Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm moving

After giving it a good think ,I finally decided to move to Wordpress. I have been blogging there for quite sometime but I really do not have the time and energy to fully return to active posting. I already moved all of the posts there and gradually I will move all the contents of the sidebar there. All the theology blog links will be retained except for those who are no longer updating their blogs. The only setback here is that wordpress is not accepting javascript so I'll say goodbye to the sidebar widgets here.

I will be honored greatly if you will follow me there. I know, however, that at this point I already lost most of my regular readers so it doesn't matter anyway. I consider deleting this blog but I see that it is still receiving quite a number of visits and page views each day. I will leave this blog as it is and hope that some people would still find helpful materials. Here is the link to my wordpress blog. God bless to all!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cheaper by the Dozen

I haven't been updating this blog for quite a long time. I know for sure that I already lost the handful of people who read this blog. The reason is that our ministry have made a big turn about. Aside from teaching full time, we are not taking care of the 12 children. This took my time away from blogging time to put up a decent theological blog. We are also preparing for a big move this coming months. The day care center we are running will be moving to a new place. In the past two months, we have been moving a lot and had been trying our best to help people who need assistance that Narlin and I can give in our own small ways. I haven't given up blogging yet.

Now for our news update:

Rising tension between the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Burmese government forces is reported by sources in Shan State and along the Sino-Burmese border. The Burmese army had deployed reinforcements .Wa soldiers in the southern region are stockpiling food and supplies in case armed clashes break out, according to the news agency, Wa soldiers now on leave reportedly have been called back to duty. Wives and children of Wa soldiers have been sent out of potential conflict zones. - Source: Irrawady News

The agreement between Burmese and Wa army had expired last month. The Wa people aware of the impending arm conflict start sending their children across the borders to Thailand for safety. Parents do not even know if they will see their children again.

For lack of better terms I called our ministry a "mini-orphanage" it is because our original intention is to provide a home for a limited number (not more than 8) of orphans and abandoned children. But in the light of the impending crisis, we could not reject children who came to us for shelter. Hence, we end up with twelve children from age four to eight and we know what the phrase "cheaper by the dozen" means.

The question people are asking us now is how are we going to provide for these children's daily needs knowing that we are receiving limited support. Just like George Muller who expected God's miraculous provision on a daily basis running his orphanage. We trust that God will do the same for us.

Presently, we are sending five children to a Thai school and the rest are going to Grace Home Kindergarten Center (GHKC). All of the children speak Wa except for Tina who speaks English, Thai, Burmese, Wa and Tee Lek who knows little Thai and fluent with Burmese and Wa. For the mean time, they serve as our interpreter until they learn to speak English, Thai, Burmese or Tagalog or we learn to speak Wa. Whichever comes first.

We know that it will take a miracle to provide food, shelter, clothing and education for these children but we believe that with your prayers God will accomplish the impossible.

Friday, April 24, 2009


You don’t need to live long in Thailand to know that they are living different year than the Western counterpart. It’s now 2553 here. The Thai new year celebration is also called Songkran. It is celebrated on 13-15 of April. Thai people closely follow the traditional activities during the three days. Although in some provinces the celebration last longer than three days.

The throwing of water is the most fun part of the celebration. It seems everybody in the community should join because people will look at you with disdain for spoiling the fun. Our children and their friends join in this activity. I drove them around the town on the back of a pick-up truck and splash water to every people we came across on the streets. The most fun however, was when two or three pick-up trucks crisscrossed on the street. It was like a war with water as the weapon. There was a lot of cheers and laughter. And since they are all young people and observing them from afar, it was like a hint of friendship was about to start. But of course, a few seconds of fun really don’t amount to anything in terms of relationship. However, a sense of being in one community was stronger at least for that particular moment.

On the following day, the splashing of water should be over and people should visit temples, shrines, monasteries to watch the washing of the statues of Buddha with scented water. It was also the time to offer prayers, gifts, food to the monk. Following this is the releasing of fish to the water and birds to the sky. This believe to bring good luck for everyone. Our house is just two blocks away from the temple and I saw only a handful of people observed this activity. While on the streets, the people were still having fun getting each other wet.

