Two Quotes from Jerome

On the benefit of obeying Jesus’ words to the rich young man in Matthew 19:

“It is an act of apostolic perfection and of perfect virtue to sell all one has and to give to the poor—thus becoming weightless and unimpeded and flying up with Christ toward heavenly delights.”-Jerome, in Bonaventure, Defense of the Mecidants, ch.7.

And on preaching what we ourselves have not done:

“I exalt virginity to heaven, not because it is mine, but because I more greatly admire what I do not have. Preaching to others a quality lacking in oneself, this indeed amounts to a frank and embarrassing confession. But if I am held down to earth by the weight of my body, is this reason enough not to admire the flight of birds?” (Jerome in letter to Pammachius, qtd in Bonaventure ch.7, p.141)

Source: Bonaventure, Defense of the Mendicants, in The Works of Bonaventure,
trans. José de Vinck, v. 4: Defense of the Mendicants.


Christians Put Hands on Bibles for the First Time

I found this (linked) blog post earlier and didn’t know how to feel. My first reaction to this kind of video, honestly, is to disbelieve that any of it is true. After all, I have been to China for a year myself, and I saw plenty of extra Bibles, still in the plastic wrapper.
That’s forgetting something, though: China is a very large country.
So that doesn’t mean that the Bible is known or understood there by all, though, and far from that is the truth: the Word has spread rapidly there, praise God, for doors are opening–but there are still millions who haven’t heard it preached or taught right. (And by “right,” I do not mean my particular interpretation of the Word, but rather, they haven’t heard the word taught as the truth).

The Good News

Do you love the Word of God this much? We who have many Bibles are so blessed. We ought to do something to get the Word into the hands of those who desire it like these Chinese Christians.

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“We Have Cause to Be Uneasy” and The Quotable *Mere Christianity*

As so often happens, my wife received a phone call from a friend asking questions about her faith and how one can trust that the Bible as true.

The time was 10:00pm, and since I was in a place to consider sleep, I reached for my Kindle and thought to browse the “Theo”(logy) section for some titles that might be of use to my wife’s discussion.

First, I saw Dr. R.C. Sproul’s “Can I Trust the Bible?” and as great as it is, I did not find that for which I was hoping. I was about to give up when I saw that classic title: “Mere Christianity” — always worth a read. Lewis didn’t say what I was looking for either, but I was hooked.

The first paragraph which my eyes came across — when I skipped around the work’s natural order — was worth highlighting. (That in itself is noteworthy, considering how unpleasant highlighting can be on the oldest, most basic Kindle). Once the highlighting was completed, I realized the next paragraph was a continuation of the genius that was the previous paragraph. [Spend another 30 seconds highlighting the next paragraph.] Not too long thereafter, lo and behold: another highlight-worthy passage. We could almost underline or highlight the whole book…

Thus, here they are — probably over-quoted but worth the re-read again and again — from the first book’s fifth chapter. (NOTE: this is in not meant to be a comprehensive list of the work’s best quotes. These are the paragraphs that captivated me in my ten minute gander, before provoking me to rise again and share them on the blog.) Now…

You may have felt you were ready to listen to me as long as you thought I had anything new to say; but if it turns out to be only religion, well, the world has tried that and you cannot put the clock back. If anyone is feeling that way I should like to say three things to him.

First, as to putting the clock back. Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic.

When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth– only soft soap and wishful thinking to being with and, in the end, despair. Most of us have got over the prewar wishful thinking about international politics. It is time we did the same about religion.

Psalm 50: God Shines Forth

              The Mighty One, God the Lord,

       speaks and summons the earth

        from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,

       God shines forth.

(Psalm 50:1-2 ESV)

© 2013 Clint R. Boyd.

© 2013 Clint R. Boyd.

God “speaks and summons the earth.” Right off the bat, The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons. He is the boss, but what kind of boss is he?

Well, we get a picture — of the sunrise and sunset. The Psalmist is saying that this speaking and summoning is done from dusk ’till dawn, but with the words sunrise and sunset comes a memory of a splendid sight for those who’ve seen the sun rise and/or set. For any who haven’t had working eyesight to see a sunrise or sunset, this must be calling upon the one of the greatest faculties of the human mind: imagination.

Either way, clearly we are invited to get a greater understanding God by mentioning him directly after the sun’s radiant rising and setting:

“God shines forth.”

He is not a gloomy God. This is not Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The Lord Almighty is righteous, Holy, and just, always loving and using honest weights and scales (Proverbs 16:11). He is not an oppressor. He is the Great Giver. That’s why He doesn’t need anything from us, nor can we provide much for him past adoration, worship, trust, and thanksgiving.

“I will not accept a bull from your house

or goats from your folds.

For every beast of the forest is mine,

       the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know all the birds of the hills,

       and all that moves in the field is mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

       for the world and its fullness are mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls

       or drink the blood of goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

       and perform your vows to the Most High,

and call upon me in the day of trouble;

       I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

(Verses 9-15)

Thankfulness is how I should feel and be toward God. You and I were created to glorify and ENJOY Him — to bask His radiance, mercy, and forgiveness — forever. All of that is made possible, of course, by Jesus Christ, who was slain for that purpose, then resurrected: the greatest news in the history of mankind.