October 28, 2020

More Quotes that Have My Attention Recently

Waiting for an answer to prayer from the Ice Cube God

Some recent quotes that got my attention…

Over the last few years I have to say that I have become less than convinced that the Bible intends, anywhere, to portray the origin of sin. We don’t know why, for example, the snake is in the garden trying to corrupt Eve and thus Adam also. Rebellion began before Adam. That sin enters the human line with an original pair simply doesn’t seem to be the point in either the Old or New Testaments. On the other hand, the Bible clearly portrays the universal impact of sin and the places the blame firmly on mankind as a species, as communities, and as individuals. Rebellion is the point. We are formed to need God, to be in fellowship with God. But this relationship, like our other relationships, is broken. Broken by us, not by God. Broken time and time again.

• • •

Another staggering mishandling of Scripture occurs when Piper claims that the household codes of the New Testament, wherein the biblical writers urge wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives, are unique to the Bible and that “there’s nothing like it in any culture in the world.” This is categorically untrue. In fact, the authors of those New Testament texts were undoubtedly drawing from very similar instructions written by Aristotle, Philo and Josephus, known well throughout the Greco-Roman world.  What makes the household codes of the New Testament different is not that they reinforce the patriarchal ordering of a household, but that they point to the humility of Jesus as the model for every relationship, inviting the first Christians—a strange mix of Jews and gentiles, masters and slaves, husbands and wives and widows and orphans—to look beyond cultural status to a better Kingdom in which “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Rachel Held Evans, responding to John Piper

• • •

In short, our need for a tribe isn’t about reducing loneliness, about how nice it would be to have a few friends over for dinner tonight. Tribes run deep into the human psyche. Tribes are integral to human flourishing. Tribes help us carry our suffering and pain, and they give us a sense of shared purpose and meaning.

Tribes give us a home.

And this, I would argue, is the deep source of post-evangelical nostalgia. They have memories of being a part of a tribe.

Yes, tribes create tribalism, and there are toxic, dysfunction, and abusive tribes. But without a tribe there is listlessness, loneliness, and pain.

• Richard Beck

• • •

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination…

King was the chief apostle for that idea, which is the reason we honor him with a place on the Mall. But he knew that he would not live to see the Promised Land.

He also knew, as Jefferson and Lincoln knew, that the upward arc of the moral universe was constantly being pulled back to earth by the gravitational force of racism. Every step forward produces progress that generates a backlash.

Joseph J. Ellis

• • •

A few of the many (64) reasons you always proofread the bulletin…

  • From the Apostles’ Creed: “…born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Panties Pilate…”
  • Sermon… “Why Adultery” Last hymn… “Why Not Tonight”
  • “For ours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”
  • “Hymns in the Park! Come prepared to sin!”
  • Entered “Panis Angelicus” as prelude. Secretary accidentally changed first “a” to an “e”.
  • In another bulletin some years ago the word “Whitsunday” had the capital W replaced with a capital S.
  • Anus Dei”
  • “I am the alfalfa and the omega”
  • The week before Daylight Savings Time was to start, the biggest church in our town put a reminder in the bulletin to “set your clocks forward next Sunday.” Only they left the L out of “clocks.”
  • “I upped my tithe this year. Up yours.”

• Jonathan Aigner

• • •

Perhaps the most striking thing about human beings is that we don’t actually come into existence by ourselves. There are parents (two of them when the laws of biology are allowed to work). The parents themselves are points of contact to a much larger world of the family and the culture itself. Human beings do not come without cultures. In a relatively short time, we acquire language and a host of other things from this culture around us. Concepts, beliefs, understandings will all be engaged only in a cultural context. There is something individual about us, but mostly in the abstract. It is not just other humans that we need: we cannot exist without bacteria. We have more of them in our gut than the number of cells in our bodies. We do not exist alone. In the story of our creation, we were told, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” And so we are “male and female.” How is it that our lives exist only in such a shared manner and yet many want to image that our salvation is entirely individual?

