Category Archives: Quotable

What the Cross Makes Plain

Like me and many/most Christians, Rachel Held Evans has struggled with the violence of the Old Testament. She puts an old answer to this problem very succinctly:

Finally, the last thing I know is this: If the God of the Bible is true, and if God became flesh and blood in the person of Jesus Christ, and if Jesus Christ is—as theologian Greg Boyd put it—“the revelation that culminates and supersedes all others,” then God would rather die by violence than commit it. The cross makes this plain. [1]


[1] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 76-77.

Organically Changing the World

Truly transformed people organically change the world, while fundamentally unchanged people can only conform to the system and wholeheartedly cheer it on. — Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

It’s important to note that this quote comes in the middle of an essay in which Rohr highlights the need to expand the scope of our vision to address “corporate, collective sin and fully institutionalized evil.”


Richard Rohr, “Questioning Our Loyalties,” Center for Action and Contemplation, June 29, 2018, accessed July 11, 2018, http://bit.ly/2L8i5Ix.

The Point of Scripture

“The point of scripture is to teach us to love God and to love our neighbors. So if you are using the Bible to harm your neighbor, you are using it wrong.” — Rachel Held Evans

How do we know that the point of scripture is to teach us to love God and our neighbors? Jesus told us so in Matthew 22:37-40.

Quotable: A Higher Loyalty

We are called to be people of conviction, not conformity; of moral nobility, not social respectability. We are commanded to live differently and according to a higher loyalty. — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Living according to a higher loyalty was one of the points I was trying to make this morning.


Martin Luther King, Jr., Stength to Love (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 47.

Quotable: Caught Up in the Same Story

“The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things; the church is a group of people caught up in the same story, with Jesus at the center.” — Rachel Held Evans

What do you think? To me, that sounds like a pretty good summary of Abilene First United Methodist Church.


Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 157.

Quotable: Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

I woke up enraged at all the rank injustice in the world. I was angry and I wanted to let someone have it. And then I remembered this quote that someone sent to me in a photo from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial recently:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
— Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We need to work for justice, but we need to do so with love, not hate. Right now I’m asking God to take away the hate I feel put love in my heart.


Martin Luther King, Jr., Stength to Love (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 47.

As If It Were True

“We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it,” he said, “or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.” — Dallas Willard

Not sure you whether or not you believe in God, not confident that you have faith in Jesus, act as if you do. Act as if you do and give the Holy Spirit time to work on and in you.


Dallas Willard, cited by Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 186.

Trust without Reservation

Another day, another quote featuring Elton Trueblood:

It is therefore correct to say, with Elton Trueblood, that “faith is not belief without proof, but rather trust without reservation.” Therefore faith is more an act of courage than it is an act of knowledge. [1]

I don’t think “trust without reservation” means not having any doubts, it means choosing to act as if we didn’t. Let us take courage and live out our faith.


[1] Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure and Courage (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 81.

Understanding Christianity from the Inside

There are certain things in Christianity that can be understood from the outside, before you have become a Christian. But there are a great many things that cannot be understood until after you have gone a certain distance along the Christian road. — C. S. Lewis

This has certainly been my experience. The deeper I grow into the faith, the farther I walk along the trail blazed by Jesus, the more sense Christianity makes.


C. S. Lewis, “Faith,” in Mere Christianity (1952).

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.