I’m sure for many of the younger generation, the religious significance of the Songkran have been lost. Nonetheless, isn't the fun and the sense of casual friendship and sense of community that the festival brings were enough to reflect on the goodness of God?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Unity is possible through humility

Have you ever bought something that was an imitation—it looked like the real thing but lacked the quality of the original? Chances are the imitations wore out or broke before too long. There is nothing like the real thing, whether it be a cherished painting, a treasured piece of jewelry, or a precious relationship. Nothing quite meets our expectations except the real thing. But there are times in life when we are supposed to try to imitate someone—times when we want to model ourselves after an ideal or a role model. We don’t expect to be as good or perfect as the ’original,’ but it is in our best interests to try. Why? Because we have a perfect model for all we do in Jesus Christ!

Philippians 2:5-11 is one of the greatest passages ever written about Jesus Christ. It paints the perfect picture of humility—the humility of Jesus Christ. No one has ever come close to humbling himself like Jesus Christ did, and no one ever will. Yet, if the problems of the church and of the world are to ever be solved, we must humble ourselves just as Christ did. The church is too often divided. The only answer is the declaration of this passage: letting the humility of Jesus Christ flow in and out of our minds. The unity of a church depends upon every Christian walking in the humility of Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I am missing the van so bad

For the first time in almost four months, I missed my 25-year-old-hands-down Nissan Urvan. The van broke down last year in October and is still in the shop. Holding on for its dear life. The mechanic advised us to change it with a new second-hand engine but Narlin and I are having second thought. We think it’s not worth it. The van’s body has dent, its bronze paint is scratched and cracked, the seats upholstery are are duct taped, the ceiling is falling, the aircon is not working and the steering is not powered. However, it is the only vehicle we have and we love it.

This morning nobody picked up the children going to the church. A co-worker usually does that for us, but not this morning. In the first place, we should not be depending on somebody to bring us to church. So I have to make three trips to the church bringing the children on the motorcycle. Not that I’m complaining, in fact, sometimes I enjoy the ride. But rainy season is fast approaching and I could not do this anymore when the time comes. We need the van so badly.

The van is also being used transporting church members to the church. It is also the church’s school bus. And though I end up as the driver, I am happy that I can help the church and its school in my own small way.

So please help us pray for a new van. Some people learn about this need and express their intention to help. The children home, the church, the Bible school, the Day Care and other ministries need it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

They finished the course

After six months of intensive training, we had our graduation last Thursday. Eight students were able to finish the course. Within the time that we were together, we come to know them better, their strengths and weaknesses, their great potentials. We do pray for them all the time that after the co7 copies-b.jpgurse their knowledge about the ministry from which God called them would increase by leaps and bounds.

I am hoping that I was able to teach them some practical skills. I didn't do Bible study with them, I taught them how to study and teach the Bible. I didn't interpret the Bible for them but I taught them how to interpret the Bible I didn't teach them theology but I taught them how to do theology. My prayer is that when they are on their own working in the field, they would learn to think for themselves. Other teachers are worried that their students would not be able stand the false teachings that they will encounter, but I am confident that my students know how to defend the fundamentals of their faith, not because of the information I have given to them, but because they had develop the skills to discern what is false and the skills to refute them. These skills with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (who are the real teacher anyway) are the assets they can use in the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom in wherever place God called them to be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who's Who in Theology: Anselm

Archbishop of Canterbury; sometimes described as the founder of Scholasticism

Born in Aosta (northwest Italy) of noble family, Anselm was educated at the abbey of St. Leger, where the classical curriculum trained him for the clarity of expression later characteristic of his writings. Anselm’s father intended him for a political career and opposed his son’s decision to become a monk. In 1057 Anselm left home and traveled in Burgundy (France) and Normandy for two years before settling in a Benedictine monastery at Bec, Normandy, to study under the renowned theologian Lanfranc. Anselm took monastic vows and succeeded his teacher as prior in 1063, a tribute to his intellect and piety. He later became abbot of Bec (1078–1093). Under Anselm’s leadership the monastery and its school became a prominent center of learning. Once when a neighboring abbot complained that he could not improve his boys no matter how much he beat them, Anselm gently responded with what sounds like a twentieth-century question: ‘Have you tried not beating them?’ Although he could be scathing in condemnation of monks who laid up treasure on earth, he showed compassion for ordinary human weakness. His humble faith produced the prayer, ‘Grant that I may taste by love what I apprehend by knowledge, that I may feel in my heart what I touch through the Spirit.’

