“Love God, and do as you please.”

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“See what we are insisting upon; that the deeds of men are only discerned by the root of charity. For many things may be done that have a good appearance, and yet proceed not from the root of charity. For thorns also have flowers: some actions truly seem rough, seem savage; howbeit they are done for discipline at the bidding of charity. Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.” (Augustine of Hippo, “Seventh Homily on 1st John”)

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Find Rest for All Our Striving

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After the Fall, we had set our minds into rebellion against God. We ran away from our original purpose and intended end. We suppress the truth in our unrighteousness. The struggle would only stop if we lay our intellectual arms down and consecrate our minds into service for the LORD:

“Once we recognize that our minds are meant to think God’s thoughts after Him, we will begin to find rest to all our striving.”

— K. Scott Oliphint

Gracious Bruises

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“We love to wander from ourselves and to be strangers at home, till God bruises us by one cross or other, and then we `begin to think’, and come home to ourselves with the prodigal (Luke 15:17). It is a very hard thing to bring a dull and an evasive heart to cry with feeling for mercy. Our hearts, like criminals, until they be beaten from all evasions, never cry for the mercy of the judge.

Again, this bruising makes us set a high price upon Christ. Then the gospel becomes the gospel indeed; then the fig leaves of morality will do us no good. And it makes us more thankful, and, from thankfulness, more fruitful in our lives; for what makes many so cold and barren, but that bruising for sin never endeared God’s grace to them.”

—Richard Sibbes, “The Bruised Reed”

“We Could Not Call it True…”

Just recently, I was able to read the Japanese novel “Silence.” This is a fine piece of literature from Shūsaku Endo’s pen. The plot followed the journey of a priest to Japan in the quest of finding his mentor in the faith who apostatized and evangelizing to the native folk. Below is a discussion between the priest Rodrigues (the novel’s protagonist) and an interpreter to the feudal lord:

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‘Father, we are not disputing about the right and wrong of your doctrine. In Spain and Portugal and such countries it may be true. The reason we have outlawed Christianity in Japan is that, after deep and earnest consideration, we find its teaching of no value for the Japan of today.’

The interpreter immediately came to the heart of the discussion. The old man in front with the big ears kept looking down on the priest sympathetically.

‘According to our way of thinking, truth is universal,’ said the priest, at last returning the smile of the old man. ‘A moment ago you officials expressed sympathy for the suffering I have passed through. One of you spoke words of warm consolation for my travelling thousands of miles of sea over such a long period to come to your country. If we did not believe that truth is universal, why should so many missionaries endure these hardships? It is precisely because truth is common to all countries and all times that we call it truth. If a true doctrine were not true alike in Portugal and Japan we could not call it “true”.’

Talk about putting the nail in the coffin of postmodernism and charging forward the relevance of the gospel! I’m looking forward to write more on the pressing issues that the novel laid in its pages.

Excerpt from Shūsaku Endo, “Silence: a novel,” trans. William Johnston (New York: Picador, 2016)