All posts in “Quotes”

Thomas F. Torrance on the Bible (11 Quotes)

LutherbibelA few weeks ago I finished reading Thomas Torrance’s book Reality and Evangelical TheologyIn this book, renowned theologian Thomas Torrance deals with an important issue, especially in today’s church: the bible.

How should we interpret the Scriptures?

Is the bible inerrant (perfect)? Or merely inspired?

Is the bible itself the truth or merely a witness to the truth?

I’ve already quoted the introduction of this book about fundamentalism and the scriptures (here), but I also wanted to post here my favorite quotes from the book. Not all of them have to do with scripture, but a large portion of them do. Later I plan to write an article about how this applies to the bible, but in the meantime enjoy these eleven quotes!

(All quotes are from the 1982 Westminster John Knox Pr. edition.) 

_____________

“The fact that, through the free grace of God, Jesus Christ is made our righteousness means that we have no righteousness of our own.” (P. 18)

“No one may boast in his own orthodoxy any more than he may boast of his own righteousness. Justification thus turns out to be the strongest statement of the objectivity of faith and knowledge.” (P. 18)

“If God is not inherently and eternally in himself what he is towards us in Jesus Christ, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then we do not really or finally know God at all as he is in his abiding Reality.” (P. 24)

“…Since God has irreversibly incarnated his self-revelation in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, there cannot be two ways to knowledge of God, one in Jesus Christ and another behind his back, but only one way, through Christ and in his Spirit.” (P. 34)

“The development of fluid axioms which are continually open to change and renewal in the light of ever-deeper understanding of God means that the formulations of doctrine organized by reference to them must be open structures of thought and statement.” (P. 50)

“In a realist theology this will mean that we must distinguish no less sharply between dogmatic formulations of the truth and the truth itself, in the recognition that even when we have done all that it is our duty to do in relating them rightly (i.e., in an “orthodox” way) to the truth, they nevertheless fall far short of what they should be, and are inadequate. Indeed, it must be said that their inadequacy in this way is an essential part of their truth, in pointing away from themselves to the truth they serve, as it is an essential element in their objectivity in being grounded beyond themselves on reality that is independent of them.” (P. 50-1)

“The Holy Scriptures are the spectacles through which we are brought to know the true God in such a way that our minds fall under the compelling power of his self-evidencing Reality.” (P. 64-5)

“As such Jesus Christ is the Word through whom and with whom and in whom the true and faithful response of man is made to God and divine revelation completes the circle of its own movement.” (P. 86)

“Once and for all he [Jesus Christ] has become God’s exclusive language to man and he alone must be man’s language to God.” (P. 88)

“Strictly speaking, Christ himself is the scope of the Scriptures, so that it is only through focusing constantly upon him, dwelling in his Word and assimilating his Mind, that the interpreter can discern the real meaning of the Scriptures. What is required then is a theological interpretation of the Scriptures under the direction of their ostensive reference to God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ and within the general perspective of faith.” (P. 107)

“That is to say, biblical statements are to be treated not as containing or embodying the Truth of God in themselves, but as pointing, under the leading of the Spirit of Truth, to Jesus Christ himself who is the Truth. We have to recognize the fact, therefore, that the Scriptures indicate much more than can be expressed, and that there is much more to their truth than can be reduced to words.” (P. 119)

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8 Incredible Karl Barth Quotes

Karl BarthMy attempt today is to summarize 800 pages of Karl Barth’s monumental work of theology on the election and command of God, which comes from book two of the volume entitled “The Doctrine of God” from the Church Dogmaticsall in eight quotes. Though it certainly goes without saying, this work is far to complex and rich a work to be summarized as such. However, I present these quotes as a taste of the brilliance this volume contains, and additionally for the purpose of compiling together my favorite quotes from the book. Enjoy! (All quotes are from the Hendrickson Publishers edition, 2010)

1. “The doctrine of election is the sum of the gospel because of all words that can be said or heard it is the best: that God elects man; that God is for man too the one who loves in freedom.” (P. 3)

2. “…The simplest form of the dogma may be divided at once into the two assertions that Jesus Christ is the electing God and that He is also elected man.” (p.103)

3. “Our thesis is that God’s eternal will is the election of Jesus Christ.” (p. 146)

4. “[Man] can certainly flee from God (he does so), but he cannot escape Him… He may let go of God, but God does not let go of him” (p. 317)

5.  “The determination of the elect consists in the fact that he allows himself to be loved by God—to live as one from whom all eternity God in His incomprehensible and unmerited goodness did not will to renounce, and therefore will not renounce.” (p. 411)

