Archives For Notes & Quotes

This term for homeschool we’re walking through Romans. As a result of my own lesson preparations, I’ve found myself surrounded by some excellent statements that easily speak to the world today, as they did when they were first penned.

Here’s some interesting ones from Karl Barth on the difference between two of the four loves, eros & agape. They’re assembled from his discussion on pages 453 & 454.

(Summarizing Barth comes with the danger of misrepresenting Barth. So, I have rearranged some of the sequence so as to not impact negatively on the integrity of intention or his original meaning. I, in fact, consider both to be positively amplified by it):

‘Eros deceives. As a biological function it is now hot, then cold. Eros does not merely deceive: it is also uncritical. Agape on the other hand, consistently accepts and rejects. Only the love which is strong enough to abhor that which is evil can cleave to that which is good. Agape is therefore both sweet and bitter [involving a Yes & a No]. It can preserve peace; but it can also engage in conflict. Love forgets – and knows; forgives – and punishes; freely receives – & utterly rejects.’ [i]
(Barth on the Romans, 12:9)

I’m also working on a post about Paul’s imperative in Romans 12:9 to ‘hate evil and cleave to good’.

My starting point is a question:

a) How do we hate evil in a world that hates both hate, and hates anyone who proclaims that evil exists?

The follow-up:

b) How do we as Christians respond to those who simply, and sometimes, for no real good reason, contradict themselves in a curious secularized jihad of hate against hate?

Not only am I trying to engage with Barth on this subject, but I’m also working on bringing in Calvin, Spurgeon and Chrysostom.

Hopefully I can keep it at 800 words or less, but since putting pen to paper yesterday it’s looking likely to be over that.

Stay tuned! 🙂


[i] Barth, K. 1922, Epistle to the Romans, 12:9; Oxford University Press, assembled from pp.453 & 454

Image: Karl Barth with gun, via Faith-Theology.com

There are few better ways to mark epiphany than a well thought out quote from Barth & a rendition of the old hymn, Hail Gladdening Light:

‘We live in responsibility […] Man and woman do not belong to themselves. They do not exist in a vacuum. They are not given over to the caprice of an alien power, not to their own self-will. They may or may not know and will it, but because Jesus Christ as very God and very man is the beginning of all the ways and works of God, humanity is inseparably linked with God and confronted by Him. Man and woman are subject to the divine will, Word and command, and are called to realise the true purpose of his and her existence as a covenant partner with God (p.641) […] We cannot deal evasively with Jesus Christ as one does with an idea. God’s decision as it is really embodied in Him is a sovereign decision […] It is not in vain that Jesus Christ is King and Victor. (p.660)’

(Karl Barth, 1942. The Sovereignty of the Divine Decision CD 2/II)

epiphany-2017-he-will-provide


 

It’s always good to find small connections between one interest and another. It may not have wowed the Karl Barth Discussion Group on FB, but, hey, unless you’re poking sticks at the local wolf pack, not much rocks that sometimes stuffy Colosseum anyway.

I’m a casual Stryper fan and an avid student of anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth, so this particular connection made my day.

Barth, 1942:

‘The grace of God, is the answer to the ethical problem. For it sanctifies man. It claims him for God. It puts him under God’s command.’ [i]

Stryper, 1985:


Source;

[i] Barth, K. 1942 Ethics as a Task of the Doctrine of God, CD, 2:2, Henderickson Publishers, (p.516)

Surreabral Footnotes

June 10, 2016 — 2 Comments

Musical notes project_squareThis particular song took a few weeks to put together. I had a sound in mind and decided to take the time to flesh it out. Usually I’m able to put a three-minute song together in a day and polish it (as best I can, with the basic tech that I have) over a week. This one was tough.

I started with a constant rhythm running in the background with two layers of drums, both sequenced to correspond with the consistent rhyme of the rhythm guitar. The intro is a reworked piece of the drum line and the lead guitar. The bass line was played on using keys and guitar.

The latter is dipped in reverb to better introduce the tune.

The title reflects the surrealist art. The picture looks like a brain walking around with crotchets as legs. If you stand back from it you’ll notice the two double crotchets that the form their own framework around the piece.

I’m content with the overall sound. I’m very fond of how the drums turned out. The lead was a bit touch and go. I had trouble getting the right tone and finding a melody that complimented the mood. One other thing I’m not 100% thrilled with, is how I ended it. The fade out works, however, it’s too easy of a fix.

Of course, the perfectionist in me would have liked to have had the time to tighten it all up a lot more, but it’s time to just post it and leave it for now.

There isn’t a lot of depth to the meaning of this. If I was to put a description to it, I’d go with “faith seeks understanding.”

On the spot, I’d say that ‘’Surrea-bral footnotes’’ are what we are left with when we are encountered by God, His Word, His promise, His presence. We wrestle with the cognitive challenges of our day; the abrasive questions about the realism of it all. Similar to those, who after Jesus encountered them, faced a hostile interrogation from those around them.

