John Ortberg 5th January 2014. Transcript is here.
Another very erudite and researched talk which makes me want to be more disciplined with my reading.
Begins with Materialism vs Religion
“Since men have been able to think, two views have been held. First, there is what is called the materialist view. People who take that view thank that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed, nobody knows why, and that the matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened, by a sort of fluke, to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think…
“The other view is the religious view. According to it, what is behind the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. That is to say, it is conscious, and has purposes, and prefers one thing to another.” C.S. Lewis.
What Lewis then points out is that it is wrong to think that one of these views is new and another is old.
Fred Craddock, quoting Bill Muehl, says that Brown Taylor is the preacher for “those who almost didn’t come this morning.” (page xii)
“So come on in. You who are entering ministry and wonder what it is like inside, come on in. You who are ministers who have forgotten your call and those trembling beginnings, come on in. And you who are not ministers but who are standing on the porch, unsure if whether you are seeking or being sought, come on in. You will be completely free after the last page to go or stay.” (page xii)
On a mother who defended her grown daughter’s ignorance of Christianity “My daughter doesn’t know Moses from Goliath but at least she grew up without guilt.” (page 7)
“Over and over my disappointments draw me deeper into that mystery of God’s being and doing. Every time God declines to meet my expectations, another of my idols is exposed. Another curtain is drawn back so that I can see what I have propped up in God’s place, no that is not God, so who is God?” (page 10)
You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you – Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth – page 209
An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of his children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one he gives all of himself as fully as if there were no others – A.W. Tozer (page 218)
Earth has no sorry that heaven cannot heal – author unknown (page 231)
She lives where there is no impatience. She does not mind waiting. (page 235)
Faith never knows where it is being led. But it knows and loves the one who does the leading. – Oswald Chambers, page 239
Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees takes off his shoes
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries – Elizabeth Berrett Browning
What does reckoning mean? ‘Reckoning’ in Greek means doing accounts, book-keeping. Accounting is the only thing in the world we human beings can do correctly. An artist paints a landscape. Can he do it with perfect accuracy? Can the historian vouch for the absolute accuracy of any record, or the map-maker for the perfect correctness of any map? They can make, at best, fair approximations. Even in everyday speech, when we try to tell some incident with the best intention to be honest and truthful, we cannot speak with complete accuracy. It is mostly a case of exaggeration or under-statement, of one word too much or too little. What then can a man do that is utterly reliable? Arithmetic! There is no scope for error there. One chair plus one chair equals two chairs. (page 57)
All temptation is primarily too look within to take our eyes off the Lord and to take account of appearances. Faith is always meeting a mountain, a mountain of evidence that seems to contradict God’s word, a mountain of apparent contradiction in the realm of tangible fact – of failures indeed, as well as in the realm of feeling and suggestion – and either faith or the mountains has to go. They cannot both stand. (page 68)
We are familiar with the words of the Lord Jesus, “Abide in me, and I in your” (John 15:4). Let us consider them for a moment. First they remind us once again that we have never to struggle to get into Christ. We are not told to get there, for we are there. (page 69)
Of course, what is faith if there isn’t some doubt right there in the middle of the mix? They are, after all, dance partners.”
As for the second part, do you think it is possible to feel reverence and a sense of awe about the universe without a belief in a deity?
“Sure-lots of people do.”
Are you open to the possibility that God might not exist?
“I write about that in the book-about that gnawing sense that we may really be alone in the universe, at least in terms of God. I tell in the book about driving to church one Easter Sunday realizing that I didn’t believe in God. The only problem was that I was giving the sermon that day to 10,000 people. Which was a problem, to say the least! Haha. I decided to keep searching, and if my conclusions meant I had to leave my work and church, so be it. At least I’d have my integrity. As I kept going, I realized that I’d seen too much wonder and awe-in science, literature, music, serious drug addicts getting clean, marriages reviving, people with cancer having more joy than I’d ever seen a person have. I’ve seen, tasted, and experienced too much to deny that there’s anything more and close my mind like that. For me, the only intellectually honest and reasonable perspective is to remain open and believe. We all have faith-the only compelling question is: in what? or who? What I find compelling is becoming. What faith or perspective or world view makes you become a better person? More loving, kind, courageous, honest, generous? When I believe in the God Jesus talked about, it makes me less judgmental and more compassionate and more generous…that’s the mark of any belief system to me-how does it shape you? We’ve seen a lot ofreligion do a lot of bad shaping, haven’t we? So enough with that. But compassion and generosity and intellectual honesty and less judgment-we need more of that than ever, right?”
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
C. S. Lewis
Good discussion of this from McGrath here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxc0NpTZE18 and also a great section on Faith as “visio” in Borg’s book “The Heart of Christianity”.
Some beliefs that we don’t really believe. Look at incident in Exodus when he people believed. At that moment they believed. But after this point they don’t really believe.
When they said they believed th crisis hit hat belief turned out to be fickle. This goes on in our lives all the time. Eg when we believe that marriage is equal.
What we believe is our mental map.
The test of what we believe is what we do.
James is not saying you have to add a certain level of behavioural compliance. What James is saying is that what we do reveals what we believe. Luther Faith is a living active creative thing.
What do we do when we think we don’t feel like we have faith that is not strong enough.
Look at Romans 4
Look at the contrast between Abraham having faith and yet having many faithless moments.
Looks at Abraham discovering Hod without much information. So Abraham went is the key. He’s just a guy who went.
Why is his faith so strong. He chooses to wait for a son even when there is nothing else that we can do
This story does not depend on Abrahams certainty. It depends on action. Compared to his Father Terah. It is better to have a little faith In a big God rather a big faith in a little God.
The character of Abrahams faith is determined by the character of his God and not the quality of his faith. The old body of Abraham points to Jesus
You bet the farm on Jesus. You show me a better bet. This week walk by faith. This week don’t focus on the quality if your faith but the object of your faith.
Think of this term. “friend of God” and live this week live as if you are accepted and loved by God. Make this your Abraham week.
God’s Son – We believe that Jesus is God’s Son. He came from heaven and became a man. He lived the life that we could never live. He died the death that we deserve to die. He rose again to give eternal life.
God’s Spirit – We believe that the Holy Spirit is God, that he makes the truth come alive, so that people receive new life and are empowered to live like Jesus.
God’s gift – We believe that we can receive God’s gift of eternal life only by grace through trusting only in Jesus.
God’s family – We believe that the church is God’s family where Christians learn together, love each other, and serve together to bring God glory.
God’s future plans – We believe that Jesus will come again one day, that he will judge everyone, punish all who have rejected God and bring God’s people into God’s perfect new world forever.
Cuckfield Baptist Church 2011
Glen Hoddle –
At this moment in time I did not say them things
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr –
Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that were not so
W Somerset Maugham
Like all weak men he laid an exagerrated stress on not changing one’s mind
I wish I was as cocksure of anything as Tom Macaulay is of everything
I would earnestly warn you against trying to find out the reason for and explanation of everything – To try and find out the reason for everything is very dangerous and leads to nothing but disappointment and dissatisfaction, unsettling your mind and in the end making you miserable