Posted in theology

The Mystics #3: Hildegard of Bingen

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
Julian of Norwich
 (1343 – after 1416) Book: The Showings of Divine Love
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Book: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). Book: Scivias
Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303 – 1373) Book: Celestial Revelations

If you ever feel like you haven’t accomplished much, then definitely do not read about Hildegard von Bingen’s life!

Hildegard and her nuns. Unknown artist

Overview of Hildegard’s life: Wikipedia: She “was a German Benedictine abbess and polymath active as a writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary, and as a medical writer and practitioner during the High Middle Ages. She is one of the best-known composers of sacred monophony, as well as the most recorded in modern history. She has been considered by many in Europe to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. … There are more surviving chants by Hildegard than by any other composer from the entire Middle Ages, and she is one of the few known composers to have written both the music and the words. One of her works, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play. She is also noted for the invention of a constructed language known as Lingua Ignota.” She also was elected Mother Superior of her abbey and founded two monasteries.

A polymath is defined as “a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.”

Wow! A superstar. A Renaissance woman before the Renaissance happened!

Just as with Catherine of Siena and Julian of Norwich, these women expressed themselves through their various talents and became famous for them, but the part of Hildegard’s life that I’m interested in is her visions and her theology.

As with most female ‘visionaries’ AKA women who had visions allegedly from God, Hildegard “refused to be defined by the patriarchal hierarchy of the church and, although she abided by its strictures, pushed the established boundaries for women almost past their limits.” (Source).

Almost a thousand years later, this is familiar territory.

Hildegard was born to wealthy parents in rural Germany. When she was three she later claimed that she had seen a vision of an unearthly light. Her nanny had seen nothing then or had seen anything unusual other times when Hildegard asked, so Hildegard remained silent about these visionary occurrences through the years.

As a young woman she became an anchoress, enclosed in a cell attached to a church or monastery so she could study in solitude. Her meals were given through a small window or grill. Enclosed at that time was a woman named Jutta. Jutta was just a few years older than Hildegard and Jutta took Hildegard under her wing. Jutta was charismatic, known for holiness and wisdom and so, gained a reputation. People came to see her. Her wisdom far exceeded locals and people from all ranks came to visit Jutta. At the end of her life, Jutta claimed a vision from a dead saint, Oswald, who came to tell her the end was near.

When Jutta died, at age 43 Hildegard became abbess. She still had been having visions but still kept them a secret. Until…now out from under Jutta’s shadow, Hildegard announced she had been having visions too. She started journaling these messages she was receiving. Below is a pre-Renaissance painting of Hildegard receiving a vision from heaven.

Why study scripture when it can be dropped right into your brain?

She recorded 26 total visions, put them together and called them Scivias. In 1147 the Pope declared them important and genuine. The visions seemed to coincide at the same time as her recurring bouts of dreadful illnesses.  The opinion seems to be divided as to whether Hildegard’s visions were the result of migraines or epilepsy or both. Classical migraines include seeing stars, bright lights, geometric shapes, fortification images, and her many of her visions contained those same migranous elements.

Hildegard’s theology contained characteristics that today we see as heretical. (The Catholic church itself is heretical so it is no wonder they confirmed it rather than rejected). Though, even the National Catholic Register (NCR) says that Hildegard was so far afield from the hierarchy of the church it took 800 years before they even investigated whether she should be made a saint.

Hildegard believed, according to the NCR: “There exists in the inner being of God an almost erotic balance of feminine and masculine, which is mirrored in the complementary relationship of men and women. Since Jesus took his body from a woman, it is woman rather than man who best represents the humanity of the Son of God.” (Source).

No. God revealed Himself as male, as Father, but not woman or mother.

Hildegard taught that ‘menstruation does not render a woman unclean, but the shedding of blood in war certainly renders a soldier unclean’ which is not what scripture says.

In another vision, Hildegard saw ‘God’ and His creation in the shape of an egg. “The firmament in the likeness of an egg and what it signifies: For this vast instrument, round and shadowed, in the shape of an egg, small at the top, large in the middle and narrowed at the bottom, faithfully shows Omnipotent God” and the vision goes on with further descriptions. Yet the Bible declares God is spirit. He is not egg, not oval.

In a sense, St. Hildegard of Bingen could be considered a 12th-century combination of Joan Chittister, Hillary Clinton and Joan Baez.

National Catholic Register

Being likened to Hillary Clinton is not a compliment.

In one of her visions, Hildegard claimed the Lord said, “I saw a great splendor, in which a voice came from heaven saying to me: ‘O weak mortal, both ash of ash and rottenness of rottenness, say and write what you see and hear.” That language is similar to the language Jesus used when He told John to write down what he saw and heard, (Revelation 1:19), so we can say that Hildegard was writing scripture. How can it not be scripture? The Lord orders the woman to write, she is doing so in authority of His dictum.

