Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Sabbath" Contemplations

Here are three quotations from two great Christian theologians that show a profound awareness of the past without becoming stuck in it, the need to bring the truth of God’s word to bear upon our present circumstances and problems, and the impossibility of remaining silent when the enemies of truth are looking to dishonor the glory of God.
  • “However epochal have been the advances made at certain periods and however great the contributions of particular men we may not suppose that theological construction ever reaches definitive finality. There is the danger of a stagnant traditionalism and we must be alert to this danger, on the one hand, as to that of discarding our historical moorings, on the other.” John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • “A theology that does not build on the past ignores our debt to history and naively overlooks the fact that the present is conditioned by history. A theology that relies on the past evades the demands of the present.” John Murray (1898-1975)
  • “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent...” John Calvin (1509-1564)


JLF said...

That last quote by Calvin is fantastic. How come Christians today just don't get that? Maybe because we're too consumed with what we're "getting out of church" to worry about the glory of God. Some "love".

With regards to the first two quotes, here's one I love from Lewis' God in the Dock:

"Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means old books. ... We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century -- the blindness about which posterity will ask, 'But how could they have thought that?' -- lies where we have never suspected it.... None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true, they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books" (p 202).

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Thanks Julian... that is a great quote from one the great literary masters himself. He's right, it is often very difficult to see beyond our own horizons... the wisdom of those who have gone before can certainly expand our vision and help us see things more objectively. Besides, in our day it is wonderful to get some time alone with an old book! A tonic indeed!