After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, English lands were granted by William I (‘The Conqueror’) to the monastery of Bec. Because of that property, Anselm paid three visits to England, where he made a favorable impression on the clergy during a period of reorganization in their church. When the archbishopric of Canterbury became vacant on Lanfranc’s death in 1089, the English clergy urged that the abbot of Bec should succeed him. For the gentle monk it was not an inviting prospect. William II (‘Rufus’), who had come to the English throne in 1087, was notably disinclined to appoint someone with strong views about the rights and independence of the church. Indeed, the king was reluctant to appoint anyone at all. A four-year vacancy ensued, much to Rufus’s satisfaction, for the revenues of any vacant diocese went to the Crown. No help came from Rome, since at the time an unseemly squabble was going on between two rival claimants for the papacy.

Then the dilemma was unexpectedly resolved. Anselm, in England on monastic business, was called to hear the confession of the king who had become seriously ill. The apprehensive Rufus, it is related, forced the pastoral staff into Anselm’s clenched hands. The abbot protested, ‘You have yoked an old sheep with an untamed bull to the plough of the church, which ought to be drawn by two strong oxen.’ Anselm refused to be consecrated until Rufus restored certain lands to Canterbury, recognized the archbishop as his spiritual father, and acknowledged Urban II as the rightful pope (a choice forced upon Anselm because of his Norman connections). Rufus agreed, but he recovered and was never one for keeping his promises. The yokefellows did indeed prove incompatible. Again and again Rufus, one of the most evil and rapacious of English sovereigns, thwarted Anselm’s administration of the church and his concern for the spiritual welfare of the nation. The king would not even permit the archbishop to go on a visit to Rome. Anselm would not dilute his Christian principles to satisfy a royal tyrant, but his position gradually became so untenable that he left the country in 1097. He returned only after Rufus had died in mysterious circumstances and his brother Henry I had sent an invitation to the exiled primate (1100).

By that time the Investiture Controversy was at its height, and in keeping with a papal decree of 1099 Anselm declined to pay the expected homage to the new king or to consecrate bishops who had done so. Six unhappy years passed before a compromise was reached. Anselm was never at his best in political affairs, so his early rejection of a career in politics proved to be a wise decision. Only the last two years of his primacy were spent in peace. The papacy made some amends for the halfhearted support given him in England by canonizing him a little less than a half century after his death.

As a scholar, Anselm reintroduced the spirit of Augustine into theology. Much of Anselm’s writing was done during the placid decades at Bec—notably Monologion, De veritate, and Proslogion. Anselm sought to demonstrate the existence and attributes of God by an appeal to reason alone. He spoke of an absolute norm above time and space that could be comprehended by the mind of man. That norm was God, the ultimate standard of perfection. Anselm’s so-called Ontological Argument was that the existence of the idea of God necessarily implied the objective existence of God. He always insisted, however, that faith must precede reason: ‘I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.’

To him is attributed what became known as the ‘satisfaction theory’ of the atonement, which sees God as the offended party and man as the offender. That view was elaborated in a famous work Cur Deus homo? (Why Did God Become Man?), which Anselm completed in 1098 in Italy. He rejected the view of the Atonement that saw it as the settlement of a lawsuit between God and the devil. Anselm’s hypothesis was that all human beings had sinned in and with Adam. God’s honor demanded that every creature should subject itself to him so that his eternal purposes should be completed. Since finite man could never make satisfaction to the infinite God, ‘no one but one who is God-man can make the satisfaction by which man is saved.’ The voluntary death of the sinless Christ on the cross was the only way and the only acceptable satisfaction.

