Here are four more quotes that grabbed my attention during my reading this week. Think, meditate, ruminate, and let me know which quote made you do some hard thinking!
“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. . . the whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately” – Seneca, On the Shortness of Life, trans. C. D. N. Costa (New York: Penguin, 1997), 13.
“Deconstructionist analysis and an enshrined relativism make of every phenomenon but a ghostly apparition, dependent upon the interpreter for meaning. . . . The only certainty in this plastic process is the critic, endowed with the empowering insight to realize that all meaning (except, of course, that which the critic discerns) is a chimera. Nothing could be more despotic than this ‘democracy of meaning,’ for in it the Western critic controls the process by which meaning itself is to be discerned. The apostles of ‘diversity’ control the processes by which thought itself is to be judged as ‘valid.’ Thus Western secular intellectuals use the mind in much the same way as the Western news media use the camera: selectively, and with the conviction that the tool confers existence itself upon that on which it focuses” – Anthony Ugolnik, “Living at the Borders: Eastern Orthodoxy and the World Disorder,” First Things 34 (June/July 1993): 16.
“It will scarcely do, first to construct a priori a Jesus to our own liking, and then to discard as ‘unhistorical’ all the New Testament transmission which would be unnatural to such a Jesus. It is not these discarded passages but our a priori Jesus which is unhistorical” – Benjamin B. Warfield, “The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity,” in Biblical and Theological Studies, ed. Samuel G. Craig (Philadelphia, PA: P&R, 1968), 45.
“We must not ask about the sufficiency of Scripture as if it were a matter awaiting our judgment. The children of Adam do not know what they need to know; they are not competent to determine what gifts they must receive at the hands of God; they must simply receive what has been given, in all its apparent incompleteness and limitation. There is a necessary chastening of curiosity here; sufficiency goes along with teachableness, deference, self-distrust and fear of the Lord. It is part of our unredeemed condition that we hate the knowledge which God offers and prefer other counsel (Prov. 2. 22, 29). Healing and refreshment (Prov. 3. 8), however, come from not being wise in our own eyes (Prov. 3. 5, 7) and from trust in the fact that ‘the Lord gives wisdom’ (Prov. 2. 6)” – John Webster, The Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013), 18.
As always, my friends, it’s a joy to share these quotes with you. Enjoy!
“When we pray we have a more than an average chance of ending up in a place that we quite definitely never wanted to be, angrily protesting, preferring death to the kind of life that God insists on recklessly throwing us into. . . . We want life on our conditions, not on God’s conditions. Praying puts us at risk of getting involved in God’s conditions. . . . Praying most often doesn’t get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests. And when we realize what is going on, it is often too late to go back” – Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 44.
“99 times out of 100, our dreams are false prophets whose heresies indicate the need for something external to take over and give us real life” – Ethan Richardson, This American Gospel: Public Radio Parables & the Grace of God (Charlottesville, VA: Mockingbird Ministries, 2012), 35.
“For no one would care to live without friends, even though he had all good things. Indeed, it is when a man is rich, and has great power and authority, that he seems most of all to stand in need of friends; for what is the use of all this prosperity if he have no opportunity for benevolence, which is most frequently and most commendably displayed towards friends? . . . In poverty and all other misfortunes, again, we regard our friends as our only refuge” – Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. F. H. Peters (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004), 8. 1 (p. 172).
“The self seeks its own self in all things, even in its piety” – Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Grand Rapids, MI: 1997), 54.
Four quotes to chew on for your weekend:
“Men who haven’t accustomed themselves to hard study and to careful pulpit preparation had better remain among a class of people who will be satisfied with little or no preparation. And yet, I ought not to say that either. For people ought not to be satisfied with that kind of ministry. Under it they can never properly develop. They, particularly, need a ministry that will so educate them that they will not be satisfied with any kind of stuff that may be handed out to them from the pulpit. The only place for such ministers is out of the pulpit entirely. If a man doesn’t intend, as far as he is able by hard study and dint of perseverance, to feed his people on the finest of wheat, he has no business in the ministry and the people should be so educated as to make him feel it and as to shut him out of every pulpit” – Francis James Grimké, Meditations on Preaching, 29.
“Christianity is not designed to lead us to a God who fits inside our minds; it is designed to lead us to the God who actually exists and who is truly God. The goal is not rational comprehension but rational worship. That the transcendent Creator of the heavens and the earth has revealed himself to Israel and supremely in Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is a mystery that drives us to worship, not merely to a series of logical propositions that we can explain” – Craig A. Carter, Contemplating God with the Great Tradition: Recovering Trinitarian Classical Theism, 81.
“When one reads the historical-critical commentaries, one finds that all too often the answer to any apparent contradiction or inconsistency in the text is to get out scissors and paste, rather than to patiently reflect on the meaning and structure of the details of the text as it stands. The biggest problem with giving oneself permission to consider emendation and interpolations is that as soon as we find something difficult to understand, we tend to hurry past what is meant to be contemplated patiently, with the result that we miss the hidden treasure. It gives us permission to be superficial and confuses scholarly sophistication with the invention of creative theories about what might have been the case or guesses about what might have been meant. A summary of the results from a century of this sort of thing makes for dry and boring reading. It is a little like going to a performance of Handel’s Messiah and having to listen to the tenor display his virtuosity by hitting increasingly higher notes instead of simply singing the aria as written. It is ultimately a form of narcissism” – Craig A. Carter, Contemplating God with the Great Tradition: Recovering Trinitarian Classical Theism, 93.
