The here and now Kingdom

Christ, sat down on the right hand of the Father, and based on His work, He sends the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and faithful, creating the Church as the working of the here and now Kingdom.
Everything in the prayers of the Church focuses on this reality. “The Lord has become king…”, “over all people is our God,” “In Thy kingdom remember me, O Lord.” for example.
Even when praising the work of the Cross, we are speaking of Christ in His saving power in heaven. So we have in the book we honor as Scripture, Revelation 5:5 “One of the elders said to me, “Don’t weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals.6 I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.”

Diagram note one

When looking at the diagram don’t connect the use of the color yellow  on the area of problems to refer only to the lower cycle.

Rather when we honor God with thanks who has qualified us to be inheritors of His salvation, we are submitting to Him our whole life including His blessing and the difficulties He  lets come our way.


Why I Believe Again

by A.N. Wilson

By nature a doubting Thomas, I should have distrusted the symptoms when I underwent a “conversion experience” 20 years ago. Something was happening which was out of character – the inner glow of complete certainty, the heady sense of being at one with the great tide of fellow non-believers. For my conversion experience was to atheism. There were several moments of epiphany, actually, but one of the most dramatic occurred in the pulpit of a church.

At St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London, there are two pulpits, and for some decades they have been used for lunchtime dialogues. I had just published a biography of C S Lewis, and the rector of St Mary-le-Bow, Victor Stock, asked me to participate in one such exchange of views.

Memory edits, and perhaps distorts, the highlights of the discussion. Memory says that while Father Stock was asking me about Lewis, I began to “testify”, denouncing Lewis’s muscular defence of religious belief. Much more to my taste, I said, had been the approach of the late Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, whose biography I had just read.

A young priest had been to see him in great distress, saying that he had lost his faith in God. Ramsey’s reply was a long silence followed by a repetition of the mantra “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter”. He told the priest to continue to worship Jesus in the Sacraments and that faith would return. “But!” exclaimed Father Stock. “That priest was me!”

Like many things said by this amusing man, it brought the house down. But something had taken a grip of me, and I was thinking (did I say it out loud?): “It bloody well does matter. Just struggling on like Lord Tennyson (‘and faintly trust the larger hope’) is no good at all . . .”

I can remember almost yelling that reading C S Lewis’s Mere Christianity made me a non-believer – not just in Lewis’s version of Christianity, but in Christianity itself. On that occasion, I realised that after a lifetime of churchgoing, the whole house of cards had collapsed for me – the sense of God’s presence in life, and the notion that there was any kind of God, let alone a merciful God, in this brutal, nasty world. As for Jesus having been the founder of Christianity, this idea seemed perfectly preposterous. In so far as we can discern anything about Jesus from the existing documents, he believed that the world was about to end, as did all the first Christians. So, how could he possibly have intended to start a new religion for Gentiles, let alone established a Church or instituted the Sacraments? It was a nonsense, together with the idea of a personal God, or a loving God in a suffering universe. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.

It was such a relief to discard it all that, for months, I walked on air. At about this time, the Independent on Sunday sent me to interview Dr Billy Graham, who was conducting a mission in Syracuse, New York State, prior to making one of his journeys to England. The pattern of these meetings was always the same. The old matinee idol spoke. The gospel choir sang some suitably affecting ditty, and then the converted made their way down the aisles to commit themselves to the new faith. Part of the glow was, surely, the knowledge that they were now part of a great fellowship of believers.

As a hesitant, doubting, religious man I’d never known how they felt. But, as a born-again atheist, I now knew exactly what satisfactions were on offer. For the first time in my 38 years I was at one with my own generation. I had become like one of the Billy Grahamites, only in reverse. If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb. Hitchens was excited to greet a new convert to his non-creed and put me through a catechism before uncorking some stupendous claret. “So – absolutely no God?” “Nope,” I was able to say with Moonie-zeal. “No future life, nothing ‘out there’?” “No,” I obediently replied. At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world – that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that “this is all there is” (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of much (no, come on, let yourself go), most (why stint yourself – go for it, man), all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

My doubting temperament, however, made me a very unconvincing atheist. And unconvinced. My hilarious Camden Town neighbour Colin Haycraft, the boss of Duckworth and husband of Alice Thomas Ellis, used to say, “I do wish Freddie [Ayer] wouldn’t go round calling himself an atheist. It implies he takes religion seriously.”

