Patrick: Patron saint of ireland

Hey everyone! How are you doing? I hope all is well!

Have a great St. Patrick’s day! Drink a beer, but don’t get drunk! Be safe and have fun!

I have from time to time added on my blog important people you should know about in Church history.

I hope it’ll be educational and inspiring for you to read a short description of their life!

Missionaries

Patrick

Patron saint of ireland

“Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere.”

Patrick is remembered today as the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland (not true), the teacher who used the shamrock to explain the Trinity (doubted), and the namesake of annual parades in New York and Boston. What is less well-known is that Patrick was a humble missionary (this saint regularly referred to himself as “a sinner”) of enormous courage. When he evangelized Ireland, he set in motion a series of events that impacted all of Europe. It all started when he was carried off into slavery by Irish raiders.

Escape from sin and slavery

A 16-year-old Romanized Briton, Patrick was sold to a cruel warrior chief whose opponents’ heads sat atop sharp poles around his palisade in Northern Ireland. While Patrick minded his master’s pigs in the nearby hills, he lived like an animal himself, enduring long bouts of hunger, thirst, and isolation. A nominal Christian to this point, he now turned to the Christian God of his fathers for comfort.

“I would pray constantly during the daylight hours,” he later recalled. “The love of God and the fear of him surrounded me more and more. And faith grew. And the spirit roused so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night only slightly less.”

After six years of slavery, a mysterious, supernatural voice spoke to him: “Soon you will return to your homeland.”

So Patrick fled and ran 200 miles to a southeastern harbor. There he boarded a ship of traders bound for Europe.

Return to the homelands

After a few years on the continent, Patrick returned to his family in England—only to be called back to Ireland as an evangelist.

“I seemed to hear the voice of the same men who lived beside the forest of Foclut … and they cried out as with one voice, ‘We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.’ I was deeply moved in heart and I could read no further, so I awoke.”

Whether Patrick was the first missionary to Ireland or not, paganism was still dominant when he arrived. “I dwell among gentiles,” he wrote, “in the midst of pagan barbarians, worshipers of idols, and of unclean things.”

Patrick’s mission faced the most opposition from the druids, who practiced magic, were skilled in secular learning (especially law and history), and advised Irish kings. Biographies of the saint are replete with stories of druids who “wished to kill holy Patrick.”

“Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity,” Patrick wrote, “but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere.”

Patrick was as fully convinced as the Celts that the power of the druids was real, but he brought news of a stronger power. The famous Lorica (or “Patrick’s Breastplate”), a prayer of protection, may not have been written by Patrick (at least in its current form), but it expresses perfectly Patrick’s confidence in God to protect him from “every fierce merciless force that may come upon my body and soul.”

There was probably a confrontation between Patrick and the druids, but scholars doubt it was as dramatic and magical as later stories recounted. One biographer from the late 600s, Muirchú, described Patrick challenging druids to contests at Tara, in which each party tried to outdo the other in working wonders before the audience. Patrick, the legend says, won, as God killed several of the druids and soldiers:

“The king summoned his council and said, ‘It is better for me to believe than to die.’ And he believed as did many others that day.”

Yet to Patrick, the greatest enemy was one he had been intimately familiar with—slavery. He was, in fact, one of the earliest Christians to speak out strongly against the practice. Scholars agree he is the true author of a letter excommunicating a British tyrant, Coroticus, who had carried off some of Patrick’s converts into slavery.

“Ravenous wolves have gulped down the Lord’s own flock which was flourishing in Ireland,” he wrote, “and the whole church cries out and laments for its sons and daughters.” He called Coroticus’s deed “wicked, so horrible, so unutterable,” and told him to repent and to free the converts.

It remains unknown if he was successful in freeing Coroticus’s slaves, but within his lifetime (or shortly thereafter), the entire Irish slave trade had ended.

Self doubt

Despite his success as a missionary, Patrick was self-conscious, especially about his educational background. “I still blush and fear more than anything to have my lack of learning brought out into the open,” he wrote in his Confession. “For I am unable to explain my mind to learned people.”

Nevertheless, he gave thanks to God, “who stirred up me, a fool, from the midst of those who are considered wise and learned in the practice of the law as well as persuasive in their speech and in every other way and ahead of these others, inspired me who is so despised by the world.”

Over and over again, Patrick wrote that he was not worthy to be a bishop. He wasn’t the only one with doubts. At one point, his ecclesiastical elders in Britain sent a deputation to investigate his mission. A number of concerns were brought up, including a rash moment of (unspecified) sin from his youth. His Confession, in fact, was written in response to this investigation.