6. “The command of God sets man free.” (p. 586)

7. “The mere fact that it takes place at all, that God stands before man as his Lord, that man’s existence can become his confrontation with God’s command, always means that God does not will to be without us, but, no matter who and what we may be, to be with us, that He Himself is always ‘God with us,’ Emmanuel.” (p. 735)

8. “In Jesus Christ He has chosen man from all eternity as His own, for life in His kingdom, to be a member of His people, His possession.” (p. 736)

Bonus quote: “At the beginning of all theological perception, research, and thought—and also of every theological statement—stands a quite specific amazement. Its lack in even the best theologian will threaten the heart of the entire enterprise, while even bad theologians are not a lost cause in their service and their duty, as long as they are still capable of amazement.” (Insights P. 3)

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Yes! To Life (Jürgen Moltmann)

Хорватия,_Закат_в_Брела,_2007-06“One evening I read the following passage in Augustine’s Confessions:

But what do I love when I love you? Not the beauty of any body or the rhythm of time in its movement; not the radiance of light, so dear to our eyes; not the sweet melodies in the world of manifold sounds; not the perfume of flowers, ointments and spices; not manna and not honey; not the limbs so delightful to the body’s embrace: it is none of those things that I love when I love my God. And yet when I love my God I do indeed love a light and a sound and a perfume and a food and an embrace – a light and sound an perfume and food and embrace in my inward self. There my soul is flooded with a radiance which no space can contain; there a music sounds which time never bears away; there I smell a perfume which no wind disperses; there I taste a food that no surfeit embitters; there is an embrace which no satiety severs. It is this that I love when I love my God. (Confessions, X, 6, 8)

And that night I answered him:

When I love God I love the beauty of bodies, the rhythm of movements, the shining of eyes, the embraces, the feelings, the scents, the sounds of all this protean creation. When I love you, my God, I want to embrace it all, for I love you with all my senses in the creations of your love. In all the things that encounter me, you are waiting for me.

For a long time I looked for you within myself and crept into the shell of my soul, shielding myself with an armour of inapproachability. But you were outside – outside myself – and enticed me out of the narrowness of my heart into the broad place of love for life. So I came out of myself and found my soul in my senses, and my own self in others.

The experience of God deepens the experiences of life. It does not reduce them, for it awakens the unconditional Yes to life. The more I love God, the more I gladly exist. The more immediately and wholly I exist, the more I sense the living God, the inexhaustible source of life and eternal livingness.

(From Jürgen Moltmann, A Broad Place: An Autobiography, P. 350)

Evangelical Theology: 28 Karl Barth Quotes

Wikipedia-karlbarth01Today I finished reading Karl Barth’s Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. There are several statements that were made in this book that I found worth repeating here. The following are all taken from this book, and include the page numbers at the end. Enjoy!

There is no man who does not have his own god or gods as the object of his highest desire and trust, or as the basis of his deepest loyalty and commitment. There is no one who is not to this extent also a theologian. P.3

[Theology] is a science which joyfully respects the mystery of its object and which, in turn, is again and again freed by its object from any dependence on subordinate presuppositions. P. 9

Therefore, in its perception, meditation, and discussion, theology must have the character of a living procession. Evangelical theology would forfeit its object, it would belie and negate itself, if it wished to view, understand, and to describe any one moment of the divine procession in “splendid isolation” from others. Instead, theology must describe they dynamic interrelationships which make this procession comparable to a bird in flight, in contrast to a caged bird. […] the God of the Gospel rejects any connection with a theology that has become paralyzed and static. Evangelical theology can only exist and remain in vigorous motion when its eyes are fixed on the God of the Gospel. P. 9-10

In the fourth place, the God of the Gospel is no lonely God, self-sufficient and self-contained. He is no “absolute” God (in the original sense of absolute, i.e., being detached from everything that is not himself). To be sure, he has no equal beside himself, since and equal would no doubt limit, influence, and determine him. On the other hand, he is not imprisoned by his own majesty, as though he were bound to be no more than the personal (or impersonal) “wholly other.” […] Just as his oneness consists in the unity of his life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so in relation to the reality distinct from him he is free de jure and de facto to be the God of man. He exists neither next to man nor merely above him, but rather with him, by him, and most important of all, for him. He is man’s God not only as Lord but also as father, brother, friend; and this relationship implies neither a diminution nor in any way a denial, but, instead, a confirmation and display of his divine essence itself.  P. 10-11