Karl Barth pointed out that joy is the radiance of God’s glory. That joy encapsulates the point: we march on, even when the world (sometimes those about us) are all to happy to mock and tear down.

it is a glory that awakens joy […] God’s glory radiates it […] because it is God who Himself radiates joy […] His glory is radiant, and what it radiates is joy. It attracts and therefore it conquers.’ (CD. II:1, pp.655, 654, 661) (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 30:5; Isaiah 55:12; John 15:11)

May the radiance of God’s glory warm you, comfort you, counsel you and be more real to you than just a surrea-bral footnote.

 

 


(RL2016)

25th April 2016 007Anzac Day comes with a caveat.

Absent of any understanding about what causes war and the case for just-peace. Absent of the moral restraints of the message about Christ’s act and command to love God and love one another as we love and care for ourselves, Anzac day becomes a celebration of chaos, not life; a day of hero-worship, not sincere remembrance and gratitude.

We surely remember the sacrifice of our ancestors, but with it we remember God’s summons to hear the importance of His commandments that empower us to stand against the continuing brutality of war. It’s because God comes to humanity that this word can be received as true word. A word we did not speak ourselves. A word that we’re encouraged to test and try out, because God is not insecure about who He is or anxious about what He has planned.

Anzac day is for humanity to stand before the past, under God, towards the future. It’s a time to mourn, a time to recollect, a time to reconsider and lament the effect of war.  Not only on those who didn’t return, but on those who did.

Traditionally, on this day Australia and New Zealand commemorate, not war, or the sins of it, but engrave, through Christian prayer, a deep gratitude and remembrance, of and for, the freedom and life given by those who sacrificed their lives to give it.

But, Anzac day comes with a caveat.

If we jettison Jesus Christ from Anzac day, our remembrance spirals into the worship of chaos, hatred of our enemies and as it deteriorates into the empty worship of our ancestors. Without the Prince of Peace and those He represents, Anzac day has no real message of peace or hope, only war, the hype and devastation of it.

This is exemplified by the words of Anti-Nazi German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who in 1932 preached to a solemn gathering of Germans,

‘when the church observes Memorial Day, it must have something special to say. It cannot be one voice in the chorus of others who loudly raise the cry of mourning for the lost sons of the nation across the land, and by such cries of mourning call us to new deeds and great courage. It cannot, like the ancient singers of great heroic deeds, wander about and sing the song of praise of battle and the death of the heroes to the listening ears of enthralled young people. On this day the church stands here so strangely without ceremony, so little proud, so little heroic. The Church is like the seer of ancient times who when all are gathered… is wholeheartedly present but suffers because he sees something that others do not see and must speak of what he sees, although no one wants to hear it…the one who loves most is the one who sees deepest, sees the greatest danger. A seer has never been popular. That is why the church will also not be popular, least of all on days like this.’[i]

“Jesus is victor.”

Any real human victory begins in Him.

In no other way and by no other name can Anzac day be what it should be, a time and place when our hearts are directed, not towards human ideological constructs of peace, but towards the Prince of peace and therefore towards just-peace. Our memory and treatment of those who gave up their very lives for us is only enriched by this. Our mourning turns into hope, as we hear from chaplains, pastors and Christians, throughout both nations, at most remembrance services, we are asked to carry away with us the challenge of the message of just-peace.

‘Memorial day in the Church! What does it mean? It means holding up the one great hope from which we all live, the preaching of the kingdom of God. It means seeing that which is past, and which we remember today, with all its terrors and all its godlessness, and yet not being afraid, but hearing the preaching of peace […] Now pass on the message of peace, for the sake of which their death had to be, and preach it all the more loudly.’ [ii]

The one whose own broken body was laid in a tomb guarded and then, against, and to the shame of the chaos and all that stood in proud victory over Him, was resurrected from the dead.

Any real human victory begins in Him; all just-peace follows the Prince of peace who was judged become judge.

‘Where the power of darkness wants to overpower the light of God, there God triumphs and judges the darkness.’ [iii]

Any real peace follows from the one who is peace, not the one who through media, machine or human, only gives lip service to it. Or who through a mask of peace seeks through a will to dominate, only to expand a human empire.

The importance of Christian participation in Anzac Day is the reminder that peace comes to humanity from outside itself; from outside our ability to save ourselves. Through conviction, through just-justice, through covenant, through commandment the chaos is answered with purpose. It’s lifeless ‘mass, rebellion and tumult against true life is conquered, transformed as the One who ‘hovers over it speaks [and because He does, decisively acts].’[iv]

Jesus the Christ doesn’t seem to be. He is, was and will be.

That is our starting place and EVERY Anzac day what was once their march, but is now ours, must begin and end here.

