Tag Archives: Dr. Michael Petty

Exploring the Gospel of John: 16


By the Rev. Dr. Michael Petty [Fr. Michael Petty]

St. Peter’s Anglican Church [2006]

Note:  This entry completes the series.  There are no notes for the remainder of the Gospel of John.

“Farewell . . . For Now” (IV)

John 16:4b-33

  1.  16:4b-15:

This section returns to two previous themes:  Jesus’ return to the Father (13:1) and the coming of the Holy Spirit (14:15-17, 25-26; 15:26-27).  The phrase, “these things,” of 16:4b, seems to refer to the warning about persecution and about the role of the Spirit. “This hour” brings an imperative to instruct the disciples.  Jesus acknowledges the impact that “this hour” has had on the disciples; sorrow fills them  (16:6).  Yet, he also reminds them that it is to their advantage that he is going away:  His departure is not a tragic accident but is part of the plan of God.  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for the disciples and promises that they will be with him (14:1-4).  He tells them that his work of revealing the Father will continue in them (14:12-14) and that he and the Father will come to dwell with them (14:15-21).

Jesus now makes very explicit the fact that the coming of the Spirit will be another fruit of his “departure.” (Note 14:18.)   In the references to the Holy Spirit thus far, it is clear that the Spirit will enable the disciples to carry on Jesus’ witness.  As the Greek name for the Holy Spirit, paraklatos, suggests, however, the nature of this witness is both positive and negative.   Just as Jesus’ witness has had an accusatory dimension, so will that of the paraklatos.  Because of the Holy Spirit, the witness of the disciples will have a prosecuting dimension:  They will be pointing out what is wrong with the world.  The language here is juridical in nature.  The Spirit will secure convictions against the world on three counts:

First, the Spirit will convict the world sin — the sin of unbelief.

Second, the Spirit will convict the world for the wrong judgment it made about Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will make it clear that the world’s verdict on Jesus was wrong and that God has reversed the verdict.

Third, the Spirit will convict the world because He will convict the ruler of the world.  (Note 12:31 and 16:11.)  The witness of the Spirit results in a reversal of values and undermines the world’s basic assumptions.  But this witness of the Spirit, against the world, is ultimately for the world, as the Spirit-nourished witness of the disciples anticipates the final judgment.

16:12-15 returns to the theme of the Spirit’s work.   Because the disciples cannot receive all that Jesus wishes to impart to them, the Spirit will come to “guide you into all the truth” (16:13).  Here, the word “truth” is not an idea or a set of ideas but is Jesus himself (14:6).  Like Jesus, the Spirit will not speak on his own authority but on that of the Father and, just as Jesus has glorified the Father, so the Spirit will glorify Jesus.   Once again, it is clear that the Spirit does not impart random and independent revelations but gives to the disciples what Jesus has given to him (16:15).

(2) 16: 16-24:

This section continues the theme that emphasizes Jesus’ going away as a good thing but without reference to the Holy Spirit.   Jesus’ going to the Father (16:17) means that his disciples will not see him for a time but then, later, they will see him.  The disciples will see him after the resurrection and this will have a decisive effect upon them.  It is clear that the disciples themselves have not grasped this important point (16:17).  Having failed to grasp this point, they are also unable to understand the promise that Jesus leaves with them:  “your sorrow will turn into joy” (16:20).  The resurrection will bring about a great reversal.  The metaphor in 16:21 is important and Isaiah 26:16-21; 66:7-17 provides the metaphor:  It describes the travail of Israel which, when Israel passes through it, leads to salvation.  In contrast to the present moment, there will come a time, after the resurrection, in which the burden of the lack of understanding of the disciples will lift (16:23):  They will understand the reversal that God has brought about and what it means for Jesus to return to the Father.   And because of their intimate relationship with Jesus, the Father will grant to the disciples his assistance, in carrying on Jesus’ witness (16:23).

(3) 16:25-33:

16:25  probably refers back to texts like 14:25-26 and, thus, to the work of the Spirit.   After the passing of  “this hour,” the Spirit will interpret for the disciples what has happened and what these events mean.  A summary of this interpretation follows, in 16:26-28:  The clear implication is that this Gospel is the fruit of the interpretive work of the Spirit:  It was imperative  for the Spirit to undertake this work before the writing of this text.  (Note 20:31.)  The understanding to come stands in stark contrast with current incomprehension, as 16:29-30 expresses.  As Jesus’ question in 16:31 implies, the disciples do not yet really believe and will manifest this unbelief, when they scatter and  when they “will leave me alone.”  In fleeing from arrest, in abandoning Jesus, the disciples do not show that they have lost their faith — for they do not yet actually possess it:  This faith comes later.  Even in his state of abandonment, however, Jesus is not alone, “for the Father is with me” (16:32).  The final statement of this whole discourse in 16:33 summarizes the whole in that, ironically, Jesus’ departure will be the foundation of the disciples’ peace — a peace that is not merely a subjective feeling.  It is precisely Jesus’ victory, his return to the Father, which establishes the victory of God.  The disciples, through the Spirit, will know that Jesus has overcome the world and this reality will be the foundation of an eschatological peace — a peace that will be present, even in the midst of persecution.

Questions for Reflection

(1) In what ways does the Holy Spirit bear witness to Jesus today? How do we discern this witness?

(2) In what ways does Jesus’ victory over the world give us peace? What are some ways in which we can live more fully into this peace?

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Exploring the Gospel of John: 15


By the Rev. Dr. Michael Petty [Fr. Michael Petty]

St. Peter’s Anglican Church [2006]

Farewell . . . For Now (III)

John 15:1-27

(1) 15:1-17:

(a) 15:1-11:

Jesus identifies himself as the vine and the Father as the vinedresser.  This identification draws upon an important image from the Old Testament:  the image of Israel as God’s vineyard or God’s vine (Isaiah 5:1-7; 27:2-6; Psalm 80:8-19; Jeremiah 2:21; 6:9; 8:13; 12.10).  Identifying Israel as the vineyard or vine automatically identifies God as the vineyard owner or the one who cultivates the vines.  By so identifying himself, Jesus makes it clear that he is the true representative of Israel.  This identification also means that it is Jesus who establishes the connection between the vine’s branches (Jesus’ disciples) and the vinedresser (God).

