NB: lots of Christian stuff in this post, but there will be a tie-in to the role that I see Christianity playing in moving toward liberty. Trust me.
The Christian Stuff
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Sunday is the day of Pentecost; for the Eastern Orthodox, it is next Sunday. While the Resurrection was necessary for salvation, Pentecost was necessary to change the disciples into fearless men.
For the most part, the Gospels offer a picture of confused disciples. Confused about the role Jesus is playing in this drama. The world in which they lived was certainly expecting a Messiah; he would be the one who would re-establish Israel’s kingdom on earth. There were revolts as recently as a century or two before, known as the Maccabean Revolt. This was an uprising against the Greeks; Antiochus IV issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice.
The prophets anticipated a Messiah, and many Jews understood him to be the leader of revolution. Much of the disciples’ confusion can be better understood if read with this view.
Peter was warned that he would deny Jesus before the sunrise. Peter was certain he would not. Mentally, we immediately move forward in the story to the denial, but in between, Peter cuts off the ear of the guard coming to take Jesus captive. Peter was ready for revolution, not sacrifice.
It was only when this revolutionary act by Peter didn’t result in revolution that he then became fearful – and denied knowing Jesus.
Let’s skip over the trial, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Now those who followed Jesus would be targets – they were also revolutionaries, associated with “The King of the Jews.” Their leader, though they saw him again, wasn’t leading them the way they thought. Then He was gone, in the clouds. Alone, did they fear their fate?
Until Pentecost. Immediately after, Peter preached the Resurrection without fear. Three thousand were added to their number.
There is no salvation without the Resurrection. There is no Christianity without Pentecost.
The Liberty Stuff
Ephesians 6: 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I have written dozens of posts of debunking historical narratives. One can label this as conspiracy thinking on my part. So be it. The history of the world is almost a continuous river of this reality. Just since the beginning of the Progressive Era, we have:
· A two-party system
· Remember the Maine
· Make the world safe for democracy
· Central banks can smooth out the business cycle
· We were minding our own business when the Japanese bombed us for no good reason
· We had to drop those two bombs, else a million Americans would die
· The single bullet
· Gulf of Tonkin
· Stabbing babies in incubators
· Three building with two planes (and a dozen other problems with this story)
· Weapons of Mass Destruction
· Irrational exuberance
Take a look at the list. Each one of these was used to diminish liberty; none of these were used to advance liberty. These are the fruits of the rulers of the darkness of this world. Call it a conspiracy theory. It is bigger than most can imagine. Could you have ever imagined the panic that took control over all of society a couple of months ago for fear of a bug? Is this really all the doing of two-legged men? Of Gates and Fauci? Or does the never-ending list suggest something much deeper?
The apostles were only able to confront these rulers of the darkness after Pentecost – after receiving the Holy Spirit.
It is here where, institutionally, Christianity must fight. Elsewhere in Ephesians, we are told to put on the armour of God. The armour is of no use if we don’t understand that against which we are fighting. Why put on armour if we aren’t to fight?
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience
This understanding begins by recognizing those who perpetrate these acts designed to convince us to worship Baal. This understanding begins by recognizing those who are the tools of the prince of the power of the air. It begins by recognizing that the conspiracy runs much deeper and longer than humanly possible. It begins by understanding that this conspiracy is designed to rob you of your liberty – in this life and (for those of us who believe such things) the next.
The apostles spoke truth to power after receiving the Holy Spirit. Christians today must do no less.
The last couple of months have been tremendously disappointing, given how I see the path forward. How quickly Christian leaders have succumbed. From such as these I expect cultural revolution?
Well, this is what I have. And, perhaps, out of this might come a smaller, yet more committed and more focused, body of Christ.
Our normal weekly Mass attendance is approximately 2,000. As of this, 584 souls have "signed-up" to attend this weekend, the first weekend back. It is evidence supporting your hypothesis of "a smaller, yet more committed and more focused, [B]ody of Christ."ReplyDelete
On a more down-to-earth level, Acts 2:1 brought up the satire "A Mighty Wind" and the recently departed, may he RIP, Fred Willard.
Eric, I get your Fred Willard reference. Such a funny actor in some great movies.Delete
You have missed the ultimate purpose of Pentecost; the bringing back of the Gentile Nations under loyalty to YHWH. Freedom, or liberty is not the goal, loyalty to God, IS!!! Wherever the Kingdom of Jesus is established, the effects of the Fall and the curses in Genesis 3, rebellions in Genesis 6 and 10 and their inevitable degeneration, are thwarted. We had to have YHWH come in human flesh, fulfill the Law of Moses, die for sin, resurrect for life, ascended to prove it all, and then provide life giving, sustaining and changing power at Pentecost. Political action is only peripheral. I think you spoke truth, but it stopped short of purpose.Delete
Joe, from the context of your comment I believe you are replying to me, and not to Eric.Delete
I do not miss the purpose of Pentecost. I cannot incorporate every thought and qualifier in every post that I write. There are some ideas that I purposefully avoid.