Many other theologies may be concerned with such exalted, superhuman, and inhuman gods, who can only be the gods of every sort of bad news, or dysangelion. But the God who is the object of evangelical theology is just as lowly as he is exalted. He is exalted precisely in his lowliness. P. 11

[It is] the free love of God that evokes the response of free love. P. 12

[Evangelical theology] can by no means be devoted to an inhuman God, for in that case it would become legalistic theology. Evangelical theology is concerned with Immanuel, God with us! Having this God for its object, it can be nothing else but the most thankful and happy science! P. 12

He [God] discloses himself as the primary partner of the covenant—himself as man’s God. But he also discloses man to be his creature, the debtor who, confronting him, is unable to pay. Man is lost in his judgement, yet also upheld and saved by his grace, freed for him and called by him to service and duty. He discloses man as God’s man, as God’s son and servant who is loved by him. P. 20

It is precisely the particularity of the Gospel which is its universality. P. 20

[Israel’s history] speaks of the realized unity of true God and true man, of the God who descends to community with man, gracious in his freedom, and of man who is exalted to community with him, thankful in his freedom. P. 22

Theology cannot lift itself, as it were, by its own boot straps, to the level of God; it cannot presuppose anything at all concerning the foundation, authorization, and destination of its statements. […] If theology wishes to provide a presupposition for its statements, it would mean that it sought to make them, itself, and its work safe from any attacks, risk, or jeopardy. […] Precisely in this way theology would sell its birthright for a mess of pottage. Theology can only do its work. It cannot, however, seek to secure its operation. Its work can be well done only when all presuppositions are renounced which would secure it from without or within. […] Were theology to presuppose the power sustaining its statements itself (in the manner that mathematics presupposes the axioms supporting its theorems), then theology would assume power in its own right, superior to the first and fundamental power. P. 50

He should be happy if, while brooding over his work, he hears the hidden power rushing, and finds his statements determined, ruled, and controlled by it. But he does not know ‘whence it comes or whither it goes.’ He can wish only to follow its work [the Holy Spirit], not to precede it. While he lets his thought and speech be controlled by it, he gladly renounces the temptation to exert control over it. Such is the sovereignty of this power in the event of the history of Immanuel… P. 52

‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (II Cor. 3:17). The freedom of which we talk is God’s freedom to disclose himself to men, to make men accessible to himself, and so to make them on their part free for him. P. 53

In its total poverty evangelical theology is rich, sustained, and upheld by its total lack of presuppositions. P. 58

A quite specific astonishment stands at the beginning of every theological perception, inquiry, and thought, in fact at the root of every theological word. This astonishment is indispensable if theology is to exist and be perpetually renewed as a modest, free, critical, and happy science. If such astonishment is lacking, the whole enterprise of even the best theology would canker at the roots. On the other hand, as long as even a poor theologian is capable of astonishment, he is not lost to the fulfillment of his task. He remains serviceable as long as the possibility is left open that astonishment may seize him like an armed man. P. 64

This captivation by the object [God] will by no means ever lose its hold on man. If man becomes ever newly surprised then he becomes entirely and irrevocably a man who wonders. P. 65

Whoever begins to concern himself with theology also begins to concern himself from first to last with wonders. P. 65

Christ is that infinitely wondrous event which compels a person, so far as he experiences and comprehends this event, to be necessarily, profoundly, wholly, and irrevocably astonished. P. 71

The content of God’s Word is his free, undeserved Yes to the whole human race, in spite of all human unreasonableness and corruption. P. 79

One of the first criteria of genuine theological knowledge of the intellectus fidei is that it gathers “with him.” It is a knowledge that gathers all thoughts, concepts, and words to him as their beginning and goal. P. 90

God’s Yes and No are not ambivalent. Gospel and Law do not posses a complementary character. There is no balance, rather there is the greatest imbalance. P. 93

Christian faith occurs in the encounter of the believer with him in whom he believes. It consists in communion, not in identification, with him. P. 99

For in prayer a man temporarily turns away from his own efforts. This move is necessary precisely for the sake of the duration and continuation of his own work. Every prayer has its beginning when a man puts himself (together with his best and most accomplished work) out of the picture. P. 162

Theological work can be done only in the indissoluble unity of prayer and study. Prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind. P. 171

Without love, theological work would be miserable polemics and a waste of words. P. 197

The one who loves, seeks the other only for his own sake. He does not want to win and possess him for himself in order to enjoy him and his own power over him. He does not want to win and possess him for himself in order to enjoy him and his own peer over him. He never trespasses on the freedom of the other, but by respecting the other’s freedom, he simply remains quite free for him. He loves him gratis. That is to say, he desires nothing from him, and he does not wish to be rewarded by him. All he desires is to exist for him, to offer himself to him, and finally to give himself to him. P. 201

