Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Road Ahead

My “ask”: is it worthwhile that I continue to post at this blog my work through these two books, or is it way too far afield?  I am not sure I will follow whatever responses I receive to this, but I do want a sense of this community on this question.

Regarding the following two books:

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

Jesus Christ: His Life and Teaching, Vol.2 - The Sermon on the Mount, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

I have heard you loud and clear, and am overwhelmed by your response. 

I knew that by writing on what I found meaningful about the two books on the Sermon on the Mount, I would gain much more insight than I would by merely reading it.  And I could have done this writing and just kept a running word document or some such.  But I felt without the objective of publishing at the blog, I might not stick to the writing part of the work.  And my learning would be the lesser for it.  So I asked the question, and I will publish at the blog.

These books are rather long, so the work will continue for quite some time.  To try to remain efficient at this, I am going to try to limit my focus to just a handful of other books, as follows:

These first two are rather short: I am mostly through On the Incarnation, by St. Athanasius, and will soon finish this work.  In the same field, I will follow this with Why God Became Man, by St. Anselm.  While I have for quite some time come to conclude that Christ’s work on the cross would not be complete or sufficient unless he was both God and man, I have some people close to me who are quite comfortable that His being man was enough. 

For this reason, I wanted a better grounding by reading those who are far more qualified than I am on this topic – not for my faith, but so I can be a better apologist.

I will also continue through The Reformation as Renewal: Retrieving the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, by Matthew Barrett.  This is also an extremely long book.  My interest in this book is due to finding myself falling into the pit of believing that much of what the Reformers gave us theologically was new, with little grounding in early Christianity. 

Sure, they could present good Biblical arguments for their positions, but these were ideas not found in the early Church fathers.  Concerned about my drift and that it was guided by ignorance, I decided this book would be a good vehicle through which I would gain a better-informed view.

I am sure once in a while a topic will come up on which I feel I have something of value to add.  What I will try to do is stay disciplined and focused on the books listed here without adding a few more to the active file.


At the same time, I am buried in some personal projects, and am trying to find a way to better organize my time to be more productive such that I can attend to those and pick up the pace of my writing for the blog to at least two, if not three, posts per week.  I think I will have to do this if I am ever to get through the three long books on this list in any reasonable amount of time.

Yet, returning to the present subject: I really do appreciate the positive response regarding my ask.



  1. Yes. Please keep going with your research.
    Greatly appreciated.

  2. Forgive me for saying so, but I'm not sure I would call "believing that much of what the Reformers gave us theologically was new, with little grounding in early Christianity" a pit. Perhaps you find yourself there because there's truth in it.

    Although today I aspire to be an orthodox Catholic (as best I can be anyway), I spent key formative years as a protestant-aligned deist. It was through engaging with apologetics on all sides that led me to my current home. 8 children and a thriving, classically homeschooled household later, I know some fruit has been borne.

    I'm not here to proselytize, I promise, but rather to acknowledge that this is a wonderful blog because it attempts to put aside preconceived notions among lay Christians. I think it has rightly identified that the path to liberty requires, to reach its most achievable zenith, Jesus Christ and His (divine and institutional) Church. This is something Pope Benedict the XVI recognized in his better writings. Or as JPII stated more or less, the way to freedom is through living the gospels.

    Which brings us to the intense need for greater Christian unity and if and where possible, common spiritual communion among Christians; for it is Satan who wishes to divide and conquer. How that shakes out, if ever, is of course the difficulty. But your intellectual explorations indicate there is reason for hope, to find more common ground between the Christian sects than commonly understood. Perhaps some doctrines--rapture, pre or post millennialism, "total depravity"--could use a fair reassessment in the protestant tradition. And Rome, of course, will need far better bishops and stewards who can find unifying bridges that strip some of Catholic doctrine down to its absolute necessities, sufficient, it is hoped, to allow for common communion. We've seen some of that in the the Byzantine Rite and the Anglican Rite, which were great modern accomplishments by my reckoning.

    But much more needs to be done. It is true many early reformers were not "schismatic", and sought to open debate for certain Catholic views within the Church and not outside it, much like the apologetic book you cite by Matthew Barrett. But then there are the deviations driven by politics (the establishment of the Anglican Church being a prime example); the sudden iconoclasm that to me, continues to be a problem in the Reformed tradition to this day and hinders its creation of the highest forms of art and music; and then begging the question on apostolic succession and how that might be best understood.

    But we aren't alone! I have since found some excellent Catholic intellectuals on this journey as well, such as professor Douglass Farrow (see his Theological Negotiations as a starter). This is a multi-generational project, and one that will require believers of good will in all participating Christian communities.

    1. Perry, I should explain my use of the word "pit," as I agree, it is a less than helpful description.

      I recall writing, several years ago, something to the effect of the Reformers having invented out of whole cloth, or that they ignored a thousand years of Church history (post Augustine through Luther). I began to understand what an ignorant statement that was.

      I began to watch and appreciate Gavin Ortlund (Baptist), who did take a historical look at doctrine and development of practice. I am not suggesting that every take of his was accurate, but he truly engaged history. I don't know if this was what really got me thinking that my earlier knee-jerk reaction re Protestants was worth revisiting, or was it something else - but he certainly contributed.

      I have mentioned before, while I usually attend a Protestant church - very sermon oriented, deep into Scripture - I will also attend an Orthodox church. I find everything about the liturgy beautiful, and the worship engages all of the senses.

      I find good in all (at least all to my understanding) traditions that embrace the Trinity, and have no doubt that there are saints to be found in each. This is sufficient for me.

  3. I will always be interested in what you have to say about liberty my friend.