Classic and contemporary excerpts

God’S Richter Scale

I think we are now living in the very decade when God may thunder his awesome paradiōmai (I abandon, or I give [them] up) (Rom. 1:24 ff.) over America’s professed greatness. Our massacre of a million fetuses a year; our deliberate flight from the monogamous family; our normalizing of fornication and of homosexuality and other sexual perversions; our programming of self-indulgence above social and familial concerns—all represent a quantum leap in moral deterioration, a leap more awesome than even the supposed qualitative gulf between conventional weapons and nuclear missiles.

Our nation has all but tripped the worst ratings on God’s Richter scale of fully deserved moral judgment.

—Carl F. H. Henry, The Christian Century (Nov. 5,1980)

Wisdom And Knowledge

Scripture nowhere condemns the acquisition of knowledge. It is the wisdom of this world, not its knowledge, that is foolishness with God.

H. A. Ironside, Lectures on Colossians

World Movers

We do not want, as the newspapers say, a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.

G. K. Chesterton, The New Witness

God’S Word As Critic

Within the scope of those human matters that are relative, political systems have their place in society; but the Christian is not called to confer on any of those systems the quality of the absolute, because that which is absolute is found only in God. Furthermore, without pretending to have a false political neutrality, the Christian should always reserve the right to criticize any political system, whether of the left or of the right, in the light of the Word of God.

—Emilio A. Nuñez, Liberation Theology

Whose Mind Is It?

To have a mind of your own is to be another chance for the kingdom in the hands of God; to have no mind but your own is to be no more than the ghost of that chance forever.

—Paul Scherer, Lyman Beecher Lectures, Yale

Looks Great—But Can It Fly?

The difference between the requirements of art and science is charmingly shown in the work of Leonardo da Vinci. About the beauty of da Vinci’s art, there would seem to be no disagreement. His scientific ideas, however, often showed only the artistic type of beauty. In a sketch of his proposed flying machine, da Vinci was more concerned with making adequate provision for the pilot to step to the ground than with the ability of the machine to fly. He was more concerned with the completeness of what could be appreciated than with the possibility of what could not.

—Edward DeBono, New Think

Freedom And True Goodness

Above all, Christians are not allowed to correct with violence the delinquencies of sins. For it is not those that abstain from wickedness from compulsion, but those that abstain from choice, that God crowns. It is impossible for a man to be steadily good except by his own choice. For he that is made good by compulsion of another is not good; for he is not what he is by his own choice. For it is the freedom of each one that makes true goodness and reveals real wickedness.

—Clement of Alexandria, Sermon 55 (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II)

Education—To What End?

There are those who desire to acquire knowledge for its own value—and this is a base vanity. But there are others who desire to have it to edify others—and this is charity. And there are others who desire it so that they may be edified—and this is wisdom.

—Bernard of Clairvaux, The Song of Solomon

Slogan Or Message?

We must be aware of trivializing the gospel, of presenting it in a form that compromises the radicality of its message. If someone is used to seeing or hearing “Coke adds life,” he or she will, most likely, understand “Christ adds life” in the same commercial way: Christ is just another consumer item vying for attention. Christ doesn’t speak as crucified King, but as a tricky salesman; not as Lord of the universe, but as genius of the slogan. The slogan trivializes the message and suffocates understanding. So we must move beyond the slogan to the creed.

A slogan-saturated society tempts us to demote the Christian faith to the level of a slogan. When we give in, we freeze our understanding at a commercialized level. We are satisfied with a starvation diet. But the truth of God is rich and full; our orthodoxy is full-orbed and comprehensive. We may credally summarize it without suffocating it with the trivial. We cannot bottle up and mechanically dispense the great truths of our Lord, but we can celebrate our doctrinal inheritance with joy.

—Douglas Groothuis, “Creeds, Slogans, and Full-orbed Orthodoxy” (Radix, Fall 1985)

The Problem With Crossing

We are … talking about crossing over.… The term serves perfectly to describe a fact that hit me some seasons ago with the force of revelation. For a score of years we’ve all been saying, “Look at how popular evangelicalism is changing the world! It’s become acceptable!” No, rather, “Look at how worldly popular evangelicalism has become to become acceptable. It changed more than the world did.”

.… One problem with crossing, with a cross over: it tends to lose the Cross. And that, as they say, is crucial.

—Martin Marty, The Christian Century (Jan. 1–8,1986)

“Pure Religion …”

We need to keep close to the ancient simplicity of the original Christian faith, and build our foundation on its original unity. We must abhor the arrogance of those who harrass and tear apart the church of God under the pretense of correcting errors and holding to “the Truth.” The sufficiency of Scripture, of course, must be upheld; but do not let others add anything to it.”

—Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor

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