Showing posts from October, 2017

The Holy One of Israel: A Sermon on Leviticus 19

A reading from the book of Leviticus, chapter 19, verses 1-4, 9-18.

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. You shall revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves: I am the Lord your God….

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.

“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord.

“You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until…

On the church's eternality and "church as mission"

"The Church is Catholic, that is, universal. First, it is universal in place, because it is worldwide. This is contrary to the error of the Donatists. For the Church is a congregation of the faithful; and since the faithful are in every part of the world, so also is the Church: 'Your faith is spoken of in the whole world' [Rm 1:8]. And also: 'Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature' [Mk 16:15]. Long ago, indeed, God was known only in Judea; now, however, He is known throughout the entire world. The Church has three parts: one is on earth, one is in heaven, and one is in purgatory.

"Second, the Church is universal in regard to all the conditions of mankind; for no exceptions are made, neither master nor servant, neither man nor woman: 'Neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female' [Gal 3:28].

"Third, it is universal in time. Some have said that the Church will exist only up to a certain time. But this is false, f…

On Markan priority

This semester I'm teaching two sections of a course for freshmen of all majors on the Gospels. It's the professor's discretion to pick one of the Gospels to focus on for the majority of the semester, and while I flirted with the Gospel of John (before I learned that it had to be a Synoptic), I eventually chose Mark. I've now been teaching it, ever so slowly, for the last five weeks—and we're only through the beginning of chapter 9, having discussed the transfiguration today. (We've skipped ahead to a couple teachings, such as on marriage, but otherwise we're going chapter by chapter.) Next week we follow Jesus into Jerusalem for his triumphal entry and prophetic demonstration in the temple.

Reading and re-reading and teaching Mark has raised anew for me the question of Markan priority. I teach, following the overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars, that Mark was most likely the first Gospel written, and that both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a prim…

From "Sent Mail": on contemporary praise and worship music

I am exactly one step away from entering full-on Amos prophetic mode with contemporary praise and worship songs. It's not that it's bad. Church music has, parish to parish, congregation to congregation, been bad since time immemorial. It's something else entirely.

The content is so spectacularly, even impressively, vacuous that it it nigh un-Christian. The words are so consistently monosyllabic that one would think the phrases are meant to be understood by kindergartners. The only characters in the songs are the otherwise unnamed pronouns "You" and "I." "You" is, so far as I can tell, generally benign, and makes "I" feel good, but I've yet to figure anything else about him/her/it, or even about "I," except that "I" thinks about "I" a whole lot, especially "I's" emotional well-being.

I am persuaded that the songwriters have together signed a blood-pact never, on principle, to u…