'...we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration.'
GK Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, p.22.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
'Every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God's Word in Scripture is a lost day for me. I can only move forward with certainty upon the firm ground of the Word of God, and, as a Christian, I learn to know the Holy Scripture in no other way than by hearing the Word preached and by prayerful meditation.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Peter Adam, Written for Us, p.115.
Sunday, 24 January 2010
'Proposing that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead was just as controversial nineteen hundred years ago as it is today. The discovery that dead people stayed dead was not first made by the philosophers of the Enlightenment. The historian who wishes to make such a proposal is therefore compelled to challenge a basic and fundamental assumption - not only, as it is sometimes suggested, the position of eighteenth-century scepticism, or the "scientific" worldview" as opposed to a "pre-scientific worldview", but also of almost all ancient and modern peoples outside the Jewish and Christian traditions.'
Tom Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, p.10.
'Given a man with moderate intellect, a moral standard not higher than the average, some rhetorical affluence and great glibness of speech, what is the career in which, without the aid of birth or money, he may most easily attain power and reputation in English Society? Where is that Goshen of mediocrity in which a smattering of science and learning will pass for profound instruction, where platitudes will be accepted as wisdom, bigoted narrowness as holy zeal, unctuos egoism as God-given piety? Let such a man become an evangelical preacher; he will then find it possible to reconcile small ability with great ambition, superficial knowledge with the prestige of erudition, a middling morale with a high reputation for sanctity. Let him shun practical extremes and be ultra only in what is purely theoretical: let him be stringent on predestination but latitudinarian on fasting; unflinching in insisting on the eternity of punishment, but diffident of curtailing the substantial comforts of time; ardent and imaginative on the premillenial advent of Christ, but cold and cautious towards every other infringement of the status quo. Let him fish for souls not with the bait of inconvenient singularity, but with the drag-net of comfortable conformity. Let him be hard and literal in his interpretation only when he wants to hurl texts at the heads of unbelievers and adversaries, but when the letter of the Scriptures presses too closely on the genteel Christianity of the nineteenth century let him use his spiritualizing alembic and disperse it into impalpable ether. Let him preach less of Christ than of Antichrist; let him be less definite in showing what sin is than in showing who is the Man of Sin, less expansive on the blessedness of faith than the accursedness of infidelity.'
George Eliot in David Hempton, Evangelical Disenchantment, p.20.
Saturday, 23 January 2010
'For all the well-known and oft debated problems associated with reconciling faith and science, the ability to reconcile artistic creativity with Christian orthodoxy has proved to be a much bigger stumbling block for the evangelical tradition. Part of the reason for that lies in the long-standing evangelical distrust of the evils of fiction, theater, and the visual arts, or indeed anything to do with those strictly imaginative pursuits that emphasize passion over piety. That historical pattern is now changing quite rapidly within modern evangelicalism.'
David Hempton, Evangelical Disenchantment, p.12.
'It is sometimes assumed that at the heart and center of the long conflict between evangelicalism and culture lay new scientific claims about a long-earth history and the theory of evolution by natural selection. The so-called war between Christianity and Science has attracted a great deal of attention, but specialists in the field generally agree that the military metaphor of war is overblown and that a great number of eminent scientists remained orthodox Christians.'
David Hempton, Evangelical Disenchantment, p.12.
Friday, 22 January 2010
'Perhaps there is no better way of understanding the essence of any religious tradition than by looking at the lives of those who once loved and later repudiated it. Put another way, it has been said that nothing reveals as much about the inner workings of institutions as their complaint departments. Evangelical disenchantment narratives are in reality referrals to the complaint department of the evangelical tradition.'
David Hempton, Evangelical Disenchantment: 9 Portraits of Faith and Doubt, p.3.
'It is often the case that evangelical discussions about the nature of the Bible focus on its truth and authority. However, these topics are not a major preoccupation of the Bible itself. When it describes or refers to itself, it is more often in terms of its power, trustworthiness, and reliability. God's words are powerful, because God is powerful; God's words are trustworthy, because God is faithful. This is not to deny the authority of the Bible, but it does mean that we should understand that authority in the context of the Bible's power and reliability.'
Peter Adam, Wriiten for Us, p.93.
Thursday, 21 January 2010
'What a blessing - an inestimable blessing it is to have a faithful friend! Satan is ready enough to point out whatever good we have; but it is only a faithful friend that will screen that from your sight, and show you your deficiencies. Our great apostasy seems to consist primarily in making a god of self, and he is the most valuable friend who will draw us most from self-seeking - self-pleasing - and self-dependence, and help us to restore to God the authority we have robbed him of.'
