christ child
Meditation and Reflection

And so the Christ Child comes, as we look for his appearing

The birth of the Christ Child, the Son of God, was heralded by the Angel of the Lord, accompanied by the Shekinah, the Glory of God, followed by a multitude of the Heavenly Host singing praises: ‘Hallelujah!’

And for whose benefit was this magnificent display?

Kings? Presidents? Politicians? Religious leaders?

No, it was all for a few lowly shepherds – humble, poor, obscure and unnamed rustics of whom nothing more is heard in Scripture thereafter. While today’s puffed-up prelates court the wealthy, famous and influential, so today’s wealthy, famous and powerful seek out the privileged counsel, private chapels and cathedral pulpits of those same prelates for their displays of religiosity.

But not these shepherds. No, the Lord deemed them worthy because they were lowly. They were not body-beautiful celebrities, gifted orators, powerful decision-makers or authoritative opinion-formers; they were simply ordinary men, and the Lord chose them to be among the first to know that the Christ Child was born; that the Messiah had entered history; that the Son of God had come to redeem mankind – Immanuel.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

The real deliverer and the real fulfilment of the needs of humanity is human, one of us, flesh of our flesh. He is born to rule, born to be a king, conceived of the house and lineage of David. His name is Wonderful – a mystery of divinity in humanity; Counsellor – the oracle of wisdom; the mighty God – the Word was not just with God, but was God; the Everlasting Father – not the same person as the Father, but of one substance with the Father; the Prince of Peace – bringing a peace that passes understanding.

And so the Christ Child comes.

Wishing all readers and communicants a blessed, joyful and peaceful Christmas.

  • David

    A beautiful short piece, truly beautiful.
    Yes, and so Emmanuel, from the House of David, comes the Christ child, bringing hope to a fractured world. May the rich and powerful be put on notice, that great is their responsibility and, ultimately, accountability to the one true God – blessed be Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, blessed Trinity.
    Thank you Your Grace for another wonderful year of excellent articles.
    May I send greetings for a blessed, peaceful Christmas to all who visit this site whatever their creed, colour or politics.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    A lovely piece, Your Grace. May I also take this opportunity to wish you, and all my friends in this little corner of the blogosphere, a very Merry Christmas and a happy and joyous New Year!

    • dannybhoy

      And to you Mrs Proudie -whoever you are! Thank you for the hard work you have put into your wonderful Barchester Chronicles, both apposite and amusing as they always are. Have a lovely Christmas.

      • David

        Hear, hear !

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Now where did I put that mistletoe…many thanks dear David for your kind words and constant encouragement – Merry Christmas to you and yours!

          • David

            Thank you indeed Mrs Proudie, that was much appreciated !
            Have a good Christmas with His Lordship et al, and we all look forward to reading more episodes of The Barchester Chronicles in the New Year.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Why thank you…and may your Christmas be truly blessed, dear danny…

  • dannybhoy

    “No, the Lord deemed them worthy because they were lowly..”
    Isn’t it wonderful to think that God has regard for the lowly of heart?

    Psalm 138:6
    “Though the Lord is on high,
    Yet He regards the lowly;
    But the proud He knows from afar.”

    Your writing reminds us that it is a King we worship; the Creator King who reigns on high over all His works, yet delights in the meek and lowly of heart.
    This from that old Lutheran hymn, “For all the Saints”..
    “. But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
    The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
    The King of Glory passes on His way.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!”

    Thank you Your Grace, and I wish everyone on this blog great joy this Christmastime, and may the Light of the World shine brightly in our hearts throughout the coming year.

    • Jilly

      And a Happy and Holy Christmas and much wagging of tails (Inuit – its the translation of ‘joy’) to you and Mrs Danny.

      • dannybhoy

        Thank you Jilly, I hope you have a lovely Christmas and many blessings to come..

  • SonoView

    On Friday I had a couple of spare hours in central London so I did a tour of Westminster Abbey (£22 !), I have not been there for years.

    Yes it is a magnificent building – but stuffed full of tombs and mausoleums of the great and powerful. The place reeks of earthly power and politics. And how some of the blighters thought that their earthy “good works” qualified them for a tomb in such a place I will never know. Although impressed by the building it did not make me feel “spiritual”.

    How fantastic it must have been for those lowly shepherds – nobodies – to witness the glorified heavenly hosts on the bare mountainside.

    • IanCad

      Twenty Two Pounds!!?? That’s a complete rip-off. Can’t see those lowly shepherds being able to afford it. Herod and his court, the Sanhedrin and the tax collectors, the owners of vineyards, should have no problem stumping up – the rest can go whistle.

      • Anton

        Free if you attend a service. But you can’t get to the tombs of the kings. That seems OK.

    • chiaramonti

      Pop down the road to Westminster Cathedral. Free and quite different atmosphere.

      • Anton

        Eastern Orthodox design, Roman Catholic church, fascinating but when will you finish the mosaic?

        Great bell tower to ascend!

    • Sybaseguru

      If you are going to St Pauls, just tell them you are going to see “Light of the world” by Holman Hunt and you get in for free. It was one of the conditions Hunt put on them having the painting.

      • Matt A

        Is this true? I cannot find confirmation email of this anywhere online.

        • Anton

          You could always go to a service. They are free.

    • Anton

      *All* of the great cathedrals are about the church’s worldly power, frankly. That doesn’t stop them being superlative engineering and artistic accomplishments, but I don’t buy the stuff trotted out about the motivation for building them.

      • betteroffoutofit

        Not quite sure I follow the ‘motivation’ meme, here. Is it perhaps a little sweeping? Haven’t there have been various reasons, over that couple of thousand years?
        Methinks some reasons/motivations would involve retaining, and building on, origins established as early as those of Romans (say up by Hadrian’s Wall, e.g.). Other reasons would give some support for the approach of Bede and his contemporaries towards conversion/re-conversion of early Britons and Angles/Jutes/Saxons. Just as illuminated manuscripts encouraged meditation through contemplation of interlace other than lettering, so did stained glass windows, stone crosses, religious meetings, etc.

        Doubtless, like education, law, and political organisation, church buildings only developed where and when they received support and encouragement from ptb – but that doesn’t mean those powers were ALL cynical, ignorant, and caged within post-modern limits!!!

        Furthermore, whether those powers coerced, or merely enjoyed, support from their less fortunate contemporaries — spiritual and theological factors were probably also at work. I do seem to recall learning that many medieval buildings were constructed/decorated by the voluntary contributions of craftsmen and stone-masons.

        However, 22 quid to look round the Abbey? Must one pay to attend services nowadays? Surely Britons aren’t that keen to get a view of the present-day mozzie perspective . . . .

        • Anton

          You can get in free for any service, of course. But not to the tombs of the kings. That seems reasonable.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Hmmm. Well, they can’t even see the Stone of Scone nowadays!

  • Chris Bell

    Not “a mystery of divinity in humanity” but THE mystery of Divinity. This mystery is absolute beyond time and space yet inclusive of them. Christmas is every single day of life…………born everyday. This Mystery confounds the relativism of the ‘modern’ mind which abhors any idea of an Absolute where even the word ‘divine’ is difficult for them to accept just in case it should offend and sound exclusive.

  • IanCad

    Same to you YG; and to all readers and posters.

  • BC:AD – U. A. Fanthorpe

    This was the moment when Before
    Turned into After, and the future’s
    Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

    This was the moment when nothing
    Happened. Only dull peace
    Sprawled boringly over the earth.

    This was the moment when even energetic Romans
    Could find nothing better to do
    Than counting heads in remote provinces.

    And this was the moment
    When a few farm workers and three
    Members of an obscure Persian sect.
    Walked haphazard by starlight straight
    Into the kingdom of heaven.

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  • dannybhoy

    I hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas Sarks, and I hope you get through your night shifts okay. (I hated shift work..)

  • DespiteBrexit

    Sat at the back of a worship service that is leaving me unmoved and more interested in my iPad, this simple but profound essay reminded me why I try to be a Christian. Thank you.

  • Royinsouthwest

    I hope His Grace won’t mind me going slightly off topic. In the run-up to Christmas there have been many appeals by charities for many worthy causes.

    I am sure His Grace would be pleased if we remembered that as well as taking a great deal of time and effort this blog also requires money to keep it going. In case anyone asks, realising that I ought to practise what I preach (although I do not actually preach!) I made a small contribution myself the week before last.

    Anyway, I greatly appreciate Cranmer’s epistles and also those of Mrs. Proudie and other less regular contributors as well as the comments of many of the regular readers, even those I do not always agree with.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  • Anna

    May the joy of Christ fill your hearts this Christmas season!

  • len

    A blessed, joyful and peaceful Christmas to all on this blog.

  • ardenjm

    Veni veni Emmanuel
    Captivum solve Israel!
    Qui gemit in exilio,
    Privatus Dei Filio,
    Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    nascetur pro te, Israel.

    Veni o Jesse virgula!
    Ex hostis tuos ungula,
    De specu tuos tartari
    Educ, et antro barathri.
    Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    nascetur pro te, Israel.

    Veni, veni o oriens!
    Solare nos adveniens,
    Noctis depelle nebulas,
    Dirasque noctis tenebras.
    Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    nascetur pro te, Israel.

    Veni clavis Davidica!
    Regna reclude coelica,
    Fac iter Tutum superum,
    Et claude vias Inferum.
    Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    nascetur pro te, Israel.

    Veni, veni Adonai!
    Qui populo in Sinai
    Legem dedisti vertice,
    In maiestate gloriae.
    Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    nascetur pro te, Israel.

    • Martin

      So why write it in a foreign language that has nothing to do with Christianity?

      • ardenjm

        Ah bless.
        So Latin has nothing to do with Christianity, eh?

        “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, LATIN and Greek.”

        Take it up with God, chap.
        Just because you can’t be bothered to dig in to the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin that surrounds the expression of the Faith doesn’t mean the rest of us have to follow you in your King James Version superstition that Christianity began in 1611.

        Oh and that Happy Christmas you’ll be celebrating?
        It’s of the Latin calendar of the Latin Church. You know, the Catholic one.

        • Martin

          There is not one verse of Scripture that was originally written in Latin.

          Hebrew
          Greek
          even Aramaic

          Nothing in Latin.

          While Christmas celebrations started early, it wasn’t that early, and the evidence is that Jesus may have been born any time in the period 25/12 to 6/1. I feel no theological requirement to choose any time.

          Christianity commenced after the Fall, thus Enoch, Noah, Abraham et al are all saved by faith, as are Christians today. As Hebrews tells us. Even while men persecuted, the Church remained faithful.

          • ardenjm

            Don’t be disingenuous:
            Do you celebrate Christmas tomorrow or not?
            The Jehovah Witnesses don’t, after all.
            If you do it’s because, at the very least, you tacitly accept the Catholic Church’s calendar (but don’t like to admit it – which I ‘get’ because you’re so resolutely anti-Catholic.)

            “There is not one verse of Scripture that was originally written in Latin.”
            Ah but in the Greek there is at least one word borrowed from Latin:
            καὶ ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν Τί ὄνομά σοι; καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Λεγιὼν ὄνομά μοι, ὅτι πολλοί ἐσμεν.
            The word Legion Λεγιὼν. Mark chapter 5 vs 9.

            But in fact that wasn’t your original contention. You said Latin had ‘nothing to do with Christianity’.
            You’ve come out with a lot of balderdash in your time, Martin, but that, truly, takes the biscuit. Our Lord would have had a smattering of Latin since the occupiers were Latin speakers and Scripture testifies to the Latin used by Pilate. To claim it has ‘nothing’ to do with Christianity is just absurd. And we haven’t even got on to the fact that within a generation Christians were writing and transmitting the Faith in Latin as well as Greek and Hebrew.

            And lastly, because it’s Christmas: sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia… remind me of the language again?

          • Anton

            Yes, Latin has plenty to do with Christianity… the people who nailed Christ to the cross spoke it.

            Happy Christmas!

          • Martin

            Anton

            They probably spoke other languages as well. I doubt that Palestine was a sought after posting for the elite. The tribune tells Paul that he purchased his citizenship, so clearly he had another language.

          • Anton

            Yes, I’ve posted Acts 2:8-11.

          • And the Roman centurion said: “Vere Filius Dei erat iste.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            Evidence?

          • Martin

            There is no requirement to celebrate Christ’s birth in Scripture, but the celebration existed long before popery did.

            The reason Latin was used was because of the empire, the popes, in their pride took over when Rome fell and became a temporal power, abandoning spiritual power. It was the vernacular of Rome, not of the subject people. Rome rejected Hebrew and it’s study because the Jews were antagonistic toward Christians. Greek was likewise rejected because it was the language of those from whom Rome had schismatically separated, the ‘heretics’. Studying either language could bring suspicion, and no one wants to become a crispy critter. Latin thus became the language of the educated, but not the common man who Christ came to save.

            So what is wrong with using the vernacular in the UK?

          • Will you be celebrating Christmas tomorrow, or not?

          • Martin

            HJ

            I’ll be in Church in the morning, with my daughter most of the day. Is that celebrating?

          • pobjoy

            ‘Rome rejected Hebrew and it’s study because the Jews were antagonistic toward Christians.’

            Modern anti-Semitism originated after Rome’s pagan temples were pulled down and replaced by equally theatrical spaces with a splash of Christian whitewash. Any who smelled a rat were ‘persuaded’ otherwise.

            Jews were antagonistic to the early church, but that did not stop it from continued use of Hebrew. Nothing would have prevented a Christian Europe from studyng Hebrew with the greatest avidity. Rome ghettoised Hebrew because the Hebrew Bible showed the Roman ‘church’ as antichrist.

            ‘Greek was likewise rejected because it was the language of those from whom Rome had schismatically separated, the ‘heretics’.’

            Greek was rejected long before the Great Schism with the so-called Orthodox. Greek koine was even more dangerous to the imperial cult than Hebrew; Latin was used instead of both, and even that fell into disuse quite quickly in most of Europe. With Bibles used only in Latin, with a great many priests never learning Latin, so-called Christendom became an extraordinary depository of superstition and ignorance so profound that very few people understand that world today. No supposed civilisation, before or since, has equalled this abasement of human sentience.

            The fact that the New Testament in koine is not read as native language is the responsibility of the cruel and corrupt Roman Empire, whose agents persist in the 21st century, still afraid of Hebrew and Greek. But supposed Protestants have made little effort to remedy the situation.

          • Martin

            There were few early Church fathers who were fluent in Hebrew, hence the belief that the whole of the Septuagint was canonical.

          • pobjoy

            A charitable explanation. A humanist cult accepting Jewish humanist literature, both posing as of divine origin, might have been rather less than innocent!

          • Martin

            Fact.

          • pobjoy

            It was perfectly plain that all of the LXX books bar one outside the Hebrew canon were humanist, in any language; the adoption was deliberate and just what the patricians of Rome wanted.

            But ‘Early Fathers’ (selected by the same wealthy people and read *because* they were heretics) are irrelevant. The early church, a completely different set of people, the apostles and their converts, were often Hebrew-speaking ex-Jews. They were persecuted by non-Christian Jews, as the NT records. But they did not give up using Hebrew. No Christian would entertain the idea of voluntarily giving up use of a biblical language; Christians in any age believe that Hebrew is their own language, and not actually anyone else’s, as far as proper exegesis is concerned. That is why the suggestion that Christians rejected Hebrew because of Jewish antagonism is perfectly absurd.

            The real reason was that the imperial cult simply could not afford contact between its special subjects who knew biblical langauiges and its ordinary subjects, whose loyalty depended on great ignorance as well as policing by its legions.

          • Martin

            The conflict between the Church and the Jews caused many, who could not read Hebrew, to distrust the original Hebrew Scriptures and rely on the Greek Septuagint. After the first generation had died the Church was dependent on Greek for it’s Scriptures.

          • pobjoy

            Koine and Hebrew would have been Europe’s only languages today, had Christendom been Christian, and not anti-Christ. The Roman Empire, and to an extent the Holy Roman Empire, was a police
            state, with spies and informers everywhere, as Tacitus recorded. That is the context for this issue, and to ignore it is to take one side rather than the other, let us be clear.

