c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Moral Mechnics of Propitiation


There is an understandable objection to the idea that God punished his Son, Jesus, for the sins of humanity.  It has been called divine child abuse, despite the fact that Jesus was not a child and gave himself for us voluntarily.

Some have another, related concern about the nature of God, that he is portrayed as wrathful and not loving.  This view persists despite the obvious logic that love would provide atonement, saying that God does not want to be angry with us.  This is a simple Sunday school verse away from being universally accepted, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son …”  It is an ethos that forms a complete circle when we realize that all sin is a sin against the divine nature, which is love, love being the law of Christ.  Now, love must be freely given.  In the atonement, then, we see God taking in his own body on the tree the consequences for the condition he himself created in making humanity free to sin.  In the cross all is set right and mankind is presented with propitiation “to be received by faith.”

The more interesting question, though, is how a sacrifice for sins works.  We can assume that the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament are purely prophetic of the Lamb of God.  But since the full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world has been made, what exactly happened that a meritorious cause of our salvation was accomplished?  How can one man’s death atone for the wickedness of another?

 

Scripture says that Jesus “became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” and that he became a curse for us, “for anything hung on a cross is accursed.”  These are ontological statements, which require that we understand the moral universe in which we live.  A moral universe is different from a magical or speculative one in which God merely declares one righteous while another abides under wrath.  When Jesus died, for instance, there were religious, cosmic, geological, and anthropological phenomenon that serve as signs that something happened that day, once for all time.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two, the sun was darkened at midday, there was an earthquake, and some were raised from the dead.

 

The moral law is that evil be met with evil and good rewarded with good.  But in Christ the good was subjected to unspeakable evil.  Jesus absorbed all the evil that exists in the world like a dry sponge absorbs water.  Sponges come from the water where they naturally live and grow.  Taking a sponge out of the water and making it dry prepares it for absorbing water by the will and use of man.  Jesus came from heaven, where he naturally belongs as the man of heaven.  Yet in him God was incarnate, contrary to nature by a miracle of the Virgin Birth, and he lived in perfect obedience to God.  His virtuous life and obedience made him the perfect sacrifice for sin.  He reversed the flow such that if we give up our sins to him he takes them away.  “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.”

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Cross and Spiritual Formation


A spiritual perspective or understanding is essential to formation.

 

There are two ways a person might be enlightened.  The most common is through painful life experience.  That happened to me.  I suffered a series of traumatic experiences and went looking for an explanation.  I found it in the New Testament, understood in its salvation-historical context.  It is there in plain sight but I "had no one to guide me.” (Acts 8:31)

 

The second way is to learn it from sound Biblical exposition.

 

The New Testament teaches philosophical dualism: body/soul, time/eternity, and others of equal significance.  Jesus said, for instance, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh can do nothing." (John 6:63)

 

Paul wrote, "The desires of the flesh are against the desires of the Spirit; and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other." (Galatians 5:17)

 

There are five common objections to Christian dualism.

 

Pagan thought.  I answer, “Do not call unclean what God has cleansed.” (Acts 10:15)  Jesus and the early Church, and theologians in every age since, adopted, adapted, mitigated, modified, used, and perfected Greek philosophical categories to explain Christ and the new covenant in his blood.

 

Gnosticism.  I answer, Jesus “came in the flesh” (John 1:14, I John 4:2, and II John 1:7) to show us how to overcome sin, death, and the grave.  Being “fully human,” he is our model and example of obedience to the Father.

 

Previous revelation.  I answer, consider the crucifixion of our Lord.  The Old Covenant was all about the plight of Jews in the world.  “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:48)

 

Creation.  I answer, God himself has given up on creation in deference to “the life of the world to come” for which we must prepare ourselves as disciples of the Lord. "This phrase, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain." (Hebrews 12:27)

The body.  I answer, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:44 ESV)

Overcoming objections to Christian dualism allows us to grow spiritually through embracing the cross by which “I am crucified to the world and the world is crucified unto me.” (Galatians 6:14)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Brief Exposition of Romans




The most important word in the exposition of Romans is “therefore” found at 12:1.  It occurs there in the logical form of A therefore B with chapters 1-11 being A and the remainder B.

