Easter is Coming
This paper is written in response to the following email, which was received from a friend. This email is essentially a quote, but several corrections were made to it and it was otherwise cleaned up before passing it on to you. Pictures in the original were stripped off by Blogger, there is nothing to be done about that. Before you begin to read, we must say that this email cannot be applauded.
Sola Gloria Dei
Christ is Risen
How The Apostles Died / The Death of JesusI’ve never, ever seen this all in one place before! (This refers to the pictures which, unfortunately, Blogger would not copy.)
1 Matthew: Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.
2 Mark: Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt , after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
3 Luke: Luke was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
4 John: John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in [a] huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve As Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
5 Peter: Peter was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross. According to church tradition, it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
6 James: James the leader of the Church in Jerusalem , was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
7 James the Great: James the Son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus Called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
8 Bartholomew: Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
9 Andrew: Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras , Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: ‘I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.’ He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
10 Thomas: Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.
11 Jude: Jude was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
12 Matthias: Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
13 Paul: Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
Perhaps this is a reminder to us that our sufferings here are indeed minor compared to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles and disciples during their times for the sake of the Faith. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew.
Faith is not believing that God can, It is knowing that God WILL!”
Jesus' Death The Death of Jesus
For the next 60 seconds, set aside whatever you're doing and take this opportunity! Let's see if Satan can stop this.
THE (SCIENTIFIC) DEATH OF JESUS
At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to death. At the time, Crucifixion was the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus, unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion Jesus was to be nailed to the cross by His hands and feet. Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long.
The nails were driven into His wrist. Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There's a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder. The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breath.
Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus, He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross. Jesus could not support himself with His legs because of the pain so He was forced to alternate between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breath. Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage.
Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours. Yes, over 3 hours! Can you imagine this kind of suffering? A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water from his wounds. From common images, we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side.... But do we realize His wounds were actually made in his body. A hammer driving large nails through the wrist, the feet overlapped and an even large[r] nail hammered through the arches, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. But before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten. The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face. The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp. Most men would not have survived this torture. He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds. The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood. Jesus poured all 3.5 liters of his blood; He had three nails hammered into His members; a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His chest... All these without mentioning the humiliation He suffered after carrying His own cross for almost 2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones (the cross was almost 30 kg of weight, only for its higher part, where His hands were nailed). Jesus had to endure this experience, to open the gates of Heaven, So that you can have free access to God. So that your sins could be "washed" away. All of them, with no exception!
Don't ignore this situation. JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOU! He died for you! It is easy to pass jokes or foolish photos by e-mail, but when it comes to God, sometimes you feel ashamed to forward to others because you are worried of what they may think about you.
God Has plans for you, show all your friends what He experienced to save you. Now think about this! May God bless your Life! 60 Seconds with God.... For the next 60 Seconds, set aside what you're doing and take this opportunity! Let's see if Satan can stop this.... All you have to do is:
1. Simply Pray for the person who sent this message to you.
2. Then, send this Message to people. The more the better.
The Basic Question
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Herb, what are your thoughts about this information?
What are my thoughts about the collection of icons, especially icons of the Apostles in one place? What are my thoughts about the stories of the Apostles outside of Scripture? What are my thoughts about Holy Tradition? What are my thoughts about details of the Crucifixion outside of Scripture? What are my thoughts about the use of emotion and guilt in a paper like this?
Sola Gloria Dei
Sola Gloria Dei
My primary thought about this information is Sola Gloria Dei; not Sola Gratia, not Sola Fides, not Sola Scriptura. First and foremost, my thoughts are Sola Gloria Dei. What I mean to say by this is not, praise God for all this information about the saints; although, I certainly do want to praise God for information about the saints, I do want to be grateful and thankful. Rather, what I mean is that when all is said and done, and everything else has turned to dust, God remains, God is the center of my faith, and when everything else fails, all that matters is God. God is the center of my Authority. God is my only final Authority.
