As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Brief Theology of a Poor Brother

1. The Person(s) of God

God is One, yet God is also Three. That God is a Trinity is important because it shows that He, in His perfection, is not alone, but is a Community living in perfect love and unity.

God is like a Fire. In this sense He, by His very nature, obliterates that which is not of Himself. He is all Good and nothing that is not good can survive his Presence. Thus, what seems like wrath or judgment is only that which hates God, that which is not-good, being exposed to His Presence.

2. The Creation

All that is created is of God but is not God. That which is created has a sacramental quality. That is, all the stuff of which creation is was given by God. It has become as much like God as possible of its own accord (evolution) and then has given itself to Him to do what it cannot do for itself.

God uses creation not only as a medium to reveal Himself to creation, but also as a veil of sorts that that which is created might have the opportunity to reject Him.

3. Man

Man is that which the created could not do for itself. Man is creation given the Imago Dei. In the same way that He is specially present in the Eucharist, He is/was specially present in Man.

4. The Fall

Man, in order to be like God, was given the ability to choose. The choice is ever between obedience/love/life (represented by the Tree of Life) and disobedience/hate(apathy)/death (represented by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). The choice is not always between that which is good and bad, but between that which is commanded and that which is prohibited. That is, the Knowledge is not bad, but disobedience always is. It took both man AND woman to complete the first sin. The eyes of Adam and Eve were not opened until Adam ate of the forbidden fruit.

5. Original Sin

Original sin is not a cosmic strike on the blackboard of heaven which we have at birth and, thus, are condemned to hell. We are not guilty of the first sin, but we do suffer the consequences. The consequence is death. Death is like a disease which we do inherit. Thus, we suffer the effects of sin, but are not guilty of any sin but our own. It is like the child born of a crack addicted mother. The child will be addicted to crack as well, through no fault of his/her own.

6. The Work of Christ

One of the chief works of Christ was accomplished in the Incarnation. He did not do this merely to have an unblemished, human sacrifice, but possibly planned to do it in any case that the stuff of Earth, apart from just being "good", might be divinized through the union with God. We are all called to the Mount of Transfiguration, that we might be glorified as Christ was. This was always the purpose of God.

The second work of Christ was His Crucifixion. Through His death He, being the deathless God, killed death. Through His death we are freed from the curse. We also experience cleansing and healing from
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!
The chief lesson that we learn is that this goal was achieved through the obedience of Christ. He followed the very difficult path set before Him by His Father. Likewise, though we may not understand the path, we must obey. Disobedience, as always, leads to death.

7. The Nature of God in Relation to Sin

God is like a fire, albeit one with a Personality. The Love of God and the Wrath of God are all the same. Light obliterates darkness by its very nature. Hydrogen Peroxide obliterates infection by its very nature. Heat obliterates cold by its very nature. God obliterates all that is not-good by His very nature. It is partially for this reason that He made the world. Creation not only reveals God, but also hides God so that, if we wish, we may doubt His existence. In this way, He gives us freedom to choose or reject Him. However, those who hate God, when they find themselves fully in his presence, will experience a love they can neither escape nor accept. Hell, then, is either the full Presence of God or full Separation of God. One is all Love and the other is all Mercy.

8. The Law

Christ summarized the entirety of the Law as follows:
Love the Lord your Godwith all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
God is Love and His Law is Love.

9. The Church

Christ established the Apostles as the head of the Church. They have passed this authority, and the keys, to their successors (bishops) through the ages. Nevertheless, wherever "two or more are gathered" in the name of Christ, He is there and there is the Church.

Authority rests not in the Holy Scriptures (never "the Word" for only Christ is the Word), nor only in the Bishops (including the Pope), nor in the Councils; but the people of God. This is how God works. All is a joint work between Him and us, fallible though we are. In the same way that Adam and Eve had to sin together and in the same way that the New Adam and the New Eve worked together to reverse the curse; so the Groom and the Bride work together. All authority rests with the Groom, with Christ, but He has given it to His Bride and chooses to work through Her.

10. Faith, Works, Love and Obedience

It has been said we are justified through Faith and sanctified through Works. This denotes a focus on Justification/Salvation. There is no Faith without Works. Both are subsets of Love. If we Love God, we will have Faith. If we love God, we will show it with our Works. Peter loved Jesus and thus stepped out of the boat confident that he would walk on water. Christ says, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." Obedience is the sign of Love, Faith and Works. The Son loved the Father and obeyed Him. If we love Christ, we will obey Him regardless of whether we are justified or sanctified. Salvation is a by-product of Love and Obedience.