It is tempting to say that A is theoretic and theologically systematic while B is practical.  Whereas it is obvious that B is entirely pragmatic it is a mistake to say A is completely speculative.  A speaks of the power of God (1:16), for instance, then conscience (2:15), receiving by faith the propitiation that God provides in Christ (3:25), walking in faith like Abraham (4:12), peace with God (5:1), baptism (6:3), obedience (6:16), self-awareness (7:23), and walking according to the Spirit (8:4).

 

In A Paul is not presenting new material, per se, but, having expressed his desire to go to Rome, and having heard of their faith, he is interpreting to them how he understands the Gentile experience of Christ to date, in order to establish rapport and begin ministry before arriving (1:8-15).  The polemical nature of his remarks against “works of the Law” reflects his own painful experience of those that question his message and apostleship.  It does not serve as a blanket consideration from which to launch an antinomian protest against their common faith but expresses his moral statesmanship, which culminates in the declarations of chapters 9-11:  all Israel will be saved, if Israel is understood correctly as those that believe in Jesus and walk in his holy ways.
 

In resolving the soteriological differences within contemporary Christianity today, then, Romans provides no support for the pop-evangelical position.  Note, for instance, this passage:

 

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17 ESV)

 

The proviso of suffering with Christ for the sake of salvation casts Paul in the light of Christ:

 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26 ESV)

 

The Romans were practicing Christians that Paul wanted to visit as apostle and minister.  The admonitions of B are not about unnecessary and optional works that flow from faith but a pastoral admonition to continue and refine previous saving behaviors in consistently specific ways.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ethos


The Ethos of Anglican Life Curriculum

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. –Jesus

  1. We shall represent the thread of the Holy Spirit’s work that runs through the Anglo-Catholic, Wesleyan-type Evangelical, and Charismatic history, experience, and perspective.
  2. We shall support all seven sacraments.
  3. We shall support all the gifts of the Spirit.
  4. We shall support ecumenical efforts and dialogue but especially with those in apostolic succession, that is, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
  5. We shall avoid forensic language in describing salvation, for it has been done to distraction and misunderstanding it has led many into the antinomian error.
  6. We shall oppose elective abortion.
  7. We shall err on the side of gender differentiation.  The curriculum shall support traditional marriage and family values, Western culture, capitalism, and patriotism.  We believe in freedom, prosperity, and the rule of law.
  8. We shall treat God as masculine but the Spirit, though a co-equal person of the Trinity, may be spoken of as neuter, “its” gender in Greek.   The curriculum shall refer to the Church as feminine in gender.
  9. We shall support the three-fold ministries of deacon, elder/priest, and bishops.  The curriculum shall support the ministry of all baptized believers and the ministry of women that have the Spirit.
  10. We shall assume that women may be called to the Diaconate and men to the Priesthood.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Anglican Life Prototype Lesson




Anglican Life Curriculum 1C.1
First Sunday of Advent


 


THE LORD RETURNS


 
Luke 21:25-36


 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”


And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.


“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”


This lesson has three parts: play acting, a picture project, and the demonstration of a trap. For this lesson you will need: colored construction paper, scissors, gold glitter, glue, small Bibles or Testaments, mirror(s), and a mouse trap.


The text above contains words treated two ways.  Those to be acted out are in italics and those alluding to the scene at the Lord’s return are underlined.  In one case they overlap.  That indicates the core concept of the lesson.


Read through the lesson with proper responses, according to the custom of your church.


For young children we must make an exception to this passage.  Tell them that staying awake at night is for grown-ups only and that they should go to sleep after their prayers.


Have the children stand in a line or semi-circle, facing the teacher.  The teacher demonstrates the following words and phrases, having the children imitate expressions, gestures, and actions:


Distress – make a distressed face


Perplexity – express questioning by scratching your head and saying, “What’s going on?”


Roaring – make a roaring sound and a motion to indicate crashing waves


Fainting with fear – give a frightened sound and expression then slump to the ground


Foreboding –with wide eyes ask, “What’s going to happen next?”


Shaken – shake your hands and arms, head and body


See – point upward and say, “Look!”


