Indeed God Is Faithful Quotes

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There's a reason we refer to "leaps of faith" - because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don't care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn't. If faith were rational, it wouldn't be - by definition - faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?
John Wesley
Certainly, other people can pray for you, they can believe for you, they can quote the scripture to you, but you must exercise faith for yourself. If you are always depending on somebody else to keep you happy, somebody else to encourage you or to get you out of trouble, you will live in perpetual weakness and disappointment. You must make a decision that you are going to be a believer. Take charge of your life and decide, “No matter what comes against me, I believe in God. I’m going to have a positive outlook for my life! Other people’s faith can indeed bolster yours. But your own faith will bring you a miracle much faster than anybody else’s. What you believe has a much greater impact on your life than what anybody else believes.
Joel Osteen (Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential)
Indeed, a quick glance around this broken world makes it painfully obvious that we don't need more arguments on behalf of God; we need more people who live as if they are in covenant with Unconditional Love, which is our best definition of God. (p. 21)
Robin R. Meyers (Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus)
Indeed, faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence.
John C. Lennox (God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?)
Although it is very easy to marry a wife, it is very difficult to support her along with the children and the household. Accordingly, no one notices this faith of Jacob. Indeed, many hate fertility in a wife for the sole reason that the offspring must be supported and brought up. For this is what they commonly say: ‘Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.’ But this blame is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper.
Martin Luther (The complete Sermons of Martin Luther, The : 7 Volumes)
Any father…must finally give his child up to the wilderness and trust to the providence of God. It seems almost a cruelty for one generation to beget another when parents can secure so little for their children, so little safety, even in the best circumstances. Great faith is required to give the child up, trusting God to honor the parents’ love for him by assuring that there will indeed be angels in that wilderness.
Marilynne Robinson
Dear Child of God, I write these words because we all experience sadness, we all come at times to despair, and we all lose hope that the suffering in our lives and in the world will ever end. I want to share with you my faith and my understanding that this suffering can be transformed and redeemed. There is no such thing as a totally hopeless case. Our God is an expert at dealing with chaos, with brokenness, with all the worst that we can imagine. God created order out of disorder, cosmos out of chaos, and God can do so always, can do so now--in our personal lives and in our lives as nations, globally. ... Indeed, God is transforming the world now--through us--because God loves us.
Desmond Tutu (God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time)
Skin boils! Boils cause serious pain and physical suffering, and you also have to consider the ugliness factor. Even the most powerful zit cream on earth would be no match for the Lord Almighty’s epidermal masterpieces. So this one wins for my pick of the nastiest of the first nine plagues -- a dubious honor indeed.
Spencer C Demetros (The Bible: Enter Here: Bringing God's Word to Life for Today's Teens)
You cannot devote your life to an abstraction. Indeed, life shatters all abstractions in one way or another, including words such as "faith" or "belief". If God is not in the very fabric of existence for you, if you do not find Him (or miss Him!) in the details of your daily life, then religion is just one more way to commit spiritual suicide.
Christian Wiman (Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet)
All communication involves faith; indeed, some linguisticians hold that the potential obstacles to acts of verbal understanding are so many and diverse that it is a minor miracle that they take place at all.
Terry Eagleton (Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series))
Richard Dawkins regards faith as an evil to be eliminated; he takes all religious faith to be blind faith. (Dawkins says) ‘Scientific belief is based on publicly checkable evidence, religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its joy, shouted from the rooftops.’ However, taking Dawkins own advice we ask: where is the evidence that religious faith is not based on evidence? Mainstream Christianity will insist that faith and evidence are inseparable. Indeed, faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence. The apostle Paul says what many pioneers of modern science believed, that nature itself is part of the evidence for the existence of God ,‘ Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. So that men are without an excuse.’ Dawkins’ definition of faith turns out to be the direct opposite of the biblical one. Curious that he does not seem to be aware of the discrepancy.
John C. Lennox
The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one's attitude that determines whether life unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective. This is the only life you will have before you enter eternity. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much. But the unappreciative soul is always miserable, always complaining. He lives outside the shelter of the Most High God. Perhaps the worst enemy we have is not the devil but our own tongue. James tells us, "The tongue is set among our members as that which . . . sets on fire the course of our life" (James 3:6). He goes on to say this fire is ignited by hell. Consider: with our own words we can enter the spirit of heaven or the agonies of hell! It is hell with its punishments, torments and misery that controls the life of the grumbler and complainer! Paul expands this thought in 1 Corinthians 10:10, where he reminds us of the Jews who "grumble[d] . . . and were destroyed by the destroyer." The fact is, every time we open up to grumbling and complaining, the quality of our life is reduced proportionally -- a destroyer is bringing our life to ruin! People often ask me, "What is the ruling demon over our church or city?" They expect me to answer with the ancient Aramaic or Phoenician name of a fallen angel. What I usually tell them is a lot more practical: one of the most pervasive evil influences over our nation is ingratitude! Do not minimize the strength and cunning of this enemy! Paul said that the Jews who grumbled and complained during their difficult circumstances were "destroyed by the destroyer." Who was this destroyer? If you insist on discerning an ancient world ruler, one of the most powerful spirits mentioned in the Bible is Abaddon, whose Greek name is Apollyon. It means "destroyer" (Rev. 9:11). Paul said the Jews were destroyed by this spirit. In other words, when we are complaining or unthankful, we open the door to the destroyer, Abaddon, the demon king over the abyss of hell! In the Presence of God Multitudes in our nation have become specialists in the "science of misery." They are experts -- moral accountants who can, in a moment, tally all the wrongs society has ever done to them or their group. I have never talked with one of these people who was happy, blessed or content about anything. They expect an imperfect world to treat them perfectly. Truly, there are people in this wounded country of ours who need special attention. However, most of us simply need to repent of ingratitude, for it is ingratitude itself that is keeping wounds alive! We simply need to forgive the wrongs of the past and become thankful for what we have in the present. The moment we become grateful, we actually begin to ascend spiritually into the presence of God. The psalmist wrote, "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:2, 4-5). It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart. Entrance into the courts of God comes as you simply begin to praise the Lord.
Francis Frangipane
The great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God.... He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little. Yes indeed, God's power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and the lasting power. Again and again, God's cause seems to be in its death throes. Yet over and over again it proves to be the thing that truly endures and saves.
Pope Benedict XVI (Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration)
Men and women are needed whose prayers will give to the world the utmost power of God; who will make His promises to blossom with rich and full results. God is waiting to hear us and challenges us to bring Him to do this thing by our praying. He is asking us, to-day, as He did His ancient Israel, to prove Him now herewith." Behind God's Word is God Himself, and we read: "Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, his Maker: Ask of me of things to come and concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me." As though God places Himself in the hands and at the disposal of His people who pray - as indeed He does. The dominant element of all praying is faith, that is conspicuous, cardinal and emphatic. Without such faith it is impossible to please God, and equally impossible to pray.
E.M. Bounds (The Weapon of Prayer)
To commit herself to becoming "an apostle of Joy" when humanly speaking she might have felt at the brink of despair, was heroic indeed. She could do so because her joy was rooted in the certitude of the ultimate goodness of God's loving plan for her. And though her faith in this truth did not touch her soul with consolation, she ventured to meet the challenges of life with a smile. Her one lever was her blind trust in God.
Brian Kolodiejchuk (Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta" (Wheeler Large Print Book Series))
Indeed, in the triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty and the joy behind all joy.
Michael Reeves (Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith)
But that does not alter the fact that mainstream Christianity will insist that faith and evidence are inseparable. Indeed, faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence.
John C. Lennox (God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?)
If we admit God, must we admit Miracle? Indeed, indeed, you have no security against it. That is the bargain.” —C. S. LEWIS
Norman L. Geisler (I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist)
How do you wipe away pain? You don’t. You put in tenderness, compassion and joy. You cling to hope and then you offer everything to God. And you wait, with faith you see all things anew – light shines out from darkness, happiness grows through every pain, and all things become indeed so very beautiful in His time.
Jocelyn Soriano (366 Days of Compassion: One Year Devotional)
She made me her everything. She didn’t realize then that when you make someone your everything, when they are gone you have nothing left. I have since learned that our Master sends us soul mates who teach us to depend on them and then we come to believe we cannot live without them. Then He takes them away to prove to us that we can indeed live without them, but also to prove that we cannot live without Him.
Kate McGahan (Jack McAfghan: Return from Rainbow Bridge: An Afterlife Story of Loss, Love and Renewal (Jack McAfghan Pet Loss Trilogy Book 3))
It doesn't matter what the manifest problem was in our childhood family. In a home where a child is emotionally deprived for one reason or another that child will take some personal emotional confusion into his or her adult life. We may spin our spiritual wheels in trying to make up for childhood's personal losses, looking for compensation in the wrong places and despairing that we can find it. But the significance of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ is that we can mature spiritually under His parenting and receive healing compensation for these childhood deprivations. Three emotions that often grow all out of proportion in the emotionally deprived child are fear, guilt, and anger. The fear grows out of the child's awareness of the uncontrollable nature of her fearful environment, of overwhelming negative forces around her. Her guilt, her profound feelings of inadequacy, intensify when she is unable to put right what is wrong, either in the environment or in another person, no matter how hard she tries to be good. If only she could try harder or be better, she could correct what is wrong, she thinks. She may carry this guilt all her life, not knowing where it comes from, but just always feeling guilty. She often feels too sorry for something she has done that was really not all that serious. Her anger comes from her frustration, perceived deprivation, and the resultant self-pity. She has picked up an anger habit and doesn't know how much trouble it is causing her. A fourth problem often follows in the wake of the big three: the need to control others and manipulate events in order to feel secure in her own world, to hold her world together- to make happen what she wants to happen. She thinks she has to run everything. She may enter adulthood with an illusion of power and a sense of authority to put other people right, though she has had little success with it. She thinks that all she has to do is try harder, be worthier, and then she can change, perfect, and save other people. But she is in the dark about what really needs changing."I thought I would drown in guilt and wanted to fix all the people that I had affected so negatively. But I learned that I had to focus on getting well and leave off trying to cure anyone around me." Many of those around - might indeed get better too, since we seldom see how much we are a key part of a negative relationship pattern. I have learned it is a true principle that I need to fix myself before I can begin to be truly helpful to anyone else. I used to think that if I were worthy enough and worked hard enough, and exercised enough anxiety (which is not the same thing as faith), I could change anything. My power and my control are illusions. To survive emotionally, I have to turn my life over to the care of that tender Heavenly Father who was really in charge. It is my own spiritual superficiality that makes me sick, and that only profound repentance, that real change of heart, would ultimately heal me. My Savior is much closer than I imagine and is willing to take over the direction of my life: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing." (John 15:5). As old foundations crumble, we feel terribly vulnerable. Humility, prayer and flexibility are the keys to passing through this corridor of healthy change while we experiment with truer ways of dealing with life. Godly knowledge, lovingly imparted, begins deep healing, gives tools to live by and new ways to understand the gospel.
