It seems to me rather absurd when Christians feel obliged either to celebrate or to lament the conversion of Constantine - to proclaim it either as the victory of the true faith over its persecutors or as the victory of the devil over the purity of the Gospel - rather than simply to accept it and all its historical sequels as part of the mysterious story of grace working upon fallen natures: to love everything good and splendid that it produced, to deplore everything sordid and evil, and then to recognize as well (and this is the most challenging task of all) that the tale of Christendom’s failure and defeat is also enfolded within those same workings of grace.
Do you know that every man who sleeps believes in God? It is a sacrament; for it is an act of faith and it is a food.
A theology of faithful presence first calls Christians to attend to the people and places that they experience directly. It is not that believers should be disconnected from, or avoid responsibility for people and places across the globe. Far from it. Christians are called to go into all the world, after all and to carry the good news in word and deed that God’s kingdom has come. But with that said, the call to faithful presence gives priority to what is right in front of us – the community, the neighbourhood, and the city, and that people of which these are constituted. For most, this will mean a preference for stability, locality and particularity of place and its needs. It is here, through the joys, sufferings, hopes, disappointments, concerns, desires and worries of the people with whom we are in long term and close relation – family neighbours, co-workers, and community – where we find authenticity as a body and as believers. It is here we learn forgiveness and humility, practice kindness, hospitality and charity, grow in patience and wisdom, and become clothed in compassion, gentleness and joy. This is the crucible within which Christian holiness is forged. This is the context within which shalom is enacted.
James Davison Hunter
In Jesus Christ there is no isolation of man from God or of God from man. Rather, in Him we encounter the history, the dialogue, in which God and man meet together and are together, the reality of the covenant mutually contracted, preserved, and fulfilled by them. Jesus Christ is in His one Person, as true God, man’s loyal partner, and as true man, God’s. He is the Lord humbled for communion with man and likewise the Servant exalted to communion with God. He is the Word spoken from the loftiest, most luminous transcendence and likewise the Word heard in the deepest, darkest immanence. He is both, without their being confused but also without their being divided; He is wholly the one and wholly the other. Thus in this oneness Jesus Christ is the Mediator, the Reconciler, between God and man.
Karl Barth, The Humanity of God
The last word that I have to say as a theologian or politician is not a concept like grace but a name: Jesus Christ. He is grace and he is the ultimate one beyond world and church and even theology. We cannot lay hold of him. In him is the spur to work, warfare, and fellowship. In him is all that I have attempted in my life in weakness and folly.
Barth, quoted by Hauerwas
[The claim] that some think theological claims must be grounded in empirical proofs is based on the assumption that there is an essential tension between faith and reason. Even Christian theologians have sometimes underwritten the assumption that the faith of Christians cannot be rationally defended. However, the very presumption that reason is one thing and faith is another betrays a distorted view of reason. What Christians believe is not a “take it or leave it” choice, but rather an ongoing claim that all that is exists by God’s good grace. The working out of that claim is never finished.
“If I ever do get to be a fine writer, it will not be because I am a fine
writer but because God has given me credit for a few of the things He
kindly wrote for me. Right at present this does not seem to be His policy.
I can’t write a thing. But I’ll continue to try—that is the point. And at
every dry point I will be reminded Who is doing the work when it is done &
Who is not doing it at that moment. Right now I wonder if God will ever do
any more writing for me. He has promised His grace; I am not so sure about
- Flannery O’Connor, from a journal
Quite simply, there is no formation without repetition. There is no habituation without being immersed in a practice over and over again… So it is precisely our allergy to repetition in worship that has undercut the counterformative power of Christian worship—because all kinds of secular liturgies shamelessly affirm the good of repetition. We’ve let the devil, so to speak, have all the repetition. And we, as liturgical animals, are only too happy to find our rhythms in such repetition. Unless Christian worship eschews the cult of novelty and embraces the good of faithful repetition, we will constantly be ceding habituation to secular liturgies.