Straighten up and raise your heads – begin bent over then stand up and look up


Pass away – with your left hand make a sweeping motion, right to left


Not pass away – hold your Bible up high with both hands


Watch yourselves – pass a mirror around so that the children can watch themselves do something


Dissipation – this word in Greek means tipsy, one too many drinks, acting silly or goofy


Drunkenness – this word in Greek means completely drunk, staggering, even falling down


Cares – this word in Greek means distracted; have the children stare at an object while the teacher tries to break their concentration; younger children will have great difficulty with this


Praying – have the children kneel in prayer and make the sign of the cross


Strength to escape – pair off the children by size and have them take turns grasping each other’s wrist with one hand and breaking free by twisting toward the thumb; remind them not to be too rough


Stand before the Son of Man – demonstrate how to stand at a respectful but relaxed attention, chin up, eyes straight and arms to the side, and with good posture


Read the passages asking the children to play out the words and phrases that were just learned and rehearsed.  Do it a couple of times, enough that they are rewarded for being able to anticipate and act out the verses but not so many times that it becomes boring.


Demonstrate how a mouse trap works, calling attention to the passage about the Day of the Lord coming suddenly like a trap that springs.


For the picture project, arrange four pieces of construction paper in this order, taping them together from the back:


yellow/black
brown/light blue


The brown and light blue pieces should be ½ the height of the yellow and black.  According to the motor skills of children in the class, have ready to apply or to cut out the following: larger white sun, smaller white crescent moon, white stars of various sizes and shapes, dark blue waves, black trunk and limbs of a tree, green leaves, a fluffy gray cloud, and figure of Jesus in a purple robe.  Use glue and gold glitter to adorn the Christ figure with a crown or halo.  Read through the text slowly one more time as the children cooperatively put together the picture project with glue.  Have them arrange the stars so that the sign of the cross appears in the night sky.  When finished brag on them profusely.







Friday, February 13, 2015

Philosophy






PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY

Anglican Life Curriculum



I came that they may have life and have it abundantly – Jesus

 

Our goal is to publish a curriculum that utilizes a working definition of spiritual formation, accounts for various learning styles, is developmentally age/stage appropriate, gender differentiating, and integrates liturgically with the whole Church. 

The means to achieving this goal is to solicit material from consortium partners, i.e., writers and illustrators, who shall submit work to be reviewed and put into a finished product by an editorial board. Once a product is deemed available for publication its author will have final approval. It will then become available to churches to purchase on line. 

Anglican Life Curriculum has inherited an entrepreneurial model for publishing curriculum.  That is, contributors will share in proceeds from sales subject to market forces but it is a non-profit religious, educational, and charitable organization. 

We seek to develop Sunday school curriculum systematically across several parameters that are represented by the following chart.  Each number represents a course:

Anglican Life Curriculum Course Chart


Season/Stage (Ages)

One (3-5)

Two

(6-8)

Three

(9-11)

Four

(12-14)

Five

(15-17)

Six

(18+)

Advent

1

2

3

4

5

6

Christmas

7

8

9

10

11

12

Epiphany

13

14

15

16

17

18

Lent

19

20

21

22

23

24

Easter

25

26

27

28

29

30

Ordinary Time

31

32

33

34

35

36

Thanksgiving

37

38

39

40

41

42


Within each course are lessons to fill the weeks.  Each lesson follows the Scripture readings for any given Sunday according to the Book of Common Worship of the Church of England.


Anglican Life Curriculum is based on the assumption that living things grow:
 
And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. (Luke 2:39-40 ESV)
 
And some [seed] fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 8:8 ESV)
 
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19 ESV)
 
No unbelief made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:20-22 ESV)
 
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:1-5 ESV) 

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18 ESV)
 
Living beings grow through identifiable stages.  This phenomenon has been demonstrated in the work of Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and others and provides the basis for our developmentally age/stage appropriate model of curriculum development.  The Biblical basis for it is found in the following passages:
 
22 But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ should be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the Law, and shut up unto the faith, which should afterward be revealed. 24 Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be made righteous by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the sons of God by faith, in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:22-26 Geneva Bible)
 
In this passage schoolmaster means a child care worker, who in ancient times was responsible for the basic socialization process that any child must undergo before he could be publically presented as a full and responsible member of the community.  It is roughly analogous to another age/stage progression that we find in Scripture, the difference between carnal and spiritual:
 
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 ESV)
 
In his exposition of love Paul also spoke in developmental terms:
 
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)
 
John wrote of stages of spiritual growth:
 
I am writing to you, little children,
                        because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.
            I am writing to you, fathers,
                        because you know him who is from the beginning.
            I am writing to you, young men,
                        because you have overcome the evil one.
            I write to you, children,
                        because you know the Father.
            I write to you, fathers,
                        because you know him who is from the beginning.
            I write to you, young men,
                        because you are strong,
                        and the word of God abides in you,
                        and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:12-14 ESV)
 
The following basic descriptions of each stage in cognitive, moral, and spiritual development shall guide Anglican Life Curriculum.


