31 October 2007

C. S. Lewis: Humility

In working on a scholarly book on 16th century English literature, C. S. Lewis remarked in a 1951 personal letter to a friend that he is fearful that he'll make some dreadful mistake and it will only be discovered once the book is in print. He responds to his own thought by writing:

This, I suppose, is good for one's soul: and the kind of good I must learn to digest. I am going to be (if I live long enough) one of those men who was a famous writer in his forties and died unknown--like Christian going down into the green valley of humiliation. Which is the most beautiful thing in Bunyan and can be the most beautiful thing in life if a man takes it quite rightly--a matter I think and pray about a good deal. One thing is certain: much better to begin (at least) learning humility on this side of the grave than to have it all as a fresh problem on the other. Anyway, the desire which has to be mortified is such a vulgar and silly one.

--Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, 3:150

Bird: Imputation, CT

Fascinating and, of course, humorous piece by Mike Bird on imputation, responding to Phil Ryken's recent piece on justification/imputation/union with Christ at Reformation 21. Having just finished Bird's book on the subject (this one) I find myself in almost total agreement (despite the book's extraordinarily distracting amount of typos and syntactical errors), though I do at times wonder about the sharp divide he wants between dogmatics and exegesis--is it really such a neat divide? Nonetheless I think the conclusion that imputation is theologically coherent in light of Scripture, though almost nowhere explicitly stated, is right. I say 'almost' because of 2 Cor 5:21 which, contrary to Bird and Gundry, I do think contains both 'halves' of imputation. Anyway, a great book, a good post, and both typically irenic. I am grateful for Mike Bird.

Also, interesting comments on 2 CT articles, including one on Hillsong (excerpt: "For American readers, Hillsong is perhaps understood as a cross between Crocodile Dundee and Joel Osteen").

27 October 2007

Cheerful Insecurity

I stopped by Jerry Root's office on the 4th floor of the Billy Graham Center a few months ago and as I walked out the door he said "Wait! I've got to give you something, because every time I met with your grandfather he gave me something on the way out!" So he gave me the 1700-page volume 3 of C. S. Lewis' collected letters, edited by Walter Hooper.

So I've been picking it up from time to time and going through the letters and it is just fascinating. They are letters of all sorts, short and long, thanks and advice. I could cite many portions. Here's one. After his mother has died--which Lewis admits is quite a relief--Lewis realizes he has been quite drained of funds as a result of hospital bills, and expresses worry to a friend. Then he says:

But it would be very dangerous to have no worries--or rather no occasions of worry. I have been feeling that very much lately: that cheerful insecurity is what Our Lord asks of us. Thus one comes, late and surprised, to the simplest and earliest Christian lessons!

--p. 79, emphasis original

21 October 2007

Augustine: Enjoying God

Just read this in Augustine's On Christian Teaching, which arrived in the mail from Amazon this week:

So what should we do in sharing the love of God, whose full enjoyment constitutes the happy life? It is God from whom all those who love him derive both their existence and their love; it is God who frees us from any fear that he can fail to satisfy anyone to whom he becomes known; it is God who wants himself to be loved, not in order to gain any reward for himself but to give to those who love him an eternal reward--namely himself, the object of their love. (1.64)

17 October 2007

V. Raymond Edman on Delight

There is satisfaction in serving the Lord Jesus; sweetness in suffering for His Name; blessing in bearing His reproach; pleasure in becoming a pilgrim; delight in doing His bidding. To have every natural delight: face, form, education, erudition, personality, position, achievement, and acclaim of others is to need the discipline of delight, that every gift be acknowledged as from the Giver, that every talent become a sacred trust, that every honor become a humbling of heart before Him, in order that He have all the glory. Then, like Moses of old, with lowly heart and veiled face, we shall walk where he leads, shall be thankful for daily manna, shall endure as seeing Him who is invisible, shall believe Him when every other friend fails. Then comes to pass the word, "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" Psalm 37:4).

--V. R. Edman, former president of Wheaton College, The Disciplines of Life, 89

13 October 2007

Wright--I mean Luther--on the Gospel

My jaw dropped when I read the following statement and discovered it was written not by N. T. Wright but Martin Luther.

The gospel is a story about Christ, God's and David's Son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. This is the gospel in a nutshell.

--Martin Luther, "A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels," Luther's Works, ed. E. T. Bachmann (55 vols.; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1960), 35:118. Cited in M. F. Bird, The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification, and the New Perspective (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2007), 69. Thanks Mike.

11 October 2007

'Everything Glorious'

Just got Passion's 2006 live album in the mail from Amazon.

Tracks 4, 9, 13: WOW.

07 October 2007

Goal: Joy

I noticed today that Paul says a very similar thing in both Philippians and 2 Corinthians in describing his pastoral labors.

Phil 1:25 - I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy of faith.

2 Cor 1:24 - We work with you for your joy.

His goal was his peoples' happiness. He prayed that the Colossians would be strenghened with all endurance and patience with joy (1:11).

Worth reflecting on. I acknowledge and agree that the glory of God is the highest purpose in everything, the supreme goal of all we do, whether pastors or not. But I wonder if on a horizontal level there could be any higher purpose in pastoral work than the pursuit of the joy of those in our sphere of influence (and that, yes, this is a fundamental way in which God is in fact glorified).

Cambridge Interview

Fascinating interview of Simon Gathercole (Cambridge NT prof) and Pete Williams (new warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge) by Mark Dever (done Nov 20, 2006).


05 October 2007

Happy 304th

We thank God for you.
Desiring God offers JE birthday discounts.
See also Sam Storms' 5-set course on Edwards, in CD or DVD ($30). Sam did his dissertation on JE on original sin at U of Texas.