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Showing posts from September, 2012

Elderly Apostle John Chases Down Young Prodigal

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In studying the Gospel of John, I stumbled upon a wonderful story of the Apostle John as an old man, and in memory of his repose today in the city of Ephesus the retelling seems appropriate.

John unlike many of the apostles seemed to have never married, being tasked with the care of the Virgin Mary.  Upon her repose, he left Jerusalem and traveled into Asia Minor, where he became the overseer of the churches there making his residence in the city of Ephesus.  During this time, he was exiled and tortured, but eventually made his way back to his beloved city as an old man.

John's life was inflamed by the love of God, and the story below demonstrates the zeal and passion that love had upon his life.
6. “Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant’s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring …

What is John's Mission in His Gospel?

I love the Gospel of John. 
If for no other reason, it is different.  Unlike the other three gospels, there is no birth story, no temptation, or no transfiguration. 
In Orthodoxy, we read John in the lectionary during the Easter season.  The Gospel for Easter Sunday is John’s Prologue in Chapter 1. 
This gives a clue as to why the Church thinks John was written.  The newly baptized experiencing their first Liturgy on Easter Sunday begin to read a new Gospel – the Gospel of John.  John himself proclaims his purpose for writing at the end of his book.  He wrote so that the reader would know that Jesus is the Son of God, and by trusting in Him, would have eternal life. 
John is designed to bolster faith, perhaps in the face of heresy, for there were many false teachers who questioned the fullness of Jesus’ humanity and divinity.  Or perhaps, John is trying to protect us not from the heresy of the head, but of the heart.  
In a later book, John chides his own flock in his adopted cit…

The Orthodox Mega-Church?

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I believe in the mega-church. 
Over the last 30 years, American Christianity has seen the rise of the mega-church.  
According to sociologists, the mega-church is defined by having 2000+ members. 
In my backyard, exists the fifth largest church in the US, Southeast Christian Church, with a membership of 30k and average weekly attendance of 20k. 
No doubt this type of church can only exist in the numbers it does today, due to our mobile environment.  You can live 10 – 15 miles from the church, and still be an active participant due to quick and easy transportation.  Historically, you went to church where you lived, and usually within walking distance, and a church could only grow to such numbers in a densely populated area. 
Because of the size of these churches, certain advantages began to happen.  First is that growth generates more growth.  One trend-observer said: “You hit a certain size and you can become self-generating. You attract people by your sheer size. People know that you …

To Be Wise You Must Get Out Of Your Head

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For years, I found myself geeking out at the intricacies of theology, the minutiae of textual criticism, the obscurities of history.  It’s one of the reasons I spent years in undergraduate and graduate school reading dusty books and ancient scholars.  Post-college, I continued dipping into various theologies as a pastime – some watch Sports Center, I picked up Lossky.  Finding my way to Orthodoxy did give me an ocean of theology so deep I often felt like I was drowning, but eventually I found my way back to shore only to come back another day. 

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The Problem of Orthodox Culture

Over the past months several Orthodox writers have taken up the topic of Orthodox culture and whether we can create one in this country.  Much of the writing flows out the pens of artists, so I am sure that this is a desire longing for an ethos where there is a richness of art seen in places like old Russia with majestic architecture, beautiful music and haunting works of literature. 
I long for this too.
What is the critical mass of people for such a culture to emerge?  Evangelicals have had this mass in America for some time, but only recently is there a serious arts movement bubbling up. 
Rather than a culture of high art, I propose we are looking for community, and this is the base where we must start. The magnet that draws Americans into the Evangelical world, robust Catholic life, and even stranger American movements such as Mormonism is not theology, but community.  This is a place where you can enter and every part of your life is infected by it. 
For these believers, opportuni…