            After the apostolic generation died, the second and every successive generation would have read Hebrew, passed on from the previous generation to the present day. That would have been so had the church survived inside the empire, which was obviously increasingly impossible, except perhaps in far flung parts that legions could not reach. Chriistians would have either perished or emigrated to the east (where Islam exterminated them as far as it could reach). But Hebrew readers in remote parts could not communicate with posterity in any way that post-Reformation historians could detect. Rome, HRE and Islam would have destroyed any and every trace of true Christianity in such regions.

            Matthew’s gospel was of particular importance to the imperial cult, of course. Ironically, there are 96 quotations from the OT in Matthew’s gospel. It is clear from the OT in any language that not one of them is from any sort of Greek heritage, so it must have been obvious to intelligent readers that any Greek record must be mere translation. As today, the decent, intelligent person’s reaction would have been to read that in strong preference. But not a squeak was heard.

            Even the Greek was soon replaced by ‘clunky’, un-nuanced Latin; and after the fall of the Roman Empire, this soon became a dead language; none spoke it as vernacular. The very few who could read it (who did not include the typical mediaval monarch) were in the pay of the thugs who controlled the cult. Any who dared to ask questions would not find life congenial, if life was permitted at all.

            So not only was Christendom without Christ, it was without any means of discovery of Christ, until wealthy Renaissance Europeans, telling the Vatican that it had no authority, discovered Hebrew, amongst other buried items.

          • Martin

            Much of Europe was never ruled by the Romans and in any case all the nations had their own languages. Most Christian converts were not Jews and never learnt Hebrew so that the proportion of those that did fell after the first generation. There were only two early Church fathers who were fluent in Hebrew, Origen and Jerome, others, like Augustine, did not know the language.

            SInce Hebrew was the language of the persecutors of the Church and since there was a translation into Greek of the Old Testament there was no felt need to learn Hebrew. Once Rome seceded, Latin became the language of the Christian west and Greek was regarded as the language of the heretics. Thus both fell into disuse

          • pobjoy

            ‘Much of Europe was never ruled by the Romans’

            There was not much of it that was not papalist at some time.

            ‘in any case all the nations had their own languages.’

            Many people had more than one. If all but a ghettoised minority were Christians, biblical languages would have been included, and regional languages probably disused. But there were no Christians in Europe after Theodosius in places where legions could reach.
            .
            ‘Most Christian converts were not Jews’

            That did not stop them from learning Hebrew, and from having their children taught Hebrew.

            Origen and Jerome were not early, and were not Christians, so if they were fathers, they fathered pagans.

            The Renaissance scholars who studied Hebrew learned from Jews. Since the Reformation, Hebrew has been studied by Jew and Protestant alike, with collaboration at times. To read all of the Protestant Hebrew Bible studies written over 500 years would probably take more than a lifetime. The 1500 years previous to that? Probably a day or two!

          • Anton

            how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God – Acts 2:8-11.

            So Latin gets a mention but no priority.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Well I say bring back the old Grammar Schools — before all Western Languages forget their roots!!

          • Anton

            Welsh has no roots in Latin and English has only some.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Indeed – and I’m not sure that English has actual roots in Latin. However, both cultures nurtured the Latin (predominantly Greek) academic tradition – through which our literacy developed. In fact the Welsh were finally persuaded to help the Anglo-Saxons in this pursuit, as were the Irish.

            Outstanding A-S figures like Alcuin and Alfred had Irish and Welsh teachers in their backgrounds. I say the evidence shows that we produce our greatest achievement when we pull together, even as we retain our individuality . . .

          • Pubcrawler

            It wouldn’t in the eastern Mediterranean. In the western provinces, on the other hand…

          • Anna

            If the only Latin words in Scripture are found in the notice over Christ’s cross (condemning Him), and the name for a group of demons, would it not have been more appropriate for the RCC to adopt Syriac or Hebrew, the languages that Christ Himself used in His prayers?

          • Pubcrawler

            Only if you wanted to deny any vernacular liturgy or translation of scripture. But you would also cut out all of the New Testament, as it was all written in Koine (and for good reason). Latin was first or second language to a large part of the western Empire, even more so in the early middle ages as Greek in southern Italy withered (I blame the Normans).

          • Anna

            I am afraid you have misunderstood my point. I am all for the Bible being translated into as many languages as possible. Unlike Muslims, we don’t believe that God favours any particular language. However, if a church holds the view (as the RCC does or once did) that Latin translations of the Bible and liturgy be given preference, I would like to know their reasons. Perhaps Latin was widely spoken in the Roman Empire and parts of Europe, but I doubt that was the only reason.Translation into other languages was forbidden even after the Middle Ages and in continents where few understood Latin. Even Pope Benedict (in the 21st century) tried to promote the use of Latin. My point is- if there has to be a ‘sacred’ language, why Latin, and not Hebrew, Aramaic or even Koine Greek? It is a serious question.

          • Pubcrawler

            No, I got your point, and I agree with it. I was supporting it from a perhaps obscure angle. I don’t speak for the RCC (they’ll be glad to know), but there are good reasons for the prevalence of Latin as liturgical and scriptural (and legal) lingua franca in large parts of the western church for most of the first millennium. After that, not so much. But vernacular translations existed thereafter, as the MSS evidence shows.

          • Do you celebrate Christmas on the 25th December or not?

          • Anton

            Some years I have, some not (as a believer). See Colossians 2:16.

          • pobjoy

            It’s not possible to have a christ and a mass at the same time.

          • Martin

            Celebrate? I have a hat, two in fact, that says Bah Humbug.

          • Chefofsinners

            The Glastonbury Thorn in my garden is in bloom tonight, so Christmas will be tomorrow.
            There are years when it doesn’t flower until Old Christmas Day.

          • Anton

            Tabernacles is my best guess. But guess it is, just like any other date in the absence of clear statements in the gospels. What we can say in view of that absence is that it is no priority of God whether we celebrate it or not.

            The people who go on about tradition here should remember that the date was lost, hence the inconclusive discussion about it from about 200 years later; meaning that the apostolic and immediate post-apostolic church didn’t celebrate it. So why do they make such a fuss?

          • Martin

            James White had a interesting Sunday School lesson on the subject. https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1225161257171

          • dannybhoy

            C’mon Martin, lighten up and rejoice that ardenjm has contributed to this wonderful time of year. You don’t have to agree with everything he says, but you do have to recognise his sincerity in worshipping the Saviour.
            Have a blessed Christmas ardenjm..

          • Martin

            Not sure it’s a wonderful time of year.

          • ardenjm

            Christus natus est! Gloria in excelsis Deo!
            And a happy and holy Christmas to you.
            Just in from Midnight Mass.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Do you read the scriptures in their original languages then?

          • Martin

            I wish I could, but I rely on others to provide translations.

      • Jon of GSG

        Perhaps because that’s the language it was written in?

        • Martin

          Hardly helpful to us foreigners.

          • Jon of GSG

            Weeell… I’m a foreigner too (and no Catholic) but it’s things like this that give me an interest in learning foreign languages – which has to be good, no? Translations are almost always a poor substitute for the real thing.

          • Martin

            Jon

            Some of us have skills in other directions, as my language teachers at school were happy to admit.

          • Jon of GSG

            That’s quite right of course. I just hope that one man’s lack of skills in a particular area won’t stop others from enjoying the use of their own skills…
            I realise that is very badly phrased…

    • Royinsouthwest

      I am afraid I know extremely little Latin but I have given you an uptick for the thought anyway.

  • meltemian

    Thank you YG, may I also wish everyone a happy and, please God, peaceful Christmas.
    Καλα Χριστούγεννα.

  • seansaighdeoir

    Lovely piece and a poignant message, thanks for posting.

    In turn would like to also wish you and all communicants a peaceful and Merry Christmas.

  • Inspector General

    All hail the magnificent Cranmer as he retreats into the bosom of his family for a few days…

    Some say he is “dated, elitist and non-inclusive” but its the only way to “be the best”.

    Even Mrs May agrees. She said as much. Probably.

    From a grateful admirer….

    • Have a Happy Christmas, Inspector and, while doing so, ponder this:

      If God had created a very special child, and made him into an outstanding saint, so that he could intercede with God for us, this would be a great act of love for us on God’s part. Or, if he had sent an angel from heaven in human form, to teach us all about God and to help us to lead holy lives, this would deserve our deepest gratitude. But neither a saintly man, nor a holy angel could do for us all that God wanted. No man or angel could make us adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven. It was necessary, in God’s plan for us, that his divine Son should become man, should share our humanity, so that we could share his divinity.

      • Inspector General

        Plenty of angels around this time of year, Jack. Make the most of them. Their further activities to be supressed to make room for something called the Holy Spirit. Lump in this bizarre idea of Jesus being part of this unbiblical fabrication called the Trinity and you have proud ignorant man at his best.
        Search out the truth, why don’t you…

        • Anton

          You go to a Catholic church, don’t you? Have a chat to the priest about it.

          • Inspector General

            The Higher Understanding is available for all that appreciate it. For those who don’t, stay with the Existing Understanding.

          • Anton

            But your parish priest doesn’t know about the Higher Understanding, does he? Why not offer it to him this Christmas?

          • All sounds terribly gnostic IG. Aligns alarmingly with the false teaching of 1John. Your heresies here IG are serious. They put you beyond the pale of salvation. They are damnable. I say this with no relish but entreat you as an online acquaintance to reconsider. If we believe and propagate any gospel other than the apostolic gospel there is an anathema resting on us. The only authentic faith is the faith Jude says was once and for all delivered to the saints. Any responsible reading of Scripture cannot fail to find, however rudimentary, the divine trinity. It is revealed in the virgin birth, the historical inception of the Christian gospel.

          • Inspector General

            Not really, John. The provenance of Christ takes nothing away from what he was about. The Trinity is man’s invent, not God’s.

            Suggest you concentrate on damning souls who deserve it. Not Christians for whom rigid dogma in place of established truth is an unacceptable result of man’s inability to admit he just doesn’t know.

          • But that’s just it IG, the Trinity is established truth. Christ’s deity, his equality with God, his identity as God, and his distinction fro God is writ large on the pages of the NT. Authentic saving faith grasps both who he is and why he came. John writes his gospel precisely to reveal the incarnate Son as the object of saving faith. It is in coming to know Father and Son through faith in the Word made flesh that we become children of God… that we receive eternal life. And if we do not receive the Son then John says the wrath of God abides on us.

            John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

          • Merchantman

            IG Just consider Jesus at this time of year and what he did for us, remembering the disciples also baptised in his name as well as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

          • Go to Confession Inspector, and repent your heresies – seriously.

          • Anton

            It’s not just an Arian view of Christ – there’s also this stuff about the Creator regarding us and our troubles and struggles as there for his entertainment. We might do best to see how that view came about.

      • What do you mean here by ‘divinity’ HJ? Can I say, I hope your health improves in the year to come.

        • This divinization is not ontological, but analogical – souls do not take on the substance of God, but through grace, are gifted with participation in the Divine Life. Man, by entering into communion with the Word and receiving divine sonship, becomes an adopted son of God

          • Yes. I thought you meant something like that.thanks for clarification.

  • Merchantman

    Maranatha.

  • Merchantman

    The Shepherds were tending their sheep. The Lord loves watchmen. The temple priests, etc were all abed.

  • carl jacobs

    Of the Father’s love begotten,
    Ere the worlds began to be,
    He is Alpha and Omega,
    He the source, the ending he
    Of the things that are, that have been
    And that future years shall see,
    Evermore and evermore.

    Merry Christmas to All Here Present

  • A Happy and Blessed Christmas to one and all.

    • dannybhoy

      And to you Jack and wishing you good and improving health for next year’s sparring!

  • CliveM

    Sorry about that, hope you have a blessed Christmas anyway.

  • CliveM

    A Happy and Joyful Christmas to HG and all who take a part in this wonderful blog.

  • Martin

    Let all mortal flesh keep silence

    • An ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion …..

      • Martin

        HJ

        You do realise eucharist means thanksgiving, not the idolatrous Mass?

        • The original was composed in the third century for the Offertory of the Divine Liturgy of St James.

          “Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and in itself consider nothing of earth; for the King of kings and Lord of lords cometh forth to be sacrificed, and given as food to the believers; and there go before Him the choirs of Angels, with every dominion and power, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, covering their faces, and crying out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            I doubt that existed then. Liturgy wasn’t the most important thing in the third century.

          • Anton

            Indeed. Chrysostom was the most important early liturgist, a full 100 years later.

          • ardenjm

            Huh?

            Justin Martyr’s First Apology in 148AD chapter 66: He describes the change (explained to be transubstantiation) which occurs on the altar:

            “For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Saviour was made incarnate by the Word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus”.

            The descriptions of the Mass liturgy in Rome by Hippolytus (died c. 235) and Novatian (died c. 250) are similar to Justin’s.

          • Martin

            You’re reading into the text what it doesn’t say.

          • ardenjm

            “so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist… is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus”
            ‘Reading in to the text’ eh? It sounds radiantly clear to me.

            But I’d be amused to see what syntactical twists and skewings of meaning you have to come up with to make Justin Martyr’s 2nd century words, (which sound remarkably like Our Lord’s words in John’s 1st century Gospel, chapter 6, and, indeed, like every Catholic and Orthodox saint and Church teaching in the intervening 19 centuries) in order to make it sound like the heretical nonsene invented by some protestant sects in the 16th century.
            Go on: how does “so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist… is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” ACTUALLY NOT mean “is the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.”

            But be careful: the Catholic and Orthodox churches have NEVER taught that that eucharist is a LITERAL lump of flesh and blood of the kind you may buy at the butcher’s. So don’t give us that strawman misrepresentation of what the Church means by transubstantiation and the Real Presence.

            I’m looking forward to this!

          • Anton

            Given how wedded Rome is to allegorical reading of scriptures, and how it traduces fundamentalists for adopting literal meanings of other verses, I find it worthwhile to ponder whether there is a reason for Rome’s insistence on the literal meaning of this saying of Christ’s. It is is an important part of the Catholic sacramental system by which the ‘laity’ are dependent on the ordained clergy to administer the sacraments recognised by Rome, even though all Christians are priests according to John (Rev 1:6) and Peter (1 Pe 2:9). It is this, rather than transubstantiation, that I find objectionable. I don’t agree with transubstantiation – as I’ll explain – but it would be a harmless view except for its being restricted to the ordained priesthood.

            At the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted Holy Communion, he held the bread and the cup of wine in his hands – clearly distinct from them – and said “This is my body; this is my blood” (Matt 26, Mark 14, Luke 22). What do Jesus’ words mean here? Since physical flesh and blood are not experienced by Catholic communicants, or by anybody else who has access to the elements after the priest’s decree, transubstantiation would be the opposite of every other miracle – events by which your senses tell you that something extraordinary has happened. The Catholic church holds that the ‘substance’ of the bread and the wine has changed, although the ‘accidents’ of its appearance (its physics and biochemistry) have not. The notions of substance and accident were first made explicit by ancient Greek philosophers and are best illustrated by an example: a pen is a writing implement which conveys ink to a nib that touches paper and puts the ink onto it; that is the ‘substance’ of what a pen is. Its brand, its colour, its length are ‘accidents’ of any particular pen. But the biochemistry and physics, its smell, colour and taste, are not accidents, for something that did not smell or taste like human blood, or which was not red, would never be called ‘blood’. So they are of its substance; and substance is what a noun is attached to. Rome insists they are mere accidents, but this reasoning shows otherwise. (The problem does not go away upon supposing that the substance of something is not as we perceive it to be, for if a turnip might as well be a brick then the question of definition recurs.) Jews – and the first Christians were Jewish – would have been appalled at the custom, for the Law of Moses forbade them from drinking blood (Leviticus 3:17).

