Sunday Quote

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Sunday Quote!- The Faith of Infants- Hermann Sasse

treasury-dailyprayer

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

The Faith of Infants – Hermann Sasse

One aspect of Lutheran theology that is often misunderstood is the notion of infant faith. It goes hand in hand with the Lutheran teaching of baptismal regeneration. Yet, time and again I have seen the accusation leveled at Lutherans that we somehow believe that faith is not required for salvation, because we believe infants are saved. Lutheran theology, however, teaches instead that infants do have faith. A brief quote from Hermann Sasse makes this more explicit:

[I]t is not merely avowed liturgical conservatism or even thoughtlessness when the Church for nearly two thousand years has thus baptized infantas as though they were adults, as though they could already confess with the outh and believe with the heart. This is not the ‘as though’ of mere fiction… God views us in Baptism as people who have already died and been raised… Thus he already views us as such who already believe, the poorest, weakest little child which we bring to Holy Baptism. (1197, cited below)

Sasse’s point here is that God views us eschatologically–as though we have faith, because that faith is the gift of God. Lutherans do not believe in salvation without faith; instead, a consistent application of the notion that faith is from God means God can impart that faith to whomever God chooses–whether one is elderly or newborn.

Source

Herman Sasse, quoted in Treasury of Daily Prayer (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2008). Quoting from Herman Sasse, “Circular Letter 4 to Westphalian Pastors,” in The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters, translated by Matthew C. Harrison et al., vol. 2 (CPH, 2002).

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SDG.

Sunday Quote: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Anthropomorphism and God

dietrich_bonhoefferEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Anthropomorphism and God

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian who was murdered by the Nazis. Many people don’t delve too deeply into his theology, but I have found reading his broader works to be quite rewarding. Here’s a passage from his Creation and Fall:

God… receives a very specific proper name, Yahweh… One could suppose that such a proper name is evidence of a very primitive idea of God… yet just at this point one must reply that anthropomorphism in thinking of God… is no more irrelevant… than is the abstract use of the generic term ‘deity.’ On the contrary, clear anthropomorphism much more plainly expresses the fact that we cannot think of ‘God as such’ whether in one way or another. The abstract concept of God, precisely because it seeks not to be anthropomorphic, is in actual fact much more so than is childlike anthropomorphism. (74-75, sections 69-70, cited below)

Here, then, Bonhoeffer’s point is that merely abstracting the concept of God and speaking of God “as such” actually does just as much damage to our understanding of God as does “clear anthropomorphism.” That is, when we make God into a kind of philosophical construct, we are just as far away from the relational, radically personal God of the Bible as if we were to be anthropomorphic in a childlike way. For, as he points out in the last sentence above, we put God into our categories rather than the categories of Scripture.

I think Bonhoeffer has a good point here, one that warns people like me who are philosophically minded to remember that our God is an active God. Although it seems clear Bonhoeffer would not deny something like saying God is omnipotent, what he is denying is that we can use those categories to reach “God as such” and fit God into them alone. God–Yahweh–is much more than that, and we need to remember that.

What do you think? Can anthropomorphism be a helpful way to understand God? What dangers, if any, might come from making an abstract concept of deity?

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Source

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall Douglas Stephen Bax, Translator (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2004).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- The Failure of Eliminativism for Explaining Mind

kk-parrish

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

The Failure of Eliminativism for Explaining Mind

Philosophy of mind has long been an interest of mine that I have read extensively on. Stephen Parrish’s The Knower and the Known remains what I consider the most valuable single-volume resource for outlining and refuting various physicalist and materialist varieties of philosophy of mind. I have been re-reading the book and come across many excellent arguments once again.

One example is the section on eilminativist views of the mind. According to those who hold this theory, at the most basic level, things like beliefs and consciousness simply don’t exist and are instead relegated to “Folk Psychology.” Parrish’s critique is incisive. He writes:

One cannot, in the making of theories, coherently deny that there are theories and theory makers. One cannot, in trying to understand something, coherently deny that there is such a thing as understanding, and that there are conscious selves who understand. One cannot try to make reality intelligible by denying the very notion of intelligibility. Yet it is precisely these things that eliminativists attempt to do. Therefore, belief in eliminativism is self-refuting and cannot possibly be true. (139, cited below)

Of course, this argument is not one that is unanticipated by eliminative materialists like Patricia and Paul Churchland. Parrish deals with their counter-arguments at length, but the most pressing problem remains that their position effectively is impossible to maintain, for it denies that it can be believed itself.