In other words, I want to claim nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else than is claimed in the Psalms: namely, God is everything to me. Even Psalms that are dedicated to the Law of God (Psalms 19 and 119) have their center, not in Scripture, but in God Himself. I’m searching, but I have yet to find a single Psalm where this is not true.
So what are my thoughts about this information? I think we must fix our lives centrally and mainly on God alone. Folks that have centered their lives on their church, on a particular church structure, even on Scripture, on anything other than God Himself, inevitably end up in the ditch. In Nazi Germany, folks who put their faith in Lutheran authority, rather than in the God that Luther taught, watched the Lutheran Church buckle under to Socialist Party pressure, and they lost their faith. In Russia, folks who put their faith in the local priest, or Orthodox Church structure and authority, rather than in the God that Orthodoxy taught, watched the same priests betray and become communist informants, and they lost their faith. In America, folks who put their faith in the Roman Catholic Church, in the authority of bishops or priests, in the Magisterium, rather than in the God that Catholicism teaches, had their faith shaken and many lost it completely when Kennedy was shot, and when one scandal after another began to roll through their church. I think
Sola Gloria Dei
But What About Scripture and Tradition?
I certainly do believe that Scripture is primary within Tradition. What is Tradition? Tradition is 2 Timothy 2:2. Jesus, within the Trinity is the Author of the Old Testament; He is also the fulfillment of it. We don’t like to talk about this, but had Jesus not come we would not even have an authoritative Old Testament. The Israelites and Jews had frittered everything away: what they did have was recovered from copies and memory, all in the flesh. When Jesus came, He restored all authority, and passed it on to Apostles (Luke 24:44-49). What the Apostles received, they passed on, as we do to this very day. This is Tradition, this is history. The most important single part of this Tradition by far is the recovery of the Old Testament, and the writing of the New Testament. But the Old and New Testaments are not the whole of Tradition or history. Many things were passed on by word of mouth that were never written down (John 21:24-25).
We have other Traditions without which we cannot live: for example, The Nicene Creed, which may have been published before the New Testament was published. One of the ironies of history is that it is difficult to find early authoritative statements, which state plainly that the New Testament consists of these exact books. Finding Old Testament lists is not so easy either. What we have, we have because of Tradition.
But Tradition has its problems. There have always been liars among men. The same Satan who sowed tares among the wheat (unbelievers in the Church), also created false documents and artifacts among the true documents and artifacts. Clever forgeries existed, and are even being manufactured to this day. There is a lot of money to be made from artifacts, and it is a lot more profitable to make a forged, document, tombstone, or burial box than it is, accidentally, to find a true one by digging it up. The things that are not written down are frequently embellished. Which one of us does not have a sports hero who is eight feet tall, hit five homeruns in a single game, has a 60 second hang time in basketball, and leaps tall buildings with a single bound. The problem with Tradition is how do we ever sort out the truth from the lies and even innocent exaggerations?
Tradition has other problems as well. There is so much of it, in so many countries, in so many languages, around the world. There are thousands of hymns, some of which have never been published in a single hymnbook. The Ancient Church started remembering the Ancient Saints as we remember birthdays and marriages today. These things are parts of Tradition and they are important, but they are not on par with the Tradition of Scripture itself. Soon the Ancient Church ran out of open calendar days for remembering the Saints, so they started doubling them up, eventually there were so many Saints that the settled on this device. Everybody named Augustine celebrates St. Augustine’s day; so all the Augustines of this world celebrate their day together, etc. Grandpa’s old pipe is an important relic in somebody’s house: this is an important and treasured tradition, but it should not be made into an object of worship. Similarly, the Ancient Church kept and venerated the bones and burial sites of their ancestors. These bones were reminders that the Saints were not dead, but alive in Christ: the same reason that grave headstones are important to us. But the worship of these bones and other relics is wrong. That doesn’t mean we should throw them all out. Nevertheless, the whole world is full of these things: there is far too much for a whole army of people to keep track of.
The Icons and Stories at Hand.