She said she was “directed toward the revealing of hidden things“. But all has already been revealed that God wanted revealed. Not only ‘it is finished’ but the canon itself is finalized and had been prior to Hildegard’s lifetime. (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1:1-2).

Hildegard became famous for her visions and was known as “The Sibyl Of The Rhine” uttering heavenly oracles.

Hildegard was a music composer. Her music has stood the test of time. Her chants were unlike others, in that since she knew no Latin, she was unrestricted by the grammatical conventions of that taut language. Her words were more free flowing and even sensuous, using many organic metaphors in her poetical lyrics similar to the Song of Songs. Music for Hildegard was a main vehicle of connection with God and enjoying it sparked an ecstatic experience. She believed it was a direct channel from the heavenly choir above to the singer below, a connection that was lost at the Fall of Adam in the Garden and which she sought to recover. Her music to her was both a sacrament and a constant theophany, or tangible sign of the presence of God.

No, music is a command (Colossians 3:16) and a pleasure, but it is not a two way channel and it’s not to be used to evoke certain ecstatic experiences, something that is still manipulatively done to this day.

Dispensing with the scripture that says the woman should remain focused on her home duties, Hildegard went on wide-ranging speaking tours to deliver sermons to male audiences. She called for reform in the church and spoke against corruption. Women just did NOT do that in her day. But Hildegard did.

Hildegard was famous for her work not only in theology and music but also science, medicine and philosophy. Undoubtedly brilliant, yet her rebellious example of visions, usurping ecclesiastical authority, and feminism should not be followed.

Tomorrow, Bridget of Sweden.

Posted in theology

The Mystics: #2, Catherine of Siena

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
Julian of Norwich
 (1343 – after 1416) Book: The Showings of Divine Love
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Book: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). Book: Scivias
Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303 – 1373) Book: Celestial Revelations

If you’re a woman in medieval times who wants to get people to listen to you and you want to accumulate some authority or even fame, how do you do it? You claim visions.

The issue of women who claim special revelation from Christ is not a new problem. Jesus wrote against the church at Thyatira because a woman metaphorically named Jezebel was prophesying things He didn’t say and teaching falsely (the two almost always go hand in hand). In current days we have a host of women running around with claims of hearing God audibly or of receiving special and personal revelations. They get famous. They write books. They are listened to.

But in between Bible times and now, there were women in the Middle Ages who claimed to be hearing from God, too. This week I’m giving a short bio of four of the most famous mystics, along with a look at their theology. Yesterday I wrote about Julian of Norwich (England). Today I’m looking at Catherine of Siena (Italy).

There were not a whole host of careers for women in the Middle Ages. Mainly it was motherhood. Catherine of Siena’s mom gave birth to 25 children. Catherine was a twin and her sister died soon after birth. Catherine grew to be healthy. Only eleven of her siblings survived.

by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

The clergy was one profession where women had some options. They could not teach but if they’d had visions they would attain some form of notoriety and ecclesiastical authorities would pay attention. Women could become a nun, with potential for rising to level of Abbess (CEO of the cloister). They could become an anchoress, as described in the last essay, where they secluded themselves in a cell attached to a church for private contemplation and study and to occasionally dispense theological advice. Asceticism was the fastest route to fame. Catherine doubled her odds and became a visionary ascetic.

Catherine saw her first vision (allegedly) of Christ seated in glory with several of the Apostles. She was six years old. At age seven, she dedicated her life to Christ against her parents’ wishes. A rebel, now teenager Catherine refused her parents’ request to marry the widower of her sister, and she also cut off her long hair and wore ragged clothes so as to make her self less attractive as a mate. It was an ‘in your face’ move for a medieval gal. She also refused to eat. She lived in the family home, but refused to speak to them or eat at the family’s table, saying she’ll wait to eat at her real family’s table in heaven. Ouch.

St Catherine of Siena, 1888, by Alessandro Franchi (1838-1914).

Catherine experienced much grief. Her twin sister had died, her favorite older sister died in childbirth and soon she was deaf to her mother and father’s pleas to enjoy matrimony. She began a strict program of self-denial and asceticism. Catherine wore chain mail so tight it cut her hips. She refused food. She engaged in self flagellation with a whip three times a day. Giving up her bed, she traded it for a wooden bench and a stone pillow. She lost weight and became sickly. Her mother viewed it as a protracted suicide. Catherine viewed it as dedication to God.

Catherine’s refusal to eat was a medieval demonstration of holy asceticism, which some call a holy anorexia. (She did force a vomit after eating, before she quit eating altogether, except for the Eucharist). Many of the medieval mystics were “women who were both controversial and attention-grabbing in their day, and who for the most part demonstrated their holiness by fasting and starvation. In several cases, the extreme asceticism led to death” (as it did for Catherine at age 33).

