canon sense

"every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Month: September, 2013

Geerhardus Vos on Fellowship with God

To be a Christian is to live one’s life not merely in obedience to God, nor merely in dependence on God, nor even merely for the sake of God; it is to stand in conscious, reciprocal fellowship with God, to be identified with Him in thought and purpose and work, to receive from Him and give back to Him in the ceaseless interplay of spiritual forces…According to this the covenant means that God gives Himself to man and man gives himself to God for that full measure of mutual acquaintance and enjoyment of which each side to the relation is capable.”

The Atlantic Interviews Stanley Hauerwas

Hauerwas, who is professor emeritus of theological ethics at Duke University and the church’s most articulate pacifist was recently asked, What do you think Americans can do, if anything, to change our relationship with war?” 

Hauerwas says,

I know this sounds absurd, but I’d return to the draft. One of the problems we currently have is there hasn’t been in the population any serious engagement with the ethics of war because we have an all-volunteer army. I would think the return to the draft would be an intervention that would require discussion that might be more helpful in terms of our ability to limit war.

The Power of a Short Sentence

The NY Times has a recent piece on “the five-word sentence as the gospel truth” that argues that one should “express your most powerful thought in the shortest sentence.” Clark, the author, ends with a thanksgiving. He writes,

I thank Tom Wolfe for that 1975 lesson on the disproportional power of the short sentence. It stuck. I owe it to him to restore his original context, that writers can use it to give even preposterous statements the ring of truth. The bigot can use it to foment hate. The propagandist can slap it on a bumper sticker. But for the writer with good intent, the short sentence proves a reliable method for delivering the practical truth. With punch.

I think we can all attest to the fact that the best stories, whether written or oral, are those that keep you engaged with little effort.  While a good plot most certainly drives some of that, functionally, it is the method of telling the plot that hooks the reader/listener. Whether we have realized it or not, this is because of the proper use of short sentences. They slow us down, create suspense and keep us wanting to read/listen.

C.S. Lewis on Kindness and Proximity

Kindness and courtesy begin with those closest to you.  It is often easy to overlook offenses from a neighbor but stew over something your spouse says to you.

Mixing Religion and Politics

John Dickson writing at the Centre for Public Christianity has a thoughtful piece on Mixing Religion and Politics where he lists several ways Christians should and should not vote.  Most helpful for me was the application of Phil. 2:3-11 to how one votes, which places greater concern on the other (what is good for your neighbor and wider social good), rather than on oneself (i.e., economic, health care, and education narrowly understood). He argues that voting this way will make us (Christians) perhaps more ‘liberal’ and more ‘conservative’ than we are typically comfortable with.  It is worth reading to feel all of the nuance.  In closing, he comments on I Tim. 2:1-3, where the Apostle Paul urges Christians to pray for their leaders.  Dickson writes,

The connection between these sentences is subtle and fascinating. God’s people are urged to pray for those in power (vv.1-2a) with the result that ‘we’ (God’s people) can get on with the business of living peaceful and godly lives (v.2b). Moreover, this outcome somehow works to the pleasure of the God who wants all people to be saved (vv.3-4). In other words, good government enables the church to live its life of good works and God’s missionary desires to be fulfilled. This comes about not through the vote—as important as that is—but through prayer. Christian activism is expressed most pertinently on the knees. There is nothing here about praying for a ‘Christian society’—whatever that is—only that prayers should be offered for the (secular) leadership of a nation so that God’s people can get on with their core business of living lives of peace and goodness and seeking to promote the news of ‘God as Saviour.’ It is a mistake, in other words, for Christians to pin their hopes for a nation on a political process. The ‘Christian vote’ will always remain a secondary tool in the church’s repertoire of involvement for the good of the world.

Seeing prayer as the primary way in which we can be actively involved in the world is so counter to the way many of this think, myself included.  For those of us who are busy, active, educated, employed, and generally successful, prayer seems lazy, counter-productive, and weak.  But it is the way of God’s kingdom, for “Christ moves forward by spiritual rather than human power.”  So while we may be educationally and productively powerful, sadly, we are spiritually anemic.