Wise Words on Wednesday: Saying Grace

chesterton

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before a concert and the opera, and grace before the play and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in ink

– GK Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi

Restless Heart Podcast Launched!

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Today is the the Feast Day of St. Christopher, the patron Saint of travellers, and St. James, the patron of the Camino De Santiago, so it seemed like an appropriate day to launch a new podcast, “The Restless Heart”. Each week on this podcast I will be sitting down with my friend Nessa to discuss some aspect of the Catholic Faith.

Restless Heart – Pilot (Download)

If you have iTunes installed, you can click here to subscribe. Alternatively, you should be able to find us in the podcast section of the iTunes Store and Google Play. If you need to setup your podcast feed manually, our feed is:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/RestlessHeartPodcast

If you have any feedback or would like to pose a question for an upcoming episode, you can always tweet us at @davidandnessa.

Music Monday: Saviour of the World

I came across another John Finch song, “Saviour of the World”…

We are waiting for your coming
For your mercy and your grace
We are desperate in our longing
Only you can save

Lord we’re longing, we’re longing
For your coming, your coming
Hope is rising it’s rising
You’re the Savior of the world x2

We are filled with expectation
Of the peace that you will bring
You’re the hope for every nation
You’re the one who sets us free

You have come to save us
You’re the savior of the world

Mere Christianity – Book II – Chapter 5 (“The Practical Conclusion”)

Book 2

We now come to my notes on the final chapter of Book II of “Mere Christianity”…

Notes & Quotes

1. In Christ, a new kind of life and a new kind of man has appeared

“People often ask when the next step in evolution – the step to something beyond man – will happen. But in the Christian view, it has happened already. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us”

(a) We received our old kind of life from others and in a most unexpected way

“We derived it from others…without our consent – and by a  very curious process, involving pleasure, pain, and danger.”

(b) We receive the new life also in an unexpected way

“We must be prepared for it being odd too. He did not consult us when He invented sex: He has not consulted us either when He invented this”

2. We receive this life chiefly through three things: baptism, belief and Holy Communion

(a) These are not the only channels through which this life is communicated

“I am not saying there may not be special cases… [However], if you are trying in a few minutes to tell a man how to get to Edinburgh you will tell him the trains: he can, it is true, get there by boat or by a plane, but you will hardly bring that in”

(b) It is not an either/or proposition

“Anyone who professes to teach you Christian doctrine will, in fact, tell you to use all three… Do not think I am setting up [these]… as things that will do instead of your own attempts to copy Christ”

3. We believe this on the authority of what Jesus taught

“Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy”

(a) We believe in many things about this world based on authority

“I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so”

(b) We believe in many things because scientists tell us so

“…the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood…”

(c) We believe in history because of authority

“Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada… We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them.”

(d) We reject this at our peril

“A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life”

4. This new life may be lost and must be protected

“Your natural life is derived from your parents; that does not mean it will stay there if you do nothing about it…. You have to feed it and look after it: but always remember you are not making it, you are only keeping up a life you got from someone else… even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam – he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts”

(a) In the same way a body can heal itself, a Christian can repent

“A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, abut a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again… because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (tin some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out”

(b) Anything good comes from this new life

“…the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it”

5. This new life is expressed through the Body of Christ

“…the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts”

(a) This bodily nature explains why the new life is not spread purely through mental acts such as belief

“…but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion… There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God.. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it”

(b) Some might ask if it not unfair that this new life be confined to those who have heard and believed in Christ, but Jack responds by saying…

(i) …we are ignorant in this area

“…God has not told us what His arrangements about the other poeople are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him”

(ii) …that’s not a reason to reject this new life

“…if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is remain outside yourself… If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them”

(c) Some ask why God doesn’t invade this world in force…

(i) He will at the Second Coming

“Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when”

(ii) His delay may be to give us a chance to join his side freely

“…we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side”

Discussion Questions

1. Jack describes salvation in terms of a new life. Can you think of Scripture passages where this motif is taken up?

2. How does Jack contrast the old life and the new life, particularly with regards to its strangeness and its mode of reception?

3. What are the primary ways in which Jack says the new life are communicated? On what basis? Do you agree with all these? Is this an exhaustive list? What other ways do you think there are?

