The Holy Conjunction

Broken chain

“And”

…One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –Matthew 22

In my lifetime, I have been blessed to hear or learn under several noted Christian teachers. The one lesson, which has made the most difference, is centered on the word “and.” D. Elton Trueblood called this “the holy conjunction.” He emphasized this in key areas like Christ’s humanity and divinity; roots and fruits; the inner life of devotion and the outer life of service.

From the beginning of the Church, there were always those who failed in the struggle to hold these key essentials together. We see this in John’s first epistle. The church to which he wrote had divided. Under the strong influence of the spirit of the times, some Christians rejected the idea that the Messiah came in flesh and blood. They saw the world through dualistic lenses: In its essence, matter (e.g. flesh; that which is created) was evil; spirit was good.

One such contemporary of John’s was Cerinthus who distinguished between Jesus, the man of flesh and blood, and the Christ, the spiritual being who, he claimed, descended upon Jesus at his baptism and departed before the crucifixion. Cerinthus’ dualistic view did not allow suffering for spiritual beings….

When Jesus was asked which was the foremost commandment, he replied, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

“…And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’”(Matt. 22:37, 39).

Again, we have the holy conjunction–“and.” To claim to love God but to not love our neighbor, or to try to get around Jesus description of a neighbor as illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan, is to enter into a sort of heresy.

First John states it thus: “He who says, ‘I know him’ and does not keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him…

“He who says he is in the light [divine], and hates his brother [flesh], is in the darkness until now” (2:4, 9). (Keep in mind the dualistic view of those like Cerinthus.)

Love of God and love of neighbor make up the whole counsel of God, so that Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40).

We need to keep alert here and heed a warning: while “and” holds together different aspects within Christian teaching, we need to beware that it can become the “unholy conjunction” when we try to combine Christian and non-Christian worldviews. C. S. Lewis illustrated this through the mouth of his diabolical character, Screwtape. In Letter XXV to his underling demon, Screwtape advises Wormwood about his strategy which he has devised against Christians:

What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call “Christianity And.” You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must Be Christians, let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.

The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies.2

From Introduction to Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies

Guideposts for Easter Week

jesus-resurrection-easter-sunday

Share Biblical Insights for Holy Week. Point others to the Light of Christ

 

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Holy Week–Hosanna!

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/holy-week-hossanna-palm-sunday/

Holy Week, Beware Idle Conjecture

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/holy-week-beware-idle-conjecture/

Two Swords: Enough

On the Way to the Mt. Of Olives

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/two-swords-enough/

Yeshua Ha’Mashiach: Crucified

Isaiah 52:13ff

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/yeshua-hamashiach-crucified-2/

 

Good Friday–Dying for the Ungodly

Romans 5

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/good-friday-dying-for-the-ungodly-2/

 

John 3:16…Keeping the Easter Message

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/imghttpimg-2/

 

[Just to note, this is the 5th Anniversary of TextsInContext. I began it in 2012, my first post being the one at the top of this list. Thank you to all who have read or shared or followed.]

Becoming Zacchaeus

Fr. Ted's Blog

Great LentThe Gospel lesson of Luke 19:1-10 is about a very short man, Zacchaeus, who wanted to see Jesus.  In the current lectionary of the Russian Orthodox tradition, this is the last Sunday Gospel lesson before the pre-Lenten Sundays (and the Lenten triodion) begin their cycle of scripture pericopes.  (This is one point at which the Russian and Greek Orthodox lectionaries differ resulting in the fact that during the course of the year not all Orthodox read liturgically the same Scriptures every Sunday).  In current practice for those who read the Zacchaeus pericope it has become already associated with the beginning of Great Lent.  This was made certain due to the popular writings of the liturgical theologian, Fr. Alexander Schmemann.

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.  And he…

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Most Read in 2015

Attractions in 2015

These are the posts that got the most views in 2015.

How the West Is Killing Christianity

News

Foreign wars and conflicts launched and promoted by the United States and its allies since 2003 have led directly to the widespread persecution of Christians in Africa and the Middle East.

The ongoing slaughter of Christians, followed by the exodus of upwards of 1 million of them from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, where Christianity flourished for nearly two millennia, has encouraged many observers to warn of the death rather than decline of Christianity in that part of the world.

The great irony of the plight of Christians is that Western leaders, who profess to be Christian, were the ones who launched the wars that have torn the Middle East apart and created the most toxic sectarian nightmare in which Christians have become victims, often portrayed as supporters of Western interventionist policies. Some of the oldest Christian denominations, with links back to the time of Christ and his disciples…

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Three Passages that Prove Jesus was Violent (or not)

Excellent, succinct presentation of three misused NT passages. Fuller discussion of Two Swords here.

dave stimers

Most people who have investigated Jesus even a little bit would agree that Jesus taught peace.  His ethic of enemy love, praying for those who persecute you, and blessing those who curse you are not hard to find.  But that hasn’t stopped people from debating how far this nonviolent teaching should be pushed, and how widely applied.  There are many layers to this, but in this post (and the next) I want to take on a couple of objections to deep and wide applications of Jesus’ nonviolent teaching.

The first objection is a biblical one: “Jesus taught peace, but also acted violently himself at times.  There are a number of passages that seem to prove that Jesus, at least sometimes, acted violently.  So, we shouldn’t take his ethic of nonviolence to apply to certain situations, just as Jesus didn’t.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common passages that…

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