The object of this work is the one true God and the one true man. The true God exists not in his aseity and independence but in his union with the on true man. And the true man likewise exists not in his independence but in his union with the one true God. The object of theology is, in fact, Jesus Christ. P. 202

The object of theological knowledge is this covenant event and, in it, the perfect love which unites man with God and God with man. In this love there is no fear. This perfect love drives out fear because in it God loved man for his own sake and man loved God for his own sake. What took place on both sides was not a need, wish, and desire but simply the freedom to exist for another gratis. This was God’s own primal freedom for man and at the same time man’s freedom which was granted him by God. This was Agape, which descends from above, and by the power of this descent, simultaneously ascends from below. Agape is both movements in equal sovereignty, or, rather, this single movement. If the object of theological knowledge of Jesus Christ and, in him, perfect love, then Agape alone can be the dominant and formative prototype and principle of theology. P. 203

You can buy Evangelical Theology here (I recommend it).

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Atheism is Religion – Karl Barth Quote

Wikipedia-karlbarth01Imagine a man who has attained the ultimate goal of atheism. He is free from God and free from his law. He is free from all religious works and all religious working. And he is happy in that formless vacuum, alone in himself, happy in the real world without interference from any beyond. Or he is, at least, able to imagine that he is happy to live like this. So, if he is happy, he has been able to discover the great positive that lies beyond his negative denial of religion. And what is this positive? It is not as completely opposed to religion as he imagines. He has turned away from the river, only to find its spring. He has turned away from the tree, only to find its root. For he has found the power to live in the world as his own man. He has found his own true power, the power to be his own god or to invent his own gods, the power to justify himself and all his deeds. This power is nothing other than the power of religion.

– Karl Barth Church Dogmatics I/2

C. Baxter Kruger on Scripture and Encountering Jesus

Baxter-Kruger-Photo-1a“If he [Jesus] is not able to meet us in person and share his own mind and heart and Spirit with us, the door of heaven remains locked before us. We are left outside with a book about God. It may be an accurate book; it may be filled with inerrant statements about God. But a book is not a person, information is not communion.

[…]It would have never crossed the apostles’ minds that people would cling to their writings [the bible] as a substitute for an encounter with Jesus.

[…]The paper and ink, the words and pages of holy scripture, in and of themselves, are dead. They do not know the Father. They are not alive with the life of the Trinity. They do not contain or confer, in and of themselves, the communion of the Father, Son and Spirit. They may be accurate, but without Jesus Christ they have no power, no life, no communion with God to give to us. But in the presence and activity of Jesus Christ, the scriptures serve his self-communication to us, and they serve our perception of the Lord who is encountering us.”

– C. Baxter Kruger quote taken from this essay.

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I Am and I Am Not a Universalist – Robert Capon

rfc“I am and I am not a universalist.

“I am one if you are talking about what God in Christ has done to save the world. The Lamb of God has not taken away the sins of some — of only the good, or the cooperative, or the select few who can manage to get their act together and die as perfect peaches. He has taken away the sins of the world — of every last being in it — and he has dropped them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. On the cross, he has shut up forever on the subject of guilt: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation. . . .’ All human beings, at all times and places, are home free whether they know it or not, feel it or not, believe it or not.

“But I am not a universalist if you are talking about what people may do about accepting that happy-go-lucky gift of God’s grace. I take with utter seriousness everything that Jesus had to say about hell, including the eternal torment that such a foolish non-acceptance of his already-given acceptance must entail. All theologians who hold Scripture to be the Word of God must inevitably include in their work a tractate on hell. But I will not — because Jesus did not — locate hell outside the realm of grace. Grace is forever sovereign, even in Jesus’ parables of judgment. No one is ever kicked out at the end of those parables who wasn’t included in at the beginning.”

– Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace

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Trinitarian Theology and Paradox – John Crowder

John CrowderMany theologies engage in analytical debate against one another with the aim of “winning” when scriptures seem to present contradictions. Trinitarianism is more mystical – perhaps postmodern in that sense. Rather than debate, it lives in the dialectical tension of mystery. It is okay with embracing paradox.

For instance, there are a plethora of verses on hell and eternal torment. But there are also a plethora of verses on universal salvation for all mankind. Which of these verses do you throw away?

