Quotations for February, 2019
Friday, February 1, 2019
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525
The purpose of the covenant, in the Hebrew Bible and some subsequent writings, was never simply that the creator wanted to have Israel as a special people, irrespective of the fate of the rest of the world. The purpose of the covenant was that, through this means, the creator would address and save his entire world. The call of Abraham was designed to undo the sin of Adam.
... N. T. Wright (b. 1948), What Saint Paul Really Said, Grand Rapids Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997, p. 33
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:17-18; more at Bible, Fall, Israel, Salvation, Sin, World)
Saturday, February 2, 2019
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
The Company of Jesus is not people streaming to a shrine; and it is not people making up an audience for a speaker; it is laborers engaged in the harvesting task of reaching their perplexed and seeking brethren with something so vital that, if it is received, it will change their lives.
... Elton Trueblood (1900-1994), The Company of the Committed, Harper, 1961, p. 45
(see the book; see also Matt. 9:37-38; Ps. 68:11; Matt. 28:19; Luke 10:1-2; 24:46-47; John 4:35-36; Acts 8:4; 1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1-2; 2 Thess. 3:1; more at Harvest, Jesus, People, Task)
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865
Only by critical questioning can I tell whether I am reading into the text, not only my own presuppositions and questions, but also those of my own generation and even those of my own church and religious tradition. Evangelicals have been too afraid of the word “criticism,” when only by critical questioning can I sufficiently disengage myself from my own worldly or religious (even evangelical) tradition to ask: Is this what the Bible is really saying?
... Tony Thiselton (b. 1937), “Understanding God’s Word Today”, in The Lord Christ , John Stott, ed., vol. 1 of Obeying Christ in a Changing World, John Stott, gen. ed., 3 vol., London: Fountain, 1977, p. 104
(see the book; see also Deut. 8:3; more at Bible, Church, Criticism, Question, Religion, Tradition, Worldly)
Monday, February 4, 2019
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189
I am quite prepared to promise the secularists secular education if they on their side will promise not to have moral instruction. Secular education seems to me intellectually clean and comprehensible. Moral instruction seems to me unclean, intolerable; I would destroy it with fire. Teaching the Old Testament by itself means teaching ancient Hebrew ethics, which are simple, barbaric, rudimentary, and, to a Christian, unsatisfying. Teaching moral instruction means teaching modern London, Birmingham and Boston ethics, which are not barbaric and rudimentary, but are corrupt, hysterical, and crawling with worms, and which are to a Christian, not unsatisfying but detestable. The old Jew who says that you must fight only for your tribe is inadequate; but the modern prig who says you must not ever fight for anything is substantially and specifically immoral. I know quite well, of course, that the non-religious ethics suggested for modern schools do not verbally assert such things; they only talk about peaceful reform, true Christianity, and the importance of Count Tolstoy. It is all a matter of tone and implication; but then, so is all teaching. Education is implication. It is not the things you say which children respect; when you say things, they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It is the things you assume that really sink into them. It is the things you forget even to teach that they learn.
... Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), in the Illustrated London News (1907), The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, v. XXVII, Ignatius Press, 1986, p. 382-383
(see the book; see also 3 John 1:11; more at Social)
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597
In the long run, the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is... a question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that that is what He does.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain, New York: Macmillan, 1944, p. 116
(see the book; see also Luke 12:8-9; more at Calvary, Forgiveness, Hell, Providence, Question, Sin)
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:1. The ministry of holding one’s tongue Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words... Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him. This prohibition does not include the personal word of advice and guidance... But to speak about a brother is forbidden, even under the cloak of help and goodwill; for it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred among brothers creeps in when it is seeking to create mischief.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 94
(see the book; see also Luke 6:45; more at Ambition, Church, Evil, Fellowship, Hatred, Minister, Selfish, Thought)
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:2. The ministry of meekness He who would learn to serve must first learn to think little of himself...Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself. He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether when Jesus forgave him... He will know that it is good for his own will to be broken in the encounter with his neighbour...But not only my neighbour’s will, but also his honor is more important than mine... The desire for one’s own honor hinders faith. One who seeks his own honor is no longer seeking God and his neighbour. What does it matter if I suffer injustice? Would I not have deserved even worse punishment from God, if He had not dealt with me according to His mercy?
