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For more than twenty years, Maria Paula Acuna has claimed to see the Virgin Mary, once a month, at a place called Our Lady of the Rock in the Mojave Desert of California. Hundreds of men, women, and children follow her into the desert to watch her see what they cannot. While she sees and speaks with the Virgin, onlookers search the skies for signs from heaven, snapping photographs of the sun and sky. Not all of them are convinced that Maria Paula can see the Virgin, yet at each vision event they watch for subtle clues to Mary's presence, such as the unexpected scent of roses or a cloud in the shape of an angel. The visionary depends on her audience to witness and authenticate her visions, while observers rely on Maria Paula and the Virgin to create a sacred space and moment where they, too, can experience firsthand one of the oldest and most fundamental promises of Christianity: direct contact with the divine. Together, visionary and witnesses negotiate and enact their monthly liturgy of revelations. Our Lady of the Rock, which features text by Lisa M. Bitel and more than sixty photographs by Matt Gainer, shows readers what happens in the Mojave Desert each month and tells us how two thousand years of Christian revelatory tradition prepared Maria Paula and her followers to meet in the desert. Based on six years of observation and interviews, chapters analyze the rituals, iconographies, and physical environment of Our Lady of the Rock. Bitel and Gainer also provide vivid portraits of the pilgrims-who they are, where they come from, and how they practice the traditional Christian discernment of spirits and visions. Our Lady of the Rock follows three pilgrims as they return home with relics and proofs of visions where, out of Maria Paula's sight, they too have learned to see the Virgin. The book also documents the public response from the Catholic Church and popular news media to Maria Paula and other contemporary visionaries. Throughout, Our Lady of the Rock locates Maria Paula and her followers in the context of recent demographic and cultural shifts in the American Southwest, the astonishing increase in reported apparitions and miracles from around the world, the latest developments in communications and visual technologies, and the never-ending debate among academics, faith leaders, scientists, and citizen observers about sight, perception, reason, and belief.
A concise and illuminating introduction to the elusive Thomas Aquinas, the man and the saint Leaving so few traces of himself behind, Thomas Aquinas seems to defy the efforts of the biographer. Highly visible as a public teacher, preacher, and theologian, he nevertheless has remained nearly invisible as man and saint. What can be discovered about Thomas Aquinas as a whole? In this short, compelling portrait, Denys Turner clears away the haze of time and brings Thomas vividly to life for contemporary readers-those unfamiliar with the saint as well as those well acquainted with his teachings. Building on the best biographical scholarship available today and reading the works of Thomas with piercing acuity, Turner seeks the point at which the man, the mind, and the soul of Thomas Aquinas intersect. Reflecting upon Thomas, a man of Christian Trinitarian faith yet one whose thought is grounded firmly in the body's interaction with the material world, a thinker at once confident in the powers of human reason and a man of prayer, Turner provides a more detailed human portrait than ever before of one of the most influential philosophers and theologians in all of Western thought.
In the late sixteenth century, after the Council of Trent and the Catholic Reformation, the confessional became a key means to improve morals and religious life - and, for the Catholic clergy of New Spain, a new avenue through which they might reach the consciences of Spaniards and improve their treatment of indigenous peoples. To this end, the bishops of the province of Mexico drafted a directorio in 1585 to guide the priesthood in fulfilling its duty according to current ecclesiastical ideals and social realities. That document, published here in English for the first time, offers an unrivaled view of the religious, social, and economic history of colonial Mexico. Though never widely circulated, the Directorio para confesores (Directory for Confessors) contains an encyclopedic description of life in Mexico three generations after the European invasion. In addition to summarizing sixteenth-century Spanish concerns in the provinces, the Directory offers insight into the Catholic Church's moral judgments on many aspects of colonial life. Translated by distinguished scholar Stafford Poole, the document embodies a remarkable knowledge of scripture and law and reflects the concerns of the Spanish crown and what was happening in New Spain. The Directory instructs its clergy audience in the proper methods to combat superstition among the Spaniards, helps them navigate the variety of business contracts used in Creole society at the time, and details the obligations of those in various social stations, from viceroys to tavern keepers. It also condemns the forced labor of native people under the repartimiento system, especially in the mines. Rendered in clear prose and illuminated with helpful introductory chapters by Poole and John F. Schwaller, extensive annotations, and a glossary of terms, this volume offers unparalleled insights into life and thought in sixteenth-century New Spain.
In his day, John Wesley offered important insights on how to obtain knowledge of God that readily bears fruit in our own times. As premiere Wesleyan scholar William Abraham shows, Wesley's most famous spiritual experience is rife with philosophical significance and implications. Throughout, Abraham brings Wesley's works into fruitful conversation with some of the most important work in contemporary epistemology. Lyrically and succinctly he explores the simultaneous epistemological quest and spiritual pilgrimage that were central to Wesley and the Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century. In so doing, he provides a learned and eye-opening meditation upon the relationship between reason and faith.
Magnificent full-color book about the Saints, featuring a brief bio and full-page illus tration of each Saint. Spanish version of popular English edition.