            In neither Hebrew nor Aramaic – in one of which Jesus spoke the words at issue at the Last Supper – does the verb “is” appear in the equivalent phrase (“This, my body,…”). Notice that St Paul explained (in a rhetorical question at 1 Cor 10:16-17) that the bread was a sharing (koinonia) in the body of Christ; he did not insist that it was the actual body of Christ. This is precedent for interpretation using figures of speech in the original Greek of these passages. In 2 Samuel 23:17 King David refers to water that his soldiers got him, at risk to their lives, as the blood of those soldiers…

          • Martin

            Of course you read into them what you have invented. The problem is, he isn’t talking of the bread and wine mysteriously becoming flesh and blood but of them representing such. He is emphasising Jesus physical nature, something the other religions would consider to be unspiritual, and speaking of the believer being spiritually nourished. In saying “from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh” he is saying we are nourished by Christ, not by the emblems. The Eucharist is a remembrance, not a re-enactment.

          • ardenjm

            Where is the word – or even the idea of ‘representation’ evoked in Justin Martyr’s words? WHERE?
            Nowhere.
            YOU are the one “reading in to” them, not me.

            And then you finish your post by just repeating the protestant tropes. But you’ll find nothing in Justin Martyr to support your view. Quote him and prove me wrong.

          • Martin

            Here:

            “And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like
            manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, This is My blood; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.”

            Where he says “having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation” he is clearly speaking of the incarnation, not of the bread and wine.

            And where he says “so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the
            prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation
            are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh” he is clearly referring to His death on the cross, and not to the nature of the bread and wine.

          • ardenjm

            Huh?? What on earth? How on earth did you come up with such a twisted reading? The text says almost exactly the opposite:

            “the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word”
            i.e. the Eucharistic prayer which repeats the very words Our Lord used at the Last Supper is prayed over the bread and wine on the altar

            “and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished”,
            i.e. is a real meal that is eaten by us

            “of that Jesus who was made flesh”
            i.e. of Christ Incarnate

            “is the flesh and blood [of Christ]”
            i.e. that meal of bread and wine consecrated by the prayer that is Our Lord’s own words is henceforth that body – flesh and blood – which Our Lord assumed at His incarnation.

          • Martin

            “”the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word”
            i.e. the
            Eucharistic prayer which repeats the very words Our Lord used at the
            Last Supper is prayed over the bread and wine on the altar”

            What altar is this? there is no altar for Christians other than the Cross on which Christ died.

            As to the prayer, any prayer that recalls God’s act in the sacrifice on the cross is sufficient.

            “”and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished”,
            i.e. is a real meal that is eaten by us”

            Yes, bread and wine.

            “”of that Jesus who was made flesh”
            i.e. of Christ Incarnate”

            As opposed to that which his opponents, the Gnostics, taught, a spiritual not physical nature.

            “”is the flesh and blood [of Christ]”
            i.e. that meal of bread and wine
            consecrated by the prayer that is Our Lord’s own words is henceforth
            that body – flesh and blood – which Our Lord assumed at His incarnation.”

            It’s just bread and wine, nothing more. That’s why Jesus said:

            And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19 [ESV])

            It is done in remembrance, nothing more. In remembering Him and His death and resurrection we are blessed. The bread and wine don’t have to become flesh and blood, and clearly do not change their nature.

          • ardenjm

            “It’s just bread and wine, nothing more.”
            You see Martin – you’re merely repeating what YOU said, not what Justin Martyr wrote.
            Where is the word or even the idea of ‘representation’ evoked in Justin Martyr’s writing?
            No where.
            Let me boil it right down to Justin Martyr’s most fundamental statement:
            “the food [eaten at that meal]…is the flesh and blood [of Christ]”
            That’s his fundamental affirmation.
            And see that little word ‘is’ there?
            That means ‘is’.
            It doesn’t mean ‘symbolises’ nor does it mean ‘represents’.

            When Our Lord says do THIS He means JUST THAT. He means do what I am doing now. Taking the bread and the wine, saying the words that I say, do this as a memorial action of what I do here and now and – as John chapter 6 makes clear – that action is done by Christ through His Body the Church and that bread thus IS His Flesh and that wine thus IS His Blood.
            And THAT’S what Justin Martyr – and every Catholic since – has believed.
            In fact for 1000 years that truth was utterly uncontroversial. ALL Trinitarian Christians believed it. The idea that it’s merely a symbol or a remembrance representation only starts getting articulated in the Middle Ages and the views only gain traction at the Protestant Reformation. In short a falling away of the Faith of the Church which goes in stages: from Real Presence to Consubstantiation to symbolic act to the sacramentally impoverished worship of such (otherwise very nice folks) as the Quakers and the Salvation Army.

            You, like they, are, as Our Lord says from time to time: “quite wrong.”

          • Excellent. You are gifted in making the complex comprehensive, ardenjm.
            Have a Happy New Year.

          • Martin

            Oh look, your taking words out of what Justin Martyr said and leaving out others to make it seem that he believed in your transubstantiation. And did you not recently complain that I’d taken a whole passage out of Clement to support my position?

            Remember, you’re not a Catholic, Rome is a schismatic.

            Here’s the whole passage, which as I have demonstrated above, does not mean what you claim it means.

            “And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which
            no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things
            which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that
            is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so
            living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink
            do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour,
            having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for
            our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is
            blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by
            transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who
            was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them,
            which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined
            upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said,
            This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body; and that,
            after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said,
            This is My blood; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils
            have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to
            be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain
            incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you
            either know or can learn.”

            In truth, it was only in the superstition of the Middle Ages that the bread and wine were thought to be other than bread and wine. There followed worries about what would happen if a piece of bread was dropped and a mouse ran off with it, and silly stories about bee hives where the bees were bowing down to the host they had acquired. Yes, such are the silly myths Paul speaks of.

            As for the Quakers and Salvation Army, yes, I’d agree they have abandoned the gospel, just as Rome has.

          • ardenjm

            “In truth, it was only in the superstition of the Middle Ages that the bread and wine were thought to be other than bread and wine.”
            More lies. Here are only a handful of quotations – from hundreds – by the Church Fathers from both East and West, Latin, Greek, Syriac in the first five centuries of the Church. There is NOTHING in them that is at odds with the Catholic Church’s perennial teaching on the Eucharist. They are Catholic. I could add as many again from the next 5 centuries, and the 5 after that taking us up to the falling away of Faith in the Real Presence that occurs at the Reformation. You have LITERALLY no Church witnesses from the first 1500 years of the Church who taught what you taught and who remained within the Church.

            NONE.

            St Ignatius of Antioch 1st-2nd century:
            “Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us….They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”

            St Ireneaus of Lyons 2nd century:
            “So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ’s Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, ‘For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones’ (Eph. 5:30). He is not talking about some kind of ‘spiritual’ and ‘invisible’ man, ‘for a spirit does not have flesh an bones’ (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body. The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and ‘the grain of wheat falls into the earth’ (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use. These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ.”

            St Clement of Alexandria c 200AD:
            “The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. ‘Eat My Flesh,’ He says, ‘and drink My Blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!”

            St Ephrem 4th century:
            “After the disciples had eaten the new and holy Bread, and when they understood by faith that they had eaten of Christ’s body, Christ went on to explain and to give them the whole Sacrament. He took and mixed a cup of wine. The He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy, declaring that it was His own Blood, which was about to be poured out….Christ commanded them to drink, and He explained to them that the cup which they were drinking was His own Blood: ‘This is truly My Blood, which is shed for all of you. Take, all of you, drink of this, because it is a new covenant in My Blood, As you have seen Me do, do you also in My memory. Whenever you are gathered together in My name in Churches everywhere, do what I have done, in memory of Me. Eat My Body, and drink My Blood, a covenant new and old.”

            St Cyril of Jerusalem 4th century:
            “Contemplate therefore the Bread and Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for though sense suggests this to thee, let faith stablish thee. Judge not the matter from taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that thou hast been vouchsafed the Body and Blood of Christ.”

            St Hilary of Poitiers 4th century:
            “When we speak of the reality of Christ’s nature being in us, we would be speaking foolishly and impiously – had we not learned it from Him. For He Himself says: ‘My Flesh is truly Food, and My Blood is truly Drink. He that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood will remain in Me and I in him.’ As to the reality of His Flesh and Blood, there is no room left for doubt, because now, both by the declaration of the Lord Himself and by our own faith, it is truly the Flesh and it is truly Blood. And These Elements bring it about, when taken and consumed, that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Is this not true? Let those who deny that Jesus Christ is true God be free to find these things untrue. But He Himself is in us through the flesh and we are in Him, while that which we are with Him is in God.”

            St Basil the Great 4th century:
            “What is the mark of a Christian? That he be purified of all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit in the Blood of Christ, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God and the love of Christ, and that he have no blemish nor spot nor any such thing; that he be holy and blameless and so eat the Body of Christ and drink His Blood; for ‘he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgement to himself.’ What is the mark of those who eat the Bread and drink the Cup of Christ? That they keep in perpetual remembrance Him who died for us and rose again.”

            St Epiphanius of Salamis 4th century:
            “We see that the Saviour took [something] in His hands, as it is in the Gospel, when He was reclining at the supper; and He took this, and giving thanks, He said: ‘This is really Me.’ And He gave to His disciples and said: ‘This is really Me.’ And we see that It is not equal nor similar, not to the incarnate image, not to the invisible divinity, not to the outline of His limbs. For It is round of shape, and devoid of feeling. As to Its power, He means to say even of Its grace, ‘This is really Me.’; and none disbelieves His word. For anyone who does not believe the truth in what He says is deprived of grace and of a Savior.”

            St Gregory of Nyssa 4th century:
            “He offered Himself for us, Victim and Sacrifice, and Priest as well, and ‘Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ When did He do this? When He made His own Body food and His own Blood drink for His disciples; for this much is clear enough to anyone, that a sheep cannot be eaten by a man unless its being eaten be preceded by its being slaughtered. This giving of His own Body to His disciples for eating clearly indicates that the sacrifice of the Lamb has now been completed.”

            St John Chrysostom 5th century:
            “It is not the power of man which makes what is put before us the Body and Blood of Christ, but the power of Christ Himself who was crucified for us. The priest standing there in the place of Christ says these words but their power and grace are from God. ‘This is My Body,’ he says, and these words transform what lies before him.”

            St Cyril of Alexandria 5th century:
            “Christ said indicating (the bread and wine): ‘This is My Body,’ and “This is My Blood,” in order that you might not judge what you see to be a mere figure. The offerings, by the hidden power of God Almighty, are changed into Christ’s Body and Blood, and by receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying efficacy of Christ.”

            St Augustine 5th century:
            “You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. The chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ.”

            St Leo the Great 5th century:
            “When the Lord says: ‘Unless you shall have eaten the flesh of the Son of Man and shall have drunk His blood, you shall not have life in you,’ you ought to so communicate at the Sacred Table that you have no doubt whatever of the truth of the Body and the Blood of Christ. For that which is taken in the mouth is what is believed in faith; and in do those respond, ‘Amen,’ who argue against that which is received.”

            http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/father/a5.html

  • Chefofsinners

    I’ve just had to dial 999 to report my Christmas cake stollen.

    • not a machine

      It could be wurst.

      • Chefofsinners

        Do you want stuffing?
        Or perhaps I could press you to a jelly?

        • Anton

          Nuts and crackers? (Or bananas?)

          • Chefofsinners

            Most highly flavoured gravy. Gloria.

  • not a machine

    Such a familiar carol and when used in this context the saviour is made clear….
    It is Christmas eve, I hope, not only are all able to find their Christmas as feast, but see and receive something of the spirit of Jesus appearance in their life.
    Have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

    • not a machine

      Almost forgot, I don’t know if radio segways get baftas but R4 have had two going, one read by Derek Jacobi and an wonderful one read by Maxine Peak. Carol service was good also I often wonder if any USA citizens tune into it which would be morning for them.

  • David

    There’s a wonderful Christmas Eve homily available from Gavin Ashenden if you’re interested.
    What a waste that the C of E didn’t recognise his abilities. But he was not PC but far too orthodox for the present hierarchy to promote him.

  • pobjoy

    ‘the Word was not just with God, but was God; the Everlasting Father – not the same person as the Father, but of one substance with the Father’

    The first part of that is biblical, but not the second. The first part is self-consistent, but not the second.

    It is impossible for someone to be God, but not the same person as God. The word ‘person’
    in this context means ‘individual’. It is impossible for someone to be of one substance with God, but not the same person as God, because there is only one Bible God, and there is none like him, anywhere, as Scripture makes clear.

    So if Jesus was God, as John wrote, he is also the Father, the eternal Father, as Isaiah prophesied him to be. Perhaps one might say that, while on earth, he and the Father were separate persons, in the sense that the word ‘person’ can mean outward character, as an actor displays, sometimes within the same play. That was because salvation was impossible unless God Himself was tempted ‘in every way as we are’. That is why the prophet spoke of ‘God with us’.

    While on earth, ‘God, with us’ had no advantages at all, without powers unless as means to a powerless condition on the cross, needing to pray to Himself as plenipotential ‘person’. Had Jesus not died, there would have been no Father, and no Spirit of Jesus to witness to any kind of salvation for humanity. Indeed, it may be said that, had ‘Jesus’ not decided that he would take the blame for the sins of all humanity, he would never have created humanity.

    When Jesus told his disciples to baptise, they were to do so in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not in the names of Father, Son and Spirit.

    That is, Jesus was claiming to be all of these.

    • ardenjm

      Yikes. As ever pobjoy when you advance yourself on religious questions virtually everything you’ve written is muddled and confused and just plain wrong – both metaphysically (in terms of the philosophical assumptions you make) and theologically (in terms of the way you use the philosophy to articulate what you think, erroneously, is the meaning of Revelation.)

      I suggest sticking to the Christmas Pudding instead.

      • betteroffoutofit

        Indeed. Not least is the fact that: NOTHING is impossible for God Almighty.

        • pobjoy

          So God can tell lies.

          • Sarky

            Or make a rock to heavy for him to lift!

          • pobjoy

            Or even a cross.

    • Logic let’s us down when we consider the Trinity. We are closed up entirely to revelation. Orthodox creeds express best what revelation has revealed. You are revealing a poor grasp of revelation.

      1. Isa 9. Is a series of couplet titles of Messiah.

      (ESV) 6 For to us a child is born,
      to us a son is given;
      and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
      and his name shall be called
      Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
      7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
      there will be no end,
      on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
      to establish it and to uphold it
      with justice and with righteousness
      from this time forth and forevermore.

      Notice his name is not ‘wonderful’ but wonderful counsellor. Further ‘everlasting Father’ is not an allusion to Trinity ‘persons’ but to his role as Messianic King (as each title is). He is wise in his counsel, a great warrior, a caring father figure to his people, an establisher of peace. Trinitarian relationships are absent from this passage.

      2. It is not baptism into the name of the Father, Son and Spirit but baptism into the name of THE Father, THE Son, and THE Spirit. ‘Name’ is singular but identities are distinct and discrete. Frequently Father, Son and Spirit are preceded by the definite article. Further, Father and Son talk to each other. They love each other. The Father directs, the Son obeys. They have distinct wills (not my will but thine be done). And so on.

      3. Being and person are theological words not biblical ones yet they express as well as language can what is revealed. Are these words completely satisfactory? Probably not. However no one has come up with improvements. One in being distinct in persons conveys biblical truth. ‘Person’ is a difficult word because it can too easily be taken to mean three Gods which of course it doesn’t. One being gives the lie to this.

      A big subject but I have yet to find orthodox definitions wanting while various forms of modalism clearly are.

      • pobjoy

        ‘Orthodox creeds express best what revelation has revealed.’

        Who decides what is orthodox? Surely the best, indeed the only witness to revelation is revelation itself; not what a tiny group of yes-men ‘decided’ while under the command of the leader of a cruel, corrupt and exploitative empire, who thereafter enforced caricatures of truth on pain of death.

        ‘I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.’

        The impression here is that God consists of only ‘the Father’. The statement is therefore heretical in effect, if not in intent.

        ‘To us a child is born… and his name shall be called… Mighty God.’

        So how many mighty gods are there? As many as the Roman Empire had, before it realised that ‘the blood of the martyrs is seed’? There is no evidence whatever that Isaiah’s titles had any limitation. Certainly, the fiercely monotheistic Israelites must have been intended to understand that ‘Mighty God’ and ‘Everlasting Father’ were references to their own deity.