If Patrick was not confident about his own shortcomings, he held a deep sense of God’s intimate involvement in his life. “I have known God as my authority, for he knows all things even before they are done,” he wrote. “He would frequently forewarn me of many things by his divine response.”

“Flame of a splendid sun”

According to the Irish annals, Patrick died in 493, when he would have been in his seventies. But we do not know for sure when, where, or how he died. Monasteries at Armagh, Downpatrick, and Saul have all claimed his remains. His feast day is recorded as early as March 17, 797, with the annotation; “The flame of a splendid sun, the apostle of virginal Erin [Ireland], may Patrick with many thousands be the shelter of our wickedness.”

It will always be difficult to separate fact from fiction in the stories of Patrick’s biographers. It is historically clear, however, that Patrick was one of the first great missionaries who brought the gospel beyond the boundaries of Roman civilization. According to tradition, only Ireland’s inaccessible south remained untouched by his work by the time he died.

Patrick also became the model for later Celtic Christians. He engaged in continuous prayer. He was enraptured by God and loved sacred Scripture. He also had a rich poetic imagination with the openness to hear God in dreams and visions and a love of nature. Hundreds of Celtic monks, in emulation of Patrick, left their homeland to spread the gospel to Scotland, England, and continental Europe.

Source: Galli, Mark and Ted Olsen. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

Authority: God Governs His People Through Scripture

Hey everyone! How are you doing? I hope all is well!

Here we are continuing our discussion on J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology.

Understanding basic theological truths is important in the life of the believer. Again I reiterate what J.I Packer says,

theology is for doxology and devotion—that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. “

AUTHORITY

GOD GOVERNS HIS PEOPLE THROUGH SCRIPTURE

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

2 TIMOTHY 3:16

The Christian principle of biblical authority means, on the one hand, that God purposes to direct the belief and behavior of his people through the revealed truth set forth in Holy Scripture; on the other hand it means that all our ideas about God should be measured, tested, and where necessary corrected and enlarged, by reference to biblical teaching.

Authority as such is the right, claim, fitness, and by extension power, to control. Authority in Christianity belongs to God the Creator, who made us to know, love, and serve him, and his way of exercising his authority over us is by means of the truth and wisdom of his written Word.

As from the human standpoint each biblical book was written to induce more consistent and wholehearted service of God, so from the divine standpoint the entire Bible has this purpose. And since the Father has now given the Son executive authority to rule the cosmos on his behalf (Matt. 28:18), Scripture now functions precisely as the instrument of Christ’s lordship over his followers. All Scripture is like Christ’s letters to the seven churches (Rev. 2–3) in this regard.

Where is God’s authoritative truth to be found today? Three answers are given, and each appeals to the Bible in its own way.

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches find God’s truth, as they believe, in the interpretations of Scripture that are embodied in their own tradition and consensus. They view the Bible as God-given truth, but they insist that the church must interpret it and is infallible when it does so.

By contrast, individuals labeled liberal, radical, modernist, or subjectivist find God’s truth in the thoughts, impressions, judgments, theories and speculations that Scripture triggers in their own minds. While dismissing the New Testament concept of the inspiration of Scripture, and not treating their Bible as totally trustworthy or as embodying absolute and authoritative transcripts of the mind of God, they are confident that the Spirit leads them to pick and choose in such a way that wisdom from God results.

Historic Protestantism, however, finds God’s truth in the teaching of the canonical Scriptures as such. It receives these Scriptures as inspired (i.e., God-breathed, 2 Tim. 3:16), inerrant (i.e., totally true in all they affirm), sufficient (i.e., telling us all that God wills to tell us and all that we need to know for salvation and eternal life), and clear (i.e., straightforward and self-interpreting on all matters of importance).

The first two positions treat human judgments on the Bible as decisive for truth and wisdom; the third, while valuing the church’s heritage of conviction and appreciating the demand for coherence that rational thinking involves, systematically submits all human thoughts to Scripture, which it takes seriously as canon. Canon means a rule or standard. The first two positions refer to Scripture as the canon, but they fail to take it with full seriousness as a functioning rule for faith and life. Thus they do not in practice fully accept its authority, and their Christian profession, however sincere, is thereby flawed.

Source: Packer, J. I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993.

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Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

Free Book: The Confessions of St. Augustine

One more thing for today,

I’m always trying to add more content to the website! Since I reached 6K views today I thought it’d be a nice idea to add a free book. So there it is, enjoy! It’s an e-book, so just click on it to download and read.

