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Temptation? I suppose we all have own different temptations to wrestle with. What do you find helps?

I find it helpful to pray through the moments when I feel weakest, particularly with passages of scripture as Jesus did when faced with temptation in the desert.

Some temptations are easier to deal with than others though. Sometimes I fail. That’s where it helps to be reminded that our union with God comes through God’s initiative, not our own.

10 thoughts on “Temptation

  1. Caitlin, some but not as much as I would like. Do you have a favourite story? I am slowly working my way through ancient Christian texts. Happy for you to suggest some trails to follow.

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  2. Have a look for Abba Poeman.
    ‘A brother asked Abba Poeman ‘What does it mean to be angry with your brother without a cause?’ He said ‘If your brother hurts you by his arrogance and you are angry with him because of this, that is getting angry without a cause. If he pulls out your right eye and cuts off your right hand and you get angry with him, that is getting angry without a cause. But if he cuts you off from God – then you have every right to be angry.’
    In the context of the above image this saying by Amma Matrona is perhaps apt.
    ‘We carry ourselves wherever we go and we cannot escape temptation by mere flight’ Amma Matrona
    Come to think of it I have many favourites amongst the sayings of the Abbas and Ammas.

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  3. Remember the Abbas and Ammas were thinking about God and Christ at a time of political turmoil in Rome; they fled to the desert concerned about the implications of what Christianity could become once it became part of Roman Empire Politics.
    Further there was at this time no bible as we know it but fragments that were widely dispersed and a carefully kept oral gospel of Christ. If you look at Matthew 5 vs 21 and Abba Poeman on anger you can see a ‘storytelling’ shape of a gospel truth.

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  4. I would say there was a bit more than fragments floating around.
    While it took a while for the New Testament to be formalized, the books and letters that make it up were in circulation well before the abbas and ammas arrived on the scene. For instance, most scholars date the gospel of Mark no later than 75AD (only 42 years from the resurrection) and accept that Paul wrote his first letters even closer.
    And they were widely circulated. For instance, in a letter to the church at Corinth in 95AD, Clement of Rome quotes from 10 of the 27 books of the New Testament. And in a letter to the Egyptian churches in 367AD, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, lists them all, showing not only that he had complete access, but that cannonization was well underway.
    My understanding is that most of the abbas and ammas wrote in the fourth and fifth centuries. If so, lack of access to texts probably had more to do with the expense of the texts versus their austere lifestyle. I suspect that’s were the oral / storytelling approach may come into the picture.
    I think it is interesting to consider the organisation dynamics too. The ascetic lifestyle seems to have been motivated by the emergence of Christendom thinking and collapse of church-state distinctions. When the church is no longer separate from the world, it necessitates a church within the church, it exentuates the clergy laity split. It makes me wonder, how contextual is neo monasticism as a response to the collapse of Christendom? As the collapse accelerates and nominalism fades I think we’re going to see more calls that hard core is for everyone who claims to be a Christian. What happens for you when I say that?

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  5. I concur with the scholars consensus that Mark was the earliest recorded gospel. When I say fragments I mean the letters, large parts of an individual book. I am not able to cope with the Greek so the study of the P’s I have to leave to others. I suspect that even a lifetime of study will fail to do more than merely scratch the surface of the ‘word’ revealed in scripture.
    The canonization was underway under the cloud of the church political; hopefully next year I can spend time studying that area of church history and consider its implications on how ecclisology is envisaged. If how we think about Christ affects how we see salvation my hunch is how we see the corpus of scripture affects how we live as Christian fellowships.
    I disagree with the assumption that their lifestyle was ‘austere’; simple yes but I doubt they would have seen it as austere. It only appears austere if you reach for what the world tells you you should want. Some choose silence with the holy-spirit, a possible metaphor for what we need before God some choose to eat honey-cakes in the company of angels again a possible metaphor for welcoming the guest the stranger in Christs image.
    Monastics are to the side, in my reading so far forms of monasticism emerge whenever the church begins to move away from the commission of Christ to once more show the Incarnate compassion at work in a hurting needful world. I now think the face that appears gives a small insight into what has been lost by the church, contemplative orders show the communication of prayer that raging politics in the middle ages of Europe ripped to pieces. Perhaps this neo-monastic call to prayer, to living amongst and with the poor is a call for the church to wake up and look at what is become and turn once more to the source of Grace with lamentation and cries for His help to become the people He would have us be rather than the shape of Church we so often tell him we ARE going to be.
    Am I a ‘religious’ in shape. Yes. I have made two serious vows to God so far and I cannot rule out the possibility I will one day belong to a Christian Religious Order of some kind.
    The pace of work rest and pray of a daily life is something I think the world cannot grasp.
    I do not think I would use the phrase hardcore Matt, I would use the phrase incarnational expression of compassion with us being willing o be His hands, His feet and His ears for others on this earth for Him.

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  6. You said, “If how we think about Christ affects how we see salvation my hunch is how we see the corpus of scripture affects how we live as Christian fellowships.”
    I agree. Like a song played out on many intruments, in the New Testament I see a story played out in many texts. What strikes me about these texts is their unity in their diversity, a unity that marks them out from their Gnostic rivals, a unity that has consequences for how we live as Christians and deal with diversity within our own ranks. Though I recognize the canonization process concluded under the gathering clouds of Christendom, I believe the more important driver was Gnosticism. It was an unpaid bill of the church. Gnosticism prompted Christians to more clearly articulate their beliefs than they would have otherwise.
    By hardcore I mean incarnational. I don’t mean fundamentalist if that’s what your thinking. Fundamentalists are missiologically soft to my way of thinking, they seek simple answers, they fail to genuinely wrestle with the text.

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