Category Archives: Quotes

Calvin on “The Wonderful Exchange”

I’m hoping to return to my series on Lesslie Newbigin’s marks of the missional church in the near future, but in the meantime I thought I’d share an excerpt from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion that I came across this morning.  In the soaring quote that follows we see resonances with the theme of the “blessed” or “happy exchange” which Martin Luther developed in his famous tract, “The Freedom of a Christian.”  In addition, there is also a distinct echoing of the famous Patristic saying affirmed by Irenaeus, Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa, among others, that “God became man in order that man might become God.”  The apparent presence of the theme of theosis or deification in this passage lends credence to the recent attempt by Rowan Williams’ to read John Calvin as “The Last of the Greek Fathers.” Continue reading Calvin on “The Wonderful Exchange”

Series: Newbigin on “The Call to the Church” – 1. Eschatology

The previous post set the stage for a series of posts on Lesslie Newbigin’s understanding, as presented in Foolishness to the Greeks, of the seven essential conditions that must be recovered if there is to be a genuine missionary encounter between the church and the modern West.  The first of these essential conditions, Newbigin asserts, “must be the recovery and firm grasp of a true doctrine of the last things, of eschatology.”1  Continue reading Series: Newbigin on “The Call to the Church” – 1. Eschatology

  1. Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1986), 134.

Proper Confidence

“The confidence proper to a Christian is not the confidence of one who claims possession of demonstrable and indubitable knowledge.  It is the confidence of one who had heard and answered the call that comes from the God through whom and for whom all things were made: ‘Follow me.'”

– Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995), 105

Discipline Is Not a Dirty Word

Talk of church discipline today often brings to mind “images of witch trials, scarlet letters, public humiliations, and damning excommunications.”1  However, each of the Protestant Reformers, in their own way, recognized the importance of church discipline.  John Calvin went so far as to say that the neglect of church discipline would contribute to the “ultimate dissolution of the church.”2  If Calvin could “discern frightful devastation beginning to threaten the church”3 in sixteenth century Geneva, what would he say about today’s Western Protestant Christianity, where the reigning ideal of tolerance and the omnivorous appetite of the market have combined to eviscerate the church of any remaining sense of its disciplined character? Continue reading Discipline Is Not a Dirty Word

  1. Marlin Jeschke, “How Discipline Died,” Christianity Today (August 2005), 31.
  2. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), IV.xii.1.
  3. Ibid.

On Saints and Sinners

The events of 2 Samuel 11-12 depicting the encounter between David and Bathsheba and its fallout mark “the great turning point of the whole David story.” 1  According to its traditional superscription, Psalm 51 was composed by David following his dramatic confrontation with the prophet Nathan.  This great penitential psalm has rightly occupied a cherished place in the life of worship and prayer of the Christian church through the ages.  In many traditions, it is corporately read or sung on Ash Wednesday.  Reflecting upon the psalm leads Robert Barron to observe the somewhat counter-intuitive connection between saint and sinner in the Christian faith: Continue reading On Saints and Sinners

  1. Robert Alter, The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999), 249, quoted in Robert Baron, 2 Samuel (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2015), 95.

What Does Sinai Have to Do With Augusta?

Golfer Practicing

In his continuing commentary on the story of David dancing before the ark of the covenant in 2 Samuel 6, Robert Barron observes that there is another aspect of the passage that is puzzling to modern readers.  Namely, how on earth could anyone dance before the law?  (We must remember that the tablets of the Ten Commandments were housed within the ark.)  Barron observes, “it would be difficult to imagine anyone dancing with joy before the tax code or the latest motor vehicle statutes, or even before the U.S. Constitution.” 1  However, David and the people of Israel dance with all their might before the law! Continue reading What Does Sinai Have to Do With Augusta?

  1. Robert Barron, 2 Samuel (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2015), 60.