Archive for the ‘quotes’ Category

Christian churches have always undergone periods of revival, so there is nothing new about the presence in America of revival as such. What was new after about the mid-eighteenth century was the way in which revival loomed as the dominant theme defining the nature and purposes of the church for Americans. … This revival was important for many reasons, but for long-standing impact on Christian thinking, two matters were most significant. The first was the way the revival promoted a new style of leadership—direct, personal, popular, and dependent much more on a speaker’s ability to draw a crowd than upon the speaker’s place in an established hierarchy. The second was the way the revival undercut the traditional authority of the churches. Ecclesiastical life remained important, but not nearly as significant as the decision of the individual close to Christ.

– Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 60-61

When Christians Become a ‘Hated Minority‘” (CNN):

Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, says we are now living in a “postmodern” era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It’s an environment in which anyone who says “this is right” and “that is wrong” is labeled intolerant, he says.

There was a time when a person could publicly say homosexuality was wrong and people could consider the statement without anger, he says. Today, people have reverted to an intellectual tribalism where they are only willing to consider the perspective of their own tribe.

“They are incapable of comprehending that someone may have a view different than theirs,” Johnson says. “For them anyone who dares to question the dogma of the tribe can only be doing so out of hatred.”

The One, the Three and the ManyColin Gunton offers some penetrating analysis of this “intellectual tribalism” in his book The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity:

The characteristic peril of the modern is to be found in the tendency to homogeneity, to the intellectual and social pressures by which the distinctive individuality of people and things is endangered. … [T]he death of rhetoric is the reason why much modern political dispute takes the form of aggressive confrontation rather than rational engagement: the demonstration rather than the disputatio. Given the loss of confidence in argument, the noisy and potentially violent demonstration is all that remains. … [Alasdair] MacIntyre has argued that there is in the modern world a complete breakdown of a common language in which to argue and decide moral disputes. Listen, he says, to any argument about abortion or nuclear arms, and you will find that opponents speak past each other’s shoulders because they lack a common language in which to communicate. The reason is to be found in emotivism. …

A diagnosis of American conditions similar to that of [Wayne C.] Booth’s underlies Allan Bloom’s much discussed The Closing of the American Mind. … The problem is the cult of openness:

Openness used to be the virtue that permitted us to seek the good by using reason. It now means accepting everything and denying reason’s power. The unrestrained and thoughtless pursuit of openness, without recognizing the inherent political, social or cultural problem of openness as the goal of nature, has rendered openness meaningless … Openness to closedness is what we teach. (101-103)

UPDATE: Justin Taylor has posted a related article entitled “The Gay Marriage Campaign and the Despotism of Conformity.”  Check it out—it’s worth the read.

Jonathan BlanchardI have written you much less than I intended and hoped when I left home. The farther we get into life the faster flows the current of events, and the less we control our own motions, but crowd along carrying and being carried toward the ocean.  When I was a boy, I did ten thousand things just because I wanted to; now, I do almost all things simply because I must. Still there is nothing tyrannous in that “must”—but I do my life duties with more satisfaction because my mind is schooled to duty, and suffer far less from disappointment because I serve a blessed Master who takes all the responsibility himself.

– Jonathan Blanchard, “Letter to the Students of Wheaton College at Morning Exercises,” June 18, 1861 (Wheaton College Archives and Special Collections)

John Frame offers 11 principles, 6 of which are reprinted below:

1. This discussion concerns the interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. The question is not whether we should abandon the teaching of these chapters to accomodate science. The question is, What does this passage actually say? It is an exegetical issue. …

2. I am not denying that secular science has influenced the debate. The claims of scientists that the universe has existed for billions of years have certainly motivated theologians to go back to the text, in order to see whether these claims are consistent with Scripture. In my view, that is entirely right and proper. …

3. But there are also wrong ways of being influenced by science. In re-examining traditional views, we should not be governed by any principles of reasoning that are inconsistent with Scripture. …

8. There are reasons for taking the days as normal days.

9. On the other hand, I am not persuaded that figurative views should be considered heretical…

10. In all this discussion, we should remind ourselves that God, speaking through Moses in Genesis 1-2, has a purpose, namely, to display his glory in his creative work and to provide background for the narrative of the Fall. It is not the primary purpose of the narrative to tell us precisely how God made the world, when he did it, how long it took, and how all of this relates to the theories of modern science.

– John Frame, The Doctrine of God, A Theology of Lordship, vol. 2 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002), 302-306

Luther on Worldly Riches

Posted: April 16, 2013 in money, quotes

A reminder to evaluate your priorities:

Riches are the most insignificant things on earth, the smallest gift that God can give a man. What are they in comparison with the Word of God? In fact, what are they in comparison even with physical endowments and beauty? What are they in comparison with gifts of the mind? And yet we act as if this were not so. The matter, form, effect, and goal of riches are worthless. That’s why our Lord God generally gives riches to crude asses to whom he doesn’t give anything else.

– Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 452.

ImageExposure to chosen media streams can give us a false perception of being permanently in the present tense, depriving us of the sober sense of time passing and creating a feeling that our options are perpetually open, when in fact time is passing us by the minute.  There is a sense in which the very fact that physical activity requires us to consciously move our bodies through space and time creates a healthy awareness of the passing of time, while the physical inactivity of virtual life allows us to inhabit a place where the rules of time seem simply not to apply.  The effect of this is that we spend time without consciously reckoning with the cost and value of what is slipping through our fingers.  Thus, wasting time seems more effortless than ever.  Cultural engagement, civic participation, voter turnout, and other markers all show signs of decreasing interest.

– Read Mercer Schuchardt, “Social Media and the Loss of Embodied Communication,” in Liberal Arts for the Christian Life, edited by Jeffry C. David & Philip G. Ryken (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 243-244.

Augustine’s views concerning God’s providential rule over all of history:

[Augustine believed that] ‘there is nothing that is not subject to the administration of divine providence.’  It appears in his earliest works, and later he devoted much thought to the problem of God’s continuing activity in everything that happens at any time.  The vilest and least significant of things as well as the destinies of nations; the crimes of men no less than their finest achievements are in the hands of the Lord of history.  In them all he is at work, though his purposes remain inscrutable.

– R. A. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St Augustine (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 11.