From Babylon to Bethlehem – Return from Exile

The Jewish canon ends the Hebrew Scriptures after the return from the
Babylonian Exile. While the canon continues for Christians, there is
not much Scripture for the 500 years between the return from Babylon
and the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. There are many events that
occurred in this time, and placing them into a context is important.

The return from exile was did not result in all the Jews returning, nor
did they return to a land empty of their kinsmen. Many Jews remained in
Babylon, which would remain there for many years after, even compiling
the authoritative Babylonian Talmud there. Many lower-class people were
allowed to stay in Israel when they were taken into exile, and the
influx of that many people posed problems for them. After the conquest
of the northern tribes, foreigners came into that land and promoted a
form of worship that would become the Samaritans.

The temple had been destroyed, and the rebuilt temple was only a shadow
of its original glory. After its completion, Ezra gathered the Jews and
read them the Law, which chastened them and convinced them to return to
the worship of the true God.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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Wonder’s Role in Faith

This was recorded at the 2009 Rochester Chesterton Society Conference.

It is very easy to allow ourselves to experience wonder on a purely
intellectual basis, which misses the point, since wonder is too
powerful to be experienced merely through the intellect.

We should wonder at some of the amazing things written in the
Scriptures and at what they should mean to us: if we are created in
God’s image, how wondrous must that be!

There is also a hierarchy of wonders. While we can and should regard
the things God has created and holy artifacts with wonder, these things
are only temporary and we must regard the eternal with a greater
wonder, and nothing can be as wondrous of the mystery of the
incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We are commanded to wonder at these things, in part by the Shema
Yisrael (Deut 6), which instructs us all to love God with all our
heart, soul and might and think on this always and to teach this to our children.

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Tom Howard on Wonder

This was recorded at the 2009 Rochester Chesterton Society Conference.

As we grow older, we lose our grasp on a sense of wonder in the world.
Wonder is modulated by time and repetition, but there are three cases
unaffected by time: youth, art and eternity, and it is by studying
these three cases where we may reawaken our sense of wonder.

GK Chesterton, CS Lewis and others have commented on how wonder works
in our lives. CS Lewis, for example, writes that angels cannot truly
grasp the wonder in such simple acts as breathing, since they lack a
corporeal form. There are many things for men to wonder at in the
world, if we would only take the time.

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Life on the Rock

St. Irenaeus Ministries was invited to be a guest on the Life on the
Rock program on EWTN on September 4, 2008. This is a recording of that
portion of the program.

St. Irenaeus Ministries is a Rochester, NY based apostolate promoting
orthodox Catholic faith named after St. Irenaeus, an early Christian
bishop and writer only two generations removed from the time Christ
walked the earth who spoke out against heresies. We discuss our
activities, with special focus on the practical implications of
evangelization, such as conversion. Special attention must also be paid
to promoting renewal, and strategies for promoting renewal and a real,
living, active faith include paraclesis (the act of walking beside) and
challenging men and women through ministries such as Bible study,
discipleship counsel, fellowship, and religious teaching, which are
discussed thoroughly.

It is the duty of all Christians to bring the message of Christ to the
world, not just through programs, but by bringing the message out of
the pews and shining forth Christ to everyone we meet, personally and
one-on-one. Christ’s message is a radical one and requires a radical
commitment to His message, and we need brethren to encourage us.

You can also watch this interview on YouTube.

To purchase a copy of this episode of Life on the Rock on DVD, visit the EWTN religious Catalogue.

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Christian Apocalyptic – The Modern Age

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus tells us that there will be wars and
rumors of wars that many will wrongly think to be the coming of the
end. This suggests that the end will be many years from the time of the
Discourse, and thus it is appropriate to focus our attention on how the
Apocalyptic impacts our lives today.

We should look to this present time not as a time of delay or a time of
anticipation, but as a time when God is making the preparations for the
time to come. We must not see this as a time to relax, but it is also
unwise to look for numerology or hints to the time of the end. This
present time is one where troubles happen, and some of these troubles
may have to do with God’s plan for the end times, but many will not.
God has graciously given us this time so that we may repent, but we
should be living it as though the end times are imminent.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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Christian Apocalyptic – The Early Church

The early Church viewed the apocalyptic writings as vital to the faith.
Early Christians saw the end times as imminent, though not necessarily
coming soon, as suggested by the exhortation to preach the Gospel to
all the nations. In the same way, faulty wiring might pose an imminent
danger, but it might not actually cause a catastrophe for many years.

We also look in-depth at the circumstances surrounding the Olivet Discourse and some prophecies in Daniel.

Every generation should see itself as standing on the precipice of the
end times, an end which God has delayed through His mercy so that we
may have time to repent. We must keep our attention on the end and keep
Heaven as our goal.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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Christian Apocalyptic – Examples

Continuing the discussion of Christian Apocalyptic literature, we read
excerpts from Daniel, who prophesies the coming of the Christ, the
pseudepigraphal Enoch, which expands on the Sons of God mentioned in
the book of Genesis.