She joined the Catholic order of the Third Order of St. Dominic, founded in 1216 with a purpose toward evangelism. This particular order had a level of commitment where the penitent is recognized as part of the order but they continue to function in the world. The emphasis was on ministering to the poor and the sick.

By 1300 the general altruistic fervor had dimmed and mysticism was preferred as a means of personal and theological transformation. We read that the women of the Order were at the forefront of this change. “In fact, it was often the female members of the order, such as Catherine of Siena, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Christine of Stommeln, Margaret Ebner, and Elsbet Stagl, that gained reputations for having mystical experiences.” (Source)

Catherine claimed that one of her visions was a mystical marriage to Christ. The wedding party included the Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Paul, Saint Dominic, and King David, who played his harp. She claimed that Jesus gave her her a ring that was invisible to others, but which she could see. It was supposedly part of his foreskin from his circumcision.

Alessandro Franchi and Gaetano Marinelli, The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine, 1896.

Her theology was strange in the extreme. She was hyper focused on suffering translated to joy, the Lord as Consoler, and of His blood. She dreamed of drinking His blood and fantasized over His wounds in an uncomfortably sensuous way. In another vision she ‘saw’ Christ cutting out His own heart and replacing hers with His. Pain and blood was everything to Catherine, it represented joy and health. Catherine was graphic and sensuous about these matters, but I’ll leave them here.

Her motivation was that she wanted to suffer on earth to burn off some time in the Catholic made-up location of Purgatory, and she wanted to suffer so that she could prove her loyalty to Christ, who also suffered.

At the end of her life, Catherine felt she wanted to do even more for Christ. She pleaded to Jesus to let her bear the punishment for all the sins of the world, something Christ alone accomplished and it was finished. In the end, she had a stroke, and said a short while later she felt possessed of an alien spirit not her own. Her last word was “blood!” She was 33. (b. 1347 – d. 1380).

Over her lifetime, Catherine of Siena wrote 400 letters, many of them political as she was a negotiator and an ambassador too. The Catholic Church made Catherine a Doctor of the Church, a title given by the Catholic Church to only 37 saints “recognized as having made a significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing” as the Church explains. Catherine is one of four women to be so declared. Pope Pius IX made her a patron saint of Rome. She along with Francis of Assisi are patron saints of Italy. In 1999 Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a co-patron saint of Europe.

Catherine did much for the poor and the sick, notable since the Black Plague was once again raging. However her altruistic acts came at the severe cost to her family, because she gave away their clothes and money. Without their permission.

You might think to yourself, ‘Why on earth do people praise and accept these weird women with strange tales of Christ? And praise the strange things they do in His name?’ But today, don’t we accept similar? Beth Moore brushing a strange man’s hair? Of running across the city of Houston to meet an unknown lady and give her money? Of Jennie Allen starting a movement based on a ‘voice from the sky’? Of learning where to buy a turkey?

Catherine’s theatrics, her extreme asceticism, her visions and communications from an alleged God, her strange fixation on illness and blood, her mystical marriage, were all accepted by the Catholic Church but should be rejected by right-thinking Protestants today.

Tomorrow, the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen.

Catherine’s book: The Dialogue of Divine Providence
Posted in theology

The Mystics #1: Julian of Norwich

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
Julian of Norwich
 (1343 – after 1416) Book: The Showings of Divine Love
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Book: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). Book: Scivias
Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303 – 1373) Book: Celestial Revelations

Julian of Norwich

Introduction here

Encylopedia Britannica says of Julian:

“Julian of Norwich, also called Juliana, (born 1342, probably Norwich, Norfolk, Eng.—died after 1416), celebrated mystic whose Revelations of Divine Love (or Showings) is generally considered one of the most remarkable documents of medieval religious experience. She spent the latter part of her life as a recluse at St. Julian’s Church, Norwich.”

Julian was definitely an “Influencer”. How so, you may ask, especially since she lived the greater part of her life as a recluse? She had visions, and she wrote them down. Her book of visions is considered the first book written by a woman in English.

Statue of Julian of Norwich, Norwich Cathedral, by David Holgate FSDC
(CC BY-SA 2.)

Julian was a Roman Catholic anchoress, which is a woman who secludes herself from all life secular and religious, and focuses in her solitude on experiencing the presence of God, praying, and studying. Anchorites and anchoresses usually lived in a sealed up cell attached to a church, with only a window to pass through food, or from which she would dispense advice. The other window would face inside to the church. Hermits wandered around and nuns lived with other nuns in a secluded community. All these are considered people living the monastic life, but an anchoress was the most monastic of all, and as a result in the Middle Ages was the most revered.

