“One of the greatest hindrances to internal peace which the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas, the sacred and the secular. As these areas are conveived to exist apart from each other and to be moraly and spiritually incompatible, and as we are compelled by the necessitites of living to be always crossing back and forth from one to the other, our inner lives tend to break up so that we live a divided instead of unified life.”
“The sacred-secular antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament.”
“Paul’s sewing of tents was not equal to his writing of an Epistle to the Romans, but both were accepted of God and both were true acts of worship. Certainly it is more important to lead a soul to Christ than to plant a garden, but the planting of the garden can be as holy an act as the winning of a soul.”
”Faith does not deny the reason for anxiety but rejects the rule of anxiety.”
Richard John Neuhaus, God with Us. 32.
We neither hold ourselves aloof form the anguish of a conflicted world nor delude ourselves that the resolution of all conflicts is within o
ur power. In the child of Bethlehem, in the powerlessness of a baby, God entered into our conflicts. The powers of darkness and death raged against his intrusion and did their worst, beginning with murderous King Herod, who killed the babies of Bethlehem, and ending with a cruel death on a cross.
The dark and deadly powers still rage because they know they have been defeated by the Prince of Peace – incarnate, crucified, and crowned in glory. By faith in him and the victory that he won, we already live in the Peaceable Kingdom that is to be. Because it has already happened, it will really happen.
Richard John Neuhaus, God with Us. 26.
”This is the question that often haunts me when I stand before a crowd of thousands of people in the church I pastor. What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His word still be enough for His people to come together?” David Platt, Radical. 27.
“The cross becomes the sign that pagan empire, symbolized in the might and power of sheer brutal force, has been decisively challenged by a different power, the power of love, the power that shall win the day.
The question is then posed to us in the strongest and clearest possible way: Dare we stand in front of the cross and admit that it was all done for us? Dare we take all the meaning of the Word God and allow them to be reentered upon – redefined by – this man (Jesus), this moment, this death? Dare we address the consequences of what Jesus himself said, that the rulers of the world behave in one way, but that we must not do it like that? Dare we thus put atonement theology and political theology together, with the deeply personal message on one side and the utterly practical and political message on the other, and turn aside from the way of James and John and embrace the way of Jesus himself? Only so, I believe, can we even begin the task…of working in our own day with mature, Christian and sober intelligence to address the problem of evil which still harms the world that God loved so much, the world for which the Messiah gave his life.”
NT Wright, Evil and the Justice of God. 100.
“If our goal is to be liberated from creation rather than the liberation of creation, we will understandably display little concern for the world God has made. If, however, we are looking forward to “the restoration of all things” (Ac 3:21) and the anticipation of the whole creation in our redemption (Ro 8:18-21), then our actions here and now pertain to the same world that will one day be finally and fully renewed.”
- Michael Horton The Christian Faith
Lauren Winners is a Jewish woman who converted to Christianity. In a section of her book, Girl Meets God, she reflects on the communal nature of liturgy, worship, and faith. In one amusing section she talks about Baptism, and in particular Infant Baptism:
Sometimes people wonder how babies can be baptized; indeed, that very wondering is the genesis of the Baptist church. Baptist believe babies shouldn’t be baptized. They say there’s no scriptural precedent for it, that Jesus and John were both baptized as adults. Hannah (Winner’s friend in the book), who’s a Baptist, often says that a baby can’t promise to do everything one promises in baptism. I have never found this a very persuasive argument. It strikes me as too individualistic. The very point is that no baptismal candidate , even an adult, can promise to do those things all by himself. The community is promising for you, with you, on your behalf. It is for that reason that I love to see a baby baptized. When a baby is baptized, we cannot labor under the atomizing illusion that individuals in Christ can or should go this road alone. When a baby is baptized we are struck unavoidably with the fact that this is a community covenant, a community relationship, that these are communal practices.
Well said, Lauren. Well said.
The basic sin, for Christianity, is rejecting others in order to choose oneself, deciding against others and deciding for oneself. Why is this sin so basic? Because the idea that you can choose yourself, approve yourself, and then offer yourself (fully “chosen” and “approved”) to God, applies the assertion of yourself over against God. From this root of error comes all the sour leafage and fruitage of a life of self-examination, interminable problems and unending decisions, always making right choices, walking on the razor edge of an impossibly subtle ethic (with an equally subtle psychology to take care of the unconscious). All this implies the frenzied conviction that one can be his own light and his own justification, and that God is there for a purpose: to issue a stamp of confirmation upon my own rightness. In such a religion the Cross becomes meaningless except as the (blasphemous) certification that because you suffer, because you are misunderstood, you are justified twice over – you are a martyr. Martyr means witness. You are then a witness? To what? To your own infallible light and your own justice, which you have chosen.
This is the exact opposite of everything Jesus ever did or taught.
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p.174-75