Thursday, December 2, 2010

Apocryphal Endings

Once again, it takes forever for me to get the basic notifications up. Michael and I had a good time discussing Ecclesiasticus and friends over pie and my supper. For our final bit from the Apocrypha let's read 1 and 2 Maccabees and get the skinny on Hannukah. We can meet on Monday, December 20 to discuss.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Apocrypha Continued

Michael and I met on Oct. 11 to discuss Judith, Tobit, and the Wisdom of Solomon. I found the reading very interesting, especially the second half of the Wisdom of Solomon with its discussion of the miracles of the Exodus as blessings mirroring the plagues on the Egyptians. For example, clean water coming from a rock was a blessing that reflected the Nile turning to blood, a curse on the Egyptian water supply.

We will meet again on Monday, November 15 at the Libertyville Baker's Square at 7:30 p.m. to discuss Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, also known as the The Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach or just Sirach, and the additions to Daniel: The Song of Azariah and The Song of the Three Jews (Daniel 3:24-90 in the Jerusalem Bible or the New American Bible), Susannah (Daniel 13), and Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Apocryphal Reading

In our readings so far we have encountered several references to apocryphal books. Both Athanasius and Augustine cited the books of Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom, for instance. While they are not considered canonical by many of the church fathers or most of the Protestant tradition, they have usually been considered helpful reading for Christians. Since most of us are not very familiar with these books I thought it would be a good time for us to try to dive in and get to know them a little better. So, over the next three weeks try to read Judith, Tobit, and The Wisdom of Solomon. We will meet to discuss them on Monday night, Oct. 11, at the Libertyville Baker's Square at 7:30. The texts can be found standard in the Jerusalem Bible and The New American Bible, in addition to the links above and are available on Amazon. I also have a couple of extra copies if anybody needs to borrow one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Confession Time

Greetings all. A few of us met last Monday for good pie and even better discussion. We talked about the second half of Early Christian Writings (i.e. The Epistle of Polycarp through The Didache) and an number of other thoughts more or less tangentially related thereunto. We also decided that our next book would be Confessions by Augustine of Hippo. After the Bible, Confessions, which is Augustine's autobiography and the testimony of how he became a believer, is probably the best known and most widely read of all the early Christian writings. It's a great book and I'm looking forward to reading it again. It's longer than our previous selections but it's probably easier reading through the first three quarters. It is available to read online here or here. Of course it's available through Amazon and through libraries. If you're having trouble getting access to a copy I have a couple I'm willing to loan. Let's plan to meet next on Monday night, July 12 at 7:30 at the Libertyville Baker's Square. Try to read Books 1-5 ("books" more or less means "chapters" here) by then.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Meeting Monday Night

So here's our plan. We will meet tomorrow night (Monday, 5/24) at the Libertyville Baker's Square to discuss the Epistle of Clement and the Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch. Let Everett know if you're planning to be there.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Next Meeting and Book

Michael, Marcia, Andrew, and I met on Monday night to discuss Athanasius' On the Incarnation. We had a good time with some lively discussion. We agreed that for our next book we would dip back in time a couple of hundred years to read some of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. I'll post more information about the Apostolic Fathers this weekend. For the time being here's the book I passed around at the meeting Early Christian Writings on Amazon and in libraries. Also here's a different translation available online at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. There are a lot of different editions of the Apostolic Fathers floating around. Let me know if you're having trouble getting hold of one and I can lend you one of mine. We agreed to start by reading the Letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians and the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch.

We plan to meet again in three weeks on Monday 5/24 at 7:30 p.m. at Baker's Square in Libertyville, unless anyone has a better suggestion for a meeting place. (Remember if making a suggestion that we don't want to move further south than that so as not to make things too hard on Andrew). For those who couldn't make it this time or who were unable to finish Athanasius in time we'll finish off any straggling Athanasius thoughts and discuss Clement and Ignatius.

Grace to you and peace in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Athanasian Creed

In his introduction to On the Incarnation, C.S. Lewis mentions that most Christians will be familiar with the name of Athanasius because they used to recite the ancient creed that is named for him. It probably did not originate with Athanasius himself since it appears to have been written in Latin and rarely to have been used in the Greek churches. Here is the text as it appears on Theopedia:

"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord.

For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

And in Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood; who, although He is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead. At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved."

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I hope everyone is having an interesting time reading Athanasius (and Lewis). I think it would be good for us to get together and talk about it. So, let's gather on Monday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Libertyville Baker's Square to discuss what has been read. (BTW. I just like Baker's Square. If someone has another idea for a place to meet, let me know). Email Everett if you're planning to be there.

Friday, April 2, 2010

John Piper on Athanasius

John Piper, pastor and theologian Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, has a good sermon online describing Athanasius' life and what we can learn from it. It is called "Contending for Our All: The Life and Ministry of Athanasius". Read or listen to it at the Desiring God bibliographies page.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

April Book

For April I thought it would be good for us to read On the Incarnation of the Word of God, by Athanasius of Alexandria. I think it's a good book to begin with because it is short and deep. I read it a couple of years ago as preparation for Christmas and am excited to read it this year as I meditate on Good Friday and Easter. Also it is widely available in a relatively modern translation with an introduction by C.S. Lewis on reading old books. Athanasius appears to have written this little book examining the incarnation of Christ when he was in his late teens or early twenties just before the outbreak of the Arian heresy. The edition with Lewis' introduction is available on Amazon, in libraries, and in a different translation online. Also, if you can't get hold of Lewis' introduction on paper, it is also available online. For more background on Athanasius' life, time and thought, you can have a look at the wikipedia or Catholic encyclopedia entries online, or try a good general church history like Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley or Great Leaders of the Christian Church, edited by John Woodbridge. Enjoy the reading.

Christian History Reading Group

For many years I've kicked around in my head the idea of Christian History Reading Group where people from the church could come together and read the works of our brothers and sisters who already make up part of the great cloud of witnesses. The idea has taken several imaginary shapes but one that it always comes back to is a gathering of people reading and discussing "Christian classics", books that have stood the test of time by being an enduring and encouraging witness to their authors' lives in Christ. In his introductory essay to a translation of Athanasius of Alexandria's short book, On the Incarnation of the Word of God, C.S. Lewis writes about the "familiar smell" that he found when as an unbeliever he read old Christian books as part of his studies. He kept running across something that bound writers across ages and countries and church bodies even when the work wasn't obviously Christian. Of course later in his life he came to call that "mere Christianity". But it is true. We have older brothers and sisters with strange, intimidating names like Athanasius or Thomas Aquinas or Augustine or Julian of Norwich who all testify to our same older brother Jesus Christ. I want for us to meet those family members and get to know them. To hear how God has inspired them and to experience their familiarity and their strangeness. They don't all think or speak or even believe the same way we do in every particular but they are filled with the same Holy Spirit that fills us.

To that end, I'd like to get together with other people that want to know their family better and read these classics. We would choose a book to read and then meet back together in a month to discuss it in person and choose a new book. Obviously we all will need encouragement in this effort and that is why this blog exists. It is a place where we can ask questions, share information about what we're reading, share passages that have confused or encouraged us, and share information about the group. If you live in or around Lake County, Illinois and you're interested in joining in leave a comment here.

In Christ,


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:1-2a (ESV)

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, brothers and sisters who have gone before us and run this race. This blog is a place to discuss the examples and testimonies of those who have gone before and listen as they encourage us in looking to Jesus.

Grace and peace to all who read here.