Are the icons and stories at hand important pieces of tradition. Well, yes, they are the same sort of thing. And I can drill down into the information at hand, but when I have finished all the work of which I am capable, it will still be hearsay. I’m not capable of getting to the piece of art in the picture, and even if I could, I wouldn’t have the competence to examine it to determine if it were authentic or not. I would never be able to say this icon of Matthew was painted in the fourth century by so and so, using a mosaic of Matthew’s face from 52 AD found at Illyricum. The most that I would ever be able to say is, I accept it, I receive it. When a teacher grades thirty papers, he/she has prior mastery of the subject and assigns grades accordingly. I have no such knowledge, and no basis of comparison to say this is bad and that good, this is A and that F. I haven’t the skill to look at one hundred copies of reports of Matthew's life and say this is good, this bad, and this is how they fit together. I can only accept or reject it as interesting, but I have no firsthand experience or knowledge.
This is the sort of stuff that high school and even college history books are made of: second hand information, and not all that valuable. Until I’m able to work with the original stories in their original languages, I must be content with what some historian writes in statements like these. However, these summary statements are often misleading, sometimes off-track, sometimes even frauds and lies. Historians all have their own axes to grind, their own hidden agendas, their own points to prove. Sometimes that which is proved has no relationship to the evidence. I look and say, “Isn’t that interesting,” but I don’t say, “I know,” because I don’t know, and most of it I will never know. I’m just not strong enough, smart enough, and don’t have enough time left. Nevertheless, if there is no evidence, I throw it out, because it is unsubstantiated.
The fundamental issue of iconography, as any Orthodox iconographer would be happy to tell us is, “Is it faithful to Scripture?” Legitimate iconographers don’t paint, they write with paint. They spend a lot of time in Scripture and prayer before applying a single brush stroke to wood. So iconography is more than religious art, it is a written commentary on Scripture. Without iconography, our churches would be rather barren, and our children would grow up believing that art had no spiritual purpose.
The same thing is true of hymnography. Hymns are more than religious music, they are sung commentaries on Scripture and profound illustrations of Christian life. Often church music, musicians, and choirs will remain faithful to the Gospel, long after the theologians have betrayed everything.
Then there is the issue of liturgy and litany. It would be very difficult, even impossible, to reconstruct these things from Scripture. What practice we have was mostly handed down outside of Scripture. The structure of our building and its altar was largely taken from the Jewish Temple and synagogues. The service itself is a miniaturized version of the first Holy Week. These practices are at least as old as 325 AD. The first 300 years are difficult because Christians were running for their lives due to persecution.
We have to believe at this point that the Holy Ghost did not lead this Ancient Church astray, and that this Ancient Church was faithful in preserving whatever it could preserve, then equally faithful, in passing it on to us. We do not need to listen to voices outside of the Church such as Judaism and Islam. Judaism forfeited its access to the Holy Ghost over 2,500 years ago. So all these voices outside of the Church are voices of flesh. This does not mean that these voices of flesh are entirely without wisdom: but they have no spiritual authority.
We need more ways to preach the Gospel than with books and lectures. Everything in life should preach Jesus, crucified and raised from the dead: every sound, every smell, every sight, every taste, every touch, everything (Psalm 150). As the Episcopals used to say, every bell and every smell. Coming home, observers would say, “You smell like church,” because the smell of incense clung to their clothes.
It remains to be seen if these particular icons faithfully preach Christ and Christian life.
What About the Crucifixion Science?
The science seems plausible, so what. I’ve given most of my life to the reading of science, but very little of this is close to my field of expertise. Most of it, I’ve heard before. I’m not a physician. Again, I don’t know. This sort of stuff appeals to the human emotions, but it is not the focus of Scripture. It seems to me that the most we can say is, “Isn’t that interesting.” Then we forget it and go back to our Bibles.
Am I Interested in Areas of Tradition?