I’d highly recommend The Knower and the Known to you, dear readers, if you’d enjoy a lengthy, deep treatment of this and many other related issues. Check out my 2 part review (part 1 and part 2) for more analysis.

 

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Source

Stephen Parrish, The Knower and the Known (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2013).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Show Subordination is Better

pc-stackhousejrEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Sunday Quote!- Show Subordination is Better

John G. Stackhouse, Jr.’s Partners in Christ presents a balanced perspective on the debate over women in the church. When discussing the issue of the burden of proof over this issue, he argues that:

[I]t seems to me that the burden of proof falls on the complementarian. They are obliged to show how it is really better for subordination to continue to characterize the relationship of Christian men and women, rather than just banging on about “the Bible says…”—again, not to subordinate the Bible to human reason (let alone human preference!), but as a check on their interpretation of God’s authoritative word – (22, emphasis his, cited below)

Stackhouse Jr.’s challenge should not be taken lightly. His point is that each side of the debate cites passages and then could talk past each other by continually saying “the Bible says…” The issue we need to get past that non-starter and demonstrate the position. Moreover, his challenge is powerful because it notes that complementarians must show their position can work in reality rather than as a theological abstraction. They must demonstrate that subordination is better, rather than simply asserting it.

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Source

John G. Stackhouse, Jr. Partners in Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Evolution: A Materialist and an Idealist Weigh In

sp-jwm

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Evolution: A Materialist and Idealist Weigh In

John Warwick Montgomery is one of those rare thinkers who seems equally at home in just about any subject with which they engage. I’ve been reading through his phenomenal book, The Shape of the Past and been blown away by the breadth of topics covered. What is more amazing is how he relates them back to the central topic: historiography. The second part of the book is a series of essays on various subjects. In one of these, on Marxism and Materialism, he writes:

Evolution means natural development to the materialist; it means teleology in the universe to the idealist. (234, cited below)

The quote is particularly poignant because it shows how even having what many consider raw data requires interpretation. One person can interpret evolution as confirmation of naturalism, while another might interpret it as teleology–goal orientation–found within the universe.

Be sure to check out The Shape of the PastIt is a fascinating work.

Source

John Warwick Montgomery, The Shape of the Past (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2008 edition [originally published 1975 by Bethany Fellowship]).

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Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for discussions about all kinds of topics including science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Finding the “real” Jesus

rj-crrEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Finding the “real” Jesus

There is a continuing quest to try to find the “real” Jesus. Whether that quest is done by critical New Testament scholars who shave off almost everything the Bible says Jesus said or did or it is done by spiritualists attempting to recruit Jesus’s teaching to their cause, many diverse people are searching for Jesus. Rediscovering Jesus offers a way forward in the cacophony of perspectives:

This is what we need to do: take in the entire New Testament, and let each biblical writer teach us about Jesus. Rather than rely upon our favorite parts, our preferred picture of Jesus, we need to rediscover the “whole Jesus”—every portrait, every picture, every single verse. By looking at many different images of Jesus, even the ones outside the Bible, we might be in a better position to rediscover Jesus beyond our preferences, challenging our prejudices and enhancing our faith. (20, cited below)

We should not unnecessarily limit the scope of our search into the “real” Jesus. Although some sources of insight are certainly more reliable than others, an a priori assumption that we must excise the biblical texts or ignore the insights of scholars could actually limit the scope of the greatest event in history: the Incarnation.

Read my review of the book if you’d like to know more about it. It is excellent.

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Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

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Source

David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards, Rediscovering Jesus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Paul and Patriarchy… and Egalitarianism?

pc-stackhousejrEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Paul and Patriarchy… and egalitarianism?

John G. Stackhouse, Jr.’s Partners in Christ presents a challenging perspective on the debate over women in the church and home. One major strength of the book is the balanced perspective he offers. Here is just one example of a refreshing reading of Paul in light of the whole biblical witness (and the cultural background):

Paul means just what he says about gender… Paul is guided by the Holy Spirit… to do two good things simultaneously: (1) to give the church prudent instruction as to how to survive and thrive in a patriarchal culture that he thinks won’t last long; and also (2) to maintain and promote the egalitarian teaching that is evident throughout the Bible and dynamic particularly in the career of Jesus and that in the right circumstances will leave gender lines behind. (66-67, cited below)

 I encourage readers to pick up Partners in Christ for a wide-ranging introduction to the debate over women in the church and home. I guarantee that whatever your perspective, you will be challenged and enlightened.

