“From Rowan [Greer] I learned to distrust the accounts of the debates surrounding the Trinity and Christology that presented the issues largely in philosophical terms. The issues, at least as Rowan presented them, were exegetical. I became increasingly convinced that he was right.”—Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir.
“The presumption of many scholars at the time was that the task of theology was to make the language of faith amenable to standards set by the world. This could be done by subtraction: “Of course you do not have to believe X or Y”; or, by translation, “When we say X or Y we really mean…” I was simply not interested in that project. From my perspective, if the language was not true, then you ought to give it up. I thought the crucial question was not whether Christianity could be made amenable to the world, but could the world be made amenable to what Christians believe? I had not come to the study of theology to play around.”—Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir.
Every conflict hath its beginning either in covetousness, or envy, or vainglory. If therefore we are at peace, we shall learn to despise the things of the earth. Hath a man stolen our money? He hath not injured us, only let him not steal our treasure which is above. Hath he hindered thy glory? Yet not that which is from God, but that which is of no account. For this is no glory, but a mere name of glory, or rather a shame. Hath he stolen thy honor? Rather not thine but his own. For as he who committeth injustice doth not so much inflict as receive injustice, thus too he who plots against his neighbor, first destroyeth himself.
For “he who diggeth a pit for his neighbor, falleth into it.”
”—St. John Chrysostom, Homily XIV on Philippians 4:4-7, Homilies on Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.
“When [Christ] tells us to be at peace with our enemies, with those who treat us unjustly, with those who are at war and enmity toward us; is it not beyond man’s understanding? But rather let us look to the former. If the peace surpasseth all understanding, much more doth God Himself, who giveth peace, pass all understanding, not ours only, but also that of Angels, and the Powers above.”—St. John Chrysostom, Homily XIV on Philippians 4:4-7, Homilies on Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.
“It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, inasmuch as it does not depend on the present aspect of things, and does not bend itself to the various shiftings of the world, but is founded on the firm and immutable word of God. It is on good grounds, also, that he speaks of it as surpassing all understanding or perception, for nothing is more foreign to the human mind, than in the depth of despair to exercise, nevertheless, a feeling of hope, in the depth of poverty to see opulence, and in the depth of weakness to keep from giving way, and, in fine, to promise ourselves that nothing will be wanting to us when we are left destitute of all things; and all this in the grace of God alone, which is not itself known otherwise than through the word, and the inward earnest of the Spirit.”—John Calvin, Commentary on Philippians 4:7.
“I read as much Kierkegaard as I could get my hands on. I was sure Kierkegaard was right to put stress on the “how” of the faith as necessary for understanding the “what.” Put differently, I was learning from [Paul] Holmer’s account of Kierkegaard (as well as from [Julian] Hartt) that theology is best understood as a form of practical reason. Moreover, I learned from Kierkegaard that the truth of practical reason is Christ, and thus practical reason cannot be constrained by the accommodated form of the church identified with Christendom.”—Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir.
My father understood that the world was changing; and therefore he never wanted me to follow him into bricklaying. Yet the training I received left an indelible mark on everything I do. I assume change is inevitable, but I am deeply conservative. My understanding of of what it means to be conservative is shaped by the craft tradition. My criticism of liberal political presumptions is based in my presumption that politics, like bricklaying, is a wisdom-determined activity. Liberalism too often is the attempt to have concrete replace stone in an effort to avoid the necessary existence of a people with wisdom.
…I think of theology as a craft requiring years of training. Like stonecutters and bricklayers, theologians must come to terms with the material upon which they work. In particular, they must learn to respect the simple complexity of the language of the faith, so that they might reflect the radical character of orthodoxy. I think one of the reasons Ii was never drawn to liberal Protestant theology was that it felt too much like an attempt to avoid the training required of apprentices. In contrast, Karl Barth’s work represented for me an uncompromising demand to submit to a master bricklayer, with the hope that in the process one might learn some of the “tricks of the trade.”
