The Opposite of Funny is not Serious

G. K. Chesterton was a masterful Christian apologist in large part because of his hilarity rooted in love. Dale Ahlquist writes

One person close to him said that to know him was  benediction. G. K. Chesterton lived his faith. He demonstrated not only the mere art of speaking the truth, but the holy art of speaking the truth in love. One of the really remarkable things about him is that he not only loved his enemies, but his enemies could not help loving him. His philosophical opponents did not merely like him; they loved him. He was always generous but honest to his enemies. He says, “Most mistaken people mean well, and all mistaken people mean something. There is something to be said for every error; but, whatever may be said for it, the most important thing to be said about it is that it is erroneous.” That statement is typical of how Chesterton does not compromise either truth or goodness. In his life as well as in his writing, Chesterton shows that is is truth that answers error, but also that it is humility that answers arrogance. It is kindness that answers cruelty. It is gentleness that answers wrath. And just as it is goodness that answers a lack of goodness, it is humor than answers–this is important–a distinct lack of humor. Chesterton points out that the opposite of funny is not serious, the opposite of funny is not funny. “Whether a man chooses to tell the truth in long sentences or short jokes”, he says, is the same “as whether he chooses to tell the truth in German or French.”  Common Sense 101, p. 193.

Private into New Life

As we have said, the division in principle between “corporate” and “private” worship must be discarded. The purpose of worship is to constitute the Church, precisely to bring what is “private” into the new life, to transform it into what belongs to the Church, i.e. shared with all of Christ. In addition its purpose is always to express the Church as the unity of the body whose Head is Christ. And, finally its purpose is that we should always “with one mouth and one heart” serve God, since it was only such worship which God commanded the Church to offer.

–Alexander Schemmman, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, p. 24

Halycon Age

Spurgeon looking forward to the world full of the Gospel:

“Sometimes I hope to live to see that all auspicious era–that halcyon age of this world, so much oppressed with grief and sorrow by the tyranny of its own inhabitants. I hope to see the time, when it shall be said, “Shout, for the great Shepherd reigns, and his unsuffering kingdom now is come”–when earth shall be one great orchestra of praise, and every man shall sing the glorious hallelujah anthem of the King of kings. But even now, while waiting for that era, my soul rejoices in that fact, that every knee does virtually bow, though not willingly, yet really. Does the scoffer, when he mouths high heaven, think that he insults God? He thinks so, but his insult dies long ere it reaches half-way to the stars.”  from his sermon The Exaltation of Christ

Sin & Guilt

Peter Leithart draws helpful distintions between sin and guilt, the act of transgression and the responsibility that follows it:

I have in mind the phrases “he shall bear his iniquity” (Leviticus 7:18; 19:8) and “their/his blood on them/him” (Leviticus 20:9).  In Leviticus 20, the phrase occurs in a context prescribing capital punishment.  When the text adds “his blood is on him,” the implication is that the blood is not on the people who shed the blood – namely, the citizens who stoned the criminal.  But a further implication is that the blood must be on someone. Free-floating blood, as it were, is not an option.  Either the person who committed the crime must bear responsibility, or the people who failed to carry out the punishment, or, in some cases, a substitutionary animal must bear responsibility for the crime.  That is, some assignment of responsibility is necessary.

That seems to presume that there is some distinction between the act itself and the assignment of responsibility for the act.  When a man takes his sister as a wife, he is “cut off in the sight of the sons” of Israel (Leviticus 20:17).  That probably does not refer to a death penalty but rather to something like excommunication.  Whether or not that is correct, the statement is followed by the declaration that he “bears his guilt.” But if the wrong action attracted guilt to it “immediately,” then the additional statement that he bears his guilt is redundant. Of course he bears his guilt; who else would?  But the fact that the phrase is included at all suggests that someone else might, and thus suggests that the assignment of responsibility or guilt is a distinct “event” from the wrong action itself.   In short, wrong acts must be judged wrong. Continue reading

One Loaf, One Cup

One of the things this supper demonstrates and increases is our unity in Christ. Chloe’s people told Paul of all the divisions in Corinth. Some said they were of the persuasion of Paul, some of Apollos, some Cephas and some took the divisive high ground and said they were of Christ. All of these were really of Satan, who name means “accuser” and who divides brothers and sisters.

To our hurt, our divisions can be more subtle. We don’t fight openly at the table like the Corinthians did, but Christians will routinely suspend themselves from the Supper, typically for one of two reasons. They do so because they had a bad week, or a bad day, or a bad morning, and therefore feel they aren’t worthy of this meal. Of course we aren’t worthy, that is the reason for the meal. This is grace and not a reward. Don’t divide the body of Christ on account of your works. The second reason is because of some doctrinal scruple. They take communion at their church but not another because not everyone believes exactly as they do. We don’t sacrifice unity for truth, but unless this rite has become idolatrous or scandalous, Jesus calls us to take it together as one body united to him—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and in terms of this Supper, one loaf and one cup. All who love God and his Christ are welcome at his table.

Good Soldiers

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  –2 Timothy 2:2

Paul’s version of apostolic succession has little to do with hats and traditions, and lots to do with training faithful men. Faithful is contextually defined by what Paul has been saying to Timothy. Three times in chapter one of 2 Timothy has he mentioned not being ashamed. Because the Father has bestowed his Spirit of power, love, and self-control, free of fear, Timothy is “not to be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (vv7-8), and is also to “share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (v8). Again, though he suffers, Paul is “not ashamed” because he knows God is guarding him and will vindicate his message. And one more time, Paul’s prays for Onesiphorus who “was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me” (vv16-17).

It is natural to associate suffering with shame and guilt, but Paul reverses this. He boasted in his infirmities and in all the sufferings he endured for the sake of the gospel, and he wanted to call men who would do the same to continue his ministry. Timothy would have to choose men who had such stalwart faith, who could teach others, and who were ready and willing to suffer as good soldiers. Soldiers of the gospel are willing to fight and refuse to be ashamed. These sorts of men are hard to come to come by, but when God has raised them up, they are to be entrusted to teach others and lead the church.

Flushing Political Capital

From an interesting article by Hugh Hewitt:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and President Obama have accomplished an extraordinary thing. Tomorrow they will enter the history books as the most spectacularly failed partnership in modern American political history.

Never in the last 100 years have two American politicians squandered so much political capital and achieved so complete a rejection as this duo. (I omit intentionally the hapless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is very much the Lepidus in this triumvirate.)

We’re supposed to be witnessing tidal turn election results, and the only question seems to remain how large the Republican win will be. I don’t want to dampen any of the fun, but it occurs to me to ask, if Obama and Pelosi and the rest have done as poorly as have, why didn’t anyone see this coming? If they squandered so much political capital, who was gullible enough to give it to them in the first place, and has that same group of fools learned anything?

The only worse government spender than Obama that I can imagine is . . . wait for it . . . Bush. If the new Republicans spend like the old ones, with same inability to count, we are in for more of the same. I’m all for electing people who say they can count, not spending more than we have, paying down our atrocious debt, etc. It’s just hard to believe we’ll see that sort of change. We need a host of people with the fiscal backbone of Chris Christie. I’d love to be surprised.

Not Giving a Rip

Again, the pastor when facing his congregation on Sunday morning, dare not think of the effect his sermon may have on his job, his salary or his future relation to the church. Let him but worry about tomorrow and he becomes a hireling and not a true shepherd of the sheep. No man is a good preacher who is not willing to lay his future on the line every time he expounds the Word. He must let his job and his reputation ride on each and every sermon or he has no right to think that he stands in the prophetic tradition.  –A. W. Tozer, The Size of the Soul, p. 147