Quotations for April, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Commemoration of Frederick Denison Maurice, Priest, teacher, 1872
For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—He had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it was well worthwhile.
... Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957), Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World, Eerdmans, 1969, p. 14
(see the book; see also Mark 3:31-35; Heb. 2:10-11,17-18; more at Death, Defeat, Despair, Experience, Family, Jesus, Pain, Sorrow, Suffer)
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
There is a major disaster when a person allows some success to become a stopping place rather than a way station on to a larger goal. It often happens that an early success is a greater moral hazard than an early failure.
... Halford E. Luccock (1885-1960)
(see also Luke 11:5-8; more at Attitudes)
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Lord, since Thou hast taken from me all that I had of Thee, yet of Thy grace leave me the gift which every dog has by nature: that of being true to Thee in my distress, when I am deprived of all consolation.
... Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1212-ca. 1282), The Revelations of Mechthild of Magdeburg, Longmans, Green, 1953, p. 55
(see the book; see also 2 Cor. 1:3-5; more at Prayers)
Friday, April 4, 2008
There is an evil power, a Satanic power, which holds souls in error, and which persists.It is interesting to note that in the first centuries of the Christian era many demoniacal phenomena appeared in countries in the course of being converted from idolatry to Christianity. The same is true of pagan civilisation today. In my research into the fourth century, I was surprised to find a great recrudescence of magical practices at the very moment when Roman civilization under Constantine was about to be snatched away bodily from paganism and enter... into the kingdom of the Son; at that time, all the rites of sorcery took on an incredible virulence.
... Jean Daniélou (1905-1974), The Salvation of the Nations, London: Sheed & Ward, 1949, p. 42
(see the book; see also Rev. 13:3,4; more at Conversion, Evil, Historical, Idol, Kingdom, Pagan, Power)
Saturday, April 5, 2008
No literary fact is more remarkable than that men, knowing what these writers knew, and feeling what they felt, should have given us chronicles so plain and calm. They have nothing to say as from themselves. Their narratives place us without preface, and keep us without comment, among external scenes, in full view of facts, and in contact with the living person whom they teach us to know... Who can fail to recognize a divine provision for placing the disciples of all future ages as nearly as possible in the position of those who had been personally present at “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God?”
... T. D. Bernard (1815-1904), The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament, London: Macmillan, 1864, p. 37
(see the book; see also Mark 1:1; more at Bible)
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Commemoration of Albrecht Dürer, artist, 1528, and Michelangelo Buonarrotti, artist, spiritual writer, 1564
Man cannot make a redemptive art, but he can make an art that communicates what he experiences of redemption as a man and what he knows of it as an artist. God in his infinite wisdom may use an art work as an instrument of redemption, but what serves or can serve that purpose is beyond the knowledge of man.
... John W. Dixon, Jr., in Christian Faith and the Contemporary Arts, ed. Finley Eversole, New York: Abingdon Press, 1962, p. 6
(see the book; see also Col. 3:23,24; 1 Pet. 1:18,19; more at Providence)
Monday, April 7, 2008
One of the most striking parts of the Day of Atonement is that of the scapegoat. The high priest placed both his hands on the head of a goat and confessed all the sins of the nation. Then the goat carrying the sins of the people is sent off into the wilderness. But it is not just a piece of history!There is in the modern world a quest for scapegoats though with one enormous difference. Whenever there is an accident or a tragedy, there is a search for someone to blame. Often all the modern means of communication join in; accusations, resignations, demands for compensation and the rest. If a guilty person is found, then an orgy of condemnation and vilification. Rarely a sense of, there but for the grace of God go I. Instead of dealing gently with one another’s failure because of our own vulnerability to criticism, there is the presumption that we are in a fit condition to judge and to condemn.The enormous difference? The original scapegoat followed a confession of the sins of the people. There was no blaming of someone else, but an admission of guilt and a quest for the forgiveness of God. The goat wasn’t hated, but was a dramatic picture of the carrying away sins. It was the very opposite of a selfrighteous victimisation of someone else.Ever since 200 A.D., Christians have seen the scapegoat as a picture of Jesus. As it was led out to die in the wilderness bearing the sins of the people, so he was crucified outside Jerusalem for our sins. We are to be both forgiven and forgiving people.