As mentioned in a previous post, I hadn’t read enough Hauerwas lately (in that post I said that I hadn’t read ANY Hauerwas since college, but forgot that I recently re-read God, Medicine & Suffering). So I picked up this memoir and read the first half of it on vacation this week. I’m really enjoying it and will reflect more on it over the next few weeks.
I deeply agree with his thoughts in this quote and that’s why you will rarely find me espousing a “position” here on this blog. I’m trying to read all that I can, but I simply don’t feel adequately steeped in the tradition to voice too loudly the conclusions I feel tugging at my soul. I also don’t foresee that changing for a long time. The danger of reading a book like Hannah’s Child is that it makes me want to drop everything and go to seminary.
“The Christian gospel has sometimes been made the tool of an imperialism, and of that we have to repent. But at its heart it is the denial of all imperialisms, for at its center there is the cross where all imperialisms are humbled and we are invited to find the center of human unity in the One who was made nothing so that all might be one. The very heart of the biblical vision for the unity of humankind is that its center is not an imperial power but a slain Lamb.”—Lesslie Newbigin (via azspot)
“…we may say in summary that [the chief mark and element of insanity] is reason used without root, reason in the void. The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
“Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else. And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators. The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
“Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.” And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell.” I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.” He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums. “Yes, there are,” I retorted, “and you of all men ought to know them. That drunken poet from whom you would not take a dreary tragedy, he believed in himself. That elderly minister with an epic from whom you were hiding in a back room, he believed in himself. If you consulted your business experience instead of your ugly individualistic philosophy, you would know that believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter. Actors who can’t act believe in themselves; and debtors who won’t pay. It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself. Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one’s self is a hysterical and superstitious belief like believing in Joanna Southcote: the man who has it has `Hanwell’ written on his face as plain as it is written on that omnibus.” And to all this my friend the publisher made this very deep and effective reply, “Well, if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?” After a long pause I replied, “I will go home and write a book in answer to that question.” This is the book that I have written in answer to it.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
“It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God’s sign: he himself is love. How often we wish that God would show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.”—Pope Benedict XVI, “Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI” (via invisibleforeigner)
“for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools”—Romans 1:21 & 22. The reverse must also be true. Honoring and thanking God leads to clear thinking. In other words, knowledge springs from a foundation of faith, which the Apostle Paul discusses earlier in the first chapter of his epistle to the Roman church.
The climax of [Alain] Badiou’s gloss on [I Cor 1:20b-25] is, “It is through the invention of a language wherein folly, scandal, and weakness supplant knowing reason, order, and power, and wherein non-being is the only legitimizable affirmation of being, that Christian discourse is articulated. In Paul’s eyes, this articulation is incompatible with any prospect (and there has been no shortage of them, almost from the time of his death onward) of a ‘Christian philosophy.’
Paul here seems to be referring to three kinds of knowledge: knowledge given by wisdom, knowledge given by signs, and knowledge given by faith. The first two…are opposed to faith, precisely because they depend on external verification and not internal conviction. So far I can go along with Badiou and reiterate what seems to me his real contribution to Pauline interpretation, seeing the radicality in his rejection of philosophy and why it is parallel to his rejection of knowledge through signs.
“Paul seldom makes direct claims to certain knowledge about God, a point as well known to biblical scholars as it is surprising to most people, who think Paul as the first dogmatist of Christianity. Paul, on the contrary, asks, quoting Isaiah, “Who has known the mind of God?” (Rom 11:34; Isa 40:13), with the implied answer, “No one!” What we do know, according to Paul, we know only “in part” (I Cor 13:9, 12). Elsewhere Paul says, “Anyone claiming to know does not yet know; but whoever loves God is known by him” (I Cor 8:2-3). Paul shifts knowledge into the passive voice. To the Galatians, Paul starts off sounding as if he will make a positive claim about knowledge of God, but then reverses himself from active to passive: “Now that you have come to know God,” he first says, but then corrects himself, “or rather to be known by God” (Gal 4:9). For Paul, epistemology is constrained. Knowledge is partial, limited, through a glass darkly-or translated better into contemporary English: seen only as in a smoky, faulty, obscuring mirror, like trying to put on makeup while looking into a dirty chrome hubcap (I Cor 13:12). Paul’s epistemological reservation-the constraints of knowledge that come with our present, natural existence-limit what we can say about God and truth to little more than repeating the proclamation that in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus we have hope as long as we entrust ourselves to that event.”—Dale B. Martin, “Teleology, Epistemology, and Universal Vision in Paul,” in St. Paul Among the Philosophers.
