“This is the week the Anglican church might fall apart”

A major meeting of the world-wide Anglican Communion is taking place this week in Canterbury.  And it may result in the conservative churches of the old “mission fields” breaking fellowship with the liberals in the West.  Or, if any unity at all will be preserved, it will be in the form of a new “looser” arrangement.  (See this.)

Charles Moore has some trenchant things to say about this in a column in the London Telegraph entitled “This Is the Week the Anglican Church Might Fall Apart.”  He says, for example, that African Anglicans look upon the West’s embrace of same-sex marriage like the old missionaries looked at polygamy and cannibalism.  They consider the imposition of gay bishops and liberal theology as a sign of imperial oppression. [Read more...]

“Then we become His gods”

More mind-bending insights from Luther, this time on why so many people reject God’s gifts and His grace, insisting instead that they themselves merit their salvation.  “Then we are the workmen who lay the cornerstone on which God then builds His grace and love, so that He must praise, thank, and adore us. Then we become His gods instead of the other way around.” [Read more...]

God the Giver

I came across one of those stunning and paradigm-shifting quotations from Luther, this one about how God–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–is always giving.  Above all, God, in all of His persons, is always giving Himself. [Read more...]

When journalists try to be theologians

G. Shane Morris has a great piece in the Federalist about how journalists have been lecturing us on theological questions while knowing nothing about what they are talking about.  (The article includes a definitive discussion of why Christians do not, in fact, worship the same deity as Muslims, contrary to what the media has been saying in the Wheaton case.) [Read more...]

Bonhoeffer on Christmas

Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for plotting against Hitler, is in vogue today.  Much of what people are so excited about in his writings is simply Lutheran spirituality.  Michael Gerson writes a fine column about Bonhoeffer’s reflections from a Nazi prison on Christmas.  What Bonhoeffer is saying–the inversions, the paradoxes, the repudiation of power (of great interest in a postmodern apologetic)–is an application to Christmas of Luther’s theology of the Cross. [Read more...]

Santa Claus, Confessor

St. Nicholas was the bishop of Myra back in the 4th century.  He has become one of the most popular saints among Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, the patron saint of sailors, children, prisoners, pawnbrokers, to name just a few.  He also mutated into the emblem of Christmas, Santa Claus.  (Say “Saint Nicholas” real fast.)

But what is the connection between the bishop of Myra and Christmas?  Stories about the saint supplying poor women’s dowries by putting money in stockings drying by the fire give us an explanation of the custom of hanging stockings for Santa to fill, but they don’t have a connection to Christmas, as such.

I think the connection is that the bishop was reportedly a member of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., which affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ and authored the Nicene Creed.  A number of years ago, I wrote a piece for World Magazine about the role that St. Nicholas reportedly played at the Council of Nicaea, including slapping the heretic Arius who insisted that Jesus Christ was merely human and not divine.

The St. Nicholas Center has posted that column on its website, along with other supporting material and everything else you might like to know about St. Nicholas, including a forensic reconstruction of what he looked like. I also need to report that the St. Nicholas center has also posted the song parodies written by you Cranach commenters when we discussed my World column here.  Those songs, playing on the image of Santa Claus slapping heretics, were quite creative and funny.

After the jump is a fuller account of St. Nicholas at Nicaea, which I will then discuss in terms of our need to recast Santa Claus as a Confessor of the church. [Read more...]


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