If you are not familiar with the overall conversation at this blog, my purpose - at least for a time and for the foreseeable future - is to examine this intersection of Christianity and its necessity for human liberty.
Purposefully, I try to avoid or minimize the preachy stuff or the theological debates. The first is not my purpose, and the second I find futile for all but the most highly trained men of good Christian will.
In deed it should result in more focused (yet tighter/smaller) Church. Much has to change and if we don't take this opportunity, shame on us. Much work to do. So many confused and wondering what life is about.ReplyDelete
It will be interesting to see the actions and reactions of members of my church (and, broadly, all churches) once they join together in person.Delete
Will they take their leaders at the local and higher levels to task for this nonsense - bowing to the state on such a fundamental point as worshiping freely? If this issue doesn't cause Christians to question the state, what will?
We will see.
It is within crisis that character is revealed. This recent phony crisis has revealed the complete lack of character that is modern christianity. It is a dead religion now. Cause of death: suicide.ReplyDelete
A BTW question. Did muslims and jews bend the knee to the gubmit's declarations to not practice their faith like christians did?
BM, I have been telling my community group at church and another friend the same thing. Quoted Ephesians 2:2 to him sitting at a table at Rudy's. The prince of the power of the air.ReplyDelete
Reflecting on all the conspiracy theories and their veracity, I thought the same exact thing. There are spiritual forces of darkness that are building those narratives. Not many people right now are willing to admit that 'Murca can be so deceived, even the SJWs protesting the George Floyd murder still trust the superstructure. Their beliefs are self-contradictory and I doubt they will realize that any time soon.
This is what I have been thinking about lately. You would think that Christians would be most attune to the possibility of "conspiracies."Delete
Satan, the great deceiver, is this prince of the power of the air. Do we really believe that he is not using this power, or that he is making known all of his plans openly and honestly?
Add this to the never-ending list of such actions (from which, I have only offered highlights and only of the last 125 years). From where does this energy come? How is it so consistent, over long stretches of history?
But, the first Sunday back in person, let's see how many sermons turn this verse in Ephesians on its head. The corona is the prince of the power of the air, and God did His righteous work through the state to defeat Satan.
Sorry about that. What a downer, and on the day of Pentecost, no less. Thank God that we have a stronger power on our side.
You say, "Their leader, though they saw him again, wasn’t leading them the way they thought. Then He was gone, in the clouds. Alone, did they fear their fate? Until Pentecost."ReplyDelete
I just realized something in the past couple of weeks. Luke says that "51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God."
Pentecost brought the Holy Spirit and power, but it does look like that when the Ascension occurred 10 days earlier, they finally understood enough that they were filled with joy rather than fear. Merely a 10 day quibble :)
Thanks, Jay. I knew it the back of my mind of such a passage. I was a bit lazy about wanting to check again all four Gospels and trying to reconcile, if necessary, the language.Delete
In the end, I agree - plus or minus ten days, something happened in this time that fundamentally changed these men - both in understanding and in attitude.
“I will build my Church...” – Jesus ChristReplyDelete
I have made a living over the last 35+ years working in the construction industry, primarily in residential housing. I have gained an ability to know when something can be repaired easily and efficiently at a relatively low cost and when it cannot. There are times when a structure has deteriorated past the point of saving and there is no recourse except to demolish it and rebuild something else, quite often from the ground up. There are times when it is less than useless to pour more time, effort, and money into it in order to salvage it. There are times when it is a money pit. I know, from experience. Been there, done that.
Such is the state of the Christian Church today.
Understand one thing. I want to be crystal clear about this so that there is no misunderstanding. I do not advocate replacing the Church with some other institution nor do I propose replacing Christianity with another religion. If Jesus Christ is to be believed and the statement above is true, then the Church will be with us always and forever. There should be no question about that for those who are believers. However, this does not take away from the fact that He is the Master Builder and it is His prerogative to destroy an edifice which is rotten, corrupted, splintered, broken, and unfit to live in, all with the intention to build a new, better, more beautiful, longer-lasting structure in its place.
What that will look like is not for us to know or to determine. Our only direction is to follow the plan set.
From a builder’s perspective, I can see the demolition well underway. I can see the wrecking crew of the State hard at work, ripping, tearing, smashing. I can see truckloads of demolished material being carted off to landfills everywhere. I can see machines digging out unstable soil all the way down to a solid foundation in preparation for reinforced footers to be poured which will support the entire new structure.
From a builder’s perspective, I can imagine the Owner, Chief Architect, Master Planner looking at what once was a beautiful, vibrant city and seeing that it has become a filthy, garbage-strewn, disease-ridden, crime-filled slum, fit only to sweep away and destroy in order to rebuild better than ever. Admittedly, my vision is limited and poor, but I have faith that this is what is happening and if it takes a long, long time before we can see any walls rising above ground level, so what? Isn’t a thousand years with us as one day with Him?