Developmental Ages and Stages

Stage
≈Age
Department
Opportunity in Manifest Need
Method
Goal
Zero
B-2
Nursery
Felt Experience
Nurturance
Contentment
One
3-5
Pre-school
Physical Consequence
Correction
Discipline
Two
6-8
Early Elementary
Role Stereotype
Guidance
Conformity
Three
9-11
Older Elementary
Socialization
Instruction
Cooperation
Four
12-14
Junior High
Rational Thought
Debate
Civility
Five
15-17
High School
Social Contract
Study
Mutuality
Six
18+
Adult
Universal Principle
Work
Perfection

 

In addition, Anglican Life Curriculum shall speak to the Three Main Learning Styles.
 
Visual
• Uses visual objects such as graphs, charts, pictures, and seeing information
• Can read body language well and has a good perception of aesthetics
• Able to memorize and recall various information
• Tends to remember things that are written down
• Learns better in lectures by watching them
 
 
Auditory
• Retains information through hearing and speaking
• Often prefers to be told how to do things and then summarizes the main points out loud to help with memorization
• Notices different aspects of speaking
• Often has talents in music and may concentrate better with soft music playing in the background
 
Kinesthetic
• Likes to use the hands-on approach to learn new material
• Is generally good in math and science
• Would rather demonstrate how to do something rather than verbally explain it
• Usually prefers group work more than others
 
Granularity exists when the learning styles are expanded to seven but that often makes writing cumbersome.  The following are presented to augment those above by presenting more precise targets. One might use the principle articulated in shooting, “Aim small, miss small.”
 
  • Visual (spatial): learns by pictures, images, and spatial understanding; tend to have aesthetic sense and need for beauty and pageantry.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): learns by sound, music, and the spoken word; sensitive to tone and emotion in speech.
  • Verbal (linguistic): learns by words, both in speech and writing, though visual learners like to see written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): learns by doing; sensitive to the body, hands, and sense of touch.  Learns by making mistakes and reaping rewards.
  • Logical (mathematical): learns by logic, reasoning, patterns, consistency, and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): learns in groups or with other people; likes people but sensitive to social and public behavior, and need boundaries.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): learns by working alone and in self-study; needs time and space alone and are often sensitive to the environment.
 
Lastly, Anglican Life Curriculum shall address Gender Differentiation according to the following demonstrable traits based on physiology, psychology, and brain structure and chemistry.
 
Males are clinically characterized by:
 
  • Aggression
  • Gross motor skills
  • Larger size and stronger in comparison
  • Analytical skills
  • Verbally challenged until later in life
  • Visual-spatial perception
  • Will tend to be visual or kinesthetic learners
  • Late emotional bloomers
  • Willing to accept and deal out pain as necessary
  • Do not have babies
 
Females are clinically defined by:
 
  • Compliance with social norms
  • Fine motor skills
  • Smaller size and less strength
  • Relational skills
  • Verbal skills
  • Intuitive
  • Will tend to be relational learners
  • Oriented toward feelings
  • Avoid pain and conflict
  • Have babies
 
Anglican Life Curriculum was conceived in the days after Archbishop Foley Beach visited Plano, Texas, February 8, 2014.  At his reception, attended by 120 clergy and spouses at Maggiano’s, when asked about age-appropriate curriculum for our Church he replied, “Go for it.”  The next day, Michael Hinton, a mere aspirant at the time, asked his bishop, Bill Atwood, the same question and received the same response, an entrepreneurial challenge to go for it.  A few days later at Christ Church in Midland, Texas, Michael’s home church, and through and on line Facebook page, a group of writers came together agreeing that the vision was from God.  This Philosophy, the Working Definition, and Guidelines are rooted in the understanding that our Anglo-Catholic heritage provides a sure foundation for Christian education that is both theologically and didactically sound.
 
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
      The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. (John 6:47-59 ESV)