Thursday, 26 February 2009


'Cynicism has no card-carrying membership, parliament, priesthood or system of tenure. It cannot be compared fairly to various schools of philosophy, psychology or social theory. It is not a school of thought at all but a voice of doubt in your ear, a predisposition for seeing through people and things, a negative idea about human nature, a mood or attitude of suspicion, or friends with a particular sense of humour.'
Dick Keyes, Seeing through Cynicism: A reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, p.22.


'Easter week itself ought not to be the time when all the clergy sigh with relief and go on holiday. It ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with loads of Alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don't throw our hats in the air?'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.268.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


'The proper response to idolatry is therefore not dualism, the rejection of space, time or matter as themselves evil or dangerous, but the renewed worship of the Creator God, which sets the context for the proper enjoyment and use of the created order without the danger of worshipping it.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.223.


'...what you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that's about to fall over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that's shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that's about to be dug up for a building site. You are - strange though it might seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself - accomplishing something which will become, in due course, part of God's new world. Every act of love, gratitude and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one's fellow human beings, and for that matter one's fellow non-human creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed which spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies hoiliness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honoured in the world - all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation which God will one day make.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.219.


'There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master's, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo's side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep and untroubled sleep.'
JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, p.957.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


'Of the three great monotheistic religions of modern time, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, only Christianity affirms singleness as a distinctive calling and gift within the community of God's people.'
Barry Danylak, A Biblical Theology of Singleness, p.3.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


'Those who worship money define themselves in terms of it, and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners or customers rather than human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat people as actual or potential sex objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it, and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors or pawns. These and many other kinds of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and the lives of those they touch.'
Tom Wright, Surpised by Hope, p.195.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


'Because we have this wonderful capacity to form habits we can be encouraged that we can change. Even though you may presently have habits that trouble you, cheer yourself with the knowledge that, at the least, you are able to form new habits. Stop now and think about any habit that you have, even if it's sinful. If you are able to establish any habit, even if it's a sinful one, you can develop godly ones. It may be difficult - I have no doubt that it will be - but remember that the power of all heaven is on your side.'
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits, p.111.

Monday, 16 February 2009


'What Paul is asking us to imagine is that there will be a new mode of physicality which stands in relation to our present body as our present body does to a ghost. It will be as much more real, more firmed up, more bodily, than our present body is more substantial, more touchable, than a disembodied spirit. We sometimes speak of someone who's been very ill as being a 'shadow of their former self.' If Paul is right, a Christian in the present life is a mere shadow of his or her future self, the self they will be when the body which God has waiting in his heavenly storeroom is brought out, already made to measure, and put on over the present one - or over the self which will still exist after bodily death.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p. 166.

Sunday, 15 February 2009


'The individual act of conversion is not a rejection of community but the occasion for community.'
Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West, p.45.


'About the decline, the statistics are unequivocal. But beneath and beyond that has been a strategic retreat into isolation where the spirit seems to be wilting. It has taken the form of a mood swing in which people have been preoccupied with taking stock, with the setting sun and lengthening shadows, with memorial armbands, with shades of gray, with requiem. As Sir Edward Grey declared, brooding on the clouds of his time, the lamps have gone out all over Europe. The religious imagination seems to have been hit with a bout of melancholy as it labors with strains of "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide" and "The Day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended, / the darkness falls as Thy behest." It's the solemn vespers without the Gloria, and is a far cry from the confident, robust tones of "Onward, Christian soldiers," "The Son of God forth to war," or "Stand up, stand up for Jesus!" A dark, ominous drumbeat seems to rumble through the music of the filial hymn "God of our fathers, known of old ... lest we forget, lest we forget." It's as if Europeans have the Nunc Dimittis constantly on their lips, and so regret having to celebrate Christmas or Easter. Maybe too much history is a bad thing.'
Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West, p. 29.


'We are a puzzled and confused generation embracing any and every kind of non-rationalism that may offer us a spiritual shot in the arm while lapsing back into rationalism (in particular, the old modernist critiques) whenever we want to keep traditional or orthodox Christianity at bay.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.133.


'We have rediscovered what the Psalmists knew: that for God to 'judge' the world meant that he would, in the end, put it all to rights, straighten it out, producing not just a sigh of relief all round but shouting for joy from the trees and the fields, the seas and the floods.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.133.

