own! I am confident that God will move who He desires to cover to obedience in this area.'

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Comparative Theology, by Pope Shenouda III

HH Pope Shenouda III, Comparative Theology, 1988 Coptic Orthodox Publishers Association, London

When people ask "Is the pope Catholic?" they are probably unaware that the Coptic Christians of Egypt have their own pope. This is a book by a late Coptic pope, Shenouda III.

The late pope offers comparison between the doctrines and practices of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Protestant churches. By Protestant, he means Evangelicals, Charismatics and Pentecostals (in the introduction, he points out that Anglicans and some other Protestants would not fit the characterisation in the book). Clearly this work is aimed at Coptic Christians who are at risk of the powerful and persuasive lure of Evangelical Christianity. The author offers Biblical support for infant baptism, an high view of the sacraments, the veneration of Mary and other distinctives. Catholics will find much to agree with and will appreciate the Biblical support mustered.

I like the section on speaking in tongues. The late pope gave no quarter to the Charismatic movement. Orthodoxy, both Oriental and Eastern seems to be much less accomodating to Charismatic claims than Catholicism has been. There are some great Charismatic Catholics like Dave Armstrong and Peter Kreeft, but having grown up as an Evangelical Charismatic, I see little value and much delusion in the Charismatic movement.

This is not a particularly deep book. It's simple apologetics for lay Christians. If you are wanting to understand the background of the Coptic Church and why it split from Catholicism/ Orthodoxy after Chalcedon, you won't find anything useful here.