15:2 introduces two important themes, with respect to God’s relation to his people:

The first theme is judgment upon the vine branches that bear no fruit: fruitfulness is clearly a criterion of God’s judgment, in that God expects his people to bear fruit.

The second follows on the first:  God not only removes the unfruitful branches but he also prunes the fruitful branches to make them even more fruitful; the importance of fruitfulness is again emphasized.  “Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (15:3).  The theme of being clean first appeared in 13:10, where Jesus pronounces that the disciples are clean (with the exception of Judas).  What Jesus seems to mean is that his teaching has cleansed the disciples and has placed them in a relationship with him, so as to enable them to bear fruit.  There is no question here of the disciples having some kind of “independence” from Jesus, as if their cleansing was a one-time event, which then enabled them to do things on their own.  The language of “abiding” completely undercuts all thought of independence and demands fruitfulness.  “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (15:4)

What the language offers here is something of an equation, which offends modern ears:  complete dependence upon Jesus = fruitfulness.  It is important to notice that the vine / vinedresser imagery is a perfect way of restating the theme of Chapter 14:  that Jesus’ work of bearing witness to the Father will continue in the disciples.  The “work” of the vine is carried out in its branches, the bearing of “fruit” (grapes).  Lest there be any doubt about this, we have the blunt admonition that “apart from me you can do nothing” (15:5).  The theme of judgment on unfruitful branches, first hinted at in 15:2, returns in a way that is unmistakable, in 15:6.  This imagery, too, has its source in the Old Testament (note particularly Ezekiel 15).

15:7 returns to the theme of prayer, which 14.3 first introduced, but makes more clear the link between obedience and answered prayer:  “If you abide in me . . .” clearly refers to obedience to Jesus’ teaching, as 15.10 makes clear.   Note the balance between “keeping my commandments” and “abiding in my love” and Jesus’ keeping of his Father’s commandments and abiding in his Father’s love.  The point is that if Jesus had not been obedient to the Father’s mission and had, finally, avoided the cross, there would be no grounds to say that the Son loves the Father.   Likewise, obedience to the Son is the emblem of abiding in his love.  The mission of the disciples and the mission of Jesus parallel each other, in that the fruitfulness of the disciples’ mission glorifies the Father, just as the fruitfulness of Jesus’ mission does the same thing (15:8).  But this obedience and fruitfulness is not a joyless burden — because Jesus will bring to the disciples the same love that he has from his Father (15:9).  It is precisely by “abiding” in the vine that the disciples will experience a joy that is “full” (15:11).

(b) 15:12-17:

15:12 essentially repeats 13:34.  Once again, the readers understand that central characteristic of the Church is the willingness of Jesus’ followers to embody the self-sacrificial love of Jesus.  Their love is rooted in his.  The richness of Jesus’ love, mentioned in 15:13, is explicated in 15:15.  While Jesus is their superior, he has made the disciples into his friends; they are no longer simply servants who follow instructions simply because they come from the superior.  Rather than simply following instructions, the disciples are to know what Jesus’ intentions are.  Jesus has not kept aside some “secret knowledge” for himself that he is keeping from the disciples but “all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (15:15).  15:16 emphasizes the experience of Israel:  that it is God who calls the disciples; it is God’s prior action which creates Israel and then the Church, neither of which is a volunteer organization.  While God calls the disciples to bear fruit, their fruit bearing is dependant upon their continuing relationship to Jesus and upon the fact that it is his intention and purpose: what is involved here is more than human religiosity and effectiveness.

(2) 15:18-16:4:

The “world” which hates Jesus is not simply everything around us.  John uses “world” (kosmos) in a very strict sense to mean “those structures and orders of creation that are opposed to God.”   Another sign of the disciples’ conformity to Jesus’ mission (in addition to self sacrificial love) is the response of the world’s hatred.  The theme of calling re-emerges here (see 15:16):  “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (15:19).  Notice that this calls for a shift in thinking.  When they experience the ill-will of the world, the disciples are not to wonder about their “effectiveness” but to be aware that this is a sign of their conformity to Jesus’ mission.  The disciples must live in a situation in which the response to their word is just as mixed as the response to Jesus’ word.  The disciples (10:20) should expect both persecution and obedience. The disciples will face opposition but they will not take it personally, since they will face opposition for the very same reason that Jesus faced opposition: “because they do not know him who sent me.” (15:20)

Because the disciples carry on Jesus’ mission, with Jesus in their midst, the rejection of them is a rejection of the one who sent them:  “whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me, receives the one who sent me” (13:20).  The same principle applies to rejection: “Whoever hates me hates my Father also” (15:23).  15:24 represents the negative aspect of Jesus’ ministry.  He has come primarily to do the Father’s works but for those who reject what he does, judgment has occurred because to reject the one sent by the Father is to reject the Father and, thus, to hate him.  Jesus’ witness makes sin impossible to cover up or ignore.

The phrase “they hated me without cause” (15:25) is from the Greek version of Psalms 35:19 and 69:4.  The purpose of this citation is to show that the rejection of Jesus is part of the will of the Father, though this in no way diminishes the culpability of those who reject him.  We should not view the human rejection of Jesus as indicating the divine rejection of Jesus — only that such a rejection by Israel was foreseen.

In 15:26-27, we return to the theme of the Holy Spirit, already mentioned in 14:15-17, 25-26.  Once again, the Spirit is connected to the witness of the Church.  In accord with Deuteronomy 17:6, which requires two witnesses to establish something, there will be two witnesses to Jesus: the disciples and the Spirit.  It is the Spirit who enables the Church to bear a fruitful witness, even with the hatred of the world directed against it.

The final sub-section of this section, 16:1-4, makes it clear why the disciples are being told all this.  This discourse is aimed at preparing the disciples so that, in the fact of persecution and hostility, they will not fall away into apostasy.

Questions for Reflection

(1)  Are Christians persecuted in any way in our culture?  Have you ever had to deal with persecution?

(2)  In what ways can we manifest joy, even in the midst of difficulty?

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What Is the Eucharist?



Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013

At St. Peter’s Anglican Church Tallahassee:
The penitential service of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 13, and encompasses the forty days before Easter [March 31.]

