Quotations for February, 2020
Saturday, February 1, 2020
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525
The life of the early Church lay in constant intercommunication between all its parts; its health and growth were dependent on the free circulation of the life-blood of common thought and feeling. Hence it was first firmly seated on the great lines of communication across the empire, leading from its origin in Jerusalem to its imperial center in Rome. It had already struck root in Rome within little more than twenty years after the Crucifixion, and it had become really strong in the great city about thirty years after the Apostles began to look round and out from Jerusalem. This marvelous development was possible only because the seed of the new thought floated free on the main currents of communication, which were ever sweeping back and forward between the heart of the empire and its outlying members. Paul, who mainly directed the great movement, threw himself boldly and confidently into the life of the time; he took the empire as it was, accepted its political conformation and arrangement, and sought only to touch the spiritual and moral life of the people.
... Sir William M. Ramsay (1851-1939), Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? , London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1898, p. 31-32
(see the book; see also Rom. 13:1-7; Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:6; more at Church, Jerusalem, Morality, Origin, Spiritual life)
Sunday, February 2, 2020
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
If Dr. [John A. T.] Robinson is right in saying that “God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get on very well without him,” then the Church has no need to say anything whatever to secularized man, for that is precisely what secularized man already believes.
... E. L. Mascall (1905-1993), in The Observer, March 24, 1963, reproduced in The Honest to God Debate, David L. Edwards, ed., London, SCM Press, 1963, p. 93
(see the book; see also Num. 11:18-22; Rom. 11:7-8; Eph. 2:11-13; 2 Tim. 4:3; more at Apologetics, Belief, Church, God, Man)
Monday, February 3, 2020
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865
God will either give you what you ask, or something far better.
... Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843), The Life and Remains, Letters, Lectures, and Poems of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, Andrew Alexander Bonar, New York: R. Carter, 1866, p. 168
(see the book; see also 1 Kings 3:7-14; Luke 23:42-43; 1 John 5:14-15; more at Generosity, Giving, God, Providence)
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189
It is well to have specifically holy places, and things, and days, for, without these focal points or reminders, the belief that all is holy and “big with God” will soon dwindle into a mere sentiment. But if these holy places, things, and days cease to remind us, if they obliterate our awareness that all ground is holy and every bush (could we but perceive it) a Burning Bush, then the hallows begin to do harm. Hence both the necessity, and the perennial danger, of “religion.”
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, New York: Harcourt Brace and World, 1964, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 75
(see the book; see also Ex. 3:2-5; Matt. 23:5-39; Rev. 22:11; more at Awareness, Belief, Danger, Day, God, Holiness, Religion)
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597
The intelligence which has learned to be a law to itself, criticising, rejecting, appropriating, assimilating, cannot deny its nature and suspend its functions when it opens the New Testament. It cannot make itself the slave of men, not even though the men are Peter and Paul and John; no, not even though it were the Son of Man Himself. It resents dictation, not willfully nor wantonly, but because it must; and it resents it all the more when it claims to be inspired. If, therefore, the Atonement can only be received by those who are prepared from the threshold to acknowledge the inspiration and the consequent authority of Scripture, it can never be received by modern men at all.
... James Denney (1856-1917), The Atonement and the Modern Mind, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1903, p. 6
(see the book; see also Isa. 6:9-10; Rom. 1:21-23; 5:11; more at Atonement, Attitudes, Authenticity, Bible, Inspiration, Man, Scripture, Slave)
Thursday, February 6, 2020
The invasion of the Church by the world is a menace to the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. In all ages conformity to the world by Christians has resulted in lack of spiritual life and a consequent lack of spiritual vision and enterprise. A secularized or self-centered Church can never evangelize the world.
... John R. Mott (1865-1955), The Evangelization of the World in this Generation, New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1905, p. 44
(see the book; see also Mark 16:15; Rom. 12:1-2; more at Christ, Church, Evangelization, Kingdom, Spiritual life, Vision, World)
Friday, February 7, 2020
In the “dynamic” religion that we are being promised for tomorrow, no ascetic discipline or special humbleness will any longer be required. It will be a hot-water bottle kind of piety with none of that gritty old morality it in. It will be a brand of faith that has been synthetized, vitaminized, homogenized, and capsulized, and it will be as ready-made for effortless consumption as that magically bleached, cottony, crustless, already sliced white bread which is the symbol of the modern American’s massive superiority over the pagan bushwhacker.