Acknowledged as the greatest scholar between Augustine and Aquinas, Anselm’s distinctive characteristic was his resort to intellectual reasoning rather than to biblical tests and traditional writings—while still upholding the prime place of faith. His theology has had profound influence on many modern theologians, including Karl Barth.

J. D. Douglas


WHO’S WHO IN CHRISTIAN HISTORYJ. D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort,
EditorsDonald Mitchell, Associate Editor
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A response to a modern-day prophecy

This post is about a response to the modern-day prophecy about the Philippines. A prophecy of almost the same nature but different content for Thailand had been made last year. Lately, I had been witnessing preachers prophesying to people in the congregation. And I agree, most of those prophecies were not really about predicting what will happen in the future but sort of general statement that can always come true whatever the situation is. But I can testify that the prophecies were meant and to encourage.

Here is the email I received from my professor. I deleted some sentence that may cause security problem with those who are ministering in the restricted countries. This does not affect the main thought of this email

Dear Partners in Global Missions,

I appreciate the ‘prophecy‘ below, but there's really nothing new about it! The last time someone gave this kind of ‘prophecy‘ in the Philippines, I heard the ‘prophet‘ ran away with another woman and divorced his wife!

The Bible is clear on how a nation can prosper, and there is no need for a ‘new revelation‘ on this theme. After all, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong became prosperous even without a prophet prophesying about their imminent riches!

The sending of missionaries from the Philippines does not even need a ‘prophecy‘ because the Risen Lord has given this command 2,000 years ago. For one thing, God's covenant people in the Philippines need only to OBEY the Great Commission. Nowhere in the Bible can we find a text that requires a PROPHESY for fulfilling the Great Commission aside from the required OBEDIENCE necessary to fulfill it. For another, churches should promptly obey the Great Commission and enlist, train, commission, send, and support their missionaries across the nation and around the world.

When the Korean Church sent more than 20,000 missionaries to different parts of the world, believers did so out of their OBEDIENCE to the Great Commission. The Church in Myanmar (a much economically deppressed country than the Philippines) has more than 4,000 cross-border missionaries because believers simply obeyed the Great Commission even at the absence of a ‘prophesy.‘

Of course, we do not need ‘prophesy‘ to find oil reserves on our lands and shores because they are a ‘given‘ under GENERAL OR UNIVERSAL REVELATION. Our Filipino engineers only need more time to ‘discover‘ them, depending on the latest technology available. (They may, however, need ‘discernment‘ and ‘wisdom‘ where to find the reserves!)

Speaking of ‘missionaries‘ from the Philippines going to the countries mentioned in the ‘prophesy‘ below, already thousands have gone into those areas. The Philippine government used to call them OCW (Overseas Contract Workers), but we, believers, know them as Overseas Christian Workers!

Do we need ‘prophesy‘ to ‘show‘ us the existence of the PRINCIPALITY OF CORRUPTION across the Philippine archipelago? I think Filipinos are not naive on this one. We simply turn on our TV set to find ourselves watching all forms of corruption, from commercials to telenovelas!

Of course, I believe in genuine biblical prophesy. What we should be extra wary about are the so-called modern-day prophesies that sound like ‘pastoral counseling advices‘ that feature the obvious rather than the mysterious.

Remember the old hymn, ‘Standing on the Promises?‘ That's exactly how God's covenant people should live. We live each passing day according to God's promises (Psalm 119) rather than modern-day prophecies.

Tons of grace,
Terry Casino

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Modern-day prophet

I believe that God can use modern day prophets to reveal his will for individual and for a nation. No doubt, if God used the prophets thousand of years ago, he can still use them today. I have been receiving emails about prophecies for the Philippines and somehow I have doubts this is authentic. Below is the prophecy of Cindy Jacobs for my country. Next time I will post the response of my theology professor about this and modern-day prophecy in general.