“[Jonathan Haidt] became more and more convinced that our morality flows from our emotional reactions rather than reasoned responses. It’s not that we’re irrational. We’re largely intuitive, with analysis and reason-giving mostly justifying beliefs we’ve already accepted as true. Reason functions less as a scientist drawing inferences from experiments and more as a lawyer who argues on behalf of the truth of our beliefs—or as a PR agent out to sell our moral intuitions to others, and perhaps even to ourselves.”—R.R. Reno, “Our One-Eyed Friends" in First Things, June/July, 2012.
“For classical theology, therefore, no phenomenon, whether of nature or of history, lay outside the interpretive range of the mystery of Christ and the scriptural witness to it. This is not to say that classical theology believed that we can presently comprehend the relation of every phenomenon to Christ; much painful ignorance must be endured in hope until the manifestation of Jesus Christ. But the combination of belief in the creator and assurance that his purpose had been definitively revealed and accomplished in Christ gave to classical theology a certain optimistic boldness as it faced the diverse cultures and changing circumstances of the world in which the church lives.”—David S. Yeago, “Modern but Not Liberal" in First Things, June/July, 2012.
“I think this quest for certainty that really drives [Descartes’ Meditations] is misguided and unnecessary. We don’t need certainty for almost any reason. I mean maybe if you think ultimately we need it for religious reasons and maybe you think that was ultimately what was motivating him. We can’t have that kind of certainty…The kind of doubt introduced [by Descartes] has introduced needless confusion.”—Mark Linsenmayer on episode 2 of the Partially Examined Life. I’m a late comer to PEL, having started listening at episode 44. As I keep up with the podcast, I’ve started listening to old episodes, especially those on epistemology, which interests me more of late as I’ve been thinking about how a Biblical epistemology can be consistent with current understandings of the reasoning process. Time permitting, I’ll have more to share on this in the future.
“If we know and believe that He is present everywhere and at all times, and if we are united with Him in our hearts, He will teach us how to love our neighbor.”— Elder Thaddeus of Serbia (via theophilus79, orthodoxprayer)
Should graduate students (in theology) stop blogging?
John Milbank: Oh absolutely, at once.
”—At 20:20 of Breathing Space, episode #2 of the Theology Studio podcast. This comment came in the midst of a very thoughtful discussion between Milbank and the podcast hosts about maintaining fidelity to the faith tradition while also speaking to contemporary issues. Milbank thinks graduate students should balance between the two but “spend more time mastering the tradition.”
“Yea, I still account both all these and all things else to be mere loss, compared to the inward, experimental knowledge of Christ, as my Lord, as my prophet, priest, and king, as teaching me wisdom, atoning for my sins, and reigning in my heart. To refer this to justification only, is miserably to pervert the whole scope of the words. They manifestly relate to sanctification also; yea, to that chiefly. For whom I have actually suffered the loss of all things - Which the world loves, esteems, or admires; of which I am so far from repenting, that I still account them but dung - The discourse rises. Loss is sustained with patience, but dung is cast away with abhorrence. The Greek word signifies any, the vilest refuse of things, the dross of metals, the dregs of liquors, the excrements of animals, the most worthless scraps of meat, the basest offals, fit only for dogs. That I may gain Christ - He that loses all things, not excepting himself, gains Christ, and is gained by Christ. And still there is more; which even St. Paul speaks of his having not yet gained.”—John Wesley’s Notes on Philippians 3:8.