... David Bronnert, in a personal communication from the author
(see also Lev. 16:8-26; Ps. 32:1,2; Isa. 53:9-10; Rom. 2:1; Heb. 10:1-14; more at Forgiveness)
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Commemoration of William Augustus Muhlenberg of New York, Priest, 1877
The self-centred regret which a man feels when his sin has found him out—the wish, compounded of pride, shame, and anger at his own inconceivable folly, that he had not done it: these are spoken of as repentance. But they are not repentance at all... It is the simple truth that that sorrow of heart, that healing and sanctifying pain in which sin is really put away, is not ours in independence of God; it is a saving grace which is begotten in the soul under the impression of sin it owes to the revelation of God in Christ. A man can no more repent than he can do anything else without a motive; and the motive which makes evangelic repentance possible does not enter into his world till he sees God as God makes Himself known in the death of Christ. All true penitents are children of the Cross. Their penitence is not their own creation: it is the reaction towards God produced in their souls by this demonstration of what sin is to Him, and of what His love does to reach and win the sinful.
... James Denney (1856-1917), The Atonement and the Modern Mind, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1903, p. 89-90
(see the book; see also Job 42:5,6; Ps. 119:127,128; 2 Cor. 7:10; more at Repentance)
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945
Furthermore, [the unchristian environment] is the place where we find out whether the Christian’s meditation has led him into the unreal, from which he awakens in terror when he returns to the workaday world, or whether it has led him into a real contact with God, from which he emerges strengthened and purified. Has it transported him for a moment into a spiritual ecstasy that vanishes when everyday life returns, or has it lodged the Word of God so securely and deeply in his heart that it holds and fortifies him, impelling him to active love, to obedience, to good works? Only the day can decide.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 92
(see the book; see also Ps. 139:17,18; more at Prayer)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Feast of William Law, Priest, Mystic, 1761
Commemoration of William of Ockham, Franciscan Friar, Philosopher, Teacher, 1347
Commemoration of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Priest, Scientist, Visionary, 1955
Read what chapter, or doctrine of Scripture you will, be ever so delighted with it, it will leave you as poor, as empty and unreformed as it found you, unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and strengthened your union with and dependence upon Him.
... William Law (1686-1761), Works of Rev. William Law, v. IX, London: G. Moreton, 1893, p. 6
(see the book; see also Ps. 40:6-8; more at Bible, Dependence, Emptiness, Holy Spirit, Poverty, Scripture)
Friday, April 11, 2008
Commemoration of George Augustus Selwyn, first Bishop of New Zealand, 1878
Men today do not, perhaps, burn the Bible, nor does the Roman Catholic Church any longer put it on the index, as it once did. But men destroy it in the form of exegesis: they destroy it in the way they deal with it. They destroy it by not reading it as written in normal literary form, by ignoring historical-grammatical exegesis, by changing the Bible’s own perspective of itself as propositional revelation in space and time, in history, by saying that only the “spiritual” portions of the Bible have authority for us.
... Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), Death in the City, London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1969, Good News Publishers, 2002, p. 77-78
(see the book; see also Matt. 23:29-36; more at Bible)
Saturday, April 12, 2008
It seems clear that those people who personally are completely convinced of justification by grace alone, and who heartily grant to people of another color the right to the same justification (as long as they remain in their own churches, schools, ghettos, handyman occupations), give an ugly expression to the Augustinian and Reformation understanding of justification. By their emphasis upon the primacy of individual justification, they deny the immediate social character and impact of the justification of the Jews and Gentiles, and they obstruct or delay the changes in common life which belong to the “new creation”
... Markus Barth (1915-1994), “Jews and Gentiles”, Markus Barth
(see also 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; more at Church, Creation, Grace, Justification, Reformation, Social, Understanding)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The sincere student of Scripture cannot avoid the truth of God’s choice of individuals from among the sinful race of men. We may not understand this, but we must never deny it. Scripture is filled with this great truth: it is not an isolated doctrine of the Word.