This creed that religion can be despatched in a few brisk arguments (outlined in David Hume’s masterly Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) and then laughed off kept me going for some years. When I found myself wavering, I would return to Hume in order to pull myself together, rather as a Catholic having doubts might return to the shrine of a particular saint to sustain them while the springs of faith ran dry.

But religion, once the glow of conversion had worn off, was not a matter of argument alone. It involves the whole person. Therefore I was drawn, over and over again, to the disconcerting recognition that so very many of the people I had most admired and loved, either in life or in books, had been believers. Reading Louis Fischer’s Life of Mahatma Gandhi, and following it up with Gandhi’s own autobiography, The Story of My Experiments With Truth, I found it impossible not to realise that all life, all being, derives from God, as Gandhi gave his life to demonstrate. Of course, there are arguments that might make you doubt the love of God. But a life like Gandhi’s, which was focused on God so deeply, reminded me of all the human qualities that have to be denied if you embrace the bleak, muddled creed of a materialist atheist. It is a bit like trying to assert that music is an aberration, and that although Bach and Beethoven are very impressive, one is better off without a musical sense. Attractive and amusing as David Hume was, did he confront the complexities of human existence as deeply as his contemporary Samuel Johnson, and did I really find him as interesting?

Watching a whole cluster of friends, and my own mother, die over quite a short space of time convinced me that purely materialist “explanations” for our mysterious human existence simply won’t do – on an intellectual level. The phenomenon of language alone should give us pause. A materialist Darwinian was having dinner with me a few years ago and we laughingly alluded to how, as years go by, one forgets names. Eager, as committed Darwinians often are, to testify on any occasion, my friend asserted: “It is because when we were simply anthropoid apes, there was no need to distinguish between one another by giving names.”

This credal confession struck me as just as superstitious as believing in the historicity of Noah’s Ark. More so, really.

Do materialists really think that language just “evolved”, like finches’ beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where’s the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of a single sentence, let alone the whole grammatical mystery which has engaged Chomsky and others in our lifetime and linguists for time out of mind? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena – of which love and music are the two strongest – which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits.

For a few years, I resisted the admission that my atheist-conversion experience had been a bit of middle-aged madness. I do not find it easy to articulate thoughts about religion. I remain the sort of person who turns off Thought for the Day when it comes on the radio. I am shy to admit that I have followed the advice given all those years ago by a wise archbishop to a bewildered young man: that moments of unbelief “don’t matter”, that if you return to a practice of the faith, faith will return.

When I think about atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like people who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love. It is not that (as they believe) they have rumbled the tremendous fraud of religion – prophets do that in every generation. Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on something that is not difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is too obvious to understand; obvious, as lovers feel it was obvious that they should have come together, or obvious as the final resolution of a fugue.

I haven’t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God “a category mistake”. Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings. Turn to the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge – “Read the first chapter of Genesis without prejudice and you will be convinced at once . . . ‘The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’.” And then Coleridge adds: “‘And man became a living soul.’ Materialism will never explain those last words.”

From: William Thompson <>
Date: May 22, 2012 9:32:12 AM PDT
To: “Fr. Paul Waisanen” <>
Subject: Re: Orthodox Wisdom

Beatitudes: The Words of life as Communion with God

Beatitudes: Logoi (words) of life in Communion with God, the logoi of prayer and living with God.

Matt 4:23-5: 13    And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 …. 25 Great multitudes followed Him — from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.  Chapt 5 And seeing the multitudes, (Jesus) went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor (beggars) in spirit,                                   For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

A beggar doesn’t claim any rights, he or she just asks for mercy.   This is the foundation of prayer.  God is worshipped in spirit and truth as God, honored as the Lord of Heaven and Earth and of the Living and the Dead.

Rom 11:33-12:1               “33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!   34 For who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has become His counselor?”     35 Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”   36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

The first beatitude expresses the subjective side of man’s relation to the Ultimate reality of God’s will which is behind everything.  Behind God’s will is only the Unknowable God, who fills all things.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,                                       For they shall be comforted.