When she was 30 years old in 1373, Julian thought she was going to die. She was deathly ill, so ill in fact, that the priest came to administer last rites. At this moment while gazing upon the priest’s crucifix and breathing her next-to-last breath, Julian began to see things she claimed Christ “shewed” her. She called these “shewings.” She received 15 visions that evening while on her deathbed, and the 16th one the next morning. Healed now, she arose, became an anchoress, and wrote them down. She spent the rest of her life building a theology from these ‘shewings.’

Julian of Norwich, Divine Revelations, Chapt 1

Julian’s explanation of her wanting visions and even of wanting a near fatal illness was that she wanted to feel closer to God. She wanted to feel his sufferings.

Julian lived 40 more years. She later more fully described her vision of seeing Christ when she was on her deathbed. His crown of thorns was streaming blood, and His blood each drop as “big as herring’s scales”. This is suspicious because the glorified Jesus now operates as priest in heaven, his hand and side wound still visible (as he showed Thomas) but He is no longer on the cross and is no longer bleeding. He had said, “It is finished”. Catholics though, put Jesus back on the cross. They tie the crucifix symbol on Paul’s statement in the verse from 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 

As we read in Aleteia, an an online Catholic news and information website which is Pope approved:

Paul preaches Christ crucified because an empty cross has no power. The cross that bears the beaten, battered, and bloodied body of Jesus Christ, however, that cross is the “power of God”. So, we “keep Jesus on the cross” because we too preach Christ crucified.”

Julian said the Christ figure that appeared to her gave her a small nut into her hand and He said that ‘it is all that is made’. She said Christ is a mother figure, the divine feminine. She says that God is IN everything. (Panentheism). She believed the human’s true self is sinless (Pelagianism) and contains “a spark of the divine”.

“Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.”

Julian of Norwich

The Black Plague hit during Julian’s lifetime (1342-1416). It is the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history. The first wave hit in 1347-1353 and killed 75–200 million people. I can understand the attraction both from Julian and from the public that respected her, of hyper-focusing on God’s love during this tumultuous and scary time.

If you are familiar with this saying, it’s from Julian:

“All shall be well. All shall be well. All manner of thing shall be well.” 

This includes those suffering in hell. Julian claims the statement encompasses God’s finalizing things in the end that will make the statement true by addressing hell and punishment of souls, but God doesn’t share with Julian exactly how all will be well with those souls in the end.

Julian’s theology has mixed in some great and true sayings, but mixed in also were heretical things, such as the notion that sin doesn’t really exist and therefore man is not totally depraved. Julian struggled with the idea of sin and its logical consequence, hell. She was hyper-focused on God’s love, so the idea that He is angry with sinners and would punish them for all eternity was confusing to her. However, she stayed on just this side of heresy according to the (false) Roman Catholic church, and was never brought to trial (as Margery Kempe was).

The Bible does not call us to any sort of monastic life. Anchoresses would be considered dead to the world, so much so that a mass for the dead was held for them when they entered their cell to cement that fact. Yet the Bible calls for us to be IN the world. (Philippians 2:15, Mark 16:15). Secluding one’s self from all life whether in a cloistered community as nuns and monks were, or a lone person in a cell as anchorites were, in order to contemplate Christ, is the opposite of what we are called to do. We are to be a light to the lost, we are to gather with the saints, and we are to employ our spiritual gifts for the edification of the brethren. Pietistic asceticism is wrong. It’s just self-righteous legalism and not biblical.

It is sad that people, especially ecclesiastical authorities, would assign credibility to the visions of a woman who was so ill she was moments from death. They did in Julian’s day and they do today. You would think that Julian’s errors or even the fact of her visons no matter how likeable the content, would be a clue that all was not right with her. But no. In Catholicism (a false religion) Julian has a feast day. Anglicans and Lutherans commemorate Julian of Norwich. The Order of Julian of Norwich is a contemplative monastic order of the Episcopal Church. Julian and other mystics are highly regarded today by many. Feminists cling to her and Charismatics look to her.

Tomorrow we will look at another famous mystic, Catherine of Siena.

Posted in theology

The old Christian Mystics: Introduction

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
Julian of Norwich
 (1343 – after 1416) Book: The Showings of Divine Love
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Book: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). Book: Scivias
Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303 – 1373) Book: Celestial Revelations

I read a devotional by AW Tozer who I generally like, who lauded Julian of Norwich, who I don’t like. Julian, a woman, was a mystic. She lived in the 1300s and claimed to have had extensive audible experiences with God. When a fairly credible person like Tozer quotes a totally non-credible person like Julian, things get confusing.

