As a very dear friend of mine just posted yesterday’s “O Antiphon“, he asked me to do the daily translation of each as they get posted. Hence, for those that are unfamiliar with antiphons and the “O Antiphons” in particular, I’ll try to provide a little background.

An antiphon is a short prayer recited before the “Magnificat“. The Magnificat is Mary’s praise hymn, directly taken from Luke 1:46-55 , which, depending on the denomination, is recited either during the Vespers or during the Matins. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s that time of year again. The dreaded Halloween period !

Many blogs out there have ramped up the discussions on whether we should participate or not. Most notably Michael Patton from Reclaiming the Mind is stirring the pot (again). And Joe Carter on First Things gives us some ideas on which tracts not to hand out. And as you can tell by the quick and swift reactions on Reclaiming the Mind, both pro and con, this is remaining a controversial issue amongst Christians. And it has been so for many, many centuries.

So for your pleasure, I decided to provide a little perspective, some history (although mostly anecdotal based on personal experiences) and cultural differences about this holiday. There are many better works and articles out there if you like more research on the topic, but perhaps this can be somewhat helpful.

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Several recent articles in the blogosphere have relit the controversial debates surrounding Calvinism vs Arminianism. And as we all know this discussion has been a centuries old one which has led to many different factions in the Protestant Church.

What gave rise this time, was Dr. Olson’s call late September for all of us to admit our Theologies are flawed. Which led to some animated discussions and Dr. Olson’s further explanations in several posts (1,2) as to what he, as an Arminian, perceives to be the challenge with Calvinist theology. But for all clarity, he also admitted the flaws he can see in the Arminian approach:

Let me step out and dare to name a problem with Arminian theology and then challenge a committed Calvinist to do the same.  One thing I wrestle with about Arminianism is the mystery of free will.  I don’t know how it works.  There does seem to be an element of uncaused effect in it.  (I don’t think that’s a contradiction, but it is a mystery.)  And I’m not sure how God foreknows with absolute certainty libertarianly free decisions that haven’t been made yet.  That does seem to be a mystery and therefore a problem insofar as I would very much like to have an answer for it but don’t.  These elements of classical Arminianism cause me some cognitive dissonance

Note how he puts it forth as a dare. Michael Patton, of Reclaiming the Mind ministries and for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, took Dr. Olson up on the dare and admitted that:

As a Calvinist, I find it very difficult to understand why God did not choose everyone. All explainations that are given in my camp are terrible. I am not saying that they are necessarily wrong (I don’t know), but they are completely unsatisfying. There is simply no problem with unconditional election of all people. The problem is when God, who loves all people, only elects some.

And just as Dr Olson continued to explain his further challenges with Calvinism, Michael explained his challenges with Arminianism.

So far, the background. And why does it matter ? Why do we care ?

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The lost father of the prodigal son

 Over the last 10 years, as some of you may know, I have had to learn to “Let go”. As a father, or in my particular case, a step-father, this is never an easy thing. We want the best for our children. We want them to learn from our mistakes and not have to face the hardship, broken hearts or sometimes worse consequences of their actions. We are saddened when they make decisions that we know will impact their lives forever. We are frustrated when they make choices that we know will lead nowhere good. So we respond, react or try to control their behavior.

Now, with little children, this is relatively easy to do. You swat them on the hand, you pat them on the behind and hopefully they will learn that the stovetop is hot or that putting a paperclip in the wall outlet is perhaps not the safest thing to do. These things hurt… and we desperately want to protect them from getting hurt.

As our children get older, we resort to grounding or loss of certain privileges. Bad school grades result in no TV or no computer time. Being home late for curfew leads to “Not going anywhere next weekend”.

But what do we do as they get older ? Where do we men, called to be the head of our households, turn to ? As our older children seek more independence, we experience more pressure and strain on our relationship with them. As they make choices we don’t approve of, so increases the conflict we may experience with them.

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Michael Patton on Reclaiming the Mind just posted another great topic with regards to Christian Music. This prompted me to publish this post that I had been sitting on for a while. You can read Michael’s post here.

 As a young evangelical Christian I have heard this comment quite regularly and I have frankly had my share of struggles with it. Far too often this comment has been used to pronounce judgment on watching “R” rated movies, listen to secular music or to condemn those that consume alcohol or smoke tobacco. I have witnessed the damaging effects this statement made to a young man wearing tattoos. Not that I approve of all these different activities, but I do believe there are different ways to lovingly discuss and approach these matters. Throwing out the person with the statement that they are of this world and therefore not a “true Christian”, as if anyone but God could make that decision anyways, is not necessarily what I would call being “not of this world”. The world judges, condemns and loves to pigeon hole people. Nothing is more entertaining than create social networking clubs in which the member can decide whether one fits the “membership standards” or not. If we engage in the same, are we any different ? Are we differentiating ourselves as Christians from the world and culture surrounding us ? I would say that the abuse of “Be in the world, not of the world” has exactly been the example I have come to witness that we’re not really all that different.

 So what should we really understand with “not being of the world” ?

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Does it exist ? Or not ? Or does it even matter ?

As a result of another thread on Ldstalk, the discussion somehow got to the concept of “Purgatory”. As an ex-Roman Catholic, I have somewhat of an understanding of the doctrine of purgatory and over the years I have found it hard to discuss this with my friends and family back home. When prompted if I would write a small blog entry on the topic, I volunteered and this is the result.

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