Roger Grainger has addressed an issue which he is well versed in and has written some books on it in past. This study, however, is extremely relevant since it has been done specifically from a perspective of the Church of England. Although a lot has been written on small groups in the United States, and elsewhere, the focus of the present study is unique and will be an asset not only to the Church of England in the United Kingdom but also, as one commentator has written, "to the entire Christian Fraternity on the issue of Group Learning". The basic premise is that a more experimental approach to Group Work might usefully be adopted. The Bible provides evidence in both the Old and New Testaments of the awareness involved in group belonging. Within the UK the Church of England concentrates its congregational training in one kind group-based format: process evangelism'. But this format neglects more experiential and less directive kinds of group work, which may more effectively educate church members in Christian belonging. In order to discover how different groupwork structures affect learning, three different group formats -- one directive and two experiential -- are compared on a longitudinal basis. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis the principal themes emerging from members' self-reports of the different structures reveal four value constructs which play a dominant role in all three kinds of group but with respective prominences and potential enrichments. The practical significance of this for Christian group work -- and for religious education in general -- is considered, arriving at a strategy for congregational training applicable to the church as a whole.
There has been an explosion of interest in wisdom literature, and many studies are now available. There is every opportunity for people to 'get wisdom, get insight' (Prov. 4:5). However, in today's world it seems that the practical sensibilities that come from wisdom are found in very few places. Wisdom literature is needed now more than ever. By walking in the way of wisdom we will 'find favour and good success in the sight of God and man' (Prov. 3:4). Richard Belcher's valuable study begins with a survey of the problem of wisdom literature in Old Testament theology. Subsequent chapters focus on the message and theology of the books of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. These books point forward to the need for Christ and the gospel. Belcher concludes by exploring the relationship of Christ to wisdom in terms of his person, work and teaching ministry.
How to Be a Christian brings together the best of Lewis's insights on Christian practice and its expression in our daily lives. Cultivated from his many essays, articles, and letters, as well as his classic works. From the revered teacher and best-selling author of such classic Christian works as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters comes a collection that gathers the best of C. S. Lewis's practical advice on how to embody a Christian life. The most famous adherent and defender of Christianity in the twentieth century, C. S. Lewis has long influenced our perceptions and understanding of the faith. More than fifty years after his death, Lewis's arguments remain extraordinarily persuasive because they originate from his deep insights into the Christian life itself. Only an intellectual of such profound faith could form such cogent and compelling reasons for its truth. By provoking readers to more carefully ponder their faith, How to Be a Christian can help readers forge a deeper understanding of their personal beliefs and what is means to be a Christian, and strengthen their profound relationship with God.
Set alongside his first encyclical God Is Love (Deus Caritas Est) where he stressed the relationship between the Eucharist and love, The Sacrament of Charity picks up that theme and expands it as he explores the mystery of eucharistic faith and how it reveals the mystery of the Trinity. Released on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Holy Father examines the important relationship between the Eucharist and the other sacraments, including the sacrament of the Church. He also highlights the social implications of the Eucharist and firmly connects it with the Church's social teaching.
For years, we have learned principles of individual spiritual warfare. Yet as the end times are upon us, the forces of darkness are intensifying their attacks around the world. For this next season, says renowned prophetic leader Dr. Bill Hamon, we as the church must up the ante and learn to fight on a higher level than we ever have, in corporate spiritual warfare. With wisdom, urgency, and keen prophetic insight, Hamon lays the biblical foundation for this final level of warfare and shows how we, as the church, can prepare to work in unity to become the army of the Lord. He lays out the weapons available to us in this new battle front and reveals a plan for destroying the works of the devil and advancing God's kingdom on earth. Now is the time to rise up, fight back together, and secure the ultimate victory in Christ.