Ash Wednesday Services with the Imposition of Ashes will be held at 12:10 and 7:00 pm on the 13th.  There will be no Wednesday night dinner or classes that evening.

 Dear Readers: 

Here is a Lenten meditation, in the form of a sermon, by the Rev. Dr. Michael Petty.

This sermon is a concise yet deeply theological reflection on the meaning of the Last Supper and the Eucharist.

Click here: “What Is the Eucharist?”  to listen to the sermon.

Or, click here:  


Coram Deo,


The text is Luke 22.14-23: [English Standard Version]

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.

15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 

16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 

17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 

18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 

22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”

23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.


The Rev. Dr. Michael Petty
St. Peter’s Anglican Church [www.saint-peters.net]
Fr. Michael Petty is a native of West Virginia and grew up in Houston.  He was educated at Austin College (B.A.) and Vanderbilt University (M.Div., M.A., Ph.D.)
During his over twenty years of ordained ministry, he has served a large suburban congregation, a campus ministry at a medical school, and a hospital chaplaincy.
He has served as Associate Rector for Adult Education,  since St. Peter’s was founded in 2005.
In addition to pastoral ministry, Fr. Petty has served as an adjunct faculty member at the Perkins School of Theology (Southern Methodist University), Nashotah House Theological Seminary and the Center for Biblical Studies in Tallahassee.
He is the author of  A Faith That Loves the Earth: The Ecological Theology of Karl Rahner, published by the University Press of America.
He is married to Sara Clausen and they have a son, Graham.

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Exploring the Gospel of John: 1


By the Rev. Dr. Michael Petty [Fr. Michael Petty]

St. Peter’s Anglican Church


John 1:1-18

The Prologue to the Gospel

I.  What is a Gospel?

In including four gospels into the canon of Scripture, the Church made a significant decision:  that no one gospel [by itself] could be taken to provide an adequate portrait of Jesus.  One of the earliest Christian theologians, Irenaeus of Lyon, spoke not of four gospels but of a fourfold gospel, the one gospel presented by the fourfold witness of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The early Church was not at all embarrassed by the fact that the gospels were all slightly different.  The gospels seem to have followed the pattern of ancient biography, the purpose of which was not to present a complete account of the subject’s life, arranging details in chronological order, but to provide an account of the subject’s character and significance.  A major element in this effort was the portrayal of the subject’s death.  Note that John 1:19-12:50 is an account of Jesus’ public ministry, sketched in terms of significant events, and John 13:1-19:42 is an extended account of Jesus’ death.  For John, Jesus is revealed through the signs he performs in the first section and in the way he dies in the second section.  The Prologue to the gospel (1:1-18) is the interpretive key to the whole work.

II. John 1:1-5

1. While Mark begins his account of Jesus with his baptism and while Matthew and Luke begin their accounts with Jesus’ birth, John begins his account of Jesus with the very life of God before Creation.   The reason for this is that Jesus’ relationship to God is one of his primary themes.  The gospels are never concerned with simply providing information about Jesus but they are always concerned with Christologywith understanding who Jesus is as both a person and as one in whom God acts.

2. John’s gospel begins in the very same way that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) version of Genesis 1:1 begins.   A. Lincoln offers this translation of John 1:1:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was at God’s side, and what God was, the Word was.”   Right from the start, we are given what John considers to be the most important fact about the story of Jesus:  The story of Jesus did not begin in first century Palestine but actually had no beginning at all because he was eternally present with God.  This gospel is going to recount the intersection of time and eternity, human history and the eternal God.

3. “Word  in 1:1 is the English rendering of the Greek word “logos,” a very rich word.   As Word, logos is not simply a conveyor of information but has to do with self-expression.  The Word is God’s own self-expression. While God and his self-expression are distinct, they are not separable.  The basis of John’s Christology is that God expresses himself in the person [of] Jesus.

4.  Two things are in the background here:

One is the fact that, in Genesis 1, God, through speaking, creates realities into existence;  God’s speaking does not merely convey information but actually effects things.  Creation is a Word-formed reality.

Another thing is the role of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, which also is before Creation and is with God.  For the Old Testament, Word (as in Psalm 33:6 and Isaiah 55:11) expresses God’s immanence in Creation, without compromising his transcendence. In Psalm 119: 93, 109, God’s life-giving Word and Wisdom can be identified with Torah, meaning that God’s Torah, given to Israel, was a source of both life and wisdom.  By speaking of Jesus as the Logos, John makes it clear that what is given in Jesus far surpasses what has been given in Torah.  It is not merely that Jesus simply fulfills Scripture (Torah) or completes it but that he surpasses it.

5. The point being made here is not that the Christian revelation is “better” that Judaism.  The purpose of John’s Gospel is not to compare two distinct “religions” called Judaism and Christianity, with a view to showing the superiority of Christianity but to make the case that faith in Jesus as the Word of God is the only true response to Israel’s God, open to both Jews and Gentiles.  Contrary to recent opinion, John is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Jewish.

6. The relation of the Logos to the created order is both simple and complex:  simple in the sense that “all things were made through him” (1:3) but complex in the sense that the human response to the Word is not uniform (as in 1:9-12).  Colossians 1:15-17 provides a helpful point of comparison:  This gets at the mystery of the person of Jesus, who is both a human being and God’s own self-expression, who gives form and sustenance to the created order.  On one hand, all of creation has a relationship to the Word through its very being; on the other hand, human beings are invited into a relationship to the Word in the person of Jesus through belief.   As 1:4 indicates, the Word is both the source of life (zôe) and light.  God creates through his [Word] and gives revelation through his Word.  Already, we have established the theology, which later Church Councils will have to work out:  that of how the Word is both identified with God and distinct from him.

III: John 1:6-8

1. We abruptly leave eternity to enter into the realm of time and history, so that the coming of the Word can be related to the witness of John (this gospel does not refer to John as “the Baptist”).  Notice that the work of John the forerunner (distinct from the author of the gospel) has its origin in God, as does the work of the Word.

2. Notice that in 1:7 that John “came as a witness, to bear witness.”   Here, we have two of the most important words in this gospel:  witness (marturàia) and bearing witness (marturein).   The noun form is used 14 times in this gospel and the verbal form occurs 33 times.   The purpose of John’s witness is clearly indicated in 1:7.

