Monthly Archives: February 2008

Church Fathers Links

Here are the best online editions of the writings Church Fathers that I can find and that are free. Note especially the Patrologia Latina and the Patrologia Graecae, the most complete original language editions of the Church Fathers. Unfortunately the Corpus Christianorum is not yet available online.

CCEL (English)
Fathers of the Church Series (English)
Patrologia Graecae – Version 1 (Greek)
Patrologia Graecae Version 2 (Greek)
Patrologia Latina (Latin)

Dumbed-Down Christianity?

I was reading a bit of Ravi Zacharias this morning and came across this observation:

“Sometime in the 1980’s, Christians in the West began to label evangelistic techniques and reconfigure church services to reduce the message to the lowest level of cognition in the audience. As nobly intentioned as that was, the end result was th lowest level of writing and gospel preaching one could imagine. Mass media was brought to aid this purpose, and before long evangelicals were seen to be masters in entertainment and minimalists in thought. As this was happening, the intellectual arenas were being plundered and young minds gradually driven away from their “faith” in the gospel message. Christians are paying our dues today and likely will pay for an entire generation.” (from the Introduction to Beyond Opinion)

While I don’t think that Zacharias’ observation applies equally to Catholics as to evangelicals, I do think that it is incisive. I see a deep alienation between the community of faith and the scholarly community on issues of theology, Bible and practice in both Protestant and Catholic groups. It seems that this has been brought about by certain anti-intellectual tendencies in the community of faith and by results-oriented evangelism that counts quantity but not quality–not to mention the sweeping problems in the scholarly community! There is a proliferation of Catholic and Christian TV shows, websites, radio stations, etc. But there are fewer and fewer people to watch them, donate to them or listen to them.

The evangelization of our generation must be a deeply personal activity involving friendship, grassroots community, deep conversations and lovingly shared home-cooked meals. Our generation is not starving for more Christian media or more entertaining worship services, but we are starving for love, friendship, deep connection with others–for a life that is personally meaningful because it is full of persons with whom we can love and share and draw near to God. But this deeply meaningful type of evangelization can only be carried out on the most solid of intellectual foundations, a sincere and honest approach to the Bible, a reflective and fully obedient attitude to the Magisterium, and a full embrace of the Faith with all of its complexities, controversies and paradoxes.

An Aramaic Verse in Jeremiah?

Weird. There’s one, lonely, Aramaic verse in Jeremiah. It’s Jer 10:11, “Thus shall you say to them: ‘The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from the heavens.'”

Carey Moore in his book Esther, Daniel and Jeremiah contends that this verse is the basis for the Letter of Jeremiah, which mocks idol worship (Bar 6). It repeats the fact that idols are not gods over and over. But, how weird is that there is just one, only one, Aramaic verse in the whole Hebrew book of Jeremiah!

Praise in Captivity

I wrote a paper about a year ago called “Fire, Prison and Praise: How Worship Unlocks the Lord’s Deliverance.” I focused on the three young men in the fiery furnace and on Paul and Silas in prison in the book of Acts. But I found another passage which heartily endorses the principle that worshiping God when in captivity is a good thing to do to unlock his deliverance. Take a look at Baruch 3:7 (Baruch’s just after Jeremiah.): “For this, you put into our hearts the fear of you: that we may call upon your name, and praise you in our captivity, when we have removed from our hearts all the wickedness of our fathers who sinned against you.”

Isn’t that great? When we experience bondage to sin or captivity to depression or imprisonment to addiction, we can turn to God and worship. And worship “unlocks” his deliverance. It’s not that God was refusing to deliver us, but that our heart needed to undergo a conversion of sorts. We’ve got to worship when we get into trouble and the Lord’s deliverance will come. It’s biblical. Now, how’s that for Catholic Bible Student action?