Category Archives: Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

“The gospel isn’t religion” by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

“Nothing hides our fellow man more than morality, and nothing hides the face of God more than religion. When we are most religious, we may be most at risk of losing touch with God.”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 107.

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“I had it all wrong” by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

“When television-saturated worshipers attend their local churches or wonder how to draw secular seekers there, it’s not the songs of Zion they want but the songs of Babylon and Hollywood– or something like them. People attend worship with expectations shaped by television, and evangelical preachers try to meet them.

In such cases worship may degenerate into a religious variety show hosted by some gleaming evangelist in a sequined dinner jacket and patent leather dancing slippers who chats with celebrities and introduces for special music a trio of middle-aged women in pastel evening gowns with matching muffs for their microphones.

He may also include, or even perform, certain eye-popping acrobatics or karate moves. Each act in the show is pre-timed, including estimates of the length of audience applause. Imagine a High Five for Jesus replacing the Apostles’ Creed; imagine praise time beginning when the evangelist shouts, ‘Gimme a G! Gimme an O!…’

Naturally, services of this kind give an impression of a religion somewhat different from historic Christianity. One could imagine a visitor walking away from such a service and saying to himself:

‘I had it all wrong. I had thought Christianity included a shadow side– confession, self-denial, rebuke of sin, concern with heresy, a willingness to lose one’s life for the sake of Jesus Christ. Not so, apparently. The Christian religion isn’t about lament or repentance or humbling oneself before God to receive God’s favor.

It’s got nothing to do with doctrines and the struggle to preserve truth. It’s not about the hard, disciplined work of mortifying our sinful self and learning to make God’s purposes our own. It’s not about the inevitable failures in this project and the persistent grace of Jesus Christ that comes so that we may begin again.

Not at all! I had it wrong! The Christian faith is mainly about celebration and fun and personal growth and five ways to boost my self-esteem. And, especially, it’s about entertainment.'”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 192-193.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Ecclesiology, Quotable Quotes, Worldliness, Worship

“These cannot satisfy” by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

“All forms of idolatry involve us deeply in folly. All idolatry is not only treacherous but also futile. Human desire, deep and restless and seemingly unfulfillable, keeps stuffing itself with finite goods, but these cannot satisfy.

If we try to fill our hearts with anything besides the God of the universe, we find that we are overfed but undernourished, and we find that day by day, week by week, year after year, we are thinning down to a mere outline of a human being.”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 122-123.

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“What the Hebrew prophets call shalom” by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

“The prophets dreamed of a new age in which human crookedness would be straightened out, rough places made plain. The foolish would be made wise, and the wise, humble.

They dreamed of a time when the deserts would flower, the mountains would run with wine, weeping would cease, and people could go to sleep without weapons on their laps.

People would work in peace and work to fruitful effect. Lambs could lie down with lions. All nature would be fruitful, benign, and filled with wonder upon wonder.

All humans would be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; and all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God, and delight in God.

Shouts of joy and recognition would well up from valleys and seas, from women in streets and from men on ships. The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom.”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 9-10.

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“Not the way it’s supposed to be” by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

“The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images: sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it—both transgression and shortcoming.

Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal. Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God.”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 5.

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“Cities of refuge for sinners” by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

“Our church communities ought to be cities of refuge for sinners, busy with the traffic of forgiveness, busy with people learning the ‘craft’ of forgiveness–ordinarily by getting apprenticed to a master forgiver or two. The idea is that saints ought to teach forgiveness to saints-in-training. In the holy catholic church (the communion of saints), we should be rehearsing the forgiveness of sins like pianists, practicing the hard parts over and over till we get them right.”

–Cornelius Plantinga Jr., “Rehearsing Forgiveness: Practicing the Hard Parts Till We Get Them Right,” Christianity Today, April 29, 1996, 31.

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“Sin is self-abuse” by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

“Sin hurts other people and grieves God, but it also corrodes us. Sin is a form of self-abuse.”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 1995), p. 124.

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Filed under Apostasy, Christian Theology, Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sin, Worldliness