Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus

Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

August 21st, 2018 by Scott Fritzsche

Still Fixing What Scares Me About The UMC

Continuing with the idea that the plans for the future of the UMC have been presented in mostly practical convenience and not grounded, by most, in theological discussion, I want to continue what I began earlier. Having established earlier that, by our standards of faith, the UMC is bound to the moral law, that the moral law is a part of the divine nature of God, and that God wove said moral law into creation itself, we are ready to progress to the next point. The moral law of God, as a part of His nature, and woven into creation, is a nexus between the Creator and His creation. Because of this, it is vitally important that we consider God’s moral law while properly discerning the future of the UMC.
Consider the following snippets from sermon 34 as they reveal to us traits of the moral law.
” Now, this law is an incorruptible picture of the High and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity. It is he whom, in his essence, no man hath seen, or can see, made visible to men and angels. It is the face of God unveiled; God manifested to his creatures as they are able to bear it; manifested to give, and not to destroy, life — that they may see God and live. It is the heart of God disclosed to man. ”
“The law of God is all virtues in one, in such a shape as to be beheld with open face by all those whose eyes God hath enlightened. What is the law but divine virtue and wisdom assuming a visible form? What is it but the original ideas of truth and good, which were lodged in the uncreated mind from eternity, now drawn forth and clothed with such a vehicle as to appear even to human understanding?”
“The law of God (speaking after the manner of men) is a copy of the eternal mind, a transcript of the divine nature: Yea, it is the fairest offspring of the everlasting Father, the brightest efflux of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High. It is the delight and wonder of cherubim and seraphim, and all the company of heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer, every well-instructed child of God upon earth.”
 

These traits which we are bound to by our standards of faith, are demonstrated here to be far more than a simple list of rules that we must follow, but rather they are a reflection of the divine radiance and majesty of God laid forth before us in a form which we can observe, lest we be overwhelmed in our frailty by the magnificence that is God. Not only that, the moral law is a copy of the very mind of God (in so far as we can understand it), and as such, should not so easily be dismissed. If indeed the moral law is all virtues in one, divine wisdom, the beauty of the Creator, and the joy and wisdom of the well instructed children of God on earth, then surely it needs to be the basis of our decision making going forward.

Much of this may sound very high brow, or theologically heavy such as to be resigned to scholarly debate alone, but we must remember that Wesley was a man rooted in practical theology, that is a theology that is not only to be discussed in the ivory towers of the academics, but also a theology that is to be used in day to day life by the faithful. While it is good and right to apply this to our decision making about the future of the UMC, we must also understand that said decisions will affect our day to day living within the community of the faithful. The wrong choice here has the very real consequence of taking the moral law, as a basis for our practical day to day lives, and twisting and perverting it to something that is barely recognizable as “the visible beauty of the Most high”. The wrong decision does not only affect the future of the UMC, and it’s followers, but runs the real risk of warping the message of the very nature of God that He has woven into all of creation. In trying to discern this, at first glance it seems we are left with the Euthyphro dilemma which asks us if something is morally good because it is commanded by God, or is it commanded by God because it is morally good. It is a question with no real answer and it seems then that we are left only to confusion of the matter, but we are lucky to have our rich Wesleyan theological heritage which rejects the entire premise by showing us truth by the moral law. Wesley says,  “It seems, then, that the whole difficulty arises from considering God’s will as distinct from God. Otherwise it vanishes away. For none can doubt but God is the cause of the law of God. But the will of God is God himself.”  It is not only the will of God we are trying to discern here, but rather God Himself, His very nature, in applying the moral law to the decisions regarding the future of the church. As a tenet of Wesleyan theology, if we get the moral law of God wrong in our decision moving forward, it is not merely a mistake, or a wrong decision, it is getting God Himself wrong. It will mean that we have not just improperly discerned God’s will for the UMC, but we have improperly discerned God period. That is what is at stake, according to our Wesleyan theological heritage and standards of faith. While the stakes are high for the church, they are even higher for us, the laity who are ministered to by the church, as the practical way that we live out our lives might indeed become tainted by the church improperly discerning God.