Conquer anger by mourning.  Jesus confirmed that we ought to love God with the whole of our being, heart, soul, mind, and strength.  God cares about His world and every person in it.  When things are wrong with His world God is angry, but He is angry with an absolute knowledge of the sources of what is wrong.  He is angry at evil, but He wants to save His work which He saw from the beginning as being very good.  When man through his use of freedom (the gnomic will) participates in evil, God hates the evil but loves His work of fully functioning humanity.  It can be redeemed, so God wants us, not to be angry, but to mourn in regard to evil.  Our Lord expresses anger in virtue of being the Messiah, prophet, priest and king as seen in Matthew 23, and in overturning the money changers in John 2.  Parents may express anger in their role as parents and civil authorities can do so as powers that be that are ordained of God.  Those who use anger will answer to God in the way they used it.  When in doubt mourn.

As  the salt of the earth and light of the world,  we are beggars in spirit, we have His permission to mourn over the participation of God’s wonderful work in evil, whether it is our own fall into evil or that of other humans.   When we become angry we are assuming God’s authority.  If God has not given us this responsibility, anger becomes arbitrary and is under God’s judgment.

The Bible is full of this sort of mourning.  The Holy Prophet Jeremiah expresses mourning, not only in the book after his name, but also the book of Lamentations.  The Apostle says in 2 Cor 7:10,   “10  For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.   Ps 34:17-19,  The righteous cry, and the Lord hears, and delivers  them out of all their troubles.  18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

Isa 57:15,  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.  KJV

5 Blessed are the meek,                                                    For they shall inherit the earth.

Accepting and learning from God’s control over all your circumstances.

A big part of Israel’s experience was the forty years of learning in the wilderness.   Moses said, “   Deut 8:1-5,  “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you. NKJV
The word for “meek” means having an openness to learning, the way of the disciple.  In this the follower of God sees the hand of God in his or her concrete circumstances.  The principles of revelation are practical.  They are the way of living and learning in your world, which is God’s world.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,      For they shall be filled.

The will of God is the Source, Support and End of righteousness.  Righteousness is the way man is meant to live in God’s plan of blessing for man.  This word covers Holy Love in Christ.  It is God’s righteousness as opposed to  autonomous way of living.

Matt 7:21-22   “Not everyone who says to Me,’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

1 John 2:15-17   Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.     So  Prov 14:12  “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The entire book of Romans is about righteousness.   The eighth chapter says that the way of the law could not produce God’s righteousness because of the weakness of the flesh.  Mankind without Pentecost was shown the way of righteousness.  We still call the Old Testament faithful, “the righteous.” They were seekers of God’s righteousness but lacked the full power of the Holy Spirit as Paul explains in Romans 8.

In the Old Testament we hear. Prov 16:6,   “In mercy and truth (like love and holiness), Atonement is provided for iniquity;  And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.”  The Old Testament way is an icon, looking forward to Christ where such a life becomes more possible in and through Christ’s Holy Mysteries.

Rom 3:21-26,  But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just(Holy) and (through Love on the Cross) the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is applied in Holy Baptism and the Holy Mysteries to the one who ”in the fear of God  faith and love draws near.”  The way of the Sacraments is the way of God’s righteousness, the way of Holy Love, the way of the Church.

7 Blessed are the merciful,                                                For they shall obtain mercy.

The Holy Scriptures bring Holiness and love together.  In the life of the Church the faithful are renewed regularly into the way of righteousness, but immediately we are reminded of this being the way of mercy.  We are to remain in mercy.  Failure to be merciful to those who offend us is to step away from God’s mercy for us.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,                                        For they shall see God.

When Our Lord shows us the way of mercy He immediately protects us from slipping into slavery to the passions from the world by slipping into an independent use of our will, the gnomic will.  Here we apply the teaching of the Fathers to watch for passionate thoughts that urge us toward finding our meaning in the pleasures of this small world.  God’s world is infinite and eternal and full of abundant life.

John 1:5, And the Word became 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.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,                                      For they shall be called sons of God.

2 Cor 5:17-19  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

The radical middle is the way of peace and reconciliation.  The muddled middle is the way of confusions and strife and warfare.  We call all men to the peace of Christ in the life of the Church.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   NKJV

This way of life is a way of suffering and rejection by the world and love in the Church.

John 15:19-25  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  20 Remember the word that I said to you,’A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.  22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.  23 He who hates Me hates My Father also.  24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.  25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

So Our Lord says of both the beggar in the spirit and the persecuted, “of them is the kingdom of God.”