Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bible verse meme

Usually memes don't tug my chain, but having been tagged by both Jason and Frank I thought I'd venture out on this one.

I think the general idea, to loosely cite Jason, is to post the verse or story of scripture which is most important to you, which you find yourself re-visiting time after time.

My own bible verse choice has to make mention of the spirituality embodied in a few Psalms, such as 63, 84 etc. However, the verse I will finally pick is the one I chose as the 'marriage scripture' for Anja and I, the verse referenced on my wedding ring:

'One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple' (Ps 27:4)

My whole spirituality and Christian life has been formed on the importance of passionate love for God encouraged through desirous and extended meditation and beholding of the divine glory and majesty. This may sound very much like something Edwards, Piper, Scougal or Owen would write and it is indeed something very deep in my Christian life. There is nothing I enjoy as much as prayerfully contemplating the glory of God in the face of Christ, nothing more delightful, nothing that stirs up worship in my heart as deeply and profoundly.

And to be preachy for a minute (I was in prison last night for the sake of the gospel, after all), there is a terrible danger for many theologians to develop a snooty attitude such that the first and highest commandment (Mt 22: 37-38) is somehow left to one side, and compromise is given a spiritual name like 'balance' or justified as the inevitable consequence of learning (cf. also Rom 12:11). I've been guilty of that in the past and verses like Ps 27:4 bring me back to the heart of worship, to the Triune God who loved a sinner like me.


At 7/25/2007 11:01 PM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

Thanks for that moment of sanity, CT. That's a great post.

At 7/26/2007 3:25 AM, Anonymous Recovering said...

Wow. Edward gets the world-title for the longest comment on a blog! I am very sensitive about sounding churchy or speaking in Christian-ease. I fret over being accessible and relevant to nonbelievers but I found nothing in the post that made my skin crawl.

Good post, Chris

At 7/26/2007 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Chris,

A very nice post.

Interestingly, Psalm 27:4 is also one of my favorites.

But I also love:

Psalm 69:2 O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. -- Douay-Rheims. (70:1 in other versions)

It's definitely come in handy on a few occasions.

According to John Cassian its use can be traced back to the Desert Monks as reported by Abba Isaac.

"And so for keeping up continual recollection of God this pious formula is to be ever set before you... for this verse has not unreasonably been picked out from the whole of Scripture for this purpose. For it embraces all the feelings which can be implanted in human nature, and can be fitly and satisfactorily adapted to every condition, and all assaults. Since it contains an invocation of God against every danger, it contains humble and pious confession, it contains the watchfulness of anxiety and continual fear, it contains the thought of one’s own weakness, confidence in the answer, and the assurance of a present and ever ready help. For one who is constantly calling on his protector, is certain that He is always at hand."

St. Benedict was later to make it the opening prayer for all the prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours. (except for the first hour of the day)

John McBryde

At 7/26/2007 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how anti-Jesus your readers are. Hmm...

At 7/26/2007 9:13 PM, Anonymous dan said...

Good stuff, Chris.

I can very much identify with what you speak of here. Not, contra babinski, because I am well-versed in "Christianese" (I'm actually much more comfortable with the sort of language that is spoken by the pushers and the prostitutes in the alleyway behind my house!), but because I have had similar experiences to yours.

Karl Rahner once said that Christians must become mystics or they will cease to be Christians. What he meant by this is that, after Christendom, Christians now live in a society where there are no real good reasons, no real benefits, to being a Christian. During Christendom it was socially and politically advantageous to ascribe to Christianity but, as Rahner recognised, that is no longer the case. Therefore, Rahner suggests that it is only a direct (i.e. mystical) encounter with the God of Christianity that will cause people not to abandon Christianity.

Of course, to speak of those encounters in the presence of some who have not had those encounters is, as babinski recognises, akin to speaking a foreign language -- although that language might not be "Christianese" (Edward, I address this point in some detail in an article in Stimulus, that you can find here: And so, until the day when God is "all in all" we do our best to live lives that give meaning to the unrecognisable word we proclaim.

Grace and peace.

At 7/26/2007 9:16 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks for the comments,

Edward: "private spritual joys not step over the line into a sort of ego-fest"

I would preffer to think of it as a 'God-fest'! To be honest, I'm not really sure what point you are making. Is it that you would like me to not use christian language? But why should I do that? Anyway, thanks for the great quotes!

Danke for that link, John.

Anon, why think you my readers (plural) hate Jesus?

At 7/27/2007 6:12 AM, Anonymous Cliff Martin said...

I read Mr. Babinski's tome (well, most of it anyway–I confess I scanned some parts) with interest.

Edward, like you, I ...
• avoid Christianese
• detest the particular hymns you quote
• dislike the arrogance of certain evangelistic self-congratualtory talk
• am sometimes puzzled when I hear certain believers talk about their "personal relationship" with God
• enjoy the humor or your jokes poking fun of evangelical Christians
• doubt the sincerity of motives for much of what passes for evangelism
• have observed the similarities of spirituality among various religious people
• etc. etc.

However, I remain a committed follower of the One who claimed to be God's unique Son. I can not find in anything you wrote the slightest reason to join your unhappy defection.

Chris, I found your post refreshing. Caused me to reflect on those Psalms and other scriptures that have been perenially meaningful to me.

Cliff Martin

At 7/27/2007 3:30 PM, Anonymous Jason Pratt said...

Eek. You've been Ed-ified by the floating brain-mind, Chris. {g} (It's kind of like a drive-by baptism, now that I think about it...)

Doubtless, just typing (and in many places merely copy-pasting) those words above, initiated mental connections in his brain-mind which excited him. I wonder if he suspects he sounds like a person (who is merely) addicted to something when he does so? hm... an ego-fest maybe?

(Years of experience with Ed. Lonnnnng rambling topic-drifting spam-posting years. This is pretty typical from him.)

{{To be honest, I'm not really sure what point you [Ed] are making.}}

To quote Tom Cruise from _A Few Good Men_, slightly paraphrased: "He often doesn't have a point. That's part of his unique charm." {g}

Mainly though, his point (insofar as he had one) was to imply that you're only knee-jerk reacting to your environment, rendering most of what you were trying to say and appreciate meaningless or vapid. Ed has a very hard time believing any Christian might be critically and responsibly thinking, much less critically accepting, our beliefs. Evidence to the contrary won't mean much to him, in case anyone is thinking of trying. (Again, lonnnnnnng experience. {s})

Meanwhile, it'd be hard for me to pick out a verse or story or set I keep coming back to; but the hymn at Col 1:13-23 or the whole first half of Romans (especially the culmination at Rom 11) would rank high. The final chapter of RevJohn, too.

(That being said, the association right now is probably topical--I'm doing unversalism sparring elsewhere. {s})

May mercy most certainly hound us forever (from Ps 23)!


At 7/27/2007 10:03 PM, Anonymous Alan Spence said...

Hi Chris

A good verse. I was interested that you implied you have read John Owen. Is that the case?


At 7/29/2007 4:46 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Cliff and Jason, thankyou for your helpful and humerous comments!

Hi Alan,
Yes I used to be a big Owen fan. Why ask you?

At 7/30/2007 2:53 PM, Anonymous Alan Spence said...


Very interesting. We must talk more. I have just published a book on Owen's Christology. Also am organising a conference 26-29th August 2008 at Cambridge with all the Owen scholars present.


At 7/30/2007 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sort of seems that Ed Babinski has his own "evangelistic" campaign or is it prostelyzing door-knocking campaign?


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