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 96-97
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 9:19; more at Ambition, Church, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Honor, Meekness, Mercy, Minister, Neighbor, Selfish, Service, Sin, Suffer)
Friday, February 8, 2019
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:3. The ministry of listening The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them... Listening can be a greater service than speaking...One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others... Anyone who thinks his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies...We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 98
(see the book; see also Matt. 11:15; more at Ambition, Church, Fellowship, Listening, Love, Minister, Patience, Selfish, Time)
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:4. The ministry of helpfulness Active helpfulness means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. There is a multitude of these things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the meanest service...We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps—reading the Bible. When we do that, we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that not our way, but God’s way must be done.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 99
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:40-42; more at Ambition, Church, Cross, Fellowship, Helpfulness, Minister, Selfish, Service)
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:5. The ministry of bearing “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Thus the law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining...The Christian must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated...It is, first of all, the freedom of the other person that is a burden to the Christian... The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person’s nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us...Then, there is the abuse of that freedom that becomes a burden for the Christian. In sin, fellowship with God and with his brother are broken... To cherish no contempt for the sinner but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have to give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, to preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness...The service of forgiveness is rendered by one to the others daily. It occurs, without words, in the intercessions for one another... He who is bearing others knows that he himself is being borne.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 100-101
(see the book; see also Gal. 6:2; more at Ambition, Bearing, Burden, Christ, Church, Fellowship, Forebear, Forgiveness, Intercession, Law, Minister, Prayer, Selfish, Service, Sinner, Suffer, Weakness)
Monday, February 11, 2019
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:6. The ministry of proclaiming Where Christians live together the time must ultimately come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God’s Word and will to another. It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one to another. It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him...The more we learn to allow others to speak the Word to us, to accept humbly and gratefully even severe reproaches and admonitions, the more free and objective will we be in speaking ourselves... The humble person will stick to truth and love. He will stick to the Word of God and let it lead him to his brother...Reproof is unavoidable. God’s Word demands it when a brother falls into open sin. Where defection from God’s Word in doctrine or life imperils the fellowship... the word of admonition and rebuke must be ventured. Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin. It is a ministry of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine fellowship, when we allow nothing but God’s Word to stand between us, judging and succoring.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 104-107
(see the book; see also Gal. 6:1; more at Ambition, Church, Criticism, Fellowship, Gratitude, Humility, Judgment, Love, Mercy, Minister, Preach, Selfish, Truth)
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:7. The ministry of authority Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent upon brotherly service (Mark 10:43). Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed, it poisons the Christian community...Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority... The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren...Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers submitted to the authority of the Word.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 108-109
(see the book; see also Mark 10:42-44; more at Ambition, Church, Fellowship, Jesus, Minister, Selfish, Service)
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Turn your eyes full upon yourselves, and see if you cannot discover the same fault [that you would judge in another] in yourselves, either in times past or now-a-days. And, if you find it, remember how that it is God’s appointing that you shall now behold this sin in another, in order that you may be brought to acknowledge and repent of it; and amend your ways and pray for your brother, that God may grant him repentance and amendment according to His Divine Will. Thus a good heart draws amendment from the sins of others, and is guarded from all harsh judgment and wrath, and preserves an even temper, while an evil heart puts the worst interpretation on all that it sees, and turns it to its own hurt.
... Johannes Tauler (ca. 1300-1361), “Sermon for St. Peter’s Day,” in The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler of Strasbourg, Charles Kingsley, pref. & Susanna Winkworth, tr., New York: Wiley & Halsted, 1858, p. 462
(see the book; see also 2 Tim. 4:2; more at Repentance)
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269
As we get older, we know what we need most from forgiveness is not suspension of punishment, but assurance that love is unbroken even when we are separated... We must realize that God is against us when we are sinning; yet we dare trust that His gracious love reaches to us across the chasm which separates us from Him. When we understand His loving attitude and accept His Grace, He releases His love in us. By that love we are able to begin to keep His commands for us—to love Him with heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
... K. Morgan Edwards (1912-2003), Hoping to be Somebody, K. Morgan Edwards, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1959, p. 69,74-75
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:38-39; more at Forgiveness)
Friday, February 15, 2019
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730
The Hebrew religion was an unfinished religion. That is one of the best proofs of its divine inspiration. The prophets had the forward look. Great things were yet to come. As one of the most daring expressed it, the old and hallowed covenant, made by God at the Exodus, would be superseded by a new and higher relation; God would write his law into the hearts of the people; the old drill in outward statutes would disappear, for all men would know God by an inward experience of forgiveness and love.
... Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), The Social Principles of Jesus, New York: Association Press, 1916, p. 87-88
(see the book; see also Jer. 31:33-34; more at Forgiveness)
Saturday, February 16, 2019
When on my day of life the night is falling,And, in the winds from unsunned spaces blown,I hear far voices out of darkness callingMy feet to paths unknown, Thou who hast made my home of life so pleasantLeave not its tenant when its walls decay;O Love Divine, O Helper ever present,Be Thou my strength and stay! Be near me when all else is from me drifting;Earth, sky, home’s pictures, days of shade and shine,And kindly faces to my own upliftingThe love that answers mine. I have but Thee, my Father! let Thy spiritBe with me then to comfort and uphold;No gate of pearl, no branch of palm I merit,Nor street of shining gold. Suffice it if—my good and ill unreckoned,And both forgiven through Thy abounding grace—I find myself by hands familiar beckonedUnto my fitting place.
... John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), The Complete Poetical Works of Whittier, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1894, p. 463
(see the book; see also Rom. 6:14; more at Forgiveness)
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977
The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope, then he sees worlds beyond; but if he looks at his telescope, then he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through to see that which is beyond.
... Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), The Sermons of Henry Ward Beecher in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, second series, New York: J. B. Ford, 1873, p. 5
(see the book; see also Rom. 1:1-4; more at Bible, Sight, Understanding, World)
Monday, February 18, 2019
When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, under his eyes, so that to his knowledge there is nothing future or past, but all things are present. And they are present in such a way that he not only conceives them through ideas, as we have before us those things which our minds remember, but he truly looks upon them and discerns them as things placed before him. And this foreknowledge is extended throughout the universe to every creature. We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he determined with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or death.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. II, tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, III.xxi.5, p. 145
(see the book; see also 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Matt. 6:8; Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29-30; 11:2; more at Creation, Equality, Eternal life, Everlasting, God, Judgment, Knowledge, Predestination)
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Faith is life in Jesus Christ, and a life can never be confined within certain systems or creeds. Therefore creeds are not the end or object of faith in themselves, but expressions of our fellowship with Christ, and must not be mistaken for the object or center of our faith. Obviously the fullness of the living Christ cannot be held within the narrow limits of written creeds.
... Kokichi Kurosaki (1886-1970), One Body in Christ, Kobe, Japan: Eternal Life Press, 1954, ch. 2
(see the book; see also Mark 7:6-8; John 5:39-40; Acts 10:47-48; 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 4:7; 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 1 John 2:27; more at Creed, Faith, Fullness, Jesus, Life)
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906
There are still those who would add to the faith human traditions and fancies, thus cluttering it up and obscuring it; and those who would take away from it, rejecting (often with little thought) whatever may seem to them to be out of harmony with the so-called modern mind; and others who would distort it, making it one way or another a pretext for injustice and oppression. But, if we are to be effective in contending for the faith against false teachings, we must certainly contend for it by striving ourselves to understand it ever more truly and more fully.
... C. E. B. Cranfield (1915-2015), I & II Peter and Jude, London: SCM Press, 1960, p. 155-156
(see the book; see also Jude 1:3; more at Apologetics, Contention, Faith, Labor, Tradition, Understanding)
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner. (“To know all is to forgive all.”) No commonplace is more untrue. Behavior, whether conditioned by an individual neurosis or by society, can be understood, that is to say, one knows exactly why such and such an individual behaves as he does. But a personal action or deed is always mysterious. When we really act, precisely because it is a matter of free choice, we can never say exactly why we do this rather than that. But it is only deeds that we are required to forgive. If someone does me an injury, the question of forgiveness only arises if I am convinced (a) that the injury he did me was a free act on his part and therefore no less mysterious to him than to me, and (b) that it was me personally whom he meant to injure. Christ does not forgive the soldiers who are nailing him to the Cross; he asks the Father to forgive them. He knows as well as they do why they are doing this—they are a squad, detailed to execute a criminal. They do not know what they are doing, because it is not their business, as executioners, to know whom they are crucifying.If the person who does me an injury does not know what he is doing, then it is as ridiculous for me to talk about forgiving him as it would be for me to “forgive” a tile which falls on my head in a gale.
... W. H. Auden (1907-1973), A Certain World, London: Faber and Faber, 1971, p. 167-168
(see the book; see also Luke 23:34; more at Commonplace, Forgiveness)
Friday, February 22, 2019
It is to be feared lest our long quarrels about the manner of His presence cause the matter of His absence, for our want of charity to receive Him.
... Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), Good Thoughts in Bad Times , Chicago: United Society of Christian Endeavor, Boston, 1898, Mixt Contemplations, II.
(see the book; see also Rom. 14:19-21; 1 Cor. 13; more at Charity, Church, Communion, Fear, Quarrel)
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155
It is sottish ignorance and infidelity to suppose that, under the Gospel, there is no communication between God and us but what is, on His part, in laws, commands, and promises; and on ours, by obedience performed in our strength, and upon our convictions unto them. To exclude hence the real internal operations of the Holy Ghost, is to destroy the Gospel.
... John Owen (1616-1683), II.5 in A Discourse Concerning Holy Spirit, bk. I-V , in Works of John Owen, v. III, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1852, p. 200
(see the book; see also John 14:6; Acts 4:31; Rom. 8:14,26-27; 1 Pet. 1:21; more at Commandment, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Ignorance, Law, Obedience)
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Each of these foregoing states has its time, its variety of workings, its trials, temptations, and purifications, which can only be known by experience in the passage through them. The one only and infallible way to go safely through all the difficulties, trials, temptations, dryness, or opposition, of our own evil tempers, is this: it is to expect nothing from ourselves, to trust to nothing in ourselves, but in everything to expect, and depend upon God for relief. Keep fast hold of this thread, and then let your way be what it will, darkness, temptation, or the rebellion of nature, you will be led through it all, to an union with God: for nothing hurts us in any state, but an expectation of something in it, and from it, which we should only expect from God. [Continued tomorrow]
... William Law (1686-1761), The Spirit of Prayer , London: E. Justins for Ogles, Duncan, and Cochran, 1816, p. 147
(see the book; see also Ps. 108:12-13; more at Darkness, Self, Temptation, Trial, Trust, Weakness)
Monday, February 25, 2019
[Continued from yesterday]We are looking for our own virtue, our own piety, our own goodness, and so live on and in our own poverty and weakness, today pleased and comforted with the seeming firmness and strength of our own pious tempers, and fancying ourselves to be somewhat. Tomorrow, fallen into our own mire, we are dejected, but not humbled; we grieve, but it is only the grief of pride at the seeing our perfection not to be such as we had vainly imagined. And thus it will be, till the whole turn of our minds is so changed that we as fully see and know our inability to have any goodness of our own, as to have a life of our own.
... William Law (1686-1761), The Spirit of Prayer , London: E. Justins for Ogles, Duncan, and Cochran, 1816, p. 147-148
(see the book; see also Rom. 10:3; more at Goodness, Humility, Poverty, Pride, Vanity, Weakness)
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy, we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God He will sooner or later bring us to this test. Abraham’s testing was, at the time, not known to him as such, yet if he had taken some course other than the one he did, the whole history of the Old Testament would have been different. God would have found His man, no doubt, but the loss to Abraham would have been tragic beyond the telling. So we will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us; just one and an alternative, but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God , Christian Publications, 1982, p. 30
(see the book; see also Gen. 12:1-4; more at Choices, Future, Historical, Knowing God, Renunciation, Trial)
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633
It’s true we cannot reach Christ’s forti’th dayYet to go part of that religious wayIs better than to rest:We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;Yet we are bid, ‘Be holy ev’n as He’:In both let’s do our best. Who goeth in the way which Christ hath goneIs much more sure to meet with Him than oneThat traveleth by-ways;Perhaps my God, though He be far before,May turn, and take me by the hand, and more,May strengthen my decays. Yet, Lord, instruct us to improve our fastBy starving sin, and taking such repastAs may our faults control;That ev’ry man may revel at his door,Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,And among those, his soul.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 109-110
(see the book; see also Mark 1:12-13; Isa. 35:8; 1 Pet. 1:15,16; Heb. 9:8-14; more at Repentance)
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Counter-culture’s glad tidings of revolution by consciousness are neither new nor revolutionary. Christianity has been trying to achieve a revolution by consciousness for two thousand years. Who would deny that Christian consciousness could have changed the world? Yet it was the world that changed Christian consciousness. If everybody adopted a peaceful, loving, generous, noncompetitive lifestyle, we could have something better than counter-culture—we could have the Kingdom of God.
... Marvin Harris (1927-2001), Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches, New York: Random House, 1974, p. 253
(see the book; see also Rom. 2:9-11; more at Religion)
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