For as Bonhoeffer noted:

‘wherever the word of Christ is truly spoken, the world sense that it is either ruinous madness or ruinous truth, which endangers it’s very life. Where peace is really spoken, war must rage twice as hard, for it sense that it is about to be driven out. Christ intends to be its death […] Memorial Day in the church means knowing that Christ alone wins the victory! Amen.’ [v]

Sources:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press

[ii] ibid, (p.21)

[iii] ibid, (p.17)

[iv] Bonhoeffer, D. DBW:3 Creation and Fall: A theological exposition of Genesis 1-3, (p.41) [parenthesis mine]

[v] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press (pp.20 & 21)

Reagan quote

 

In other words: with the increase of power, so comes a potential decrease in intelligence.

Think of the game total war. With the increase of lands and territory comes the difficulty of being able to govern it all. There’s the inevitable unrest as one area complains about higher taxation than the newly acquired lands. Attempts to balance these out are futile. The end result is that I either send in a highly paid army (that I can barely afford to re-position from the borders of my total war campaign) and implement total control or I side with the rebels. In which case I lose power and choose total, civil war.

To be true, the game mechanic is structured to keep things interesting. It bends against even the most kind among the known world’s rulers. All of my glorious intentions to keep my glorious nation (I mean glorious empire) together fell on the sword of the quest for ever more glorious power.

Still, I can’t escape the implication: with the increase of power, so comes the potential decrease in intelligence. Intelligence does not increase with an increase of power or privilege. In retrospect, my glorious leadership of this burgeoning in-game empire was, as I saw it, benevolent. Why on earth would my subjects want to oust me? I improved their material wealth, even though I may have drained other areas, refused a crusade, jihad or two and squashed a few ”insignificant” uprisings, in order to make more and more glorious my conquests. All done for my glorious peoples.

The point is this: even the most utopian of glorious leaderships will fall. Complex politics reflects humanities complexes. It’s what C.S Lewis outlined when talking about the tyranny of self; something he pinpoints sharply in is, 1948, essay called ‘The Trouble With “X.”

‘I said that when we see how all our plans shipwreck on the characters of the people we have to deal with, we are ‘in one way’ seeing what it must be like for God. But only one way. There are two respects in which God’s view must be very different from ours. God sees how all people in your home or your job are in various degrees awkward or difficult; but when He looks into that home or factory or office He sees one more person of the same kind – the one you never do see. I mean, of course, yourself.That is the next great step in wisdom – to realise that you also are just that sort of person […] Unfortunately, we enjoy thinking about other people’s faults: and in the proper sense of the word ‘morbid’, that is the most morbid pleasure in the world.’ [i]

Lewis’ advice on how to combat this is,

‘Abstain all thinking about other people’s faults, unless your duties as a teacher or parent make it necessary to think about them […] Not even God with all His power (for He made it a rule for Himself not to alter people’s character by force. Although, He can and will alter them – but only if the people will let Him) can make “X” really happy as long as “X” remains envious, self-centered, and spiteful.'[ii]

Jesus enters this discussion with the words,

‘If anyone would come after me, let him [or her] deny [themselves], take up [their] cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’ (Luke 9:23, ESV)

Total War may just be a simulation. Nothing but pixels and a few hours of harmless interaction with history. However, the message of its experience extends out towards knowledge of truths that have been heard and acknowledged here in the comments of Reagan, the admonishing words of Lewis and instruction from God Himself.


Source:

[i] Lewis, C.S 1948 The Trouble With “X”…, 2000, Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, Harper Collins (pp.357-360)

[ii] ibid.

Selling Out Header

If looked at hard enough Spurgeon can be seen to be correcting some of the more over-the-top Valentine’s day perspectives:

“The story goes, that the Roman Senate, hearing of the miracles in Judea, decreed divine worship to Christ; but Tiberius the emperor crossed it, when he heard that He would be worshipped alone.
There is the edge of the controversy between Christ and the world.
The Christian religion interferes with no man’s liberty, but leaves every conscience free and accountable only to God; and yet it has no tolerance for false doctrine, and enters upon no compact or truce with error. It does not claim to be one form of truth which exists side by side with a dozen others, but it reveals Christ as “the truth.”
We do not believe in many ways to heaven, for we know that there is only one way, and we do not acknowledge two foundations for faith, for we know Christ to be the one and only foundation, and we dare not say otherwise.
Christ is not one among many Saviours, he is the only Redeeemer of humanity. The popular fiction of “comparative religions” is a delusion; there is but one truth, and that which does not agree with it is a lie.
In my heart, great Lord, many lords have had dominion aforetime, but now thy name alone shall bear rule over my nature. Let me never insult thee by enduring a rival; let me never ruin myself by dividing my allegiance.[i]

If listened to carefully enough, Cooper’s lyrics are a warning:

If applied, Jesus’ words call for a revolution that is informed by both :

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
– (Jesus, Matthew 6:24, ESV)

Source:

[i] Spurgeon, C. H. 1883 Flowers from a Puritan’s garden, distilled and dispensed: The Roman Senate and Christ. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.  (pp.176–177).