This is the last installment of quotes from my recent Winterim class on Jonathan Edwards with professor John Hannah from Dallas Theological Seminary. I hope you’ve benefited from some of them and that one or two will stick with you as you attempt to live carefully for the King. These are from our final class on Saturday, January 13.
Student question: Can we change the reading assignment? Answer: It would be a delightful thing to reduce 500 pages of your reading to 30, but those of us in the teaching profession have to keep up our image.
Difficult passages: There are some passages that just make me want to tear my hair out, and that’s good, because it reminds us of how small we are.
Formulating your theological views: Over the years I’ve asked myself the question, “How do people come to their views?” I think people embrace their views based on two things: (1) it leaves the least unanswered questions and (2) it leaves the least problems. But this still leaves us with (1) unanswered questions and (2) problems. I don’t think you truly know your view until you know the problems it creates and the questions it doesn’t answer.
Salvation: God is not moved by sincerity. He’s moved by righteousness.
Reasons: Reasons always come after reality. We invent reasons afterwards.
All of God, from beginning to end: You bring things into the presence of a monarch. But we have nothing to give our King. So He gives us things to give to Him. That’s the absurdity of the Christian faith.
Heaven: Heaven is the classless society of the redeemed.
Trials: I know this isn’t my decision to make, but I wish chapter 42 weren’t in Job, because most people don’t get their sons and daughters back when they lose them.
Trusting God: Assume for the sake of easy calculation that there are 300 days in a year. Then assume that I’m 60 years old (which I am). That’s 18,000 days of God’s faithfulness that I’ve experienced. So why don’t I trust Him to be faithful tomorrow? That’s called depravity. When it hits 19,000 days, I’ll look back and call the 18,001 day a day of faithfulness. But why don’t I live that way now? Because I don’t trust Him. I think we have some high-tech repenting to do.
What to live for: I played high school football, and I remember our wins, because there weren’t many. I remember standing as a 16-year-old on a frozen, raunchy football field with blood staining my face after beating our rivals in a muddy game. And as I walked off the field and headed for the bus, they turned out the lights. And I thought to myself, “Was it all worth it? They come, they applaud, they go home, and the lights are turned out.” And I realized at that point: I want to live for something where the lights never go out. And it can’t be myself.
Calvinists and Arminians: I do know that Calvinists don’t act any better than Arminians, even though they should.
Dealing with doubt: When I doubt, I don’t pull out my accomplishments. I pull out my Lord. I have not risen above a third-grader. I just know more.
Joy of pleasing God: When God is most pleased, we are most benefited. When God is glorified, we’ve got it made.
Evangelicalism today: I think that evangelical preaching today is baptized morality. And it’s good, but morality will damn your soul if it doesn’t have an object. Morality preached apart from the gospel is no gospel. Law and grace must always be put together. We seem to prefer to help people next week instead of forever. My goal is not to have a better existence, but to have a better eternity. By preaching a better eternity, they may have a better existence. But I don’t confuse the two. Don’t confuse cause and effect. If I preach cause, I’ll get effect. But if I preach effect, I won’t get cause.
Significance: We fear insignificance. But what we really fear is that God might call us to do something that He calls significant but that we don’t.