        ‘They have distinct wills’

        While on earth, ‘God, with us’ had no advantages at all, without powers unless
        as means to a powerless condition on the cross, needing to pray to Himself as plenipotential ‘person’.

        ‘Frequently Father, Son and Spirit are preceded by the definite article.’

        As ever, the grammatical purpose is to indicate that there is only one of each.The singular of ‘name’ indicates that they are names of one and the same person.

        ‘Being and person are theological words not biblical ones’

        They are unquestionably biblical words; their imports are arguably what the Bible concerns. Orthodox theology is based on revealed Scripture, as perceived. If any doctrine cannot be proved from Scripture, it deserves no serious attention. As the CoE’s Article VI states, ‘whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any’. No-one has ever been able to prove trinitarianism by this necessary means.

    • Anna

      “So if Jesus was God, as John wrote, he is also the Father, the eternal Father, as Isaiah prophesied him to be…”

      Do you attend Witness Lee’s Local Church? I have heard that argument before, from a member of this group.

  • magnolia

    Beautiful picture. A mixture of exhaustion, relief, pride and wonder on Mary’s face that is really convincing.

    Happy Christmas to all (in 5 hrs and 18 minutes!)!!

  • Pubcrawler

    καλά Χριστούγεννα

    For those who like old languages, here’s Luke Ch. 2 in Anglo-Saxon (yes, vernacular tranlation before Wycliffe — who knew?)

    https://anglophilicanglican.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/the-christmas-story-in-old-english-luke-ch-2-in-anglo-saxon/

    For the Latins

    For the Byzantines

    And for ‘holy roller’ types

    שָׁלוֹם

    • betteroffoutofit

      Q: “Luke Ch. 2 in Anglo-Saxon (yes, vernacular tranlation before Wycliffe — who knew?)” . . .
      A: Anybody who’s read Bede or studied OE.

      Thanks for raising awareness, though!!!

      • Pubcrawler

        My pleasure. You might like this bit of Old Occitan, too

        http://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2017/06/old-occitan-at-the-british-library.html

        • betteroffoutofit

          Thanks — yes, we know others also worked on the matter! I’m not interested in french in and of itself; on the other hand, it’s best not to be too ignorant 🙂

          • Pubcrawler

            I encounter Occitan quite a bit in my musical listening, so I have a slight interest in it. I wouldn’t call it French, though, any more than I would call Catalan Spanish.

    • pobjoy

      ‘vernacular tranlation before Wycliffe — who knew?’

      Not the plough boy or the milk maid, anyway.

      • ardenjm

        Indeed they did!
        Caedmon was precisely that:
        Cædmon AD 657–684 is the earliest English poet whose name is known. An Anglo-Saxon who cared for the animals at the double monastery of Streonæshalch (Whitby Abbey) during the abbacy (657–680) of St. Hilda (614–680), he was originally ignorant of “the art of song” but learned to compose one night in the course of a dream, according to the 8th-century historian Bede. He later became a zealous monk and an accomplished and inspirational Christian poet.
        Bede who wrote, “[t]here was in the Monastery of this Abbess a certain brother particularly remarkable for the Grace of God, who was wont to make religious verses, so that whatever was interpreted to him out of scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expressions of much sweetness and humility in Old English, which was his native language. By his verse the minds of many were often excited to despise the world, and to aspire to heaven.”

        • David

          Well I never !
          Thank you indeed for the information.
          But perhaps the relevant question is, how well distributed were these pre-Wycliffe, pre-reformation vernacular translations ? Cranmer aimed at a Bible in each parish church.

          • ardenjm

            Given the prohibitive expense of handwritten manuscripts on vellum and the relative paucity of literate individuals which only slowly improved in the 16th and 17th centuries, after the invention of the printing press, their distribution was not widespread: monasteries, cathedrals, churches, universities, schools and rich private individuals would have owned them.
            That said, the oral tradition was far stronger: people knew their Biblical narrative much as they remembered many other things – because they’d been told it, sung about it, saw it performed in Passion plays, saw the frescoes and stained glass and, of course, were going to Church most often several times a week.

          • David

            Well answered. Caxton gave us the key to cheaper Bibles.

          • Pubcrawler

            (Less expensive rather than cheaper.)

            One of the keys. A supply of cheap paper rather than vellum or parchment is another requirement. And Henry VIII for licensing the Cambridge University Press to print them.

          • Anton

            Yes, vellum makes a real mess of the laserprinter. And what a stink!

          • Pubcrawler

            I have had the good sense never to try. But I’ll take your word for it.

          • Pubcrawler

            Caxton, of course, made his money out of printing secular chivalric romances and Chaucer, not religious or other ‘improving’ texts.

          • More than his life was worth to print an English Bible. that’s why Tyndale had to go abroad to get his printed.

          • Pubcrawler
          • betteroffoutofit

            Ferzackerly. I’ve long had problems about Caxton: for his europhilia. One suspects which side he might be on in this present day!

          • The ‘oral tradition’ never began to be enough, which is why people would risk their lives to get hold of a portion of Wycliffe’s Bible. Then someone who could read would do so to a group of others, which is what King Alfred envisaged happening.
            There are over 100 surviving Lollard Bibles or N.T.s, which is remarkable when one considers that Rome burned them whenever they were found.

          • ardenjm

            The order to burn them was only made in 1413 – some 40 years after Wycliffe’s death – and largely because of the heretical ideas which Wycliffe fomented and which were held to have done damage to the Church, especially in England. His translation was seen as suspect because his revolutionary project would have seen the overthrowing (and not just the reforming) of the Church as he denied The Mass, Papal and ecclesiastical authority, the Augustinian notion of ex opere operato and other things besides.

            Biblical translations and accuracy and access to scripture should be guaranteed by the Church.
            Outside of that context is the way that leads to the Radical Reformers and thence to anarchy – as even the Protestant heresiarchs, Luther and Calvin, understood.

          • Anton

            “access to scripture should be guaranteed by the Church.”

            Get stuffed.

          • ardenjm

            Nonsense. You apply equally stringent criteria to those translatations and versions of the Bible which you consider authoritative – and would not just be dismissive but even wary, condemnatory of versions (for example Catholic Bibles which go with the LXX canon of the Old Testament) which do not “fit” your ideological convictions.

            So, yes, of course I mean the Catholic Church: I believe it to be the one Our Lord established and gave His authority to.

            As for the extent to which the Church should control erroneous publications: in this day and age of diversity and tolerance and multicultural societies it makes little (practical) sense of the Church to have that kind of power. But in societies which are overwhelmingly Catholic it not only makes sense but also seems kind of inevitable that the Church will have her say on what she thinks is good or not for that society: to the extent to which she has the support of a majority of the people in that society. Hence, for the timebeing at least, the people of Ireland and their constitution do not permit legal abortion. This, to me, is an entirely good thing and a position brought about because it is Catholic teaching and the majority of Catholics still support it. As pressure grows to introduce abortion in to Ireland – as the island secularises – it is resisted by a core of Catholics (and in the North, Protestants) and by their respective Churches. Are you suggesting to me that the Church shouldn’t militate, even vociferously, for what she thinks is right and good? Of course she should.

            Given the insanity of swathes of the Radical Reformation – and the horrors of the Münster Rebellion – it seems to me entirely reasonable that the Church be vigilant.
            You seem to be under the mistaken impression that all that people need is to read the Bible and all will be well.
            This is sentimental hogwash.
            Satan himself quotes scripture expertly at Our Lord during the temptation in the desert. Knowledge of the words – and even meaning – of Scripture isn’t enough at all. Our Lord – the Word Incarnate – left a Church which He identified as His body.
            He did not leave a corpus of writings. But a corpus which is His Church and the Corpus Christi of the Eucharist. THAT is His Covenant: not tablets of the Law but of His Precious Blood. Your whole vision is skewed by sola scriptura: an expression found nowhere in Scripture.

          • Anton

            Are you suggesting to me that the Church shouldn’t militate, even vociferously, for what she thinks is right and good?

            Militate? You use some unusual verbs to hid your incipient totalitarianism. The church has every right to govern churchgoers as it pleases, and to excommunicate them if it chooses. The church has every right to say which translations it endorses and which it doesn’t. The church has no right to prohibit the publication of translations it does not approve of.

            It could have provided every Catholic priest in Western Europe in the High Middle Ages with a Bible in the local vernacular at a small cost compared to tithes and bequests it received, and directed every priest to lead regular Bible study if it was worried about ‘private interpretation’. Instead it prohibited the Bible to laymen and provided vernacular translations only after its hand had been forced by the Reformation. Why did it prohibit the Bible? Because the inconsistency of its practices would have been glaringly shown up. At the Reformation the game was up.

            You seem to be under the mistaken impression that all that people need is to read the Bible and all will be well.

            Within the church, that is pretty much what I believe. But within the world, no – I never said so nor implied it.

          • ardenjm

            You put my words on trial.
            So be it:
            We are the Church Militant – battling away, as St Paul says, against forces and dominions of darkness. Onward Christian soldiers and all that.
            “The church has no right to prohibit the publication of translations it does not approve of.” In an overwhelmingly Catholic nation the Church should indeed be able to protest against things inimical to the Faith and Morals. You are an apologist for all kinds of permissiveness – and even perversion – otherwise. In time, for example, we shall recognise that Mary Whitehouse’s fulminations against license and decadence were prescient and necessary. It seems to me that the Church must also fulfil that role. I would have little compunction at putting obstacles in the way of Satanist publications, Islamist publications, anything by Stephen Fry, and erroneous versions of Sacred Scripture which distort the words of Scripture eg those of Jehovah Witnesses.
            People will still want to access these writings, of course, and whereas an Index of Banned Books would probably be a retrograde step, and Index of books judged harmful to faith and morals and to be read with caution and discernment would be a very helpful guide to have.

            “It could have provided every Catholic priest in Western Europe in the High Middle Ages with a Bible in the local vernacular.” But they would have had access to the Vulgate and would have preached on Scripture on Sundays and Feast Days. Why on earth do you think that people in the Middle Ages didn’t know Scripture? They didn’t READ Scripture, for sure. They didn’t pore over it in the way we see emerging in Protestant countries after the invention of the printing press and improvements in literacy levels slowly increased – but think about what had been taken away from people’s faith and religion which reading scripture alone took the place of. You will claim that is a good thing. I don’t see why. I’m very much of the belief that both/and are to be welcomed rather than either/or. Divorcing Scripture from the Church and from Tradition is an amputation, not a liberation. Your prior commitment to Protestantism prevents you from seeing that:

            “Why did it prohibit the Bible? Because the inconsistency of its practices would have been glaringly shown up. At the Reformation the game was up.”
            It didn’t prohibit the Bible – it prohibited erroneous, indeed heretical, versions.
            Its inconsistancies didn’t need the Reformation to be shown up. They have always and everywhere and at all times been visible. More to the point The Reformation didn’t put an end to any of them. Just introduced different hypocrisies, persecutions, and errors. In short, the Reformation reformed nothing as soon as the rupture with the Church was formalised. Whatever was genuinely reforming within the Reformers was continued within the Church. Protestantism itself splintered into ever more heretical weirdness within a generation. And by the 17th century Shakers, Quakers, Takers and Fakers were all jostling for their authentic and original meaning of Scripture.

          • Anton

            I am not saying that there should be no laws concerning what is published. I am saying that the church as a corporate body should not get to decide them. Not your church, not mine. You can say “We are the Church Militant” as much as you like, but it doesn’t make it so, and given your idea of what Militant means I am not sorry.

            You haven’t given any cogent explanation of why Rome made vernacular translations of the Bible only after protestants had done so. There was a lifetime between Gutenberg and Luther.

          • ardenjm

            “I am saying that the church as a corporate body should not get to decide them.”
            I don’t think I am, either. But I certainly do think that the Church can influence her members – and if the society is overwhelmingly Catholic this will mean that the Church inevitably wields huge influence. In Ireland, for instance we see both the good and bad effects of that. The good: abortion is still, just about, illegal. The bad: clericalism became corrupt – as this priest warned it would – causing almost irreparable damage:
            https://www.irishcentral.com/news/boys-town-founder-fr-flanagan-warned-irish-church-about-abuse-46390952-237644371
            Another good influence: the mobilisation of resistance in Catholic Poland against the Communists – setting off the domino effect of the collapse of the Soviet system.
            Another bad influence: the venality of Italian prelates….

            “You haven’t given any cogent explanation of why Rome made vernacular translations of the Bible only after protestants had done so. There was a lifetime between Gutenberg and Luther.”
            Prior to the Reformation those militating (oops) for vernacular Bibles were also militating for all kinds of heretical beliefs. And I don’t just mean the Lollards. I mean the Cathars, too. It became a shibboleth of orthodoxy. Calling for vernacular bibles actually meant, “how to throw off the Church’s authority.” But I’m not sure you’re right about that claim anyway:

            “The first printed translation of the Bible into Italian was the so-called Malermi Bible, by Nicolò Malermi in 1471 from the Latin version Vulgate.”

            “In 1466, before Martin Luther was even born, Johannes Mentelin printed the Mentel Bible, a High German vernacular Bible, at Strasbourg. This edition was based on a no-longer-existing fourteenth-century manuscript translation of the Vulgate from the area of Nuremberg. Until 1518, it was reprinted at least 13 times. In 1478–79, two Low German Bible editions were published in Cologne, one in the Low Rhenish dialect and another in the Low Saxon dialect. In 1494, another Low German Bible was published in the dialect of Lübeck, and in 1522, the last pre-Lutheran Bible, the Low Saxon Halberstadt Bible was published. In total, there were at least eighteen complete German Bible editions, ninety editions in the vernacular of the Gospels and the readings of the Sundays and Holy Days, and some fourteen German Psalters by the time Luther first published his own New Testament translation.”
            The Church did not oppose this – but of course did so when Luther did his version: because of his Protestant agenda.

            Likewise:
            1476, le Nouveau Testament printed by Barthélemy Buyer in Lyon, translated from the Vulgate.
            1487, la Bible de Jean de Rély printed for the first time in Paris and reprinted at least ten times in the fifty years that followed. It is an illustrated Bible, published from a late manuscript of the Bible historiale of Guyart des Moulins.
            Again: the Church didn’t hinder or prevent this either in France. But did crack down when Protestantism came along.

            Need I go on?

          • Anton

            Yes please. You put inverted commas around your information and I am interested in its source.

            The Cathars were indeed heretics. Catholics persist in confusing them with the Waldenses, who were the true Christians in southern France but have nothing to do with the Cathars. Both were burnt by Catholics.

            The Lollards were the faithful Christians in England, the Catholics the heretics. Don’t confuse quality and quantity.

          • ardenjm

            Here, let me help:
            If you such search on Wikipedia, “Bible translations in…” and insert the language name you’ll find my sources. Those references will themselves be referenced: for historical questions Wikipedia is pretty reliable.
            Alternatively, you can select ten words or so of a sentence, put it in between inverted commas in Google search and the exact phrase will generally be found.
            And lastly, let’s be honest here: “measured by the straight edge of scripture” actually MEANS “measured by the straight edge of my Protestant understanding of scripture which, surprise, surprise, disagrees with the understanding of Revelation as Tradition and Scripture which Scripture indicates and the Church has always held on to.”

            The longer you persist in defining Christian to exclude the Catholic Faith (or patronisingly include individual Catholics because you think they pass your ‘test’ of what it is to be a Christian and you’ve tacitly adopted a de-incarnated and thoroughly unscriptural notion of the Church as a purely spiritual and invisible ‘body’) the more skewed will be your understanding of the meaning of Scripture.

            It’s fine to read history looking for those groups that support your own point of view. How about just looking at the history?
            The Orthodox churches, for example, are often seen as a sympathetic alternative to the Catholic Church by some Protestants and Anglicans because you’ll find in hardcore Orthodox rhetoric much the same criticisms of the Catholic Church as hardcore Protestants make – often about Papal authority, for example.
            But when you dig in to it: the Catholic Church has ALWAYS recognised a validly celebrated Trinitarian baptism and considers all such baptised as Christians. When you become a Catholic, for example, if you were baptised by your Baptist pastor in the Name of The Father, and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit then you are indeed Baptised. The Catholic Church won’t re-baptise you. The Orthodox churches most certainly would. Heck, some Orthodox churches would even re-baptise a person baptised by a Catholic priest.