“God comes in at the end, not to answer riddles, but to propound them. The other great fact which, taken together with this one, makes the whole work religious instead of merely philosophical, is that other great surprise which makes Job suddenly satisfied with the mere presentation of something impenetrable. Verbally speaking the enigmas of Jehovah seem darker and more desolate than the enigmas of Job; yet Job was comfortless before the speech of Jehovah and is comforted after it. He has been told nothing, but he feels the terrible and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told. The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design. The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.C”—G.K. Chesterton, Introduction to the Book of Job. Quoted by Slavoj Zizek in From Job to Christ: A Paulinian Reading of Chesterton, in St. Paul among the Philosophers.
“For Paul, the relation to God is not to know but to be known by the Other, that is by God. The relation of salvation to God is to be known. Being known by the Other requires that knowledge be obliterated by love, which is truth in the place of the Other. What is important here is to obliterate the knowledge one has of the Other on behalf of the love we have for him. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but any one who loves God is known by him” (I Cor 8:1-3).”—Alain Badiou, St. Paul, Founder of the Universal Subject in St. Paul Among the Philosophers.
“…Paul’s fundamental conviction is that the contrary of sin is not virtue, but faith…”Virtue senses its law and so its death. For faith, it is not so; faith unbinds the law from the literal. Paul takes the law, the law of Moses, and reduces it to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”—Alain Badiou, St. Paul, Founder of the Universal Subject in St. Paul Among the Philosophers.
“Our question is then, Where and how can we hold forth that universal singularities exist? With respect to this we must call on St. Paul, because his question was not different from ours (which explains his conflicts concerning Jewish identity, including that of Christ). For him, if an event has taken place, and if the truth consists in declaring it (and subsequently being faithful to it), it must be held that the truth is evental when it occurs and that it is singular (neither structural, nor axiomatic, nor legal). It must also be held that, for the same reason, this truth cannot be reserved only to some, but that it is offered to all, universal, destined to each and every one with no identitary definition. It favors no origin. The sigularity of the event thus breaks the law, for every truth is illegal, that is to say, incommensurable with the law.”—Alain Badiou, St. Paul, Founder of the Universal Subject in St. Paul Among the Philosophers.
“…there are two kinds of justice: one is moral justice; the other is legal justice, which makes one obey the law not from love but from fear. Therefore [Paul] says, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, because as Augustine says: “The slight difference between the Law and the Gospel is fear and love”—Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.
“[Paul] says, therefore: Whatever gain I had, i.e., prestige, namely, to be a Pharisee and so on, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ, i.e., I came to regard them as hindrances. For the observances of the Law, which were effective during the time of the Law, became harmful after Christ; hence he says, loss. And the reason for abandoning them was Christ; hence he says, for the sake of Christ. He explains this: first, that he acted thus in order to know Christ, and secondly to obtain Him. In regard to the first he says, Indeed I count everything as loss. This is true, if he had continued to depend on them. What I did formerly, I now regard a loss on account of my desire for a correct understanding of Christ, my Lord: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, since this transcends all knowledge. For there is nothing better to be known than the Word of God in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).”—Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.
“…[Paul] shows the confidence he could have had in the things of the Law, saying: We must not put our confidence in the things of the Law, though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also, i.e., I could have, if I desired, because “Whatever anyone dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that,” as he says in 2 Corinthians (11:21). And I can do this with more reason, because I have done more: “I am talking like a madman” (2 Cor. 11:23). He mentions all these things in order more effectively to destroy the observances of the Law. For many scorn things they do not know or do not have; and this is not right, but only when a person has something and then scorns it and does not glory in it. Thus, if the Apostle had no prestige during the time of the Law, this could be cited as the reason why he went over to the gospel…”—Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.
“The principles and teachings of republicanism and Christianity were far more pervasive and heartfelt, in my view, than the other social forces and conflicts that historians have focused on in recent years. This is not to argue that there were no other social dynamics or that these other dynamics should not be studied, but simply to maintain that Dakotans tended to focus on building a republican social order and a living Christian lives.”—Prairie Republic: the Political Culture of Dakota Territory, 1879-1889 by Jon K. Lauck.