Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In honor of this, my one hundreth entry, I present the top ten quotes of the previous ninety-nine entries:

10) David Lipscomb from The Wisdom of David Lipscomb. As tempting as it was to quote Lipscomb on the question of civil government or pacifism (issues about which I feel strongly), this quote is infintely more compelling to me.

And it may be set down as a truth that all reformations that propose to stop short of a full surrender of the soul, mind, and body up to God, are of the devil.

9) Bill Burton from Muslims: Do They EVER Pray?. I have comment on a number of obscenely stupid news articles, and this quote typifies them all.

The president is obviously a Christian. He prays every day.

8) Symeon the New Theologian from An Earnest Prayer For Taking the Eucharist. It is hard for me to read this and not think that I am missing something every Sunday morning when I pass the Lord's Supper down the aisle.

You have vouchsafed me, O Lord, that this corruptible temple, my human flesh, should be united to your holy flesh, that my blood should be mingled with yours, and henceforth I am your transparent and translucent member. I am transported out of myself. I see myself such as I am to become. Fearful and at the same time ashamed of myself I venerate you and tremble before you.

7) G. K. Chesterton from The Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton (Excursus 1). Chesterton, among other things, revolutionized the way I thought about love. His was by no means the only voice as I began to reconsider how I understood the affirmation that God is love, but his was very likely the initial voice. These are a pair of related quotes to illustrate his points.

Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.

A man's friend likes him but leaves him as he is: his wife loves him and is always trying to turn him into somebody else.

6) David Bentley Hart from Recommendation: Atheist Delusions. The full quote--and for that matter, the entire book--is very enlightening, but in the interest of brevity, I will include only the introduction.

There is, after all, nothing inherently reasonable in the conviction that all of reality is simply an accidental confluence of physical causes, without any transcendent source or end. Materialism is not a fact of experience or a deduction of logic; it is a metaphysical prejudice, nothing more, and one that is arguably more irrational than almost any other.

5) Georges Florovsky from The Wisdom of Georges Florovsky. This opinion of the role of history in theology (particularly in churhces like the Orthodox Church) stands in stark and refreshing contrast with the lifeless formalism and repitition which is at least the stereotype of so many tradition oriented churches.

This call to 'go back' to the Fathers can be easily misunderstood. It does not mean a return to the letter of patristic documents...What is really meant and required is not a blind or servile imitation and repetition but rather a further development of this patristic teaching, both homogeneous and congenial. We have to kindle again the creative fire of the Fathers, to restore in ourselves the patristic spirit.

4) Rene Descartes from Descartes, Unexpected. It was hard to choose a single quote about the foolishness of using logic to limit God, but Descartes stands out as something of a surprising (at least to me) spokesman for the "irrational" position.

The mathematical truths which you call eternal have been laid down by God and depend on him entirely no less than the rest of his creatures...In general we can assert that God can do everything that is beyond our grasp but not that he cannot do what is beyond our grasp. It would be rash to think that our imagination reaches as far as his power.

3) Vladimir Lossky from The God of the Square-Circle. No less than the inability of logic to limit God, the limits which reason imposes on human knowledge have enticed me. It would be easier, and perhaps more appropriate, to cite a fourteenth century hesychast on this point, but Lossky sums it up nicely nevertheless.

The only rational notion which we can have of God will still be that of His incomprehensibility. Consequently, theology must be not so much a quest of positive notions about the divine being as an experience which surpasses all understanding.

2) James A. Garfield from A Sentiment Plagarized from James A. Garfield's Journal, June 14, 1853. This quote, while seemingly devoid of content, expresses shockingly well my attitude about the way I have spent the better part of the last two years.

I sit down to insult my journal by making a few senseless marks upon its page – merely stating that this day shared the fate of its predecessors, and perhaps brought no more to pass.

1) Helmut Thielicke from The Wisdom of Helmut Thielicke. This quote takes precedence for me over all others I have posted because, as much as the previous quote described my actual experience, this quote describes what I continue to hope for in pursuing theology as an occupation, as a obsession, as an act of devotion to God.

Theological thinking can and ought to grip a man like a passion.

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