I also wrote the other day about the two things in Christianity that really bug me: heavenly tourism (where people claimed to have been lifted to heaven and walked around touring the place), and direct revelations from God.

When the Tozer issue came up the other day I got to thinking how the problem of direct revelation certainly isn’t new. Mystics have always populated the faith. We read of Jesus chastising the church at Thyatira and calling out the metaphorically named Jezebel for prophesying things He never said. (Revelation 2:20).

After the Fall, God cursed the woman with wanting to usurp her husband, we’ve had it in us ever since. We want to usurp our husbands, our pastors, and God’s word.

I’ve written frequently about the of female usurpation vs. female contentment in our roles. I’ve also written about specific women’s claims of direct revelation (Jackie Hill Perry, Beth Moore, Joanna Gaines, Sarah Young, Jennie Allen, Priscilla Shirer etc).

But did you know in the medieval era there was a whole cottage industry of women cementing their place as prophetesses? These women claimed constant, deep, and frequent revelation from God. They wrote their revelations down and they personally, and their books, became famous. We can read them to this day. Julian of Norwich was one of the most famous of these prophetesses, the one Tozer quoted. Others were Catherine of Siena, Birgitta (Bridget) of Sweden, and Hildegard of Bingen. Their “contributions” to the faith were not solely restricted to writings, because these women also shaped art and music of their day and to this day. It’s safe to say they were medieval “Influencers”!

Clockwise: top left, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, Bridget of Sweden, and Hildegard of Bingen

This week I’m going to explore each of these women who were so vastly influential. I’ll take a look at their most popular ‘visions’ and revelations.

A few years ago I read Memoirs of a Medieval Woman by Margery Kempe, translated by Louise Collis. It’s hilarious, packed full of history, and gives a wonderful context for all this mystical, ecstatic revelation from these more famous mystical women whom Margery emulated and competitively tried to surpass. She is today acknowledged as a mystic in the Anglican church but not canonized as a Catholic saint. Margery lived at the end of the 1300s into the early 1400s. She actively sought to become famous through revelations, similar to today when less famous women wanting to elevate their platform, then emulate the famous influencers.

Margery was pretty insufferable, even her traveling companions along the way on their pilgrimage to the Holy Land tried to dump her again and again. Margery had 14 children and was married, but still decided she had to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. That was the thing of the day back in Medieval times, mysticism and pilgrimages. Though admittedly it was unusual for a wife and mother to gallivant off to faraway lands by herself, but that was Margery!

It just goes to show, that from the start women sought places the Bible denied them, that the more accepted or popular bad examples of females in unbiblical roles will always stand as an inspiration for other sinful women coming up to follow in their footsteps, and that having a weak and unassertive husband more easily allows a wife to go off the rails in many different ways (as Margery’s husband was and did).

So take a trip with me this week looking at famous mystics Julian, Catherine, Hildegard, and Bridget, so that when someone like Tozer or someone else quotes them, you will know not to absorb the material, but reject it. I’m also hoping to achieve the goal of showing that female mysticism is nothing new, because sin is nothing new. You know what’s coming next:

What has been, it is what will be,
And what has been done, it is what will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

So stay tuned this week for “Female Mystics Week”!

Posted in theology

Prata Potpourri: 2nd Commandment, JHP, Costi on Quiet Time, Dear Woke Christian v. Julie Roys, more

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

I updated my essay on The History of Quiet Time by adding this excellent 3-minute video of Costi Hinn explaining what Quiet Time IS. This is so good!

My essay “Why John MacArthur was right to say “Go Home” about Beth Moore” gained some attention and significant retweets. There is still a lot of interest in Beth Moore and of John MacArthur due to scandal reporters making up stuff about him, sadly.

It’s just a fact that discernment posts get more views than theology posts or encouragement posts. That is the way of it. And this holds true for a recent post I did on Jackie Hill Perry: Jackie Hill Perry rejects discernment talk about her false prophesying

Jason Whitaker AKA Dear Woke Christian has been focused lately in his ministry on reviewing scandal whipper-upper Julie Roys’ book, “Redeeming the Feminine Soul”. He found little Bible in it and a twisting of gender roles so as to be an unfit, unqualified, and an unbiblical tome to be avoided. He’s an insightful fellow and respectful in his approach to discernment as well as theology in general. I recommend him. He tweeted the following which I found funny:

Dear Woke Christian @MrJwhit
I like the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Someone told me they’ve made too many F&F movies. I told them that I would consider it when there are as many F&F movies as
@reachjulieroys articles on JMac. In the mean time pass the popcorn.
8:14 AM · May 1, 2022

It’s in reference to the fact that Roys has written to date at least 48 article against John MacArthur, Grace Community Church, or The Master’s Seminary. A lot. Some might even say this has become an obsession. Me. It’s me. I’d say that.