M. Catherine Thomas
Hello, Celaena,” he said as calmly as he could, well aware that two Fae males behind him could hear his thundering heart. Rolfe whipped his head toward him. Because it was Celaena who sat here—for whatever purpose, it was Celaena Sardothien in this room. She jerked her chin at Rolfe. “You’ve seen better days, but considering half your fleet has abandoned you, I’d say you look decent enough.” “Get out of my chair,” Rolfe said too quietly. Aelin did no such thing. She just gave Rowan a sultry sweep from foot to face. Rowan’s expression remained unreadable, eyes intent—near-glowing. And then Aelin said to Rowan with a secret smile, “You, I don’t know. But I’d like to.” Rowan’s lips tugged upward. “I’m not on the market, unfortunately.” “Pity,” Aelin said, cocking her head as she noticed a bowl of small emeralds on Rolfe’s desk. Don’t do it, don’t— Aelin swiped up the emeralds in a hand, picking them over as she glanced at Rowan beneath her lashes. “She must be a rare, staggering beauty to make you so faithful.” Gods save them all. He could have sworn Fenrys coughed behind him. Aelin chucked the emeralds into the metal dish as if they were bits of copper, their plunking the only sound. “She must be clever”—plunk—“and fascinating”—plunk—“and very, very talented.” Plunk, plunk, plunk went the emeralds. She examined the four gems remaining in her hand. “She must be the most wonderful person who ever existed.” Another cough from behind him—from Gavriel this time. But Aelin only had eyes for Rowan as the warrior said to her, “She is indeed that. And more.
Sarah J. Maas (Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5))
Trust is both an attitude and an action. Your first small step must be followed by another, and another, until you realize that God has indeed made a way for you to know him personally. The more you act on your faith in God, the more you will see of his way for you.
Henry Cloud (God Will Make a Way: What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do)
Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all his creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.
Martin Luther
God doesn’t promise to remove all sin and struggles—but He does promise to be my refuge during every trial.
Jinger Duggar Vuolo (Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear)
The right fear of God is because He is all-powerful, in control of everything, and, at the same time, kind, compassionate, and loving.
Jinger Duggar Vuolo (Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear)
Oh, that you would come and begin simply to listen to His Word and to ask only the one question: Does He really mean that I should abide in Him? The answer His Word gives is so simple and so sure: By His almighty grace you now are in Him; that same almighty grace will indeed enable you to abide in Him. By faith you became partakers of the initial grace; by that same faith you can enjoy the continuous grace of abiding in Him.
Andrew Murray (Abide in Christ: The Joy of Being in God's Presence)
If there was one thing I learned from all my research, it was that the majority of the early pioneers didn’t dwell on the hard times; they indeed related every aspect of their lives to their relationship with God, specifically in regards to this disastrous journey. They thanked Him for their lives and the fact that they made it through. Most didn't blame leaders or those around them. They learned to accept their plight and move forward with faith.
Mike Ericksen (Upon Destiny's Song)
The principles of Islam teach us to be messengers of peace—to be like water, gentle enough to wash away tears and strong enough to drown hatred. To be Muslim is to protect the weak, the orphan, the beggar, the disabled of all races and cultures. To be Muslim is not to be color-blind, but to see the differences between people and to celebrate that diversity as a product of the free will that God chose to give us. As the Qur’an says, “And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed, in that are signs for those of knowledge” (30:22)
A. Helwa (Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam)
One reader of an early draft of this chapter complained at this point, saying that by treating the hypothesis of God as just one more scientific hypothesis, to be evaluated by the standards of science in particular and rational thought in general, Dawkins and I are ignoring the very widespread claim by believers in God that their faith is quite beyond reason, not a matter to which such mundane methods of testing applies. It is not just unsympathetic, he claimed, but strictly unwarranted for me simply to assume that the scientific method continues to apply with full force in this domain of truth. Very well, let's consider the objection. I doubt that the defender of religion will find it attractive, once we explore it carefully. The philosopher Ronaldo de Souza once memorably described philosophical theology as "intellectual tennis without a net," and I readily allow that I have indeed been assuming without comment or question up to now that the net of rational judgement was up. But we can lower it if you really want to. It's your serve. Whatever you serve, suppose I return service rudely as follows: "What you say implies that God is a ham sandwich wrapped in tin foil. That's not much of a God to worship!". If you then volley back, demanding to know how I can logically justify my claim that your serve has such a preposterous implication, I will reply: "oh, do you want the net up for my returns, but not for your serves? Either way the net stays up, or it stays down. If the net is down there are no rules and anybody can say anything, a mug's game if there ever was one. I have been giving you the benefit of the assumption that you would not waste your own time or mine by playing with the net down.
Daniel C. Dennett (Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life)
My wife Ruth once said, “If our children have the background of a godly, happy home and this unshakeable faith that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, they will have a foundation that the forces of hell cannot shake.
Billy Graham (Billy Graham in Quotes)
There,' said Wednesday, 'is one who "does not have the faith and will not have the fun". Chesterton. Pagan indeed. So. Shall we go out onto the street, Easter my dear, and repeat the exercise? Find out how many passers-by know that their Easter festival takes its name from Eostre of the Dawn? Let's see - I have it. We shall ask a hundred people. For every one that knows the truth, you may cut off one of my fingers, and when I run out of them, toes; for every twenty who don't know you spend a night making love to me. And the odds are certainly in your favour here - this is San Francisco, after all. There are heathens and pagans and Wiccans aplenty on these precipitous streets.
Neil Gaiman (American Gods (American Gods, #1))
crumbs.” Jesus was stirred as He saw the faith of this woman, and He told her, “For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.” Today there are many children of God refusing their blood-purchased portion of health in Christ and are throwing it away, while sinners are pressing through and picking it up frown under the table, as it were, and are finding the cure not only for their bodies, but for their spirits and souls as well. The Syrophenician woman went home and found that the devil had indeed gone out of her daughter. Today there is bread, there is life, there is health for every child of
Smith Wigglesworth (Ever Increasing Faith)
Earthly friends may alter their minds regarding the work in which we are engaged; but if indeed we work for God, whoever may alter His mind regarding our service, He will not. Earthly friends may lose their ability to help us, however much they desire so to do; but He remains throughout eternity the infinitely Rich One.
Answers To Prayer
Man was first a hunter, and an artist: his early vestiges tell us that alone. But he must always have dreamed, and recognized and guessed and supposed, all the skills of the imagination. Language itself is a continuously imaginative act. Rational discourse outside our familiar territory of Greek logic sounds to our ears like the wildest imagination. The Dogon, a people of West Africa, will tell you that a white fox named Ogo frequently weaves himself a hat of string bean hulls, puts it on his impudent head, and dances in the okra to insult and infuriate God Almighty, and that there's nothing we can do about it except abide him in faith and patience. This is not folklore, or quaint custom, but as serious a matter to the Dogon as a filling station to us Americans. The imagination; that is, the way we shape and use the world, indeed the way we see the world, has geographical boundaries like islands, continents, and countries. These boundaries can be crossed. That Dogon fox and his impudent dance came to live with us, but in a different body, and to serve a different mode of the imagination. We call him Brer Rabbit.
Guy Davenport (The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays)
He is wretched indeed, who goes up and down in the world, without a God to take care of him, to be his guide and protector, and to bless him in his affairs [. . .] That unconverted men are without God shows that they are liable to all manner of evil [. . .] liable to the power of the devil, to the power of all manner of temptation [. . .] to be deceived and seduced into erroneous opinions [. . .] to embrace damnable doctrines [. . .] to be given up of God to judicial hardness of heart [. . .] to commit all manner of sin, and even the unpardonable sin itself. They cannot be sure they shall not commit that sin. They are liable to build up a false hope of heaven, and so to go hoping to hell [. . .] to die senseless and stupid, as many have died [. . .] to die in such a case as Saul and Judas did, fearless of hell. They have no security from it. They are liable to all manner of mischief, since they are without God. They cannot tell what shall befall them, nor when they are secure from anything. They are not safe one moment. Ten thousand fatal mischiefs may befall them, that may make them miserable forever. They, who have God for their God, are safe from all such evils. It is not possible that they should befall them. God is their covenant God, and they have his faithful promise to be their refuge.
Jonathan Edwards (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2 Volumes)
In the end when God does speak, it is not the pious friends who are commended. God tells then they have been guilty of misrepresenting God. Only Job – only angry, defiant, doubting Job has been faithful. The story of Job reminds us that God is not offended when we question. Indeed, if anything God is offended when we speak too glibly. Make room in your heart for the angry, defiant and doubting questions. You may find God there as well.
Peggy Haymes (Strugglers, Stragglers and Seekers: daily devotions for the rest of us)
the trouble with those of us who fail to achieve what we desire, is not that we lack the ability to do so, but that we lack the faith implicit in the “Let Go And Let God” principle, which dictates whatever is necessary for us to reach our goal will indeed occur.   We
Bob Proctor (You Were Born Rich: Now You Can Discover and Develop Those Riches)
The hope is indeed that some will experience and believe: The purpose of a number of spiritual gurus is to demonstrate to God-fearing men faux spirituality.
Criss Jami (Healology)
You are most beautiful in your purest form. You are a manifestation of God himself. Open your eyes and let the light flow right through to your core. All it takes is for you to notice a flicker of leaves, a momentary glance from a loved one, or for a wave to hit your toes and freeze you in that timeless place where you know with every cell in your body that God, indeed is real.
Soroosh Shahrivar (The Rise of Shams)
Initially, the God of the Old Testament might seem overwhelming and domineering to you, or tyrannical, or perhaps even evil, which is good. It is the first telling that God is indeed God, by sheer definition, and not some ear-tickling fairy by which one in his depravity is guaranteed to find another form of stale romanticism or love at first sight. For such a first impression as the latter would be problematic to the essence of Christianity. Therefore the Christians are right in saying that the nature of imperfect men cannot ultimately co-exist with the nature of a perfect God; and that the hope of each man is now desperately found in God's sending of Christ.