            In short, what you’re doing when you trawl through pre-Reformation Church history for proto-Protestants is trying to find an alternative (but unstatedly authoritative) Tradition and Magisterium to the ones of Our Lord established in the Catholic Church. You can tilt against this windmill as much as you like but it’s the Elephant in the sitting room, resolved, as many have done by saying this seed which has become the greatest of all trees, the Catholic Church, must be of the Antichrist and, in so doing, sounding very much like the Pharisees accusing Our Lord of having a demon…

          • Anton

            And lastly, let’s be honest here: “measured by the straight edge of scripture” actually MEANS “measured by the straight edge of my Protestant understanding of scripture which, surprise, surprise, disagrees with the understanding of Revelation as Tradition and Scripture which Scripture indicates and the Church has always held on to.”

            The longer you persist in defining Christian to exclude the Catholic Faith (or patronisingly include individual Catholics because you think they pass your ‘test’ of what it is to be a Christian and you’ve tacitly adopted a de-incarnated and thoroughly unscriptural notion of the Church as a purely spiritual and invisible ‘body’) the more skewed will be your understanding of the meaning of Scripture.

            I’d rather be considered patronising by Catholics than burnt by them, thank you.

            I have not defined Christian to exclude Catholicism. Others have done so here; not me. It is an heretical form of Christianity. My views of scripture are a priori neither more nor less valid than yours and it matters not a whit to me that you say yours are rubber-stamped by Rome.

            I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some vernacular Bibles were printed using moveable metal type post-Gutenberg and pre-Reformation; thank you. If only Rome had made it a priority and put its resources to the effort rather than leaving it to individuals! The Reformation might then have happened without a split…

          • ardenjm

            The fundamental lacuna in your argument is here:
            “My views of scripture are a priori neither more nor less valid than yours.”

            That’s already assuming that Scripture can be read in the fulness of its truth outside of the mind of the Church – which means within Tradition and an authoritative guidance of the Holy Spirit.
            Scripture itself says that it can’t.
            That doesn’t mean that Scripture can’t be read without profit by anyone and everyone – of course it can. And, indeed, can be read meaningfully and in a Faith-nourishing way also. Again, of course it can.
            The issue is can it be read in the fulness of its truth outside of the Church’s Tradition (itself part of the Deposit of Faith and thus Revelation) which Scripture testifies to, and outside of the Holy Spirit-guided magisterial authority (again, testified to in Scripture.)
            My argument is that it can’t and that it’s a truncating of Scripture (or a deliberate refusal to see) to claim that you can. So, no, your views on Scripture are NOT “neither more nor less valid than yours.” Sorry.

            Moreover, having dismissed the Church’s Tradition and Magisterium, you – and every Protestant (or Protestant group) – recuperates (often unconsciously) their own substitute Tradition and Magisterium (even if you don’t call them that.)
            Your posts here clearly indicate that you have your versions of both of them.

          • Anton

            That’s already assuming that Scripture can be read in the fulness of its truth outside of the mind of the Church – which means within Tradition and an authoritative guidance of the Holy Spirit. Scripture itself says that it can’t.

            Indeed: the tradition in which to read the New Testament is the Old Testament – not a load of Greek philosophical waffle written by ‘church fathers’ who frequently disagreed with each other.

            One’s understanding of scripture then needs to be honed in no-holds-barred Bible studies with other committed Spirit-filled believers. That is how it is turned into lessons which can be applied to life; not by spoon-feeding of one particular tradition which insists that it cannot be wrong. You know, I too could insist that I am infallible, but I’m not so hubristic.

          • ardenjm

            “Indeed: the tradition in which to read the New Testament is the Old Testament – not a load of Greek philosophical waffle written by ‘church fathers’ who frequently disagreed with each other.”
            That’s not what the Church means. You confuse theological traditions with the Deposit of the Faith which is what we call Tradition. The Church Fathers pondered over the meaning of that Deposit of Faith. The Church receives their theological wisdom but the Revelation is more than the theological musings it engenders.
            Obviously.
            You’ve confused the theology of the Church with what she has received from Our Lord.

            And whilst the Old Testament is part of Scripture, Tradition is that Revelation which hasn’t been communicated in writing but which is, as Scripture testifies, “the [truth] to be revealed” as the Holy Spirit teaches the Church (cf John chapters 14-16).
            So, once again, you have a limited understanding of Tradition and then require that what the Catholic Church means by Tradition must be what you explain her understanding of Tradition should be. The Koran does the same when it tells Muslims that Christians believe the Trinity to be The Father, Jesus and Mary.

            “One’s understanding of scripture then needs to be honed in no-holds-barred Bible studies with other committed Spirit-filled believers.”
            So. There it is. There is your version of a Magisterium.
            “You know, I too could insist that I am infallible, but I’m not so hubristic.”
            But you ARE laying claim to infallibility. You pretend not to be (even to yourself) but that’s EXACTLY what you’re doing. In fact Papal Infallibility doesn’t even go that far because the conditions under which the Spirit-led authentification of dogmatic truth can be described as infallible are specific and clear whereas yours are simply arbitrary: ‘this is what I’ve decided. End of.’
            My proof of that?
            Easy.
            You’re a hair’s breath away from calling time on this discussion along the lines of, “this is what I believe. You believe what you want. Stop pestering me over this.’
            So much for persevering in the pursuit of the truth, eh….

          • And lastly, let’s be honest here: “measured by the straight edge of scripture” actually MEANS “measured by the straight edge of my Protestant understanding of scripture which, surprise, surprise, disagrees with the understanding of Revelation as Tradition and Scripture which Scripture indicates and the Church has always held on to.”

            Excellent.

          • Anton

            Tell me where the Lollards were unscriptural. Not Wycliffe, but the Lollards.

            In the New Testament you find that:

            • The church is a small minority in the world (Jesus said it always would be: Matt 22:14)

            • The church will be persecuted by the world, meaning in context the local culture (Paul said it always would be: 2 Tim 3:12; see also Jesus’ words in John 15:18-20)

            • The church is run as a congregation in each town.

            So, by biblical criteria, which of the Lollards and the Catholics were the church and which the world?

          • “In the New Testament you find that ….”

            NO – in the New Testament, stripped of authoritative interpretation and Tradition, YOU find ….

            Lollard Doctrines.—In the fourteenth century the word “Lollard” was used in a very extended sense. Anti-clerical knights of the shire who wished to disendow the Church, riotous tenants of an unpopular abbey, parishioners who refused to pay their tithes, would often be called Lollards as well as fanatics like Swynderby, the ex-hermit of Leicester, apocalyptic visionaries like the Welshman, Walter Brute, and what we may call the normal Wycliffite who denied the authority of the Church and attacked the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. Never was Lollardy so widespread as in its early days; the Leicester chronicles wrote that every second man was a Lollard. But this very extension of the name makes it difficult to give a precise account of the doctrines connected with it, even in their more extreme form.

            Probably the best summary of Lollardy, at least in its earlier stages, is to be found in the twelve “Conclusions” which were presented to Parliament and affixed to the doors of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s in 1395 (see for a Latin form “Fasciculus Zizaniorum”, pp. 360-8: the original English form is analyzed in Dr. Gairdner’s “Lollardy and the Reformation,” I, pp. 43-6; see also H. Cronin, “The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards” in “Eng. Hist. Review”, 1907, 292-304). They complain of the corruptions by appropriations etc. from Rome, “a step-mother”; they attack the celibacy of the clergy and the religious orders, the “feigned miracle of the sacrament”, the “feigned power of absolution”, and “feigned indulgences”; they call the sacramentals jugglery, and declare that pilgrimages are “not far removed from idolatry”. Prayers for the dead should not be a reason for almsgiving, and beneficed clergy-men should not hold secular offices. There is no allusion in these conclusions to Wyclif’s doctrine that “dominion is founded on grace”, yet most of the early Lollards taught in some form or another that the validity of the sacraments was affected by the sinfulness of the minister …..

            There is at least one striking omission in the “Conclusions” of 1395. Nothing is said of the Bible as the sole rule of faith, yet this doctrine was probably the most original which the movement produced. As the chief opponents of Lollardy in the fifteenth century, Thomas of Walden and Richard Pecock both pointed out that the belief in the sufficiency of Scripture lay at the basis of Wycliffite teaching, for it provided an alternative to the authority of the Church. It occupied, however, a less important position among the earlier than among the later Lollards, for there was at first much confusion of mind on the whole question of authority. Even the most orthodox must have been puzzled at the time of the Schism, as many were later by the struggle between pope and councils. The unorthodox were still more uncertain, and this may partly account for the frequent recantations of those who were summoned by the bishops.

            In the fifteenth century the Lollards became a more compact body with a more definite creed, or rather with more definite negations, a change which can be explained by mere lapse of time which confirms a man in his beliefs and by the more energetic repression exercised by the ecclesiastical authorities. The breach with the tradition of the Church had now become unmistakable and the Lollard of the second generation looked for support to his own reading and interpretation of the Bible. Wyclif had already felt the necessity of this. He had dwelt in the strongest language on the sufficiency of Scripture, and had maintained that it was the ultimate authority even in matters of civil law and politics. Whatever may have been his share in the work of translating it into English, there is no doubt that he urged all classes to read such translations, and that he did so, partly at any rate, in order to strengthen them in opposition to the Church authorities. Even the pope, he maintained, should not be obeyed unless his commands were warranted by Scripture.

            As the Lollards in the course of the fifteenth century became less and less of a learned body we find an increasing tendency to take the Bible in its most literal sense and to draw from it practical conclusions out of all harmony with contemporary life. Objections were made for instance to the Christian Sunday or to the eating of pork.. Thus, Pecock urged the claims of reason and common sense against such narrow interpretations, much as Hooker did in a later age against the Puritans. Meanwhile the church authorities had limited the use of translations to those who had the bishop’s licence, and the possession of portions of the English Bible, generally with Wycliffite prefaces, by unauthorized persons was one of the accepted evidences of Lollardy. It would be interesting, did space permit, to compare the Lollard doctrines with earlier medieval heresies and with the various forms of sixteenth-century Protestantism; it must, at least, be pointed out that there are few signs of any constructive system about Lollardy, little beyond the belief that the Bible will afford a. rule of faith and practice. Much emphasis was laid on preaching as compared with liturgy, and there is evident an inclination towards the supremacy of the State in the externals of religion …….

            There is at least one striking omission in the “Conclusions” of 1395. Nothing is said of the Bible as the sole rule of faith, yet this doctrine was probably the most original which the movement produced. As the chief opponents of Lollardy in the fifteenth century, Thomas of Walden and Richard Pecock both pointed out that the belief in the sufficiency of Scripture lay at the basis of Wycliffite teaching, for it provided an alternative to the authority of the Church. It occupied, however, a less important position among the earlier than among the later Lollards, for there was at first much confusion of mind on the whole question of authority. Even the most orthodox must have been puzzled at the time of the Schism, as many were later by the struggle between pope and councils. The unorthodox were still more uncertain, and this may partly account for the frequent recantations of those who were summoned by the bishops. In the fifteenth century the Lollards became a more compact body with a more definite creed, oar rather with more definite negations, a change which can be explained by mere lapse of time which confirms a man in his beliefs and by the more energetic repression exercised by the ecclesiastical authorities. The breach with the tradition of the Church had now become unmistakable and the Lollard of the second generation looked for support to his own reading and interpretation of the Bible. Wyclif had already felt the necessity of this. He had dwelt in the strongest language on the sufficiency of Scripture, and had maintained that it was the ultimate authority even in matters of civil law and politics. Whatever may have been his share in the work of translating it into English, there is no doubt that he urged all classes to read such translations, and that he did so, partly at any rate, in order to strengthen them in opposition to the Church authorities. Even the pope, he maintained, should not be obeyed unless his commands were warranted by Scripture.

            As the Lollards in the course of the fifteenth century became less and less of a learned body we find an increasing tendency to take the Bible in its most literal sense and to draw from it practical conclusions out of all harmony with contemporary life. Objections were made for instance to the Christian Sunday or to the eating of pork.. Thus, Pecock urged the claims of reason and common sense against such narrow interpretations, much as Hooker did in a later age against the Puritans. Meanwhile the church authorities had limited the use of translations to those who had the bishop’s licence, and the possession of portions of the English Bible, generally with Wycliffite prefaces, by unauthorized persons was one of the accepted evidences of Lollardy. It would be interesting, did space permit, to compare the Lollard doctrines with earlier medieval heresies and with the various forms of sixteenth-century Protestantism; it must, at least, be pointed out that there are few signs of any constructive system about Lollardy, little beyond the belief that the Bible will afford a rule of faith and practice. Much emphasis was laid on preaching as compared with liturgy, and there is evident an inclination towards the supremacy of the State in the externals of religion.

            https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/lollards

            The Lollards attacked the dogmatic authority and the sacramental system of the Church. They denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the validity of Confession. They denied the authority of the Apostolic Church and made each man his own pope with the personal authority to read and apply scripture as he saw fit. They were both scriptural and social anarchists.

          • Anton

            I’m a little busy tonight Jack so suffice it to say that the Twelve conclusions of Lollardy, which you consider to condemn them out of their own mouths, I consider do the exact opposite. Here are the twelve, and I invite readers to compare them against the Bible (and against Catholicism) for themselves:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Conclusions_of_the_Lollards

          • For Jack they are have no scriptural nor doctrinal merit. None.

          • Anton

            Yes, you are the final arbiter of what you believe. But not of whether it is scriptural.

          • True. It is the role of the Church to determine scriptural merit and meaning – not individual men.

          • It would certainly be helpful if you would get your facts right.
            The law De Haeretico Comburendo, was introduced in early 1401, and the Church of Rome couldn’t even wait to get the law passed before burning to death its first victim, William Sawtrey. Part of the charge against him was that “He will not worship the cross on which Christ suffered, but only the Christ who suffered on the cross.”
            The reason it took, not 40 years but 16 after the death of Wycliffe, was because Richard II would not agree to the burning of his own people. After Henry Bolingbroke had deposed and murdered him with the connivance of Thomas Arundel who then became Archbishop of Canterbury, it took only a very short time.

          • ardenjm

            I’m sorry to hear that William Sawtrey got burnt as a heretic. Burning is a terrible death as St Joan of Arc – praying all the while that God forgive her persecutors – would testify. Did Sawtrey pray for his persecutors?
            When you read Foxe’s Actes and Monuments, for example, you hear tales of great courage and manifestations of real protestant conviction but you never hear the words reported like Our Lord, St Stephen, St Joan of Arc, St Thomas More: of forgiving the persecutors and praying to God for them. I was very struck by the invective of Thomas Cranmer at the stake – railing until the end against the Church and Catholic beliefs. Quite unlike those saints I have cited above.
            I’d be fascinated if someone who has read Foxe’s accounts more completely can correct me with instances of protestant martyrs forgiving their persecutors – like Our Lord and St Stephen and all (genuine) martyrs. After all, Our Lord is very clear in Matthew 7 vs21-23, as is St Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:
            “…and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

            As for the law condemning heretics – Lollardy wasn’t specifically condemned, nor were the writings of Wycliffe explicitly named. That came, as I said, in 1413. My facts were right enough, just incomplete.

          • Anton

            No informed protestant takes Foxe seriously.

            According to this translation of De Heretico Comburendo,

            http://www.constitution.org/sech/sech_069.htm

            the preamble refers to “a certain new sect,” accused of holding damnable opinions concerning the sacraments and the authority of the Church and of doing all the things which the statute proceeds to forbid. The Lollards fit the description, and no other sect does nor is even known to exist in England at the time.

          • ardenjm

            Sigh.
            My original point: 1413 Council of Rome pronounces explicitly a condemnation of Wycliffe. 1415 Council of Constance declares him a heresiarch for the first time explicitly.

          • Anton

            I have not denied anything you wrote about the timing of the condemnation of Wycliffe’s writings. I approve of accuracy but this is a small point compared to the significance of those writings and the fate of the Lollards.

