Category Archives: Quotable

A Theological Point and a Historical Fact

An important theological point and a fun historical fact:

Dionysus the Insignificant constructed a dating schema for the whole world based on the (supposed) birth date of Jesus. The fact that this scheme is still in use more or less worldwide despite abortive attempts such as that of the French Revolutionaries to supplant it came briefly to notice a few years ago at the time of the millennium but is largely ignored.3 Like a great church bell ringing out over a sleepy town, every time someone puts a date on something it speaks of the lordship of Jesus, whether people listen or not. — N. T. Wright

The point Wright is making is an important one. Nonetheless, it is the fact that the name of the person who created our current method of dating events is named “Dionysus the Insignificant” tickled me so much that I had to share it.

Please note that Wright does not doubt whether or not Jesus was ever born, but is instead referencing the fact that our schema may be about 4 to 6 years off. Dionysus seems to have miscounted, Jesus was probably born about 4 or 6 B.C. (Given that he lived from 470 – c. 544 AD. I’m willing to cut Dionysus quite a lot of slack. Furthermore his name was probably a reference to his humility—at least according to Wikipedia.com)


N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: HarperOne, 2008), 260-261.

“Dionysius Exiguus,” Wikipedia, April 14, 2018, accessed April 19, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_Exiguus.

God’s Estimate of Our Worth

In Jesus’ life and death on behalf of all human beings, we behold God’s estimate of our worth. — Dallas A. Willard

Let me add, that it’s not just our worth in mass, but our worth as individuals.


Dallas A. Willard. Twitter post, March 25, 2018, 9:44 a.m., http://bit.ly/2uq5m0a.

The Story is the Reality

This Sunday we’ll be reading the story of Jesus’s suffering and death (“The Passion”) in parts. We’ll be reading it in parts because it’s a very long reading, two full chapters: Mark 14:1-15:47. We take the time to read the story because in the words of N. T. Wright: 

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not simply telling us in descriptive language something that “really” belongs as a dogmatic formula. It is the other way around. The formula is a portable narrative, a folded-up story. The story is the reality—because it is the story of reality, historical reality, flesh-and-blood reality, Israel’s reality, life-and-death reality. — N. T. Wright

You don’t need to know a theory, explanation, metaphor, or model of the atonement, (although these can be helpful) you need to know the story. It is the story that tells us how Jesus defeated the powers of sin and death and launched the new creation of God’s kingdom. Come and hear it again with us this Palm/Passion Sunday, March 25, 2018.

 


N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (San Francisco: Harper One, 2016), 223.

Don’t Worry About Anything

Speaking of the challenges both without and within that Paul faced, N. T. Wright writes:

“Don’t worry about anything,” he [Paul] had written to the Philippians not that long before. That, he knows, is easier said than done; it was always a goal to be striven for, not a permanent condition of smug spirituality.

I’ve often struggled with this verse because I’ve often struggled with worry. With this interpretive insight, the verse becomes an encouragement instead of a demand.


N. T. Wright, Paul: A Biography (New York: Harper Collins, 2018), chap. 12, Kindle.

Your Life’s a Wreck

The title of this post is provocative, but I really love this quote:

For too long, we’ve called unbelievers to ‘invite Jesus into your life.’ Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life’s a wreck. Jesus calls you into his life. And his life isn’t boring or purposeless or static. It’s wild and exhilarating and unpredictable. — Russel D. Moore, Christianity Today

When we think about entering into Jesus’s life we begin to get an idea of the scope of the change in our lives that Jesus is proposing.


Russel D. Moore, as cited by Adam Hamilton, John: The Gospel of Light and Life (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2015), 22.

Everybody Can Be Great

There was an inspiring quote from Martin Luther King in an advertisement for Dodge Ram Trucks during yesterday’s Superbowl. The quote was inspiring as was the sermon it came from. But if you take time to read the entire sermon you’ll find (as you probably already guessed) that King did not preach that sermon to sell trucks. If you read the entire sermon, you’ll find an argument for being content with the material things we have and striving for the greater things of Christ Jesus.

It’s well worth your time to read the entire sermon, but here’s the part that was quoted in the commercial yesterday:

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important— wonderful. If you want to be recognized— wonderful. If you want to be great— wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That’s a new definition of greatness.

… By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir. Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant. — Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Strive for greatness today.

Link to the entire sermon: http://stanford.io/2GPnuSZ


Martin Luther King, “The Drum Major Instinct,” in A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran (New York: Intellectual Properties Management in Association with Warner Books, 1998).

Not a Theory, But a Meal

Tomorrow is the first Sunday and we’ll be celebrating communion. It’s my belief that United Methodists have often underestimated the importance of this sacrament. One of the reasons it’s important is that it conveys the meaning of Jesus’s death and thus the depth of God’s love. N. T. Wright put it succinctly:

I have made the point elsewhere, but it bears repeating: when Jesus wanted to explain to his followers what his forthcoming death was all about, he did not give them a theory, a model, a metaphor, or any other such thing; he gave them a meal. — N. T. Wright

Come celebrate Holy Communion with us and know the depth of God’s love for you.


N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (San Francisco: Harper One, 2016), locations 2994-2996 of 7465, Kindle.

Hate is Too Great a Burden to Bear

Today’s quotable is widely attributed to Coretta Scott King, but I haven’t been able to nail that down for sure.

Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated. — Coretta Scott King (Attributed)

Whether or not Mrs. King spoke them, the words are true and need to be heard.

To Wait for Christ

This is how we should wait for Christ’s return in glory:

To wait for Christ to come in his fullness is not just a passive thing, a pious, prayerful, churchly thing. On the contrary, to wait for Christ to come in his fullness is above all else to act in Christ’s stead as fully as we know how. — Frederick Buechner

Amen.


Frederick Buechner, “Waiting,” in Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2006).