... Robert P. Lightner (b. 1931), The God of the Bible , Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978, formerly published as The First Fundamental: God, p. 133
(see the book; see also John 17:6,7; more at Bible, Choices, God, Scripture, Truth)
Monday, April 14, 2008
A teacher appears—for whom no one was prepared, and whom no one could have expected. The argument from prophecy, on which the early apologists laid so much weight, was all ex post facto. No one beforehand could have conjectured a tenth of it. But without the background of Jewish prophet and psalmist, of Jewish national history, it would be hard to understand Jesus. If prophet and historian and legislator did not in type and enigma foretell in detail the story of his life, he was none the less their heir. None the less was he their heir in that he was not in bondage to his inheritance, but... a “minister not of the letter but of the spirit,” and the whole of his activity lay “in newness of spirit.” Without conjecturing what he might have been on another soil or of another stock—a type of guesswork always futile in history—we have to recognize the immense spiritual wealth that lay ready to his hand.
... T. R. Glover (1869-1943), The Influence of Christ in the Ancient World, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929, p. 113-114
(see the book; see also Luke 21:29-31; more at Argument, Historical, Inheritance, Jesus, Nation, Prophet, Prophecy, Spirit, Teach)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
For man to turn his back on God is to turn towards death; it involves ultimately the renunciation of every aspect of life...To deny God, man must ultimately deny that there is any law or reality. The full implications of this were seen in the [19th] century by two profound thinkers, one a Christian and the other a non-Christian. [Friedrich W.] Nietzsche recognized fully that every atheist is an unwilling believer to the extent that he has any element of justice or order in his life, to the very extent that he is even alive and enjoys life. In his earlier writings, Nietzsche first attempted the creation of another set of standards and values, affirming life for a time, until he concluded that he could not affirm life itself nor give it any meaning, any value, apart from God. Thus Nietzsche’s ultimate counsel was suicide; only then, [he asserted] can we truly deny God: and in his own life, this brilliant thinker, one of the clearest in his description of modern Christianity and the contemporary issue, did in effect commit a kind of psychic suicide.The same concept was powerfully developed by [Fyodor M.] Dostoyevski, particularly in The Possessed, or, more literally, the Demon-Possessed. Kirilov, a thoroughly Nietzschean character, is very much concerned with denying God, asserting that he himself is God and that man does not need God. But at every point, Kirilov finds that no standard or structure in reality can be affirmed without ultimately asserting God, that no value can be asserted without being ultimately derived from the Triune God. As a result, Kirilov committed suicide as the only apparently practical way of denying God and affirming himself—for to be alive was to affirm this ontological deity in some fashion.
... Rousas J. Rushdoony (1916-2001), Intellectual Schizophrenia, Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1961, p. 25-26
(see the book; see also Deut. 30:15-18; more at Historical)
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Genuine outrage is not just a permissible reaction to the hard-pressed Christian; God himself feels it. And so should the Christian in the presence of pain, cruelty, violence, and injustice. God, who is the Father of Jesus Christ, is neither impersonal nor beyond good and evil. By the absolute immutability of His character, He is implacably opposed to evil and outraged by it.
... Os Guinness (b. 1941), The Dust of Death, Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973, p. 386
(see the book; see also Josh. 24:19; Ps. 119:142; Nah. 1:6; Heb. 10:30,31; more at Sin)
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The scientific age with its urban-industrial culture is, for all its magnificent achievements and intoxicating success, in a very real sense a dark age. Its complete bondage to nature has enclosed the mind and spirit of man in a fast prison out of which, try as he may, he can find no way of escape. The inability to perceive any longer the reality of things invisible and unseen is a sickness of the soul which cries out to be cured. The only way to dispel the darkness of the present age and liberate it from the prison within which it has become bound is to restore the proper relationship of nature to supernature and of time to eternity as an essential feature of external reality. Until this can be accomplished, there is really very little that the Church or Christianity in general has to offer to this age.
