Thursday, November 30, 2023

Augustine on creation, part 3 (final)

Although Augustine clearly believes that creation involves the universe having a beginning, he does not limit God’s creative activity to that beginning. God’s creation activity continues, both in the sense that he maintains and conserves the world in existence, and in the sense that God’s creative activity includes bringing into existence processes that continue over time.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 142

Selling out

Tozer criticized those churches that adopted the methods of the world in order to accomplish the agenda and goals of God. He pointed out three things that he believed were diametrically opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit in the local church: (1) the methods of big business, (2) the methods of show business, and (3) the methods of Madison Avenue advertisers. Along with this, he charged that the spirit of modern evangelism seemed to be foreign to that of the New Testament. By all costs, he believed that the Church must return to New Testament principles.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 11

<idle musing>
Not a lot has changed for the better since the 1950s, has it? If anything, the things that he was concerned about have only become more prevalent.

Can you imagine the thunder from the pulpit if he were around today?
</idle musing>

My Jesus I love thee

234 Gordon. 11. 11. 11. 11.

1 My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
   for thee all the follies of sin I resign;
   my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
   if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

2 I love thee because thou hast first loved me
   and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
   I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
   if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

3 In mansions of glory and endless delight,
   I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
   I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
   If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
                         William R. Featherstone
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I didn't learn this hymn until I heard it on Jamie Owens (Collins) second album Growing Pains. She sings it with all four verses, not just the three that the Methodist hymnal included. It quickly became a favorite of mine. Here's the verse that the hymnal excised:

3 I'll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,
   and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,
   and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
   If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. has an interesting note that it is also attributed to a certain James H. Duffel, about whom we know almost nothing. This is the only hymn attributed to him, which is also true of Featherstone. </idle musing>

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

More Augustine and creation

Creation for Augustine is also ad extra; that is, God creates the world not from his own nature but as something distinct from himself. (This is a view that is increasingly challenged by some contemporary theologians who have adopted “panentheism.”) God is immanent in creation in the sense that it reflects his nature. He is present in all of the world in the sense that he is aware of it all and can act at any time and any place, but the creation must be clearly distinguished from the Creator.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 142

Savior and/or Lord?

<idle musing>
Yesterday we finished going through the previous Tozer book. Next Tuesday will begin excerpts from Reclaiming Christianity, which unfortunately is now only available as an ebook. I have the paperback from when it was first released, so the pagination will be from that.

But, before we get to the Tozer, the editor has a preface, so for the next two days, I'll be pulling from that. Here's the first one:
</idle musing>

Tozer also emphasized the biblical truth that there can be no Savior without Lordship. His comments flew in the face of the idea that a person could accept Jesus Christ as Savior without accepting Him as the Lord of his or her life. That idea, according to Tozer, was a great fallacy within the evangelical Church. He emphasized as much as possible the fact that Jesus Christ is both Savior and Lord. There cannot be a divided Christ. To proclaim a divided Christ is to destroy the foundation of the Church.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 11

Jesus calls us, o'er the tumult

233 Galilee. 8. 7. 8. 7.

1 Jesus calls us, o'er the tumult
   of our life's wild, restless sea;
   Day by day that voice still calls us,
   saying, "Christian, follow me."

2 Jesus calls us from the worship
   of the treasures we adore,
   From each idol that would keep us,
   saying, "Christian, love me more."

3 In our joys and in our sorrows,
   days of toil and hours of ease,
   Jesus calls, in cares and pleasures,
   "Christian, love me more than these."

4 Jesus calls us! By your mercies,
   Savior, may we hear your call,
   Give our hearts to your obedience,
   serve and love you best of all.
                         Cecil F. Alexander
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn, but it appears in over 900 hymnals. Strange how hymns you think everyone should know are in less than 200 hymnals, and other ones, that you never heard, are in so many. It just reflects the traditions that we are familiar with.

Also, according to, there is another verse, inserted after verse 1:

2 As of old, Saint Andrew heard it
   by the Galilean lake,
   Turned from home and toil and kindred,
   leaving all for Jesus' sake.
Incidentally, you should check out the biography of the writer; here's a brief snippet:
She showed her concern for disadvantaged people by traveling many miles each day to visit the sick and the poor, providing food, warm clothes, and medical supplies. She and her sister also founded a school for the deaf.
I wonder if anyone has written a study of the women hymnwriters of the 19th century? Seems it would be a fruitful study.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Augustine and Creation

In Augustine’s thought creation takes the place of Plotinian emanation. God’s creation is not a necessary effusion of his being, but a free and sovereign act. Besides being free, God's creation is ex nihilo, out of nothing, rather than, as in Plato’s Timaeus, a reworking of a preexistent material reality. Since matter is itself God’s creation, Augustine maintains that matter itself is not bad or evil. It is true that it is bad to place more value on the material and visible than on the nonphysical and invisible. God is more important than God’s creation. However, that creation is material is not in itself a bad thing. Thus Augustine moves away from the Platonic view that evil is the result of the immaterial soul’s being embodied.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 142

Go to Bethel…

Amos [4:4–5] exposes the hidden darkness of these seemingly good activities and good people. Because the sacrifices and offerings have been acquired through violence and injustice, they sin and blaspheme God by thanking him with that which comes at the expense of God’s justice. Thus, the more they offer these sacrifices and offerings, the more they sin, and the more they indict themselves. With poetic flourish, Amos exposes the false exterior of the people’s thankful state and judges them for their true nature of injustice, false pretense, and delusion.—Kevin Chau, in Devotions on the Hebrew Bible, 89-90

With charity for all and hatred for none (Tozer for Tuesday)

Let us by the grace of God, with charity for all and hatred for none, but determination to be loyal to truth if it kills us, put our chin a little higher and our knees a little lower, and let’s look a little further into the throne of God, for Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And let us be courageous, attentive, severe but kind. Let us pray in the Holy Ghost, keep ourselves in the love of God, build ourselves up in the most holy faith and win all we can until the day of the glory and the song.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 222

I need thee ev'ry hour

232 I Need Thee Every Hour. 6. 4. 6. 4. with Refrain.

1 I need Thee ev'ry hour,
   Most gracious Lord;
   No tender voice like Thine
   Can peace afford.

Refrain: I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
   Ev'ry hour I need Thee;
   Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
   I come to Thee.

2 I need Thee ev'ry hour,
   Stay Thou nearby;
   Temptations lose their pow’r
   When Thou art nigh. [Refrain]

3 I need Thee ev'ry hour,
   In joy or pain;
   Come quickly and abide,
   Or life is vain. [Refrain]

4 I need Thee ev'ry hour,
   Teach me Thy will;
   And Thy rich promises
   In me fulfill. [Refrain]
                         Annie S. Hawks
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, November 27, 2023

Tertullian and philosophy

Tertullian is often interpreted as an irrational fideist who rejected reason altogether, and is frequently regarded as the source of the phrase Credo quia absurdum (“I believe what is absurd,” sometimes altered to “I believe because it is absurd”). However, this quotation is actually not to be found in Tertullian’s extant writings. The quotation is, however, in the spirit of Tertullian, who often glories in paradoxical overstatement. For example, he says that the resurrection of Christ is “certain because it is impossible.” However, when one looks at such passages in context it is clear that Tertullian is not rejecting reason altogether, but emphasizing the ways in which human thinking that is not shaped by revelation goes awry. In fact, he emphasizes the rationality of God throughout his writings. Human thinking is distorted by human sinfulness, and thus if we are to gain true wisdom we must receive it from God, who thus makes it possible for ordinary, uneducated people to gain an understanding of salvation.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 128

Pass me not, O gentle Savior

231 Pass Me Not. with Refrain.

1 Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
   Hear my humble cry,
   While on others Thou art calling,
   Do not pass me by.