3. The meaning of witness and bearing witness have a strong meaning in this gospel.  What is envisioned is not simply oral testimony but the totality of one’s life.  It also has a forensic meaning, as in giving testimony in a court.

IV. John 1:9-14

 1. While John the forerunner was to bear witness to the light, Jesus is the light.  The point being made here is that the light Jesus brings is not simply some bit of “religious” knowledge, which is quite nice but which one could do very well without.  The enlightenment brought by the Word is the light of the Truth, the Truth about God, the Truth about human beings, and the Truth about the world.   The Word does not add a bit of religious varnish to a world that is already just fine but, rather, the Word enters into a dark and dying world into order to give light and life.

2. It is worth noting that enlightenment becomes a word for baptism within the New Testament (Ephesians 1:18; Hebrews 10:32) and the writings of the early Church fathers.

3. One type of response to this enlightenment is ironic in 1:10-11.  While the world came into being through the Word and is what it is because of him, it did not know him.  While the Word came to his own people, those most prepared for his coming, they did not recognize him.  This emphasizes the depth of the human predicament:  human beings no longer know who they really are nor do they understand the world for what it really is.

4. 1:12-13 shows another type of response, the response of John’s church.  The Word comes not merely to grant some type of generic enlightenment but to authorize the creation of a new people of God, a people who are children of God, by themselves being reborn.  Being a child of God is not simply a matter of birth (being born into the right people) but a matter of rebirth.   Just as the Word comes from God, so must the rebirth of God’s people.  Note that the problem with Jews, from the standpoint of this gospel, is not that they are Jews (this would be anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism) but the problem is that they have refused what the God of Israel wishes for them.

V. John 1:14-18

 1. In this section, we have the confession of John’s community about the Word.  It begins with the shocking affirmation that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (1:14).”   Here we are at the heart of the mystery of Christ who is God’s Word en-fleshed.   In order to begin to understand the mystery of Christ, we have to understand that he is the embodiment of God’s self-expression.  Notice that two seemingly different things come together here:  God’s self-expression and the created order.   In affirming the Incarnation (the en-fleshment of the Word), John affirms that God and creation are not simply opposites.

2. The Word “dwelt among us” (1:14).  This is related to the Old Testament notion of God dwelling among his people, particularly in the tabernacle or Temple (see especially Exodus 40).  It was this dwelling of God that made the Jerusalem Temple so important, in that it was a sacramental sign that God was present to his chosen people.  John holds that Jesus replaces the Temple as God’s place of dwelling.

3. As the new Tabernacle, Jesus the Incarnate Word also reveals God’s glory:  God’s splendor or radiance.  In Exodus 40, it is the glory of God that descends into the tabernacle and dwells.  Glory can also refer to God’s reputation — the weight of God’s name.  In John, it is precisely Jesus’ death [which] reveals the glory of God.  God is glorious, in revealing himself and, in his faithfulness, manifested in his action in Christ.

4. The glory of the Son is that of a Father’s only son (1:14).  In this culture, honor was tied to heredity and a person’s status was tied to that of his father.  The only son in a family had a place of unique honor.  The Son is affirmed to have a unique status because of his unique relationship to his unique Father.

5.  “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (1:16):  This statement is looking forward to v.17 and, thus, means that Christ adds to, completes, and surpasses the grace given in the Mosaic Covenant.   The point is not that Jesus and Moses are in competition and that we now have to choose sides nor that “good Jesus” has come to replace “bad Moses” but that what happens in Jesus encompasses Moses but [also] surpasses him.  This, of course, would be the dividing line between Judaism and Christianity.

6. 1:18 refers back to Exodus 33:12-34:9 and the well-known fact that Moses did not see God on Mt. Sinai.  According to Exodus 33:20, it is impossible for human beings to behold God.  And yet, this is precisely what the Son does, by virtue of his very being. The Son is “at the Father’s side”  (or “in the Father’s lap”) and so his vision of God is not an event but part of his very being.  Because the Son knows the Father intimately, he, and he alone, can make him known.  In the Son, we have real revelation, that is God making God known.


The Prologue to John helps us to get a proper sense of perspective, by placing both Jesus and the Church in the larger context of God’s relationship to his creation.  If Jesus is seen simply as a historical figure, questions about why he should be the only way to God immediately pop up and are finally impossible to answer.  When Jesus’ unique relationship with God is set aside, it becomes impossible to justify Christian faith in him other than on the basis of personal preference.  It is only when we make the connection between the historical figure of Jesus and the Son of God, the connection made by the Incarnation, that Jesus as God’s way to God becomes justifiable.

The Christian claim is both radically specific and cosmic at the same time:  It is radically specific in that it insists that God’s Word became Incarnate in a specific, historical person and that this was a unique event.  The salvation of the world does, in a sense, depend upon a Jewish prophet and upon the Israel that gave him birth.

This insistence that an equal opportunity for salvation does not present itself in Buddha or Mohamed is not the result of Christian “intolerance” or “exclusivism” but is the consequence of the way God has acted in his Son.  At the same time, we have to remember that Jesus is not simply a historical figure, knowledge of whom is only available in Scripture or the Church since, as the Word, he is the one through whom the world was created and is the one in whom it is sustained.

The witness of the Church plays an important role but this role presupposes Jesus’ relationship to the whole created order.  This means that the Gospel is not an “inside” story which Christians tell to themselves or a “religion” for those “who like that sort of thing.”  It is, rather, a matter of declaring to the world the truth about itself, a truth which it does not yet know and against which it often unknowingly reacts.  In light of the Prologue, we can see that much of the animus against Christianity is rooted in either the sting that it inflicts, by telling the truth, or the unfaithful way in which some Christians have carried out their task, either being slothful or overzealous.  We can and should do nothing about the former; we are duty-bound to correct the latter.

John 1:19-34

The Testimony of John the Baptist

John 1:19-28

 1.  The atmosphere in this scene anticipates the atmosphere that will surround the whole of Jesus’ public ministry:  that of hostility and interrogation.   John 1:19-34 is about John’s marturía or testimony, where this word has a forensic meaning.   “The Jews” have sent priests and Levites to investigate John’s ministry of baptism (1:25), since they are the experts in purity regulations and baptism had to do with purity.  “The Jews” is used by this gospel to designate a very specific group:  those Jewish officials who oppose Jesus.