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Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

Source

John G. Stackhouse, Jr. Partners in Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- History Has a History

sp-jwmEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

History Has a History

Historiography–the study of historical writing–is a fascinating topic, no matter how esoteric it sounds. There is so much more to history than a simple verbatim report of exactly what happened. The past is experienced by subjects and so has a kind of existential aspect of reality to it. John Warwick Montgomery’s work, The Shape of the Past: A Christian Response to Secular Philosophies of History is an attempt to view historiography through a Christian lens. One of Montgomery’s theses is a point fairly basic to historiography:

History itself has a history. [People] through the ages have written history in different ways as a consequence of the different philosophies of life that they have held. (34, cited below)

History is never fully objective. There can be objective facts of history, but our philosophies of life color how we organize those facts. Montgomery is careful to note that the process of writing history is selective in itself, and the way we organize it is another layer of interpretation.

The Shape of the Past is a fascinating work that I am enjoying immensely. I recommend those interested in the important topic of historiography check it out for a look at how Christianity can make a contribution to the topic.

Source

John Warwick Montgomery, The Shape of the Past (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2008 edition [originally published 1975 by Bethany Fellowship]).

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Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for discussions about all kinds of topics including science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Racial Incarceration

njc-alexander

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Racial Incarceration

Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is an astonishing, eye-opening book about how apparently race-neutral and colorblind laws can be used to perpetuate a system of racial injustice.

One argument Alexander raises in support of her conclusion is the disparity between white and non-white drug-related arrests in The War on Drugs. Although the law is technically not racist, its enforcement is tellingly slanted:

In at least fifteen states, blacks are admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate from twenty to fifty-seven times greater than that of white men. In fact, nationwide, the rate of incarceration for African American drug offenders dwarfs the rate of whites… People of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. (98-99, cited below)

These statistics are astonishing and speak to how the enforcement of these laws shows a racial disparity that leads to a kind of new “undercaste”–as Alexander puts it. Re-read that quote and let the numbers sink in. The incarceration rate for blacks in some states is fifty-seven times that of whites for the same crimes, despite the fact that there is no evidence suggesting blacks are more likely to be drug users (in fact, some studies cited in the book show that whites are more likely to be drug users in some areas).

I highly recommend The New Jim Crow to you, dear readers, as a book that will challenge you in ways that may not all be expected.

Source

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow (New York: The New Press, 2011 edition).

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Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Sex is for Procreation?

foyh-davidson

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Sex is for Procreation?

A common assertion by many Christians is that the purpose of sex is for procreation. Although the value of this position in defending various other positions is not to be ignored, what is of concern is that this does not seem to encompass the totality of the biblical witness on the purposes for sex. Sexuality is a complex issue which the Bible addresses from multiple angles.

Richard M. Davidson’s seminal work, Flame of Yahweh, provides a comprehensive look at sexuality in the Old Testament. Against the notion that the purpose of sex is for procreation, he argues:

Amid the cacophony of pagan fertility rite percussion, beating out the message that sex is solely for procreation, in the Song [of Songs] the procreative function of sexuality is conspicuous by its absence. The Song does not deny this ninth facet of a sexual theology, but as in Gen[esis] 1, where procreation is added as a separate blessing (Gen[esis] 1:28), sexuality in the Song is freed from the common misunderstanding that its sole (or even primary) intent must be for the propagation of children. (605-606, cited below)

He provides much more argumentation than this, of course, but the conclusion above is telling. Perhaps we have missed something when it comes to the biblical teaching on sexuality. By focusing exclusively on procreation, we have not fully embraced the Bible’s comprehensive scope. The Song of Songs is an oft-ignored book which clearly shows the goodness of human sexuality, and that this goodness is not limited to the purpose of procreation.

That is a message worth putting forward, as couples struggle with miscarriage, infertility, and the like. Sexuality remains a good thing, even if it does not produce children, for God created human sexuality and called it good. The message of the Bible, and of Song of Songs in particular, teaches that human sexuality is wholesome and holistic, it is not reducible to one purpose or intent. See Davidson’s work, Flame of Yahweh, for further explanation and exegesis.

What do you think? How might the reductionist approach of sexuality = procreation often taught by Christians impact the perceptions about human sexuality? What can we do to better present the biblical view of human sexuality?

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Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007).

SDG.

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