   Savior, Savior,
   Hear my humble cry;
   While on others Thou art calling,
   Do not pass me by.

2 Let me at a throne of mercy
   Find a sweet relief;
   Kneeling there in deep contrition,
   Help my unbelief. [Refrain]

3 Trusting only in Thy merit,
   Would I seek Thy face;
   Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
   Save me by Thy grace. [Refrain]

4 Thou the Spring of all my comfort,
   More than life to me,
   Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
   Whom in heav'n but Thee? [Refrain]
                         Fanny J. Crosby
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
While I knew quite a bit about Fanny Crosby, I never realized she wrote under pseudonymns. Check out the link to see them. She also was the first woman to speak publicly in the Senate chamber! Quite an accomplishment for a woman, let alone a blind one, in the 19th century.
</idle musing>

Sunday, November 26, 2023

I lay my sins on Jesus

230 St. Hilda. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 I lay my sins on Jesus,
   the spotless Lamb of God;
   He bears them all, and frees us
   from the accursed load;
   I bring my guilt to Jesus,
   to wash my crimson stains
   white in His blood most precious,
   till not a spot remains.

2 I lay my wants on Jesus;
   all fullness dwells in Him;
   He heals all my diseases,
   He doth my soul redeem;
   I lay my griefs on Jesus,
   my burdens and my cares;
   He from them all releases,
   He all my sorrow shares.

3 I long to be like Jesus,
   meek, loving, lowly, mild;
   I long to be like Jesus,
   the Father's holy Child;
   I long to be with Jesus
   amid the heav'nly throng,
   to sing with saints His praises,
   to learn the angels' song
                         Horatius Bonar
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> inserts a verse after verse 2:

3 I rest my soul on Jesus,
   this weary soul of mine;
   His right hand me embraces,
   I on His breast recline.
   I love the Name of Jesus,
   Immanuel, Christ, the Lord;
   like fragrance on the breezes
   His Name abroad is poured.
</idle musing>

Saturday, November 25, 2023

And can it be?

229 Fillmore. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8.

1 And can it be that I should gain
   An int'rest in the Savior's blood?
   Died He for me, who caused His pain?
   For me, who Him to death pursued?
   Amazing love! how can it be
   That Thou, my God, should die for me?

2 Long my imprisoned spirit lay
   Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
   Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray,
   I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
   My chains fell off, my heart was free;
   I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

3 No condemnation now I dread;
   Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
   Alive in Him, my living Head,
   And clothed in righteousness divine,
   Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
   And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Weird that this hymnal only includes three verses. Most have five—and that's the version I usually recall. But, I'm fairly certain that's because it was a favorite at Asbury, and we sang all five. Here are the other two, which contain excellent theology (as do most Wesley hymns!):

2 'Tis mystery all! Th'Immortal dies!
   Who can explore His strange design?
   In vain the firstborn seraph tries
   To sound the depths of love divine!
   'Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
   Let angel minds inquire no more.

3 He left His Father's throne above,
   So free, so infinite His grace;
   Emptied Himself of all but love,
   And bled for Adam's helpless race;
   'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
   For, O my God, it found out me.

And most hymnals also contain the refrain:
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!
One of my favorite renditions was one that I first heard at a friend's place; they had a recording of the Spring Arbor Free Methodist choir singing it in four-part harmony. Marvelous!
</idle musing>

Friday, November 24, 2023

Aristotle's God vs. the Christian God

However, it is important to see the differences between Aristotle’s God and the kind of God Christians believe in. Although many Christians do believe that God is perfect and unchangeable, they do not think of God as thinking only of himself, but as involved in his creation. The Christian God is not just an object of love and desire, but a Creator who brings the universe into existence and is responsible for its continued existence and providential care. Of course Christians believe that God exists in three persons and that one of these persons ultimately became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth. Such views are not only absent from Aristotle, but it is likely he would have found them inconceivable had he known about them.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 85–86

A closer walk

228 Naomi. C. M.

1 O for a closer walk with God,
   a calm and heav'nly frame,
   a light to shine upon the road
   that leads me to the Lamb!

2 Where is the blessedness I knew
   when first I sought the Lord?
   Where is the soul refreshing view
   of Jesus and His Word?

3 What peaceful hours I then enjoyed!
   How sweet their mem'ry still!
   But they have left an aching void
   the world can never fill.

4 Return, O holy Dove, return,
   sweet messenger of rest;
   I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
   and drove Thee from my breast.

5 The dearest idol I have known,
   whate'er that idol be,
   help me to tear it from Thy throne
   and worship only Thee.

6 So shall my walk be close with God,
   calm and serene my frame;
   so purer light shall mark the road
   that leads me to the Lamb.
                         William Cowper
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, November 23, 2023


To live well is to live reflectively; we cannot seek for virtue or wisdom or courage without understanding them. In the Apology Socrates goes so far as to claim that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 47

Come, we that love the Lord

227 St. Thomas. S. M.

1 Come, we that love the Lord,
   and let our joys be known;
   join in a song with sweet accord,
   and thus surround the throne.

2 Let those refuse to sing
   who never knew our God;
   but children of the heav'nly King
   may speak their joys abroad.

3 The hill of Zion yields
   a thousand sacred sweets
   before we reach the heav'nly fields,
   or walk the golden streets.

4 Then let our songs abound,
   and every tear be dry;
   we're marching through Emmanuel's ground
   to fairer worlds on high.
                         Isaac Watts
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Getting your goat

I'm copyediting a book for Lockwood Press, Cattle, Sheep, Goats, and Pigs in Pharaonic Egypt: A View from the Herd (it's not on the website yet), that will be appearing next year. The final paragraph in chapter 12, on goats, is too good not to share:
I include labor under goats because a recent article appeared by Donna Sutliff (2019) that suggests that goats may have been domesticated for use as pack animals, or, at the very least, their ability to carry loads was quickly appreciated and used in the Neolithic. Sutliff provides only two modern examples of the use of goats as pack animals. The first is in Tibet and the second in North America where, according to Sutliff, hiking with pack goats is a popular “American Pastime.” She cites several authors who have dismissed the idea and I would like to join them.
For the record: I can't see goats being used as pack animals!

Protagoras, a postmodern?

Protagoras thus is the first “anti-realist” in Western philosophy, rejecting the claim that truth is something objective that humans discover for the claim that truth is something humans make for their own purposes. Remarkably enough, then, a view that is often associated with “postmodernism” in recent Western thought is already anticipated in one of the earliest Greek philosophers.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 38

O Jesus, I have promised

226 Angel's Story. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 O Jesus, I have promised
   to serve Thee to the end;
   be Thou forever near me,
   my Master and my Friend;
   I shall not fear the battle
   if Thou art by my side,
   nor wander from the pathway
   if Thou wilt be my Guide.

2 O let me feel Thee near me,
   the world is ever near;
   I see the sights that dazzle,
   the tempting sounds I hear;
   my foes are ever near me,
   around me and within;
   but, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
   and shield my soul from sin.

3 O let me hear Thee speaking
   in accents clear and still,
   above the storms of passion,
   the murmurs of self-will;
   O speak to reassure me,
   to hasten or control!
   O speak, and make me listen,
   Thou Guardian of my soul!