            Wycliffe’s body was dug up in 1428 and his bones burnt and thrown in the local river at Lutterworth, the Swift. As Thomas Fuller wrote two centuries later,

            They burnt his bones to ashes and cast them into the Swift, a neighouring brook running hard by. Thus the brook conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, and they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of John Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine which is now dispersed the world over.

          • Ah yes, the Church of Rome burned Joan of Arc as well. They would burn just about anybody, wouldn’t they?
            The last words of William Sawtrey don’t appear to be recorded, but opening my copy of Foxe at random, I came across the martyrdom of George Wisheart in Scotland in 1546. “The hangman that was his tormentor sat down upon his knees and said, ‘Sir, I pray you forgive me for I am not guilty of your death.’ To whom he answered, ‘Come hither to me.’ When that he was come to him, he kissed his cheek, and said, ‘Lo, here is a token that I forgive thee. My heart, do thine office.'”

          • ardenjm

            “Ah yes, the Church of Rome burned Joan of Arc as well.”
            Well, now, that’s just the thing. You’ve made this version of the Catholic Church that means the Church can only do evil. Thing is, it was English and Burgundian Bishops who put her on trial and then got the authorities to burn her. This was a wicked thing they did. But the same Church rehabilitated her, condemned her unjust trial and eventually canonised her as a saint (not a martyr, however.)
            Conclusion? There are good and bad people in the Church, injustices are committed, people suffer, but are then vindicated and errors recognised. In short, the Church contains saints and sinners – exactly as Our Lord said she would.
            You though can’t process that. For you, with your cartoon version of the Church of Rome, the Harlot of Babylon, she can only be an agent of evil. But the thing is: St Joan of Arc is a Saint of the Catholic Church and has been recognised as such by that Church who likewise recognised that her own members, including Bishops, treated Joan with injustice and in an un-Christ-like manner. You, however, in your manichean black/white goodies/baddies version of events cannot wrap your head around that:
            Men who were very poor Catholics killed her. Men who were better Catholics exonerated her. Men who were Catholics guided by the Holy Spirit recognised her holiness and proclaimed her a saint.

            The story of George Wisheart is very touching. So many utter imprecations against the “Church of Rome” instead. He, however, had forgiveness in his heart: like Our Lord, St Stephen, St Joan of Arc and St Thomas More. That’s very good.
            I see that Cardinal Beaton was murdered by Protestants shortly after Wishart’s execution because of his part in the process. They mutilated his body and then Foxe has this to say of him: “and [he] lay seven months and more unburied, and at last like a carrion was buried in a dunghill.”
            The forgiveness was strong in Foxe, I see…

          • Rhoda

            The “prohibitive expense” of handwritten manuscripts on vellum is nothing compared to the cost of building the cathedrals.

          • pobjoy

            Indeed. Had ‘Christendom’ put into Bible education one tenth of the budget for glorifying hierarchy and ‘Christian’ monarchy, the true purpose of cathedrals, there would now be no Vatican.

          • ardenjm

            Stone and timber was more available than calf skins.
            The Lindisfarne Gospels, for example (just the Gospels nota bene) took 130 animals.
            For one bible, then, even small and un-illustrated, you’re looking at 500+ animals at least.
            And then there is the availability of scribes for the job. And the training of the scribes.
            And the sense that the Word of God wasn’t just any text but was sacred and holy and needed special care:
            https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=lib_pubs

          • Anton

            Many of the cathedrals were built with nonlocal stone, in order to be of superior quality. It is wholly implausible that the effort involved in shifting many thousands of tons of stone long distances for every cathedral, even before they are built, is less than the effort that would have been involved in making Bibles from the skins of animals that were readily available and bred easily. Which was the church’s priority is very clear.

            Any monk could have done the copying – indeed monasteries acted as copying services in the mediaeval era. There were plentiful monasteries.

            What *was* specialist were the artists who illuminated the manuscripts, but they are not needed if the aim is to get the Bible across rather than to make ceremonial copies designed for decoration rather than reading. Given that the gospels were deliberately written in rough Greek so as to get the message to as many people as possible, mediaeval priorities do not appear to match those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul.

        • bluedog

          A dear friend always sends us a Christmas card of the Virgin and Child. Underneath the address is EVM. After much thought, and being afraid to ask, we conclude ‘Ecce Venerate Maria’.

          Would that be right? If not, your suggestions please.

          • Anton

            I’d guess that the V is for virgin.

          • bluedog

            Not sure. Sender is seriously Tridentine.

          • Anton

            The Latin for ‘virgin’ also begins with a V, of course.

          • Anton

            Ex Virgine Maria is my guess.

          • ardenjm

            Happy Christmas.
            If it’s hand-written it’s probably BVM or Blessed Virgin Mary – Beata Virgine Maria. Otherwise, I’m not at all sure. I’ve certainly never come across a pious exhortation ‘ecce venerate Maria’.

          • Anton

            Steeleye Span, not Steely Dan (who also existed)! I saw them sing it too, a long time ago.

          • Pubcrawler

            I have too, a number of times. Their clumsy pronunciation grates. ‘Vuhdjinay’, indeed. Pft.

          • bluedog

            Happy Christmas to you and many thanks. The note is hand-written and we’re sure it reads EVM. The author is Spanish but always writes to us in English, so we had assumed it was Latin, not Spanish. Will have to admit defeat and ask for clarification. Thanks again.

          • Brian

            ‘ecce’ isn’t followed by a verb but a noun (e.g. ‘ecce homo’).

        • Anton

          The problem is not what you say here, but what you don’t say.

          In the high mediaewval ages laymen were not permitted to own even the Latin Bible, for resolution 14 of the Council of Toulouse (1229) stated that: Lay people are not permitted to possess the books of the Old and New Testament [prohibemus, ne libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti laicis permittatur habere], only the Psalter, Breviary, or the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, and these books not in the vernacular language. Although this council was not a full ‘ecumenical’ council of bishops, it represented church policy, for it was held at the close of the Albigensian crusade, in the same region.

          If Rome was keen to stamp out heresy, why did it not let lay people read the Bible? Any why did it provide its own vernacular translations only after protestants began to make Bibles available in the languages of Europe?

          As for translational accuracy, the Latin Vulgate Bible is itself a translation, and in it the Greek word for ‘repent’ in Matthew 4:17 (an inner action) is mistranslated as ‘do repentance’ (an outward one), as Luther rightly insisted.

          • ardenjm

            The Council of Toulouse was a response to the Albigensian heresy – a dualistic religion which preached that there were two creators – a spiritual one (good) a material one (bad) and which eventually got to 40% of the Languedoc/Comté de Toulouse population. Their ‘scriptures’ were inevitably seen as suspect. Much as Wycliffe’s translation was, also.

            “If Rome was keen to stamp out heresy, why did it not let lay people read the Bible? Any why did it provide its own vernacular translations only after protestants began to make Bibles available in the languages of Europe?”

            Your question is slanted with inherent conclusions and is skewed in much the same way as that old rhetorical question, “Do you still beat your Mother?”

            As you see here: vernacular translations were made long before the Reformation and by the Church and with her approval: https://twitter.com/Calthalas/status/925362019410341888
            So your question is why the Church resisted laymen interpreting Scripture willy-nilly which, of course, the Reformers came to resist as well hence their violent repudiation of the Radical Reformation which they (rightly) saw as anarchy.

            “Any why did it provide its own vernacular translations only after protestants began to make Bibles available in the languages of Europe?”
            The Church was and has always been – and is still – slow to respond to challenges that catch her on the back foot. The Church is by nature conservative she reacts (sometimes very effectively) but it is, nevertheless, only a reaction and response to what others do. Only rarely does the Church anticipate and innovate.

          • Anton

            Its Founder did, but the world seldom does. Which should the church emulate?

          • ardenjm

            Take a look at Ronald Knox’s:
            Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion with Special Reference to the XVII and XVIII Centuries (1950). Knox’s own favourite book, a study of the various movements of Christian men and women who have tried to live a less worldly life than other Christians, claiming the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, and eventually splitting off into separate sects. Quietism and Jansenism seemed to be the primary foci.

            His criteria to distinguish true from false ‘reform’ are wise.

            Happy Christmas. Off to the family luncheon now.

          • Anton

            There is an earlier history of people who tried to live a less worldly life than other Christians and it is called monasticism. I have at least as grave reservations about that as Knox clearly does about sects, but let us indeed follow the exhortation in Isaiah 22:13, or at least the first part of it.

          • Alfred the Great decreed that the Scriptures should be made available to the people, although the whole Bible, if memory serves me right, was not completed until the reign of his grandson. The papacy through the 8th-10th centuries was usually in such a dire state that England pretty much did its own thing.
            The problem came after 1066, when the language of the court became French and that of the Church, Latin and the Papacy revived (if that’s the right word) under Hildebrand. It was from this time until the Reformation that the Bible was denied to the English.

        • pobjoy

          So an abbess released (and no doubt edited) the poems of an unlearned person whose only known offering could have been a loose re-wording of early Genesis, not unlike similar works found in Upanishads and Vedas—
          quite possibly plagiarised from the same source!

    • Maalaistollo

      Thank you.

    • Pubcrawler

      Oh, and for the secularists, the Black Country’s finest.

      https://youtu.be/0A8KT365wlA

  • IrishNeanderthal

    May I suggest all folk here, gentle or otherwise, listen to this:

    • Chefofsinners

      Did someone drop the cutlery drawer on the cat?

  • Chefofsinners

    Every day of the year this blog is an oasis of wisdom, fellowship and joy to the pilgrim on his desert journey. Heartfelt thanks to Cranmer for all his toil. It is not in vain.

    Cranmerry Christmas, one and all.

  • Chefofsinners

    Happy atheistmas, Sarky. Don’t go getting all religious on us.

  • Anton

    Keep the dog from the stollen!

  • A very merry Christmas to your Grace, and to all the Cranmer groupies.
    ‘Lo, within a manger lies
    He who built the starry skies,
    He who, throned in height sublime
    Sits amid the cherubim.’

    • Merv

      Indeed!
      ‘Hail, thou ever blessed morn!
      Hail, Redemption’s happy dawn!’

    • Jon of GSG

      As I read your first line there it struck me it almost fits the tune for “unto us is born a son”…

      Merry Christmas to Your Grace
      And all the Cranmer groupies;
      May you gaily stuff your face
      And cheer with many whoopees,
      And cheer with many whoopees.

      I think I’ll maybe not turn to hymn-writing.

  • betteroffoutofit

    Merry Christmas, Your Grace — and thank you once again for all you do.

    May all your contributors and readers also enjoy the happiest of seasons.

  • Fr Kevin

    Merry Christmas one and all

  • It would be for us a really happy Christmas if you should hear and believe the message the Shepherds heard. Truly, it would. Every blessing Sarky.

    • Sarky

      Thanks john.

  • Dreadnaught

    Wishing everyone a Happy Xmas (X in the Greek sense) and thanks to HG for another year of good blogging: have a memorable day y’all.

  • michaelkx

    wishing all a blessed Christmas

  • Anton

    The dog? Or the stollen?

  • Anton

    Scholars are vexed that Joseph went to his home town to be registered for the census, which was presumably made for tax purposes. Thy say that Rome taxed people where they lived and for that reason they question the gospel. I wonder if the reason is the Jews’ unique system of land holding by every family in perpetuity. Tax would obviously be primarily of the produce of the land.

    • David

      Yes I’ve wondered about that. The Romans made a number of exceptions for the Jews who they recognised as different and difficult to govern.

    • Royinsouthwest

      I know of someone who, for patriotic reasons, wanted to be listed as being in Wales during a recent census.

    • Sarky

      Or……its just a story.

      • Pubcrawler

        Or… that’s only the half of it.

    • Manfarang

      The registration and census of 6 CE is too late to be connected with the birth of Jesus. Additionally, the registration of 6 CE did not include the Galilee.

      • Anton

        I wasn’t talking about the timing. I was talking about the location for registration.

        • Sarky

          If the timings wrong, the location is irrelevant.

          • Anton

            I’m not saying the timing is wrong.

          • Sarky

            What are you saying then???

          • Anton

            My subject is why Joseph had to register for the (tax) census in Bethlehem rather than where he lived in Galilee.

          • Sarky

            He didn’t. But the prophecy was that the messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, so the gospel writers created a narrative to get him there.

          • Anton

            You can prove that?

            The gospel writers believed in God and did not dare knowingly lie about him.

          • Sarky

            Which is why they had to fulfil the prophecy. The whole thing is obviously a story, with different versions in different books of the bible.

          • Anton

            Find me a contradiction between the biblical accounts of it.

          • Sarky
          • Anton

            Sarky,

            And I have a book called “Alleged discrepancies of the Bible” to which I could post the link, possibly online, certainly on Amazon. It will explain most of those on your website and perhaps all.

            If you do some work, by posting an alleged discrepancy in your own words to show that you comprehend it, I’ll gladly respond in kind.

          • Sarky

            Wish i had the time!

          • Anton

            If you had the inclination, you’d find it – like the dog and the stollen two years ago!

      • Anton

        This Wikipedia article

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius

        gives four problems with Luke’s account, as follows:

        the census in fact took place in 6 AD, ten years after Herod’s death in 4 BC; there was no single census of the entire empire under Augustus; no Roman census required people to travel from their own homes to those of distant ancestors; and the census of Judea would not have affected Joseph and his family, living in Galilee

        I shall deal with these four in a different order: (2) The census is not necessarily of the whole Roman empire according to Luke’s Greek, but could simply mean “of the whole land”. (3) I have proposed earlier in this thread that the requirement to travel to the ancestral home relates to the Jews’ unique system of land holding by every family in perpetuity; taxation would obviously be primarily of the produce of the land. (4) As for whether Galilee was included, the Wikipedia entry on Quirinius states that

        After the banishment of the ethnarch Herod Archelaus in 6 AD, Iudaea (the conglomeration of Samaria, Judea and Idumea) came under direct Roman administration with Coponius appointed as prefect. At the same time, Quirinius was appointed Legate of Syria, with instructions to assess Iudea Province for taxation purposes…

        Galilee is included in Iudea but not Judea.

        The outstanding issue, both for you (Manfarang) and the writer of the Wikipedia article on the Census of Quirinius, is (1) the timing. If Quirinius first arrived in the Holy Land 10 years after Herod died, then Luke 2 combined with Matthew 2 makes no sense, for Herod is portrayed in Matthew as being alive after Jesus is born, which according to Luke is after the census. Some Christians suggest that Quirinius must have had an earlier stint in the Holy Land, not logged by Roman historians. I don’t buy this. Most likely an early copyist of Luke confused Quirinius and Quintilius, for Josephus (in Jewish War) attests that a man called Varus, fuller name Quintilius Varus, was in charge of the Holy Land at the right time; he put down a rebellion after Herod died.

        To go further one would need to read the ancient sources upon which these Wikipedia articles are based, but these articles quote only scholars, who presumably quote those sources. Some time in a decent university library is needed. No conclusion from secondhand sources should be relied on when their own sources can be read.

        • Pubcrawler

          (2) The census is not necessarily of the whole Roman empire according to Luke’s Greek, but could simply mean “of the whole land”

          Tenuous, to put it politely.

          • Anton

            In the Greek, yes indeed, but it may have gone through the Hebrew, in which ERETZ means both.

          • Pubcrawler

            *shrug*

            The inspired word of God which flowed from Luke’s pen/stylus
            is the Greek text, so that is authoritative Scripture, not some hypothetical
            antecedent. And gLuke quite clearly says πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην and
            not, say, ταύτῃν τὴν γῆν.

          • Anton

            What’s your resolution of these problems?

            I can show you an obvious copyist’s error in Exodus, if you have the time.

          • Pubcrawler

            I’m not troubled by them because I don’t see the gospels as historical biographies to be mapped in every particular, more as Christological confessional works, aids to the faithful to understand, as the risen Christ taught his disciples, how his death and resurrection is in accordance with the Scriptures (e.g. Luke 24.25ff.). I also tend to favour Mark and John, neither of whom has a nativity narrative at all. We confess faith in Christ crucified under Pontius Pilate, that’s enough to pin it to ‘history’. There are a number of chronological discrepancies between John and the synoptics (e.g. whether the cleansing of the Temple occurred at the beginning of Christ’s ministry or after his final/only entry into Jerusalem) — how many are bothered about these? John even suggests that Jesus might have been in his 40s rather than the traditional 30s (John 8.57). Again, this doesn’t bother me. None of it matters so long as Christ is risen.