The Olivet Discourse is another example, where Jesus expounds on the
last days, as a capstone to a series of questions He was asked.

Like the early Church, we do not know when the End Times will come, but
we must assume that the end may be coming at any time, and we must look
for the signs that it is coming.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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Christian Apocalyptic – Understanding Apocalyptic Literature

This is a direct continuation of the series on 2 Peter and Jude.

Apocalyptic literature refers to writings that reveal the hidden things
of God. It is a new term, not one that apocalyptic writers applied to
themselves, and there is some debate as to which works are apocalyptic
and which are merely prophetic. It is found in canonical and
extra-canonical writings of both the Old and New Testaments, mainly
after the Babylonian Exile, usually in times of persecution, especially
the time from 200BC to 200AD, and deals with the end times
(eschatology).

Apocalyptic visions are dramatic and often wild and highly symbolic,
and often mediated through an angel. There is no definitive list of
apocalyptic literature, but commonly cited as examples are Daniel,
Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, Revelation, 2 Thessalonians, The Olivet
Discourse (found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke), as well as the
extra-canonical books of 1 and 2 Enoch, Jubilees, Testament of the
Twelve Patriarchs, 4 Esdras, 2 Baruch, The Testament of Abraham, and
the Apocalypse of Abraham. The extra-canonical books are called
pseudepigrapha (or falsely ascribed writings) to distinguish them from
the deuterocanonical books sometimes called apocrypha by Protestants.

Apocalyptic eschatology differs from prophetic eschatology in a few
ways, but one difference is that some see prophetic eschatology as more
personal and more naturalistic, while apocalyptic eschatology is more
obviously supernatural and deals with God breaking into history in
cataclysmic ways coming from above. Others would note that even in
prophetic eschatology, it is God’s will which the prophecy follows.
Apocalypse is often less well-accepted into the mainstream than other
prophecy, but none of these criteria should be viewed as absolute;
there is much room for dispute.

Some believe these apocalyptic writings were composed in part to give
an answer to why the pious were continuing to be persecuted and the end
of prophecy. This is probably true of the pseudepigraphal works, though
it must be clear that apocalyptic prophecy is given by God, and not
brought down by man. There was a rise in apocalyptic writing in the
19th century in an attempt to understand why some Christian sects were
becoming more liberal.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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Jude – Lusts, Errors, and Shared Themes

In verses 6 and 7, Jude identifies the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as unnatural lust, and not just in-hospitality. Although the ancient world had no real equivalent to the modern conception of sexual preference, it cannot be said that the Bible has no preference regarding sexuality.

Throughout the passage here and later on in verse 14 there is a reference to the apocryphal book of Enoch (verse 14 goes as far as quoting the book) and the ”sons of God” in Genesis 6. It is unclear what Jude thinks of the book as a whole (the Church eventually rejected it from the canon), but he seems to think the verse he cited was a prophecy.

Jude then speaks against those false teachers who have ”reviled whatever they do not understand,” and who ”follow their own lusts” and flatter ”people to gain advantage.” These worldly people are devoid of the Holy Spirit.

It is notable that Jude refers to Moses and Enoch, both of whom were assumed into Heaven, and that both Sodom and Gomorrah and Korah’s rebellion are cases where the Earth opened up to swallow up something into Hell. Much of the language here is similar or identical to that in 2 Peter, suggesting that these authors are consulting a common source (an apostolic memo, perhaps).

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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Jude – Introduction, False Teachers

This short lesson on Jude and the one that follows it are a direct continuation of the series on 2nd Peter.

The epistle of Jude is very short, but Jude does not shy away from controversy. Jude is the English translation of the Greek name Judas, which ultimately derives from the Hebrew word Judah. We translate it this way to avoid the association with Judas Iscariot, though the name was common in that time. Jude is identified as the brother of James, the bishop of Jerusalem, who is often identified as James the Less (though this identification is difficult to support in the light of 1 Cor 15).

Also noteworthy in the introduction: Jude appears not to see himself in the role of apostle, since he does not identify himself as one, unlike most of the other epistles. Jude appears to be writing while James, who died in the early 60s, is still alive, thus dating this epistle very early. The fact that the issues of false teachers were pressing and were being dealt with at such an early time should be a comfort to those of use who see false teachings today.

Jude says that these false teachers were bound to be, and thus we should not to be scared, since our Lord expected this. The manner in which Jude describes these false teachers is very similar to the way that this is described in 2 Peter, suggesting that there was some collaboration, possibly by a now-lost rubric for dealing with these errors.

Jude then states that the faith has been imparted once for all, implying that there will be no new doctrines, and that those teaching new doctrines are false teachers who have crept into the Church. Jude then goes on to explain that the Hebrews leaving Egypt were likewise fully informed and many fell away, which puts an end to the concept of ”once saved always saved.”

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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