THE NEXT TWO YEARS EXTREMELY SIGNIFICANT You know I love you Philippines . I want you to pray, the next two years, the Lord is showing me, are going to be extremely significant for the Philippines . You're kind of on the cusp of re-civilization, I want to say that, either you're gonna go into greatness, it's going to transform the nation, or I see that there's gonna be some troubled times. So PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! I know you're already praying, but this is the time God is gonna pull down the SPIRIT OF CORRUPTION, and God is going to release the Spirit of truth and righteousness into this nation, because 'Righteousness exalts a nation.' The Lord is giving MANY PROMISES for the Philippines . I mean the Philippines is going to be ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST NATIONS on the earth. You know I prophesied that there'll be oil found off the coasts of the Philippines , and there's much more to be found, there's gold, the treasures of darkness are there. I remember prophesying in Baguio City that there's going to be treasures of darkness, and it has not been found, they were saved for the Body of Christ. And remember, they found this treasure, the Japanese had buried them on the ground after World War II. That was a sign. What does God mean to do? The SPIRIT OF POVERTY will be broken. I want to say to you, mothers will be able to feed their children, there is going to be a system put in place. FOR MINDANAO Even in Mindanao, you know, I've prophesied over Mindanao, and I want to say to you again Mindanao , 'Arise, you are the blue-flamed warriors that I talked about, warriors of fire, warriors that God is going to bring with HOLINESS,' and it's gonna happen. I just see literally THOUSANDS OF MISSIONARIES going out of Mindanao , thousands, thousands. I mean to Cambodia , Vietnam , Laos , Bangladesh , even to India , Central Asia -- Kyrgystan , Kazakhstan . The Lord says, 'I'm a just God,' those places where darkness has tried to grip, where it seems there's been so much desolation, so much poverty, so much sorrow. The Lord says, ‘I, the Lion of Judah , am going to rise in those darkest places, and bring justice, and the people who were set in darkness will see a great light. But not only see a great light, but be LIGHT-BEARERS to the ends of the earth,‘ says the Lord. (In view of fighting going on in Mindanao right now) I did not know there was fighting going on in Mindanao right now. I want to say, ‘Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.‘ You might say like Jeremiah thought in the Book of Lamentations, ‘God, You've abandoned us, where are You?‘ But the Lord say, ‘Do not lose hope and do not lose heart, because the Lord says ' Mindanao will be transformed.'‘

Satan is making a last great stand. Satan has come down with great wrath because he knows his time is short in Mindanao . So RISE UP, even though, you know, it's terrible, and everywhere you look around is devastation, ‘Out of this darkness is going to come a TRANSFORMATION MOVEMENT that will be shown and modeled around the world,‘ says the Lord. NATIONAL FAST FOR THE COMING ELECTIONS You know, the Lord shows me, over the Philippines there is a PRINCIPALITY OF CORRUPTION, and this corruption has been so systemic, and so deep, and this principality thinks it controls the Philippines . But the Lord is showing me that there will be a NATIONAL FAST, praying -- everyone, the north, the south, the east and the west, the whole church, not part of the church, STANDING UP and FASTING and PRAYING. There should not be a day that there isn't fasting going on for the Philippines . And I am calling you, wherever you are, whoever is hearing my voice, whatever pastor is hearing my voice, whatever youth movement, the Lord is saying, 'LOVE YOUR NATION.' This is a strategic nation. Fast for the elections coming up!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fearful faith

Many Christians believe that their priority as believers is to defend doctrine and teachings of God not only to the people of other faiths but more so from fellow believers inside the church. I believe though the number one priority for every Christian is to share gospel of reconciliation. Our powerful God through his Holy Spirit is able to defend himself against false teachings.

Moltmann says that if we assume a rigid defensive stance regarding our doctrine, it is actually cowardly.

The decay of faith and its identity, through the a decline into unbelief and a different identity, forms an exact parallel to their decay through a decline into a fearful defensive faith. Faith is fearful and defensive when it begins to die inwardly, struggling to maintain itself and reaching out for security and guarantees. In so doing, it removes itself from the hand of the one who has promised to maintain it, and its own manipulations bring it to ruin. This pusillanimous faith usually occurs in the form of orthodoxy which feels threatened and is therefore more rigid than ever. It occurs wherever, in the face of the immorality of the present age, the gospel of creative love for the abandoned is replaced by the law of what supposed to be Christian morality, and by penal law.