... Curtis Cate (1924-2006), “God and Success”, in The Atlantic Monthly, January/June 1957, p. 76
(see the book; see also Deut. 32:31-33; Matt. 7:15; 15:2-20; 2 John 1:7-10; more at Discipline, Faith, Humility, Kindness, Morality, Pagan, Promise, Religion)
Saturday, February 8, 2020
Rich men now-a-days will have their monuments in churches... But if I were a priest or a bishop, I would put it into the heads of those thick-skulled courtiers or merchants, that if they would atone for their sins to Almighty God, they should privately bestow their liberality upon the relief of the poor.
... Desiderius Erasmus (1466?-1536), The Colloquies of Erasmus, v. I, tr. N. Bailey & ed. E. Johnson, London: Reeves & Turner, 1878, p. 190
(see the book; see also Matt. 6:19-20; 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 11:40-41; 12:33-34; 18:22; Acts 4:32-37; 2 Cor. 8:13-15; more at Atonement, Charity, Historical, Man, Poverty, Priest)
Sunday, February 9, 2020
The attentive reader will notice two items about the New Testament, as he comes to the end of it. For one thing, there is no book of church order, laying down a code of rules for the worship and organization of the communities: [there is] no book corresponding to the Book of Leviticus. The other thing is that the writings are all meant for communities, not for individuals: they reflect and presuppose the life of a society or fellowship. Even the private notes of Paul to Philemon and of the presbyter John to Gaius are addressed to these individuals as members of the church; and Luke’s two volumes are intended primarily—but only primarily—for the Christian education of his friend and patron Theophilus.
... James Moffatt (1870-1944), A New Translation of the Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1935, New York: Harper, 1935, Introduction, p. xxxv
(see the book; see also Luke 1:1-4; Gal. 1:1-2; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1-2; 1 Thess. 1:1; more at Bible, Church, Community, Education, Fellowship, Rule, Worship)
Monday, February 10, 2020
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543
Pride has a greater share than goodness of heart in the remonstrances we make to those who are guilty of faults; we reprove, not so much with a view to correcting them, as to persuade them that we are exempt from those faults ourselves.
... François La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), Moral Reflections, Sentences and Maxims of Francis, Duc de la Rochefoucauld, New York: W. Gowans, 1851, p. 15
(see the book; see also Matt. 7:1,2; Rom. 2:1-5; more at Attitudes, Goodness, Guilt, Heart, Pride, Self-examination, Sin)
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Lest it should be possible that any unchildlike soul might, in arrogance and ignorance, think to stand upon his rights against God, and demand of Him this or that after the will of the flesh, I will lay before such a possible one some of the things to which he has a right... He has a claim to be compelled to repent; to be hedged in on every side; to have one after another of the strong, sharp-toothed sheep-dogs of the Great Shepherd sent after him, to thwart him in any desire, foil him in any plan, frustrate him of any hope, until he come to see at length that nothing will ease his pain, nothing make life a thing worth having, but the presence of the living God within him.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “The Voice of Job”, in Unspoken Sermons, Second Series, London: Longmans, Green, 1886, p. 193-194
(see the book; see also Ps. 23; Job 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:21-25; more at Affliction, Arrogance, God, Hope, Ignorance, Knowing God, Life, Pain, Repentance)
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
... Martin Luther (1483-1546), Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, Harold J. Grimm, ed., Fortress Press, 1957, thesis #62, p. 14
(see the book; see also John 12:27-28; Acts 4:33; 1 Tim. 4:16; Jude 3; more at Church, Glory, God, Gospel, Grace, Treasure)
Thursday, February 13, 2020
When we turn from the microcosm of man to see the same qualities writ large in the character of the state, we find that democratic government has flourished only where Protestant Christianity has been strong. (The democracies of Greece were not truly democratic, for they were founded on slave labour.) This may be an historical accident, but it looks rather as though democracy imperatively requires conditions which only Christianity can supply: a conviction that every person is of infinite worth, that man is not his own master, that duties are more important than rights, and that spiritual well-being is of more account than material comfort and security.
... G. B. Caird (1917-1984), The Truth of the Gospel, London: Oxford University Press, 1950, p. 51-52
(see the book; see also Zech. 8:16-17; Amos 5:24; Phil. 2:3; more at Comfort, Conviction, Duty, Historical, Security, Social, Spiritual life)
Friday, February 14, 2020
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269
What is “spirit?” (for Christ is spirit, his religion that of the spirit). Spirit is: to live as though dead (dead to the world).This way of life is so entirely foreign to man that to him it is quite literally worse than death.Very carefully introduced for an hour or so in the distance of the imagination, natural man can bear it, it even pleases him; but if it is brought nearer him, so near that it becomes, in all seriousness, something required of him, the natural instinct of self-protection rises up so powerfully in him that a regular uproar follows, as with drink... And in that condition, in which he is beside himself, he demands the death of the man of spirit, or rushes upon him to put him to death.
... Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Journals, ed. Alexander Dru, Oxford University Press, 1959, p. 548
(see the book; see also Ps. 31:11-12; Rom. 7:8-11; 8:10; Eph. 2:1-5; more at Death, Man, Nature, Religion, Self, Spirit, World)
Saturday, February 15, 2020
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730
Guide me, O Lord, in all the changes and varieties of the world, that in all things that shall happen I may have an evenness and tranquillity of spirit; that my soul may be wholly resigned to thy divinest will and pleasure, never murmuring at thy gentle chastisements and fatherly correction, never waxing proud and insolent though I feel a torrent of comforts and prosperous successes.
... Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), Holy Living , in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D., v. III, London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1847, p. 34
(see the book; see also John 10:3,4; 16:13; Rom. 12:3,16; 1 Tim. 6:17; 1 Pet. 5:5; more at Affliction, Prayers, Pride, Resignation, Spirit, Success, Tranquility, Will of God, World)
Sunday, February 16, 2020
Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you. Just as a mother understands the first lispings of her infant, so does the blessed Saviour understand sinners. He can read a sigh, and see a meaning in a groan.
... J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), A Call to Prayer, published in the 1850’s as a pamphlet, American Tract Society, 1867, sec. VII
(see the book; see also Isa. 32:1-4; Rom. 8:26; more at Fear, Jesus, Meaning, Prayer, Savior, Sinner, Understanding)
Monday, February 17, 2020
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977
Joy is not gush: joy is not jolliness. Joy is simply perfect acquiescence in God’s will, because the soul delights itself in God Himself... Rejoice in the will of God, and in nothing else. Bow down your heads and your hearts before God, and let the will, the blessed will of God, be done.
... Hanmer William Webb-Peploe (1837-1923), included in Springs in the Valley, ed. Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997, p. 163
(see the book; see also Nah. 1:15; 2 Cor. 1:24; 8:2; Phil. 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16; more at Abasement, God, Heart, Joy, Obedience, Will of God)
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
In a modern-day brand of Christianity devoted to good works, faith in the forgiveness of sin deteriorates, and the Golden Rule becomes a means of salvation rather than the fruit of salvation. An empty stomach is no way to a man’s heart, and racial justice is long overdue, but a cup of water can never replace the healing power of the Cross. In a country where famine and poverty have reduced the day’s ration to a bowl of rice and the domicile to one room, food and shelter are obviously important, but so is faith in God’s mercy. Faith is indispensable. Neither individual holiness nor social concern can be legislated... The fact is that the more seriously one takes the demands of God, the more conscious of his own need for mercy he becomes. But, fortunately, as Kierkegaard put it, “The opposite of sin is not ‘virtue’ but faith.”
... Paul G. Johnson (b. 1931), Buried Alive, Richmond: John Knox Press, 1968, p. 143
(see the book; see also Matt. 8:16-17; Rom. 6:3-8; Gal. 3:21-22; more at Cross, Faith, Forgiveness, Good works, Mercy, Salvation, Sin, Virtue)
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
I should as soon attempt to raise flowers if there were no atmosphere, or produce fruits if there were neither light nor heat, as to regenerate men if I did not believe there was a Holy Ghost.
... Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), The Sermons of Henry Ward Beecher in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, eighth series, New York: J. B. Ford, 1873, p. 390
(see the book; see also Isa. 11:2-5; Matt. 19:26; Luke 11:13; 12:11-12; 1 Cor. 2:13-14; more at Belief, Flower, Holy Spirit, Light, Man, Regeneration)
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906
When the time comes to enter the darkness in which we are naked and helpless and alone; in which we see the insufficiency of our greatest strength and the hollowness of our strongest virtues; in which we have nothing of our own to rely on, and nothing in our nature to support us, and nothing in the world to guide us or give us fight—then we find out whether or not we live by faith.
... Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Seeds of Contemplation, London: Hollis & Carter, 1949, New Directions. 1949, p. 172
(see the book; see also Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; 5:1; Gal. 2:15-16; 3:11; more at Darkness, Faith, Guidance, Helplessness, Weakness)
Friday, February 21, 2020
None of these good works [e.g., HIV/AIDS outreach, relief of hunger, poverty, or eliminating malaria or tuberculosis]—nay, great works—deal with the most profound social problem facing humankind.That social problem is alienation from God.
