Category Archives: Quotable

Have We Got to Become Such Idiots?

The German catalyst of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, was a devoting and loving father, but like all parents, he had his moments. Such moments were sometimes captured by his students who took notes of what he said even at the dining table. As related by a biographer, “When Luther looked at his family in 1538, he remarked,”

Christ said we must become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Dear God, this is too much. Have we got to become such idiots? — Martin Luther [1]

Can you imagine what his children must have been up to at the time?


[1] Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013), Kindle, 4224-4225.

Trusting God in the Moment

Today’s quotable comes via Twitter.

My life has never failed to work out, God has never failed to be with me. Someday, hopefully, God’s ongoing faithfulness will produce in me the trust God deserves.


[1] Nadia Bolz Weber. Twitter post, September 29, 2017, 5:59 p.m., https://twitter.com/Sarcasticluther/status/913901023755767808.

Heaven Will Work Backwards

In my sermon this Sunday, I quoted a passage that C. S. Lewis. He had placed the words in the mouth of one of his heroes, George MacDonald, in The Great Divorce, a work of fiction about the life to come. Below is a more complete version of that quote:

‘Son,’ he said, ‘ye cannot in your present state understand eternity … But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective. … That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,” and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.’ — C. S. Lewis


C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (1945), Chapter 9.

John Wesley on Reading

In honor of our Breakfast Club gathering this morning, I wanted to share the following quote from John Wesley:

It cannot be that the people should grow in grace, unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. — John Wesley [1]

Now I know that not everyone is a reader, but note that Wesley says “the people,” “a reading people,” and “a knowing people.” All of these terms refer to a group of people. Don’t worry if you’re not a reader, other members of your congregation have you covered, simply do what you can and be attentive to the other means of grace.


[1] John Wesley in an unpublished letter dated November 8, 1790. As quoted by L. Tyerman, The Life and times of the Rev. John Wesley, M.A., Founder of the Methodists (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1871), 632. Found online at books.google.com.

God’s Love for Us is Steadfast

The language is a bit archaic, but all these years later, the point C. S. Lewis made in 1952 stands:

On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. . . . The great [important] thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him. — C. S. Lewis [1]

 


[1] C. S. Lewis, “Charity,” in Mere Christianity (1952).

Apologists Don’t Necessarily Apologize

You may have heard the term Christian apologetics and been unsure what exactly it was. It is an old term that doesn’t mean saying “I’m sorry” for Christianity. I finally came across a concise explanation in a book about early Christianity:

Referred to by scholars as the classic Christian “Apologists” (from the Greek word apologia = “defense”), these writers not only responded to accusations against Christians; they also attempted to advocate and defend vigorously Christian beliefs in the larger intellectual world of their time. [1]

Christian apologetics, defenses of the faith, are still being written. C. S. Lewis is a well-known example of a 20th-century apologist.


[1] Larry W. Hurtado, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017), 4.

Christian Holiness

Christian holiness is not (as people often imagine) a matter of denying something good. It is about growing up and grasping something even better. — N. T. Wright [1]

 


[1] N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), 236-237.

The Conscience of the State

At this moment, this passage seems particularly relevant for American Christianity.

The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. — Martin Luther King, Jr. [1]


[1] Martin Luther King, “A Knock at Midnight,” 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).

We Must Always Take Sides

As I mentioned at the time, I couldn’t properly source the quote I shared in my sermon last Sunday. Here’s a similar quote that I can properly source:

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. — Elie Wiesel [1]


[1] Elie Wiesel, “1986 Acceptance Speech,” Nobelprize.org, accessed August 18, 2017, https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-acceptance_en.html.

The Commands of Jesus Create Miracles

Every week when I prepare for a sermon, I come across some gem that I don’t have room for in the sermon. Here’s the one from this week.

The commands of Jesus, taken seriously, create miracles; they open an incredible reservoir of divine resources. Apart from such commands, not much unusual is going to happen. [1]

Every time I have dared to ignore the world’s scorn and follow Jesus’s commands, I have been awed by the unusual results.


[1] Walter Brueggemann et al., Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary, Based on the NRSV—Year A (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 441.

C. S. Lewis on Prudence

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. — C. S. Lewis [1]

Prudence is important, though often overlooked because it usually goes unnoticed until it is absent. Prudence is one of the four “the Cardinal Virtues” (the others are courage, temperance, and justice). These virtues were recognized by both the ancient philosophers and the (slightly less ancient) early church theologians who added the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.


[1] C. S. Lewis, “The Cardinal Views,” in Mere Christianity (1952).