Quotes

A dangerous book

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Kierkegaard on the risk we take when we allow ordinary people to gather around the Scriptures and ask, "How can we obey what we are learning?"

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.

Take any word in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. ‘My God,’ you will say, ‘if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?’ Here in lies the real place of Christian scholarship.

Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations, 201.

via David Watson

A dangerous book

_images_homeslideshow_kierkegaard.jpg

Kierkegaard on the risk we take when we allow ordinary people to gather around the Scriptures and ask, "How can we obey what we are learning?"

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.

Take any word in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. ‘My God,’ you will say, ‘if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?’ Here in lies the real place of Christian scholarship.

Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations, 201.

via David Watson

Yes we can

201112051927.jpg On Saturday the ruling Australian Labor Party's conference committed the Party to a policy of support for same-sex marriage. The move was supported by a rainbow coalition of activists including members of the clergy.

History teaches us that this is not the end of a long battle, just a pause before the next push begins. What was unthinkable a decade ago will soon become a reality in Australia and other parts of the Western world.

Brace yourselves for new campaigns—polygamy, group marriage, and whatever else our foolish hearts can conceive.

We shouldn't be surprised. We live in a broken world. Sin has taken its toll on the most precious of God's gifts—our sexuality. It's why Christ came to rescue us from the guilt and shame.

Or maybe there's another way. Perhaps there can be salvation without the need to face our sin. Could we remake ourselves and save ourselves from the burden we bear?

Could we recreate God in our image? Could we dictate to the Almighty our standards of sexual behaviour? Could we bow before our preferences and desires?

Yes we can.

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How can I, a heterosexual who's been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don't have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done? Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.

Rev Dr Rowland Croucher Baptist Minister

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Recognizing same-sex unions will help return marriage to its rightful place in society.

Rev Matt Glover Baptist Minister

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We haven't even really begun to ask what role the affirmation of the 'homosexual', the 'intersexual' and the 'transsexual' might play in awakening the church to its full glory as the body of Christ.

Dr Keith Dyer Professor of New Testament Baptist Theological College

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I cannot understand how a man can appear in print claiming to disbelieve everything that he presupposes when he puts on the surplice [clerical robe]. I feel it is a form of prostitution.

Clive Staples Lewis, 1963 Mere Christian

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In religion, Liberalism may be characterized by a progressive discarding of elements in historical Christianity which appear superfluous or obsolete, confounded with practices and abuses which are legitimate objects of attack. But as its movement is controlled rather by its origin than by any goal, it loses force after a series of rejections, and with nothing to destroy is left with nothing to uphold and nowhere to go.

TS Eliot

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Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

Jesus King of Kings, Lord of Lords

I guess that means, No we can't.

God is dead. We have killed him!

friedrich_nietzsche_drawn_by_hans_olde.jpg I have a Greek barber who fancies himself as a bit of a philosopher. Every now and again we talk about the ultimate issues of life and death while he cuts my hair.

On one such occasion, he asked me, "How can you believe in God when so much evil has been done by religion?" Good question.

In 1882 a German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously declared that God is dead.

In the Madman he wrote:

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!" -- As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? -- Thus they yelled and laughed.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"

Nietzsche saw the implications of his philosophy. The death of God must inevitably lead to the rejection of absolute values that are binding upon all. The loss of an absolute basis for morality leads to nihilism—the loss of meaning in life. Nietzsche's solution—"the will to power." We become "gods" who define our own reality, our own truth, our own morality.

Just a few years before Nietzsche buried God, the Russian novelist Dostoevsky wrote: "If God does not exist, everything is permitted."

Is it any wonder that the era in which modern man embraced the death of God, was also the age of history's worst atrocities? Both Hitler and Stalin, and a hundred other petty dictators knew the implications of the death of God.

Related: God is Dead: RIP, 1966

A simple principle

I'm still enjoying Ben Witherington's commentary on Acts.

Here's a great insight into early Christianity's advantage over the established religions of the ancient world. Sure we live in a different world today.

Christianity arose during a time when there was already enormous religious curiosity on the part of Romans and other pagans about Eastern religions and divinities ranging from Isis to Jesus. It sought to take advantage of this curiosity, and it offered to pagans a religion that did not require certain rituals (such as circumcision or the keeping of food laws) that would have immediately alienated them in obvious observable ways from their fellow Gentiles.

It did not require temples, costly animal sacrifices, priests—the very essence of much of ancient religion. It could meet in homes, and its rituals were flexible.

It is not surprising that in the course of the next two centuries it came to be seen by pagans as a much more appealing religious option than Judaism, ordinary magic, or various other forms of traditional and popular religion that existed in the Empire. The irony of course is that when Christianity was finally endorsed by the Roman emperor it was well on the way to taking on the very properties of other ancient religions with priests, temples, sacrifices, and the like. One must ask, then, whether in the end Christianity was more the bearer or recipient of socialization in the Empire.

Yet the principle stands. If you want it to multiply and adapt—keep it simple.


"The Acts of the Apostles : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary" (Ben Witherington III), 398.

Apple's Secret: Focused Simplicity

Here's an engaging extract from Garmine Gallo's book on Steve Jobs and the success of Apple.

Apple believes in "focused simplicity. It is a $30 billion company with less than 30 products. That's never been done before.

This quote grabbed my attention:

In product design and business strategy, subtraction often adds value. Whether we're talking about a product, a performance, a market, or an organization, our addiction to addition results in inconsistency, overload, or waste, and sometimes all three.

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

"The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success" (Carmine Gallo)