Criss Jami (Healology)
We quickly learn that God is more interested in our holiness than in our comfort. He more greatly delights in the integrity and purity of his church than in the material well-being of its members. He shows himself more clearly to men and women who enjoy him and obey him than to men and women whose horizons revolve around good jobs, nice houses, and reasonable health. He is far more committed to building a corporate “temple” in which his Spirit dwells than he is in preserving our reputations. He is more vitally disposed to display his grace than to flatter our intelligence. He is more concerned for justice than for our ease. He is more deeply committed to stretching our faith than our popularity. He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leads to death, while the former leads to life. These essential values of the gospel must shape our praying, as they shape Paul’s. Indeed, they become the ground for our praying (“For this reason . . . I pray”): it is a wonderful comfort, a marvelous boost to faith, to know that you are praying in line with the declared will of almighty God.
D.A. Carson (A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers)
That, more than anything else, explains why, throughout human history, religion has been a force both for boundless good and for unspeakable evil; why the same faith in the same God inspires love and compassion in one believer, hatred and violence in another; why two people can approach the same scripture at the same time and come away with two radically opposing interpretations of it. Indeed, most of the religious conflicts that continue to roil our world arise from our innate, unconscious desire to make ourselves the apotheosis of what God is and what God wants, whom God loves and whom God hates.
Reza Aslan (God: A Human History)
In belief in what? In love with what? In hope for what?—There’s no doubt that these weak people—at some time or another they also want to be the strong people, some day their "kingdom" is to arrive—they call it simply "the kingdom of God" as I mentioned. People are indeed so humble about everything! Only to experience that, one has to live a long time, beyond death—in fact, people must have an eternal life, so they can also win eternal recompense in the "kingdom of God" for that earthly life "in faith, in love, in hope." Recompense for what? Recompense through what? In my view, Dante was grossly in error when, with an ingenuity inspiring terror, he set that inscription over the gateway into his hell:"Eternal love also created me." Over the gateway into the Christian paradise and its "eternal blessedness" it would, in any event, be more fitting to let the inscription stand "Eternal hate also created me"—provided it’s all right to set a truth over the gateway to a lie! For what is the bliss of that paradise? Perhaps we might have guessed that already, but it is better for it to be expressly described for us by an authority we cannot underestimate in such matters, Thomas Aquinas, the great teacher and saint: "In the kingdom of heaven" he says as gently as a lamb, "the blessed will see the punishment of the damned, so that they will derive all the more pleasure from their heavenly bliss.
Friedrich Nietzsche
It will be said that, although God’s law is inscribed in our hearts, Scripture is nevertheless the Word of God, and it is no more permissible to say of Scripture that it is mutilated and contaminated than to say this of God’s Word. In reply, I have to say that such objectors are carrying their piety too far, and are turning religion into superstition; indeed, instead of God’s Word they are beginning to worship likenesses and images, that is, paper and ink.
Baruch Spinoza (Theological-Political Treatise)
It must be understood that in some cases the process by which a god or goddess degenerates into a fairy may occupy centuries, and that in the passage of generations such an alteration may be brought about in appearance and traits as to make it seem impossible that any relationship actually exists between the old form and the new. This may be accounted for by the circumstance that in gradually assuming the traits of fairyhood the god or goddess may also have taken on the characteristics of fairies which Already existed in the minds of the folk, the elves of a past age, who were already elves at a period when he or she still flourished in the full vigour of godhead. For in one sense Faerie represents a species of limbo, a great abyss of traditional material, into which every kind of ancient belief came to be cast as the acceptance of one new faith after another dictated the abandonment of forms and ideas unacceptable to its doctrines. The difference between god and fairy is indeed the difference between religion and folk-lore.
Lewis Spence (British Fairy Origins)
To finally surrender ourselves to healing, we have to have three spaces opened up within us - and all at the same time: our opinionated head, our closed-down heart, and our defensive and defended body. That is the summary work of spirituality - and it is indeed work. Yes, it is also the work of “a Power greater than ourselves,” and it will lead to a great luminosity and depth of seeing. That is why true faith is one of the most holistic and free actions a human can perform. It leads to such broad and deep perception that most traditions would just call it “light.” Remember, Jesus said that we also are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), as well as saying it about himself (John 8:12). Strange that we see light in him but do not imitate him in seeing the same light in ourselves. Such luminous seeing is quite the opposite of the closed-minded, dead-hearted, body-denying thing that much religion has been allowed to become. As you surely have heard before, “Religion is lived by people who are afraid of hell. Spirituality is lived by people who have been through hell and come out enlightened.” The innocuous mental belief systems of much religion are probably the major cause of atheism in the world today, because people see that religion has not generally created people who are that different, more caring, or less prejudiced than other people. In fact, they are often worse because they think they have God on their small side. I wish I did not have to say this, but religion either produces the very best people or the very worst. Jesus makes this point in many settings and stories. Mere mental belief systems split people apart, whereas actual faith puts all our parts (body, heart, and head) on notice and on call. Honestly, it takes major surgery and much of one’s life to get head, heart, and body to put down their defenses, their false programs for happiness, and their many forms of resistance to what is right in front of them. This is the meat and muscle of the whole conversion process.
Richard Rohr (Radical Grace: Daily Meditations)
The whole of the Sermon [Matt 5-7] is framed within Jesus's announcement that what his fellow Jews had longed for over many generations was now at last coming to pass - but that new kingdom didn't look like they had thought it would. Indeed, in some ways it went in exactly the other direction. No violence, no hatred of enemies, no anxious protection of land and property against the pagan hordes. In short, no frantic intensification of the ancestral codes of life. Rather, a glad and unworried trust in the creator God, whose kingdom is now at last starting to arrive, leading to a glad and generous heart toward other people, even those who are technically "enemies." Faith, hope, and love: here they are again. They are the language of life, the sign in the present of green shoots growing through the concrete of this sad old world, the indication that the creator God is on the move, and that Jesus's hearers and followers can be part of what he's now doing.
N.T. Wright
Lost faith is worse than no faith at all, because it leaves behind a gaping hole, much like the hollow that the Spirit left when it abandoned this accursed world. But by their very nature, those god-shaped voids demand to be filled with something as precious as that which was lost. The choice of that something—if indeed it is a choice at all—rules the destiny of men.
Benjamín Labatut (The MANIAC)
With the notion of a theistic god and a vernacular notion of “proof” in hand, we can disprove a god’s existence in this way: If a thing is claimed to exist, and its existence has consequences, then the absence of those consequences is evidence against the existence of the thing. In other words, the absence of evidence—if evidence should be there—is indeed evidence of absence.
Jerry A. Coyne (Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible)
EPILOGUE This course is a beginning, not an end. Your Friend goes with you. You are not alone. No one who calls on Him can call in vain. Whatever troubles you, be certain that He has the answer, and will gladly give it to you, if you simply turn to Him and ask it of Him. He will not withhold all answers that you need for anything that seems to trouble you. He knows the way to solve all problems, and resolve all doubts. His certainty is yours. You need but ask it of Him, and it will be given you. You are as certain of arriving home as is the pathway of the sun laid down before it rises, after it has set, and in the half-lit hours in between. Indeed, your pathway is more certain still. For it can not be possible to change the course of those whom God has called to Him. Therefore obey your will, and follow Him Whom you accepted as your voice, to speak of what you really want and really need. His is the Voice for God and also yours. And thus He speaks of freedom and of truth. No more specific lessons are assigned, for there is no more need of them. Henceforth, hear but the Voice for God and for your Self when you retire from the world, to seek reality instead. He will direct your efforts, telling you exactly what to do, how to direct your mind, and when to come to Him in silence, asking for His sure direction and His certain Word. His is the Word that God has given you. His is the Word you chose to be your own. And now I place you in His hands, to be His faithful follower, with Him as Guide through every difficulty and all pain that you may think is real. Nor will He give you pleasures that will pass away, for He gives only the eternal and the good. Let Him prepare you further. He has earned your trust by speaking daily to you of your Father and your brother and your Self. He will continue. Now you walk with Him, as certain as is He of where you go; as sure as He of how you should proceed; as confident as He is of the goal, and of your safe arrival in the end. The end is certain, and the means as well. To this we say “Amen.” You will be told exactly what God wills for you each time there is a choice to make. And He will speak for God and for your Self, thus making sure that hell will claim you not, and that each choice you make brings Heaven nearer to your reach. And so we walk with Him from this time on, and turn to Him for guidance and for peace and sure direction. Joy attends our way. For we go homeward to an open door which God has held unclosed to welcome us. We trust our ways to Him and say “Amen.” In peace we will continue in His way, and trust all things to Him. In confidence we wait His answers, as we ask His Will in everything we do. He loves God’s Son as we would love him. And He teaches us how to behold him through His eyes, and love him as He does. You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless.
Foundation for Inner Peace (A Course in Miracles)
As natural as it may be to want to play on the winning team, the wish to secure divine favoritism strikes me as the worst possible reason to practice any religion. If the man who asked that question could not think of a dozen better reasons to be a Christian than that, then what, indeed, was he doing there?
Barbara Brown Taylor (Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others)
To trust in spite of the look of being forgotten; to keep crying out into the vast whence comes no voice, and where seems no hearing; to struggle after light, where is no glimmer to guide; at every turn to find a door-less wall, yet ever seek a door; to see the machinery of the world pauseless grinding on as if self-moved, caring for no life, nor shifting a hair's-breadth for all entreaty, and yet believe that God is awake and utterly loving; to desire nothing but what comes meant for us from his hand; to wait patiently, willing to die of hunger, fearing only lest faith should fail—such is the victory that overcometh the world, such is faith indeed.
George MacDonald (Warlock o' Glenwarlock)
I have sometimes thought that if ever I return home, I shall get more grief than joy from my impressions there. I have not lived your life, and much in it is unknown to me, and indeed, no one can really know exactly his fellow-mortal's life; still, human feeling is common to us all, and it seems to me that everyone who has been banished must live all his past grief over again in consciousness and memory, on his return home. It is like a balance, by which one can test the true gravity of what one has endured, gone through, and lost. God grant you a long life ! I have heard from many people that you are very religious. But not because you are religious, but because I myself have learnt it and gone through it, I want to say to you that in such moments, one does, " like dry grass," thirst after faith, and that one finds it in the end, solely and simply because one sees the truth more clearly when one is unhappy. I want to say to you, about myself, that I am a child of this age, a child of unfaith and scepticism, and probably (indeed I know it) shall remain so to the end of my life. How dreadfully has it tormented me (and torments me even now)—this longing for faith, which is all the stronger for the proofs I have against it. And yet God gives me sometimes moments of perfect peace; in such moments I love and believe that I am loved;
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoyevsky to his family and friends)
I get the sense that many in the contemporary biblical womanhood movement feel that the tasks associated with homemaking have been so marginalized in our culture that it’s up to them to restore the sacredness of keeping the home. This is a noble goal indeed, and one around which all people of faith can rally. But in our efforts to celebrate and affirm God’s presence in the home, we should be wary of elevating the vocation of homemaking above all others by insinuating that for women, God’s presence is somehow restricted to that sphere. If God is the God of all pots and pans, then He is also the God of all shovels and computers and paints and assembly lines and executive offices and classrooms. Peace and joy belong not to the woman who finds the right vocation, but to the woman who finds God in any vocation, who looks for the divine around every corner.