11. Sin

Sin is disobedience. Sin is lack of love. Sin is anything less than perfection. Sin is missing the mark. Sin is us moving away from God. Sin is death. Sin is breaking relationships.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Review: The Deity Formerly Known as God

I randomly ran across this book at Borders the other day, and picked it up to see what it was all about. The title struck me, Zondervan is usually a good publisher, and the author works with Northpoint Church in Atlanta. That all seemed enticing. I read the back cover and the book purports itself to be "attempting to recapture the spirit of JB Phillips' classic, Your God is Too Small." It claimed to tear down 6 current destructive images of God and reaffirm 6 constructive images of God. So, I shelled out the $13, thinking it would be a good read.

The layout of the book is quite simple and intentional. The first 6 chapters are what the author considers "bad images" of God. They stand completely independent of each other so that the reader can skip around should he/she so choose (page 14). The ideas are on the right track, however, I think it leaves something to be desired.

Chapter 1--The Cop Around the Corner. Mostly story-oriented, this chapter claims we view God in the same way we do a cop parked on the side of the road (20). This idea is that God is actively looking for us to make a mistake. This idea is fosterred in strict religious upbringings, be it church or school (21). This idea is reiterated if you actually read the OT too, in the author's opinion (24). The real problem comes in a little joke/addendum section that appears in each chapter. In this chapter, he gives 6 "made up" commandments that he has picked up along the way in his "faith experience" (a term first used on page 21). This new list of commandments include not drinking, not swearing, going to church and pretending to enjoy it. The real problem is commandment 5: "Thou shalt not have sex before thou art married" (27). To the best of my knowledge, sex before marriage is wrong. The good aspect of this chapter is that there is some truth to us viewing God as an angry God, wanting nothing but catch us doing something wrong. However, this chapter could easily be taken as a manifesto for antinomianism.

Chapter 2--Sweet Old Man. One of the better chapters in the book. He notes that our visual depctions of God often resemble a member or ZZ Top (32). We view God's eternality as being old, not timeless (33). These are great points, and I found myself actively affirming that view of God. That quickly changed. "The Bible doesn't really help in this department either" (33). I couldn't believe that someone who has devoted his life to teaching the Bible would actually make that statement. He argued that the titles "Alpha and Omega," "Ageless and Unchanging," and "Ancient of Days" are bothersome because "old is bothersome" (33). However, this chapter has a great overall point: we view God like we view our grandfather, someone we only have to visit on holidays, someone who doesn't understand where we are, nor can relate to us in our present situation (34). Bible stories become stories about God in the past that don't relate to us today, and the stories of people in our churches relate the way God acted the, not now (37).This is a great point and something that needs to be addressed.

Chapter 3--Cosmic Slot Machine. Here, he writes of the idea that, in life, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose (44, 46). He said the idea that life, and ultimately God, is random, that he hedged his bets to play it safe (48). Everything we do in life is based on the idea that something might go wrong, not on the idea that it might go well. He says that he doesn't know where God falls in control of our lives (51). He also says that he doesn't care if God is in control or not, as long as he's there for us, because that's the God he has faith in (51). This seems more than problematic. A God who is not ultimately in control is not much of a God. How sovereignty works can be debated, but God is ultimately in control, and that's the story of the Bible. However, on the last page of the chapter, he says that if you hedge your bets with God, you will always win (52). At the end of this chapter, I was left wondering exactly what was going on.

Chapter 4--Talent Show Judge. Mostly full of stories about church talent shows, some quite funny. The idea here is that we view God as a judge who is never quite satisfied with our performance, and our churches often reflect that in guilting others to contribute more in every way (57-58). He gives his story of (over)working at Willow Creek 60-61). The tragedy of this view is that we work ourselves to death trying to earn from God what he has already given to us; instead, we are really trying to impress ourselves (64). This is another good point, as I know I have seen may Christians burnt out from over-extending themselves in serving at the church. We should all learn to stop and enjoy God more.