4 O Jesus, Thou hast promised
   to all who follow Thee
   that where Thou art in glory
   there shall Thy servant be;
   and, Jesus, I have promised
   to serve Thee to the end;
   O give me grace to follow,
   my Master and my Friend!
                         John E. Bode
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A little child

You probably know the story. Naaman, a powerful Syrian general, was a leper. A captive slave girl mentioned that a prophet dwelt in Israel who could cure him. Naaman traveled there, and Elisha told him to dip himself in the Jordan seven times. He grumbled at this, thinking it was beneath his dignity, but in the end he did it—and he emerged healed! Note the verb ירד (“to go down, dip”) and its similarity to the name “Jordan,” ירדן. Most likely this is a wordplay (found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible; e.g., Josh 3:13; 1 Kgs 2:8).

The beginning of the story emphasizes Naaman’s importance and power, and the little maid (נערה קטנה) is his polar opposite: no status, no office, no prominence (5:2). What a change then, when Naaman emerged from the Jordan the seventh time, with skin “like a נער קטן”— the same description (with masculine gender) as the little maid. The thought is, he became like her. On the surface this refers to his skin, but there is a deeper meaning as well.—George Schwab, in Devotions on the Hebrew Bible, 59–60

Zeno's paradox

While Zeno’s paradoxes have not convinced many people of the unreality of motion and change, they have provided enduring challenges to philosophers who want to defend motion and plurality, both in the ancient world and even today. At the very least Zeno shows that our ordinary concepts of space, time, and change may not be fully coherent as they stand.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 28

Tozer for Tuesday

Dare to contend without being contentious. Dare to preserve truth without hurting people. Dare to love and be charitable and, meantime, there is rest and comfort for the weary one who lays his head upon His breast.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 222

<idle musing>
That's good advice that we could definitely use today! It seems that too many people are more interested in beating people over the head with the truth than in preserving it. And love? Well, that's for wimps! : (
</idle musing>

Blessed Master, I have promised

223 Bullinger. 8. 5. 8. 3.

1. Blessed Master, I have promised,
   Hear my solemn vow;
   Take this pledge of mine and seal it
   Here and now.

2. Strength of mine is only weakness,
   Thine is strength indeed;
   Strengthen me in fullest measure
   As I need.

3. Let no worldly cares nor pleasures
   Call my heart away;
   Save me, Lord, and keep me faithful
   Day by day.
                         Charles A. Dickenson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, November 20, 2023

New book! History of Western Philosophy

Today we start a "new" book. It's actually from 2018, but I finally got around to reading it. I purchased it when it first came out at the AAR/SBL conference that year. It's been staring at me ever since. Here's the first snippet:

How should we respond to this “situated” character of historians? We should not, I think, despair of truth. It is true that all humans are historically situated individuals, and that it is impossible to shed all of one’s particularities. However, the various perspectives we bring to the issues are not always distorting lenses; sometimes they maybe just what is needed to bring the truth into clearer focus. It is also the case that historical truth is often complex; historians who seem to be disagreeing may be emphasizing different aspects of a fuller story. We should not respond to our situatedness by pretending to be completely “neutral” or “objective.” Rather, those who tell a historical story should honestly recognize and make clear the perspectives they bring to the issues, making it easier, both for themselves and for their audiences, to decide what might be distortion and what might be insight.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 8–9

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me

222 Yoakley. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8.

1 Jesus, Thy boundless love to me,
   no thought can reach, no tongue declare;
   O knit my thankful heart to Thee,
   and reign without a rival there.
   Thine wholly, Thine alone, I am;
   be Thou my Rod and Staff and Guide.

2 O grant that nothing in my soul
   may dwell, but Thy pure love alone!
   O may Thy love possess my whole,
   my Joy, my Treasure, and my Crown.
   All coldness from my heart remove;
   my every act, word, thought, be love.

3 O Love, how cheering is thy ray!
   All pain before Thy presence flies;
   care, anguish, sorrow, melt away,
   where'er Thy healing beams arise.
   O Jesus, nothing may I see,
   nothing desire or seek, but Thee.

4 This love unwearied I pursue
   and dauntlessly to Thee aspire.
   O may Thy love my hope renew,
   burn in my soul like heav'nly fire.
   And day and night, be all my care
   to guard this sacred treasure there.
                         Paul Gerhardt
                         Tr. by John Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Geography matters!

Some translations also miss an important clue in the Hebrew as to the battle’s location. Two different Hebrew words for “valley” appear; the first, עמק (“valley of Elah,” 17:2 NASB): denotes a broad, flat valley; the second, גיא (“with the valley between them,” 17:3 NASB) denotes a sharply sloped and narrow valley— “a ravine” (HCSB). Thus, while the valley of Elah is broad and spacious, it only pinches together in a few spaces—thus narrowing the choices for possible battle sites. Translations that render both Hebrew words “valley” miss the clue the narrator is providing for the battles precise location.

Furthermore, 1 Samuel 17:4 says Goliath initially “came out” or “came forth” (יצא) from the Philistine camp. But as David arrived, Goliath was literally “coming up” (עלה), not coming out (17:23, 25 NIV). Many translations gloss over this difference, but perhaps the writer was trying to convey something. I suggest he was; Goliath was likely ascending the Israelite side of the ravine (17:3), taunting Saul’s forces. This understanding of the text would explain why the text says, “The men of Israel fled from him” (17:24 NASB). Why would they flee, unless his coming up their side of the ravine made them fear his direct attack? If he stood out in the middle of the valley, they might be afraid, but they had no need to flee.—Bryan Beyer, in Devotions on the Hebrew Bible, 51

Master, speak! (Havergal)

221 Jesus Han Skal Raade. 8. 7. 8. 7. 7. 7.

1 Master, speak! Thy servant heareth,
   waiting for thy gracious word,
   longing for thy voice that cheereth;
   Master, let it now be heard.
   I am listening, Lord, for thee;
   what hast thou to say to me?

2 Speak to me by name, O Master!
   let me know it is to me;
   speak, that I may follow faster,
   with a step more firm and free,
   where the shepherd leads the flock
   in the shadow of the rock.

3 Master, speak! Though least and lowest,
   let me not unheard depart;
   Master, speak! For O thou knowest
   all the yearning of my heart;
   knowest all its truest need;
   speak, and make me blest indeed.

4 Master, speak! And make me ready,
   when thy voice is truly heard,
   with obedience glad and steady
   still to follow every word.
   I am listening, Lord, for thee;
   Master, speak, O speak to me!
                         Frances Havergal
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I have long been a fan of Frances Havergal's hymns, but I never really looked at her biography before today. She was quite a scholar—especially for a woman in the 1800s. For example: "Miss Havergal's scholastic acquirements were extensive, embracing several modern languages, together with Greek and Hebrew."

That's more than most songwriters in today's world could say—more than most pastors, for that matter. More's the pity.
</idle musing>

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Prince of Peace, control my will

216 Aletta. 7. 7. 7. 7.

1 Prince of Peace, control my will,
   Bid this struggling heart be still;
   Bid my fears and doubtings cease,
   Hush my spirit into peace.

2 Thou hast bought me with Thy blood,
   Opened wide the gate to God;
   Peace, I ask, but peace must be,
   Lord, in being one with Thee.