... Christianity Today Magazine, Carol Stream, IL, “The Greatest Social Need”, editorial for January 19, 2009
(see the book; see also Ps. 14:1; Job 12:7-25; Rom. 1:18-23; Eph. 2:12-13; more at Agnosticism, Atheism, God, Good works, Poverty, Social)
Saturday, February 22, 2020
It is difficult to document such a thing as the general attitude of a profession. But the hostility of most psychologists to Christianity is very real. For years, I was part of that sentiment; today it still surrounds me. It is a curious hostility, for most psychologists are not aware of it. Their lack of awareness is due mostly to sheer ignorance of what Christianity is—for that matter, of what any religion is. The universities are so secularized that most academics can no longer articulate why they are opposed to Christianity. They merely assume that, for all rational people, the question of being a Christian was settled—negatively—at some time in the past.
... Paul C. Vitz (b. 1935), Psychology as Religion, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977, p. 12
(see the book; see also Eccl. 6:11-12; 8:17; I Cor. 2:7-10; 3:19; Jas. 1:5-6; more at Attitudes, Hostility, Ignorance, People, Reason, Religion, Today)
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155
So long as we stand “under the Law,” we cannot perceive this hidden unity of all the commandments. It is part of legalism that the will of God must appear to it as a multiplicity of commandments. In actual fact, it is one and indivisible; God wants nothing else except love because He Himself is love.
... Emil Brunner (1889-1966), The Letter to the Romans, Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1959, p. 111-112
(see the book; see also Mark 12:29-31; more at Commandment, Law, Legalism, Love, Unity, Will of God)
Monday, February 24, 2020
No erudition, no purity of diction, no width of mental outlook, no flowers of eloquence, no grace of person can atone for lack of fire. Prayer ascends by fire. Flame gives prayer access as well as wings, acceptance as well as energy. There is no incense without fire; no prayer without flame.
... E. M. Bounds (1835-1913), The Necessity of Prayer , Lulu, 2007, p. 19-20
(see the book; see also Ps. 141:2; Matt. 3:11; Acts 2:3; 1 Thess. 5:19; Rev. 5:8; 8:3-4; more at Fire, Flame, Grace, Prayer, Purity)
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are “harmless,” and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are “sideliners”—coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!
... Jim Elliot (1927-1956), Shadow of the Almighty: the life & testament of Jim Elliot, Elisabeth Elliot, Harper, 1958, p. 79
(see the book; see also Pr. 28:1; Acts 4:29-31; 9:28; Rom. 8:31; Heb. 13:6; more at Challenge, Commonplace, Contentment, Cross, Danger, Enemy, Fight, God, Hatred, Knowledge, Meekness, Power)
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?
... Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983), Clippings from My Notebook: writings of and sayings collected, Nashville: T. Nelson, 1982, p. 64
(see the book; see also Josh. 5:9; Matt. 6:5-8; Jas. 5:16-18; more at Commitment, Guidance, Prayer)
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633
A pastor is the deputy of Christ for the reducing of man to the obedience of God. This definition is evident, and contains the direct steps of pastoral duty and authority. For, first, man fell from God by disobedience. Secondly, Christ is the glorious instrument of God for the revoking of man. Thirdly, Christ being not to continue on earth, but, after He had fulfilled the work of reconciliation, to be received up into heaven, He constituted deputies in His place; and these are priests. And therefore St. Paul, in the beginning of his epistles, professeth this; and in the [letter] to the Colossians [1:24] he plainly avoucheth, that he “fills up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, for His body’s sake, which is the church.” Wherein is contained the complete definition of a minister.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Priest to the Temple , London: H. Washbourne, 1842, p. 1-2
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:35-39; 15:8; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Col. 1:24; more at Affliction, Christ, Church, Minister, Obedience, Priest, Reconciliation)
Friday, February 28, 2020
If something I am asked to do for another feels burdensome; if, yielding to an inward unwillingness, I avoid doing it, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
... Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), If , London: SPCK, 1961, p. 50
(see the book; see also Lev. 19:18; Deut. 15:10; Matt. 5:42; 2 Cor. 9:7; Philem. 1:14; Heb. 6:10; more at Burden, Calvary, Knowledge, Love)
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Not by conforming to this world can humanity be saved. Lying down in the gutter with the derelict is no way to reform him. Acquiescence is not an effective way of remedying evils. Sharing the gains of exploitation and enjoying the privileges arising out of injustice will never lead to the transformation of society. Untiring opposition to false standards and ceaseless activity against wrongdoing are demanded by love. Mankind can never be lifted to the highest levels if its teachers dwell in the lowlands. To be in the world and yet not of it is the difficult requirement of love.
... Kirby Page (1890-1957), Jesus or Christianity, Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1931, p. 32
(see the book; see also Isa. 40:11; Luke 6:39-40; John 10:3-4; 15:19; more at Evil, Love, Man, Social, Teach, Way, World)
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