No one is saved as an individual.

• Fr. Stephen Freeman


  1. Christiane says

    Jonathan Aigner!


  2. From the Apostles’ Creed: “…born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Panties Pilate…”

    – Roman wedgies were no joke.

    Sermon… “Why Adultery” Last hymn… “Why Not Tonight”

    – wretched urgency.

    “For ours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”

    – maybe that one WASN’T a typo.

    “Hymns in the Park! Come prepared to sin!”

    – if they’re as tone-deaf as I am, it probably would be a sin.

    Entered “Panis Angelicus” as prelude. Secretary accidentally changed first “a” to an “e”.

    – ok, I’m not going there.

    In another bulletin some years ago the word “Whitsunday” had the capital W replaced with a capital S.

    – ditto

    “Anus Dei”

    – ditto again

    “I am the alfalfa and the omega”

    – advert for healthy snacks in the vestibule?

    The week before Daylight Savings Time was to start, the biggest church in our town put a reminder in the bulletin to “set your clocks forward next Sunday.” Only they left the L out of “clocks.”

    – this is what happens when you suppress all talk of sexuality in the church.

    “I upped my tithe this year. Up yours.”

    – talk about fierce competition…

    • john barry says

      Eeyore, good comments on a funny piece.

      The statitsics on typeos and mispelings are a larming to mi. I am trying to set up a solarship fun to help with the problems. It is a big job and I will need a hand. It is two easy and now is the time to act or you might have regrets later than sooner. . I recently became alarmed when my son left me a note that me he had to go, he had an afternoon shift but left out the f, as the kids say to mulch info.

    • “maybe that one WASN’T a typo”

      Love it!

  3. john barry says

    Just asking for clarification, if no one is saved as an individual what am I , unlearned as I am , to make of the thief on the cross who believed Jesus was who he said he was? He had no history of baptism , not a member of an organized faith, observed no sacraments . He was aware of his own guilt and personal sin. He repented and accepted Christ and his words that he would find salvation as an individual. We know he is with the Lord according to the Lord. The other thief did not, both made an individual decision. The thief was saved as an individual it seems to me and I am sure someone here probably knows Fr. Freemans answer to my query.

    Just remember to keep it simple it is me who has the complete set of For Dummies Books, mostly first edition..

    • Susan Dumbrell says

      Mine was the Beta Edition.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      Who knows why one thief reviled Jesus and one did not? Who had the believing thief spoken to, who had toucjed him, what was his background that he believed when the other didn’t? If the other thief hadn’t reviled Jesus, would he have spoken up, or be prompted to think about who Jesus was? How can that thief’s salvation be purely individual if he was saved in rebuking the other thief (who may himself have been converted by his speech, who knows?) and his story now forms part of the Bible narrative which has been the salvation for billions?

      • In one account, BOTH men hanging on crosses beside Jesus were taunting him. Only Luke records the apparent change in heart of one of them. So there was something that happened or was said during those several hours of dying that turned the one man from taunting thief to willing-to-believe accepter of who Jesus was.

        To me, it’s one of the more fascinating accounts in the Bible.

    • How ’bout we state it from the negative?

      “Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.” (Thomas Merton)

      “Each man is guilty of the sins of the whole world,” Dostoevsky

    • Dana Ames says


      This is off the cuff, although we regularly hear about the thief in Orthodox services, on Sundays as well as during Lent.

      In his case, I think it was because he experienced a whole lot of negative treatment by others, and it was those others who put him in the place where he was, where he was able to recognize that Jesus was innocent, and the True King.

      First of all, as Fr Stephen notes, the thief had to have been born of parents, into a family. Who knows who, in his childhood, influenced him in such a way that led to him becoming attached to such a radical bunch of people as those who wanted to force Rome out by violent means? The word that is translated “thief” is lestes in Greek. It does mean a thief or robber, but it’s a specific kind of thief: the kind who will rob you – and then kill you without a moment’s hesitation – in order to finance terrorist activities against the Romans. Whenever I come across that word, I mentally edit out “thief” and insert “terrorist brigand.”