Rachel Held Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood)
That faith seems too simple to me-the idea that we have only to believe that Christ died for our sins once and for all. But I know too much of the truth ... of the way life works, with life after life in which we ourselves, and only we, can work out the causes we have set in motion and make amends for the harm we have done. It stands not in the realm of reason that one man, however holy and blessed, could atone for all the sins of all men, done in all lifetimes. What else could explain why some men have all things, and others so little? No, that is a cruel trick of the priests, I think, to coax men into thinking that they have the ear of God and can forgive sins in his name-ah, I wish it were true indeed.
Marion Zimmer Bradley (The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1))
....His trust in God was as firm as a mountain. Indeed, mountains might come crashing down, and yet the Prophet’s faith would remain unshaken. At moments of extreme danger, he was full of confidence that the truth he preached would triumph. At the moment of his greatest triumph he showed humility and gave due thanks to the Almighty. With yesterday’s enemies – the very ones who plotted his assassination and determined to exterminate his community – at his mercy, he was remarkably magnanimous. The sight that gave him most satisfaction at the end of his blessed life was that of his followers offering a congregational prayer in his mosque. He felt then that he had delivered God’s message and fulfilled his task.
Adil Salahi (Muhammad: His Character and Conduct)
Indeed, our afflictions may be heavy, and we cry out, Oh, we cannot bear them, we cannot bear such an affliction. Though you cannot tell how to bear it with your own strength, yet how can you tell what you will do with the strength of Jesus Christ? You say you cannot bear it? So you think that Christ could not bear it? But if Christ could bear it why may you not come to bear it? You will say, Can I have the strength of Christ? Yes, it is made over to you by faith: the Scripture says that the Lord is our strength, God himself is our strength, and Christ is our strength. There are many Scriptures to that effect, that Christ's strength is yours, made over to you, so that you may be able to bear whatever lies upon you,
Jeremiah Burroughs (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment)
...God is not dead; he really does communicate today. He's interested in every part of your life, your home, your finances, every kind of decision - and more than just the moral issues. His eye is always on you. He wants to lead you. But you have to believe that he will indeed speak to you when you wait before him in believing prayer, with a yielded heart to do his will.
Jim Cymbala (Fresh Faith: What Happens When Real Faith Ignites God's People)
Discipline If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all things to govern your soul and your senses, for fear that your passions and longings may lead you away from the path you should follow. Chaste be your mind and your body, and both in subjection, obediently, steadfastly seeking the aim set before them; only through discipline may a man learn to be free. Action Daring to do what is right, not what fancy may tell you, valiantly grasping occasions, not cravenly doubting – freedom comes only through deeds, not through thoughts taking wing. Faint not nor fear, but go out to the storm and the action, trusting in God whose commandment you faithfully follow; freedom, exultant, will welcome your spirit with joy. Suffering A change has come indeed. Your hands, so strong and active, are bound; in helplessness now you see your action is ended; you sigh in relief, your cause committing to stronger hands; so now you may rest contented. Only for one blissful moment could you draw near to touch freedom; then, that it might be perfected in glory, you gave it to God. Death Come now, thou greatest of feasts on the journey to freedom eternal; death, cast aside all the burdensome chains, and demolish the walls of our temporal body, the walls of our souls that are blinded, so that at last we may see that which here remains hidden. Freedom, how long we have sought thee in discipline, action, and suffering; dying, we now may behold thee revealed in the Lord.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I believe the signs we are seeing today most certainly point to the rapture of the church. These are indeed end times. I believe that one day very soon, Jesus Christ Himself will come in the clouds and millions of people will see their battles end... I believe that followers of Christ from all around the world, of every race, creed, color, age, economic standing, and religious affiliation will vanish in a single moment of time ... gone. The Word of God describes it as a 'twinkling of an eye.' In an instant, there will be boardrooms without directors, classrooms without teachers, hospitals without doctors and nurses, cars without drivers, airplanes without pilots, and loved ones disappearing mid-sentance and mid-morning coffee. I am sure that complete chaos won't even begin to describe it. I imagine a worldwide crescendo of screaming voices. When the dust clears, everone left on earth will know emptiness beyond description and a greater sense of evil than has ever been thought to exist. It will be the condition of things. Overwhelming sadness, confusion, loss, and insecurity will be worldwide. It will happen at that time, even as it did on that September morning.
Leslie Haskin (Between Heaven and Ground Zero: One Woman's Struggle for Survival and Faith in the Ashes of 9/11)
The point is that we should not just wait around, hoping that one day a door will open for us. Indeed, a door may very well open for us just at the right time and place, along our journey with God. But we must not fear that trying different doors will somehow negate God leading us to the right door in life. Finally, like following a map, we might take a few wrong turns, until we eventually reach our destination. But we cant just sit at home, reluctant to follow a map, just in case we might make a few wrong detours along the way! So, put your full trust in God, and take a leap of faith, you won't regret it.
Christopher Roberts (365 Days With God: A Daily Devotional)
A person's sense of morality and responsibility to other human beings, must not come from a professed faith or belief system. Because when it does— it is merely a projection and not an internalization. A person must be able to say "I believe this, I do this, I say this, because this is who I am; not because I see myself as a member of so and so belief system." Adam and Eve walked with God every day in the garden of Eden and yet, they still chose their own way. This only means that their own way had nothing to do with God's way. Even if they walked with God physically, daily, in a garden! This is witness to the fact that your sense of morality and responsibility must be incarnated within you. In fact, this is the beauty of God— to unfold your own spirit within you— and then you see your own spirit and say that it is indeed beautiful.
C. JoyBell C.
What God declares the believing heart confesses without the need of further proof. Indeed, to seek proof is to admit doubt, and to obtain proof is to render faith superfluous. Everyone who possesses the gift of faith will recognize the wisdom of those daring words of one of the early Church fathers: "I believe that Christ died for me because it is incredible; I believe that He rose from the dead because it is impossible.
A.W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy)
I agree with Pierre Bayle and with Unamuno that when cold reason contemplates the world it finds not only an absence of God, but good reasons for supposing that there is no God at all. From this perspective, from what Unamuno called the 'tragic sense of life', from this despair, faith comes to the rescue, not only as something nonrational but in a sense irrational. For Unamuno the great symbol of a person of faith was his Spanish hero Don Quixote. Faith is indeed quixotic. It is absurd. Let us admit it. Let us concede to everything! To a rational mind the world looks like a world without God. It looks like a world with no hope for another life. To think otherwise, to believe in spite of appearances, is surely a kind of madness. The atheist sees clearly that windmills are in fact only windmills, that Dulcinea is just a poor country bumpkin with a homely face and an unpleasant smell. The atheist is a Sarah, justifiably laughing in her old age at Abraham's belief that God will give them a son. What can be said in reply? How can a fideist admit that faith is a kind of madness, a dream fed by passionate desire, and yet maintain that one is not mad to make the leap?
Martin Gardner
A person with a biblical worldview experiences, interprets, and response to reality in light of the Bible's principles. What Scripture teaches is the primary grid for making decisions and interacting with the world. For the purposes of our research, we investigate a biblical worldview based on eight elements. A person with a biblical worldview believes that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and he still rules it today, salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned, Satan is real, a Christian has a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people, the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches, unchanging moral truth exists, and such moral truth is defined by the Bible. In our research, we have found that people who embraced these eight components we have a substantially different faith from other Americans – indeed, from other believers.
David Kinnaman (unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters)
For a good part of my life, I had a share in this idea that I have not yet quite abandoned. But there came a time when I could not protect myself, and indeed did not wish to protect myself, from the onslaught of reality. Marxism, I conceded, had its intellectual and philosophical and ethical glories, but they were in the past. Something of the heroic period might perhaps be retained, but the fact had to be faced: there was no longer any guide to the future. In addition, the very concept of a total solution had led to the most appalling human sacrifices, and to the invention of excuses for them. Those of us who had sought a rational alternative to religion had reached a terminus that was comparably dogmatic. What else was to be expected of something that was produced by the close cousins of chimpanzees? Infallibility? Thus, dear reader, if you have come this far and found your own faith undermined—as I hope—I am willing to say that to some extent I know what you are going through.
Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything)
For Dawkins, atheism is a necessary consequence of evolution. He has argued that the religious impulse is simply an evolutionary mistake, a ‘misfiring of something useful’, it is a kind if virus, parasitic on cognitive systems naturally selected because they had enabled a species to survive. Dawkins is an extreme exponent of the scientific naturalism, originally formulated by d’Holbach, that has now become a major worldview among intellectuals. More moderate versions of this “scientism” have been articulated by Carl Sagan, Steven Weinberg, and Daniel Dennett, who have all claimed that one has to choose between science and faith. For Dennett, theology has been rendered superfluous, because biology can provide a better explanation of why people are religious. But for Dawkins, like the other “new atheists” – Sam Harris, the young American philosopher and student of neuroscience, and Christopher Hitchens, critic and journalist – religion is the cause of the problems of our world; it is the source of absolute evil and “poisons everything.” They see themselves in the vanguard of a scientific/rational movement that will eventually expunge the idea of God from human consciousness. But other atheists and scientists are wary of this approach. The American zoologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) followed Monod in his discussion of the implications of evolution. Everything in the natural world could indeed be explained by natural selection, but Gould insisted that science was not competent to decide whether God did or did not exist, because it could only work with natural explanations. Gould had no religious axe to grind; he described himself as an atheistically inclined agnostic, but pointed out that Darwin himself had denied he was an atheist and that other eminent Darwinians - Asa Gray, Charles D. Walcott, G. G. Simpson, and Theodosius Dobzhansky - had been either practicing Christians or agnostics. Atheism did not, therefore, seem to be a necessary consequence of accepting evolutionary theory, and Darwinians who held forth dogmatically on the subject were stepping beyond the limitations that were proper to science.