2. John is asked about his identity (1:19).  Several things need to be kept in mind, in this respect:

First, we are told that John’s ministry took place in Bethany across the Jordan.  Bethany here is not the Bethany of Mary and Martha, near Jerusalem.  By placing himself across the Jordan, John was signaling some kind of Messianic activity, by suggesting that he was gathering people to be led by the Messiah, across the Jordan into the Promised Land, as Joshua had done but, in this case, what was being symbolized was the creation of a new Israel.

Second, there was no standard Jewish expectation of a Messiah in the first century.  Some Jews (the Sadducees) expected no Messiah at all while others (the Essenes) expected three:  a prophet, a priest and a king.

Third, baptizing Jews was an eschatological action, suggesting some final action on the part of God.

3.  John’s testimony begins with three denials:

(1)  John denies being the Messiah very firmly in 1:20.  “Christ” is simply the Greek version of the Hebrew “Messiah” and becomes the central designation for Jesus.

(2)  John denies being Elijah.  In 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah was taken up into heaven, without dying, and this created, with the help of Malachi 4:5, the popular expectation that Elijah would precede the Messiah.  This denial is in some tension with Mark (1:2) and Matthew (6:14), who do identify John with Elijah. For theological reasons, John pushes the Elijah theme aside, to focus on John solely as one who bears witness to Jesus.

(3)  John denies being the prophet. The prophet here is the one which Jewish interpretation took to be foretold in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, a prophet like Moses.

4.  John’s testimony is not simply one of denial.  In 1:23, he identifies himself with the voice of Isaiah 40:3.  John’s ministry is nothing like that suggested by his interrogators but something far more humble:  that of preparing Israel for God’s intervention.  But this leads to another question:  If John is not the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet, why is he baptizing?   The question here is not simply one of motive but of authority.  The point of 1:26-27 is to show the subordination of John to Jesus.

The question of why John is baptizing is answered by making it clear that it is simply preliminary — that John is not even worthy to perform for the “one you do not know” (1:26) a function performed by a slave.  The preliminary and subordinate nature of John’s baptism is portrayed in Acts 19:1-6, where there is a distinct separation between “John’s baptism” and baptism “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

John 1:29-34

 1.   Having been rather tight-lipped about himself, John now has much to say about Jesus.  This, of course, fits the pattern of John as a figure who only makes sense in relation to Jesus and is not an independent object of attention (note 3:30).

2.  John’s positive testimony begins with the affirmation that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29).  What does this affirmation mean?  One possible meaning is that Jesus is being identified with the apocalyptic lamb portrayed in inter-testamental Jewish literature, where the lamb is a conquering figure who destroys evil.  This would certainly make sense in light of Revelation 7:17 and in light of John 3:8, where the Son reveals himself to destroy the works of the devil.  Clearly, John’s reference to “lamb” is not intended to designate Jesus as “mild.”

Another possibility is that John is referring to the Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah 52:13-53:12.  This figure’s suffering purifies many (53:6, 11-12) and is described as being like a lamb (53:7).

Another possibility is that John is thinking of the Passover lamb.  This makes sense, in that John alone tells us that Jesus was on the Cross, while the Passover lambs were being slaughtered (19:4).  Of course, all of these images could be intended, putting them into the service of describing Jesus’ definitive role in God’s salvation.

3.  1:30-33 again clearly subordinates John.  While Jesus follows John in the flow of temporal events, this in no way indicates theological priority because, in the sense made clear in 1:1, Jesus is John’s predecessor.  In 1:31-32, we return to the theme of John’s baptism and two important things are made clear:

First, John does not recognize Jesus, until Jesus’ baptism, and only does so because he is told by God to watch for a specific sign.  Notice that this gospel does not actually recount Jesus’ baptism by John but refers to it obliquely (the scene John mentions seems to be Jesus’ baptism, as recounted in Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22).   Also important to notice is that, in this gospel, the baptism of John is not actually described as being for repentance but rather for the purpose of revealing Jesus to Israel (1:31).

These two things are not in conflict, but by describing John’s baptism in this way, it is made clear that John’s activity has no validity apart from Jesus.

4. In 1:32-33, we are also given an important insight into Jesus’ relation to the Spirit.  In both verses, the Spirit descends upon Jesus and also remains on him.  This sets Jesus’ relation to the Spirit apart from those of other figures who were given the Spirit but upon whom the Spirit did not remain.   It is Jesus’ possession of the Spirit that gives his baptism its unique character (1:33) and enables Jesus to speak of sending the Spirit (16:7).  John 1:32-33 is intimately connected with John 20:22.

5. The scene ends with John summarizing his witness to Jesus:   Jesus is the Son of God.  As Psalm 2:7 indicates, referring to someone as “God’s son” does not necessarily imply that they are divine:  In the case of Psalm 2, the king of Israel is “God’s son.”  But, in light of what John has said about Jesus in 1:29-34, the term takes on a different meaning:  Jesus is the Lamb of God (in several senses), he precedes John in a theological / ontological sense, and he is the one upon whom the Spirit remains.  These affirmations fill out what is meant by “Son of God” in this gospel:  One whose actions are definitive, not simply because he acts on behalf of God (an important claim by itself) but because his actions are also the actions of God.  In this brief scene, we have a summary of this gospel’s Christology.


This account of John’s witness (which will be continued in 3:12-36) provides us with a model for our own witness.  John’s witness is powerful for several reasons:

First, John clearly shifts attention away from himself to Jesus.  His witness is his witness but he is not the principal subject but points beyond himself.

Second, John focuses on conveying a truthful and understandable account of who Jesus is.  The success of a witness depends less on the persuasive abilities of the witness than on the Truth it conveys.  John appears less concerned with getting people to “appreciate” him than with telling the truth he knows.

Third, John appears ready to be questioned and disputed (as he clearly is in 1:19-28) without being discouraged.  “Who Jesus is,” he realizes, is not obvious or a simple truth of common sense:  (If this were the case, no witnesses would be needed!).

