Yes, I realize it’s been a while since my last post and I further accept that my posts on Calvin’s Institutes are lagging. A lot. The cause for both can be attributed to a blend of a dodgy laptop (my old one) and focusing on other priorities. I hope to get back to regular posting, but I will not make any solid promises for fear of not being able to uphold them. Until then, from three separate books I’m currently reading, let me offer three random quotes–one methodological, one theological and one spiritual.
First, a word on method:
The interpreter of scripture has also to realize that like all Christians he stands not only in the community which is the Church but also in the community which is the world outside. Much of the story which he reads in his Bible is the story of the smaller group, told from the inside by one within; but there is also an outside history, and the two overlap. If he concentrates solely on the inner story, his understanding will be mythological, irrational, pietistic; if he knows nothing but the story of the world outside, his myth will disappear in matter-of-factness, his sense of God’s working in the world will be lost, and he will produce “scientific history.” Both elements together, however, will set the Church in the village and the village in the world. Both elements together make possible an apologetic theology. Both elements together are needed to portray the mystery of one who became flesh.
–R. M. Grant, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible (rev.; 1965), 5-6
Second, a theological definition:
Grace is the incomprehensible fact that God is well pleased with man, and that man can rejoice in God. Only when grace is recognized to be incomprehensible is it grace. Grace exists, therefore, only where Resurrection is reflected. Grace is the gift of Christ, who exposes the gulf which separates God and man, and, by exposing it, bridges it. . . . Where the grace of God is, the very existence of the world and the very existence of God become a question and a hope with which and for which men must wrestle. For we are not now concerned with the propaganda of a conviction or with its imposition on others; grace means bearing witness to the faithfulness of God which a man has encountered in Christ, and which, when it is encountered and recognized, requires a corresponding fidelity towards God. The fidelity of a man to the faithfulness of God–the faith, that is, which accepts grace–is itself the demand for obedience and itself demands obedience from others. Hence the demand is a call which enlightens and rouses to action; it carries with it mission, beside which no other mission is possible. For the name of Him in whom the two worlds meet and are separated must be honoured, and for this mission grace provides full authority, since men are shattered by it.
–K. Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (6th ed.; 1968), 31
Finally, some spiritual comfort:
Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. The flesh whimpers against the rigour of God’s inexorable sentence and begs like Agag for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. It is no use. We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know him better we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just what He is. Some of the most rapturous moments we know will be those we spend in reverent admiration of the Godhead. In those holy moments the very thought of change in Him will be too painful to bear. So let us begin with God. . . . Every soul belongs to God and exists by His pleasure. God being who He is, and we being who we are, the only thinkable relation between us is one of full lordship on His part and complete submission on ours. We owe Him every honour that is in our power to give Him. Our everlasting grief lies in giving Him anything less. . . . The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God over all, we step out of the world’s parade. We shall find ourselves out of adjustment to the ways of the world, and increasingly so as we make progress in the holy way. We shall acquire a new viewpoint; a new and different psychology will be formed within us; a new power will begin to surprise us by its upsurgings and it outgoings. Our break with the world will be the direct outcome of our changed relation to God.
–A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (repr.; 1993), 92-93, 94