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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Barber’

Well, so you’ve probably heard that the largest body of Presbyterians in the U.S. have voted to allow gay clergy.    I’m not actually going to delve into that here because it is clear to me that mainline Protestantism is busy destroying itself from within.   The situation reminds me of the book of Judges which tells us what happens to the people when they have no king, and each man decides for himself:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  Judges 21:25

Now, the really funny thing about this quote and why it matches the situation with the Presbyterians so well is that it comes immediately after, and by way of explaining, the previous chapters concerning the tribe of Benjamin.  If you haven’t read it before, I won’t ruin it for you.  Suffice it to say that the chapters concern homosexuality, licentiousness, abuse, rape, murder, more murder, lies, cover-ups, chaos, mayhem and evil. 

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.

So…this is what the great reformation has wrought.  Everyone, every denomination doing what he thinks is best, and moral relativism’s grip gets tighter.

Oh, but I said I wasn’t going to discuss the Presbyterian Church situation, per se.  Right.  Okay, back to the point of this post.  What I want to talk about is the response to the Presbyterian Church situation, at least insofar as other more orthodox Protestants view it.  Which brings me to today’s article in Christianity Today, the magazine of Evangelical Christians.  In an article entitled, The Road to Gay Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a Reformed Presbyterian theologian by the name of Dr. S. Donald Fortson III addresses the voted change to that denomination’s constitution.  Dr. Fortson is a Professor of Church History and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary—Charlotte. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which (I learned from reading his article) broke away from the main body of the Presbyterian Church in anticipation that it was only a matter of time until the main body fell to “a pro-gay agenda relentlessly pressed until at length Presbyterians officially landed in the gay ordination camp”.   

The article itself is brilliant in its linguistic and theological acrobatics to say how wrong this decision by the PC(USA) is, how unbiblical and outside of tradition…without of course, admitting that the entire Protestant Reformation was…<ahem>…unbiblical and outside of tradition.  And of course, to make his point, this Reformed Presbyterian relies on the Church Fathers of the Catholic Church to make his case.  It’s a brilliant use of equivocation.**  Really, it’s brilliant

Here are some examples of Dr. Fortson’s theological heroics:

And church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity. The church fathers insisted that doctrine and practice must be tested by Holy Scripture. In addition to careful exegesis, another test was catholicity, that is, what has been the universally accepted scriptural interpretation passed down in the church. (emphasis mine)

To what church is he referring?  the Presbyterian Church?  Or that other one

I kinda think he means this one

He continues–

When novel teachings were shown to fail both the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of the orthodox Fathers, heretical ideas were doubly condemned.

Um, gosh, could the ‘novel teachings’ he refers to be something like, I dunno…sola fidesola scriptura?  If you remember your history, they both failed the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of orthodox Fathers, not a one of whom supported either.  The reformers were the ones who championed these novel teachings.

He goes on to quote SAINT Vincent of Lerins (without “Saint” naturally) —

… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic [universal] Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Um, Dr. Fortson, I know you are a scholar and like a teacher of kids as well as an actual historian so I’m sure you realize that (this is embarrassing) but uh, you do realize that you misquoted a church father, right?  I am sure that you did not mean to suggest that St. Vincent, the Catholic monk said, “the univeral church” because of course, he didn’t.  He said, the Catholic Church.  Changing the name of the church would seem sorta like you are hiding or obfuscating facts and of course as a Professor of Reformed Theology…I know you wouldn’t do that.  I mean, it’s not like he was just some presbyter schmoo.  He was a monk.  So I’ll just correct it for you.  Here, let me correct your mistake.

‘… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Yes, yes!  ‘the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere’…yes, the Presbyterian Church has been taking great care to hold onto that which has been believed since the time…er…well, since the time that it formed itself in defiance of that which was believed everywhere, always, and by all.  But I will take your word for it that since the time of their rejection of the universal beliefs of the universal church, they have been really really good at holding onto that which has been believed everywhere.  (So that is, what?  1541 or so?)

