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Fr. Thomas Baima’s Short Address to the Muslim Society of Chicago

Many readers know that Fr. Thomas Baima is a close friend and a supporter of ACT3 Network. Tom and I go back more than a decade now in ecumenical work and inter-religious dialogue. Tom has one of the best minds, and some of the finest first-hand experience, in this field of dialogue. I turn to him quite often to discuss a myriad of issues.

Tom spoke a few weeks ago to the Muslim Society of Chicago at a large gathering at McCormick Place. The broad topic was “Inter-religious Dialogue.” An interfaith panel from many backgrounds spoke for nearly sixty minutes. Tom’s words come around the 12 minute mark on this video and ended at about 16 minutes. In this short address you can see him answering an important question: “What is the motive for dialogue between religions from a Christian perspective?”

He suggests that there is a common motive, namely the recognition of our shared humanity and shared belief in God. He believes this motive encourages tolerance and other societal goods. He calls the second motive particular. This motive allows us to learn from each other in our

The Signs of Love Should Not Be Obscured

The world roils in bad news and the story of immense tragedies. These painful realities are quite real. But the great danger we Christians face in 2016 is to focus our attention on this “bad news.”

1a77db114580488fb177b512c0a7a377In his final public utterance of 2015, Pope Francis on Thursday, December 31, insisted that the horrors of the past year are often “weighed down by private interests, by an insatiable thirst for power, and by gratuitous violence.” But Francis stressed that the reality of true goodness should not be lost in 2016. Indeed, I believe this true goodness should be stressed, certainly not in a pollyannaish way, but in a distinctly Christian way. Christ has overcome evil and his peace has changed the world. During these twelve days of Christmas let us remember that the evil of sin remains, but only for the time being. (Sin too will finally be put down completely on the “Last Day!”) This is why we should not entertain false notions about world peace.

Pope Francis added, “How many great gestures of goodness, of love

The Passing of My Friend Joseph F. Girzone

224465_215055838545526_6641788_nSeveral years ago I shared the story of how I met Fr. Joseph F. Girzone (1930-2015). I had read Joe’s wonderful book, Jesus: A New Understanding of God’s Son (New York: Doubleday, 2009). I simply loved it. Frankly, it changed my life in many profound ways. I wrote my first ever review on Amazon and as a result someone showed it to Joe who then reached out to get to know me. Since this is the kind of thing I would do, and it is rarely done to me, I had an immediate desire to know this lovely man. Well, we began to chat on the phone and by email. The man who wrote the huge best-selling novel, Joshua (1983), was a friend. What a pleasant and divinely-orchestrated surprise. When I first encountered Joshua in the days of its immense popularity in the early 1980s I was so profoundly influenced by Puritanism that I considered a novel about Jesus a virtual sacrilege. (So much for a mind that was open!) So getting to know this unusual priest became an

Christian Unity Week @ Judson University, Part Three

IMG_4199We ended Christian Unity Week at Judson University on Friday, October 10. The final message was given by one of my dearest friends on earth – Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth. Fr. Ellsworth, pastor of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois, has been my friend since the 1980s. He came to Wheaton, from a pastorate in Kent, Ohio, to serve as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church. We have shared many times of ministry, and growing friendship, over the last twenty-five plus years.

Fr. Ellsworth and I have built a relationship over meals, prayer, conversations about theology and church, as well as special family events. We have celebrated birthdays, weddings and times of grief. We have given unique gifts to one another that we both value deeply. The intimacy of our friendship is something I treasure very, very profoundly. When Fr. Ellsworth began his private journey toward the Orthodox Church some years ago I knew of his direction long before it was made public. We entered into much healthy and engaging dialogue. Both of us learned a great

Our Lord’s Prayer for Unity in Triune Love

UnknownJesus begins his prayer in John 17 by asking the Father to glorify him so that he could glorify the Father. These words (“glorify”) are too easily passed over. When the Bible speaks of glory it uses the word doxa, a Greek word which comes from the Old Testament Hebrew word kabod. The widely accepted meaning of doxa is “fame and honor,” usually what is given for an extraordinary achievement. It also refers to the “visible splendor of the divine, the shining forth of a transcendent presence.” John’s Gospel suggests that the Father will be glorified in and through Jesus’ accomplishment of the task given to him by his Father (cf. 4:34; 11:4; 17:4). But in both John 11:4 and 12:23 it is evident that Jesus will be glorified by means of his death on the cross. According the the apostle Jesus was glorified in his messianic activities, especially in his signs. John 12:28 makes this clear: “‘Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’”

Immersed in Divine Love

imagesAfter years of struggle with the truth of divine love I now have an overwhelming sense of God’s great love and mercy toward me. I have come to experience this love through Jesus Christ. He reveals the eternal God to me in trinity; e.g. in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I will later seek to show why the trinity, a most under appreciated and misunderstood understanding of God, is so important to what we believe and how we live in loving, faithful obedience to God. If we are to be immersed in the love of God, and then love him and others with divine love, then we must grapple afresh with this great truth of God’s being, the truth that towers above all other divine truths – “God is love.”