He who is of little faith looks for support and protection for his faith because it is preyed upon by fear. Such faith tries to protect its 'most sacred things', God, Christ, doctrine and morality, because it clearly no longer believes that these are sufficiently powerful to maintain themselves. When the 'religion of fear' finds its way into the Christian church, those who regard themselves as the most vigilant guardians of faith do violence to faith and smother it.

Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God, pp. 11-12.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Absolute point of view

Reading an academic theology book gives you a feeling that very little of the content of the book would be applicable for the ministry or at least to your present situation. You have this inkling that the author would address issues that are relevant only among professional theologians. They are those who write articles, essays and books that the ordinary minister find useless in their own teaching and preaching. For me, it is always a delight to dig up some treasures deeply buried in theological books. Or perhaps it is just me, too slow to find the connection.

It is a joy to find some passages that speak directly to me and somewhat connect to what I am experiencing personally. Moltmann's book The Crucified God (or many of his books for that matter) always does that to me. Although, I believe Moltmann himself have no idea that the words he has written would speak to somebody in Asia doing missionary works.

I am bothered endlessly by the reality that Christians who believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone, that Jesus Christ is the only way to have a loving relationship with God could not have a authentic loving relationship with each other. Sad to say that the hairline crack that ends up in breaking apart is almost always caused by differences in theological preferences, minor doctrinal differences and certain way of interpreting the word of God. This happen when people start believing that their views alone are right and the all the others are wrong. Theirs are the only absolute truth.

Moltmann says ‘that theology must include reflections upon its own point of view... an attempt to adopt an absolute point of view would be equivalent to having no point of view at all. To make one's own point of view absolute would be stupidity. This does not amount to relativism. Anyone who understand the relativity, will see himself as relative to others; but this does not mean giving up one's own position. To see one's own point of view as relative to that of others means to live in concrete relationships and to think out one's own ideas in relationship to the thought of others. To have no relationship would be death.’ (The Crucified God, 10-11).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Who's Who In Christian Theology: Athanasius

athanasius.jpgATHANASIUS (c. 295-373) Bishop of Alexandria (Egypt)

Athanasius did more than anyone else to bring about the triumph of the orthodox Nicene faith over Arianism, a struggle to which he devoted forty-five years and for which he was exiled five times.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria and was trained there as a theologian. He moved up rapidly as reader, deacon, and theological adviser for Bishop Alexander, accompanying him in 325 to the Council of Nicaea (near Constantinople, now Istanbul in modern Turkey). Athanasius succeeded Alexander as bishop upon Alexander’s death in 328.

The conflicts which necessitated the Council of Nicaea began in Alexandria. They existed when Alexander was bishop and continued throughout the life of Athanasius. The first came from a challenge by Melitius of Lycopolis to the authority which the bishop of Alexandria exercised over the whole church of Egypt. Melitius formed a schismatic church in reaction to the lenient treatment Alexander’s predecessor gave to those who had denied the faith during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian. A greater conflict soon to engulf the whole church began when Arius, an Alexandrian presbyter, advocated the view that Christ was not eternal but was created by the Father Arius was condemned by Alexander in 319 at a synod in his city; but Arian views spread rapidly in the East, where prominent bishops held similar views. The Council of Nicaea was called in 325 by the Roman emperor Constantine to settle the Melitian and Arian issues and to bring unity to the church and civic peace to the area.

Condemnation of Arius by the council and even the adoption of the Nicene Creed did not bring the peace and unity which Constantine desired. There was ambiguity in the way the bishops understood the creed they had signed. As a result, Arius eventually signed the creed himself (with a few private additions). The emperor then ordered Athanasius, now bishop of Alexandria, to restore Arius. When the order arrived, Athanasius refused to readmit Arius — whereupon false charges were brought against Athanasius at the synod of Tyre (335), and Constantine exiled him.

The sanction of Arian views by the emperor threatened to turn Christianity into a philosophy mixed with pagan thought. Arians believed in a single supreme God who made contact with the world through lower creatures such as the Son and the Spirit. The Son was a suffering divine hero who was to be worshiped, very much like the hero gods of the Greeks. Since that view was so similar to paganism, Arianism made the monotheism of Christianity acceptable to many who were adopting the religion of the emperor. Athanasius recognized the danger and frequently called the Arians heathens.

