Archiv für Juni 2010

In the world – not of it

Fine quote from Archbishop Charles Chaput:

„For forty years, Catholics have heard a steady chorus of how we need to be open to the world, learn from the world, honor the good things in the world, and be more humble in our approach to the world. All of this is true. God created the world, and He loves it, and He sent His only Son to redeem it.
But at the same time, God wills that the world should be converted and sanctified, not worshiped. In his Gospel, Saint John describes the “world” as everything that is aligned against God. Jesus shed His blood on the cross because that was the price of redeeming the world—from its sins and our sins. The cross was real. Christ’s suffering was real. And if the world isn’t a holier place today than yesterday, it’s because we Catholics have chosen the unreality of the world and its distractions over the reality of the cross.
We’ve assimilated. We’ve been too comfortable and accommodating. We’ve listened to the world too politely when it lies about abortion, or contraception, or divorce, or the death penalty, or our obligations to the poor, or the rights of undocumented workers, or the real meaning of pluralism, or our international responsibilities—and we haven’t shouted out the truth.
The world is a powerful and attractive teacher, but while it can often give us what we want, it can’t give us what we need. We need God.“

(from ‚The Church as Mother and Teacher‘)

Protestant Catholic

A brilliant insight from Helmut Richard Niebuhr (American Christian Ethicist and Theologians; 1894-1962) concerning the interdependence of Catholicism and Protestantism:

„The Church is protestant and catholic. This is not only to say that there is much historic Protestantism in those institutions called Catholic churches, and much historic Catholicism in the institutions called Protestant. It is also to say that the principle of protest against every tendency to confuse the symbol with what it symbolizes and the subject with the object, is a constituent element in the being of the community, even apart from the institutional organizations. The Church as the people of God, whether under the Old or the New Covenants, is always the party of protest against religion in the religious human world. It protests against every effort to bring the Infinite into the finite, the transcendent into the immanent, the Eternal into the temporal. The only finite symbol of God it tolerates is the symbol of emptiness—the empty Holy of Holies, the empty tomb. But protest has no meaning apart from what is protested against. The Church cannot be protestant without being catholic. The principle of catholicity—as the principle of incarnation rather than the principle of universality—is as much an ingredient of churchliness as is the principle of protest. Unless the Infinite is represented in finite form, unless the Word becomes flesh over and over again, though only as oral preaching, unless the risen Christ manifests himself in the visible forms of individual saintliness and communal authority there is no human relation to the Infinite and Transcendent. Negative and positive movements—the one in rejection of all that is little because God is great, the other in affirmation of the apparently insignificant because God is its creator, redeemer and inspirer; the one away from the world that is not God, the other toward the world of which he is Lord— must both be represented where the Church exists.“

Tozer: Exposition must have application

„There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Truth divorced from life is not truth in its Biblical sense, but something else and something less. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world. These facts may be, and often are, set forth as values in themselves; and there lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer.

The Bible is among other things a book of revealed truth. That is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out. They were hidden behind a veil, and until certain men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost took away that veil, no mortal man could know them. This lifting of the veil of unknowing from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation.

The Bible, however, is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon those facts. By far the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God as set forth in its pages.

No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that he gave his only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions that know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.

What is generally overlooked is that truth as set forth in the Christian Scriptures is a moral thing; it is not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also. It addresses itself to the total man, and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it mentally. Truth engages the citadel of the human heart and is not satisfied until it has conquered everything there. The will must come forth and surrender its sword. It must stand at attention to receive orders, and those orders it must joyfully obey. Short of this any knowledge of Christian truth is inadequate and unavailing.

Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection. The truth is a lovely song, become sweet by long and tender association; and since it asks nothing but a few dollars, and offers good music, pleasant friendships and a comfortable sense of well-being, it meets with no resistance from the faithful. Much that passes for New Testament Christianity is little more than objective truth sweetened with song and made palatable by religious entertainment.

Probably no other portion of the Scriptures can compare with the Pauline Epistles when it comes to making artificial saints. Peter warned that the unlearned and unstable would wrest Paul’s writings to their own destruction, and we have only to visit the average Bible Conference and listen to a few lectures to know what he meant. The ominous thing is that the Pauline doctrines may be taught with complete faithfulness to the letter of the text without making the hearers one whit better. The teacher may, and often does, so teach the truth as to leave the hearers without a sense of moral obligation.

One reason for the divorce between truth and life maybe the lack of the Spirit’s illumination. Another surely is the teacher’s unwillingness to get himself into trouble. Any man with fair pulpit gifts can get on with the average congregation if he just “feeds” them and lets them alone. Give them plenty of objective truth and never hint that they are wrong and should be set right, and they will be content.

On the other hand, the man who preaches truth and applies it to the lives of his hearers will feel the nails and the thorns. He will lead a hard life, but a glorious one. May God raise up many such prophets. The church needs them badly.“

(A. W. Tozer; Of God and Men)

Charles Wesley: Depth of Mercy

Depth of mercy! Can there be
mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God his wrath forbear,
me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood his grace,
long provoked him to his face,
would not hearken to his calls,
grieved him by a thousand falls.

