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Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category

You will recognize them by their fruits

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In my preceding pamphlet I had no occasion to condemn the peasants, because they promised to yield to law and better instruction, as Christ also demands (Matt. 7:1). But before I can turn around, they go out and appeal to force, in spite of their promises, and rob and pillage and act like mad dogs. From this it is quite apparent what they had in their false minds, and that what they put forth under the name of the gospel in the Twelve Articles was all vain pretense. In short, they practice mere devil’s work, and it is the arch-devil himself who reigns at Mühlhausen [a reference to Münzer], indulging in nothing but robbery, murder, and bloodshed; as Christ says of the devil in John 8:44, “he was a murderer from the beginning.” Since, therefore, those peasants and miserable wretches allow themselves to be led astray and act differently from what they declared, I likewise must write differently concerning them; and first bring their sins before their eyes, as God commands (Isa. 58:1; Ezek. 2:7), whether perchance some of them may come to their senses; and, further, I would instruct those in authority how to conduct themselves in this matter.

Luther, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants

Written by Scott Moonen

June 1, 2020 at 7:02 am

Scruples

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Returning to the question from my earlier post:

As a practical example, I can show love for my brother Tom by standing six feet away from him and being charitable and gracious towards his reasons for wanting to exercise caution. But is there any situation whatsoever where my brotherly love for Tom restrains me from hugging Joe?

The late R. C. Sproul has an interesting lecture that he entitled The Tyranny of the Weaker Brother. He says:

No, as soon as the weaker brother tried to enforce his weakness as the law of the church, the gospel was threatened. And now rather than deny his own Christian liberty, the Apostle Paul fought tooth and nail against the tyranny of the weaker brother. As soon as somebody has that scruple by which their conscience bound to themselves tries to go beyond themselves and make it the rule of the church, they must be resisted. They must not be allowed to establish laws where God has left us free. . . . Ask yourself, do you impose rules and regulations in your church where God has left people free?

Sproul’s approach is weakened (ha!) by treating this as a case of a stronger and weaker brother, rather than treating it as a case of two strong brothers. Thus, I would rather speak of the tyranny of the legalist, or of the anxious. However, we are accustomed to using “weak” in this way and, terminology aside, this is still a good framework for processing such cases. Consistent with Paul’s entire teaching and behavior, Christian brothers, in love, are to give deference to one another, up to the point where a brother (or his advocate) seeks to use this “weakness” (actual or otherwise) as a means of “strength” to bind another brother’s conscience. It is love, too, that resists such binding.

Fortunately, my social distancing brothers are neither weak nor legalistic nor tyrannical. So I am hugging and handshaking a bunch of people now, and not hugging or handshaking another bunch of people. I love them all dearly.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 20, 2020 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Quotations

Keep my commandments

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God’s laws aren’t at war with each other. God never puts us in a position where we have to break a commandment to love our neighbor. The commandments of God define love for our neighbor. God’s commandments tell us what love looks like.

Duane Garner, If You Love Me

Written by Scott Moonen

May 19, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Never again

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Then one of the demons answered: “Lords, we have been ruined by what we thought would benefit us most. Remember the words of the prophets, who said that the son of God would come down to earth to save the sinners descended from Adam and Eve. And we went and seized those who said that the man who would come to earth would deliver them from the torments of Hell. Everything the prophets said has now come true. He has taken away all those that we had taken hold of, and we are powerless against him. He has taken away from us all those who believe in his special birth, who believe he was born of woman in such a way that we had no part in the event and were not even aware that it was going to happen.”

“Don’t you know, then,” said another, “that he has them washed in water in his name? They are washed in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, so that we can never again have them as we used to. We have now lost them all through this washing, so that we have no power over them unless they choose to come back to us. Thus the man who has taken them away has reduced our power. Moreover he has left ministers on earth who will save them, no matter how great a part they have had in our works; they have but to repent and renounce our works and do as the ministers say. We have thus lost them all. Our Lord has offered them a great spiritual gift: to save mankind, he came to earth and deigned to be born of woman and suffer all the torments of the world; and he was born of woman unbeknownst to us and without committing any sin of the flesh. When at last we came along, we tried and tested him in every way we knew, but he resisted all our efforts and chose instead to die in order to save mankind. He must surely love all men, if he was willing to suffer such great pain to take them away from us. We now have to seek a way to win them back so that they cannot repent or even speak to the ministers who could grant them the pardon that he paid for with his death.”

Then all together they said: “We have lost everything, since he can pardon sinners up to the last moment. Whoever embrace him will be saved. Even someone who has always performed our works is now lost to us if he repents. We have now lost them all.”

