Month: March 2014

32-Augustine Part 2 file | Play in new windowThis episode of CS is titled “Augustine – Part 2.” Let’s begin with another quote form Augustine of Hippo. This is form his work, On Chrsitian Teaching . . . Whoever, then, appears in his own opinion to have understood the Sacred Scriptures, or even some part of them, yet does not build up with knowledge the twofold love of God and neighbor , ‘has not yet known as he ought to know.’ Yet, if anyone has derived from them an idea that may be useful in building up this love, but has not expressed by it what the author whom he is reading truly intended in that passage, he is not erring dangerously nor lying at all. As mentioned in the previous episode, Augustine wrote a work called Retractions in which he lists the many books & treatises he’d penned. Each work is given a summary and additional notes are added charting the development of his thought over time. He wrote some 113 books & treatises, close to 250 letters, some of which are treatises themselves, and 500 sermons. The best introduction to Augustine’s thoughts is his Enchiridion – also known as On Faith, Hope, & Love.  The section on faith is an exposition of the Apostle’s Creed. Hope is captured in the Lord’s Prayer, while Love is the summary of the...

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31-Augustine Part 1 file | Play in new windowThis episode of CS is titled “Augustine – Part 1.” We begin with a quote from the Confession of St. Augustine . . . Late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient yet so new; Late have I loved you. You were within while I was without. I sought You out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things You made. You were with me, but I was not with You. These things kept me far from You; even though they’d not even be unless You made them. You called and cried aloud, and opened my deafness. You gleamed and shined, and chased away my blindness. You breathed fragrant odors and I drew breath; and now I pant for You. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace. We begin now looking at the life & work of a man of singular importance in the history of the Church because of the impact he’s had on theology. And I’ll be blunt to say what it seems many, maybe most, are careful to avoid when it comes to Augustine. While the vast majority of historians laud him, a much smaller & cautious group are less enthused with him, as I hope becomes clear as we review the man & his impact. Augustine is...

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30-Ambrose file | Play in new windowThe title of this episode is simply à “Ambrose.” And once we learn a little about him, we’ll see that title is enough. I begin with a quote à When we speak of wisdom, we are speaking about Christ. When we speak about virtue, we are speaking about Christ. When we speak about justice, we are speaking about Christ. When we are speaking about truth and life and redemption, we are speaking about Christ. Born in 340, Ambrose was the second son of Ambrosius, the imperial governor of Gaul and part of an ancient Roman family that included the famous Marcus Aurelius. Not long after Aurelius, and his utterly disastrous son Commodus, the family became Christians who provided not a few notable martyrs. Ambrose was born at Trier, the imperial capital of Gaul. When his father died while he was still a lad, Ambrose was taken to Rome to be raised. His childhood was spent in the company of many members of the clergy, mostly men of sincere faith with a solid grasp on the theological challenges the Church of that day wrestled with; things you’re familiar with because we’ve spent the last several episodes dealing with them; that is, the Christological controversies that swirled first around Arius, then the blood-feud between Cyril & Nestorius. Now would be a good time for me to...

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29-Syncretism file | Play in new windowThis week’s episode, number 29 for those who are counting, is titled, “Syncretism.” In recent episodes we’ve witnessed the growing rift between the Eastern church centered at Constantinople and the Western based in Rome. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 the Eastern bishops elevated the Bishop of Constantinople to near equal status and authority with the Bishop of Rome, giving the church 2 heads. It was increasingly obvious politics was playing a greater role in church affairs than the quest for doctrinal purity or faithfulness to the Gospel–mandate. East & West were moving in opposite directions. Since Constantinople as the “New Rome” was the political center of the empire the Eastern church grew increasingly linked to Imperial power. On February 27 of AD 380 in his Edict of Thessalonica, Emperor Theodosius declared Christianity the official state religion and banned paganism. Since the Church had no authority or power to enforce compliance to the Faith or to punish unconverted pagans, Imperial power was lent to enforce the Emperor’s will. This forced-conversion of vast multitudes of pagans saw an influx of new church members whose commitment to the Gospel was doubtful. Priests were now in the uncomfortable position of having to lead people they knew were nominally-committed at best. Since Christianity had moved away from its roots in Judaism with its knee-jerk hostility to...

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28-Justinian Sayin’ file | Play in new windowThis week’s episode of Communion Sanctorum is titled – “Justinian Sayin” During the 5th C, while the Western Roman Empire was falling to the Goths, the Eastern Empire centered at Constantinople looked like it would carry on for many years to come. Though it identified itself as Roman, historians refer to the Eastern region as the Byzantine Empire & Era. It gets that title from Byzantium, the name of the city before Constantine the Great made it his new capital. During the 5th C, the entire empire, both East & West went into decline. But in the 6th  Century, the Emperor Justinian I lead a major revival of Roman civilization. Reigning for nearly 40 years, Justinian not only brought about a re-flowering of culture in the East, he attempted to reassert control over those lands in the West that had fallen to barbarian control. A diverse picture of Justinian the Great has emerged. For years the standard way to see him was as an intelligent, ambitious, energetic, gregarious leader plagued by an unhealthy dose of vanity. More recently, that image has been edited slightly by giving his wife and queen Theodora, a more prominent role in fueling his ambition. Whatever else we might say about Justinian and Theodora, they were certainly devout in their faith. Justinian’s reign was bolstered by the careers of...

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