Sure I am. My baptismal name is Augustine. I chose it because Augustine is the lone dominant pillar of the Fourth Century Western Church. Luther and Calvin are both Augustinian. So If I ever get in a theological scrape, I want somebody solid to hide behind, which is why I’m not ashamed to call myself Augie. It’s an honor your father and mother thing, and Augustine is a prominent name among my spiritual ancestors. Am I an expert in Augustine? Not hardly. I’ve got five of his books yet to read, dozens of others more to buy and read, and that’s just scratching the surface in the study of one man. It’s more important that I read my Bible.
I’m interested in nailing down key dates. It’s important to me to know that Herod the Great (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great) lived between 74 and 4 BC, reigned from 37 to 4 BC, killed the innocent children of Bethlehem, and would have killed Jesus if he had ever laid hands on Him. It’s important to me to know something about the Herodian family so I can sort out what’s going on in the beheading of John the Baptist and in the book of Acts.
Where Should You Go with Tradition?
Go anywhere that’s of special interest to you. I certainly don’t want to discourage you from studying. Sometimes the expression “Sola Scriptura” really means, I’d rather be ignorant of history. In my case, I really am ignorant, but I do study as hard as I am able. So, by all means, study away.
You will note that I keep returning to the internet for resources. If I recommend an article, it squares with my training, many theology books in my library, what I’ve been taught, and most of all with what I see in Scripture. Here are some of those recommended resources:
· http://www.wikipedia.org/: Wikipedia catches a lot of flack, most of it unjustified.
I stick to the free stuff, because I don’t have money for the rest. There are whole oodles of icon resources, books of the lives of saints. I hope that gets you started in whatever direction you want to go.
These Particular Icons and Stories
It’s good to know that the Apostles, except for Judas, were faithful unto death. But I knew that already. Was Matthew the premier evangelist of the Ethiopians? No, Acts tells us that the Ethiopian Eunuch was. Did Matthew do follow-up work in Ethiopia? Judge for yourself.
Note that in this case, New Advent appears to provide the best information. There is very little support for a sword wound. My Latin is not good enough to cope. From New Advent, Quote:
There is a disagreement as to the place of St. Matthew's martyrdom and the kind of torture inflicted on him, therefore it is not known whether he was burned, stoned, or beheaded. The Roman Martyrology simply says: "S. Matthæi, qui in Æthiopia prædicans martyrium passus est".
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/732458.html, has this to say, Quote:
"Information concerning the life and death of Matthias is vague and contradictory. According to Nicephorus (Hist. eccl., 2, 40), he first preached the Gospel in Judea, then in Ethiopia (that is to say, Colchis) and was crucified. The Synopsis of Dorotheus contains this tradition: Matthias in interiore AEthiopia, ubi Hyssus maris portus et Phasis fluvius est, hominibus barbaris et carnivoris praedicavit Evangelium. Mortuus est autem in Sebastopoli, ibique prope templum Solis sepultus (Matthias preached the Gospel to barbarians and cannibals in the interior of Ethiopia, at the harbour of the sea of Hyssus, at the mouth of the river Phasis. He died at Sebastopolis, and was buried there, near the Temple of the Sun). Still another tradition maintains that Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem by the Jews, and then beheaded (cf. Tillemont, "Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire eccl. Des six premiers siècles", I, 406-7). It is said that St. Helena brought the relics of St. Matthias to Rome, and that a portion of them was at Trier. Bollandus (Acta SS., May, III) doubts if the relics that are in Rome are not rather those of the St. Matthias who was Bishop of Jerusalem about the year 120, and whose history would seem to have been confounded with that of the Apostle."
So here is the first indication that the author of the original email did not do all their homework. Still it was interesting to chase down and read.
A Preliminary Conclusion
In the final analysis, we discover that what is important about Matthew is that he wrote the Gospel of Matthew. But of course, nowadays, that is exactly what evil people want to deny: the Gospel of Matthew, they say, was written by somebody other than Matthew, it has no Apostolic authority, so we can move on with our spiritual lives, since we don’t have to obey it.