3 May Thy will, not mine, be done,
   May Thy will and mine be one;
   Chase these doubtings from my heart,
   Now Thy perfect peace impart.

4 Savior, at Thy feet I fall,
   Thou my life, my God, my all;
   Let Thy happy servant be
   One forevermore with Thee!
                         Mary A. S. Barber
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> has no information about the author, but I was able to dig up a book she wrote, available online via Google books: Missionary Tales, for Little Listeners, written in 1840. I also ran across a University of Iowa dissertation that focuses on her and two other British women's works. The author notes that Barber became an active social reformer.

Intriguing bits and pieces, but I was unable to learn more. Fascinating things I'm uncovering blogging through this hymnal...
</idle musing>

Friday, November 17, 2023

It takes a village (church)

For the fathers, then, hermeneutics is not an objective science that can be practiced by any scholar within any context. Rather hermeneutics in Christ becomes a spiritual, communal, interpretive art. It can be safely, wisely and fruitfully exercised only by those whose minds and hearts have been soaked in and shaped by the gospel itself—within the Christian community's reflection, devotion and worship.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 195

<idle musing>
That completes our quick little trot through the fathers. I hope you enjoyed it and are stimulated to read the originals.

Monday I'll start excerpting from IVP's A History of Western Philosophy from 2018. I picked it up at AAR/SBL that year and it's been staring at me, daring me to pick it up and read it ever since. I finally did : )
</idle musing>

All of self and none of thee?

215 St. Jude. 8. 7. 8. 8. 7.

1 O the bitter shame and sorrow,
   That a time could ever be
   When I let the Saviour’s pity
   Plead in vain, and proudly answered:
   All of self, and none of Thee!

2 Yet He found me; I beheld Him
   Bleeding on the accursed tree,
   Heard Him pray, Forgive them, Father!
   And my wistful heart said faintly,
   Some of self, and some of Thee!

3 Day by day His tender mercy,
   Healing, helping, full and free,
   Sweet and strong, and, ah! so patient,
   Brought me lower, while I whispered:
   Less of self, and more of Thee!

4 Higher than the highest heaven,
   Deeper than the deepest sea,
   Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;
   Grant me now my supplication,–
   None of self and all of Thee!
                         Theodore Monod
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
According to this site, he was one of the early speakers at Keswick, an annual holiness conference in the late 1800s. The lyrics of this hymn would definitely align with that.
</idle musing>

Thursday, November 16, 2023

What is there to fear?

"For those who have been redeemed by Christ, the universe has no ultimate terrors; they know that their Redeemer is also creator, ruler, and goal of all,"—F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. 63

Yes, Virginia, there (still) is a metanarrative

The fathers insist that the narrative of the Bible is a continuous, deeply connected story from Genesis through Revelation. The Old Testament is not discontinuous with the New. Rather the themes presented in the Old Testament find their fulfillment in the narrative structure of the New Testament. Continuity and fulfillment characterize the entire story. Most importantly, the fathers insist that the biblical narrative reaches its culmination, its thematic climax, with the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God. Indeed, the incarnational, soteriological and eschatological foci of the New Testament further clarify and deepen the Old Testament witness itself. We will read the Bible ineffectively and incorrectly, the fathers warn, if we fail to read its individual parts in the light of its overarching, unifying message.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 191

<idle musing>
I know I've used that blog title at least once before, but I like it. Especially because it is true. Our age likes to split the Bible into smaller sections and look at the theology of a book, or section of a book, or a section of the canon. The big projects of the early-to-mid-twentieth century, such as Eichrodt and van Rad with their huge, two volume theologies aren't being produced anymore. But you can buy any number of books with the title/subtitle/theme of "the theologies of the Bible." We've lost sight of the metanarrative.

Lewis was right (see yesterday's post), we do need the writers and books of the past to correct our blindness!
</idle musing>

Not because I hope for heaven thereby

214 Molleson. C. M.

1 My God, I love thee; not because
   I hope for heaven thereby,
   nor yet because who love thee not
   are lost eternally.

2 Thou, O my Jesus, thou didst me
   upon the cross embrace;
   for me didst bear the nails and spear,
   and manifold disgrace;

3 Then why, O blessèd Jesu Christ,
   should I not love thee well?
   Not for the sake of winning heaven,
   nor of escaping hell;

4 Not with the hope of gaining aught,
   not seeking a reward;
   but as thyself hast lovèd me,
   O ever-loving Lord.

5 So would I love thee, dearest Lord,
   and in thy praise will sing;
   solely because thou art my God,
   and my most loving King.
                         Anonymous. From the Latin
                         Tr. by Edward Caswall
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
According to, this is sometimes attributed to Francis Xavier, one of the nine original Jesuits. They also insert a third verse:

3 And griefs and torments numberless,
   and sweat of agony;
   yea, death itself — and all for me
   who was thine enemy.
And, they say that the United Methodist Supplement adds two more:
(A) 5. So would I love thee, dearest Lord,
   and in thy praise will sing;
   because thou art my loving God
   and my eternal King.

(B) 4. God, through the Spirit we shall know
   if thou within us shine,
   and sound, with all thy saints below,
   the depths of love divine.

</idle musing>

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

On the reading of old books

In the words of Lewis, “Every age has its own outlook, It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”

Lewis has no desire to deify the past: “People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we.” However, they did not, generally speaking, make “the same mistakes” we make today: “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.”[C. S. Lewis, On the Reading of Old Books, 207, emphasis original]—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 183

<idle musing>
I had heard portions of that quotation from Lewis for decades, but never had seen the whole thing, nor did I know where it came from. It's even more powerful with a context. Looks like I'll have to chase down the original and read it.
</idle musing>

My faith looks up to thee

213 Olivet. 6. 6. 4. 6. 6. 6.4.

1 My faith looks up to Thee,
   Thou Lamb of Calvary,
   Savior divine!
   Now hear me while I pray,
   take all my guilt away;
   O let me from this day
   be wholly Thine.

2 May Thy rich grace impart
   strength to my fainting heart,
   my zeal inspire;
   as Thou hast died for me,
   O may my love to Thee
   pure, warm, and changeless be,
   a living fire.

3 While life’s dark maze I tread,
   and griefs around me spread,
   be Thou my Guide;
   bid darkness turn to day,
   wipe sorrow’s tears away,
   nor let me ever stray
   from Thee aside.

4 When ends life's transient dream,
   when death’s cold, sullen stream
   shall o'er me roll,
   blest Savior, then in love,
   fear and distrust remove;
   O bear me safe above,
   a ransomed soul.
                         Ray Palmer
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This was Palmer's first hymn and is in over 2000 hymnals. Here's what says about it:

This hymn was written by the author when fresh from College, and during an engagement in teaching in New York. This was in 1830. The author says concerning its composition, "I gave form to what I felt, by writing, with little effort, the stanzas. I recollect I wrote them with very tender emotion, and ended the last line with tears."
Indeed! I can easily see why.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

With all your lēbāb (לבב)

English speakers often distinguish between “heart knowledge” and “head knowledge,” but in biblical Hebrew, לבב refers to both the “heart” and the “mind” (and can further indicate “thinking,” “feeling,” or one’s “will”). To be called to love Yahweh with all our לבב implies not only our heartfelt devotion but also our thinking.

