I like this word ("provoked"). It can have a lot of shades and inflections. For me, it implies that
I am being pressed to respond to something. I still get to choose if, when, and how to respond but it is the invitation
I have been provoked quite a bit lately. It isn't a bad thing. In fact, I am rather enjoying
most of the "provokings". It is one in particular that I want to journal and share. I believe this to
be the first of a series of entries. That remains to be seen. I welcome your interaction and probably need it.
Question: Why is it so difficult to live "error free" or a holy life? Why do I (we) seem to
live in a "yo-yo" state of behaving consistently with our beliefs or probably better consistently with God's Word?
This is a foundational question for me. I want to leave it for a moment to ask another question (also foundational)...
Question: What does the Bible really say? As if hearing it for the first time, from God himself, before
all the "intepretations of men". If in understanding the Bible, as if from God, I find myself in contradiction
with what I have previously learned (and/or been taught), what do I do with than? How do I test it? Validate it?
Am I willing to act on it?
So, with this foundation, we begin...
I have been a fan of Joseph Girzone's
writing. I encourage you to read his "Joshua" series. They are fictional and Joshua is a character,
who is Mr. Girzone's understanding of who Jesus is, being acted out in more contemporary settings and what I assume to be
Mr. Girzone's (and sometimes my) "dilemas" of faith. I think I have read the entire series. Good
and insightful reads. Not authoritative in the same sense as scripture, just insightful.
Mr. Girzone wrote
an autobiographical book entitled, "My Struggle With Faith". In it he chronicles his losing and path to finding
faith as he went into, through, and out of seminary as a Catholic priest. I say this to give you Mr. Girzone's slant
on things theological.
In Mr. Girzone's writing, he speaks about the Apostle, Peter. In particular two passages.
The first is in Matthew 16 where Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah and Jesus assigns Peter as the foundation for the
church, the keeper of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, with authority to forbid and allow on Earth and in Heaven.
The second, is Peter's encounter with Jesus (post resurrection), recorded in John 21. Jesus asks Peter three times if
he loves him and each time, after Peter's responses, calls Peter to feed or tend His (Jesus') sheep.
goes on to explain about his questioning (or at least my interpretaion that he questioned) the role of the Papacy, Priesthood, confession,
repentance, and penance. He explains how and where he found his answers.
From the 2 passages above, Mr. Girzone
went to some early church writings (not in the Bible). The one that proved provocative to me was by a gentleman named
Irenaeus. Seems he was purported to be a student of Polycarp who was a student under the Apostle John... the same
Apostle who penned the account referenced above. In Irenaeus's writing, Mr. Girzone found the establishment of the
role of Bishop (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 - same word) and consequently establishment, in Mr. Girzone's mind of the preisthood
(as the Catholic church practices it). He (Mr. Girzone) also finds in Peter (the passages above) the establishment for
This is where I became provoked.
- What influence do we give/should
we give to extra-Biblical sources in our understanding of ourselves, our relationship with God, as disciples of Jesus, and
as the church?
- If Extra-Biblical sources have influence, to which should we assign influence?
Should those closest to Jesus have the most influence?
- Is there an inheritable aspect to the functioning of the
church... a tradition? Does that apply to our discipleship?
- If the Apostle John passed on to Polycarp an
understanding and Polycarp passed on to Irenaeus an understanding....what influence should that have for me (us)?
- If the Apostle John conferred authority (as an Apostle) to Polycarp who in turn conferred that authority
to Irenaeus, who in turn conferred... etc,etc... What impact does that have on me (us) in terms of authority within
the church today?
- What is Peter's unique role/place in the church? What is the role of Bishop?
Who can appoint Bishops? Who can be a Bishop?
I am looking forward to this journey and to sharing it.
Consider yourself provoked.