Monday, 9 February 2009


'Redemption is not simply making creation a bit better, as the optimistic evolutionist would try and suggest. Nor is it rescuing spirits and souls from an evil material world, as the gnostic would want to say. It is the remaking of creation, having dealt with the evil which is defacing and distorting it. And it is accomplished by the same God, now known in Jesus Christ, through whom it was made.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.108.


'Philosophy does not excite many people today, and many people do not even want to hear personal testimony and the simple gospel. But they do care about right and wrong. Christians who can talk about ethics in a cogent way, therefore, have great apologetic and evangelistic advantage.'
John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, p.5.

Sunday, 8 February 2009


'What I am suggesting is that faith in Jesus risen from the dead transcends but includes what we call history and what we call science. Faith of this sort is not blind belief which rejects all history and science. Nor is it simply - which would be much 'safer'! - a belief which inhabits a totally different sphere, discontinuous from either, in a separate watertight compartment. Rather, this kind of faith, which like all modes of knowledge is defined by the nature of its object, is faith in the creator God, the God who has promised to put all things to right at the last, the God who (as the sharp point where these two come together) has raised Jesus from the dead within history, leaving evidence which demands an explanation from the scientist as well as everybody else.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.83.


'We could cope - the world could cope - with a Jesus who ultimately remains a wonderful idea inside his disciples' minds and hearts. The world cannot cope with a Jesus who comes out of the tomb, who inaugurates God's new creation right within the middle of the old one.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.80.


'Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable,
a sign painted in the fading credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

Let us not seek to make it less montrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour,
we are embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.'
John Updike, from 'Seven Stanzas at Easter' in Tom Wright, Surpised by Hope, p. 72.


'Resurrection is not the redescription of death; it is its overthrow, and with that the overthrow of those whose power depends on it. Despite the sneers and slurs of some contemporary scholars, it was those who believed in the bodily resurrection who were burned at the stake and thrown to the lions. Resurrection was never a way of settling down and becoming respectable; the Pharisees could have told you that. It was the gnostics who translated the language of resurrection into a private spirituality and a dualistic cosmology; thereby more of less altering its meaning into its opposite, who escaped persecution. Which emperor would have sleepless nights worrying that his subjects were reading The Gospel of Thomas? Resurrection was always bound to get you into trouble, and regularly did.'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.62.


'...good theology is never a matter of majority voting...'
Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.15.

Friday, 6 February 2009


'Praise is the great act of rebellion against sin, the great repudiation of our wicked refusal to acknowledge God to be the Lord.'
John Webster, Holiness, p.76.

Thursday, 5 February 2009


'...we ought to specialize far more on spiritual cardiology than spiritual dermatology. We should not be content with right answers without right hearts. We should examine our motives as much as we seek to have proper outward behavior.'
Tom Hovestol, Extreme Righteousness: Seeing ourselves in the Pharisees, p.208.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Jesus of the Scars

'If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.

If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are; have no fear;
Show us Thy Scars; we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.'

Edward Shillito

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


'...the ultimate reason (not the only one) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable. The language and imagery of sexuality are the most graphic and most powerful that the Bible uses to describe the relationship between God and his people - both positively (when we are faithful) and negatively (when we are not).'
John Piper, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, p.26.

Monday, 2 February 2009


'Though separatism from sinning Christians is supported in the Scriptures, separatism from sinning nonbelievers is not.'
Tom Hovestol, Extreme Righteousness: Seeing ourselves in the Pharisees, p.176.


'Perhaps we as a church may need less church programming and more equipping and encouragement to be in the business of building redemptive relationships outside the confines of the church.'
Tom Hovestol, Extreme Righteousness: Seeing ourselves in the Pharisees, p.167.


'There's something comfortable about reducing Christianity to a list of do's and don'ts, whether your list comes from mindless fundamentalism or mindless liberalism: you always know where you stand, and this helps reduce anxiety. Dos-and-don'tism has the advantage that you don't need wisdom. You don't have to think subtly or make hard choices. You don't have to relate personally to a demanding and loving Lord.'
Robert C Roberts in Tom Hovestol, Extreme Righteousness: Seeing ourselves in the Pharisees, p.157.


'Of all the people in the world, perhaps we religious folk are the most fond of fences. They make us feel secure, they define for us what is and what is not acceptable, they motivate and protect us, and they help us keep score for ourselves and on others. However, sheep are not best tended with fences but by a relationship with a good shepherd. One of the marks of Christian maturity is the ability to find freedom in Christ and live a life of love.'
Tom Hovestol, Extreme Righteousness: Seeing ourselves in the pharisees, p.155.