To live out this devotion to God, Moses tells the people to have Yahweh’s words on their לבב. While this does imply memorization, the point is that they should have these words on their mind in daily life. The English expression really is fitting. Like a tune we can’t get out of our heads, or something we can’t take off our minds, Moses instructs us to be deliberate about thinking on God’s Word—to be so occupied with the word of Yahweh that we are in a sense preoccupied with it, so much so that it spills out in our words and actions.—Brian L. Webster, in Devotions on the Hebrew Bible, 35

It's a slow-going read

People bred by their culture to expect a text to address and immediately answer problems, questions or issues that by their intrinsic nature demand a slower, broader and deeper response will often find themselves frustrated by patristic writers. The quest for immediate spiritual or intellectual gratification is rarely successful; short-term solutions to long-term problems ultimately break down. The fathers are insistent that spiritual, theological and biblical insight does not appear overnight. Instead, they adamantly insist that the Bible opens itself to those who have immersed themselves in its riches and pondered it deeply within the context of prayer, worship and communal reflection.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 180

</idle musing>
All of which are taboo in our instant-on, instant gratification, soundbite-oriented world. No wonder we produce few mystics and saints!

Much as we would like, there is no instant maturity. It requires nurturing a daily, moment-by-moment walk with God. That means putting the phone down!
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

Never feel any contempt for anybody. No Christian has any right to feel contempt…. It can only come out of pride, which is an open door for the enemy. So let us be an open tent; let us be charitable and loving through it all while we keep ourselves in the love of God. And, if we love God, we will also love God’s.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 220

I heard the voice of Jesus

210 Vox Dilecti. C. M. D. (First tune)
Truman. C. M. D. (Second tune)

1 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
   “Come unto Me and rest;
   lay down, thou weary one, lay down
   thy head upon My breast.”
   I came to Jesus as I was,
   so weary, worn, and sad;
   I found in Him a resting place,
   and He has made me glad.

2 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
   “Behold, I freely give
   the living water, thirsty one;
   stoop down, and drink, and live.”
   I came to Jesus, and I drank
   of that life-giving stream;
   my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
   and now I live in Him.

3 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
   “I am this dark world’s Light;
   look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
   and all thy day be bright.”
   I looked to Jesus, and I found
   in Him my Star, my Sun;
   and in that Light of life I’ll walk,
   till trav'ling days are done.
                         Horatius Bonar
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, November 13, 2023

Why almonds, of all trees?

Why almonds? There is no evidence that Aaron’s rod was made of almond wood. Nor did Hebrew have the expression, “You’re driving me nuts!” However, the word for “almond” (שָׁקֵד [šākēd]) is derived from the same root as the verb for “keep watch, be awake, be vigilant” (שקד). This is because the almond tree is “watchful/ awake” in the sense that it is the first tree to blossom every year while other trees continue their winter slumber. Now we can understand, for example, God’s object lesson to young Jeremiah, which otherwise does not make sense in English: “ ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree [שָׁקֵד],’ I replied. The LORD said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching [participle of שקד] to see that my word is fulfilled’ ” (Jer 1:11-12).—Roy Gane, in Devotions on the Hebrew Bible, 31

Ambrose has a word for you

Ambrose asks, Have not the rich lost all sense of proportion in their self-indulgence? Their riches have blinded them to the needs of the poor, daily paraded before their very noses.
You give coverings to walls and bring men to nakedness. The naked cries out before your house unheeded; your fellow-man is there, naked and crying, while you are perplexed by the choice of marble to clothe your floor. A poor man begs for money in vain; your fellow-man is there, begging bread, and your horse champs gold between his teeth. Other men have no corn; your fancy is held by precious ornaments. What a judgment you draw upon yourself! The people are starving, and you shut your barns; the people are groaning, and you toy with the jewel upon your finger. Unhappy man, with the power but not the will to rescue so many souls from death, when the price of a jewelled ring might save the lives of a whole populace.
—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 175

<idle musing>
Indeed! Can you imagine the sermons he would give today? Not too many christians, in the US at least, would meet his approval. In fact, he would question whether or not the label Christians should even be applied to much of what passes for Christianity in this country.
</idle musing>

I like this!

I'm in the midst of editing a commentary and they cited a text from Wisdom of Solomon. One of my jobs is to make sure that the version they are quoting from says what they say it does. In this case, they were quoting from Wis 13:1–2. In the process of checking it, I ran across the Good News Translation's version (I didn't even know that the GNT had done the apocrypha!). I really liked it, so I'm sharing it with you (don't you feel privileged!?):
1 Anyone who does not know God is simply foolish. Such people look at the good things around them and still fail to see the living God. They have studied the things he made, but they have not recognized the one who made them. 2 Instead, they suppose that the gods who rule the world are fire or wind or storm or the circling stars or rushing water or the heavenly bodies. 3 People were so delighted with the beauty of these things that they thought they must be gods, but they should have realized that these things have a master and that he is much greater than all of them, for he is the creator of beauty, and he created them. 4 Since people are amazed at the power of these things, and how they behave, they ought to learn from them that their maker is far more powerful. 5 When we realize how vast and beautiful the creation is, we are learning about the Creator at the same time.

6 But maybe we are too harsh with these people. After all, they may have really wanted to find God, but couldn't. 7 Surrounded by God's works, they keep on looking at them, until they are finally convinced that because the things they see are so beautiful, they must be gods. 8 But still, these people really have no excuse. 9 If they had enough intelligence to speculate about the nature of the universe, why did they never find the Lord of all things?

Sounds a good bit like Paul, doesn't it?

Amazing Grace

209 Amazing Grace. C. M.

1 Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
   that saved a wretch like me!
   I once was lost, but now am found,
   was blind, but now I see.

2 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
   and grace my fears relieved;
   how precious did that grace appear
   the hour I first believed!

3 Through many dangers, toils and snares
   I have already come:
   'tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
   and grace will lead me home.

4 The Lord has promised good to me,
   his word my hope secures;
   he will my shield and portion be
   as long as life endures.
                         John Newton
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I suspect this is probably one of the most well-known of all English hymns—especially among the unchurched. You hear it in the most unlikely places. It's been used over and over again in movies. says it's in 1391 hymnals, which isn't the most I've seen on their site, but is definitely on the high end. They also add a couple of verses:

5 Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
   and mortal life shall cease:
   I shall possess, within the veil,
   a life of joy and peace.

6 The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
   the sun forbear to shine;
   but God, who called me here below,
   will be forever mine.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

How can a sinner know His sins on earth forgiven?

208 Old 134th (St. Michael). S. M.

1 How can a sinner know
   His sins on earth forgiven?
   How can my gracious Savior show
   My name inscribed in heaven?

2 What we have felt and seen
   With confidence we tell;
   And publish to the sons of men
   The signs infallible.

3 We who in Christ believe
   That He for us hath died,
   We all His unknown peace receive,
   And feel His blood applied.

4 We by his Spirit prove
   and know the things of God,
   the things which freely of his love
   he hath on us bestowed.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> adds some verses:

4 Exults our rising soul,
   Disburdened of her load,
   And swells unutterably full
   Of glory and of God.

5 His love surpassing far
   The love of all beneath
   We find within our hearts, and dare
   The pointless darts of death.

6 Stronger than death or hell
   The sacred power we prove;
   And, conquerors of the world, we dwell
   In heaven, who dwell in love.

And the Methodist Hymnal from 1989 adds two different ones to the end:
5. The meek and lowly heart
   that in our Savior was,
   to us that Spirit doth impart
   and signs us with his cross.

6. Our nature's turned, our mind
   transformed in all its powers,
   and both the witnesses are joined,
   the Spirit of God with ours.