Karen Armstrong
On the conversion of the European tribes to Christianity the ancient pagan worship was by no means incontinently abandoned. So wholesale had been the conversion of many peoples, whose chiefs or rulers had accepted the new faith on their behalf in a summary manner, that it would be absurd to suppose that any, general acquiescence in the new gospel immediately took place. Indeed, the old beliefs lurked in many neighbourhoods, and even a renaissance of some of them occurred in more than one area. Little by little, however, the Church succeeded in rooting out the public worship of the old pagan deities, but it found it quite impossible to effect an entire reversion of pagan ways, and in the end compromised by exalting the ancient deities to the position of saints in its calendar, either officially, or by usage. In the popular mind, however, these remained as the fairies of woodland and stream, whose worship in a broken-down form still flourished at wayside wells and forest shrines. The Matres, or Mother gods, particularly those of Celtic France and Ireland, the former of which had come to be Romanized, became the bonnes dames of folklore, while the dusii and pilosi, or hairy house-sprites, were so commonly paid tribute that the Church introduced a special question concerning them into its catechism of persons suspected of pagan practice. Nevertheless, the Roman Church, at a somewhat later era, reversed its older and more catholic policy, and sternly set its face against the cultus of paganism in Europe, stigmatizing the several kinds of spirits and derelict gods who were the objects of its worship as demons and devils, whom mankind must eschew with the most pious care if it were to avoid damnation.
Lewis Spence (British Fairy Origins)
The second of the Ten Commandments is oddly worded: “Thou shalt not have [allegiance to] any other gods before Me.” The statement seems almost self-contradictory. Here the Torah insists on an absolute devotion to monotheism, faith in the one and only God—and then, in the selfsame statement, the text seems to take for granted the existence of other gods, saying only that we shouldn’t have allegiance to them. But what other gods are there? Isn’t the Torah’s whole point that there is only one? The problem falls away, though, if you go back to the original Hebrew and read it carefully. The second commandment states: “Thou shalt not have [allegiance to] any other elohim before Me.” Just plug in our working definition of elohim, and suddenly it all starts to make sense: the text adjures us not to have allegiance to other “powers” besides God. For, indeed, there are other great sources of power one might choose to worship. The sun is powerful, there’s no denying that. It provides light and heat, and without it, we die. Nevertheless, the second commandment tells us that the sun is off-limits for worship because we may not have allegiance to any power other than the Almighty. As
David Fohrman (The Exodus You Almost Passed Over)
In truth, Thomas was being a faithful disciple of Jesus, who warned His disciples that “many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray” (Matt. 24:5). Indeed, Jesus affirms those who believe without seeing because such belief takes great faith. But that in no way suggests we should ignore evidence when it is available, as though doing so makes us more faithful. This impulse, combined with an often uncritical biblicism, not only neglects God’s command to love him with our minds, but leads us into unnecessary divisiveness and shallow literalism that blinds us to the deeper truth of Scripture. Therefore, during this process of self-emptying, we must be aware of and honest with our uncertainties. While we should never throw around our doubt with rebellious defiance, neither should we view our genuine questions and uncertainties as liabilities. Sometimes allowing ourselves to question deeply held beliefs opens us up to discovering that we were, in fact, in error, offering us the opportunity for more faithful understanding. Other times we discover that our fears are unfounded, returning to our former beliefs without doubt, yet stronger for it.
Jamie Arpin-Ricci (Vulnerable Faith: Missional Living in the Radical Way of St. Patrick)
Their faith may be described as childlike, but the end it serves is often sinister. It may, indeed, “keep them happy”—a phrase carrying the inescapable inference that the way of life imposed on Negroes makes them quite actively unhappy—but also, and much more significantly, religion operates here as a complete and exquisite fantasy revenge: white people own the earth and commit all manner of abomination and injustice on it; the bad will be punished and the good rewarded, for God is not sleeping, the judgment is not far off. It does not require a spectacular degree of perception to realize that bitterness is here neither dead nor sleeping, and that the white man, believing what he wishes to believe, has misread the symbols. Quite often the Negro preacher descends to levels less abstract and leaves no doubt as to what is on his mind: the pressure of life in Harlem, the conduct of the Italian-Ethiopian war, racial injustice during the recent war, and the terrible possibility of yet another very soon. All these topics provide excellent springboards for sermons thinly coated with spirituality but designed mainly to illustrate the injustice of the white American and anticipate his certain and long overdue punishment.
James Baldwin (Notes of a Native Son)
When I read Muller’s biography I was shocked to learn why he started the orphanage. His primary purpose was not to care for orphans. Instead, he wrote in his journal: If I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an Orphan-House, there would be something which, with the Lord’s blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted, of the reality of the things of God. This, then, was the primary reason for establishing the Orphan-House.… The first and primary object of the work was (and still is:) that God might be magnified by the fact, that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need, only by prayer and faith without anyone being asked by me or my fellow-laborers whereby it may be seen, that God is faithful still, and hears prayer still.8 Muller decided that he wanted to live in such a way that it would be evident to all who looked at his life—Christian and non-Christian alike—that God is indeed faithful to provide for his people. He risked his life trusting in the greatness of God, and in the end his life made much of the glory of God.
David Platt (Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream)
[O]ne of the fatal errors of conceptual theology has been the separation of the acts of religious existence from the statements about it. Ideas of faith must not be studied in total separation from the moments of faith. If a plant is uprooted from its soil, removed from its native winds, sun-rays and terrestrial environment, and kept in a hothouse— will observations made of such a plant disclose its primordial nature? The growing inwardness of man that reaches and curves toward the light of God can hardly be transplanted into the shallowness of mere reflection. Torn out of its medium in human life, it wilts like a rose pressed between the pages of a book. Religion is, indeed, little more than a desiccated remnant of a once living reality when reduced to terms and definitions, to codes and catechisms. It can only be studied in its natural habitat of faith and piety, in a soul where the divine is within reach of all thoughts.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism)
The form of life Jesus offers his followers is not one of social integration but a scandal to the priestly and political establishment. It is a question of being homeless, propertyless, peripatetic, celibate, socially marginal, disdainful of kinsfolk, averse to material possessions, a friend of outcasts and pariahs, a thorn in the side of the Establishment and a scourge of the rich and powerful. Indeed, Pierre Bayle points to this fact as an argument against the political necessity of religious faith. Christianity, he remarks, is no basis for civil order, since Jesus proclaims that he has come to pitch society into turmoil.47
Terry Eagleton (Culture and the Death of God)
The Latin Church, which I constantly find myself admiring, despite its occasional astounding imbecilities, has always kept clearly before it the fact that religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. It is accused by Protestant dervishes of withholding the Bible from the people. To some extent this is true; to some extent the church is wise; again to the same extent it is prosperous. ... Rome indeed has not only preserved the original poetry of Christianity; it has also made capital additions to that poetry -- for example, the poetry of the saints, of Mary, and of the liturgy itself. A solemn high mass is a thousand times as impressive, to a man with any genuine religious sense in him, as the most powerful sermon ever roared under the big top by Presbyterian auctioneer of God. In the face of such overwhelming beauty it is not necessary to belabor the faithful with logic; they are better convinced by letting them alone. Preaching is not an essential part of the Latin ceremonial. It was very little employed in the early church, and I am convinced that good effects would flow from abandoning it today, or, at all events, reducing it to a few sentences, more or less formal. In the United States the Latin brethren have been seduced by the example of the Protestants, who commonly transform an act of worship into a puerile intellectual exercise; instead of approaching God in fear and wonder these Protestants settle back in their pews, cross their legs, and listen to an ignoramus try to prove that he is a better theologian than the Pope. This folly the Romans now slide into. Their clergy begin to grow argumentative, doctrinaire, ridiculous. It is a pity. A bishop in his robes, playing his part in the solemn ceremonial of the mass, is a dignified spectacle; the same bishop, bawling against Darwin half an hour later, is seen to be simply an elderly Irishman with a bald head, the son of a respectable police sergeant in South Bend, Ind. Let the reverend fathers go back to Bach. If they keep on spoiling poetry and spouting ideas, the day will come when some extra-bombastic deacon will astound humanity and insult God by proposing to translate the liturgy into American, that all the faithful may be convinced by it.
H.L. Mencken
As Christians we face two tasks in our evangelism: saving the soul and saving the mind, that is to say, not only converting people spiritually, but converting them intellectually as well. And the Church is lagging dangerously behind with regard to this second task. If the church loses the intellectual battle in one generation, then evangelism will become immeasurably more difficult in the next. The war is not yet lost, and it is one which we must not lose: souls of men and women hang in the balance. For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ Himself, as well as for their own sakes, evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence. Thinking about your faith is indeed a virtue, for it helps you to better understand and defend your faith. But thinking about your faith is not equivalent to doubting your faith. Doubt is never a purely intellectual problem. There is a spiritual dimension to the problem that must be recognized. Never lose sight of the fact that you are involved in spiritual warfare and there is an enemy of your soul who hates you intensely, whose goal is your destruction, and who will stop at nothing to destroy you. Reason can be used to defend our faith by formulating arguments for the existence of God or by refuting objections. But though the arguments so developed serve to confirm the truth of our faith, they are not properly the basis of our faith, for that is supplied by the witness of the Holy Spirit Himself. Even if there were no arguments in defense of the faith, our faith would still have its firm foundation. The more I learn, the more desperately ignorant I feel. Further study only serves to open up to one's consciousness all the endless vistas of knowledge, even in one's own field, about which one knows absolutely nothing. Don't let your doubts just sit there: pursue them and keep after them until you drive them into the ground. We should be cautious, indeed, about thinking that we have come upon the decisive disproof of our faith. It is pretty unlikely that we have found the irrefutable objection. The history of philosophy is littered with the wrecks of such objections. Given the confidence that the Holy Spirit inspires, we should esteem lightly the arguments and objections that generate our doubts. These, then, are some of the obstacles to answered prayer: sin in our lives, wrong motives, lack of faith, lack of earnestness, lack of perseverance, lack of accordance with God’s will. If any of those obstacles hinders our prayers, then we cannot claim with confidence Jesus’ promise, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it”. And so I was led to what was for me a radical new insight into the will of God, namely, that God’s will for our lives can include failure. In other words, God’s will may be that you fail, and He may lead you into failure! For there are things that God has to teach you through failure that He could never teach you through success. So many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is and always will be the true priority for every human being — that is, learning to know God in Christ. My greatest fear is that I should some day stand before the Lord and see all my works go up in smoke like so much “wood, hay, and stubble”. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but knowledge of God. People tend naturally to assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this life. God’s role is to provide a comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view, this is false. We are not God’s pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God—which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfilment. Many evils occur in life which may be utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness; but they may not be pointless with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God.