Maybe it’s time I catch up on the F&F franchise of movies…there are 9 now, right?

By the way, The BTWN guy (Tim Hurd) presented a short clip of John MacArthur from yesterday’s sermon, of which JMac providentially was in Ephesians 4:25-32. JMac answered about his online attackers citing also Romans 12, ‘Bless those who persecute you’ and Hebrews 10:30, ‘vengeance is mine’. As Tim said, “Much wisdom here.”

25Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:25-32)

Speaking of reporters who aren’t reporters, it’s easy to appear credentialed or to actually be credentialed, to write or speak in such a way as to confirm that credibility, but still be opposed to all that Christ stands for. That is where discernment comes in. Sometimes it’s hard to know who is telling the truth, but the Bible informs our conscience, our attitudes, and His word hones our discernment radar. So does prayer. Don’t forget prayer when you’re trying to work through an issue.

On another topic, I’ve been fascinated with Chris Koelle’s rendition of the book of Revelation since it came out in 2012. It’s a graphic novel, using all the scriptures and arranging them in order. I’m uncomfortable with monkeying with scripture and confused on the Second Commandment. So I’ve held off on reading it or looking at it until I gain clarity on the issue.

This morning I listened to a FANTASTIC podcast from Scott Aniol explaining why pictures of God, the Trinity, or heaven, whether the pictures are still or moving (i.e. TV/Movies) actually harm’s one’s ability to understand God and are forbidden in the Commandment for a reason. He uses the current popular movie, The Chosen, to make his point, but the point is well taken for all images of the Trinity. His explanation, so clear and helpful is here-

Don’t give in and watch The Chosen. Your imagination will forever be shaped by the visceral potency of a cinematic interpretation of Bible narratives, and it will therefore be much more difficult to allow the words of Scripture to shape your imagination.  God gave us words. Scott Aniol explains why using any visual images of the triune God is harmful to truly knowing and loving God.By the Waters of Babylon podcast, Scott Aniol

I can’t say enough how good and clear Aniol’s half hour was. I’m going to listen to it again, actually!

I translate my written blog essays into a podcast. It’s on Anchor and elsewhere. I started doing that last April, so it’s just been a year. I’m blessed to say that I’m coming up on 100,000 plays. Thank you! If you don’t have time to read essays then take a listen on Anchor, Google Plays, PocketCast, RadioPublic, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes etc

Posted in poetry, theology

Kay Cude poetry: God’s Draw

Poetry by Kay Cude. Kay Cude is a Texas poet. Used with permission.

The following is the Artist’s Statement.

The credit for the direction of my thoughts and words is not mine. I account it to the merciful pricking of my spirit as well as the instruction available to all of the redeemed through God’s great men of sound Biblical doctrine, unshakable faith, and enduring conviction, past and present.

We know that the redeemed of God through Christ are the beloved, but our hope, desire, and urge to live for His Glory while living in Satan’s economy (which is temporary) is oftentimes exhausting. This war, now heightened and intensified during these end of days, will continue up to the moment we see Christ Jesus face-to-Face. Until then, some of us may wander towards (or in) “a” wilderness that is connected to our trials. Some of us will encounter despondency, loss, or worse. Yet we know and believe that God and Christ are faithful to rescue the redeemed out of those wilderness episodes.

I am so grateful He has purposed them to be instruction that opens our eyes and ears and leads us to repentance and/or greater understanding. It is from there that we can gain purposeful insight and maturity in Him. Surely all of the redeemed agree; for we know that we cannot live without God, nor do we wish to. We need and desire our Saviour to work in our hearts, life-experiences, and circumstances hour-by-hour and day-by-day. This sentiment is deeply indwelt truth that resides within the very core of the spirits of “we,” the redeemed of Christ.

Finally, when any of us go through “wanderings,” and when we “bump” into the profoundly lost or into fellow brethren who are also in the distress of wandering, we want the evidence of God’s drawing us back to Him through instruction, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation to be the hope and evidence of God’s grace and mercy to rescue “whosoever” to repentance that lead to salvation, or to the redeemed’s restoration to fellowship with the Father and the Son.

May the Lord our God use all “wanderings” as a powerful testimony of how great is the draw of God and how profound Christ’s rescue, for the lost and for the saved.

WANDERING IN THE WILDERNESS
right-click to open larger in new tab
Posted in theology

There are two things that drive me crazy

By Elizabeth Prata

OK, there’s more than two but I’m talking not about life’s pet peeves, but doctrinal, theological error that seem to gall me more than others. Doctrinal error is a problem and in my portion, there are two particular ones that are upsetting to my heart.

I get upset with women claiming they have these conversations with God. When you do that, you immediately declare the Bible INsufficient for all edification and good works, contrary to what the Bible actually says, which is that it’s perfectly sufficient. (2 Timothy 3:16).