</idle musing>

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Our little systems have their day…

206 Keble. L. M.

1 Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
   Whom we, that have not seen Thy face,
   By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
   Believing where we cannot prove;

2 Thou wilt not leave us in the dust;
   Thou madest man, he knows not why,
   He thinks he was not made to die:
   And Thou hast made him: Thou art just.

3 Thou seemest human and divine,
   The highest, holiest manhood, Thou;
   Our wills are ours, we know not how;
   Ours wills are ours, to make them Thine.

4 Our little systems have their day;
   They have their day and cease to be;
   They are but broken lights of Thee,
   And Thou, O Lord, art more than they.
                         Alfred Tennyson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I really like that last verse, "Our little systems have their day; / They have their day and cease to be." I, at least, tend to forget that. We think we're creating this huge, resilient system, and in God's eyes, they are just "little systems" that will "have their day" and then "cease to be." If we are lucky, they might leave a trace for some archaeologist in some unforeseen future to dig up. But, the chances are, it will be but dust.

Just an
</idle musing>

Friday, November 10, 2023

Jerome's hermeneutics

Because he [Jerome] is convinced that the overarching biblical narrative is one piece, inspired by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and continually pointing to God’s culminating act in the incarnation and redemptive work of the Son, Jerome consistently looks for connections in the story, many of which are not immediately apparent. He, like other fathers, will force us to read the particular text in light of the whole gospel narrative within the context of the Christian community.

The danger of this approach, though, particularly for those fathers seeking an allegorical sense in the biblical text, is to discern a message in the text that only they can see. The danger of subjectivism is apparent.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 115

Jesu, They blood and righteousness (Zinzendorf)

205 Ombersley. L. M.

1. Jesu, Thy blood and righteousness
   My beauty are, my glorious dress:
   ’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
   With joy shall I lift up my head.

2. Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
   For who aught to my charge shall lay?
   Fully through these absolved I am
   From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

3. Lord, I believe the precious blood
   Which at the mercy-seat of God
   For ever doth for sinners plead,
   For me, even for my soul, was shed.

4. Lord, I believe, were sinners more
   Than sands upon the ocean-shore,
   For all Thou hast the ransom given,
   Purchased for all peace, life, and Heaven.
                         Nicolaus L. Zinzendorf
                         Tr. by John Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
John Wesley translated a good number of Zinzendorf's hymns into English. I don't recall ever singing this one. In fact, Cyberhymnal lists 24 verses for this hymn! And the notes to it say that in the German it was 33 verses! That's just not singable… The version in the 1939 Methodist hymnal, quoted above, uses verses 1,2, 7, and 8. Here are the remainder:

3. The deadly writing now I see
   Nail’d with Thy body to the tree:
   Torn with the nails that pierced Thy hands,
   The old covenant no longer stands.

4. Though, signed and written with my blood,
   As hell’s foundations sure it stood,
   Thine hath washed out the crimson stains,
   And white as snow my soul remains.

5. Satan, thy due reward survey;
   The Lord of Life why didst thou slay?
   To tear the prey out of thy teeth;
   To spoil the realms of hell and death.

6. The holy, the unspotted Lamb,
   Who from the Father’s bosom came,
   Who died, for me, even me, to atone,
   Now for my Lord and God I own.

9. Lord, I believe the price is paid,
   For every soul the atonement made;
   And every soul Thy grace may prove,
   Loved with an everlasting love.

10. Carnal, and sold to sin, no more
   I am; hell’s tyranny is o’er:
   The immortal seed remains within,
   And, born of God, I cannot sin.

11. Yet naught whereof to boast I have;
   All, all Thy mercy freely gave;
   No works, no righteousness are mine;
   All is Thy work, and only Thine.

12. When from the dust of death I rise
   To claim my mansion in the skies,
   Even then, this shall be all my plea,
   Jesus hath lived, hath died for me.

13. Thus Abraham, the friend of God,
   Thus all heaven’s armies bought with blood,
   Savior of sinners Thee proclaim;
   Sinners, of whom the chief I am.

14. Naked from Satan did I flee,
   To Thee, my Lord, and put on Thee:
   And thus adorned, I wait the word,
   He comes: arise, and meet thy Lord.

15. This spotless robe the same appears
   When ruined nature sinks in years:
   No age can change its constant hue;
   Thy blood preserves it ever new.

16. When Thou shalt call in that great day
   For my account, thus will I say:
   “Thanks to my gracious Lord, if aught
   Of good I did, glad I it wrought:

17. “And while I felt Thy blood within
   Cleansing my soul from every sin,
   Purging each fierce and foul desire;
   I joyed in the refining fire.

18. If pride, desire, wrath stirred anew,
   Swift to my sure resort I flew:
   See there my Lord upon the tree!
   Hell heard: instant my soul was free.

19. Then shall Heaven’s hosts with loud acclaim
   Give praise and glory to the Lamb,
   Who bore our sins, and by His blood
   Hath made us kings and priests to God.

20. O ye, who joy to feed His sheep,
   Ever in your remembrance keep,
   Empty they are, and void of God,
   Till brought to the atoning blood.

21. Jesu, be endless praise to Thee,
   Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
   For me, and all Thy hands have made,
   An everlasting ransom paid.

22. Ah, give me now, all-gracious Lord,
   With power to speak Thy quickening word;
   That all who to Thy wounds will flee
   May find eternal life in Thee.

23. Thou God of power, Thou God of love,
   Let the whole world Thy mercy prove:
   Now let Thy word o’er all prevail;
   Now take the spoils of death and hell.

24. O, let the dead now hear Thy voice;
   Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
   Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
   Jesu, Thy blood and righteousness!

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Ambrose and Augustine on hermeneutics

It is important to note that the comments of Ambrose and Augustine concerning the “literal” meaning of a biblical text were made in response to Christian interpreters who disregarded common literary devices such as metaphor and insisted on interpreting the Old Testament in an extremely wooden, often corporeal sense. Too many in Ambrose’s own congregation considered exegesis a “spontaneous, immediate, and unconsidered” exercise. Various “errors and absurdities” were the result. Ambrose did not ignore the literal sense of the text, “but in many cases called the spiritual sense what we would consider to be the figurative literal sense.” [De Margerie, Introduction to the History of Exegesis, 2:79]—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 105

<idle musing>
The more things change, the more they remain the same, eh? I've often said that we could use more literary interpreters and fewer engineer ones. By that meaning those who understand the literary techniques versus the literalistic, blueprint approach to scripture that seems to be far too common. Or else people wax eloquent in the allegorical approach, an equally dangerous approach…
</idle musing>

Rock of Ages and reflections on the author

204 Toplady. 7. 7. 7. 7. 7. 7.

1 Rock of ages, cleft for me,
   Let me hide myself in Thee;
   Let the water and the blood,
   From Thy wounded side which flowed,
   Be of sin the double cure,
   Save from wrath and make me pure.