As Arianism’s greatest opponent, Athanasius emphasized redemption and the necessity of the Incarnation of the Word (Christ) for man’s salvation (Oration on the Incarnation of the Word). He taught that it was necessary for the Word to be as eternal as God if he was to form the divine image in man. This was also the emphasis of his primary theological work, The Three Orations against the Arians (335 or later). In Three Orations Athanasius taught that since the Scripture describes the Son as “begotten” of the Father, he must be of the same nature as the Father, not a creature of the Father. Christ was generated spiritually, not created. In the second oration Athanasius rejected the Arians’ baptism because they did not baptize in the name of the Trinity as understood in Scripture.

Athanasius’s periods of exile spanned the rule of four emperors: Constantine, Constantius, Julian (a pagan who tried to restore the old gods), and Valens (who exiled Athanasius for only four months). His first exile lasted until Constantine’s death in 337. He returned to Alexandria only to be deposed the same year by a synod of Antioch. From 346, there was relative peace until he was again deposed in 355. The years 361 and 362 saw him back in his bishopric, but emperor Julian exiled him in the fall of the second year. He went back to Alexandria in 363, was deposed in 365, and recalled in 366. Through these trying times Athanasius struggled for the faith without yielding. He made it difficult for emperors to deal with him. At times he would delay appearing before their court, or would escape to appear before the emperor at another time and place — to the surprise of everyone. Throughout the struggles the majority of Christians in Alexandria remained devoted to him. One major benefit resulted from his two exiles in the West: the Latin church came under his influence.

There were, however, many bishops in the East who were not Arians and had no sympathy with the Arian bishops who controlled the Eastern church during the rule of Constantius. At the same time, they did not completely agree with the wording of the Nicene Creed: “the Son of God . . . of one substance with the Father.” The majority of those bishops held that the essence of the Son is “like” that of the Father. For them the creedal phrase did not make a clear distinction between Father and Son. In 359 Athanasius made a great step toward reconciliation with that majority in his Letter Concerning the Synods. He apologized to Basil of Ancyra and said that those who accepted the Nicene Creed but questioned the term “of one substance” should be treated as brothers. Athanasius went further toward reconciliation by calling a synod in Alexandria (362) during his brief return while Julian was emperor. The final step in the triumph of orthodoxy came after the death of Athanasius under the emperor Theodosius at the Council of Constantinople in 381.

In addition to contributing to the defeat of Arianism, Athanasius helped shape the Christian ideal of monasticism. He brought monasticism out of isolation in Egypt with his book, The Life of Antony. Athanasius knew the desert hermit monk personally and through his writing made the pattern of Antony’s life the ideal in the East. The Life of Antony also had an impact on many in the West.--J. Newton

J. D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort,
EditorsDonald Mitchell, Associate Editor
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Hoping for a fruitful year

Hope I could write: "The year 2008 was the busiest year we had here in the mission field. The year 2009 is the beginning of our fourth year here in Thailand. Ministries are starting to take off and the day care is growing. Teaching at the Bible school is taking much of my time. The actual teaching takes two hours but the preparation and making the lessons easy to translate takes a lot of hard work. I prepare the lesson using Powepoint because I find it very helpful if you are teaching with an interpreter. It makes the translation a lot easier.

This year, I have to divide my time in teaching, preaching, writing, working around the house, gardening and driving the school bus plus the fact that I am a husband and a father of three home schooled children.

This year I need to move forward with the paper so I will be reading and write a few sentences each day as I had been doing before the tragedy happened.

I will read The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann for a start this year and I am hoping to accomplish something this year. Sigh

Meanwhile here is an interesting quote from Moltmann from CG, page 8.

Fundamentalism fossilizes the Bible into an unquestionable authority. Dogmatism freezes living Christian tradition solid. The habitual conservatism of religion makes the liturgy inflexible, and Christian morality--often against its better knowledge and conscience--becomes a deadening legalism.