When I am asked to speak about God, or to pray to God, I begin with these words:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does

Westminster Theological Seminary – Can Institutions Respond to Controversy in Radical Love (Part Three)

There have been a number of previous controversies at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA). In the middle of the last decade there was one that many believe is linked (in some way) to the “retirement” issue of Doug Green. The Enns debate surrounded the teaching of Dr. Peter Enns, an Old Testament professor who left the faculty six years ago. It is widely believed that some of the issues regarding the teaching of Pete Enns, according to people on both sides of the current 2014 Douglas Green controversy, should be understood in the broader context of the seminary’s debate over hermeneutics. Dr. Enns resigned, under considerable duress, in 2008. The issue surrounding Enns’ teaching grew out of the publication of his book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (Baker, 2005). Unknown This book was unfavorably reviewed in the magazine of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. A battle about what Enns wrote followed. Articles appeared in academic journals and many people beyond the school were hard pressed to understand the central issue. I recall reviewing the book myself and then reading the review published in

The Seven Last Words of Christ by Franz Joseph Haydn

DaliCrucifixion-160x160Readers who did not grow up in a liturgical tradition are not as likely to have experienced the seven last words of Christ in a Holy Week context. I had preached at Good Friday services but my experience Tuesday evening at Dominican University, where I heard a string quartet play Franz Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ” was a complete immersion experience in the richness of a Holy Week celebration. It is in this spirit that I encourage you to listen to the broadcast of this event tonight, at 8 p.m., on WFMT in Chicago. You can access the broadcast on the web at: https://www.wfmt.com.

Franz Joseph Haydn considered “The Seven Last Words of Christ” to be one of his greatest works. Haydn’s profound religious convictions informed this music deeply. Without a deep understanding of what Haydn actually did in this music it is hard to appreciate just how well he accomplished his purpose. Haydn wrote: “Each sonata or movement, is expressed by purely instrumental music in such a way that even the most uninitiated listener will

By |April 18th, 2014|Categories: Christ/Christology, Death, Music, Personal|

The Seven Last Words of Christ – The Franz Joseph Haydn Symphony

lg-vermeerChrist_0414Millions of Christians around the world will hear the “Seven Last Words of Christ” over the next twenty-four to thirty-six hours. I heard them this week and understood them in a wholly different way.

While I have participated in a number of contexts in which these words of Christ have been read, sung and even preached, this week I experienced them in word and music in one of the most moving presentations of the seven words that I’ve ever heard. The occasion was the performance on Tuesday evening of the Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) symphony, “Opus 51– The Seven Last Words of Christ.” Haydn’s work was originally composed in 1786 and first presented on Good Friday in 1787. The original setting was the austere underground grotto of Santa Cueva (Spain) which was completely dark but for the wick of a single lamp, hung from the ceiling. Following the moving Introduction the bishop recited the first of the seven words, moved to the altar and there knelt quietly during the sonata. The bishops words served as a spoken meditation

By |April 17th, 2014|Categories: Christ/Christology, Death, Music, Personal|

The Divine Interpretation of Christ’s Death

twelve-thumbAs I have been working my way through writing the first draft of my book, Our Love Is Too Small, I have confessed that nothing draws us more deeply into the love of God than the death of Christ “for our sins.” I have also suggested that theories of the atonement often get in the way of our experiencing the death of Christ at the very core of our soul.

A friend suggested last week that I read a chapter in the famous A.B. Bruce book, The Training of the Twelve (1871), and see what he had to say about the death of Christ and the love of God. In a chapter titled “In Memoriam; Or, Fourth Lesson on the Doctrine of the Cross,” A.B. Bruce says:

Besides commemorating Christ’s death (“This do in remembrance of me”), the rite of the Supper is used to interpret the Lord’s death. He says the eucharist throws important light on the meaning of the solemn event. The institution of this symbolic feast was in fact the most important contribution made by

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