Chapter 5--All You Can Eat Buffett. This is probably the best and most relevant chapter in the entire book. The idea Stevens is arguing is that we currently have a spiritual smorgasboard, where we come and gather many ideas of God, developing what we personally want to see God as.This is why 90% of Americans can believe in God, because ultimately God is of our own making (70, 74). He compared biblical faith with an enormously expensive meal--you have great things, and things that are hard to swallow, but the meal is magnificent and so much greater than the ordinary, mundane and bland (74). The only way to worship God is to worship him in his fullness, as he is inseparably whole (74).

Chapter 6--Our Parents, Supersized. In my opinion, the second best chapter in this entire book. The basic assertion, parent's indubitably affect their children's views of God--for better or for worse (77). He speaks of several ways his parents subtly, and often accidentally, affected his view of God. He gives several examples of how others he knows have had their view of God affected in this way. The question, not of "if" but "how" (77) is a big question and one worth facing (84) if we are to rid ourselves of our surrogate gods (86). He is careful to say that we cannot turn this into a pity-party or blame everyone else for our problems, but we must look at the effects of others in forming our understanding of God.

There is a brief note in between the sections that lets the reader know he will be using stories of Jesus to construct the 6 positive sections about God.

Chapter 7--Late Night Neighbor. He uses the story from Luke 11 of a man going to his neighbor in the middle of the night, asking for bread. Much of the text is spent retelling the story--much of the time going back and forth from ancient to modern language. He finally speaks of the generosity of God, and taunts the idea of smothering prayer with "If it be your will" (99). He says we should have a holy fear, but we can approach God with confidence (99) and that Jesus wants to give us what he's already promised us (102). The best part of this chapter is a story about a trip he and his wife took to Africa. They stayed in a village of people suffering from AIDS, yet when the women pray they ask God with confidence, citing "because of what you've done." This is a great lesson we could all stand to learn in a culture where every time the wind blows in the wrong direction, we question God's abilities to control things.

Chapter 8--Lord of the Boardroom. He retells the story from Luke 19 about the master leaving and giving his servants silver. The first two servants make money with their silver and are entrusted with more. The last servant buries it in fear of losing it, and the master is irate. Stevens then notes that the story is as puzzling as it is helpful (111). He goes on to talk about assumptions we make (112-113). The conclusion reached by the authoris that this story shows how God is both just and generous, keeping us accountable and forgiving us when we fall short (115). Then, "the moral of our story, that in a world filled with pain and fear and confusion, there is a God who is more good, more generous and more full of grace than we could possibly imagine" 116).

Chapter 9--Green-Thumbed Gardener. After a long story about his attempts at gardening, he quotes John 15:1, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener" (probably the Message translation). Stevens uses this as a view of our sanctification (121). He goes on to say that Christ is teaching us to "stay" (124). "Connectedness starves our selfishness" (125). The only problem in this chapter is that all the talk of pruning is our personal sanctification. The reality of the passage is that God will sanctify his church, tossing out those who do not bear fruit.

Chapter 10--Single Minded Shepherd. The passage used here is Luke 15, though many other references are made. The point, we are lost and Jesus comes after us. The point is made and reiterated by several personal stories of being lost. The most interesting thing in this chapter is a story about a Hurricane Katrina victim. The man was trying to get out of New Orleans after a week of being stranded, but wasn't allowed to get on the bus with his pet--he would have to leave the pet. Nate Berkus, a correspondent for Oprah, decided to help, so he went down there, picked up the man's dog and followed the bus (139-140). This was supposedly some insight into Jesus (and Oprah, who is mentioned in a marvelous light multiple times in the book). However, I must admit that I was left wondering, "If the man was so great, why didn't he give the dog AND ITS OWNER a ride?" But, the story shows how great Oprah is and how the story is not about self-promotion (140), but I'm not buying that.

Chapter 11--Tired Eyed Father. This chapter recounts the story of the Prodigal Son. He makes the point that we musn't focus on the son, but on the Father (142). He retells the story, again, and spends most of the time explaining the term "Abba." He says that "the life of Jesus was radically defined by the love of his Abba" 149). While there is great import in the name Abba, he radically dimishes Christ's deity with statements like this. He says the Abba loved Jesus at his baptism before Jesus did anything (149). This just has serious trappings of Arianism or adoptionism. In the garden, Abba's love for Jesus enabled him to trust his way, and Christ went to the cross (152). More Arian hermenuetics. There were some good points in this chapter. We should realize that we are talking to a personal God in prayer (151). We should know that God loves us as his children (154).

