sententiarum collectio

Category: God & Church (Page 1 of 4)

Tradition v. Liberty

Plato in his Laws esteems nothing of more pestiferous consequence to his city than to give young men the liberty of introducing any change in their habits, gestures, dances, songs, and exercises, from one form to another; shifting from this to that, hunting after novelties, and applauding the inventors; by which means manners are corrupted and the old institutions come to be nauseated and despised. In all things, saving only in those that are evil, a change is to be feared; even the change of seasons, winds, viands, and humours. And no laws are in their true credit, but such to which God has given so long a continuance that no one knows their beginning, or that there ever was any other.

— Michel de Montaigne, Of Sumptuary Laws (trans. Charles Cotton)

Kings are ordained by God…

Kings are ordained by God, and established by the people, to procure and provide for the good of those who are committed unto them, and that this good or profit be principally expressed in two things, to wit, in the administration of justice to their subjects, and in the managing of armies for the repulsing their enemies: certainly, we must infer and conclude from this, that the prince who applied himself to nothing but his peculiar profits and pleasures, or to those ends which most readily conduce thereunto, who contemns and perverts all laws, who uses his subjects more cruelly than the barbarous enemy would do, he may truly and really be called a tyrant, and that those who in this manner govern their kingdoms, be they of never so large an extent, are more properly unjust pillagers and free-booters, than lawful governors.

Vindicae Contra Tyrranos

Business with Brothers

You should go into every business relationship with a brother looking to give something additional, rather than trying to get something additional. Don’t expect discounts because you are a brother. Try, when possible, to give something additional because he’s a brother. And when someone in the church is doing business with you, you are not responsible for whether or not they are observing this. And if you decide to stop using the services of a brother it may be because of ordinary reasons (price, distance, etc.), slipshod or substandard workmanship, or unethical work (biblically defined). For the first, no explanation is necessary. Just go your way. If the person asks, tell them. For the second, you must tell your brother about your concerns. If you have done so, then it is legitimate to express those concerns to others, if they seek or need your recommendation on this brother’s work. If he installed your cabinets upside down, it is not “gossip” to say so when someone asks for a recommendation. For the third scenario, you must follow the pattern given in Matthew 18.

Being a member of the same church does not entitle you to free consulting services. When you ask questions of a brother in business, it should only be in order to determine whether or not you need his services, and not an attempt to get his services without paying for them. Avoid making anyone “set up shop” at church or fellowship events.

At a fellowship event, you can ask questions about “when would be a good time to call about thus and such?” But even here, be sensitive. When you call, after you have asked a few questions about whether or not the services are necessary, you are on the threshold of imposing on a brother. This means that after the first few minutes, you should expect the meter to be running (and should say so). If the person you are talking to does not charge you that is his business. But you should expect a bill as soon as you get to the point of using his expertise.

Remember some professions are more vulnerable to this kind of imposition than others. Low risk: MRI technicians, librarians. Medium risk: teachers, guys with tools and pick-up trucks. High risk: medical doctors, auto mechanics, veterinarians, realtors.

Beware of the egalitarianism which says that it is all right to do this to what you consider “high income” professions. Don’t assume that someone “doesn’t mind” because you have been doing this to him for years. He just has better manners than you do.

Wives, do not do an end run around your husband. If he has said that you are not going to spend any money on whatever it is, you should not try to get the service without spending any money. This just turns one sin into two.

In all things, apply the Golden Rule. Ask yourself what would be a temptation to you in your profession, and then don’t do that to other people in theirs.

— Douglas Wilson, Gashmu Saith It

Christian Economy

When you are engaged, as we are, in seeking to build true Christian community, the first thing that will happen is that an economy will start to take shape. And this means, in its turn, that disputes will arise. Most of the gnarly disputes will be about business or finances. This is borne out in my experience, and in line with a survey we sent out to the members of our church community. We asked, for example, how many of them had had business deals with fellow church members go south on them, and more than a few had.

Test your heart first. When you are thinking about a business opportunity with another member of the church, ask yourself this kind of question first. If your first thought is that because so-and-so is a fellow church member he might cut you a deal, then I would plead with you as your pastor to go do business with the pagans. You’ll fit in better there. That’s how you can best maintain the peace and purity of the church. How many Christians think something like this? “Ooo-he has that little fish in his shop window. I think I’ll add 10% to whatever he invoices. After all, he’s a brother.”

And when the attitude is right, there is another thing I would ask you to include. Too many Christians think that regeneration, or good intentions, or having a nice personality will somehow make your memory perfect, or will prevent you from getting hit by a truck. Suppose you get hit by that truck, and your heirs and your partners’ heirs are all trying to figure out what that handshake fifteen years ago meant. So write it down. This does not make you suspicious and unloving. God loves us perfectly, and He still wrote it down.

Not only that, but neither does regeneration magically bestow craft competence. Your salvation is by grace through faith, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). But kids, your grade point average does not work that way. Adults, neither does your business work that way. Your vocation in the world is found in the next verse. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). And good works here most manifestly includes good work.

Good work is work. Even though the grace of God underlies all things, including all our work, our work remains work. Your ability to carry a load of bricks over to the build site is ultimately the grace of God, but the actual carrying is work. The bricks are not moved before you get there “by grace through faith.”

— Douglas Wilson, Gashmu Saith It

All These Images

"Try your tongue, if you cannot use your mind.
The people scorn you, laughing at your folly,
For all men know, as you might easily find,
That almighty God is up in heaven so high,
And all these images, it's plain to the eyes,
Are nothing, and give you nothing, and cannot try
For more - worthless lumps of stone, where they lie"

- The Second Nun's Tale (379), Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (tr. Burton Raffel)

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand:
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

– William Butler Yeats, The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats

Abolish religion

Abolish religion if you like. Throw everything on secular government if you like. But do not be surprised if a machinery that was never meant to do anything but secure external decency and order fails to secure internal honesty and peace.

– Chesterton

The Will: from Control to Attack

“The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

“The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

“But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man’s stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.

Humanae Vitae, 1968 (emphasis added)

***Fast forward***

“The autonomous will really has no choice but to attack the body as well as the mind. For the body is the most obvious locus of the given, the most stubborn impediment to the power claimed by the will. “

-Douglas Farrow, Theological Negotiations, 2018

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