Dr. Fortson, now on a roll, heads toward his conclusion–

Christianity is a tradition; it is a faith with a particular ethos, set of beliefs and practices handed on from generation to generation. The Christian tradition may be understood as the history of what God’s people have believed and how they have lived based upon the Word of God. This tradition is not only a collection of accepted doctrines but also a set of lifestyle expectations for a follower of Christ. One of the primary things handed down in the Christian church over the centuries is a consistent set of …

I’m sorry!  I need to take a break.  Laughing too hard.  BRB!

kk, sorry, where were we?  oh yes…haha, we were talking about the Christian tradition, some of us more seriously than others.   Dr. Fortson now makes his dramatic and unintentionally Catholic and/or seriously hilarious conclusion regarding the matter at hand–

Revisionist biblical interpretations that purport to support homosexual practice are typically rooted in novel hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture, which produce bizarre interpretations of the Bible held nowhere, never, by no one. (emphasis mine)

So there you have it.  Typical Reformed Protestant absconds with Patristic Fathers, rewrites what they say to make them agree with his Protestant theology, and equivocates his way into agreeing completely with the position of the Holy Mother Church circa 1520 all the while still assuring himself and his wayward, defiant Protestant flock that while it is meet and right to condemn homosexuality via the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, because, well, you know, those Papists got it right on that one, but hey, don’t come waving your authority in my face!

Hahahahahaha.   I wish I had an nth of the intellect and scholarship of someone like Dr. Michael Barber who I know would see layers here that I do not.  Nevertheless, I  find this whole article ripe for satire and abuse.  I wonder if these earnest Sophists ever realize how absurd and hilarious they are!  God bless ’em. ***

**a quick lookup of the word “equivocation” reveals that its synonyms are misrepresentation, deceit and doublespeak.  To be charitable to Dr. Fortson, we are only using the definition of equivocation in the philosophical use, meaning a fallacy.

***and my original response via the comment section may not have been as charitable.  Mea culpa.

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Aggie Catholics has posted a video that is awesome-epetus!  It’s has a trio of favorites of mine:  the fantastic musician Matt Maher at Franciscan University joined by Dr. Scott Hahn, making a guest appearance on guitar.  Of course, my readers already know that Dr. Hahn plays guitar.  Michael Barber told us.

Did I mention that it is awesome?

Click here to see the video.

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As I was saying to my Bible study group a couple weeks ago, I have struggled personally to make quiet time for prayer.  Between running a family, working, volunteering, blogging, Bible study, and going, going, going, I will allow myself to forget to make quiet time to spend with God.  Oh sure, I’ll remember a quick morning prayer, short prayers throughout the day, and evening examinations, but many days, unless I stay determined, I may not have actual quiet time to simply be in God’s presence. Knowing this weakness, I try to give myself opportunities throughout the week, especially walking or hiking. 

One of my blogging acquaintances first put this in my mind several years ago when she pointed out that she was spending so much time blogging that it was interfering with her prayer life, so she had decided to take a break from her blog.  That shook me because I had become accustomed to thinking of my blogging time as time spent with God.  I realized that I was mistaken, and I was grateful to her for mentioning this, because clearly I myself had rationalized my online time as prayer when in fact, it wasn’t.

A second opportunity for growth came when I read that Dr. Michael Barber teaches his classes at John Paul the Great University:

Prayer should be more than a monologue–a litany of requests. As I tell my students, we need to talk to Jesus more than we talk about Jesus. But if your idea of prayer is simply rattling off requests, you miss the point.

Now, honestly, I don’t rattle off requests to God when I pray…although I have a lot of “bless him, her, this and that”s.  But the comment from my blogging friend and Dr. Barber’s teaching got me to thinking about how much time I actually make for God.  When I took away the time I was spending talking about Him, it wasn’t very much time.  Dr. Barber was right on the mark.  I was spending more time talking ABOUT Jesus than talking TO Jesus.  It was a spiritual kick in the pants and I’ve been mindful of it for the last year to two.  