So, to the plans. Which of the plans then best reflects the moral law, and as such best reflects the nature and attributes of God? Which provides for the practical theology that Wesley endorsed and called for as a guide to our day to day living? Which plan best provides for a reflection, however imperfect, “the incoruptable picture of the High And Holy One”? As human beings, creatures who were created if you will, we are subject to the created order of things in which God wove the moral law into. Which plan reflects that? Which plan allows for the moral law to, as Wesley said it must in sermon 25“remain in force, upon all mankind, and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other.” That is the question we should be asking looking forward.
December 24th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Quote of the Day: Pope Benedict XVI on the Simplicity of Christmas

Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light

via Text of Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas Eve homily – Yahoo! News.

June 16th, 2015 by Joel Watts

#QOTD, St. Gregory the Great and the The Sin of Silence

English: Pope Gregory the Great

English: Pope Gregory the Great (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Silence has been on my mind for a while now. I know others like myself are wrestling with it. Do we keep our peace in order that we preserve the status quo? Or do we speak, knowing that others may question our intentions and motivations, speak ill of us, and ignore us?

Silence is not always golden:

“For when good people speak, there are two points that they regard in their discourse (viz., that they should be of use to themselves and their hearers, or to themselves alone), if they are unable to be of use to their hearers. For when the good things they deliver are heard with good purpose, they benefit both themselves and their hearers. But even when they are turned to ridicule by the hearer, doubtless they were of use to themselves, by no longer consenting to the sin of silence. And so let blessed Job, that he might serve both himself and his hearers, speak the words, “Hear, I pray you, my speech, and practice repentance.” In order that he may discharge himself of the obligation that he owes, even if he is unable to avail his hearers, he adds, “Suffer me that I speak; and after my words, if it shall seem so, laugh.” I observe that whereas he added, “and practice repentance,” he first premised, “Hear,” but when he added the words “and after my words, if it shall seem so, laugh,” he premised, “Permit me to speak”; for “hearing” is of one who acts of free will, but “bearing” of one who acts against his own inclination. And so if his friends desire to be taught, let them “hear,” but if they are ready to mock, let them “suffer” the things that are said seeing that to a proud mind instruction in humility is a grievous and onerous weight. MORALS ON THE BOOK OF JOB 15.41.1

There is indeed a time to be silent, but there is likewise a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3.7). How do you know that time?

  1. Manlio Simonetti and Marco Conti, eds., Job (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 112–113.
June 10th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Quote of the Year – Eco and the “invasion of idiots” on social media

HT Drew Mac via FB for the Cartoon because if he has posted something without 48 hours, you must HT him even if he doesn't actually own it.

“I social media danno diritto di parola a legioni di imbecilli che prima parlavano solo al bar dopo un bicchiere di vino, senza danneggiare la collettività. Venivano subito messi a tacere, mentre ora hanno lo stesso diritto di parola di un Premio Nobel. È l’invasione degli imbecilli.” ~Umberto Eco

“Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. Then they were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots.”  (translation via TB on FB)

He goes on…

The drama of the Internet is that it has promoted the village idiot to the bearer of truth …

From here.

May 25th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Quote of the Day – Jacques Ellul (social justice and modern protestantism)

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Je...

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in the former Mosque (Cathedral) of Cordoba, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus Christ has not come to establish social justice any more than he has come to establish the power of the state or the reign of money or art. Jesus Christ has come to save men, and all that matters is that men may come to know him. We are adept at finding reasons-good theological, political, or practical reasons, for camouflaging this. But the real reason is that we let ourselves be impressed and dominated by the forces of the world, by the press, by public opinion, by the political game, by appeals to justice, liberty, peace, the poverty of the third world, and the Christian civilization of the west, all of which play on our inclinations and weaknesses. Modern protestants are in the main prepared to be all things to all men, like St. Paul, but unfortunately this is not in order that they may save some but in order that they may be like all men.” – Jacques Ellul. The Ethics of Freedom, 254–255

He drops the mic at the end, doesn’t he?

I wonder in amusement at those who believe Christian follows the culture, that somehow progressive Christianity is counter-cultural, etc… Christianity has always been counter-cultural. The first liberation theology was the Creed. Jesus is Lord (Caesar is not). The freedoms were by Christians. The first modern Western sciences were by Christians.

Yet, we modern protestants marvel at our innovations, taking of those anti-Christ and calling them Christian.

(HT to the quote via Bill W on Facebook)

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