Finally, John is able to realize that there is a witness that is greater than his own, a witness which makes his own witness fruitful and this is, of course, the witness of God himself to himself.   It is helpful to see the witness of John as manifesting the ideal balance of characteristics:  It is spirited but does not presume to pound the truth into someone’s mind.  It is convinced but realizes that success does not belong to it.  It is concerned to convey the truth but knows that this truth stands beyond itself.

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Worldview Lens: Interpreting Scripture

Dear Readers,

Today’s entry continues the Worldview Lens Series:  The entry is long but includes section breaks:   It might be helpful to read one section at a time.

Read this entry slowly and carefully.  It is an excellent introduction to the Art of Interpreting Scripture.

For emphasis, I have included italics, boldface, and underlining.  I have included “Terms and Definitions.”

Written Down to Instruct Us:  Interpreting Scripture

by The Rev. Dr. Michael Petty, St. Peter’s Anglican Church


In I Corinthians 10:1-5, Paul makes reference to Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea, the fact that Israel was sustained by miraculous water in the wilderness, and the fact that, while in the wilderness, most of Israel was not faithful to God.  The result of this was that “they were struck down in the wilderness” [I Corinthians 10:5].  Paul presents this whole narrative to the Corinthians church as a warning against taking God’s grace and mercies lightly.  He makes this clear, when he says that these events “were written down to instruct us.” [I Corinthians 10:11]  The significant point made here is absolutely crucial:  Scripture speaks to God’s people, across time.

[There are] two cardinal points with respect to the interpretation of Scripture:

First, we do not begin to truly interpret Scripture, until we allow Scripture to interpret us.  If we are asking all the questions, we are not really interpreting it.

Second, in reading Scripture, we are not simply reading ancient religious literature but God is addressing us.

Interpreting Scripture:  Modern Prejudices

  1. The common perception that the business of biblical interpretation is essentially a war between “fundamentalists” and “liberals” is a mistaken one.  This view is too simplistic.  The real conflict, which takes place as several different [conflicts] simultaneously, is between those who believe that the witness of Scripture is irreplaceable, unsurpassable, and contains the soul of the Christian faith, and those who see Scripture as simply a historically conditioned, human document, which may be set aside at will . . .
  2. The popular view, held by those unfamiliar with the history of biblical interpretation, that the Bible can be interpreted to mean whatever an interpreter wants it to mean, is manifestly false.  If Scripture can be interpreted to mean anything, the consequence is that the Christian faith collapses into meaninglessness.
  3. The view that “modern people” [by which we usually mean ourselves] are so much better equipped to interpret Scripture than [were] past generations of Christians is simply a conceit.  It is quite clear that our scientific and technical education has not brought us to a depth of scriptural understanding which surpasses all previous generations.  One need only look at the quality of modern preaching to see this:  The sermons of St. Augustine, in the fifth century, and the sermons of John Wesley, in the eighteenth, which were all preached to ordinary Christians, reflect deeply on scriptural texts, in ways that are often beyond the average Christian today.  Yet, St. Augustine and Wesley were popular preachers.
  4. With respect to the interpretation of Scripture, [many denominations/churches] suffer from a defect, one that is potentially fatal:  On the one hand, we profess that Scripture is our ultimate authority.  [Article 6 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion says that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation.”]  On the other hand, we have no commonly-recognized way for adjudicating among differing interpretations of Scripture or any real way of articulating normative interpretations.  This means that our claim about Scripture being our ultimate authority is a largely formal one, which has little actual application to our life as a church.

Interpreting Scripture:  Some Historical Perspective

When considering the practice of biblical interpretation, it is important to have some historical perspective.  In particular, we need to mention four points:

1.     It is important to remember that the Christian faith began with the interpretation of Scripture.  For early Christians like Paul, whose letters are the earliest New Testament documents, the Old Testament was not old but simply Scripture [as in 2 Timothy 3:16].  For Paul, the Old Testament is not simply a collection of stories or moral rules but contains God’s designs and promises for his people [Romans 1:1-2], all of which are fulfilled in Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 1:20].  It is not simply that the Old Testament serves as a good introduction to the New Testament:  Rather, without the Old Testament, the New Testament would not exist.

An example might be helpful:  The first Christians labored to understand the nature and meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross.  Of course, they looked at the cross in the light of the resurrection but they understood both by interpreting the Old Testament.  In Romans 3:23-25, Paul is doing just this.  He describes Jesus as the one “whom God put forward as an expiation of his blood.”  The word translated as expiation or atonement is the Greek work, hilastrion.  Paul is clearly referring to Leviticus 16:2 and the Day of Atonement liturgy, in which the high priest makes atonement or expiation for the sins of Israel, by sprinkling sacrificial blood on the hilastrion or “mercy seat,” the gold lid on the Ark of the CovenantPaul understands that the Day of Atonement finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.  The same line of thinking is present in Hebrews 9-10.  The Old Testament provides the matrix, in which Jesus is interpreted.

2.    The fact that the early Christians accepted the Old Testament as Scripture meant that, from the beginning, the so-called “lost gospels,” or Gnostic gospels, could never be accepted as Christian scripture, since these so-called “gospels” were composed by heretical Christian groups, which completely rejected the Old Testament.  The acceptance of the Old Testament as Scripture ruled out, from the beginning, all the Gnostic gospels.  As a matter of fact, no writings produced after 150 AD were even considered for inclusion into the canon of Scripture.

3.    It is important to remember that the Church has been interpreting Scripture for some 2000 years and, in this time, has learned something.  One of the central problems of the modern Church is that, through ignorance and intellectual sloth, we have cut ourselves off from what has been learned.  The Church, as from the beginning, applied two cardinal principles to the interpretation of Scripture.

a.  We must always interpret particular passages of Scripture in the light of the whole Scripture.  What this has meant is that the Old Testament has been interpreted in the light of the New Testament.  The whole of Scripture – Old Testament and New Testament – constitutes a two-testament witness to the one God.  The strength of any interpretation lies in its ability to make sense of Scripture as a unified whole.

b.  We must always interpret passages of Scripture in the light of the Church’s rule of faith, expressed in the ecumenical creeds [The Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds].  We do not read Scripture as we would an encyclopedia [as a neutral source of information] nor do we read Scripture as something whose meaning is determined by the reader.  We read Scripture in the context of the faith, articulated by the Church.

