I need your help! Here’s the challenge: I’m working on a video that summarizes the history of the Bible in six minutes. Below, I’ve posted the script so far—and I’d be interested to know what you think needs to be included and what might be left out. The narration for the video is already six minutes long, so nothing can be added without taking something out. What that means is that, if you suggest any additions, you’ll need to point out some possible deletions as well!Continue reading.
Íñigo López de Loyola—better known to us as Ignatius of Loyola*—passed from this life on July 31, 1556. He was a Spanish priest and a leader in the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. Roman Catholics have celebrated July 31 as his feast day since the seventeenth century.
As a Protestant, I may not celebrate the feast day of the founder of the Jesuit order, and I do not know whether or not he trusted wholly in the unearned merit of Jesus Christ to be made right with God. I have, however, found these words from his Spiritual Exercises to be helpful as a scholar and as a leader. Here’s what Ignatius had to say about responding to someone with whom you disagree:Continue reading.
Two years after the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, Macrina the Younger was born. She—as Coleman Michael Ford has pointed out—
lived between two worlds. One world was the age of Christian persecution by the likes of emperor Diocletian and others. For many Christians in the three centuries before Macrina’s birth, persecution leading to death was an ever-present reality. At best, Christians were merely tolerated. At worst, they were brutally executed. The second world was the emerging Roman empire of Constantine, an empire in which Christianity was officially recognized and privileges towards churches and leaders grew steadily.
Two of her brothers—Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa—became known, along with their friend Gregory of Nazianzus, as “the Great Cappadocians,” due to their contributions to the widespread establishment of an orthodox view of the Trinity in the eastern half of the Roman Empire. Basil was a man of action, Nazianzus was a great orator, and Nyssa was a deep thinker—but Macrina is rightly revered alongside these three.
After the family’s wealth was divided among the children, Macrina convinced her mother to establish a religious community for women on the family’s property in rural Annesi in the province of Pontus, on the banks of the River Iris. The family’s slaves were freed and the former maidservants became members of the new religious community, where Macrina chose to work alongside them as an equal. In the words of her brother Gregory,
Now that all the distractions of the material life had been removed, Macrina persuaded her mother to give up her ordinary life and all showy style of living and the services of domestics to which she had been accustomed before, and bring her point of view down to that of the masses, and to share the life of the maids, treating all her slave girls as if they were sisters and belonged to the same rank as herself.
Basil established a men’s monastery across the river from Macrina’s community, but Macrina’s served as the spiritual leader of both communities. On July 19, in the year 379, Macrina died in the religious community that she and her mother had founded.
“Truth Is to Be Found Only In That Upon Which the Seal of the Witness of Scripture Is Set”
In the days leading up to Macrina’s death, her brother Gregory of Nyssa listened to her and learned much from her about life, death, and the resurrection. He later developed these dialogues into a treatise entitled On the Soul and the Resurrection. In one section of this treatise, Gregory and Macrina eloquently affirm the binding authority of Scripture in the life of the Christian. According to their dialogue, when determining what is true, believers in Jesus Christ
are not entitled to the liberty … of affirming whatever we please; instead, we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon Scripture, and approve Scripture alone and that which harmonizes with the meaning of Scripture. … Who could deny that truth is to be found only in that upon which the seal of the witness of Scripture is set?
If you’re interested in learning more about different personalities and events throughout the history of Christianity, take a look at my book and video series Christian History Made Easy.
Discuss in the Comments:
Read this article about Macrina. Consider carefully how, in light of her example, godly woman can use their gifts more effectively in their churches. How might you and your family celebrate the feast day of Saint Macrina on July 19?
On May 30, 1431, Jeanne D’Arc—more commonly known to us as “Joan of Arc”—was tied to a pillar in the village of Rouen and burned to death.
Nearly everyone has heard of Joan’s unjust execution—but who was this young woman, really?
According to a recent survey, one out of every eight Americans thought that Joan of Arc was the wife of Noah! But the truth about Joan is a little more complex, a lot more interesting, and many years after Noah’s spouse. Continue reading.
I delivered this paper proposing a revised definition for family ministry in May 2017 at the HOUSE Conference in Australia, a gathering sponsored by YouthWorks and themed around the intersection between family ministry and ecclesiology. This post is the second part of a three-part series articulating the need for a revised definition for family ministry.
3. HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR AN EXPANDED DEFINITION FOR FAMILY MINISTRY
If church-as-family ministry is so vital, why is it so difficult? Resistance to diversity in the body of Christ may be attributed in part to dynamics of sin and spiritual powers. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against … cosmic powers” (Ephesians 6:12). At the same time, spiritual powers work in the context of historical realities. Furthermore, resistance to the implementation of church-as-family ministry frequently develops not because of sin but because of unrecognized assumptions and sincere differences about how best to form people in the image of Christ.
When it comes to church-as-family ministry, many of these differing assumptions and opinions find their origins in attempts to engage in faithful discipleship in social contexts that had been reshaped by the Industrial Revolution. Continue reading.