December 5, 2005

Clement of Alexandria

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is December 5th, 2005: the Feast of Saint Clement of Alexandria.

Clement was one the greatest thinkers of early Christianity. Living as he did in the middle of the second century, there were still many controversies we now understand as settled that were very much in dispute. This was an age of rampant Gnosticism, not to mention the fact that Alexandria was still dominated by the pagan religion.

In the midst of this time of great struggle for the church, Clement must have seemed like a great gift from God. His knowledge of the Scriptures was deep and broad, but so was his secular learning. He saw no conflict between them, and in fact believed that everything could tell of the glory of God. It’s no surprise, then, that the Gospel chosen for today tells the story of the disciples complaining about not understanding Jesus. “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’” In response, of course, Jesus tells them, “The words that I have spoken are spirit and life.” (John 6:57-63)

These days the news is filled with talk about evolution and intelligent design. There are some who say that scientific inquiry is somehow incompatible with faith in God and the truths revealed in Scripture. If Clement were alive today, he’d be having none of that discussion. For him, God was the Creator of the world and the source of everything in it. Therefore, any truth about the world was simultaneously a truth about God. I imagine that Clement would be working right alongside all those who are finding surprising congruence between what science teaches about the world and Christian truth.

Clement also took a stand in the controversy about the right use of wealth. In his book on Mark 10:17-31, “What Rich Man Will Be Saved?” he put forth a theology of stewardship and responsibility on the part of the wealthy that many have contrasted with the very different interpretation of Anthony of Egypt, who literally sold all he had and became a monk in the desert. It seems to me that both interpretations are true, and that Clement would agree, reminding us that the challenge is not so much to find the truth, as it is to listen for God speaking through what we have learned.

Let us pray: O God of unsearchable wisdom, you gave your servant Clement grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, the source of all truth: Grant to your Church the same grace to discern your Word wherever truth is found; through Jesus Christ our unfailing light, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us tomorrow at for the feast of Saint Nicholas. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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1 Comment »

  1. I really liked you’re offering today. The evolution/creationist debate is merely chum in the water to attract the weak for the predators while the yummier, more substantial, more nutritious parts are already in our hands namely; The Gospel of a God who experienced humanness, defeated death for our transgressions, promised to perfect history and to dispense with time. In the meantime, we are charged with that Gospel’s proclamation and Jesus’ personal command: “Feed my sheep”.

    There has to be a way to queer the efforts of those who would make the church small (the creationists) and those who are in open mockery (the smug scientists). So much of the debate has demanded that we get in bed with one or the other side. The Gospel demands that we exult in creation and stand in awe of a sovereign God on the one hand and preach release of the captives on the other. This is the mighty struggle to which we are called.

    Comment by Poppy — December 5, 2005 @ 10:14 am

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