Be careful taking scissors to your Bible in any direction! Rather than drawing hard lines of debate, Trinitarian theology holds these things in the tension of paradox, keeping hope for mankind without jumping into dogmatic assumptions. We must look at all sides of scripture to arrive at honest answers. But there are places where your logic (even your best theo-logic) will not provide answers.

In addition, the Trinitarian approach is not “causal” or problem oriented. It does not start with problems like “Why aren’t some saved?” Instead, it begins with the person and work of Christ, which was sufficient for all men, and works from there as a starting point.

– John Crowder

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7 Stunning Quotes From Saint Hilary of Poitiers

http___1.bp.blogspot.com_-4kLDqWIpyOM_T0y85bH3ESI_AAAAAAAAIE0_L_9l7cPwjow_s400_inp153I’ve been reading St. Hilary of Poitiers book On the Trinity this week (buy it here). St. Hilary has been called “the Athanasius of the west.” He beautifully presents a case for the Trinity, the divinity of the Son, and the incarnation. Here are seven stunning quotes from this work. (In no particular order)

“He conquered death, broke the gates of hell, won for Himself a people to be His co-heirs, lifted fleshed from corruption up to the glory of eternity.”

“He by Whom man was made had nothing to gain by becoming Man; it was our gain that God was incarnate and dwelt among us, making all flesh His home by taking upon Him the flesh of One. We were raised because He was lowered; shame to Him was glory to us. He, being God, made flesh His residence, and we in return are lifted anew from the flesh to God.”

“He did it that by His Incarnation He might take to Himself from the virgin the fleshly nature, and that through this commingling there might come into being a hallowed body of all humanity; so that through that body—which He was pleased to assume—all mankind might be hid in Him, and He in return, through His unseen existence, be reproduced in all.”

“For he is the best student who does not read his thoughts into the book, but lets it reveal its own; who draws from it its sense, and does not import his own into it, nor force upon its words a meaning which he had determined was the right one before he opened its pages.”

“For He took upon Him the flesh in which we have sinned that by wearing our flesh He might forgive sins; a flesh which He shares with us by wearing it, not by sinning in it. He blotted out through death the sentence of death, that by a new creation of our race in Himself He might sweep away the penalty appointed by the former Law. He let them nail Him to the cross that He might nail to the curse of the cross and abolish all the curses to which the world is condemned.”

“God the Word became flesh, that through His Incarnation our flesh might attain to union with God the Word. And lest we should think that this incarnate Word was some other than the Word of God, or that His flesh was of a body different from ours, He dwelt among us that by His dwelling He might be known as the in dwelling God, and, by His dwelling among us, known as god incarnate in no other flesh than our own, and moreover, though He had condense ended to take our flesh, not destitute of His own attributes; for He, the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, is fully possessed of His own attributes and truly endowed with ours,”

“There is no space where God is not; space does not exist apart from Him. He is in heaven, in hell, beyond the seas; dwelling in all things and enveloping all. Thus He embraces, and is embraced by, the universe, confined to no part of it but pervading all.”

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Legal Gospel – C. Baxter Kruger

Baxter-Kruger-Photo-1aThe gospel typically preached by modern evangelicals begins with the statement that God is holy (holy in the legal sense). The human race has fallen into sin and is guilty before God. Since God is holy, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished—justice requires punishment. But since God is also loving, He sends Jesus Christ to take our place. On the cross, the guilt of the human race is placed upon Jesus Christ, and Jesus suffers the just punishment for our guilt. The cry of Jesus, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” is interpreted as the moment of moments when the Father, being too holy to look upon evil, turns His back upon His Son in utter abandonment. The Father forsakes His Son. That forsakenness, that abandonment and its unsearchable agony, is then interpreted as the punishment for our sins that satisfies God’s justice—in this legal or Evangelical model. The first disaster of this interpretation is that the work of Jesus Christ is turned on its head. The New Testament nowhere says that God was being reconciled in the work of Jesus; it says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 COR 5:18-19). As Paul insists, it was while we were utterly helpless, while we were sinners who had sold ourselves irretrievably into bondage and unwittingly set ourselves in opposition to God, that God acted to save us (ROM 5:6-10). But here, in the legal model, the order has been reversed, such that Jesus has come to save us not from ourselves and the catastrophe of Adam, but from God. Changing God has become the object of Christ’s work. If we ask the question, “Why did Jesus die?” then the answer that flows out of the legal framework is that he died so that God the Father would be different. Whereas the Trinitarian understanding sees Jesus sent by the Father to convert fallen Adamic existence to Himself, the legal model leaves us with a Jesus who comes to convert God!

Taken from Jesus and the Undoing of Adam  by Dr. C. Baxter Kruger.

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