            Always interested n possible scribal errors. being well versed in the discipline of textual criticism. Lay it on me, though I am now to bed, having had a few ales, and will be stuck in a library for much of tomorrow..

            Do you take my point re Luke 2.1?

          • Anton

            I accept what you say about the Greek, certainly. My problem with your position is how and where to decide what scale of events in the gospels to worry about and to not worry about.

            I’m a bit short on time myself, but the Exodus thing concerns the number of people in it. For the figure of 2 million that is usually quoted, each Hebrew woman would have had to had about 50 children during their time in Egypt. The number 2 million would have had no trouble overwhelming Pharaoh’s army even without weapons – yet they were terrified. And they were descried as “the least of all peoples”. But if you make a small change to one Hebrew letter, the word “thousand” becomes a “troop”, as in “a troop of men”. Please see the relevant chapter of Colin Humphreys’ intriguing book, The Miracles of Exodus, which is where I remember reading this. He’s a retired prof of materials physics at Cambridge!

          • Pubcrawler

            “how and where to decide what scale of events in the gospels to worry about and to not worry about.”

            Aye, there’s the rub! My short answer, before I close my eyes, is that all of it is true in so far as it points to who Christ is. (See my post scriptum.) All of it happened, but the when is incidental.

            This has long been my feeling, but it has been focused and crystallised of late since I discovered the works of Fr. John Behr. I can commend at least ch. 1 of his The Mystery of Christ to anyone, whatever their confessional tradition.

          • Anton

            Pubbers,

            Here’s one of Colin Humphreys’ articles on the subject:

            http://www.godawa.com/chronicles_of_the_nephilim/Articles_By_Others/Humphreys%20-%20Number%20of%20People%20in%20the%20Exodus.pdf

            The error is also in the Septuagint, so is a very ancient copying error.

        • Manfarang

          The Romans were good administrators. I don’t think they would want large numbers of people on the move in times where travel was much more difficult than today. Image if the millions of Britons living abroad had to return to Britain every time there was a census..
          The Nativity is a nice story even if it is mythological. Anyway there is a bit of a Presbyterian in me when it comes to Christmas (or should that be Non-Subscribing Presbyterian) Season’s greetings.

          • Anton

            It may have escaped your notice but Luke nowhere says that registration in one’s town of ancestry had to be done ON a particular date, which would have guaranteed large numbers of people on the move; obviously it would have been required BY a particular date, leaving people plenty of time to make the trip – unless they had a pregnant wife and no other family to care for her.

  • TropicalAnglican

    MERRY CHRISTMAS from #YourFavoritePresident (tweet of 27 Nov) and FLOTUS:

    https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/945287222210781184

    Includes quote from Isaiah 9:6.

    A Happy Christmas to all! One new thing learnt this Christmas Day: finally found out the role of the nightwatchman in cricket …

    • Anton

      To show the upper order how to bat.

      The tale of the England cricket team in recent years has been the tail of the England cricket team. Root aside, the bowlers do most of the bowling *and* the batting.

  • Anton

    The first televised Christmas Message by the Sovereign, 60 years ago:

  • Norman Yardy

    The miracle of Christmas is not that a baby was born but that God became incarnate in man.

  • Norman Yardy

    Happy Christmas your Grace.

  • David

    Just beginning to return to post-Christmas time.
    Sleet and snow in west Suffolk.

  • Petition to stop Nick Clegg getting a Knighthood. He’s done nothing good to deserve one.
    He lied about tuition fees, and has been actively trying to stop Brexit.

    https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-we-object-to-nick-clegg-being-offered-a-knighthood?recruiter=128002105&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=autopublish.nafta_milestone_share_ask_1.72_hour_ask

    • Manfarang

      Making Nick Clegg a scapegoat solves no problems. Clearly the people in Britain do not understand the fallout from the 2008 crisis. With political uncertainty a massive run on Sterling would have occurred plunging the country into economic meltdown.
      It seems people believe there is a money tree from which endless benefits can be paid and massive borrowing can go endlessly on.
      Remember work hard like the Chinese or you will work for the Chinese and they are not always nice employers.

      • Anton

        China has huge debt problems too.

        • Manfarang

          Deleveraging initiatives.

          • Anton

            Nice euphemism! Sometimes the markets enforce deleveraging, and it is not a pretty way to get to the end result.

          • Manfarang

            Debt to equity.There is still a lot of state control. The state companies will have to have hard budgets..

          • Anton

            The problem is much more the involvement of Chinese local rather than national government with enterprises.

          • Manfarang

            Don’t expect so many Chinese tourists in the coming year.

      • pobjoy

        The ‘money tree’ with its associated slob culture is an EU effect that will destroy the UK if Brexit is not made. That’s what the unelected Clegg, who evidently has anti-Brexit friends in low places, and that well-known Labour peer, Lord Heseltine, are aiming for. Hard work is of course necessary, but it is useless if there is no investment in skills. If May means what she says, and it would be better if she does, that investment will be made.

        • Manfarang

          Leaving the EU is not going to change people’s expectations. (although it looks as if Britain will remain a de facto EU member so ‘leaving’ will never really occur)

          • pobjoy

            Expectations are necessarily changed by changed economic circumstances, as they were thrice post-WW2.

      • Making Nick Clegg a Knight wont make it better or stop him lying!

        • Manfarang

          Regarding university tuition fees during the early period they were last in power Labour said they would not introduce them but then they dropped this from their manifesto. In government it is not always possible to deliver what a ruling political party wants. Yes it would have been nice to phase tuition fees out (actually it is living cost that are as much problem for students) but it was a coalition and the reality is not everything in its manifesto is going to be implemented by either party in government.
          Yes it is difficult for young people especially as a degree is no long an automatic passport for a job. In the end it is dependent on having a strong economy.

          • Yes we know Labour took their promise not to introduce tuition fees out of their manifesto and then went and introduced £3k tuition fees, but Clegg blatantly lied about not increasing them then they, the coalition, hiked them up to £9k. We know the country was in a bit of a mess after Labour but Clegg blatantly lied. He thinks we are all stupid. Same as he lied in the debate with Mr Farage saying there wont be an EU arm, that it’s all a fantasy. He’s incapable of telling the truth. He really does not deserve any honour.

    • David

      Signed !

  • Manfarang

    The Bishop of Liverpool
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42499266

    • Anton

      He can safely be ignored. But we learn more about Jayne Ozanne who now campaigns for gay equality within the church – and particularly the CoE – from a new and dedicated organisation that appears to be based on church premises, for the address of the Ozanne Foundation is 1, The Sanctuary, Westminster. She calls herself a “gay evangelical”, which most evangelicals would regard as a contradiction in terms:

      https://ozanne.foundation/

      Is the Dean of Westminster involved?

      • magnolia

        Well they need women- at least for two things:
        1. to shin up the building to stick up Saudi flags. (in semi-jest)
        2. the subset who will do militancy in cause of minorities for them.

    • David

      The suffragan bishop of that diocese, the Bishop of Birkenhead if I remember correctly, takes an opposing and Biblically based stance.

    • pobjoy

      Bayes is either unaware that the word ‘evangelical’ carries a different (and contradictory) meaning in the USA. In the USA, an evangelical is one who opposes abortion, homosexuality etc,.theologically, a legalist. Or, he is attempting to associate genuine evangelicalism with legalism.

      But then Paul Bayes is not an evangelical of any description, or even a churchman, according to some. Modern bishops seem to be experts at administration but very short on theology, and more trouble than they are worth. Perhaps the best move that the CoE could now make is discontinue the office of bishop and take a Presbyterian polity, that would probably have been adopted had James I not insisted on episcopalianism. It would better harmonise with Synodical government, also.

      • “In the USA, an evangelical is one who opposes abortion, homosexuality etc., theologically, a legalist. Or, he is attempting to associate genuine evangelicalism with legalism.”

        So are *genuine* evangelists in favour of abortion, homosexuality etc.? Is promoting the observation of the commands of God, *legalism*?

        What utter nonsense!

        • pobjoy

          ‘So are *genuine* evangelists’

          The subject is ‘evangelicals’, euphemistically describing those who place evangelism, i.e. gospel transmission, with resulting personal conversion, first and foremost. True conversion, they say, leads to regeneration of moral behaviour and attitude, that invariably excludes things prohibited in Paul’s ‘no-no’ lists, and includes those on his, and Peter’s, ‘yes-yes’ lists. The former do not include abortion, though contemporary, desperate Roman mothers would leave neonates to die of exposure on rubbish heaps. No-one can speak for all evangelicals, but it may be supposed that they do not practise abortion uinless the maternal life is at risk, according to medical advice.

          What evangelicals do not do is tell others how they should behave morally, a tendency that USA evangelicals display with regularity.. They aim to transmit the gospel, and leave the rest to converts and the Holy Spirit.

          • “What evangelicals do not do is tell others how they should behave morally …”

            So then Jesus must not have been an *evangelist* as He taught the Moral Law of Moses i.e. the Ten Commandments.

          • pobjoy

            What was Jesus’ ministry for, if Moses’ Law was sufficient?

          • Answer the question Jack posed.

          • pobjoy

            Question?

          • Did Jesus uphold the moral law given at Mount Sinai or not?

          • pobjoy

            Yes, and no.

            “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Mt 5:21-22 NIV

            What was Jesus’ ministry for, if Moses’ Law was sufficient?

          • The Mosaic Law was a preparation for the arrival of the Messiah and not an end n itself. Jesus, through His life, suffering and death, fulfilled the Mosaic Law and by union with Him, through baptism and an ongoing free response to His grace and resistance to sin, we become adopted sons and daughters of God.

          • pobjoy

            ‘The Mosaic Law was a preparation for the arrival of the Messiah and not an end n itself.’

            So it is fair to say that observation of the commands of God is legalism.

          • Are you saying that murder, idolatry, adultery, theft, lying etc. are no longer sinful?

          • pobjoy

            I’m saying that murder, theft and adultery offended human conscience long before Sinai, as they still do. But to tell people that these things are wrong, which they already know very well, is not Christian practice, but legalism. It increases guilt without providing any relief, which tends to confirm people in their wrongdoing, because they see no escape from it. If those who preach legalism turn out to be hypocrites, as is often the case, people become cynical and *less* concerned about their bad consciences.

            Christianity is the grateful life of a person who has accepted forgiveness for all his/her offences, past and future. So evangelism is the transmission of the ‘good news’ or gospel that by substitution in our place of the Lamb of God, all the sins of the world are forgiven, and there is no need for a bad conscience.

          • So a homosexual who accepts Christ as His Saviour can carry on living a life of sodomy with a clear conscience and accept he is forgiven without changing his lifestyle? Really?

          • pobjoy

            Is homosexuality on Paul’s list of ‘no-no’s?

          • So an evangelist does have to preach repentance and amendment of one’s sinful life. Not as you stated:

            “What evangelicals do not do is tell others how they should behave morally, a tendency that USA evangelicals display with regularity.”

          • pobjoy

            ‘So an evangelist does have to preach repentance and amendment of one’s sinful life.’

            No, because those who respond to the gospel already hate their wrongdoings. Jesus said that he came for the sick, not the healthy, meaning that those who admitted that they were sinners could be ‘healed’. Those who would not admit their wrongdoings could never be.

          • Healed immediately?

          • pobjoy

            Immediately, whether literally or soteriologically.

          • Without the grace of baptism? Once saved, always saved?

          • pobjoy

            Baptism in the Holy Spirit increases awareness of wrong motives. There is always choice to refuse the Holy Spirit.

          • That’s all baptism does? It increases awareness of wrong motives?

          • pobjoy

            Increase in awareness of wrong motives, if acted upon, leads to sanctification.

          • What a narrow and unscriptural understanding of baptism. Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift.

            Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”

            Baptism symbolizes our burial into Christ’s death, from which we rise up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.” It signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one can enter the kingdom of God.

            St. Peter declared to the crowd at Pentecost: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him, and rises with him: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” The baptized have “put on Christ.” Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.

            http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm

          • pobjoy

            There is no Scriptural basis for the conclusions of the first three paragraphs.

            John the baptiser said (Mt 3:11) that Jesus ‘will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’ Fire refers to the purification of motive that comes to all who decide to live in gratitude for atonement. Paul referred to this spiritual baptism in Ro 6:6:

            ‘Because we know that our old self was crucified with him, so that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we should no longer be slaves to sin.’

            When Peter said, “Repent and be baptised,” he required that those who had crucified Jesus signified in public a deliberate, potentially dangerous change of mind. It is this choice that resulted in baptism in the Spirit, not the water baptism; though personal public witness is still necessary:

            ‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Ro 10:9 NIV

          • For you then, Baptism is mere symbol. What matters is being “born again” or “saved” by responding to an altar call and “accept Jesus into our hearts.” This personal experience is all that is necessary to assure us of eternal salvation. Baptism is an unnecessary symbol of our inner faith.

            Catholic believe one has to accept Jesus, believe in him in our heart and confess Him with our lips. But there is more to it than that. We need to be baptized. At the beginning of Romans 6, St. Paul actually explains how we share in the death and new life of Christ – through baptism.

            The beginning of Romans 6 says, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” This idea that we are made one with Christ through baptism is reiterated by Paul in Colossians 2:12, and in Galatians 3:27 he likens baptism to “being clothed with Christ.”

            Furthermore, the fuller idea of salvation being a union with Christ fits with much more of the New Testament, which speaks time and again of being in a profound union with the living Lord—rather than simply being saved or justified by a personal belief in Christ.

            The sacrament of baptism takes the believer from the repentance, belief, and profession of faith into a more mysterious identification with Christ, in which he is the vine, and we are the branches, in which we die with him so that we might rise to new life. Baptism is not simply the addition of a meaningful symbol to the act of faith: It is an action which takes the believer’s whole body, soul, and spirit into a new relationship with God.

          • pobjoy

            ‘What matters is being “born again” or “saved” by responding to an altar call and “accept Jesus into our hearts.” This personal experience is all that is necessary to assure us of eternal salvation. Baptism is an unnecessary symbol of our inner faith.’

            That’s what Jesus, Peter and Paul said, less the ‘altar call’ part; and ‘our’. Abraham, uncircumcised, unbaptised, unchurched, was so called because he believed God, and became a friend of God (Ja 2:23). And God, it seems, accepts nothing added to faith, no legalism, however virtuous it may seem.

            ‘The beginning of Romans 6 says, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?’

            And the end shows that his allusion was figurative, and baptism, like crucifixion, is here metaphor for conversion. Or is that incorrect, and real Christians should be crucified following water baptism?

            ‘The sacrament of baptism takes the believer from the repentance, belief, and profession of faith into a more mysterious identification with Christ, in which he is the vine, and we are the branches, in which we die with him so that we might rise to new life. Baptism is not simply the addition of a meaningful symbol to the act of faith: It is an action which takes the believer’s whole body, soul, and spirit into a new relationship with God.’

            A new relationship as exemplified by King Leopold II of Belgium, Joseph Mengele, Elizabeth Bathory, Ivan the Terrible, Reinhard Heydrich, Vlad Dracula (the Impaler), Heinrich Himmler, Tomas de Torquemada, Adolf Eichmann, Maximilien Robespierre, Josef Vissarionovich (Stalin) and Bernard Law, all of them ‘properly’ baptised. Along with millions of people perfectly indistinguishable from perfectly non-religious people; except, maybe, on Sunday mornings.

          • Well at least we both know where we stand.
            Have you been baptised – as commanded by Christ?

          • pobjoy

            Did Christ command baptism?

          • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

          • pobjoy

            No mention of water.

          • “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”
            John the Baptist didn’t baptise with sand, did he?