2 Could my tears forever flow,
   Could my zeal no languor know,
   These for sin could not atone:
   Thou must save, and Thou alone.
   In my hand no price I bring;
   Simply to Thy cross I cling,

3 While I draw this fleeting breath,
   When my eyes shall close in death,
   When I rise to worlds unknown,
   And behold Thee on Thy throne,
   Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
   Let me hide myself in Thee.
                         Augustus Toplady
The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
When I was in college, one of my roommates had a John Denver live album on which he makes a mockery of this hymn as part of his mockery of the American way of death. To this day, I can't help but hear the first two lines as "Rock of Ages, cleft for me, for a slightly higher fee." Now I've cursed you with that knowledge too. No need to thank me : (

On a more serious note: For years I thought the name of the author was pronounced Top'-lady. It wasn't until I saw it in an older hymnal where they have it as To'plady that I realized my mistake. Now, if you didn't know that, Does that make up for the bad first paragraph? : )

Also, this hymn seems to have an amazing number of alternate verses for one in English and under 300 year old!. I can't even begin to list the different verses, so just click through to for the different options.

Finally, quotes this from a biographical note about him:

He was a strong and partizan Calvinist, and not well-informed theologically outside of Calvinism. We willingly and with sense of relief leave unstirred the small thick dust of oblivion that has gathered on his controversial writings, especially his scurrilous language to John Wesley because of his Arminianism, as we do John Wesley's deplorable misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Calvinism.

Throughout Toplady lacked the breadth of the divine Master's watchword "Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us" (St. Luke ix. 50). He was impulsive, rash-spoken, reckless in misjudgment; but a flame of genuine devoutness burned in the fragile lamp of his overtasked and wasted body.

I would argue with their characterization of Wesley, but I've read some of Toplady's stuff against Wesley, and agree with them about his accusations against Wesley.

He was truly a saint with feet of clay, like so many.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Chrysostom's theodicy

Chrysostom consistently argues that the gospel of Christ has effectively sucked the poison out of the Christian's suffering. The realities God has introduced into the world through Christ have conquered harm as a continuing, unjust, unrighteous reality, a permanent source of lasting damage to the Christian. Suffering overcomes harm, John contends, through the cross of Christ.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 97–98

<idle musing>
And he would know about suffering! If you don't know his story, you should read about him. He was exiled for standing up against the emperor. In those days "speaking truth to power" didn't get you a social media following! It got you exile, and probably death.
</idle musing>

Father of Jesus Christ, my Lord

203 Evanston. C. M.

1 Father of Jesus Christ, my Lord,
   My Saviour, and my Head,
   I trust in Thee, whose powerful word
   Hath rais'd Him from the dead.

2 In hope, against all human hope,
   Self desperate, I believe;
   Thy quickening Word shall raise me up,
   Thou shalt Thy Spirit give.

3 To Thee the glory of Thy power
   And faithfulness I give.
   I shall in Christ, at that glad hour,
   And Christ in me shall live.

4 Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
   And looks to that alone;
   Laughs at impossibilities,
   And cries, It shall be done!
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> has a variety of other verses and mixes up the order of the ones in the Methodist hymnal. Here's what their base text, from the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-book, has, omitting verses 2 and 4 above:

2 Thou know'st for my offence He died,
   And rose again for me;
   Fully and freely justified,
   That I might live to Thee.

3 Eternal life to all mankind
   Thou hast in Jesus given;
   And all who seek, in Him, shall find
   The happiness of heaven.

4 Obedient faith, that waits on Thee,
   Thou never wilt reprove;
   But Thou wilt form Thy Son in me,
   And perfect me in love.

Rather interesting that the Methodist hymnal omits verse 4 and the Lutheran one includes it. It's a classic Wesleyan doctrine that the Lutherans tend to ignore.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Chrysostom's practical theology

For Chrysostom, solid doctrine add sound living remained an inseparable whole. What we know must deeply affect how we live. If not, the truth of the gospel is short-circuited and the watching world perceives a skewed picture of the gospel’s reality. Chrysostom views Paul, above all others, as the expert at fusing knowledge and life.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 96–97

<idle musing>
A recurring theme in the church fathers. For them there was no salvation apart from a change in conduct. In other words, no cheap grace.

We could do with a good bit of that theology! Not works righteousness, mind you, but as I like to say: heart holiness.
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

We must contend but not be contentious. We must preserve truth but injure no man. We must destroy error but not harm people. Some men were wrong in earlier days; they contended and, in contending, they became contentious. Trying to preserve truth, they destroyed those who held error. This is wrong. Let us preserve truth but injure no man.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 219

<idle musing>
We would do well to heed this advice! "Let us injure no man [person, in updated language]" is good—and Christian—advice.
</idle musing>

Father, I stretch my hands to thee

202 Naomi. C. M.

1 Father, I stretch my hands to Thee;
   No other help I know.
   If Thou withdraw Thyself from me,
   Oh! whither shall I go?

2 What did Thine only Son endure,
   Before I drew my breath!
   What pain, what labor to secure
   My soul from endless death!

3 Surely Thou canst not let me die;
   Oh, speak and I shall live;
   And here I will unwearied lie,
   Till Thou Thy Spirit give.

4 Author of faith! to Thee I lift
   My weary, longing eyes;
   Oh, let me now receive that gift!
   My soul without it dies.
                         Charles Wesley
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, November 06, 2023

Basil's hermeneutics

Basil here illustrates a fundamental patristic hermeneutical principle. The old must be read and interpreted in light of the new. The narrative of Scripture is a continuum progressing to a culmination in Christ. As the texts of the old covenant are watered by the revelation the new covenant brings, they themselves blossom even more fully.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 92

Jesus, the sinner's friend

201 Federal Street. L. M.

1 Jesus, the sinner’s Friend, to Thee,
   Lost and undone, for aid I flee,
   Weary of earth, myself, and sin;
   Open Thine arms, and take me in.

2 Pity and heal my sin-sick soul;
   ’Tis Thou alone canst make me whole;
   Dark, till in me Thine image shine,
   And lost, I am, till Thou art mine.

3 At last I own it cannot be
   That I should fit myself for Thee:
   Here, then, to Thee I all resign;
   Thine is the work, and only Thine.

4 What shall I say Thy grace to move?
   Lord, I am sin, but Thou art love:
   I give up every plea beside-
   Lord, I am lost, but Thou hast died.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Depth of mercy!

200 Seymour. 7. 7. 7. 7.

1 Depth of mercy! Can there be
   mercy still reserved for me?
   Can my God His wrath forbear?
   me, the chief of sinners, spare?

2 I have long withstood His grace,
   long provoked Him to His face;
   would not hearken to His calls,
   grieved Him by a thousand falls.

3 I my Master have denied;
   I afresh have crucified,
   oft profaned His hallowed name,
   put Him to an open shame.

4 There for me the Savior stands,
   shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
   God is love! I know, I feel;
   Jesus weeps, but loves me still!
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> adds a fifth verse:

5 Now incline me to repent,
   let me now my fall lament;
   now my foul revolt deplore!
   weep, believe, and sin no more.
Classic Wesleyan doctrine in that verse; I'm surprised the Methodist hymnal excised it.
</idle musing>

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Slow down! Read the words!

198 Woodsworth. L. M.

1. Just as I am, without one plea,
   but that thy blood was shed for me,
   and that thou bidst me come to thee,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

2. Just as I am, and waiting not
   to rid my soul of one dark blot,
   to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, though tossed about
   with many a conflict, many a doubt,
   fightings and fears within, without,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
   sight, riches, healing of the mind,
   yea, all I need in thee to find,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

5. Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
   wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
   because thy promise I believe,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

6. Just as I am, thy love unknown
   hath broken every barrier down;
   now, to be thine, yea thine alone,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
                         Charlotte Elliott
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
OK, everybody who grew up hearing a Billy Graham crusade knows at least the first verse of this hymn. In fact, says it occurs in over 2000 hymnals! That's the most I've seen for a hymn, although I'm fairly sure that others are more popular. Because of its popularity, it's easy to just dismiss it, but slow down and read the words. There's a reason that Billy Graham chose it for his signature invitational hymn.
</idle musing>

Friday, November 03, 2023

Basil takes aim. Better duck, he's aiming at you!