... W. G. Pollard (1911-1989), “Urbanization, Industrializsation, Automation,” included in Anglican Congress 1963: Report of Proceedings, Eugene Rathbone Fairweather, ed., Editorial Committee, Anglican Congress, 1963, p. 102
(see the book; see also Ex. 3:13,14; more at Sin)
Friday, April 18, 2008
As they that know any thing in this world know that, as the first great opposition of hell, the world, and corrupt nature, is against faith to God by Christ; so the next great opposition made against us, is against our love.
... John Owen (1616-1683), Works of John Owen, v. IX, New York: R. Carter, 1851, Sermon XXI, p. 261
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:31; more at Christ, Corruption, Faith, Hell, Knowledge, Love, Weakness, World)
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Commemoration of Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1012
The centre of trouble is not the turbulent appetites—though they are troublesome enough. The centre of trouble is the personality of man as a whole, which is self-centred and can only be wholesome and healthy if it is God-centred.
... William Temple (1881-1944), Nature, Man and God, London: Macmillan, 1934, 1949, p. 367
(see the book; see also Isa. 64:6; Phil. 2:12,13; more at Devotion, Health, Selfish, Sin, Trouble)
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Sacrifice, contrary to much popular opinion, was not to the Hebrew some crude, temporary and merely typical institution, nor simply a substitute for that dispensation until better things were to be provided later. Sacrifice was then the only sufficient means of remaining in harmonious relation to God. No Hebrew dared neglect this obligation. It was adequate for the period in which God intended it should serve. This is not the same as saying, however, that Levitical sacrifice was on an equal with the sacrifice of Christ, nor that the blood of bulls and goats could, from God’s side, take away sins; but it is recognizing the reality of the divine institution of Mosaic worship, and looking, as too often Old Testament interpreters fail to do, at sacrifice and priestly ritual from the viewpoint of the Hebrew in the Old Testament dispensation. Sacrifice, to the pious Hebrew, was not something insignificant, nor simply a perfunctory ritual, but it was an important element in his moral obedience to the revealed will of God. Sacrifice was by its very nature, which involved faith and repentance on the part of the worshiper and the putting to death of his substitute victim, intensely personal, ethical, moral, and spiritual, because it was intended to reflect the attitude of the heart and will toward God.
... Hobart E. Freeman (1920-1984), An Introduction to the O. T. Prophets, Chicago: Moody Press, 1968, p. 45
(see the book; see also Heb. 11:4; more at Repentance)
Monday, April 21, 2008
Feast of Anselm, Abbot of Le Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, Teacher, 1109
I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully and get to the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight... Faith says not, “I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,” but, “God sent it, and so it must be good for me.” Faith walking in the dark with God only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), The Light of the World, and Other Sermons, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1904, p. 351-352
(see the book; see also Deut. 31:7; more at Darkness, Faith, God, Goodness, Prayer, Sight)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
For God to explain a trial would be to destroy its purpose, calling forth simple faith and implicit obedience.
... Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), Elisha the Prophet: the lessons of his history and times, Religious Tract Society, 1882, p. 156
(see the book; see also John 15:10; Rom. 8:35-37; Eph. 6:6-8; Jas. 1:22-25; more at Affliction, Faith, God, Obedience, Purpose, Simplicity, Trial, Weakness)
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Feast of George, Martyr, Patron of England, c.304
Commemoration of Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, Teacher, 1988
There are no crown wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below.
... Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), Gleanings Among the Sheaves, New York: Sheldon, 1869, p. 57
(see the book; see also Matt. 10:38; 16:24,25; Luke 9:23,24; more at Bearing, Coronation, Cross, Heaven, Obedience)
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Commemoration of Mellitus, First Bishop of London, 624
Having tried, we must hold fast [to the truth], upon [the penalty of] the loss of a crown; we must not let go for all the fleabitings of the present afflictions, etc. Having bought truth dear, we must not sell it cheap, not the least grain of it for the whole world; no, not for the saving of souls, though our own most precious; least of all for the bitter sweetening of a little vanishing pleasure.
... Roger Williams (1603?-1683), The Bloudy Tenent , London: J. Haddon, 1848, p. 9
(see the book; see also 1 Thes. 5:21; Rev. 3:11; more at Affliction, Perseverance, Pleasure, Truth, Weakness)
Friday, April 25, 2008
Feast of Mark the Evangelist
But if the holy prophets had scruples against separating themselves from the church because of many great misdeeds, not of one man or another but of almost all the people, we claim too much for ourselves if we dare withdraw at once from the communion of the church just because the morals of all do not meet our standard, or even square with the profession of Christian faith.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. II, tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, IV.i.18, p. 240
(see the book; see also Jas. 4:11,12; more at Church, Communion, Morality, People, Prophet, Sin)
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I have no rest, but in a nook, with the Book.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), quoted in The Treasury of David, v. I, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1883, p. 7
(see the book; see also Ps. 1:1,2; more at Bible, Rest)
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Feast of Christina Rossetti, Poet, 1894
What can I give HimPoor as I am?If I were a shepherdI would give Him a lamb,If I were a Wise Man,I would do my part,—But what I can, I give Him,Give my heart.
... Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), Christina Rossetti: the complete poems, London: Penguin Classics, 2001, p. 211
(see the book; see also John 10:11; more at Christmas)
Monday, April 28, 2008
Commemoration of Peter Chanel, Religious, Missionary in the South Pacific, Martyr, 1841
I know the road to Jericho,It’s in a part of townThat’s full of factories and filth.I’ve seen the folks go down. Small folk with roses in their cheeksAnd starlight in their eyes;And seen them fall among the thieves,And heard their helpless cries. The priests and Levites speeding byRead of the latest crimesIn headlines spread in black and redAcross The Evening Times. How hard for those in limousinesTo heal the heart of man!It was a slow-paced ass that boreThe Good Samaritan.
... Edwin McNeill Poteat (1892-1955), in The Questing Spirit, Halford E. Luccock & Frances Brentano, New York: Coward-McCann, 1947, p. 427-428
(see the book; see also Luke 10:26-30; more at Jesus)
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Feast of Catherine of Siena, Mystic, Teacher, 1380
O abyss, O eternal Godhead, O sea profound, what more could You give me than Yourself? You are the fire that burns without being consumed; You consume in Your heat all the soul’s self-love; You are the fire which takes away cold; with Your light You illuminate me so that I may know all Your truth... Clothe me, clothe me with yourself, eternal truth, so that I may run this mortal life with true obedience, and with the light of your most holy faith.
... Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Dialogue 167 from Dialog of Catherine of Siena , Treatise of Obedience, xi.
(see the book; see also Ex. 3:2; Jer. 23:29; Heb. 12:27-29; more at Prayers)
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Commemoration of Pandita Mary Ramabai, Translator of the Scriptures, 1922
Ultimate confidence in the goodness of life cannot rest upon confidence in the goodness of man. If that is where it rests, it is an optimism which will suffer ultimate disillusionment. Romanticism will be transmuted into cynicism, as it has always been in the world’s history. The faith of a Christian is something quite different from this optimism. It is trust in God, in a good God who created a good world, though the world is not now good; in a good God, powerful and good enough finally to destroy the evil that men do and redeem them of their sins. This kind of faith is not optimism. It does not, in fact, arise until optimism breaks down and men cease to trust in themselves that they are righteous.
... Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), Beyond Tragedy, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1937, p. 131
(see the book; see also Pr. 3:5; Col. 1:13-15; more at Evil, Faith, Goodness, Optimism, Redemption, Righteousness, Sin, Suffer, Trust)
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