“A man that is a stranger to meditation is a stranger to himself.”
Category Archives: Think
“Mystery is the lifeblood of theological reflection. From the start of its labors, dogmatic theology is shrouded in mystery. It stands before God the incomprehensible One.
This knowledge leads to adoration and worship: to know God is to live.
Knowing God is possible for us because God is personal, exalted above the earth and yet in fellowship with human beings on earth. Good theology puts this knowledge of God on public display.
It resists allowing theology to degenerate into rhetoric, a theology merely of words. It seeks the heart of the matter, knowing God in order to worship Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.
Such theology is never a dry and academic exercise. It is eminently practical and superlatively fruitful for life.
The knowledge of God in Christ, after all, is life itself (Psalm 89:16; Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34; John 17:3).”
–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Abridged in One Volume, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 147-148.
“I should rather like to attend your Greek class, for it is a perpetual puzzle to me how New Testament Greek got the reputation of being easy. St Luke I find particularly difficult.
As regards matter– leaving the question of language– you will be glad to hear that I am at last beginning to get some small understanding of St Paul: hitherto an author quite opaque to me.
I am speaking now, of course, of the general drift of whole epistles: short passages, treated devotionally, are of course another matter. And yet the distinction is not, for me, quite a happy one.
Devotion is best raised when we intend something else. At least that is my experience.
Sit down to meditate devotionally on a single verse, and nothing happens. Hammer your way through a continued argument, just as you would in a profane writer, and the heart will sometimes sing unbidden.”
–C.S. Lewis, “To Dom Bede Griffiths” (April 4, 1934) in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Volume 2, Ed. Walter Hooper (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), 136.
“The essence of the Christian religion consists in the reality that the creation of the Father, ruined by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and re-created by the grace of the Holy Spirit into a kingdom of God.
Theology is about God and should reflect a doxological tone that glorifies Him.”
–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 61.
“We will never think hard about Biblical truth until we are troubled by our faltering efforts to grasp its complexity.
We must form the habit of being systematically disturbed by things that at first glance don’t make sense. Or to put it a different way, we must relentlessly query the text.
One of the greatest honors I received while teaching Biblical studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, was when the teaching assistants in the Bible department gave me a T-shirt which had the initials of Jonathan Edwards on the front and on the back the words: ‘Asking questions is the key to understanding.’
But several strong forces oppose our relentless and systematic interrogating of Biblical texts. One is that it consumes a great deal of time and energy on one small portion of Scripture.
We have been schooled (quite erroneously) that there is a direct correlation between reading a lot and gaining insight.
But, in fact, there is no positive correlation at all between the quantity of pages read and the quality of insight gained. Just the reverse for most of us. Insight diminishes as we try to read more and more.
Insight or understanding is the product of intensive, headache-producing meditation on two or three propositions and how they fit together. This kind of reflection and rumination is provoked by asking questions of the text.
And you cannot do it if you hurry. Therefore, we must resist the deceptive urge to carve notches in our bibliographic gun.
Take two hours to ask ten questions of Galatians 2:20, and you will gain one hundred times the insight you would have attained by quickly reading thirty pages of the New Testament or any other book.
Slow down. Query. Ponder. Chew.”
–John Piper, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Nashville: B&H, 2002), 74-75.
“Beholding glory begs for lingering.
The modern, fast-paced world will tempt you to rush and skim. This kind of life will make you shallow. The world does not need more widely read, shallow people. It needs deep people.
I don’t mean complex. I don’t mean highly educated. I don’t mean you know big words. I don’t mean you know historical background.
I mean you have seen glory— the glory of God in his Word. You have pondered it and felt its relation to all the parts of your life. You have been steadied and satisfied by it.
You have come home. You are not frantic anymore. You are at peace in the presence of God. This is what I mean by deep. This is what the world needs.”
–John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 1991/2012), xviii.
“We unhesitatingly confess that the Scriptures have their heights and depths which we cannot enter or sound and which God so ordered on purpose to excite the study of believers and increase their diligence, to humble the pride of man and to remove from them the contempt which might arise from too great plainness…
For as in nature so also in the Scriptures, it pleased God to present everywhere and make easy of comprehension all necessary things.
But those less necessary are so closely concealed as to require great exertion to extricate them. Thus besides bread and sustenance, she has her luxuries, gems and gold deep under the surface and obtainable only by indefatigable labor.
And as heaven is sprinkled with greater and lesser stars, so the Scriptures are not everywhere equally resplendent, but are distinguished by clearer and obscurer places, as by stars of a greater or lesser magnitude.”
–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (2.17.4). Ed. James Dennison (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1692/1996), 1:143-144.