When I come across people who say they have been transported to heaven and back, given tours, spoken with relatives and with Jesus, it is highly upsetting to me. This is doctrinal error and a demonic delusion.

No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. (John 3:13)

Who has ascended to heaven and come down? (Proverbs 30:4a)

Only Paul, John, Isaiah, and Ezekiel were given a view of heaven. Only three of those men wrote about what they saw, with Paul saying it is unlawful for a man to go on about it. Isaiah, Ezekiel and John were given permission to write about what they saw.

Yet all these people claimed to go to heaven and be given personal tours by Jesus or their grandfather or an angel or they just strolled admiring everything. Worship seemed absent in these recountings.

And as for God calling down from heaven to assure some of these women that yes they will be successful in TV, or that they ARE enough, or whisper sweet nothings…it just galls me. Not because I’m “jealous” as critics like to lob, but because it’s unbiblical. Unbiblical things lead people astray. It’s terrible when people go astray because of supposed leaders teaching error. I don’t like it.

So I fixed it.

Left photo from Amazon.com
Left photo from Amazon.com
Left photo from Amazon.com
Left photo from Amazon.com

No I didn’t fix it really, lol. But I wanted to do this so I could make the statement that though the Bible records real heavenly visits and conversations with God, in these days they are not happening and if someone claims otherwise, it’s unbiblical. And, I wanted to offer some biblical resources to help clear up confusion on these issues.

If you have any questions or need more resources, just comment below or send a message from the contact page.

Blessings, sisters!

Answers in Genesis: Are Visits to Heaven Real?

Justin Peters: YOUR BEST AFTERLIFE NOW: An Examination and Critique of Claimed Visits to Heaven and Hell

Desiring God: Don’t Say God Is Silent with Your Bible Closed

Cameron Buettel: The Lord Told Me

Posted in theology

Why the Jennifer Buck issue is a watershed moment for the SBC

By Elizabeth Prata

We are looking at a watershed moment. We are seeing it happen in real time. We see who, and we know why. It’s not often we understand that THE turning point is happening when it is happening, but we do today.

A watershed moment is defined:

an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend plansponsor.com

a turning point, the exact moment that changes the direction of an activity or situation grammarist.com

A scandal erupted recently involving some executive higher ups in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Tom Buck and his wife Jennifer Buck. I won’t go into all the details because others have and they have explained more fully what happened. My indignation is deeply grieved over the details, but is also more universal than that.

Brief recap

In 2018 Pastor Tom Buck’s wife Jennifer wrote up a testimony of what Jesus had done in their marriage 25 years ago when they were newly married. This testimony had been verbally delivered many times to members of their church in counseling sessions and other places. Locals knew of the great work Jesus had done in uniting a drifting couple from years ago, dampening building resentments, and handling anger issues between them. Mighty is He to save…marriages!

The Bucks often lauded Jesus all these years for His intervention and in creating a beautiful picture over time of the Gospel and its power. So in 2018 Jennifer and Tom thought others might be encouraged by their testimony, and Jennifer wrote it up.

Not being a writer per se, Jennifer contacted someone in the literary world known for her writing and editing skills, and that person was asked to review the testimony and share constructive criticism with Jennifer so she could make a final draft. This person was the sole possessor of the draft and the person was told it should remain that way until it was finalized.

The chosen editor was in a bad car accident and dropped out of public life for a while to recover. Jennifer’s writing project stalled and stayed on the back burner, almost forgotten … until this month.

“Somehow” the draft resurfaced, was passed around to executives and higher ups in the SBC, gossiped about, and maliciously used as a weapon to try and discredit Tom (an outspoken critic of the leftward drift of the SBC). It had been published without her permission, the early draft that contained information that in the end, Jennifer did not want made public…but “somehow”, it was.

Questions to ponder

Whether the draft was consciously and knowingly held for 4 years because opponents recognized its value as a weapon, (?) or whether it was rediscovered recently and consciously and knowingly used as a weapon, (?) the fact remains, it was used as a weapon. It was circulated without permission, it was used to discredit a brother and a pastor in the faith, and it was used to embarrass a married couple in the faith.

Here is the watershed moment that upsets me so greatly:

EPrata photo

THE CHOICE

Someone or Someones held that draft in their hand. They looked at it, with the author’s emotions laid on the page, her raw feelings poured out and her heart opened bare. All for the cause of Christ and to extol Him who saves souls and restores marriages. The Someone or Someones had a CHOICE.

They could choose to use the draft for the glory of Jesus’ name, its original intent, or they could use it in a gross political game to push forward a fleshly agenda and in the process deliberately hurt or even destroy a brother and sister. They could have called up Jennifer and helped her finalize the draft and happily publish it to the edification of many in their own denomination, or they could darkly connive to use it in a way that did the most damage to someone they disliked. They could glorify God, or they could exalt themselves.

