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A Shot of Encouragement

Built of Very Different Stone

Abraham Kuyper on the chosen and precious foundation of our churches:

Your church is then a colony of heaven living on the earth. It has its own autonomous existence, resting on its own foundation; it is constructed in its own unique style; it is built of very different stone than those offered by the mines of the world; and in its state and organization it depends not on the laws of nature, nor on the legislation of earthly lawmakers, but only on the law of life of its divine founder.

On the Church, p. 323, emphasis added; think also of 1 Peter 2:4-5
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A Shot of Encouragement

Enormous Education

In A Centennial Reader, James Bratt introduces Abraham Kuyper’s inaugural address for the Free University of Amsterdam, and why opening this institution was so important for Kuyper:

“Higher education and advanced research had enormous importance for him: religiously, for exploring and enhancing God’s creation; strategically, for (re)shaping society and culture; socially, for raising the self-respect and life-chances of common people.”

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A Shot of Encouragement

Pipe and Pencil

On reading doctrinal books rather than devotional books for sake of deepening devotion:

“For my own part I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that their heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”

—C.S. Lewis, Preface to On the Incarnation

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A Shot of Encouragement

The Clean Sea Breeze of the Centuries

Perhaps my favorite Preface of all time is that by C. S. Lewis for On the Incarnation by Athanasius. Here’s an example, on why we should read old books:

“Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.”

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A Shot of Encouragement

Quite a Tongue

The kind of preacher to aspire to be, as Augustine confessed to the Lord about Ambrose:

“His gifted tongue never tired of dispensing the richness of your corn, the joy of your oil, and the sober intoxication of your wine.”

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A Shot of Encouragement

The Lost Gift

Because sin darkens the minds of unbelievers (Ephesians 4:18), does that mean that they can’t discover any true things in science?

“No, the real darkening of sin is found in something completely different, in our having lost the gift to comprehend the true context, the proper coherence, the systematic unity of things. We now view things just outwardly, not in core and essence; hence also, each thing individually, not things together in their connection and origin in God.”

—Abraham Kuyper, “Common Grace in Science,” A Centennial Reader
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A Shot of Encouragement

Not a Blank Canvas

“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”

—Edwin Schlossberg
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Bring Them Up

So Let’s Do Something About That

A few months ago a friend of mine recommended to me Roaring Lambs: A Gentle Plan to Radically Change Your World. I’m about to finish it, and will give a Goodreads review soon. But since there’s a group of us working to start a college in the near future, I really appreciated the following quote from chapter 8, “The Christian Academe: Underachievers.”

Christian college graduates typically have commitment, but not confidence. They have ideals, but not vision. Except for those going into the professional ministry, no one has laid out for most of them either the possibilities or the responsibilities of penetrating every area of our society with the message of Christ.” (157, emphasis mine)

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The End of Many Books

The Screwtape Letters

by C. S. Lewis

This is some next level temptation insight. I don’t like demons, but I do like snark, so there is a lot to enjoy, even to learn from snarky Uncle Screwtape. Lewis is really good at nailing slippery sinful inner inclinations to the wall, and in this book he does so while also making our spiritual enemies look silly.

And one of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

5 of 5 stars

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A Shot of Encouragement

Prosecute the Work

“The emphasis on LABOR [in 1 Corinthians 15:10] reminds us that difficulty and cost in Christian work, far from suggesting an absence of GOD’S GRACE, presupposes the gift of such grace to prosecute the work through all obstacles.”

—Anthony Thiselton