Enjoy and be edified!

Note: This PDF file is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, www.ccel.org.

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

Happy Reformation Day!

Hey! Hope you had a happy reformation day!

Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31 in remembrance of the Reformation, particularly by Lutheran and some Reformed church communities.

History

In 1516–17, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences, was sent to Germany by the Roman Catholic Church to raise money to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.[1] Roman Catholic theology stated that faith alone, whether fiduciary or dogmatic, cannot justify man;[2] and that only such faith as is active in charity and good works (fides caritate formata) can justify man.[3] The benefits of good works could be obtained by donating money to the church.

On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as The 95 Theses. Hans Hillerbrand writes that Luther had no intention of confronting the church, but saw his disputation as a scholarly objection to church practices, and the tone of the writing is accordingly “searching, rather than doctrinaire.”[4] Hillerbrand writes that there is nevertheless an undercurrent of challenge in several of the theses, particularly in Thesis 86, which asks: “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”[4]

Luther objected to a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel that “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as ‘into heaven’] springs.”[5] He insisted that, since forgiveness was God’s alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances.

According to Philipp Melanchthon, writing in 1546, Luther “wrote theses on indulgences and posted them on the church of All Saints on 31 October 1517″, an event now seen as sparking the Protestant Reformation.[6] Some scholars have questioned Melanchthon’s account, since he did not move to Wittenberg until a year later and no contemporaneous evidence exists for Luther’s posting of the theses.[7] Others counter that such evidence is unnecessary because it was the custom at Wittenberg university to advertise a disputation by posting theses on the door of All Saints’ Church, also known as “Castle Church”.[8]

The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press.[9] Within two weeks, copies of the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.

Luther’s writings circulated widely, reaching France, England, and Italy as early as 1519. Students thronged to Wittenberg to hear Luther speak. He published a short commentary on Galatians and hisWork on the Psalms. This early part of Luther’s career was one of his most creative and productive.[10] Three of his best-known works were published in 1520: To the Christian Nobility of the German NationOn the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and On the Freedom of a Christian.

Source: Wikipedia

References

  1. ^ “Johann Tetzel,” Encyclopaedia Britanica, 2007: “Tetzel’s experiences as a preacher of indulgences, especially between 1503 and 1510, led to his appointment as general commissioner by Albrecht, archbishop of Mainz, who, deeply in debt to pay for a large accumulation of benefices, had to contribute a considerable sum toward the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Albrecht obtained permission from Pope Leo X to conduct the sale of a special plenary indulgence (i.e., remission of the temporal punishment of sin), half of the proceeds of which Albrecht was to claim to pay the fees of his benefices. In effect, Tetzel became a salesman whose product was to cause a scandal in Germany that evolved into the greatest crisis (the Reformation) in the history of the Western church.”
  2. ^ (Trent, l. c., can. xii: “Si quis dixerit, fidem justificantem nihil aliud esse quam fiduciam divinae misericordiae, peccata remittentis propter Christum, vel eam fiduciam solam esse, qua justificamur, a.s.”)
  3. ^ (cf. Trent, Sess. VI, cap. iv, xiv)
  4. a b Hillerbrand, Hans J. “Martin Luther: Indulgences and salvation,”Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007.
  5. ^ Bainton, Roland. Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther. New York: Penguin, 1995, 60; Brecht, Martin. Martin Luther. tr. James L. Schaaf, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985–93, 1:182; Kittelson, James.Luther The Reformer. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, 1986),104.
  6. ^ Brecht, 1:200–201.
  7. ^ Iserloh, Erwin. The Theses Were Not Posted. Toronto: Saunders of Toronto, Ltd., 1966; Derek Wilson, Out of the Storm: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther, London: Hutchinson, 2007, ISBN 9780091800017, 96.
  8. ^ Junghans, Helmer. “Luther’s Wittenberg,” in McKim, Donald K. (ed.)The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 26.
  9. ^ Brecht, Martin. Martin Luther. tr. James L. Schaaf, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985–93, 1:204–205.
  10. ^ Spitz, Lewis W. The Renaissance and Reformation Movements, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1987, 338.

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

Charles Spurgeon- Finest Nineteenth-Century Preacher

Hey everyone! How are you doing? I hope all is well!

I will from time to time add on my blog an important person you should know about in Church history.

I hope it’ll be educational and inspiring for you to read a short description of their life!

.

Pastors and Preachers

Charles H. Spurgeon

Finest nineteenth-century preacher

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“I am perhaps vulgar, but it is not intentional, save that I must and will make people listen.”