You know what they chose.

Now, these are people who lead a denomination. They are people who help others lead the denomination. The denomination was founded for the name of Christ and all its doings are supposed to be for the glory of Christ. Yet, they chose sin, not Christ.

They chose sin. Publicly, unquestionably, shamelessly. Are these the sort of people you want leading you, representing you?

NO.

That brings us to the fifth way God is glorified, which is not in parts, but in the whole of our lives. Just as God’s own glory is the fullness of His being, so must our response of glorifying Him be found not in limited actions but in the whole fabric of our lives. “We may think that God wants actions of a certain kind, but God wants people of a certain sort,” C.S. Lewis wrote. In other words, we glorify God by consecrating the whole of our lives—every hour, every relationship, every conversation, every possession, every endeavor, with faith and repentance, starting and stumbling and beginning ever anew—to Him. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31, emphasis added). ~Source TableTalk Magazine

DEAD

What ‘sort of people’ are these, anyway? Dead. Too harsh? We’ll see.

He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, and yet you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)

The SBC had a reputation for a long time of being ‘people of the Book.’ Of being stalwart in their pursuit of God, of being conservative, of aligning with the Bible in all its precepts. At times there was even a whiff of smug satisfaction that those other denominations were drifting, becoming liberal, but the SBC remains the lone city on a hill shining its beacon abroad. Hm.

Yet at some point, the loose conglomeration of people in this organization, and I won’t even call it a denomination anymore (for I fear it has nothing to do with Christ, at its highest, decision-making levels), became infected with rot. Trees suffer from something arborists call heart-rot, and it’s apt. The reputation went on in front of the SBC, its deeds became known so they seemed to be alive, BUT ARE DEAD.

Too harsh? Well the church at Sardis was told otherwise in Revelation 3. It IS possible for a church to seem to be thriving, active, and performing many deeds, but inside the heart-rot was killing it all along. It happened to Sardis. In my opinion it happened to the SBC.

McLaren’s Expositions of Revelation 3:1

One characteristic of their death is that they have forgotten what they were in better and happier times, and therefore need the exhortation, ‘Remember how thou hast received and didst hear.’ They have fallen so far that the height on which they once stood is out of their sight, and they are content to lie on the muddy flat at its base. No stings from conscious decline disturb them. They are too far gone for that. The same round of formal Christian service which marked their decline from their brethren hid it from themselves. ~Source McLaren’s Expositions of Revelation 3:1

Someone or Someones held a document in their hand. It could exalt the name of Christ, or it could be used to try and destroy brethren. You know what they chose. Now they are lying in a muddy pigpen at the base of a mountain whose apex they can no longer see. And worst of all, they seem happy there.

For nothing is concealed that will not become evident, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17

Posted in theology

Creation Grace: Some beauty to rest your eyes on

By Elizabeth Prata

Today just some lighthearted creation grace and beauty.

God made all this in 6 days!! Just think on that!

God’s creation is amazing!

“The Indonesian Ayam Cemani chicken, with its unrelenting darkness, is one of the world’s most fascinating chicken breeds. Its feathers are black, but so is its skin, muscles, bones, and organs!” Source in caption.

Source: @BeachDog15

God is amazing. His creation is beautiful and even more amazing, it’s temporary. He will burn it up in a fervent heat, and make all things anew. I wonder what the NEXT world will be like! Paul said even glimpsing the current third heaven was inexpressible. Isaiah saw gems and jewels and creatures up there he could barely comprehend. John too! God’s intellect is bigger than the universe and His mind’s depths are unfathomable. I am grateful that He was mindful of me! And saved my polluted, sinful soul and is transforming it into a thing of beauty.

Have a great day everyone!

Posted in theology

Women’s ministries then and now

By Elizabeth Prata

Lois and Eunice were Timothy’s mom and grandmom. They were lauded for teaching Timothy the Jewish scriptures well, and raising him as an obedient son of God. He was ready for the Gospel message when it came. We know where that ended up! Timothy became a pastor.

What if Lois and Eunice said one day “We believe in the passion, purpose, and potential of every woman everywhere. Let’s start a guild to activate every woman to make an impact in her world for the Kingdom”. And, what if, forsaking teaching the boy, Lois and Eunice cast their eyes on the wider world, abandoned their sphere of influence at home and instead struck off to focus on women everywhere ‘make an impact’? No Timothy, true son of Paul and pastor to many. The Lord developed spheres of influence and roles for each demographic, including women for a reason. The Lord puts us where we are for a reason.

Continue reading “Women’s ministries then and now”