I say, away with all such foolish opinions. Matthew did write the Gospel of Matthew, that is what I need to know.
Sola Gloria Dei
My Tradition was developed in time by the Holy Ghost (John 16:13-15). The promise in John is to “lead us into all truth;” Christ did not promise to dump truth on us in a finished completed lump. The Holy Ghost continues to “lead us into all truth.” This does not mean that there is new truth out there, somewhere. It means that there is always room for fresh insight into Scripture: we’re still learning.
The events that happen in the Church are important to me. My Bible came from God Who gave it. When all of these things turn to powder, My God remains eternal. His Word is forever fixed in heaven (Psalm 119:89). Earth just has copies.
Sola Gloria Dei
What are my thoughts about:
· The collection of icons? Interesting, I have a few paper copies. These in the letter are not my favorites.
· Icons of the Apostles in one place? Many such collections exist, this one is not especially impressive. Impressive collections can be found at various Orthodox churches.
· The stories of the Apostles outside of Scripture? Not essential to faith. Interesting if accurate. We’ve already found one blunder in this set.
· Holy Tradition? Absolutely essential; cannot live without it. Our music and worship depend on it.
· Details of the Crucifixion outside of Scripture? Not essential to faith. Interesting if accurate. Too much emphasis on physical suffering. No emphasis on spiritual suffering. No sense of victory.
· Use of emotion and guilt in a paper like this? Bad News, usually to be avoided.
Sola Gloria Dei
Christ is Risen
That is the Easter Message
Christ is Risen
Sola Gloria Dei
Yours in Christ,
 Many of Paul’s epistles are not written from Rome or from prison.
 Actually, both Luke and John wrote more than Paul wrote.
 This statement is not especially true: for example, many millions of Christians have been slowly starved to death; modern man has invented instruments of cruelty that put previous generations to shame. None of this is relevant. We are in Christ, and He in us. In this God created relationship, sufferings can no longer be distinguished, all are cast at the loving feet of Jesus. Not one of our physical sufferings can be said to carry the weight of the world’s sin, or any one sin, for that matter. There is no place in Christian life for comparing mere physical suffering: as though there were some sort of Christian one-up-man-ship, I suffered more than you did.
 This does not reveal a good understanding of faith.
 This is pure guilt trip. Satan may not care to stop this, but perhaps Christians should put a stop to it.
 Jesus could easily been 37 at His death.
 What about criminals who were beaten to death. The purpose of crucifixion was to create a public spectacle. “Worst,” does not provide and accurate understanding. All the emphasis and focus is on the physical. There is a far greater spiritual aspect and meaning (the bearing of sin) to the Crucifixion, not to mention that Jesus conquers Satan by it.
 Yes, I can imagine this kind of suffering. I cannot imagine the suffering of bearing the sins of the whole world.
 This is not scientifically accurate. The body has two liquid systems: blood and lymph. Scripture invariably calls these bloods, plural. There is no evidence that Jesus died from exsanguination; He died from asphyxiation and heart failure. It is entirely possible that the stress ruptured His heart, and He literally died from a broken heart. The presence of lymphatic fluid indicates this possibility.
 Now how on earth can we know that?
 Just more guilt trip. Christians should give careful consideration to the Great Commission’s exact words before doing anything. Where is the freedom and joy of the Resurrected Christ to be found in this message? This is abeating of the sheep, rather than a feeding of them.
 A possible exception is the liturgy of St. James, which was preserved among the Gaelic tribes, especially Ireland. This liturgy could date back to the era of the Apostles, when Paul himself was a missionary to the British Isles.
 Saint Matthew who in Ethiopia prophesied, endured martyrdom. It is impossible, from this statement alone, to determine of the weight of martyrdom has already come to mean death, or if the meaning is, “continued to witness.” Nor is it possible to be certain that this “martyrium” was still in Ethiopia, or subsequent to it. “Passus est” is the perfect indicative of patior: http://www.informalmusic.com/latinsoc/verbs/patior.html and http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/patior.