William Lane Craig (Hard Questions, Real Answers)
I pray that the world never runs out of dragons. I say that in all sincerity, though I have played a part in the death of one great wyrm. For the dragon is the quintessential enemy, the greatest foe, the unconquerable epitome of devastation. The dragon, above all other creatures, even the demons and the devils, evokes images of dark grandeur, of the greatest beast curled asleep on the greatest treasure hoard. They are the ultimate test of the hero and the ultimate fright of the child. They are older than the elves and more akin to the earth than the dwarves. The great dragons are the preternatural beast, the basic element of the beast, that darkest part of our imagination. The wizards cannot tell you of their origin, though they believe that a great wizard, a god of wizards, must have played some role in the first spawning of the beast. The elves, with their long fables explaining the creation of every aspect of the world, have many ancient tales concerning the origin of the dragons, but they admit, privately, that they really have no idea of how the dragons came to be. My own belief is more simple, and yet, more complicated by far. I believe that dragons appeared in the world immediately after the spawning of the first reasoning race. I do not credit any god of wizards with their creation, but rather, the most basic imagination wrought of unseen fears, of those first reasoning mortals. We make the dragons as we make the gods, because we need them, because, somewhere deep in our hearts, we recognize that a world without them is a world not worth living in. There are so many people in the land who want an answer, a definitive answer, for everything in life, and even for everything after life. They study and they test, and because those few find the answers for some simple questions, they assume that there are answers to be had for every question. What was the world like before there were people? Was there nothing but darkness before the sun and the stars? Was there anything at all? What were we, each of us, before we were born? And what, most importantly of all, shall we be after we die? Out of compassion, I hope that those questioners never find that which they seek. One self-proclaimed prophet came through Ten-Towns denying the possibility of an afterlife, claiming that those people who had died and were raised by priests, had, in fact, never died, and that their claims of experiences beyond the grave were an elaborate trick played on them by their own hearts, a ruse to ease the path to nothingness. For that is all there was, he said, an emptiness, a nothingness. Never in my life have I ever heard one begging so desperately for someone to prove him wrong. This is kind of what I believe right now… although, I do not want to be proved wrong… For what are we left with if there remains no mystery? What hope might we find if we know all of the answers? What is it within us, then, that so desperately wants to deny magic and to unravel mystery? Fear, I presume, based on the many uncertainties of life and the greatest uncertainty of death. Put those fears aside, I say, and live free of them, for if we just step back and watch the truth of the world, we will find that there is indeed magic all about us, unexplainable by numbers and formulas. What is the passion evoked by the stirring speech of the commander before the desperate battle, if not magic? What is the peace that an infant might know in its mother’s arms, if not magic? What is love, if not magic? No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith. And that, I fear, for any reasoning, conscious being, would be the cruelest trick of all. -Drizzt Do’Urden
R.A. Salvatore (Streams of Silver (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #5))
I cannot tell you that the sacrifice will be light: it is a serious thing to stand against the whole current of an age; it is a serious thing to be despised and hated by the generality of one's fellow men. Yet that is increasingly the lot of the truth Christian today. He will not, indeed, be inclined to complain; for he has something with which all that he has lost is not worthy to be compared; and he knows that despite temporary opposition the ultimate future belongs to him and to His Lord. But for the present he is called upon to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. It can hardly be said that unworthy motives of self-interest can lead a man to enter into a calling in which he will win nothing but reproach.
J. Gresham Machen
Of course no one will consider,” said Anisim, and he heaved a sigh. “There is no God, anyway, you know, mamma, so what considering can there be?” Varvara looked at him with surprise, burst out laughing, and clasped her hands. Perhaps because she was so genuinely surprised at his words and looked at him as though he were a queer person, he was confused. “Perhaps there is a God, only there is no faith. When I was being married I was not myself. Just as you may take an egg from under a hen and there is a chicken chirping in it, so my conscience was beginning to chirp in me, and while I was being married I thought all the time there was a God! But when I left the church it was nothing. And indeed, how can I tell whether there is a God or not? We are not taught right from childhood, and while the babe is still at his mother’s breast he is only taught ‘every man to his own job.’ Father does not believe in God, either. You were saying that Guntorev had some sheep stolen.... I have found them; it was a peasant at Shikalovo stole them; he stole them, but father’s got the fleeces ... so that’s all his faith amounts to.
Anton Chekhov (In the Ravine & Other Short Stories)
THE METAPHYSICAL POETS Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime (Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress) While theatre was the most public literary form of the period, poetry tended to be more personal, more private. Indeed, it was often published for only a limited circle of readers. This was true of Shakespeare's sonnets, as we have seen, and even more so for the Metaphysical poets, whose works were published mostly after their deaths. John Donne and George Herbert are the most significant of these poets. The term 'Metaphysical' was used to describe their work by the eighteenth-century critic, Samuel Johnson. He intended the adjective to be pejorative. He attacked the poets' lack of feeling, their learning, and the surprising range of images and comparisons they used. Donne and Herbert were certainly very innovative poets, but the term 'Metaphysical' is only a label, which is now used to describe the modern impact of their writing. After three centuries of neglect and disdain, the Metaphysical poets have come to be very highly regarded and have been influential in recent British poetry and criticism. They used contemporary scientific discoveries and theories, the topical debates on humanism, faith, and eternity, colloquial speech-based rhythms, and innovative verse forms, to examine the relationship between the individual, his God, and the universe. Their 'conceits', metaphors and images, paradoxes and intellectual complexity make the poems a constant challenge to the reader.
Ronald Carter (The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland)
But," say you, "what will become of me if . . . ?" This is indeed a temptation of the enemy. Why should you be so ingenious in tormenting yourself beforehand about something which perhaps will never happen? Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. Uneasy forebodings do us much harm; why do you so readily give way to them? We make our own troubles, and what do we gain by it? but lose, instead, so much both for time and eternity. When we are obsessed in spite of ourselves by these worrying revisions let us be faithful in making a continual sacrifice of them to the sovereign Master. I conjure you to do this, as in this way you will induce God to deal favourably with you and to help you in every way. You will acquire a treasure of virtue and merit for Heaven, and a submission and abandonment which will enable you to make more progress in the ways of God than any other practice of piety. It is, possibly, with this view that God permits all these troublesome and trying imaginations. Profit by them then, and God will bless you. By your submission to His good pleasure you will make greater progress than you could by hearing beautiful sermons, or reading pious books.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade (Abandonment to Divine Providence)
Concerning sin and our proper attitude when we find ourselves in sin. Truly, to have committed a sin is not sinful if we regret what we have done. Indeed, not for anything in time or eternity should we want to commit a sin, neither of a mortal, venial or any other kind. Whoever knows the ways of God should always be mindful of the fact that God, who is faithful and loving, has led us from a sinful life into a godly one, thus making friends of us who were previously enemies, which is a greater achievement even than making a new earth. This is one of the chief reasons why we should be wholly established in God, and it is astonishing how much this inflames us with so great and so strong a love that we strip ourselves entirely of ourselves. Indeed, if you are rightly placed in the will of God, then you should not wish that the sin into which you fell had not happened. Of course, this is not the case because sin was something against God but, precisely because it was something against God, you were bound by it to greater love, you were humbled and brought low. And you should trust God that he would not have allowed it to happen unless he intended it to be for your profit. But when we raise ourselves out of sin and turn away from it, then God in his faithfulness acts as if we had never fallen into sin at all and he does not punish us for our sins for a single moment, even if they are as great as the sum of all the sins that have ever been committed. God will not make us suffer on their account, but he can enjoy with us all the intimacy that he ever had with a creature. If he finds that we are now ready, then he does not consider what we were before. God is a God of the present. He takes you and receives you as he finds you now, not as you have been, but as you are now. God willingly endures all the harm and shame which all our sins have ever inflicted upon him, as he has already done for many years, in order that we should come to a deep knowledge of his love and in order that our love and our gratitude should increase and our zeal grow more intense, which often happens when we have repented of our sins. Therefore God willingly tolerates the hurtfulness of sin and has often done so in the past, most frequently allowing it to come upon those whom he has chosen to raise up to greatness. Now listen! Was there ever anyone dearer to or more intimate with our Lord than the apostles? And yet not one of them escaped mortal sin. They all committed mortal sin. He showed this time and again in the Old and New Testament in those individuals who were to become the closest to him by far; and even today we rarely find that people achieve great things without first going astray. And thus our Lord intends to teach us of his great mercy, urging us to great and true humility and devotion. For, when repentance is renewed, then love too is renewed and grows strong.
Meister Eckhart (Selected Writings)
My friends, I do not believe it is preaching Christ and him crucified, to give people a batch of philosophy every Sunday morning and evening, and neglect the truths of this Holy Book. I do not believe it is preaching Christ and him crucified, to leave out the main cardinal doctrines of the Word of God, and preach a religion which is all a mist and a haze, without any definite truths whatever. I take it that man does not preach Christ and him crucified, who can get through a sermon without mentioning Christ's name once; nor does that man preach Christ and him crucified, who leaves out the Holy Spirit's work, who never says a word about the Holy Ghost, so that indeed the hearers might say, "We do not so much as know whether there be a Holy Ghost." And I have my own private opinion, that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism. Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith without works; not unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor, I think, can we preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation, after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that. We preach Christ and him crucified in a different fashion, and to all gainsayers we reply, "We have not so learned Christ.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The central fact of biblical history, the birth of the Messiah, more than any other, presupposes the design of Providence in the selecting and uniting of successive producers, and the real, paramount interest of the biblical narratives is concentrated on the various and wondrous fates, by which are arranged the births and combinations of the 'fathers of God.' But in all this complicated system of means, having determined in the order of historical phenomena the birth of the Messiah, there was no room for love in the proper meaning of the word. Love is, of course, encountered in the Bible, but only as an independent fact and not as an instrument in the process of the genealogy of Christ. The sacred book does not say that Abram took Sarai to wife by force of an ardent love, and in any case Providence must have waited until this love had grown completely cool for the centenarian progenitors to produce a child of faith, not of love. Isaac married Rebekah not for love but in accordance with an earlier formed resolution and the design of his father. Jacob loved Rachel, but this love turned out to be unnecessary for the origin of the Messiah. He was indeed to be born of a son of Jacob - Judah - but the latter was the offspring, not of Rachel but of the unloved wife, Leah. For the production in the given generation of the ancestor of the Messiah, what was necessary was the union of Jacob precisely with Leah; but to attain this union Providence did not awaken in Jacob any powerful passion of love for the future mother of the 'father of God' - Judah. Not infringing the liberty of Jacob's heartfelt feeling, the higher power permitted him to love Rachel, but for his necessary union with Leah it made use of means of quite a different kind: the mercenary cunning of a third person - devoted to his own domestic and economic interests - Laban. Judah himself, for the production of the remote ancestors of the Messiah, besides his legitimate posterity, had in his old age to marry his daughter-in-law Tamar. Seeing that such a union was not at all in the natural order of things, and indeed could not take place under ordinary conditions, that end was attained by means of an extremely strange occurrence very seductive to superficial readers of the Bible. Nor in such an occurrence could there be any talk of love. It was not love which combined the priestly harlot Rahab with the Hebrew stranger; she yielded herself to him at first in the course of her profession, and afterwards the casual bond was strengthened by her faith in the power of the new God and in the desire for his patronage for herself and her family. It was not love which united David's great-grandfather, the aged Boaz, with the youthful Moabitess Ruth, and Solomon was begotten not from genuine, profound love, but only from the casual, sinful caprice of a sovereign who was growing old.
Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (The Meaning of Love)
The human species is an animal species without very much variation within it, and it is idle and futile to imagine that a voyage to Tibet, say, will discover an entirely different harmony with nature or eternity. The Dalai Lama, for example, is entirely and easily recognizable to a secularist. In exactly the same way as a medieval princeling, he makes the claim not just that Tibet should be independent of Chinese hegemony—a “perfectly good” demand, if I may render it into everyday English—but that he himself is a hereditary king appointed by heaven itself. How convenient! Dissenting sects within his faith are persecuted; his one-man rule in an Indian enclave is absolute; he makes absurd pronouncements about sex and diet and, when on his trips to Hollywood fund-raisers, anoints major donors like Steven Segal and Richard Gere as holy. (Indeed, even Mr. Gere was moved to whine a bit when Mr. Segal was invested as a tulku, or person of high enlightenment. It must be annoying to be outbid at such a spiritual auction.) I will admit that the current “Dalai” or supreme lama is a man of some charm and presence, as I will admit that the present queen of England is a person of more integrity than most of her predecessors, but this does not invalidate the critique of hereditary monarchy, and the first foreign visitors to Tibet were downright appalled at the feudal domination, and hideous punishments, that kept the population in permanent serfdom to a parasitic monastic elite.
Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything)
That is why the second coming of the Lord is not only salvation, not only the omega that sets everything right, but also judgment. Indeed at this stage we can actually define the meaning of the talk of judgment. It means precisely this, that the final stage of the world is not the result of a natural current but the result of responsibility that is grounded in freedom. This must be regarded as the key to understanding why the New Testament clings fast, in spite of its message of grace, to the assertion that at the end men are judged "by their works" and that no one can escape giving an account of the way he has lived his life. There is a freedom that is not cancelled out even by grace and, indeed, is brought by it face to face with itself: man's final fate is not forced upon him regardless of the decisions he has made in his life. This assertion is in any case also necessary in order to draw the line between faith and false dogmatism or a false Christian self-confidence. This line alone confirms the equality of men by confirming the identity of their responsibility. ... Perhaps in the last analysis it is impossible to escape a paradox whose logic is completely disclosed only to the experience of a life based on faith. Anyone who entrusts himself to a life of faith becomes aware that both exist: the radical character of grace that frees helpless man and,no less, the abiding seriousness of the responsibility that summons man day after day. Both together mean that the Christian enjoys, on the one hand, the liberating, detached tranquility of him who lives on that excess of divine justice known as Jesus Christ. ... This is the source of a profound freedom, a knowledge of God's unrepentant love; he sees through all our errors and remains well disposed to us. ... At the same time, the Christian knows, however, that he is not free to do whatever he pleases, that his activity is not a game that God allows him and does not take seriously. He knows that he must answer for his actions, that he owes an account as a steward of what has been entrusted to him. There can only be responsibility where there is someone to be responsible to, someone to put the questions. Faith in the Last Judgment holds this questioning of our life over our heads so that we cannot forget it for a moment. Nothing and no one empowers us to trivialize the tremendous seriousness involved in such knowledge; it shows our life to be a serious business and precisely by doing so gives it its dignity.
Pope Benedict XVI (Introduction to Christianity)
You, dearly beloved, whom I address in no less earnest terms than those of the blessed apostle Peter, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,” built upon the impregnable rock, Christ, and joined to the Lord our Savior by His true assumption of our flesh, remain firm in the faith, which you have professed before many witnesses and in which you were reborn through water and the Holy Spirit, and received the anointing of salvation and the seal of eternal life. But “if anyone preaches to you anything besides that which you have learned, let him be anathema”; refuse to put wicked fables before the clearest truth, and what you may happen to read or hear contrary to the rule of the catholic and apostolic creed, judge it altogether deadly and diabolical… Indeed, they put on a cloak of piety and chastity, but under this deceit they conceal the filthiness of their acts, and from the recesses of their ungodly heart hurl shafts to wound the simple… A mighty bulwark is a sound faith, a true faith, to which nothing has to be added or taken away, because unless it is one, it is no faith, as the apostle says, “one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in us all.” Cling to this unity, dearly beloved, with minds unshaken, and in it “follow after” all “holiness.” In it carry out the Lord’s commands, because “without faith it is impossible to please God,” and without it nothing is holy, nothing pure, nothing alive, “for the just lives by faith,” and he who by the devil’s deception loses it is dead though living, because as righteousness is gained by faith, so, too, by a true faith is eternal life gained, as our Lord and Savior says. And this is life eternal, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. May He make you to advance and persevere to the end, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.                —Leo the Great
Scot A. Kinnaman (Treasury of Daily Prayer)
Then we are nothing to him,’ said the merchant, sorrow brimming in his eyes. ‘I surrendered everything, all my wealth, for yet another indifferent god. If he cannot protect us, what is the point?’ She wished that she had an answer to such questions. Were these not the very grist of priestly endeavours? To grind out palatable answers, to hint of promising paths to true salvation? To show a benign countenance gifted by god-given wisdom, glowing as if fanned by sacred breath? ‘It is my feeling,’ she said, haltingly, ‘that a faith that delivers perfect answers to every question is not a true faith, for its only purpose is to satisfy, to ease the mind and so end its questing.’ She held up a hand to still the objections she saw awakened among these six honest, serious believers. ‘Is it for faith to deliver peace, when on all sides inequity thrives? For it shall indeed thrive, when the blessed walk past blissfully blind, content in their own moral purity, in the peace filling their souls. Oh, you might then reach out a hand to the wretched by the roadside, offering them your own footprints, and you may see the blessed burgeon in number, grow into a multitude, until you are as an army. But there will be, will ever be, those who turn away from your hand. The ones who quest because it is in their nature to quest, who fear the seduction of self-satisfaction, who mistrust easy answers. Are these ones then to be your enemy? Does the army grow angered now? Does it strike out at the unbelievers? Does it crush them underfoot?
Steven Erikson (Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8))
...it takes great humility to find oneself unjustly condemned and be silent, and to do this is to imitate the Lord Who set us free from all our sins. ... The truly humble person will have a genuine desire to be thought little of, and persecuted, and condemned unjustly, even in serious matters. ... It is a great help to meditate upon the great gain which in any case this is bound to bring us, and to realize how, properly speaking, we can never be blamed unjustly, since we are always full of faults, and a just man falls seven times a day, so that it would be a falsehood for us to say we have no sin. If, then, we are not to blame for the thing that we are accused of, we are never wholly without blame in the way that our good Jesus was. ... Thou knowest, my Good, that if there is anything good in me it comes from no other hands than Thine own. For what is it to Thee, Lord, to give much instead of little? True, I do not deserve it, but neither have I deserved the favors which Thou hast shown me already. Can it be that I should wish a thing so evil as myself to be thought well of by anyone, when they have said such wicked things of Thee, Who art good above all other good? ... Do Thou give me light and make me truly to desire that all should hate me, since I have so often let Thee, Who hast loved me with such faithfulness. ... What does it matter to us if we are blamed by them all, provided we are without blame in the sight of the Lord? ...meditate upon what is real and upon what is not. ... Do you suppose, ... that, if you do not make excuses for yourself, there will not be someone else who will defend you? Remember how the Lord took the Magdalen's part in the Pharisee's house and also when her sister blamed her. He will not treat you as rigorously as He treated Himself: it was not until He was on the Cross that He had even a thief to defend Him. His Majesty, then, will put it into somebody's mind to defend you; if He does not, it will be because there is no need. ...be glad when you are blamed, and in due time you will see what profit you experience in your souls. For it is in this way that you will begin to gain freedom; soon you will not care if they speak ill or well of you; it will seem like someone else's business. ... So here: it becomes such a habit with us not to reply that it seems as if they are not addressing us at all. This may seem impossible to those of us who are very sensitive and not capable of great mortification. It is indeed difficult at first, but I know that, with the Lord's help, the gradual attainment of this freedom, and of renunciation and self-detachment, is quite possible.
Teresa of Ávila
My Dear Mrs Winter. (I had half a mind when I dipped my pen in the ink, to address you by your old natural Christian name.) The snow lies so deep on the Northern Railway, and the Posts have been so interrupted in consequence, that your charming note arrived here only this morning... I get the heartache again when I read your commission, written in the hand which I find now to be not in the least changed, and yet it is a great pleasure to be entrusted with it, and to have that share in your gentler remembrances which I cannot find it still my privilege to have, without a stirring of the old fancies. ... I am very very sorry you mistrusted me in not writing before your little girl was born; but I hope now you know me better you will teach her, one day, to tell her children, in times to come when they have some interest in wondering about it, that I loved her mother with the most extraordinary earnestness when I was a boy. I have always believed since, and always shall to the last, that there never was such a faithful and devoted poor fellow as I was. Whatever of fancy, romance, energy, passion, aspiration and determination belong to me, I never have separated and never shall separate from the hard hearted little woman - you - whom it is nothing to say I would have died for, with the greatest alacrity! I never can think, and I never seem to observe, that other young people are in such desperate earnest, or set so much, so long, upon one absorbing hope. It is a matter of perfect certainty to me that I began to fight my way out of poverty and obscurity, with one perpetual idea of you. This is so fixed in my knowledge that to the hour when I opened your letter last Friday night, I have never heard anybody addressed by your name or spoken of by your name, without a start. The sound of it has always filled me with a kind of pity and respect for the deep truth that I had, in my silly hobbledehoyhood, to bestow upon one creature who represented the whole world to me. I have never been so good a man since, as I was when you made me wretchedly happy. I shall never be half so good a fellow any more. This is all so strange now, both to think of, and to say, after every change that has come about; but I think, when you ask me to write to you, you are not unprepared for what it is so natural to me to recall, and will not be displeased to read it. I fancy, - though you may not have thought in the old time how manfully I loved you - that you may have seen in one of my books a faithful reflection of the passion I had for you, and may have thought that it was something to have been loved so well, and may have seen in little bits of "Dora" touches of your old self sometimes, and a grace here and there that may be revived in your little girls, years hence, for the bewilderment of some other young lover - though he will never be as terribly in earnest as I and David Copperfield were. People used to say to me how pretty all that was, and how fanciful it was, and how elevated it was above the little foolish loves of very young men and women. But they little thought what reason I had to know it was true and nothing more nor less. These are things that I have locked up in my own breast, and that I never thought to bring out any more. But when I find myself writing to you again "all to your self", how can I forbear to let as much light in upon them as will shew you that they are there still! If the most innocent, the most ardent, and the most disinterested days of my life had you for their Sun - as indeed they had - and if I know that the Dream I lived in did me good, refined my heart, and made me patient and persevering, and if the Dream were all of you - as God knows it was - how can I receive a confidence from you, and return it, and make a feint of blotting all this out! ...
