“As a believer in Christ, I know that God forgives all the sins of those who have faith in Him. In this, I am instructed to forgive first. Knowing that God will forgive even murderers if there is true repentance, Bryan Clay will stand in judgment before Him. It is my prayer that my wife Yadira and my daughter Karla are in Heaven waiting for my sons and me to arrive to spend eternity with them. In fact, I know this is true.”10 months ago • 1 note • view comments
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Denominations were invented to preserve freedom of conscience and Christian liberty and to do justice to profound doctrinal convictions and to allow for continued unity among people who disagree about important things. If you try to force everyone into one denomination, you either have to force them against their conscience or you have to make them say that their differences and distinctives don’t matter. If everyone is in one big group – that sounds good to Rome – what that means is that most people have to compromise their conscience in terms of what the Word of God teaches. Denominations were invented in the first place to protect those freedoms of conscience, to establish freedom of religion and to allow for a proper unity to go on among brothers and sisters who disagree.
John Calvin, from The Institutes:
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The Lord enjoins us to do good to all without exception, though the greater part, if estimated by their own merit, are most unworthy of it. But Scripture subjoins a most excellent reason, when it tells us that we are not to look to what men in themselves deserve, but to attend to the image of God, which exists in all, and to which we owe all honour and love. But in those who are of the household of faith, the same rule is to be more carefully observed, inasmuch as that image is renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, whoever be the man that is presented to you as needing your assistance, you have no ground for declining to give it to him.
Say he is a stranger. The Lord has given him a mark which ought to be familiar to you: for which reason he forbids you to despise your own flesh (Gal. 6:10). Say he is mean and of no consideration. The Lord points him out as one whom he has distinguished by the lustre of his own image (Isaiah 58:7). Say that you are bound to him by no ties of duty. The Lord has substituted him as it were into his own place, that in him you may recognize the many great obligations under which the Lord has laid you to himself. Say that he is unworthy of your least exertion on his account; but the image of God, by which he is recommended to you, is worthy of yourself and all your exertions. But if he not only merits no good, but has provoked you by injury and mischief, still this is no good reason why you should not embrace him in love, and visit him with offices of love. He has deserved very differently from me, you will say. But what has the Lord deserved? Whatever injury he has done you, when he enjoins you to forgive him, he certainly means that it should be imputed to himself.
In this way only we attain to what is not to say difficult but altogether against nature, to love those that hate us, render good for evil, and blessing for cursing, remembering that we are not to reflect on the wickedness of men, but look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, should by its beauty and dignity allure us to love and embrace them.
George Orwell, from “Politics and the English Language”:
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. The will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.
At this point, I dare not write anything again.11 months ago • 0 notes • view comments
Ross Douthat, in Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, p. 4:
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[A] growing number of [Americans] are inventing their own versions of what Christianity means, abandoning the nuances of traditional theology in favor of religions that stroke their egos and inulgle or even celebrate their worst impulses. These faiths speak from many pulpits—conservative and liberal, political and pop-cultural, traditionally religious and favorably “spiritual”—and many of their preachers call themselves Christian or claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity, not the real thing.
Locked in conflict, neither religious conservatives nor their secular antagonists have come to grips with this transformation. The secular mistake has been to assume that every theology tends inevitably toward the same follies and fanaticisms, and imagine a truly postreligious culture is even possible, let alone desirable. The religious mistake has been to fret over the threat posed by explicitly anti-Christian forces, while ignoring or minimizing the influence that the apostles of pseudo-Christianity exercise over the American soul. Along the way, both sides have embraced a wildly simplified vision of our culture, in which the children of light content with the children of darkness, and every inch of ground is claimed by absolute truth or deplorable error.
“Fiction can sometimes, like Nathan the prophet’s story of the ewe lamb, awaken parts of us that we have calloused over, due to ignorance or laziness or inattention or sin. This very night, on my way home, I was talking by telephone to my eighty-six year-old grandmother. She was telling me a story about the last time she saw my grandfather alive. She told me about feeling the coldness of his feet as she changed his socks in his hospital bed, about how his eyes were focused on her, though he couldn’t speak. She talked about how, when the nurses told her she had to leave, she kissed him, told him she loved him, and that she could feel him watching her as she left the room, for the last time. I knew she had lost my grandfather. I know that people die. I know “Husbands love your wives” (Ephesians 5). But that story awakened something in me. It prompted me to hold my wife with a special tenderness when I walked in the door. I had imagined what it would be like to say goodbye to her in that way, and, suddenly, all the daily pressures of kids and bills and house repairs and travel just seemed to fit in a bigger context. Fiction often does the same thing.”1 year ago • 0 notes • view comments