Long foregone days

LaGrange Gospel Chapel handbillI was standing near the door of the Highlands Bible Chapel auditorium in 1987. We had renamed it from LaGrange Gospel Chapel a while earlier in hope that the name change, among other things, would give us a fresh start and help us grow. It hadn’t worked out so well.

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When in doubt, throw it out.

Tony Alamo literatureSo I was organizing things in my garage when I opened up a box I forgot I had, and what (among other things) did I find in it? Still more things that I forgot I had, including a pile of literature from Tony Alamo‘s Alamo Christian Ministries. It’s pretty cheesy stuff, at least in terms of the quality of writing, not to mention the You’ve-Got-To-Be-Kidding Madame Tussauds-esque photographs of Alamo. Most of the pile consists of newsletters that usually contain a single rambling article by Alamo surrounded by correspondence from a dozen or so sycophantic followers.

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The Sola Scriptura of Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo by BotticelliFor I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the MS. [manuscript] is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine. I do not need to say that I do not suppose you to wish your books to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error. Far be such arrogance from that humble piety and just estimate of yourself which I know you to have, and without which assuredly you would not have said, “Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning!”

[Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), Letter LXXXII (82) to Jerome, “Letters of St. Augustin,” translated by J.G. Cunningham, in Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Volume 1, (Peabody, MA, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., reprinted 2004), 350.]

June 15 is the feast day for St. Augustine of Hippo on the Eastern Orthodox church calendar. On the Roman Catholic church calendar, Augustine is commemorated on the anniversary of his death, August 28.