4.  What is now called fundamentalism is a relatively new phenomenon, being essentially a product of the nineteenth century.  It emerged out of the modern context, in which truth was equated with factual information.  Fundamentalism adopted a flattening approach to Scripture, which was really quite new and this resulted in interpretations, which were, surprising though this may sound, rationalistic in nature.  Fundamentalism is a product of the modern world and was one of the many signs that the modern Church had lost touch with its past with respect to the interpretation of Scripture.  The other product of the modern world, Christian liberalism, was equally flawed.  It adopted a way of interpreting Scripture, which was just as flattening as that of fundamentalism, though it was seen as being more congenial to people who considered themselves enlightened.  Both fundamentalism and liberalism are failed methods of biblical interpretation because both decide, in advance, what Scripture can and cannot say.

Christian interpretation of Scripture has always, until recently, recognized that the Bible has many senses and that the art of reading Scripture consists in allowing it to speak from the depth of its riches.

 Traditionally understood, Scripture has been seen as having four senses:

a.  The literal sense:  The plain sense of what the text actually says, as discerned by sound methods of interpretation.  St. Thomas Aquinas thought that this sense was the most important.  To talk about the literal sense of Scripture meant that it had a meaning, which was not simply dependent on the reader.

b.  The allegorical sense:  Some things in Scripture are signs and types of realities in other parts of Scripture.  Scripture contains some truths, which must be understood allegorically.  Example:  Romans 5:12-21.

c.  The moral sense:  Some passages of Scripture must/can be read as offering guidance in holy living.  Example:  1 Corinthians 10.

d.  The anagogical sense:  Some passages of Scripture hold before us our eternal destiny, which is absolutely necessary to our earthly pilgrimage.  Example:  Hebrews 12:18-29.

It is important to note that, for the best Christian interpreters of Scripture, the allegorical, moral, and anagogical sense of Scripture never existed apart from or in conflict with the literal sense.  The four senses of Scripture remind us that the goal of Christian interpretation has been to plumb the depths of Scripture and to present the meaning of Scripture in its entire splendor.  This [approach] contrasts markedly with much of modern interpretation, especially the interpretation in liberal Protestantism, which seems to focus on getting as little out of Scripture as possible or, even, inoculating us against it.  Something is clearly very wrong.  As Pope Benedict XVI [then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] noted in his now famous 1988 Erasmus Lecture, the crisis in Biblical interpretation is really a crisis in the faith of the Church.

Interpreting Scripture:  Three Examples:

One of the most important methods of biblical interpretation is called intertextual interpretation.  This method involves paying attention to the ways in which one text of Scripture interprets another.  I want to offer three examples of intertextual interpretation and to show why each is significant.  I will focus on one theme, the New Testament interpretation of the most important event in the Old Testament, the Exodus.  The Exodus is a complex of three events–Passover, Red Sea crossing, and Sinai covenant—and these events constitute the soul of the Old Testament.

1.      “Our God is a consuming fire.”   [Hebrews 12:18-29]:  This text offers a Christian interpretation of Israel’s experience at Mt. Sinai, in Exodus 19:12-22; 20:18-21 [cf. Deuteronomy 4:11-12, 5:22-27].  The experience of Israel becomes the matrix, within which Christians can understand their own experience.  In Jesus Christ, Christians have not simply come to Mt. Sinai, awesome and important as it is.  No, in Jesus Christ, God’s new covenant people, defined no longer by circumcision and Passover, but by Baptism and Eucharist, have come to the city of God, “the heavenly Jerusalem” [12:22].  But note this:  While Christians have come to the heavenly Jerusalem, they have also come into the presence of the same God, Who met Israel on Mt. Sinai.  It is not that Mt. Sinai reveals a God Who is awesome, demanding, and who gives his law to his people to form them in holiness, while Jesus reveals a God who is friendly, undemanding, and who just wants us to be nice.  No, for indeed, our God is a consuming fire [12:29].  God revealed Himself on Mt. Sinai as a consuming fire and remains such, in Jesus Christ.  Those who trifle with God’s grace, who sit loose to His Word, who neglect His holiness, do so to their own eternal peril.  From Jerusalem to New Jerusalem, from Mt. Sinai to Golgotha, God is and remains a consuming fire.  Those who do not take God’s holiness seriously simply cannot understand Scripture.

2.  “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”  [1 Corinthians 5:7]:  In response to widespread immorality in the Corinthian church, Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians, to make a fundamental point:  that the Corinthians have failed to understand what it means to be the church.  To make this point, Paul interprets the Old Testament, specifically Exodus 12:15-20, which gives instructions for the celebration of the Passover.  During the seven days of Passover, Israel was to eat unleavened bread and all leaven had to be removed from homes.  Anyone who ate leavened bread or whose home had leaven in it was disqualified from keeping Passover.  The removal of leaven was seen as a sign of purity and Leviticus 2:11-16 forbids Israel from offering to God anything with leaven in it.

Paul takes all of this and transposes it into a Christian context.  He reads leaven as moral impurity, Israel celebrating the Passover as the Church celebrating the Eucharist and the Passover Lamb as Christ.  For Paul, therefore, moral impurity is completely inappropriate to the Church, not because this violates a few rules but because it violates the very essence of what the Church is.  Paul uses the Old Testament to make it clear that Christian morality is not simply a matter of individual conduct but a matter of what is appropriate to God’s holy, covenant peopleTo fail to see that the Christian life is essentially about holiness in all dimensions of life is to fail to completely understand God, the Church, and Christ.