          • pobjoy

            Here there’s no mention of baptism. John had used a figure of speech, ascribing the properties of a known to an unknown: ‘with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’ Fire (as the refiner’s resource) removes impurities. Water cleanses, but also gives life, which is not only more applicable to being born again, it is also another characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s action.

            ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’ (Isa 12:3 NIV)

            John (the other one) mentioned this in Jn 4:14:

            ‘”The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”‘ NIV

            Paul used the cleansing imagery in Ephesians 5:25-27:

            ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.’

            That’s the sanctification mentioned earlier.

            So in Matthew, Christ’s baptism is one of fire in John the baptiser’s words at the start of his gospel, and is intended in the same disciplinary sense in Jesus’ words at the end of his gospel (being unmentioned in between). In John’s gospel, the sense is wider. But neither refers to literal water baptism.

          • The Greek word βαπτίζω,used in scripture, refers to a ceremonial dipping and cleansing by water.

            In Matthew 28:19, we read: “τὰ ἔθνη βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς”.

          • pobjoy

            The word had two metaphoric meanings; to overwhelm, and to inflict, and these senses are intended in the gospel sense of baptism in the Holy Spirit.

            “Whom the Lord loves, he chastises.”

            Water baptism is often found more congenial.

          • *sigh*
            Yet another personal interpretation contradicting Christ’s words, 2000 years of orthodox prectice and Apostolic action.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Yet another personal interpretation’

            Objective lexical entries, with much support, moreover. No serious person of integrity can declare that Jesus commanded water baptism. What has to be found is clear, unmistakable evidence that he or any aposlte did so. It has never been found.

            ‘2000 years of orthodox prectice’

            1700 years of assuming stuff that is just not there. There’s more where that comes from, too.

          • Evidence?!
            Born Again in Water Baptism

            John 1:32 – when Jesus was baptized, He was baptized in the water and the Spirit, which descended upon Him in the form of a dove. The Holy Spirit and water are required for baptism.

            John 3:3,5 – Jesus says, “Truly, truly, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” When Jesus said “water and the Spirit,” He was referring to baptism (which requires the use of water, and the work of the Spirit).

            John 3:22 – after teaching on baptism, John says Jesus and the disciples did what? They went into Judea where the disciples baptized. Jesus’ teaching about being reborn by water and the Spirit is in the context of baptism.

            John 4:1 – here is another reference to baptism which naturally flows from Jesus’ baptismal teaching in John 3:3-5.

            Acts 8:36 – the eunuch recognizes the necessity of water for his baptism. Water and baptism are never separated in the Scriptures.

            Acts 10:47 – Peter says “can anyone forbid water for baptizing these people..?” The Bible always links water and baptism.

            Acts 22:16 – Ananias tells Saul, “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins.” The “washing away” refers to water baptism.

            Titus 3:5-6 – Paul writes about the “washing of regeneration,” which is “poured out on us” in reference to water baptism. “Washing” (loutron) generally refers to a ritual washing with water.

            Heb. 10:22 – the author is also writing about water baptism in this verse. “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Our bodies are washed with pure water in water baptism.

            2 Kings 5:14 – Naaman dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, and his flesh was restored like that of a child. This foreshadows the regenerative function of baptism, by water and the Holy Spirit.

            Isaiah 44:3 – the Lord pours out His water and His Spirit. Water and the Spirit are linked to baptism. The Bible never separates them.

            Ezek. 36:25-27 – the Lord promises He will sprinkle us with water to cleanse us from sin and give us a new heart and spirit. Paul refers to this verse in Heb. 10:22. The teaching of Ezekiel foreshadows the salvific nature of Christian baptism instituted by Jesus and taught in John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21 and Acts 22:16.

            Baptism is Salvific, Not Just Symbolic

            Matt. 28:19-20 – Jesus commands the apostles to baptize all people “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Many Protestant churches are now teaching that baptism is only a symbolic ritual, and not what actually cleanses us from original sin. This belief contradicts Scripture and the 2,000 year-old teaching of the Church.

            Acts 2:38 – Peter commands them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to be actually forgiven of sin, not just to partake of a symbolic ritual.

            Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:38 – there is nothing in these passages or elsewhere in the Bible about baptism being symbolic.

            Mark 16:16 – Jesus said “He who believes AND is baptized will be saved.” Jesus says believing is not enough. Baptism is also required. This is because baptism is salvific, not just symbolic. The Greek text also does not mandate any specific order for belief and baptism, so the verse proves nothing about a “believer’s baptism.”

            John 3:3,5 – unless we are “born again” of water and Spirit in baptism, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The Greek word for the phrase “born again” is “anothen” which literally means “begotten from above.” See, for example, John 3:31 where “anothen” is so used. Baptism brings about salvation, not just a symbolism of our salvation.

            Acts 8:12-13; 36; 10:47 – if belief is all one needs to be saved, why is everyone instantly baptized after learning of Jesus?

            Acts 16:15; 31-33; 18:8; 19:2,5 – these texts present more examples of people learning of Jesus, and then immediately being baptized. If accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour is all one needs to do to be saved, then why does everyone in the early Church immediately seek baptism?

            Acts 9:18 – Paul, even though he was directly chosen by Christ and immediately converted to Christianity, still had to be baptized to be forgiven his sin. This is a powerful text which demonstrates the salvific efficacy of water baptism, even for those who decide to give their lives to Christ.

            Acts 22:16 – Ananias tells Paul, “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins,” even though Paul was converted directly by Jesus Christ. This proves that Paul’s acceptance of Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour was not enough to be forgiven of his sin and saved. The sacrament of baptism is required.

            Acts 22:16 – further, Ananias’ phrase “wash away” comes from the Greek word “apolouo.” “Apolouo” means an actual cleansing which removes sin. It is not a symbolic covering up of sin. Even though Jesus chose Paul directly in a heavenly revelation, Paul had to be baptized to have his sins washed away.

            Rom. 6:4 – in baptism, we actually die with Christ so that we, like Him, might be raised to newness of life. This means that, by virtue of our baptism, our sufferings are not in vain. They are joined to Christ and become efficacious for our salvation.

            1 Cor. 6:11 – Paul says they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, in reference to baptism. The “washing” of baptism gives birth to sanctification and justification, which proves baptism is not just symbolic.

            Gal. 3:27 – whoever is baptized in Christ puts on Christ. Putting on Christ is not just symbolic. Christ actually dwells within our soul.

            Col. 2:12 – in baptism, we literally die with Christ and are raised with Christ. It is a supernatural reality, not just a symbolic ritual. The Scriptures never refer to baptism as symbolic.

            Titus 3:5-7 – “He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs of eternal life.” This is a powerful text which proves that baptism regenerates our souls and is thus salvific. The “washing of regeneration” “saves us.” Regeneration is never symbolic, and the phrase “saved us” refers to salvation. By baptism, we become justified by His grace (interior change) and heirs of eternal life (filial adoption). Because this refers to baptism, the verse is about the beginning of the life in Christ. No righteous deeds done before baptism could save us. Righteous deeds after baptism are necessary for our salvation.

            There is also a definite parallel between John 3:5 and Titus 3:5: (1) John 3:5 – enter the kingdom of God / Titus 3:5 – He saved us. (2) John 3:5 – born of water / Titus 3:5 – washing. (3) John 3:5 – born of the Spirit / Titus 3:5 – renewal in the Spirit.

            Heb. 10:22 – in baptism, our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience (again, dealing with the interior of the person) as our bodies are washed with pure water (the waters of baptism). Baptism regenerates us because it removes original sin, sanctifies our souls, and effects our adoption as sons and daughters in Jesus Christ.

            1 Peter 3:21 – Peter expressly writes that “baptism, corresponding to Noah’s ark, now saves you; not as a removal of dirt from the body, but for a clear conscience. “ Hence, the verse demonstrates that baptism is salvific (it saves us), and deals with the interior life of the person (purifying the conscience, like Heb. 10:22), and not the external life (removing dirt from the body). Many scholars believe the phrase “not as a removal of dirt from the body” is in reference to the Jewish ceremony of circumcision (but, at a minimum, shows that baptism is not about the exterior, but interior life). Baptism is now the “circumcision” of the new Covenant (Col. 2:11-12), but it, unlike the old circumcision, actually saves us, as Noah and his family were saved by water.

            Again, notice the parallel between Heb. 10:22 and 1 Peter 3:21: (1) Heb. 10:22 – draw near to the sanctuary (heaven) / 1 Peter 3:21 – now saves us. (2) Heb. 10:22 – sprinkled clean, washed with pure water / 1 Peter 3:20-21 – saved through water, baptism. (3) Heb. 10:22 – from an evil conscience (interior) / 1 Peter 3:21 – for a clear conscience (interior). Titus 3:6 and 1 Peter 3:21 also specifically say the grace and power of baptism comes “through Jesus Christ” (who transforms our inner nature).

            Mark 16:16 – Jesus says that he who believes and is baptized will be saved. However, the Church has always taught that baptism is a normative, not an absolute necessity. There are some exceptions to the rule because God is not bound by His sacraments.

            Luke 23:43 – the good thief, although not baptized, shows that there is also a baptism by desire, as Jesus says to him that he will be in paradise. It should also be noted that when Jesus uses the word “paradise,” He did not mean heaven. Paradise, from the Hebrew “sheol” meant the realm of the righteous dead. This was the place of the dead who were destined for heaven, but who were captive until the Lord’s resurrection. Hence, the good thief was destined for heaven because of his desire to be with Jesus.

            Matt. 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-39; Luke 12:50 – there is also a baptism by blood. Lord says, “I have a baptism to be baptized with” referring to His death. Hence, the Church has always taught that those martyred for the faith may be saved without water baptism (e.g., the Holy Innocents).

            Mark 10:38 – Jesus says “are you able…to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?,” referring to His death.

            1 John 5:6 – Jesus came by water and blood. He was baptized by both water and blood. Martyrs are baptized by blood.
            Then’s there’s t

          • pobjoy

            ‘Evidence?!
            Born Again in Water Baptism’

            Cult screed for the unschooled, simplistic literalism with admixture of gobbledegook like ‘sacrament’, copied and pasted, is not the evidence requested.

            There is no command for water baptism for the church. Some officious person, aware of this, added to Mark’s gospel to try to compensate (Mk 16:’16’), but even then failed. Readers should note also that Protestants, including Anglicans, have never considered water baptism or any other ritual as effective means of justification, because Protestants believe that justification is by faith in the completed work of Christ on the cross (Article XI). To add anything to that would be to declare Christ a sinner, his sacrifice inadequate. Any faith claiming to be Christian other than Protestant faith is liable to be blasphemous.

            Paul wrote that, to be saved, all that a person with faith in Christ had to do was confess that faith. Jesus said that he would not recognise any who did not confess his name. Water baptism was taken as the making of that confession; but Paul’s statement shows that the confession is what is important, not the water, that has no magical properties of cleaning away sin or providing any sort of easy way to holiness that does not involve hard decisions, very hard to make without actual, situational and dynamic faith.

            So the water baptism of infants, that cannot be regarded as confession, does not count. The preponderance of water-baptised people in some regions who are regularly found in drunken condition is witness of that. Neither can adult baptism be taken as any sort of evidence of Christian faith, because many thousands are now baptised in water (such as the Jordan) who have only hazy notions of how Christians behave. Words are cheap, as false teachers are very aware.

            Evidence of true faith is not record of any sort of ritual, waving arms around, singing, muttering, falling over, or even giving to the poor. The only evidence of true faith is willingness to confess that Jesus is one’s Lord, accompanied by the fruit of his Spirit: love, cheerfulness, concord, patience, kindness, trustworthiness, sincerity, humility and self-control, to show the truth of one’s confession.

          • Silly man. As Saint Paul teaches, it is through baptism that we unite ourselves with Christ’s death and resurrection.
            The early Church Fathers were clear that baptism is necessary for salvation:
            Irenaeus: “’And dipped himself,’ says [the Scripture], ‘seven times in Jordan.’ It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but it served as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'” (Fragment, 34, A.D. 190).
            Origen, “The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sins, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.” (Origen, Commentary on Romans, 5:9)
            Tertullian: “When, however, the prescript is laid down that ‘without baptism, salvation is attainable by none” (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, “Unless one be born of water, he hath not life.'” (On Baptism, 12:1, A.D. 203).
            Ambrose: “The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ’s blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:11-12)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the sacrament of baptism . . . “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (On Abraham 2:11:79-84).

          • pobjoy

            ‘it is through baptism that we unite ourselves with Christ’s death and resurrection’

            It is through baptism in the Spirit that those who in gratitude for atonement through Christ’s death commit their lives to him are accounted ‘in Christ’. Any who put faith in baptism, circumcision or any human effort deny Christ’s sacrifice, and are therefore not in Christ.

            ‘The early Church Fathers’

            The early church ‘fathers’ were Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, Silas, Timothy and their associates, and they were united in agreement with the above position. There was also widespread agreement that false teachers were already polluting the church, and this would only get worse. The Roman Empire, that infiltrated any and all human associations, killed or expelled Christians to leave only yes-men in what appeared to be the church. A puppet ‘pope’ declared that infants were to be’ baptised’ in water, thereby making water baptism more or less meaningless from then on.

            This ‘church’ was represented by the likes of Irenaeus and Tertullian, whose works were not canonised along with those of the actual ‘fathers’, because they were too easily identified as heretical by Christians outside the Roman Empire. It was only after Islam massacred the extra-imperial church that these books were beyond scrutiny, but by then it was too late to canonise them, and European resistance to the false church had anyway fallen due to profound public ignorance, illiteracy and force majeure.

          • “The early church ‘fathers’ were Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, Silas, Timothy and their associates, and they were united in agreement with the above position.”
            Yes, as Jack as demonstrated, they understood the meaning, necessity and sanctifying nature of baptism by water and Spirit and followed Christ’s commands. They passed these onto their followers.

            “This ‘church’ was represented by the likes of Irenaeus and Tertullian, whose works were not canonised along with those of the actual ‘fathers’, because they were too easily identified as heretical by Christians outside the Roman Empire.”

            What a numpty! The Fathers of the East and West all followed Apostolic Tradition and developed the Church’s appreciation of its significance.

            You should research the basis for including writings as part of the Canon.

          • pobjoy

            ‘they understood the meaning, necessity and sanctifying nature of baptism by water and Spirit and followed Christ’s commands’

            It has been explained that ‘water and Spirit’ referred to Spirit only. Paul wrote that, to be saved, all that a person with faith in Christ had to do was confess that faith. So they made Scripture contradict Scripture. This has been made clear enough twice now.

            They also understood this:

            ‘Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.’ Gal 6:12 NIV

            Just substitute ‘baptised’ for ‘circumcised’, and it is a perfect fit for the fearful, legalistic mind today.

            ‘ You should research the basis for including writings as part of the Canon.’

            I’m sure that, if an argument that could survive scrutiny existed, you would have provided it with your customary alacrity. 🙂

  • Anton

    So Welby in his Christmas sermon criticised “populist leaders” but did not specifically name Mr Trump. Do you think he meant anybody else? This is to criticise democracy which made them into leaders, of course.

    • Populism seeks to disrupt the existing social order by mobilizing the animosity of the “commoner” or “the people” against “privileged elites” and the “establishment.”

      The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
      (Winston Churchill)

      “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
      (Isaac Asimov)

      • IrishNeanderthal

        I am reminded of this:

        “Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.”

        from an interview G.K.Chesterton gave to the New York Times on a visit to America in 1930 or thereabouts.

        But against that I would set against GKC’s short essay on Savonarola, in Varied Types.

  • TropicalAnglican

    Isn’t it thoughtful of Prez Trump to put up this helpful reminder:
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DSAJGGtUQAAQQ3m.jpg

    Related article:
    https://www.jta.org/2017/12/27/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/proposed-western-wall-train-station-to-be-named-after-trump
    “A recently approved train station to be built in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter will reportedly be named for U.S. President Donald Trump.”

    And finally, PM Netanyahu has offered to be the tour guide for “Israel’s Christian friends”:
    https://twitter.com/netanyahu/status/944996371190259717/video/1

    “Next year in Jerusalem!”

    • Manfarang

      I see the proposed site is in West Jerusalem not far from where the American consulate now is.

    • Trumpton Central – “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub.”