Thursday, September 11, 2008

Your favourite theology quotations

Oh pool of collective theological brilliance, what are you favourite theology quotes, ones that manage to say something profound in a punchy way?

For example: "If our faith does not stretch our minds it will probably not stretch our lives" - Mike Lloyd.

While looking on the net for similar lines I came across this slightly more cynical offering by Dawkins: "What has 'theology' ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody?" ... which, of course, says more about his knowledge of theology than anything else!


At 9/11/2008 4:56 PM, Anonymous Angie Van De Merwe said...

I've been thinking a lot about the "necessity of theology". Is it necessary in real life, where one lives and commits?
I think it is important for those who need to identify with a community of faith that is spelled out.There is security for those who want a defined faith where they feel commfortable and where they "fit" and they can soothe their consciences with being "right with God". The atheists out there are also a group, but are committed to "freethought", which means that their faith is not defined by theology. But, atheist still have faith.

At 9/11/2008 5:08 PM, Anonymous Philip Ritchie said...

'Every time I learn something new it pushes some old stuff out of my brain!' Homer. (O.K. Homer Simpson if truth be told and not strictly theology).

At 9/11/2008 5:31 PM, Anonymous David said...

"If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction." (Bonhoeffer)

At 9/11/2008 5:49 PM, Anonymous JP said...

I rather liked the comment in January 2005 of Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, on the High Street sales figures:

"We won't know the true story of Christmas until Easter, or even later".

At 9/11/2008 9:43 PM, Anonymous X-Cathedra said...

"Apply yourself wholly to the text; apply the text wholly to yourself."
-Johann Albrecht Bengel

At 9/11/2008 10:13 PM, Anonymous Steve Martin said...

Maybe a little to long to be punchy, but from Polkinghorne's "Science and Providence" (page 71):

[Prayer’s instrumentality] is located neither solely at the divine end (as if it were as a result of a change in God’s mind) nor at the human end (as if it were a magical demand) but in the personal encounter between God and man by which a new possibility comes into existence

& later (page 72)

The encounter of prayer is genuinely two-way; we are not faced by God with an illusion of choice. He is not a celestial Henry Ford, offering us a car of any colour as long as it is black.

At 9/12/2008 12:26 AM, Anonymous Keith said...

This quote is a little long but I think it has punch at the end: "The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: first, it is a very unusual event; and second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live.” --Pannenberg (I forget the source)

At 9/12/2008 12:29 AM, Anonymous Mark Stevens said...

Sucking up to the new boss already I see Chris!

My favourite comes from N.T. Wright and goes something like, "The NIV is nasty, the Greek is best and the NRSV will do. Reading Paul in English is like drinking wine through a tea bag".

He said this in response to a question (here in Adelaide) about which Bible translation he preferred.

At 9/12/2008 6:13 AM, Anonymous Cliff Martin said...

David's Bonhoeffer quote gets my vote! It conjures up images that make me laugh out loud. Thanks, David. But I went to your site and I couldn't understand a thing you wrote!

Chris, I remember reading the Dawkins line somewhere and smiling. Thanks for reminding me of how myopic this otherwise brilliant man can be.

At 9/12/2008 12:08 PM, Anonymous Alex Kupsch said...

"Der Fromme von morgen wird ein 'Mystiker' sein, einer, der etwas 'erfahren' hat, oder er wird nicht mehr sein." (Karl Rahner)

Just read this in Leppin, Die christliche Mystik, 13. Maybe one could put in "Der Theologe" instead of "Der Fromme"... Greetings from Tuebingen!

At 9/12/2008 2:22 PM, Anonymous carlsweatman said...

"The Saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed, that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is the antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element." (GK Chesterton, 'St. Thomas Aquinas')

At 9/12/2008 10:43 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Great quotes! I had fun reading these!

Alex, great blog!
Nice to hear from you .... I will miss Tübingen.

At 9/13/2008 12:03 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

I think Dawkins was speaking about "theological" notions like the Trinity, or transubstantiation, or vicarious bloody sacrifice for sins; and comparing such strictly theological notions with the things science and engineering do, producing useful things like vaccines, bridges, etc.

At 9/13/2008 1:42 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

Bonhoeffer's Letter to Eberhard Bethge [Tegel] 30 April 1944:

What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is, or indeed who Christ really is, for us today. The time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, is over... We are moving towards a completely religionless time... Barth, who is the only one to have started along this line of thought, did not carry it to completion, but arrived at a positivism of revelation, which in the last analysis is essentially a restoration. For the religionless working man (or any other man) nothing decisive is gained here... I often ask myself why a "Christian instinct" often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, by which I don't in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, "in brotherhood." While I'm often reluctant to mention God by name to religious people — because that name somehow seems to me here not to ring true, and I feel myself to be slightly dishonest (it's particularly bad when others start to talk in religious jargon; I then dry up almost completely and feel awkward and uncomfortable) — to people with no religion I can on occasion mention him by name quite calmly and as a matter of course. Religious people speak of God when human knowledge (perhaps simply because they are too lazy to think) has come to an end, or when human resources fail — in fact it is always the deus ex machina that they bring on to the scene, either for the apparent solution of insoluble problems, or as strength in human failure — always, that is to say, exploiting human weakness or human boundaries... As to the boundaries, it seems to me better to be silent and leave the insoluble unsolved... Belief in the resurrection is not the "solution" of the problem of death. God's "beyond" is not the beyond of our cognitive faculties... How this religionless Christianity looks, what form it takes, is something that I'm thinking about a great deal.



See also these recent fascinating posts on Bonhoeffer's religionless Christianity:

At 9/14/2008 1:01 AM, Anonymous andrewbourne said...

I don`t know where it comes from Barth`s view to read the Bible in one hand and the current newspaper in the other. From one who hates Barth

At 9/14/2008 3:51 PM, Anonymous carlsweatman said...


I've also seen the end-times sensationalist (read: "quack") John Hagee say the same thing about having the Bible in one hand and the current newspaper in the other. If Barth did say such a thing (and most certainly in a different context), then it would further prove that Hagee has no originality in what he claims.

At 9/17/2008 10:04 PM, Anonymous Pilgrim said...

"It's all true apart from the bits we made up."

"God does not exist: we do; thank God for that!"

"I have no enemies, only friends I haven't won over yet."

"The light you can see at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train."

Best of all, though: "I like bananas, monkey nuts and grapes - that's why they call me Tarzan of the apes."


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