I my Master have denied,
I afresh have crucified,
oft profaned his hallowed name,
put him to an open shame.

There for me the Savior stands,
shows his wounds and spreads his hands.
God is love! I know, I feel;
Jesus weeps and loves me still.

Now incline me to repent,
let me now my sins lament,
now my foul revolt deplore,
weep, believe, and sin no more.

Den Berg erklimmen

Und wieder ein wunderschönes Zitat, diesmal von Ambrosius von Mailand:

„Laßt uns denn die Hülle von unserem Angesicht abnehmen, daß wir „enthüllten Angesichts die Herrlichkeit Gottes schauend zum nämlichen Bild erneut werden!“ Laßt uns zum Berge hinaufsteigen! Laßt uns Gottes Wort bitten, daß es sich uns in seiner Gestalt und Schönheit zeige und [in uns] erstarke und glücklich fortschreite und herrsche! Denn auch das bedeutet Geheimnisse, auch das bezieht sich auf Höheres. Je nach deiner Verfassung nämlich nimmt das Wort für dich ab oder zu. Und wenn du dich nicht zum Gipfel höherer Weisheit erhebst, zeigt sich dir die Weisheit nicht, zeigt sich dir die Erkenntnis der Geheimnisse nicht, zeigt sich dir nicht, wie erhaben die Herrlichkeit, wie erhaben die Schönheit in Gottes Wort ist. Gottes Wort erscheint vielmehr gleichsam wie im Fleische ohne die ihm eigentümliche Schönheit und Anmut, erscheint wie ein Mensch in Leiden, der unsere Schwachheiten auf sich nehmen kann, erscheint dir wie ein Wort aus Menschenmund hervorgegangen und von hüllenden Buchstaben verdeckt, nicht in der Kraft des Geistes aufleuchtend. Wenn du hingegen, den Blick auf seine Menschheit gerichtet, an deren Geburt aus der Jungfrau glaubst, und der Glaube mehr und mehr zur Überzeugung kommt, daß sie ihren Ursprung vom Heiligen Geist nahm, fängst du an auf den Berg zu steigen. Wenn du den Gekreuzigten als triumphierenden Sieger über den Tod, nicht als Opfer desselben schaust, wenn du schaust, wie die Erde erbebte, die Sonne schwand, Finsternis vor den Augen der Ungläubigen sich ausbreitete, Gräber sich öffneten, Tote auferstanden zum Zeichen, wie gleichsam das Heidenvolk, das Gott abgestorben war, kraft des vom Kreuze ausgeströmten Lichtes nach Öffnung der Grabesgruft seines Leibes auferstand – wenn du dieses Geheimnis schaust, hast du einen hohen Berg erstiegen, gewahrst du des Wortes Herrlichkeit in neuem Lichte.“ (Lukaskommentar)

Die Quelle für die Kirchenväter-Zitate ist die wunderbare Bibliothek der Kirchenväter:

Sehr beindruckend!

…dieses Zitat aus den Erklärungen zum Vaterunser von Elische, einem armenischen Kirchenvater:

„Einer ist der wahre Vater und Schöpfer der ganzen Welt. Ohne die Begierlichkeit der Erzeugung und ohne die Schmerzen der Geburt hat er alles, das Sichtbare und das Unsichtbare, hervorgebracht. Da er sich Kinder zeugte, kam er auch zu ihnen und lehrte sie zum himmlischen Vater flehen, damit nicht immerdar die Welt in Windeln und Wiege bleibe, im Genuß der Milch und des Kindleinsbreies, versenkt und begraben in abstoßendem Unrat, den die Mütter und Ernährerinnen scheuen, und von dem die Erzieher und Pfleger ihr Antlitz abwenden. Diese sind das Gesetz und die Propheten. Sie haben jene im Meere gewaschen und konnten sie nicht rein bringen, durch Flüsse haben sie sie geführt und nicht abgewaschen. Sie wandten reichlich Seife an und wuschen mit Peinlichkeit und brachten sie doch nicht rein. Die um sie Versammelten entfernten sie, warfen sie weg, und sie standen hinausgestoßen. Da erbarmte sich der himmlische Vater, er neigte sich vom Himmel zur Erde, er fand alle in unerträglichem Blutvergießen, in toten Opfern des Götzendienstes. Da erfaßte er sie, reinigte sie und bekleidete sie mit himmlischem Gewande und führte sie wiederum in die Sohnschaft zurück. Er lehrte sie in väterlicher Unterweisung, damit sie beten sollten zum geliebten Vater im Himmel. „Wenn ihr betet,“ sagte er, „so machet nicht nach Kinderart viele Worte.“ Gott hört die Gedanken des Herzens und ist ein gütiger Vergelter der guten Werke. Es genügt, daß der Mund zum Zeugnis also spreche: Vater unser, der du (bist) in dem Himmel, heilig ist dein Name.“