Charles Simeon in Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, p.235.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
'We must now speak of the creation of man: not only because among all God's works here is the noblest and most remarkable example of his justice, wisdom and goodness; but because, as we said at the beginning, we cannot have a clear and complete knowledge of God, unless it is accompanied by a corresponding knowledge of ourselves.'
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion I. xv.i. John T McNeil (Ed.), p.183.
'There is a certain "niceness" to a friendship where I can be, as they say, myself. But what I really need are relationships in which I will be encouraged to become better than myself. Myself needs to grow a little each day. I don't want to be the myself I was yesterday. I want to be the myself that is developing each day to be more of a Christlike person.'
Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, p.223.
Friday, 15 January 2010
'Evangelicalism is an intriguing phenomenon. In Britain and America since at least the nineteeth century it has been the most successful Protestant movement, and currently enjoys a massive worldwide expansion. Yet it repels as much as it attracts. What is more, it so often holds on to its scientists and technologists, while losing artists and social reformers. This is odd since the popular thesis, endlessly repeated in this Darwin anniversary year, remains that the cause of secularization springs from the clash between science and biblical literalism.'
Bernice Martin, 'Where is Love?' in the Times Literary Supplement January 8 2010 No 5571, p.28.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
'Think back to when you were a child. You loved going to the park or playing football or drawing. You have to find leisure activities which provide the same level of absorption. First and foremost, that almost certainly means that they are not self-improving. If you have always wanted to read Tolstoy in the original Russian because it would bring you joy, join that evening class. But be very wary of such of such plans, for they can easily seem to be intrinsic but really be closet people-pleasing, unwitting attempts to curry favour with past authority figures in your mind. In doing these activities, your sole arbiter should be whether they are absorbing, exciting, stimulating.'Oliver James, Affluenza, p.182.
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
'Although putting on "a face to meet the faces that we meet" (in T.S.Eliot's words) is essential to some degree for all of us everywhere, the more it resembles what lies behind, the more likely it will lead to the expression of our authentic needs (rather than confected wants), and not just the biological ones, like food and sex, but for relatedness to others and playfulness as well.'
Oliver James, Affluenza, p.145.
Monday, 11 January 2010
'The great majority of people in English-speaking nations (Britain, America, Australia, Canada, Singapore) now define their lives through earnings, possessions, appearances and celebrity, and those things are making them miserable because they impede the meeting of our fundamental needs.
Psychologists squabble over what those needs are, but usually agree on four: we need to feel secure, emotionally and materially; we need to feel part of a community, to give and receive from family, neighbours and friends; we need to feel competent, that we're not useless, are effective in chosen tasks; and we need to feel autonomous and authentic, masters of our destinies to some degree and not living behind masks.'
Oliver James, Affluenza, p.xvi.
'Fascination with power would forever be his [Billy Graham's] weakness; and against its lure he often had no protection beyond the ever levelheaded Ruth telling him that he needed to stay away from politics and keep his eye on his evangelical mission . She was in every way his earthly anchor and rock: the beautiful, bright souled, bighearted daughter of missionaries, Ruth never planned to marry, and might have easily followed her parents' path had not Billy swept her off her feet at Wheaton. She was his peer and partner, sharing both his charm and energy and teasing him without mercy. Ruth knew her Bible inside out, wrote books and poetry, and brought to their union just the right skill set to manage a household and particularly a husband as unusual as her's. She liked to tell their five children that "there comes a time to stop submitting and start outwitting" - a rule that applied to herself as well, such as when she had to hide a broken arm from Billy because she didn't want him to know that she had gone hang gliding. When it came to the other fatal attractions that have destroyed so many preachers and politicians alike, he was well defended.'
Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, p.50.
Monday, 4 January 2010
'It is a sign of God's great desire to relate to different people from every human background and culture that he uses such a rich variety of literary forms and styles in the Scriptures. What we don't like, someone else will like, and what we find hard to read, others will read easily and naturally. We should rejoice in the varied literary forms of the Scriptures...
...God has given us many different ways of helping people come to faith in Christ, including the gospel of Romans, the search for wisdom in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, the stories of the Gospels, the warnings of the prophets, and the powerful visions of the book of Revelation (along with many others). We should use all of these in turn if we want to help all kinds of people come to Christ. God would not have given us so many ways if they were not necessary. The danger of using one way is that we will win only one kind of person. Ring the changes!'
Peter Adam, Written for Us, p.63.
Saturday, 2 January 2010
'To deny that God can use human language to communicate divine truth is to imperil the incarnation of God in Christ. If God can be incarnate, surely God's thoughts can be expressed in human words. This is an argument from the greater (incarnation) to the lesser (inspiration). If God cannot use human words, then the incarnation of God's Son, Jesus Christ, seems less likely.'
Peter Adam, Written for Us: Receiving God's Word in the Bible, p.27.