Many Christians believe our future in heaven is all that really matters. But that's not what the Bible teaches. In this six-session small group Bible study, Surprised by Hope, premier Bible scholar N. T. Wright brings you inside the Scriptures to grasp the full, breathtaking hope Jesus offers the world, and its impact on your life today. Gain an exciting new vision for your life on earth in light of your future in heaven. Wonderful as is the promise of heaven, a glorious hereafter is just part of what salvation is about. What about today? Jesus called his followers the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Your life here and now is of tremendous consequence, and what you believe about the future has a direct impact on how you live in the present. In six transforming, faith-inspiring sessions, premiere biblical scholar N. T. Wright opens your eyes to the amazing full scope of what God's Word has to say about the world to come and the world that is. Filled with discussion questions, thoughts for reflection, and ideas for personal application, this study guide will help you get the most out of each session as you explore such questions as What is heaven really like? Is our main duty as Christians simply to help non-Christians get there? What hope does the gospel hold for this present life? In what ways does God intend for us to experience that hope personally and spread its healing power to the world around us? Surprised by Hope provides a clearer vision both of the future and of God's kingdom at hand today. This Participant Guide is designed for use with the companion Surprised by Hope DVD (sold separately) and provides individual and group activities, additional background material, and between-session personal studies that will enhance your experience of the video sessions. Sessions include: 1. Hope for the World2. The Hope of the Resurrection 3. The Hope of Heaven 4. The Hope of Jesus Second Coming5. The Hope of Salvation 6. The Hope of the Church"
Five hundred years ago, a Catholic monk nailed a list of grievances on the door of a church in Germany and launched a revolution in the history of Christianity. Today there continues to be a number of unresolved issues between the Protestant and Catholic churches, and many experience this ongoing division within their family and among friends and neighbors.Written in an accessible and informative style, Gregg Allison and Chris Castaldo provide a brief and clear guide to the key points of unity and divergence between Protestants and Catholics today. They write to encourage fruitful conversation about the key theological and sociological differences between the two largest branches of Christianity.From the revolutionary events 500 years ago that sparked the Reformation to today, Unfinished Reformation takes a nuanced and thoughtful look at doctrine, practice, and how Protestants and Catholics can have fruitful discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The only true and unedited telling of the life of Christ--his life and times, in historical context, but not lacking the psychology behind his physical being and spirit. Unlike other books seeking to strip Jesus' story to reveal only the human being, Romano Guardini's "The Lord" gives the complete story of Jesus Christ--as man, Holy Ghost, "and" Creator. Pope Benedict XVI lauds Guardini's work as providing a full understanding of the Son of God, away from the prejudice that rationality engenders. Put long-held myths aside and discover the "entire" truth about God's only begotten Son.
The holy has been defined existentially and sociologically, and churches too often allow their expectations regarding holiness to be prompted by existential aspirations or the social mores of the Christian community. Perhaps it is not surprising that many view holiness as accidental or expendable, even as a legalistic and conformist posture opposed to the freedom of the gospel. But sanctification is one of the gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so we must think about the way in which he makes his redeemed holy as a grace. Sanctification, the latest volume in the New Studies in Dogmatics series, patiently defines holiness in theological terms by tending to its connections with core Christian doctrines such as the character of God, the nature of creation, and the covenantal shape of life with God. It then considers the ways in which the gospel of Jesus not only prompt us to holy action but provides holiness as one of its blessings. Finally, it attends to the ways in which the gift of sanctification relates to various human instruments and means, so that we can appreciate its connection to human nature, creaturely responsibility, and the pedagogy of exemplars and of law. Sanctification offers a Christ-centered account of sanctification by viewing the doctrine within its wider canonical and creedal context, hoping to bring its distinctly Christian definition and thoroughly gracious character into greater relief. New Studies in Dogmatics seeks to retrieve the riches of Christian doctrine for the sake of contemporary theological renewal. Following in the tradition of G. C. Berkouwer's Studies in Dogmatics, this series will provide thoughtful, concise, and readable treatments of major theological topics, expressing the biblical, creedal, and confessional shape of Christian doctrine for a contemporary evangelical audience. The editors and contributors share a common conviction that the way forward in constructive systematic theology lies in building upon the foundations laid in the church's historic understanding of the Word of God as professed in its creeds, councils, and confessions, and by its most trusted teachers.
Who is the Holy Spirit? What is his role in our salvation? How do we cooperate with him to experience the fullness of his presence? How do we receive his fruits and exercise his gifts? These are a few of the questions explored in this nine-week Bible study, which is designed to help Catholics grow in their appreciation of the Holy Spirit and his power to transform their lives in Christ. The many relevant Scripture passages, combined with wisdom from the saints, the Catechism, and church tradition, make this a truly inspired Bible study.
In recent years, martyrdom and political violence have been conflated in the public imagination. Ruben Rosario Rodriguez argues that martyr narratives deserve consideration as resources for resisting political violence in contemporary theological reflection. Underlying the three Abrahamic monotheistic traditions is a shared belief that God requires liberation for the oppressed, justice for the victims and, most demanding of all, love for the political enemy. Christian, Jewish and Muslim martyr narratives that condone political violence - whether terrorist or state-sponsored - are examined alongside each religion's canon, in order to evaluate how central or marginalized these discourses are within their respective traditions. Primarily a work of Christian theology in conversation with Judaism and Islam, this book aims to model religious pluralism and cooperation by retrieving distinctly Christian sources that nurture tolerance and facilitate coexistence, while respecting religious difference.
The concept of providence is embedded in the life and theology of the church. Its uses are frequent and varied in understandings of politics, nature, and individual life-stories. Parallels can be discerned in other faiths. In this volume, David Fergusson traces the development of providential ideas at successive periods in church history. These include the early appropriation of Stoic and Platonic ideas, the codification of providence in the Middle Ages, its foregrounding in Reformed theology, and its secular applications in the modern era. Responses to the Lisbon earthquake (1755) provide an instructive case study. Although confidence in divine providence was shaken after 1914, several models were advanced during the twentieth century. Drawing upon this diversity of approaches, Fergusson offers a chastened but constructive account for the contemporary church. Arguing for a polyphonic approach, he aims to distribute providence across all three articles of the faith.
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