April 20, 2014

Athanasius on the Resurrection

Today is Easter Sunday. Where better to turn than On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius? This is one of those books that I keep coming back to over and over again. And as many times as I've read this ancient book, it never gets old. It never loses its potency and is always fresh. So, here are a few excerpts on the significance of Christ's resurrection for your Easter morning. 

The Reason Christ Came
The supreme object of His coming was to bring about the resurrection of the body. This was to be the monument to His victory over death, the assurance to all that He had Himself conquered corruption and that their own bodies also would eventually be incorrupt; and it was in token of that and as a pledge of the future resurrection that He kept His body incorrupt (22).
Death No Longer Feared
A very strong proof of this destruction of death and its conquest by the cross is supplied by a present fact, namely this. All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offensive against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the Savior, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to died rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection (27).
 The Victory of Christ
Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot as he now is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Savior on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, "O Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is they sting?" (27). 
Christ is risen! Alleluia! 

April 18, 2014

Resurrection is Everything (@OfficialSeedbed)

My latest guest post for Seedbed went live this morning. Here's the intro:
"Why celebrate Easter?" That's an honest question that was put to me recently by a man who is deeply interested in religion, though intentionally not part of any orthodox Christian tradition. His question is one that many believers seldom ask. After all, Easter is a given for church-going people. When have we ever felt the need to justify our celebration of Jesus' resurrection? But in our increasingly secularized culture more and more people are less and less familiar with Christian belief and practice. So, maybe we should be more careful to ask the "Why?" question, not only for our sake but for the sake of those who may be interested in but unfamiliar with Christianity. Why is Easter so important? What's the big deal? Why do we celebrate? 

April 15, 2014

Rediscovering Wesley: The John Wesley Collection from @OfficialSeedbed #UMC

I was excited to see this post from Seedbed.com  this morning announcing a new project called The John Wesley Collection. The plan is to take key works of Wesley (and others that Wesley curated and published) and republish them with modern typesetting and attractive cover art in order to make the writings of the Methodist founder more easily accessible to a new generation. Here's a little more from the official announcement: 
John Wesley’s profound legacy and impact on world Christianity during and since his lifetime can be viewed through a number of lenses. The revival that arose under his leadership changed the social and political structure of eighteenth-century England as the poor and lost found hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than in revolution against the crown. The influence of Wesley’s Spirit-inspired teaching continued unabated as the Methodist movement spread scriptural holiness across the American continent and lands far beyond.
The writings represented in The John Wesley Collection resourced the early Methodists in their quest to spread the gospel by providing the intellectual and spiritual moorings for the messengers of the movement. Seedbed believes these writings are as relevant to our context today as they were in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Consequently, we consider it a sacred calling to join with those who are recapturing John Wesley’s publishing vision for the twenty-first century.
You can find out more by reading the rest of the post at Seedbed, and be sure to take a look at this video that introduces the project. Here's a list of titles you can expect to see published, which is part of an entire website devoted to The John Wesley Collection. The first volume in the Collection is Wesley's Thirteen Discourses on the Sermon on Mount, which has already been released and is available now. This and the other resources that are coming will be great for individual or group use. 

Here's why I find this project important for cultivating the renewal and spread of the Wesleyan message today. The rise of the "New Calvinism" (as it's known) has been fueled by a revival of interest in primary source texts and key historical figures associated with the movement. College students are devouring the writings of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and others, not to mention Calvin himself. The works of Wesley that Seedbed is now making more easily available fueled the spread of early Methodism and fanned the flames of revival in England and North America in the 18th century. It may be that, as a new generation of readers discovers the primary works of Wesley, such revival will come again. Perhaps the Spirit that empowered Wesley and his bands will resurrect a "New Methodism" that embodies Wesley's passion to offer Christ and spread scriptural holiness across the land.