Top Ten Quotes of 2016

Ten quotes to ponder as we near the end of 2016:

“Evil—and complicity with evil—is usually done under the cover of numerous rationalizations that declare the evil to be everything but what it is” – Shelby Steele, Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country (47).

“Thoughtful Christians who sincerely seek to base their beliefs on the Scriptures will be a little nervous if the beliefs they think are biblical form no part of the major streams of tradition throughout the history of the church; and therefore, historical theology, though it cannot in itself justify a belief system, not only sharpens the categories and informs the debate but serves as a major checkpoint to help us prevent uncontrolled speculation, purely private theological articulation, and overly imaginative exegesis” – D. A. Carson, “Recent Developments in the Doctrine of Scripture,” (73) in Collected Writings on Scripture.

“We do not negotiate what we want for reality. God defines reality” – John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (116).

“A little too much anger, too often or at the wrong time, can destroy more than you would ever imagine” – Marilynne Robinson, Gilead: A Novel (6).

“Living now constantly in the shadow of unwanted, built-in, automatic utopianism, we are constantly confronted with issues whose positive choice requires supreme wisdom—an impossible, and in particular for contemporary man, who denies the very existence of its object: viz., objective value and truth. We need wisdom most when we believe in it least” – Hans Jonas, “Technology and Responsibility on the New Task of Ethics,” in Society, Ethics, and Technology (130).

“Deconstructionist analysis and an enshrined relativism make of every phenomenon but a ghostly apparition, dependent upon the interpreter for meaning. . . . The only certainty in this plastic process is the critic, endowed with the empowering insight to realize that all meaning (except, of course, that which the critic discerns) is a chimera. Nothing could be more despotic than this ‘democracy of meaning,’ for in it the Western critic controls the process by which meaning itself is to be discerned. The apostles of ‘diversity’ control the processes by which thought itself is to be judged as ‘valid.’ Thus Western secular intellectuals use the mind in much the same way as the Western news media use the camera: selectively, and with the conviction that the tool confers existence itself upon that on which it focuses” – Anthony Ugolnik, “Living at the Borders: Eastern Orthodoxy and the World Disorder,” First Things 34 (June/July 1993): 16.

A response to those who say no religion has the whole truth: “How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have?” Tim Keller, The Reason for God (9). In his prequel to this volume, Keller notes, “[E]ven our most rigorous rational thinking is shot through with various forms of faith.” Keller cites philosopher Michael Polanyi’s article “The Critique of Doubt,” where Polanyi argues that doubt and belief are ultimately equivalent because (in Polanyi’s words), “The doubting of any explicit statement . . . denies [one] belief . . . in favor of other beliefs which are not doubted for the time being.” Thus the conclusion: “So, for example, you cannot say, ‘No one can know enough to be certain about God and religion,’ without assuming at that moment that you know enough about the nature of religious knowledge to be certain about that” – See Keller, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical (38).

On professors who espouse postmodern ideas and insist that language is incapable of communicating truth: “If the professors really believed it, they’d just keep quiet” – Bruce S. Thornton, Plagues of the Mind: The New Epidemic of False Knowledge (48). Hence, I have to give Philip Gorski credit for telling the truth: “Our own relativism is rarely as radical as [our] theory requires” (See his essay “Where Do Morals Come From?” online.

“The only good Protestant is a catholic Protestant—one who learns from, and bears fruit for, the whole church” – Kevin Vanhoozer, Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity (33).

“Salvation is not grounded in the believer’s being like Christ, but rather being forgiven ‘in Christ’” – Richard Lints, “Living by Faith—Alone? Reformed Responses to Antinomianism,” in Sanctification: Explorations in Theology and Practice (43).

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