The Tyranny of Sensitivity

If this hurts your feelings then you should reread it.

One of the most extraordinary examples of adaptation to immaturity in contemporary American society is how the word abusive has replaced the words nasty and objectionable. The latter two words suggest that a person has done something distasteful, always a matter of judgment. But the use of the word abusive suggests, instead, that the person who heard or read the objectionable, nasty, or even offensive remark was somehow victimized by dint of the word entering their mind. This confusion of being “hurt” with being damaged makes it seem as though the feelings of the listener or reader were not their own responsibility, or as though they had been helplessly violated by another person’s opinion. If our bodies responded that way to “insults,” we would not make it very far past birth.

The use of abusive rather than objectionable has enabled those who do not want to take responsibility for their own efforts to tyrannize others, especially leaders, with their “sensitivity.”

—Edwin Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, 70-71

Jolted

Spills are an insight into what is inside our souls.

Amy Carmichael has a note in her little book, If. “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” If it is full of sweet water and is jolted, what will come out of the cup? Sweet water. If you gave it a harder jolt, what’s going to happen? More sweet water. If someone is filled with sweet water and someone else gives him a jolt, what will come out? Sweet water. Jolts do not turn sweet water into bitter water.

—Jim Wilson, How to Be Free From Bitterness, 17

Enculturation Centers

All schools are religious schools. All schools teach worldview. All schools have a philosophy of education. All schools have creeds, liturgy, and dogma. All schools have orthodoxy and doctrine. In short, all schools – public, private, parochial, and home–are enculturation centers, and none are neutral.

—Bradley Heath, Millstones and Stumbling Blocks

True Glory Isn’t Grabby

I can’t recommend the whole book by any means, but this paragraph pokes grabby authority in the eye by observing that God gets more glory by glorifying His people. A true authority bestows honor, he isn’t threatened when surrounded by others with dignity.

If God alone is all glorious, then no one else is glorious at all. No exaltation may be admitted for any other creature, since this would endanger the exclusive prerogative of God. But this is to imagine a paltry court. What king surrounds himself with warped, dwarfish, worthless creatures? The more glorious the king, the more glorious the titles and honors he bestows. The plumes, cockades, coronets, diadems, mantles, and rosettes that deck his retinue testify to one thing alone, his own majesty and munificence. He is a very great king to have figures of such immense dignity in his train, or even better, to have raised them to such dignity. These great lords and ladies, mantled and crowned with the highest possible honor and rank are, precisely, his vassals. This glittering array is his court! All glory to him, and in him, glory and honor to these others.

—Thomas Howard, Evangelical Is Not Enough, 87

Calvinism as Guaranteed Fellowship

On Calvinism as a life-system, or worldview, that explains how men relate to God’s eternal purpose:

Calvinism takes its stand with a fundamental thought which is equally profound. It does not seek God in the creature, as Paganism; it does not isolate God from the creature, as Islamism; it posits no mediate communion between God and the creature, as does Romanism; but proclaims the exalted thought that, although standing in high majesty above the creature, God enters into immediate fellowship with the creature, as God the Holy Spirit. This is even the heart and kernel of the Calvinistic confession of predestination.

In other words, our enjoyment of eternal life is part of God’s eternal plan to share His eternal life with us. Among other things, His eternal life is Triune communion, and Calvinism summarizes His intent to share communion with men. This is good news, and it is the “mother thought” of all God’s “heroes and heralds.”

[P]redestination was inexorably maintained, not for the sake of separating man from man, nor in the interest of personal pride, but in order to guarantee from eternity to eternity, to our inner self, a direct and immediate communion with the Living God.

—Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, 21.

Spiritual Assets

Do believers gather together on the Lord’s day to give or get?

Faith will never reach that degree of maturity where it could live without receiving. A grateful reception of God’s gracious gifts will always remain the task of Christian worship, for it is impossible to evolve a church service out of the spiritual assets of believers.

—Vilmos Vajta, Luther on Worship, quoted in The Lord’s Service by Jeffrey Meyers, 94.

Desperation and Deliverance

I think about “the rhythm of desperation and deliverance” all the time.

A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit—which is the only kind that matters—knows neither God nor himself. A pastor who does not know the rhythm of desperation and deliverance must have his sights set only on what man can achieve.

—John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, 54