      So after falling in with the worst kind of “brotherhood” he could have had, he was being executed, finding himself crucified next to Jesus, not on his own initiative (although he knew this would be his fate if captured), but at the will of the Roman authorities. Yes, people doing negative things to him, as he had done to others.

      In EO, “salvation” is thought of much more in terms of what soteria means in Greek: deliverance and healing. We don’t see “salvation” coming to a person only at the time of profession of faith, or “accepting” Christ. He delivered us whether or not we ever “accept” him and his work!

      “Salvation” properly begins when God said “Let there be light…” It heats up, so to speak, with the Incarnation, and continues to the defining event, Pascha (the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ) – In which Christ has delivered and healed every human being because of the union of his divinity with our humanity in the Incarnation. The door is now open for everyone to turn to God, because the power of death to enslave us to sin (Heb 2.14-15) has been conquered. Salvation continues as God the Holy Spirit works within us to help us be the human beings God created us to be – treating others with humble, self-giving love.

      So in the Orthodox Church, we can say that God has saved (delivered and healed) us, God is saving (healing and delivering) us, and God will save (deliver and heal) us. This all happens within the parameters of a life, and that life includes our unasked-for birth, and our interactions with lots of different people that shape how we respond to God.

      Read Fr Stephen’s quote again – out loud and slowly (with a slightly nasal Tennessee drawl). Think about how much in your life comes to you without your asking for it or “choosing” it. None of us comes to God alone. We are linked to every other person who has ever existed because of our shared humanity. We participate in one another. And God has not made a whole bunch of individual “saved units”, but is making for himself a People.


      • jhn barry says

        Dana, thank you for that excellent and clear summation. I think I could read many books to get what you just conveyed so concisely.
        So an evangelical believes that God has saved me not us, God is continuing though the holy spirit saving me not us, and God will save me not us would he at the same place if indeed he is a part of the us that is being saved? You did so well and I am mangling my thought. An evangelical goal is to be a part of the family of God as is yours. Are not the believers in Christ his people?.
        Again thanks for you good info and you know your faith teachings well it seems. That is great and thank you for your reply, I will think about it tonight.

        • Dana Ames says


          I was an Evangelical for +30 years, involved in churches across the spectrum, some of which were pretty healthy 😉 In my experience, the emphasis was definitely more on getting an individual person “saved” than incorporating them into “the family of God”. Some churches did better with this than others, but in all the individual was primary. I suppose that as a thought experiment that person would be in the same place in both types of faith communities, but there was never any theology, and only sometimes some scriptural interpretation, offered to explain that when I was an E’ical.

          In Orthodoxy, our relationship is much more than positional (“We’ve all accepted Christ, so by virtue of that we are all in one family.”) First of all, we each participate in the humanity of everyone because we each have a human nature (NOT a “sin nature” – there is no such term in the NT Greek). Secondly, when we are baptized, we become members of the Body of Christ. The parts of the body can’t exist on their own; when I try to think about that, the whole idea is so comical that I bust out laughing! Simply apply a label to separate, unconnected parts as parts of a living body, without them all being united in it and being nourished from it and doing their respective jobs that benefit all the other parts of it, means nothing, unless they are actually joined to it in their proper relationships. We participate in Christ, and we participate in one another. That is how Fr Stephen likes to translate “koinonia” – he says “fellowship” is much too weak a word.

          Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad my writing was clear. I appreciate that you’re thinking about it.


  4. There’s more evidence that members of the current administration have colluded with the Russians than there is that MLK did.

  5. Susan Dumbrell says

    Join with us in the Commonwealth who are gathered tonight (Aust time) to support the athletes who in great spirit compete in a great games spectacular
    It is hosted in Brisbane, Queensland. The Queen has sent her baton which will be acknowledged as the start of the Games. Opening Ceremony tonight. (now as I write!)

    Prince Charles will declare the Games open.
    I wish we as a World could be more inclusive of all athletes and their countries,

    Try Googling us in Aust. We have great weather and warm hearts.

    Susan, and others in the Antipodes.

    • Michael Bell says

      I have a bunch of acquaintances participating in the cycling events, both road and track, so looking forward to it. Competing primarily for Canada, but also for Wales and Ireland.

    • Christiane says

      thanks, Susan . . . .

      my father, of blessed memory, lived in Australia for a time during WWII
      . . . . he was involved in clearing mines in the USNavy . . . . he loved Australia and its people

      never been there myself . . . . only in dreams where I look up and see the Southern Cross 🙂

      someday, maybe my son will see your great country . . . in the US Coast Guard, he’s been all over the Pacific rim EXCEPT for New Zealand and Australia

  6. Robert F says

    You can’t be serious. But even if you’re not being serious, it’s a bad joke.

  7. Love the photo and caption.

  8. Patriciamc says

    I love the bulletin goofs! I’m also appalled at Piper’s ignorance of history. He’s saying more and more strange things lately, and his obsession with controlling women seems to be getting worse.

    • ‘I’m also appalled at Piper’s ignorance of history.’

      That’s because the only ancient literature worth reading (and trustworthy) is the Bible. He as much as says so in ‘The Future of Justification’ (arguing against N. T. Wright and his use of ancient sources other than the Bible).

      • Well, I’m sure that’s not entirely true, though he does argue against the sources Wright uses other than the Bible (e.g. – we can trust what the Bible says about the Judaizers and Pharisees more than what they say about themselves [minor sarcasm alert]). Off topic, I know, but Rachel Held Evans is correct about the abundance of ancient ‘family codes’ and how much Paul’s have in common with them – not much uniquely Christian in what Paul says, except, as she notes, the humility he encourages.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I, coming at Evangelicalism from outside, long heard about Piper as the great intellectual powerhouse. When I finally started reading stuff by him, my response was “This is the best you’ve got?” I suspect that he gets leeway for not being spittle-flecked. Look good in a suit and present a calm affect and you can say the most appalling things and still get invited to parties, where another guy more visibly raving gets shunned for saying the same things.

      • Piper is popular with a particular subset within the Reformed camp, mostly laypeople with an unhealthy obsession with Puritan spirituality. One of my seminary professors has us tax one of his books for his class (Sanctification) and defend it verbally – after which, he tore it to bloody shreds. 😉

  9. Michael Bell says

    Our college and career group and church had a monthly “Singspiration”, which the church secretary would invariably put into the church bulletin as “Sinspiration”. People had to wonder what was going on in our group, and why our numbers climbed so quickly. 😀

  10. The quote by Richard Beck really resonated with me. My tribe has changed over the years but in the last few it has simply disappeared. Political and religious differences, retirement, physical distance, illness, the loss of a pastor and the changes that brings. There seem to be fewer and fewer constants as the years go by. The longing to belong somewhere, go back to a simpler time even move back to my roots is strong.

  11. “That sin enters the human line with an original pair simply doesn’t seem to be the point in either the Old or New Testaments.“ I think you must contend with Romans chapter 5 in that regard.
    “….Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned–”. It goes in at length.

  12. Robert F says

    I left the tribe I was born into and raised by. I have no desire to rejoin it; it was deadly. Sadly, I cannot count on the visible church to be an alternative tribe, since it lacks the necessary social coherence. There is yet the mostly invisible Communion of Saints, the grace of God, and the love of my wife and cat; these must suffice, as I have no resources for locating and gaining access to the kinds of tribes that would provide the more extensive sort of belonging that Beck says we need.

  13. I’m a tribe guy; belong to several, including my church of some decades and school chums, also of several decades.