There is a truism that before anything can be built, something else must first be destroyed. We are seeing that happen now and, unfortunately, in the destruction there will be a lot of pain, heartache, despair, and death. Nevertheless, instead of looking back at the past and trying to resurrect a corpse, we should turn our backs on it and forge ahead into the bright future, wrecking what we must, building where we can, and never allowing our hopes and dreams of a better life ahead for future generations to dim or be extinguished.
Will the Church of tomorrow be different than the one of yesterday? Absolutely, without doubt! Do I know or have any inkling what it will be like? Absolutely not, again without doubt, but the decision as to the form it takes is above my pay grade. I can only trust that when Jesus spoke those words, “I will build My Church...”, that He knew what He was talking about and was determined to see it through.
This is not to say that we can just coast along, putting in our time and collecting a paycheck. That is a good way to get fired. No, there is hard work ahead for all of us and everything we do and say now will be integrated into the overall structure of the building—for better or for worse. It it’s good, it will be allowed to stand. If it’s not, it will be torn out and rebuilt.
Roger, I very much like this analogy. I think it is not merely happenstance that Jesus was a carpenter.Delete
"Nevertheless, instead of looking back at the past and trying to resurrect a corpse, we should turn our backs on it..."
I want to see how this plays out. Even in a demolition, you save the copper plumbing and perhaps the antique bathtub.
There are others in current churches today that feel as many of us do - maybe not even a majority, but many. This will also include those in positions of institutional leadership - maybe not at the very top, but up and down the hierarchy.
There is always a remnant. Even in the corpse, some organs prove useful to sustaining the life of another.
Well, the antique bathtub could be saved and reused, especially if it's a cast iron claw foot in good condition. Copper is usually scrapped and reconstituted, but is almost never sent to a landfill. No doubt there are other parts which can be salvaged and used or repurposed, but this is at the discretion of the Contractor. Salvage belongs to the Contractor.Delete
As to the corpse, some organs might be useful--if they are removed immediately after death and cared for properly. Corpses might also be used in anatomy classes or the investigation of a crime, but usually are fit only to be buried or cremated.
I've never found a corpse in any buildings I've torn down, but we did find an old auto chassis buried under a basement floor recently. Not much left of it, but it was recognizable.
I think personally that when Paul said we were fighting the "powers of this world" he was talking about fear.ReplyDelete
This is man's way. Control by fear, most specifically the fear that under man's authority you can be put to death by their decrees and thus ultimately judged.
The resurrection proves that man's authority is truly meaningless. We have nothing to fear. But Paul did not say we were taking up arms against these "principalities and power." That way leads to nothing good. We are always fighting that fear and relying upon God. Paul was exhorting people to think differently, just as Jesus did to Peter.
Peter was thinking in "wordly" terms, and Jesus told him he must think differently. But it's obviously hard. "If I can't fight the powers with my sword of steel, how can I survive?"
We are given the "sword of the Spirit" as our weapon. Whatever the church does, it isn't called to use swords of steel, but a sword of words. And if that results in our death at the hands of illegitimate authorities, because of our wielding of that sword, then we have gained much more than anything this earth has to offer.
I don't believe I have written, or implied, anything else.Delete
Thanks as usual, my brother. An old man now, it took this "pandemic" to reveal to me the need for a more committed flock, and shepherds, then we have now. Apparently, Pope Benedict was of the mind that the flock should be smaller (much) but far more dedicated to what my son calls "the powerful religion, Christianity." The scales have lifted from my eyes and, what I once excused, I now see as the source of the present plight of the believing laity: the clergy are simply, to a large extent, careerists. Some could have been ( no offense intended to the bar) lawyers, but for some reason (maybe LSAT scores), they chose the church as a profession. If there are future historians (never forget, "he who controls the present controls the past"), I assume that they will not give passing grades to the institutionalized Church for how it behaved this time around. Not simply acquiescence to Caesar in the form of voluntarily depriving the faithful of the Sacraments and the Eucharistic assembly, but no capacity for prayerful empathy to the waitresses, pizza owners and other small business owners, dentists, and working folks deprived by government of property, wages, and peace of mind. If the Orthodox cathedral of Denver, is an example, the opened churches will be like restaurants: reservations required. Not surprisingly, although epidemiologists are praised as heroes in the "war" against the virus, teachers get scant recognition and sanitation workers, keeping us from further pestilence, get none at all. How's that for the egalitarian commitment of our leaders secular and ecclesiastical. My wife sees this as essentially Satanic. I try to find earthly explanations, but maybe she is right.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Patrick.Delete
Sanitation workers...now that you mention it, they do more to keep society in good health than all of the pharmaceutical companies combined.
For the alternative to the current spineless churches, Google Richard Burton's excommunication scene in the movie Beckett.Delete
Whatever one believes about the authority of the church to excommunicate, there is no doubt that it was an effective tool of shunning - shunning from eternal life! The king, who had the military, would bow to the pope, who did not.Delete
Not always, not perfectly handled, sometimes misused for political gain, but it worked to deal with many offenses.
many are called and FEW are chosen. many are on the broad path and FEW find the narrow path. give up on a cultural revolution. content yourself with helping one or two others on the same path...ReplyDelete
It's the same thing, isn't it.Delete