3.  “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48]:  The Sermon on the Mount occupies Matthew 5-7.  It has often been misunderstood.  The most common misunderstanding of it today takes the form of supposing that Jesus came to replace all the hard demands of the Old Testament with easier ones.  Thus, we frequently hear that the essence of Jesus’ teaching is that we should be loving and non-judgmental.  But, listen to what Jesus Himself says:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill . . . For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:17, 20]

After this, Jesus then reinterprets key commandments of the law.  The prohibition against murder in Exodus 20:13 becomes a prohibition against anger.  The prohibition against adultery in Exodus 20:14 becomes a general prohibition against lust.  The “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” of Exodus 21:23-24, intended to limit revenge, becomes a command to completely forswear revenge.  The thing to notice here is that, whenever Jesus interprets the Old Testament, he does not interpret it away but interprets it so as to make it more demanding, not less so.  Jesus has not come to free us from God’s demands or to lead us into the sunny uplands of either liberal Christianity or Christian America:  He has come to bring the holiness of God to bear upon every aspect of our lives.  Lest anyone fail to understand what Jesus is driving at, He states his message quite bluntly:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  [Matthew 5:48]

I close with an analogy from John Henry Newman:  A church which is conformed to upper middle class American consumer culture, a church which is skeptical of Scripture but credulous about itself can no more make proper judgments about Scripture than can a blind person make judgments about shades of color.

 Terms & Definitions [from InterVarsity Press Handbook of Theological Terms, unless otherwise noted.]

[Note: Compiled by Margot Payne.]


Expression, by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions, of truths or generalizations about human existence; a symbolic representation. [Webster’s].

 A story in which the details correspond to or reveal a “hidden,” “higher,” or “deeper” meaning. 

Method of biblical interpretation [which] assumes that biblical stories should be interpreted by seeking the “spiritual” meaning to which the literal sense points.


Greek:  a “climb” or “ascent” upward.  “Leading above” when by a visible act an invisible is declared.  A method of interpretation of literal statements or events, especially Scripture.  [Wikipedia]

Interpretation of a word, passage, or text, that finds beyond the literal, allegorical, and moral sense, a fourth and ultimate spiritual or mystic sense. [Webster’s]

Analogy of Faith:

 A principle of interpretation that suggests that clearer passages of Scripture should be used to interpret more obscure or difficult passages. 

 For Augustine, the analogy of faith requires that Scripture never be interpreted in such way that it violates the church’s summary of Christian faith [i.e., The Apostle’s Creed]. 

For Luther, Christ is the analogy of faith, so that Scripture needs always to be interpreted as testifying to Christ.

For Calvin, the analogy of faith assumes that, because the Spirit oversaw its writing, Scripture and the Spirit together interpret other parts of Scripture.

Exegesis, Eisegesis:

Literally, “drawing meaning out of” and “reading meaning into,” respectively. 

 Exegesis is the process of seeking to understand what a text means or communicates on its own. 

Eisegesis is generally a derogatory term, used to designate the practice of imposing a preconceived or foreign meaning onto a text, even if that meaning could not have been originally intended at the time of its writing.


The discipline that studies the principles and theories of how texts ought to be interpreted, particularly Sacred texts, such as the Scriptures. 

Hermeneutics also concerns itself with understanding the unique roles and relationships between the author, the text, and the original or subsequent readers.

Literal or Historical:

A strict adherence to the exact word or meaning, either in interpretation or translation, of the Biblical text. 

Attempts to understand the author’s intent by pursuing the most plain, obvious meaning of the text, as judged by the interpreter. 

In translation, the attempt is made to convey with utmost accuracy, through the words of another language, the actual meaning of the biblical text.

 Moral or Ethical:

The area of philosophical and theological inquiry into what constitutes right and wrong, that is, morality, as well as what is the good and the good life.  Ethics seeks to provide insight, principles, or even a system or guidance in the quest of the good life or in acting rightly, in either general or specific situations of life. 

Broadly speaking, ethical systems are either deontological [seeking to guide behavior through establishment or discovery of what is intrinsically right and wrong] or teleological [seeking to guide behavior through an understanding of the outcomes or ends that ethical decisions and behavior bring about.]


An interest or concern for matters of the “spirit,” in contrast to the mere interest and focus on the material.  Christian spirituality, as expressed through participation in certain Christian practices, such as Bible study, prayer, worship, and so forth.


Differing from a symbol or an allegory, a typology is a representation of an actual, historical reference.  According to Christian exegesis, biblical typology deals with the parallels between actual, historical [usually OT] figures or events in salvation history and their later, analogous fulfillment.  Often NT events and figures are typologically understood and interpreted according to an  OT pattern [e.g., Creation and New Creation, Adam and Christ, the Exodus and NT concepts of Salvation.]  On this basis, typology became one of the four prevalent ways [together with the literal, the analogical, and the spiritual] of interpreting Scripture in the Middle Ages.


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In the Garden of Darkness

Dear Readers,

View the video clip below or go to http://www.saint-peters.net and listen to or view the sermon, The Glory of God, by Fr. Michael Petty.  

The Reverend Doctor Michael Petty

Listening or viewing will require only 18 minutes and 30 seconds of your time and I guarantee it will be worth both viewing and listening.

Dr. Michael Petty, delivered his sermon, The Glory of God, on the Fifth Sunday in Lent, 2012, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, FL.  A brief biography  is below.

It has been my privilege, for over 10 years, to be challenged by the teaching of Fr. Petty.  He is both my mentor and friend.  In addition to being a brilliant theologian, he is also one of the most humble and devout Christian disciples that I have ever known.

Notice the focus of the sermon:  Scripture.  [No  jokes, no personal stories, no “fluff.”]

[Correction:  There are two phrases of witticism.]

For the next several days, I will focus on the themes of the Paschal Mystery.

I will resume the themes that I have introduced [Worldviews; Healing Gardens] after Resurrection Sunday.

Biography from http://www.saint-peters.net:

Fr. Michael Petty is a native of West Virginia and grew up in Houston . He was educated at Austin College (B.A.) and Vanderbilt University (M.Div., M.A., Ph.D.)

During his over twenty years of ordained ministry, he has served a large suburban congregation, a campus ministry at a medical school, and a hospital chaplaincy. He has served as Associate Rector for Adult Education since St. Peter’s was founded in 2005.

In addition to pastoral ministry, Fr. Petty has served as an adjunct faculty member at the Perkins School of Theology (Southern Methodist University), Nashotah House Theological Seminary and the Center for Biblical Studies in Tallahassee.

He is the author of A Faith That Loves the Earth: The Ecological Theology of Karl Rahner, published by the University Press of America.

He is married to Sara Clausen and they have a son, Graham.

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