When Charles Spurgeon died in January 1892, London went into mourning. Nearly 60,000 people came to pay homage during the three days his body lay in state at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some 100,000 lined the streets as a funeral parade two miles long followed his hearse from the Tabernacle to the cemetery. Flags flew at half-staff and shops and pubs were closed.

All this for a Victorian minister—who also happened to be the most extraordinary preacher of his day.

Calvinist Baptist

Spurgeon was born in Kelvedon, Essex, to a family of clerics. His father and grandfather were Nonconformist ministers (meaning they weren’t Anglicans), and Spurgeon’s earliest memories were of looking at the pictures in Pilgrim’s Progress and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

His formal education was limited, even by nineteenth-century standards: he attended local schools for a few years but never earned a university degree. He lived in Cambridge for a time, where he combined the roles of scholar and teaching assistant and was briefly tutored in Greek. Though he eschewed formal education, all his life he valued learning and books—especially those by Puritan divines—and his personal library eventually exceeded 12,000 volumes.

At age 15, Spurgeon broke with family tradition by becoming a Baptist. He attributed this conversion to a sermon heard by “chance”—when a snowstorm blew him away from his destination into a Primitive Methodist chapel. The experience forced Spurgeon to re-evaluate his idea on, among other things, infant baptism. Within four months he was baptized and joined a Baptist church.

His theology, however, remained more or less Calvinist, though he liked to think of himself as a “mere Christian.” “I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist,” he once said.

I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist, but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’

Preaching sensation

Still a teen, Spurgeon began preaching in rural Cambridgeshire. He quickly filled the pews in his first pastorate in the village of Waterbeach. He had a boyish appearance that contrasted sharply with the maturity of his sermons. He had a good memory and always spoke extemporaneously from an outline.

His energy and oratorical skills and harmonious voice earned him such a reputation that within a year and a half, he was invited to preach in London, at the historic New Park Street Chapel. The congregation of 232 was so impressed, it voted for him to preach an additional six months. He moved to the city and never left.

As word spread of his abilities, he was invited to preach throughout London and the nation. No chapel seemed large enough to hold those who wanted to hear the “the preaching sensation of London.” He preached to tens of thousands in London’s greatest halls—Exeter, Surry Gardens, Agricultural. In 1861 his congregation, which kept extending his call, moved to the new Metropolitan Tabernacle, which seated 5,600.

At the center of controversy

Spurgeon did not go unnoticed in the secular press. On the one hand, his sermons were published in the Monday edition of the London Times, and even the New York Times. On the other hand, he was severely criticized by more traditional Protestants. His dramatic flair—he would pace the platform, acting out biblical stories, and fill his sermons with sentimental tales of dying children, grieving parents, and repentant harlots—offended many, and he was called “the Exeter Hall demagogue” and “the pulpit buffoon.”

Spurgeon replied, “I am perhaps vulgar, but it is not intentional, save that I must and will make people listen. My firm conviction is that we have had enough polite preachers.”

Not only his style, but his convictions created controversy as well. He never flinched from strong preaching: in a sermon on Acts 26:28, he said, “Almost persuaded to be a Christian is like the man who was almost pardoned, but he was hanged; like the man who was almost rescued, but he was burned in the house. A man that is almost saved is damned.

On certain subjects, he was incapable of moderation: Rome, ritualism, hypocrisy, and modernism—the last of which became the center of a controversy that would mark his last years in ministry.

The “Down-Grade Controversy,” as it came to be known, was started in 1887 when Spurgeon began publicly claiming that some of his fellow Baptist ministers were “down grading” the faith. This was the late-nineteenth century, when Darwinism and critical biblical scholarship were compelling many Christians to re-evaluate their understanding of the Bible. Spurgeon believed the issue was not one of interpretation but of the essentials of the faith. He proclaimed in his monthly, The Sword and the Trowel, “Our warfare is with men who are giving up the atoning sacrifice, denying the inspiration of Holy Scripture, and casting slurs upon justification by faith.”

The controversy took its toll on the denomination (which censured Spurgeon) and upon Spurgeon, whose already delicate health deteriorated even more during the year-long affair (he suffered from, among other things, recurring depressions and gout).

Spurgeon’s contributions were larger than his pulpit, however. He established alms houses and an orphanage, and his Pastor’s College, opened in 1855, continues to this day. He preached his last sermon in June 1891 and died six months later.

Source: Galli, Mark and Ted Olsen. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez