The Lord has blessed me richly, but it is still easy to be discontented, so I frequently quote 1 Timothy 1:6 to myself, as I learned it in the KJV: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I found helpful wisdom in this post (“Why Am I So Unhappy?”) which is adapted from Stephen Altrogge’s book, The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence.
Jubilee and the forgiveness of national debt
Many poor nations in the world today are financially crippled by debt to other countries. The money may not have been wisely given, and it may not have been wisely or honorably used by the governments that received it, but repayment is now a terrible burden. In recent years, Christians concerned about this have often called for a solution based on the model of the Mosaic legislation for the year of Jubilee. In “5 myths about Jubilee,” Art Lindsley challenges this approach, and I found his exegesis illuminating.
I think it is a good, biblical idea for us to seek ways of helping the poor, whether they be individuals or nations, but we need to do this in ways in are genuinely helpful to the debtors involved, on the long term, and any use we make of Scripture in the process needs to be the fruit of good exegesis.
Help in reading the Fathers
At Read the Fathers, and interesting project begins on December 2.
By reading seven pages a day for seven years, you can study a vast library of theology, history, liturgy, apologetics, biblical commentary, and devotion written in the first seven centuries of the Christian church. We provide a schedule of readings, the texts in English translation, and—most important—a community to discuss what you’re learning. Laypeople, clergy, seminarians, students, and Christians of all denominations will benefit from joining our community to read the church fathers.
Various means of keeping up with these daily selections are provided by the web site.
Who is totally depraved?
In “Thank God that Christians Are Not Totally Depraved,” Rick Phillips responds helpfully to Tullian Tchividjian’s statement that Christians remain “totally depraved.” Phillips appreciates the importance of our continued reliance upon God’s grace, even after we have been justified, but he rightly points out that regeneration has been ineffective if no change has taken place in the nature of the believer in Christ.
It is encouraging to see that the Associated Press has made this move. It may take a while for this to work its way into the public use of “homophobia” as a term broadly applied to anyone who morally objects to same-sex practice, but if we no longer hear it from the media, there may ultimately be a trickle down effect.
Is the right approach to controverted issues to go to both extremess?
Andy Lepeau identifies as one of John Stott’s lasting positive influences, his encouragement that Christians seek common ground. In this regard, Stott was apparently fond of Charles Simeon’s proposal that the truth is not in the middle between two extremes but is in both extremes.
Balanced Christianity (1975), perhaps the most important among his lesser-known writings– calls for a both/and approach to the faith that stands in stark contrast to the either/or approach so common in evangelicalism today. Christianity embraces both intellect and emotion, is both conservative and radical, champions both form and freedom, and engages in both evangelism and social action.
In this regard Stott was so fond of the following quotation from Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (ed. William Carus, 1847) that he quoted it at least twice, once in Christ the Controversialist (p. 45) and again, more extensively, in Balanced Christianity (p. 10). Simeon begins with the comment: “The truth is not in the middle, and not in one extreme, but in both extremes. . . . Here are two . . . extremes, Calvinism and Arminianism.” Then Simeon imagines a conversation with the apostle Paul.
“How do you move in reference to these, Paul? In a golden mean?”
“To one extreme?”
“To both extremes; today I am a strong Calvinist; tomorrow a strong Arminian.”
“Well, well, Paul, I see thou art beside thyself; go to Aristotle and learn the golden mean.”
But Simeon continues:
. . . I formerly read Aristotle, and liked him much; I have since read Paul and caught somewhat of his strange notions, oscillating (not vacillating) from pole to pole. Sometimes I am a high Calvinist, at other times a low Arminian, so that if extremes will please you, I am your man; only remember, it is not one extreme that we are to go to, but both extremes.
I don’t know what you make of this, but I have my doubts that this is either wise or possible. Still, I have high regard for both Simeon and Stott, so I should likely not dismiss this proposal too speedily. I’ll chew on it.