Yes, Basil would make many modern Christians uncomfortable, particularly those raised in an affluent environment where every need for food, shelter and clothing is well met. The modern martyrs and prisoners of the faith would more readily recognize his voice. Without doubt Basil would consider the affluent Western lifestyle at best a spiritual smokescreen that, like the lifestyle of many of his own wealthy contemporaries, could blind one to the need for utter dependence upon God and sensitivity to the needs of the surrounding poor. Later, while serving as an auxiliary bishop in Caesarea, Basil would witness firsthand the horrors of famine and the even greater horror of wealthy Christians turning a blind eye to the needs of the poor.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 83

<idle musing>
The more things change, the more they stay the same! Wealthy christians are still turning a blind eye. John Michael Talbot's "Would You Crucify Him" has been running though my mind the last several weeks. Even though it was written in the 1970s, it seems terribly relevant.

Sometimes, in the cool of the evenin'
The truth comes like a Lover through the wind
Sometimes, when my thoughts have gone misleadin'
She'll ask that same old question once again...

Would you crucify Him
Would you crucify Him..., my old friend?
Now would you crucify Him...,
I'm talking 'bout the sweet Lord Jesus
If He'd walk right here among you once again?

She's askin', How many times have you looked down to the harlot
Lookin' through her tears, pretendin' you don't know?
But once you were just like her, how can you be now so self righteous
When in the name of the Lord you'd throw the first stone

Would you crucify Him
Now would you crucify Him..., my religious friend?
Now would you crucify Him...,
I'm talking 'bout the sweet Lord Jesus
If He'd walk right here among you once again?

So now I turn to you through your years of your robes and your stained-glass windows
Do you vainly echo your prayers, say you're "pleasing the Lord"
Profess the Marriage with your tongue, but your mind dreams like the harlot
But if the Judge looks to your thoughts can't you guess your reward?

But yet how many times have you quoted from your Bible
To justify your eye for your eye and your tooth for your tooth?
You say that He didn't mean what He was plainly sayin'
But like the Pharisee, my friend, you're an educated fool!

And somehow... I think they'd crucify Him
I think they'd crucify Him..., my religious friends.
Now would you crucify Him...,
I'm talking 'bout the sweet Lord Jesus
If He'd walk right here among you once again?

Now would you crucify Him...I'm talking 'bout the sweet Lord Jesus
If He'd walk right here among you once again?

Again, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I just read this the other day: "What the world needs—far more than gold, lithium, or faster silicon chips—is wisdom: an awe and delight in God and a desire to follow his ways." Yep.
</idle musing>

Behold a stranger at the door!

196 Bera. L. M.

1 Behold a Stranger at the door!
   He gently knocks, has knocked before,
   Has waited long, is waiting still:
   You treat no other friend so ill.

2 O lovely attitude! He stands
   With melting heart and laden hands:
   O matchless kindness! and He shows
   This matchless kindness to His foes.

3 But will He prove a friend indeed?
   He will; the very friend you need;
   The Friend of sinners--yea, 'tis He,
   With garments dyed on Calvary.

4 Rise, touched with gratitude divine;
   Turn out His enemy and thine,
   That soul-destroying monster, sin,
   And let the heavenly Stranger in.
                         Joseph Grigg
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, November 02, 2023


Rather than producing a forced harmony, the comparison of texts acknowledges the Spirit's overriding authorship of the entire Bible. Because the New Testament Scriptures are in continuity with those of the Old Testament, Gregory feels free to interpret the Old in light of the New. To fail to do so is to practice a wooden literalism that fails to observe the Bible's deeper unity in the Spirit.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 76-77

Return, o wanderer, return

195 Woodworth. L. M.

1 Return, O wanderer, return,
   And seek an injur'd Father’s face;
   Those warm desires that in thee burn,
   Were kindled by reclaiming grace.

2 Return, O wanderer, return,
   And seek a Father’s melting heart;
   His pitying eyes thy grief discern,
   His hand can heal thy inward smart.

3 Return, O wanderer, return,
   Thy Savior bids thy spirit live;
   Go to his bleeding feet, and learn
   How freely Jesus can forgive.

4 Return, O wanderer, return,
   And wipe away the falling tear:
   ’Tis God who says, "No longer mourn,"
   ’Tis mercy’s voice invites thee near.
                         Wiliam B. Collyer
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I wasn't too sure where this hymn was going at the beginning of the first verse; far too often when they start with "injur'd Father's face" they go on to rail about an angry god just waiting to smash you. But, the direction he went was refreshing, emphasizing prevenient grace and the love of God. Would that more invitational hymns went that direction! In fact, #197, two hymns later goes the direction of shame.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Tozer for Tuesday

Yes, I know it's Wednesday, but I forgot to post this yesterday…

Think of the attributes of God. They all comprise the nature of the one God. If we eliminate or ignore any of those attributes, we come away with something that is less than God. For example, if you take all the justice, judgment and hatred of sin out of the nature of God, you have nothing left but a soft God. And those who have taken love and grace out end up with nothing but a God of judgment. Take away the personality of God and you have nothing but a mathematical God like the God of the scientists. All these are false, inadequate conceptions of God.

Our God is a God of justice and a God of grace; and while He is the God of righteousness, He also is the God of mercy. And. while He is a God of mathematical exactness, He is also a God that could take babies in His arms and pat their heads and smile. He is a God that can forgive and a God that does forgive.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 215

Yes, Virginia, there is a metanarrative in scripture

Underlying Gregory's trinitarian analysis is the firm conviction that isolated texts of Scripture should be read in light of the overarching biblical narrative; because the Holy Spirit has inspired all the biblical authors, it is perfectly legitimate to allow one text to shed light on another. Rather than producing a forced harmony, the comparison of texts acknowledges the Spirit's overriding authorship of the entire Bible. Because the New Testament Scriptures are in continuity with those of the Old Testament, Gregory feels free to interpret the Old in light of the New. To fail to do so is to practice a wooden literalism that fails to observe the Bible's deeper unity in the Spirit.—Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, 76–77

Come unto me, ye weary

194 Eirionydd. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 "Come unto me, ye weary,
   and I will give you rest."
   O blessed voice of Jesus,
   which comes to hearts oppressed!
   It tells of benediction,
   of pardon, grace, and peace,
   of joy that hath no ending,
   of love which cannot cease.

2 "Come unto me, ye fainting,
   and I will give you life."
   O cheering voice of Jesus,
   which comes to aid our strife!
   The foe is stern and eager,
   the fight is fierce and long,
   but thou hast made us mighty,
   and stronger than the strong.

3. "And whosoever cometh
   I will not cast him out."
   O patient love of Jesus,
   which drives away our doubt,
   which, though we be unworthy
   of love so great and free,
   invites us very sinners
   to come, dear Lord, to thee!
                         William C. Dix
The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> inserts a verse after the first verse:

2 "Come unto me, dear wand'rers,
   and I will give you light."
   O loving voice of Jesus,
   which comes to cheer the night!
   Our hearts were filled with sadness,
   and we had lost our way,
   but thou hast brought us gladness
   and songs at break of day.
</idle musing>