4. How does Jack feel about believing something based on authority?

5. What light is shed on the Christian experience by understanding salvation in bodily terms?

6. How does Jack respond to those who complain about the exclusiveness of Christianity?

7. How does Jack reply to those who complain about God’s subtle, elusive action and who would much prefer he “invade in force”?

C.S. Lewis Doodle

I couldn’t find a Doodle 🙁

Mere Christianity – Book II – Chapter 4 (“The Perfect Penitent”)

Book 2

As we reach the half-way mark of Book II, these are my notes for Chapter 3…

Notes & Quotes

1. Jesus came to teach, but also to die and rise

“…as soon as you look into the New Testament or any other Christian writing you will find they are constantly talking about…His death and His coming to life again. It is obvious that Christians think the chief point of the story lies there”

(a) Christians believe that Christ’s death changed everything, but there are different theories as to how this happened

“The central belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter… Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works… We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself…. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.”

(b) The fact that it works is much more important than how it works

“People at their dinners and felt better long before the theory of vitamins was ever heard of: and if the theory of vitamins is some day abandoned they will go on eating their dinners just the same… A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works…”

2. One theory about how this works is substitutionary atonement

“…[we are] let off because Christ has volunteered to bear a punishment instead of us”

(a) This theory presents some challenges

“If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead?”

(b) …but this can perhaps be made more understandable through understanding it in terms of debt

“…there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not….it is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend”

3. Man has got himself into trouble by rebelling against God

“He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself…fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a revel who must lay down his arms”

(a) This rebellion requires repentance

“This process of surrender – this movement full speed astern – is what Christians call repentance… It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousand of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death”

“[Repentance is] not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back”

(b) This leads to a dilemma

“Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person – and he would not need it”

(c) We can repent if God helps us

“We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another… We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it”

(d) Repenting is not something which God does

“…we now need God’s help in order to do something which God, in His own nature never does at all – to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God’s nature corresponds to this process at all… God can share only what He has: this thing in His own nature, He has not”

(e) This becomes possible with the Incarnation

“…supposing God became a man – suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person – then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man.”

4. Some people complain that if Jesus was God, His suffers lose all value in their easy because it must have been easy for him.

“…[some] rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection…surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them?”

(a) A grown-up can teach you to write

“If [a child] rejected [the adult] because ‘it’s easy for grown-ups’ and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no ‘unfair’ advantage), it would not get on very quickly”

(b) Someone on the shore can save you from drowning

“…a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life…That advantage – call it ‘unfair’ if you like – is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?”

Discussion Questions

1.What is the difference between the Christian belief about Christ’s atonement and the theories surrounding it?

2. How might we understand substitutionary atonement in terms of a criminal and also as a debtor?

3. How does Jack explain the atonement in terms of the “the perfect penitent”?

4. How does Jack respond to those who say that Jesus’ sufferings, since He was God, would have been easy?

C.S. Lewis Doodle

I couldn’t find a Doodle 🙁

Friday Frivolity: Calvin Facebook Rules

I recently came across a Facebook Group called “Calvinism: The Group That Chooses You”, which made me chuckle because Calvinism is known for its emphasis on God’s sovereign choice. “Five Point” Calvinists often express their beliefs using the acronym TULIP:

Total Depravity
Man is an enemy of God and has no ability to save himself

Unconditional Election:
God does not choose whom He will save based on anything He sees in the individual

Limited Atonement
Jesus only died for those He saves

Irresistible Grace
If God saves you, you can’t resist His grace

Perseverance of the Saints
Once saved, always saved

I thought I would do the Facebook group a favour and come up with some appropriate rules so that they fully embrace five-point Calvinism:

Point 1. You have no natural ability to join this group

Point 2. The Admin will decide if you are added

Point 3. Non-members cannot join

Point 4. Facebook security cannot block you from being added

Point 5. You will never be able to unsubscribe

Calvinism

New Audrey Assad Album!

All is right with the world once again, Audrey Assad is recording a new album! Audrey is undoubtedly my favourite Catholic musician, with a beautiful voice, wonderful melodies and soul-shattering lyrics.

You can purchase her new album, Evergreen, in advance at the link below:

Audrey

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