“Question: When does ‘misinformation’ stop being misinformation on social media? Answer: When Democratic government authorities give permission. Witness Facebook’s decision to stop censoring some claims about the origin of Covid-19 the same day President Biden said his Administration will investigate whether a Chinese lab may have been involved. . . . The shift is better late than never, but note the apparent implication: While a political or scientific claim is disfavored by government authorities, Facebook will limit its reach. When government reduces its hostility toward an idea, so will Facebook. . . . YouTube’s Covid-19 policy similarly forbids contradicting ‘health authorities.’ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is run by a political appointee and its evolving guidance is clearly influenced by political considerations. YouTube, owned by Google, used this policy to remove a roundtable on virus response with scientists and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis” – “Facebook’s Lab-Leak About-Face,” Wall Street Journal (May 28, 2021): A15.
Here are the best quotes I came across in my reading this week. Enjoy!!!
“We must also mortify the desire of the applause of men as altogether impertinent to our true happiness. If we have learned not to value ourselves by their good word, we shall not much disturb ourselves for their ill word” – Matthew Henry, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, 135.
“We all automatically gravitate toward the assumption that we are justified by our level of sanctification, and when this posture is adopted it inevitably focuses our attention not on Christ but on the adequacy of our own obedience. We start each day with our personal security resting not on the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Christ but on our present feelings or recent achievements in the Christian life. Since these arguments will not quiet the human conscience, we are inevitably moved either to discouragement and apathy or to a self-righteousness which falsifies the record to achieve a sense of peace. . . . Christians who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons—much less secure than non-Christians, because they have too much light to rest easily under the constant bulletins they receive from their Christian environment about the holiness of God and the righteousness they are supposed to have. Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce defensive assertion of their own righteousness and defensive criticism of others. . . . They cling desperately to legal, pharisaical righteousness, but envy, jealousy and other branches on the tree of sin grow out of their fundamental insecurity” – Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal, 211–212.
AMEN! – “Theology recognizes the authority of God’s special revelation in Holy Scripture as its presupposition and its preoccupation. The philosophical naturalism that permeates the modern university setting cannot serve as the presupposition of theology because the God of the Bible cannot be conceived within the conceptual framework of methodological naturalism. God is invisible in such a metaphysical framework. So theology—to the extent that it wishes to speak truly of God—must operate in a different metaphysical framework using different presuppositions” – Craig A. Carter, Contemplating God with the Great Tradition: Recovering Trinitarian Classical Theism, 43.
“As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls, so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls. They know sugared poison goes down sweetly; they wrap up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold” – Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, 233.
The following quotes are from John Webster’s (1955–2016) sermon on generosity. His text was 2 Corinthians 8:9.
“The gospel declares to us and offers us the free gift of life—a life that we have not earned or built up out of our own resource, a life that we don’t need to hang on to at all costs, because it’s ours in God, by God’s gift of grace. And because the gospel is about that gift of God, it abolishes the need to possess, to build up a wall of property around ourselves. Because the gospel is true, then we’re set free to do what Paul says these Macedonian Christians are doing—to live beyond our means. The good news of God’s lavish goodness toward us sets us free from the cramp that afflicts us when we hold on to our property. The gospel announces that God has delivered us from possession and freed us for joy, for liberality, and for excess. Through Jesus Christ—through the one who is God’s generosity in person—we have been released to live generously with the saints” (131).
“The people of the church are not their own. They do not own themselves. They have been set free from the curse of thinking that everything they are and everything they have can be treated as their own property. For they don’t belong to themselves; they belong to Christ, and because they belong to him, they also belong to one another. And belonging to Christ and to one another is not a matter of regret; it doesn’t mean giving up life but finding life by being dispossessed” (132).
After quoting 2 Corinthians 8:9, Webster said: “Jesus’ poverty is just this: his renunciation of protective self-possession; his unreserved fellowship with those in desperate straits; his turning to them; his utter concentration on their well-being; his giving of himself even to the point of death for the sake of their survival” (133).
“We’ve come to share in the sheer, limitless abundance of God, with whom there are no half-measures but only unimaginable treasure beyond compare. And because we’re rich, then we’re set free for generosity. We’re able to act in a way that echoes the grace of Jesus Christ himself. We don’t replace that grace by something of our own; we don’t even repeat it. We echo the grace of Jesus Christ; in our generosity is heard the faint reverberation of the one majestic act of generosity, God’s own act of taking flesh, of taking up our hopeless cause, of redeeming us from poverty and darkness and death, and of sharing the treasures of his grace with us” (133).
All quotes from John Webster, “Generosity,” in Christ Our Salvation: Expositions & Proclamations, ed. Daniel Bush.