Charles Dickens
I have maintained that precisely because Christian faith regards the nothing from which the world came forth as absolute ‘non-being, creatureliness implies that death is a return to the nothingness of nonbeing… Problems essentially derive either from a belief, latent in many Christians, in the immortality of the soul, whereby death no longer constitutes a return to non-being since the soul, of it’s nature, lives eternally, or from a belief that God does not create mortal beings, and consequently that what is created cannot but live. With regard to the first belief, namely in the immorality of the soul, I have said enough above about the soul not being immortal by nature, since it is not eternal but created. Consequently, it too is subject to the destiny of creation if left to itself. We can certainly speak of an immortality of the soul that is not ‘natural’ by ‘by grace’, but this is possible only by means of a logical contradiction. The fact that the soul can be immortal *by grace* does not logically permit us to say that it *is* immortal, since the fact that is is created means that it is not immortal in its nature. In fact, it we accept that the soul can be immortal by grace, we implicitly accept that it is not so by nature. Indeed, immortality by grace is conceivable, as we shall, but why limit it to the soul? Immortality by grace, when and where it prevails, concerns the body and the material world in general just as much as the soul. To speak of immortality only with regard to the soul – and only for the soul – even by grace, is a distraction: it involved specially attributing to the soul qualities of immortality. But God does not want only souls to be saved – he wants also the salvation and survival of bodies and of the world as a whole.
John D. Zizioulas (Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church)
(Inevitably, someone raises the question about World War II: What if Christians had refused to fight against Hitler? My answer is a counterquestion: What if the Christians in Germany had emphatically refused to fight for Hitler, refused to carry out the murders in concentration camps?) The long history of Christian “just wars” has wrought suffering past all telling, and there is no end in sight. As Yoder has suggested, Niebuhr’s own insight about the “irony of history” ought to lead us to recognize the inadequacy of our reason to shape a world that tends toward justice through violence. Might it be that reason and sad experience could disabuse us of the hope that we can approximate God’s justice through killing? According to the guideline I have proposed, reason must be healed and taught by Scripture, and our experience must be transformed by the renewing of our minds in conformity with the mind of Christ. Only thus can our warring madness be overcome. This would mean, practically speaking, that Christians would have to relinquish positions of power and influence insofar as the exercise of such positions becomes incompatible with the teaching and example of Jesus. This might well mean, as Hauerwas has perceived, that the church would assume a peripheral status in our culture, which is deeply committed to the necessity and glory of violence. The task of the church then would be to tell an alternative story, to train disciples in the disciplines necessary to resist the seductions of violence, to offer an alternative home for those who will not worship the Beast. If the church is to be a Scripture-shaped community, it will find itself reshaped continually into a closer resemblance to the socially marginal status of Matthew’s nonviolent countercultural community. To articulate such a theological vision for the church at the end of the twentieth century may be indeed to take most seriously what experience is telling us: the secular polis has no tolerance for explicitly Christian witness and norms. It is increasingly the case in Western culture that Christians can participate in public governance only insofar as they suppress their explicitly Christian motivations. Paradoxically, the Christian community might have more impact upon the world if it were less concerned about appearing reasonable in the eyes of the world and more concerned about faithfully embodying the New Testament’s teaching against violence. Let it be said clearly, however, that the reasons for choosing Jesus’ way of peacemaking are not prudential. In calculable terms, this way is sheer folly. Why do we choose the way of nonviolent love of enemies? If our reasons for that choice are shaped by the New Testament, we are motivated not by the sheer horror of war, not by the desire for saving our own skins and the skins of our children (if we are trying to save our skins, pacifism is a very poor strategy), not by some general feeling of reverence for human life, not by the naive hope that all people are really nice and will be friendly if we are friendly first. No, if our reasons for choosing nonviolence are shaped by the New Testament witness, we act in simple obedience to the God who willed that his own Son should give himself up to death on a cross. We make this choice in the hope and anticipation that God’s love will finally prevail through the way of the cross, despite our inability to see how this is possible. That is the life of discipleship to which the New Testament repeatedly calls us. When the church as a community is faithful to that calling, it prefigures the peaceable kingdom of God in a world wracked by violence.
Richard B. Hays (The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New CreationA Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic)
A file on a hard disk does indeed contain information of the kind that objectively exists. The fact that the bits are discernible instead of being scrambled into mush - the way heat scrambles things - is what makes them bits. But if the bits can potentially mean something to someone, they can only do so if they are experienced. When that happens, a commonality of culture is enacted between the storer and the retriever of the bits. Experience is the only process that can de-alienate information. Information of the kind that purportedly wants to be free is nothing but a shadow of our own minds, and wants nothing on its own. It will not suffer if it doesn't get what it wants. But if you want to make the transition from the old religion, where you hope God will give you an afterlife, to the new religion, where you hope to become immortal by getting uploaded into a computer, then you have to believe information is real and alive. So for you, it will be important to redesign human institutions like art, the economy, and the law to reinforce the perception that information is alive. You demand that the rest of us live in your new conception of a state religion. You need us to deify information to reinforce your faith.
Jaron Lanier (You Are Not a Gadget)
Just as the separation of Church and world became visible only in their continuous conflict, so also does personal sanctification consist in the conflict of the Spirit against the flesh. The saints are only conscious of the strife and distress, the weakness and sin in their lives; and the further they advance in holiness, the more they feel they are fighting a losing battle and dying in the flesh. "They that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof" (Gal. 5.24). They still live in the flesh, but for that very reason their whole life must be an act of faith in the Son of God, who has begun his life in them (Gal. 2.20). The Christian dies daily (I Cor. 15.31), but although this may mean suffering and decay in the flesh, the inward man is renewed day by day (II Cor. 4.16). The only reason why the saints have to die in the flesh is that Christ through the Holy Spirit has begun to live his life in them. The effect of Christ and his life on the saints is that they die after the flesh. There is no need for them to go out of their way to look for suffering: indeed that would only mean a return to the self-assertion of the flesh. Every day Christ is their death and Christ is their life.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
An Act for establishing religious Freedom. Section 1 Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free; That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time; That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions, which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical; That even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry, That therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right, That it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it; That though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; That to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; That it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Thomas Jefferson
This is, indeed, an insightful observation. The Archbishop [Joseph L. Berardin] insists that the natural resemblance between Christ and his priests must not stop merely with the fact that they share a common masculinity. Our question is, 'Why must it BEGIN there?' If the faithful cannot see Christ in a male who exemplifies no godlike virtues - humility, gentleness, and self-effacing service - can they not see him in a female who does? Indeed, if the priest acts 'in persona Christi,' not 'in masculinitate Christi,' then 'NATURAL resemblance' between Christ and the priest, it would seem, does not entail PHYSICAL, that is SEXUAL resemblance, but a resemblance which is natural to the SPIRITUAL order with which the worshiping congregation has to do. And in this order there is neither male nor female, even as there is neither Jew nor Greek. We would, therefore, conclude that since the Word was made flesh, as the apostle John has declared him (John 1:14), we rightly heed those who, in the flesh, symbolize his presence as they speak and act in his name. But we see no reason to add to what the apostle said by insisting that the Word was made MALE flesh, for both male and female are equally bearers of the divine image. And since God created humankind in his image, male AND female, we can only conclude that women as well as men should be ordained to the priesthood, because femaleness, like maleness, is a fitting symbol (sacramental sign) of Deity.
Paul King Jewett (The Ordination of Women: An Essay on the Office of Christian Ministry)
Indeed. But what is sane? Especially here in ‘our own country’––in this doomstruck era of Nixon. We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the Sixties. Uppers are going out of style. This was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling ‘consciousness expansion’ without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously. After West Point and the Priesthood, LSD must have seemed entirely logical to him…but there is not much satisfaction in knowing that he blew it very badly for himself, because he took too many others down with him. Not that they didn’t deserve it: No doubt they all Got What Was Coming To Them. All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours, too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create…a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody––or at least some force––is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel. This is the same cruel and paradoxically benevolent bullshit that has kept the Catholic Church going for so many centuries. It is also the military ethic…a blind faith in some higher and wiser ‘authority.’ The Pope, The General, The Prime Minister…all the way up to “God”.
Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)
J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous essay, “On Fairy-Stories,” in Tree and Leaf (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), pp. 1–82. The consolation . . . the joy of the happy ending . . . the sudden joyous ‘turn’ . . . this joy which . . . stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially ‘escapist’ nor ‘fugitive.’ . . . It is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure. Indeed, the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. Rather, it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat, and thus is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief. It is the mark of a good story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give . . . when the ‘turn’ comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality. In . . . the ‘turn’ . . . we get a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart’s desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and lets a gleam come through.” Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories,” pp. 68–69. Later Tolkien argues that the ultimate story—the gospel—is the essence of all other stories with the joy-giving happy ending. “This ‘joy’ . . . merits more consideration. The peculiar quality of the ‘joy’ in a successful Fantasy can . . . be explained as a sudden glimpse of an underlying . . . Reality. . . . The Gospels contain . . . a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain . . . the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered history and the primary world. . . . The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story ends in joy. . . . There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath. . . . [T]his story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.” Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories,” pp. 71–73.
Timothy J. Keller (Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism)