Order and wildness

The more I considered Christianity,
the more I have found that
while it had established a rule and order,
the chief aim of that order was to give room
for good things to run wild.

–G. K. Chesterton

The wild wonder of God’s love

What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing.

To believe that this Creator
took on human vesture,
accepted death and mortality,
was tempted, betrayed, broken,
and all for love of us,
defies reason.

It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.

–Madeleine L’Engle

Negation or celebration?

In a break with the mystical heritage of the church, [Dietrich] Bonhoeffer maintained that Christianity involves not the negation of earthly desires but their celebration and sanctification.

Sin is not the natural but the unnatural, not
the human but the inhuman.

Whereas in his earlier writings he portrayed the things on earth as temptations and snares leading us to forgetfulness of God, he now regarded them as welcome gifts from God, since they serve human preservation and happiness. He even claimed that God can be found in earthly bliss as well as in the church…

Sin is not only an affront to God
but a putting down of humanity.

Sin is, in the last analysis, inhumanity, and salvation is the realization of true humanity…

–Donald G. Bloesch

The ghost of Plato

We’re always in danger
of making Christianity too spiritual.
It’s the ghost of Plato.
Christianity is a flesh and blood faith.

–Brian Zahnd ‏

The primary heresy

Gnosticism was the PRIMARY heresy that the early church combated, precisely because from the beginning of the church it was the most destructive idea to authentic apostolic Christianity. This idea subtly continues in the church when we ascribe a bad or inferior status to the material world or specifically our bodies. This belief slowly, yet thoroughly deconstructs the meaning and power of apostolic doctrine in its belief of the goodness of God’s role as creator, his creation, the value of the life of the body and the renewal of the earth.

–Richard Liantonio

Trinity is Essential

Christians say God is who you know when you know Jesus.

Jesus introduces us to the Triune God.

Only the Son knows the Father, and anyone to whom the Son makes him known.

Start somewhere else and you end up somewhere else.

If the Father did not send his Son in the power of the Spirit to bring us home into the life of God then we have no gospel, we have no Christianity. No other god is worth knowing or telling about.

“Without the gospel everything is useless and vain”, as John Calvin put it. “Seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.”

Trinity is gospel.

Or in the immortal words of Athanasius’ creed: the saved are those who hold to Trinity.

Strong stuff, but what is salvation if not entering into the life of the Triune God?

What else is a Christian but someone who knows this God?

Christianity isn’t a ticket to heaven.

Christianity is what happens when you’re joined with Jesus and step inside his life.

Do you need to be able to articulate that fully? No – but it’s not exactly complicated, it’s beautiful.

Just look at Jesus.

–Dave Bish


Invited into the Inner Circle

Here we have a window into the deep inner truth of Christianity. The life of the Holy Trinity—the relationship and beauty and passion, the creative and joyous and abounding fellowship of the Father, Son and Spirit, the love of the Triune God—is given to us in Jesus Christ, shared with our innermost beings . . . Such is the kingdom of God and the very meaning of salvation.

–Baxter Kruger

At the center of reality

The most important difference between Christianity and all other religions (is) that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance… (The) pattern of this three-personal life is . . . the great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality.

–C. S. Lewis

His nature is to love

Why does God love sinners? . . . He loves them because it is in His nature to love, because He is love. Unceasingly, He gives in spontaneous love. He loves not because of what we are but because of what He is: He is love. This is a new and distinct idea in Christianity . . .

–Leon Morris

The solution to each problem

We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we all make progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom 1:16-17).

It is very common in the church to think as follows: “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Colossians 1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you—it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32).

The main problem, then, in the Christian life
is that we have not thought out
the deep implications of the gospel,
we have not “used” the gospel in and on
all parts of our life.

Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel—a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says (on Gal. 2:14), “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine… Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel—seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

–Timothy Keller

It’s crazy, wild and outrageous

There is no such thing as the Christian religion because, Christianity, at is heart, is not a religion. Rather, it’s the announcement by God in Christ that whatever it was that the religions of the world were trying to do and couldn’t (make God think kindly of you, win wars, end poverty, get the crops to grow, stop your brother-in-law from drinking so much at your parties), the whole rigmarole has been canceled.

In Jesus, God has put up
a “Gone Fishing” sign
on the religion shop.

He has done the whole job in Jesus once and for all and simply invited us to believe it—to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single religious exertion: no fasting till your knees fold, no prayers you have to get right or else, no standing on your head with your right thumb in your left ear and reciting the correct creed—no nothing. All you need is faith that the entire show has been set to rights in the Mystery of Christ—even though nobody can see a single improvement. Yes, it’s crazy. And yes, it’s wild, and outrageous, and vulgar. And any God who would do such a thing is a God who has no taste. And worst of all, it doesn’t sell worth beans. But it is Good News—the only permanently good news there is—and therefore I find it absolutely captivating.

–Robert F. Capon

Setting hearts on fire

 Christianity is

one loving heart setting

another heart on fire.

-St. Augustine (354 – 430)

Published in: on 07/19/2011 at 22:08  Leave a Comment  
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Joy will triumph

An alleged Christianity which fails to express itself in gaiety, at some point, is clearly spurious. The Christian is light-hearted not because he is blind to injustice and suffering, but because he is convinced that these, in the light of the divine sovereignty, are never ULTIMATE.

–Elton Trueblood (1900 – 1994)

Published in: on 07/12/2011 at 16:22  Leave a Comment  
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King of joy

Don’t be put off by these gloomy caricatures of Christianity. For God’s sake don’t judge Jesus, the King of joy, by them! Try the real thing, not that miserable parody of the reality. Make friends with Jesus, stand where Peter and John and Andrew did and look into His eyes, listen to the music of His voice, answer His challenge, rise and follow.

–James S. Stewart (1896–1990)


Published in: on 04/07/2011 at 12:55  Leave a Comment  
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Being found by God

It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. “Look out!” we cry, “it’s alive.” And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back – I would have done so myself if I could – and proceed no further with Christianity. An “impersonal God” – well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our won heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling a the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (Man’s Search for God!”) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He found us?

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 02/08/2011 at 18:18  Leave a Comment  
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Burden or Wings?

The evangel of an ethical example is a devastating thing. It makes religion the most grievous of burdens. Perhaps this is the real reason why, even among professing Christians, there are so many strained faces and weary hearts and captive, unreleased spirits. They have listened to Jesus’ teaching, they have meditated on Jesus’ character; and then they have  risen up, and tried to drive their own lives along Jesus’ royal way. Disappointment heaped on bitter disappointment has been the result. The great example has been a dead-weight  beating them down, bearing them to the ground, bowing their hopeless souls in the dust.

One of the vital distinctions between
true religion and false is that,
whereas the latter is a dead burden
for the soul to carry, the former
is a living power to carry the soul.

Paul’s mysticism grows lyrical with precisely this great discovery. “Christ in me” means something quite different from the weight of an impossible ideal, something far more glorious than the oppression of a pattern for ever beyond all imitation. “Christ in me” means Christ bearing me along from within, Christ the motive-power that carries me on, Christ giving my whole life a wonderful poise and lift, and turning every burden into wings. All this is in it when the apostle speaks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Compared with this, the religion which bases everything on example is pitifully rudimentary. This, and this alone, is the true Christian religion. To be “in Christ,” to have Christ within, to realize your creed not as something you have to bear but as something by which you are born, this is Christianity. It is more: it is release and liberty, life with an endless song at its heart. It means feeling within you, as long as life here lasts, the carrying power of Love Almighty; and underneath you, when you come to die, the touch of everlasting arms.

–James Stewart

Not for “good” Christians

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Jesus was not clearing the road so I could ride victoriously through life. He was becoming the road that would carry me through all the garbage, falls, failures, and disasters that were the inevitable results of my existence.

In trying to make myself lovable,
I had been distancing myself from true love.

In pretending to be a leading candidate for the religious life, I was abandoning the life of grace. In seeking to be a good Christian, I was deserting the truth that there is no gospel for “good” Christians, because the Lamb of God was nailed to an altar for those who are not good, and who are no good at pretending to be good.

-Michael Spencer

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