Chapter 12--Equal Opportunity Employer. The story in this chapter is that of the employer hiring day laborers and each worker made the same amount, the first and the last. He spends much time retelling the story, concluding that everybody wins with God (164). It's not universalism, but that the best, worst, first and last in God's kingdom are equal (165). The idea--we cant' earn our way to God, grace is the only option (though it's not stated nearly that clearly).

Conclusion: Overall, this book was an extreme letdown. As an attempt to recapture the classic it purports, it fails--miserably. There are good points, but they were not expounded well. Most of the book is full of stories from his life. I know, we live in a postmodern society and stories are the way to communicate. However, a little more substance in this book would probably help smooth over the theological issues. I think I found one verse that isn't from the Message Bible. That version is such a liberal translation that it should not be used for teaching. The author, as are many others today, just flips from happy verse to happy verse. God is nothing but the "big warm fuzzy, do whatever you want, it doesn't matter to me" character. I couldn't recommend this book to anyone. I hate that. I like Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio and that ministry. But, this was a severe letdown.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Favorite Verses

  • Ecc 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all [is] vanity.
  • Jhn 11:35 Jesus wept.
  • 1Jo 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
  • Jhn 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
  • Psa 88:18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.
  • Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
  • Prayer of Manasseh 1:11 And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching thee for thy kindness.
  • Wisdom 18:14-15 For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne
  • Jam 2:14-17 What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
  • Phl 2:5-11
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature* God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature* of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death–
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Luther, Calvin, and Other Early Protestants on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary


All of the early Protestant Founders accepted the truth of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. How could this be, if it is merely "tradition" with no scriptural basis? Why was its supposed violation of Scripture not so obvious to them, as it is to the Protestants of the last 150 years or so (since the onset of theological liberalism) who have ditched this previously-held opinion? Yet it has become fashionable to believe that Jesus had blood brothers (I suspect, because this contradicts Catholic teaching), contrary to the original consensus of the early Protestants. Let's see what the Founders of Protestantism taught about this doctrine. If Catholics are so entrenched in what has been described as "silly," "desperate," "obviously false," "unbiblical tradition" here, then so are many Protestant luminaries such as Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. Strangely enough, however, current-day Protestant critics of Catholicism rarely aim criticism at them. I guess the same "errors" are egregious to a different degree, depending on who accepts and promulgates them -- sort of like the Orwellian proverb from Animal Farm: "all people are equal, but some are more equal than others."
General
    Whatever may be the position theologically that one may take today on the subject of Mariology, one is not able to call to one's aid 'reformed tradition' unless one does it with the greatest care . . . the Marian doctrine of the Reformers is consonant with the great tradition of the Church in all the essentials and with that of the Fathers of the first centuries in particular . . . . .
    In regard to the Marian doctrine of the Reformers, we have already seen how unanimous they are in all that concerns Mary's holiness and perpetual virginity . . .
{Max Thurian (Protestant), Mary: Mother of all Christians, tr. Neville B. Cryer, NY: Herder & Herder, 1963 (orig. 1962), pp. 77, 197}
    The title 'Ever Virgin' (aeiparthenos, semper virgo) arose early in Christianity . . . It was a stock phrase in the Middle Ages and continued to be used in Protestant confessional writings (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Andrewes; Book of Concord [1580], Schmalkaldic Articles [1537]).
{Raymond E. Brown et al, ed., Mary in the New Testament, Phil.: Fortress Press / NY: Paulist Press, 1978, p.65 (a joint Catholic-Protestant effort) }
    Mary was formally separated from Protestant worship and prayer in the 16th century; in the 20th century the divorce is complete. Even the singing of the 'Magnificat' caused the Puritans to have scruples, and if they gave up the Apostles' Creed, it was not only because of the offensive adjective 'Catholic', but also because of the mention of the Virgin . . .
    [But] Calvin, like Luther and Zwingli, taught the perpetual virginity of Mary. The early Reformers even applied, though with some reticence, the title Theotokos to Mary . . . Calvin called on his followers to venerate and praise her as the teacher who instructs them in her Son's commands.
{J.A. Ross MacKenzie (Protestant), in Stacpoole, Alberic, ed., Mary's Place in Christian Dialogue, Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse-Barlow, 1982, pp.35-6}
Martin Luther
    Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that.
{Luther's Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan (vols. 1-30) & Helmut T. Lehmann (vols. 31-55), St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30); Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55), 1955, v.22:23 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539) }
    Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that 'brothers' really mean 'cousins' here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.
{Pelikan, ibid., v.22:214-15 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539) }
    A new lie about me is being circulated. I am supposed to have preached and written that Mary, the mother of God, was not a virgin either before or after the birth of Christ . . .
{Pelikan, ibid.,v.45:199 / That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew (1523) }
    Scripture does not say or indicate that she later lost her virginity . . .
    When Matthew [1:25] says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her . . . This babble . . . is without justification . . . he has neither noticed nor paid any attention to either Scripture or the common idiom.
{Pelikan, ibid.,v.45:206,212-3 / That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew (1523) } Editor Jaroslav Pelikan (Lutheran) adds:
    Luther . . . does not even consider the possibility that Mary might have had other children than Jesus. This is consistent with his lifelong acceptance of the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary.
{Pelikan, ibid.,v.22:214-5}
John Calvin
    Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ's 'brothers' are sometimes mentioned.
{Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), vol. 2 / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949, p.215; on Matthew 13:55}
    [On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.
{Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 107}
    Under the word 'brethren' the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity.
{Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 283 / Commentary on John, (7:3) }
Huldreich Zwingli
    He turns, in September 1522, to a lyrical defense of the perpetual virginity of the mother of Christ . . . To deny that Mary remained 'inviolata' before, during and after the birth of her Son, was to doubt the omnipotence of God . . . and it was right and profitable to repeat the angelic greeting - not prayer - 'Hail Mary' . . . God esteemed Mary above all creatures, including the saints and angels - it was her purity, innocence and invincible faith that mankind must follow. Prayer, however, must be . . . to God alone . . .
    'Fidei expositio,' the last pamphlet from his pen . . . There is a special insistence upon the perpetual virginity of Mary.
{G. R. Potter, Zwingli, London: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1976, pp.88-9,395 / The Perpetual Virginity of Mary . . ., Sep. 17, 1522}
    Zwingli had printed in 1524 a sermon on 'Mary, ever virgin, mother of God.'
{Thurian, ibid., p.76}
    I have never thought, still less taught, or declared publicly, anything concerning the subject of the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our salvation, which could be considered dishonourable, impious, unworthy or evil . . . I believe with all my heart according to the word of holy gospel that this pure virgin bore for us the Son of God and that she remained, in the birth and after it, a pure and unsullied virgin, for eternity.
{Thurian, ibid., p.76 / same sermon}
Heinrich Bullinger
    Bullinger (d. 1575) . . . defends Mary's perpetual virginity . . . and inveighs against the false Christians who defraud her of her rightful praise: 'In Mary everything is extraordinary and all the more glorious as it has sprung from pure faith and burning love of God.' She is 'the most unique and the noblest member' of the Christian community . . .
    'The Virgin Mary . . . completely sanctified by the grace and blood of her only Son and abundantly endowed by the gift of the Holy Spirit and preferred to all . . . now lives happily with Christ in heaven and is called and remains ever-Virgin and Mother of God.'
{In Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, combined ed. of vols. 1 & 2, London: Sheed & Ward, 1965, vol.2, pp.14-5}
John Wesley (Founder of Methodism)
I believe... he [Jesus Christ] was born of the blessed Virgin, who, as well after as she
brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin.
{"Letter to a Roman Catholic," quoted in A. C. Coulter, John Wesley, New York: Oxford University Press, 1964, 495}

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Prayer for those who persecute you

Prayer Regarding Critics and Enemies
- by Serbian Orthodox Bishop By Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic,
who spoke out against Naziism, was arrested, and taken to Dachau.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.
Friends have bound me to earth;
enemies have loosed me from earth
and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms
and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.
Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does,
so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary,
having ensconced myself beneath Your tabernacle,
where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.
They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.
They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.
They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.
They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise,
they have called me foolish.
Whenever I have made myself mighty,
they have mocked me as though I were a [fly].
Whenever I have wanted to lead people,
they have shoved me into the background.
Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself,
they have prevented me with an iron hand.
Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully,
they have wakened me from sleep.
Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life,
they have demolished it and driven me out.
Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world
and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them;
multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:
So that my fleeing will have no return;
So that all my hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;
So that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;
So that my heart may become the grave
of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;
So that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;
Ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception,
which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows,
that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize
that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good
and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.
Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.
A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.
But a son blesses them, for he understands.
For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.
Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

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