From The Prose Merlin, in The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation, p. 307

I find it especially interesting that the author has the demons call Jesus Our Lord.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 16, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Alive

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Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:18b–21 ESV)

The Bible does not assume that you need to be healthy, or even alive, to be happy and to glorify God. . . Death is a temporary trouble. (Michael Stalker)

Written by Scott Moonen

May 10, 2020 at 1:54 pm

A child forever

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When I think of the small passions of men of our day, the softness of their mores, the extent of their enlightenment, the purity of their religion, the mildness of their morality, their laborious and steady habits, the restraint that almost all preserve in vice as in virtue, I do not fear that in their chiefs they will find tyrants, but rather schoolmasters.

I think therefore that the kind of oppression with which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing that has preceded it in the world; our contemporaries would not find its image in their memories. I myself seek in vain an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I form of it for myself and that contains it; the old words despotism and tyranny are not suitable. The thing is new, therefore I must try to define it, since I cannot name it.

I want to imagine with what new features despotism could be produced in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.

Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industries, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

So it is that every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare; it confines the action of the will in a smaller space and little by little steals the very use of free will from each citizen. Equality has prepared men for all these things: it has disposed them to tolerate them and often even to regard them as a benefit.

Thus, after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, volume 2, book 4, chapter 6

HT: Brad Hodges

Written by Scott Moonen

May 8, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Quotations

A week’s answer, or none

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‘Hullo, Sam!’ Said Rosie. ‘Where’ve you been? They said you were dead; but I’ve been expecting you since the Spring. You haven’t hurried, have you?’

‘Perhaps not,’ said Sam abashed. ‘But I’m hurrying now. We’re setting about the ruffians, and I’ve got to get back to Mr. Frodo. But I thought I’d have a look and see how Mrs. Cotton was keeping, and you, Rosie.’

‘We’re keeping nicely, thank you,’ said Mrs. Cotton. ‘Or should be, if it weren’t for these thieving ruffians.’

‘Well, be off with you!’ said Rosie. ‘If you’ve been looking after Mr. Frodo all this while, what d’you want to leave him for, as soon as things look dangerous?’

This was too much for Sam. It needed a week’s answer, or none. He turned away and mounted his pony. But as he started off, Rosie ran down the steps.

‘I think you look fine, Sam,’ she said. ‘Go on now! But take care of yourself, and come straight back as soon as you have settled the ruffians!’

Tolkien, “The Scouring of the Shire,” The Return of the King

Written by Scott Moonen

May 2, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Quotations

Inevitable

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I hope no one will think that I am recommending a return to the Medieval Model. I am only suggesting considerations that may induce us to regard all Models in the right way, respecting each and idolising none. We are all, very properly, familiar with the idea that in every age the human mind is deeply influenced by the accepted Model of the universe. But there is a two-way traffic; the Model is also influenced by the prevailing temper of mind. We must recognize that what has been called ‘a taste in universes’ is not only pardonable but inevitable. We can no longer dismiss the change of Models as a simple progress from error to truth. No Model is a catalogue of ultimate realities, and none is a mere fantasy. Each is a serious attempt to get in all the phenomena known at a given period, and each succeeds in getting in a great many. But also, no less surely, each reflects the prevalent psychology of an age almost as much as it reflects the state of that age’s knowledge. Hardly any battery of new facts could have persuaded a Greek that the universe had an attribute so repugnant to him as infinity; hardly any such battery could persuade a modern that it is hierarchical.

It is not impossible that our own Model will die a violent death, ruthlessly smashed by an unprovoked assault of new facts—unprovoked as the nova of 1572. But I think it is more likely to change when, and because, far-reaching changes in the mental temper of our descendants demand that it should. The new Model will not be set up without evidence, but the evidence will turn up when the inner need for it becomes sufficiently great. It will be true evidence. But nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her. Here, as in the courts, the character of the evidence depends on the shape of the examination, and a good cross-examiner can do wonders. He will not indeed elicit falsehoods from an honest witness. But, in relation to the total truth in the witness’s mind, the structure of the examination is like a stencil. It determines how much of that total truth will appear and what pattern it will suggest.

C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image, 222-223

See also: Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Written by Scott Moonen

April 26, 2020 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Meta, Quotations

Regulations

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The question at once arises whether medieval thinkers really believed that what we now call inanimate objects were sentient and purposive. The answer in general is undoubtedly no. I say ‘in general’, because they attributed life and even intelligence to one privileged class of objects (the stars) which we hold to be inorganic. . . .

If we could ask the medieval scientist ‘Why, then, do you talk as if they did,’ he might (for he was always a dialectician) retort with the counter-question, ‘But do you intend your language about laws and obedience any more literally than I intend mine about kindly enclyning? Do you really believe that a falling stone is aware of a directive issued to it by some legislator and feels either a moral or a prudential obligation to conform? We should then have to admit that both ways of expressing the facts are metaphorical. The odd thing is that ours is the more anthropomorphic of the two. To talk as if inanimate bodies had a homing instinct is to bring them no nearer to us than the pigeons; to talk as if they could ‘obey laws’ is to treat them like men and even like citizens.