I realize that I am not alone is this.  So many of us practicing Christians think we know God because we study and talk about Him.  The Christian rock band Remedy Drive even wrote a song called Get to Know You the lyrics of which are:

I heard so much of you I wrote a book
Thick with thoughts of you that I heard were true
The critics read my work and they reviewed
‘He wrote of things he’d heard but never really knew’

I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
More then just what I’ve been told
I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
I want to know from my soul

If a lack of intimacy with God is a prevalent problem even among the faithful, how can we repair that?  What can we do to draw closer to God?  Dr. Barber’s advice is helpful when he goes on to write:

Spending time in his presence through contemplation helps us remain with him and helps us hear his voice so that our prayer is not simply about what we say to him.

…We need to be still. We need to place ourselves in God’s presence.  (italics mine)

Isn’t that beautifully said?  “….place ourselves in God’s presence.”  In other words, quiet our minds, stop our hands from fiddling, our eyes from darting, our mouths from prattling.  Place ourselves in God’s presence and allow Him to come to us.  Can we be brave, humble, or trusting enough to receive? Can we put away our defenses, our rationalizations, our attacks, our petty grievances and constant desires and let God wash over us?  God will come to us when we make ready for him. 

…and behold the Lord passes, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air.  And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle…”

….because God was in the whisper.

 

Next week is Lent.  Take yourself to Adoration, or walk among the trees.  Sit in the sun, or lie in the dark.  Turn off your computer, your television, your IPhone, your stereo.  I promise to do the same.  Let us make our Lenten offering to the Lord be our stillness, placing ourselves in His presence, awaiting the whisper.

 Come Emmanuel.

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One of my favorite biblical scholars and an all-around good guy has been awarded (finally! *cough cough*) his doctorateMichael Barber of Reasons for Faith, The Sacred Page and JP the Great University is now Dr. Michael Barber

My heartiest (and real) congratulations and imaginary slaps on the back to Michael, his wife and his family! I raise a pretend glass of the finest French champagne (hey, it’s my daydream) to you!

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Today we read the story of the Prodigal son, a parable which is only found in Luke.  I love this parable.  We discussed it this week in my Lenten Bible study, and of course, we discussed the points of view of the main characters and how each of us can – at some point in our lives – identify with all of them : the lost son, the dutiful son and the forgiving father.  Most around the table seem to be identifying with the dutiful son, at this point in their lives.  I thought that was interesting.  I almost always identify with the wayward son, myself but as of late, I had to admit that the parable character I most identify with is the Fatted Calf.  This garnered some chuckles around the table.  Unfortunately, I was only semi-joking…

I did observe that while I don’t frequently relate to the dutiful but resentful older son, if I were present for Jesus ministry, I might find myself in the role of the critical and doubting scribes and Pharisees.  I would probably see Jesus standing with sinners and become judgmental and discount his holiness.  I might gossip about him, or speculate on what shenanigans he is up to.  :-(   This got alot of agreement from our group.

Anyway, for reflection on the the gospel reading, I am sending you to two great sources for further enlightenment.  First, a video by Fr. John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel here in SE Michigan (which I have posted before).

Second,  biblical scholar Michael Barber‘s treatise on the Prodigal Son which he posted over on The Sacred Page yesterday.  (I wish he had posted it before Thursday, I would have looked very smart “coming up” with these brilliant ideas!)  (totally kidding, I would have given him credit.)

You Can Always Come Home

The Prodigal Son, New Life and Sacramental Imagery  by Michael Barber

*

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Over at Fallible Blogma (Is that the most clever pun ever?), Matt Warner is presenting Catholic Speaker Month all this October.   Matt asked Catholic bloggers to feature a Catholic Speaker in a post on their weblog.  What a great way to get to know the men and women who are out there teaching, inspiring, witnessing and evangelizing, and I am thankful that Matt at Fallible Blogma is putting this together.  You can see the list of speakers and their “interviewers” here

Although I heard about it late in the month from AmP, I was thrilled to be able to have as my speaker, the biblical scholar Prof. Michael Barber of John Paul the Great University.  (Some of you already know my feelings about Prof. Barber [and let’s not forget Brant Pitre!].)  Michael is a respected biblical scholar, one of several young, on-fire Catholic Biblical theologians, whose work is important not only to we Catholics, but in the wider Christian scholarly circles because of ecumenical aspects as well. 

To get a sense of Michael personally, all one has to do is  watch  his charming videos of Reflections on the Sunday Liturgy of the Word and you can just tell that he’s a really good man.  But if you  do not know who he is, or read his books, or listen to his radio show, Reasons for Faith or follow his postings on The Sacred Page (formerly Singing in the Reign), then this is a great opportunity for us to get to know him.    Because of the lateness of my participation in Catholic Speaker Month event, I did not actually interview Michael.   But I have read carefully through his entire weblog and I slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I therefore give you…

My (Imaginary) Interview with Biblical Scholar, Michael Barber**

**totally made up of quotes, snippets and assumptions pieced together from Michael’s weblog

 

Michael Barber, clean shaven Professor of Biblical Studies

LuceMichael:  Hi!

Michael Barber:  Hi!

LM:  Hey, thanks for agreeing to this imaginary interview. 

MB:  It’s no problem at all.

LM:  Happy belated birthday!

MB:  Oh—thanks.

LM:  So uh…tell my readers a bit about yourself.

MB:  Certainly.

I am the Professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego. I am finishing up a Ph.D. in Theology at Fuller in Pasadena, CA. I received my B. A. in Theology and Philosophy from Azusa Pacific University and a M. A. in Theology from Franciscan University. I have written two books, “Singing in the Reign: The Psalms and the Liturgy of God’s Kingdom” and, a brand new book, “Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying Its Lessons Today. I recently began a new weekly radio show, Reasons for Faith Live, which is heard on EWTN’s Radio Network every Friday at 11am Pacific Coast Time. In addition, I am a Research Fellow for the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology (see links). I also lead Bible studies at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Covina, CA. Many of them have been recorded and are available on CD @ saintjoe.com.  source 

LM:  Uh….your answer seems a bit out-of-date.

MB:  Hmmm?

LM:  Nevermind.  Let’s move on.  First off, let me say that I love your radio show, Reasons for Faith–which I should mention you’ve actually been doing for a few years now.

MB: Thank you!  I really enjoy doing it.

LM:  I can tell.  I also love your videos on the Sunday Liturgy of the Word.  They are on my ‘must-do’ list every week before Sunday.

MB:  Ah, thanks again.  I have a lot of fun doing those, too.  The hardest work belongs to the student producer Nate Sjogren. He’s just a Sophomore, but he’s really an amazingly talented student. And he’s got the fiery enthusiasm of a new convert–he came into the Catholic Church at this year’s Easter Vigil!   source

LM:  That’s awesome!  I agree he does a bang-up job.  I really like the artwork you guys always show in the videos.  I wonder where you keep finding the right art.

MB:  We try for that whole “cover of Scott Hahn’s books” look.  source

2 out of 3 biblical scholars think that Dr. Hahn's book covers have nice artwork.

 

LM:  I notice that your reflections often sound like homilies.  Along with the biblical explanations and context you provide, you usually give a “going forth” message,  and you seem to relish the transformational dimensions of your talks.  Any particular reason for that?

MB:  I’m not sure.  One of my uncles is a priest though.

LM:  Ever think about being a priest yourself?

MB:  I have wanted to be a biblical theologian since I was a kid. 

LM:  That had to have stumped your guidance counselor.  How on earth did you decide that– as a kid no less? 

MB:  When I was a young teenager I was first exposed to a lecture given by Dr. Hahn–it literally changed my life. I was immediately hooked on Scripture. I must have been around 13 or so and I was hooked. I told my dad I wanted to major in Theology, get my Ph.D. and become a professor. I’ve been on that track ever since.     

(more…)

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