But though neither statement can be taken literally, it does not follow that it makes no difference which is used. On the imaginative and emotional level it makes a great difference whether, with the medievals, we project upon the universe our strivings and desires, or with the moderns, our police-system and our traffic regulations.

C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image, 93-94

Written by Scott Moonen

April 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Quotations

Manifold

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‘What’s all this?’ said Frodo, feeling inclined to laugh.

‘This is what it is, Mr. Baggins,’ said the leader of the Shirriffs, a two-feather hobbit: ‘You’re arrested for Gate-breaking, and Tearing up of Rules, and Assaulting Gate-keepers, and Trespassing, and Sleeping in Shire-buildings without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food.’

‘And what else?’ said Frodo.

‘That’ll do to go on with,’ said the Shirriff-leader.

‘I can add some more, if you’d like it,’ said Sam. ‘Calling your Chief Names, Wishing to punch his Pimply Face, and Thinking you Shirriffs look a lot of Tom-fools.’

‘There now, Mister, that’ll do. It’s the Chief’s orders that you’re to come along quiet. We’re going to take you to Bywater and hand you over to the Chief’s Men; and when he deals with your case you can have your say. But if you don’t want to stay in the Lockholes any longer than you need, I should cut the say short, if I was you.’

To the discomfiture of the Shirriffs Frodo and his companions all roared with laughter. ‘Don’t be absurd!’ said Frodo. ‘I am going where I please, and in my own time. I happen to be going to Bag End on business, but if you insist on going too, well that is your affair.’

‘Very well, Mr. Baggins,’ said the leader, pushing the barrier aside. ‘But don’t forget I’ve arrested you.’

‘I won’t,’ said Frodo. ‘Never. But I may forgive you. Now I am not going any further today, so if you’ll kindly escort me to The Floating Log, I’ll be obliged.’

‘I can’t do that, Mr. Baggins. The inn’s closed. There’s a Shirriff-house at the far end of the village. I’ll take you there.’

‘All right,’ said Frodo. ‘Go on and we’ll follow.’

Sam had been looking the Shirriffs up and down and had spotted one that he knew. ‘Hey, come here Robin Smallburrow!’ he called. ‘I want a word with you.’

With a sheepish glance at his leader, who looked wrathful but did not dare to interfere, Shirriff Smallburrow fell back and walked beside Sam, who got down off his pony.

‘Look here, Cock-robin!’ said Sam. ‘You’re Hobbiton-bred and ought to have more sense, coming a-waylaying Mr. Frodo and all. And what’s all this about the inn being closed?’

‘They’re all closed,’ said Robin. ‘The Chief doesn’t hold with beer. Leastaways that is how it started. But now I reckon it’s his Men that has it all. And he doesn’t hold with folk moving about; so if they will or they must, then they has to go to the Shirriff-house and explain their business.’

‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself having anything to do with such nonsense,’ said Sam. ‘You used to like the inside of an inn better than the outside yourself. You were always popping in, on duty or off.’

‘And so I would be still, Sam, if I could. But don’t be hard on me. What can I do? You know how I went for a Shirriff seven years ago, before any of this began. Gave me a chance of walking round the country and seeing folk, and hearing the news, and knowing where the good beer was. But now it’s different.’

‘But you can give it up, stop Shirriffing, if it has stopped being a respectable job,’ said Sam.

‘We’re not allowed to,’ said Robin.

‘If I hear not allowed much oftener,’ said Sam, ‘I’m going to get angry.’

‘Can’t say as I’d be sorry to see it,’ said Robin lowering his voice. ‘If we all got angry together something might be done. But it’s these Men, Sam, the Chief’s Men. He sends them round everywhere, and if any of us small folk stand up for our rights, they drag him off to the Lockholes. They took old Flourdumpling, old Will Whitfoot the Mayor, first, and they’ve taken a lot more. Lately it’s been getting worse. Often they beat ’em now.’

‘Then why do you do their work for them?’ said Sam angrily. ‘Who sent you to Frogmorton?’

‘No one did. We stay here in the big Shirriff-house. We’re the First Eastfarthing Troop now. There’s hundreds of Shirriffs all told, and they want more, with all these new rules. Most of them are in it against their will, but not all. Even in the Shire there are some as like minding other folk’s business and talking big. And there’s worse than that: there’s a few as do spy-work for the Chief and his Men.’

‘Ah! So that’s how you had news of us, is it?’

‘That’s right. We aren’t allowed to send by it now, but they use the old Quick Post service, and keep special runners at different points. One came in from Whitfurrows last night with a “secret message”, and another took it on from here. And a message came back this afternoon saying you was to be arrested and taken to Bywater, not direct to the Lockholes. The Chief wants to see you at once, evidently.’

‘He won’t be so eager when Mr. Frodo has finished with him,’ said Sam.

Tolkien, “The Scouring of the Shire,” The Return of the King

Written by Scott Moonen

April 18, 2020 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Quotations