“Government is a Plain, Simple, Intelligent Thing”: Quotes from John Adams

Currently, I am enjoying David McCullough’s biography of John Adams. McCullough’s style and the subject matter are making for a fascinating read. John Adams has been a personal hero and this biography is only increasing my adoration. Here are a few gems from Adams:

Government is a plain, simple, intelligent thing, founded in nature and reason, quite comprehensible by common sense….The true source of our suffering has been our timidity. We have been afraid to think….Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write….Let it be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes or parliaments…that many of our rights are inherent and essential, agreed on as maxims and established as preliminaries, even before Parliament existed….Let us read and recollect and impress upon our souls the views and ends of our more immediate forefathers, in exchanging their native country for a dreary, inhospitable wilderness….Recollect their amazing fortitude, their bitter sufferings–the severe labors of clearing the grounds, building their houses, raising their provisions, amidst dangers from wild beasts and savage men, before they had time or money or materials for commerce. Recollect the civil and religious principles and hopes and expectations which constantly supported and carried them through all hardships with patience and resignation. Let us recollect it was liberty, the hope of liberty, for themselves and us and ours, which conquered all discouragements, dangers, and trials. (p. 60-61)

 

The reason is, because it’s of more importance to community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished. (p. 68)

 

“Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. (p. 68)

 

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Worthy to Feast

wedding-reception-5Weddings and marriage have marked human existence from creation; in fact, Genesis 1 records the first wedding ceremony of Adam and Eve. And weddings have always been time of celebration. This makes Jesus’ use of a wedding feast for a parable to indict the Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders all the more interesting. Matthew 22:1-14 records the Parable of the Wedding Feast. I recently preached this passage and wanted to share a few nuggets that I gleaned from the passage as I prepared for the sermon.

All who come to God’s Feast must come in a worthy manner. This parable is ultimately about entering the kingdom of heaven. For the wedding feast in this parable seems to pointing in some sense to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb found in Revelation 19. This parable is demonstrating eschatological realities.

While there are many indicators of this, the largest indicator is that in both passages garments are given which must be worn. In Matthew 22:11-12, a man is thrown out of the feast for not wearing a wedding garment. In Revelation 19:7-9, the Bride is given a garment of fine linen to clothe herself, which is “the righteous deeds of the saints.” The connection here is obvious; one must be properly clothed in order to partake of God’s Feast. While I am not sure that we can say that the wedding garment in Matthew 22 is Christ’s imputed righteousness, we can say that we must be given something in order to be properly attired for God’s Feast. We cannot show up in our filthy rags; Christ must adorn us.

We come to God’s Feast in a garment covered with Christ’s blood. The blood Christ shed that procures our forgiveness and imputes to us his righteousness. For it is not enough just to be forgiven, but we must also be made righteous. And this is only done through the sacrifice and blood of our Lord.

Our job is to invite; the Holy Spirit brings them to the Feast. In the parable, after the king’s servants have been killed and the king has razed the rebels city to the ground, the king sends a new group of servants to invite everyone, “both bad and good,” to the feast.

This is such an important aspect of the parable: worthiness. For you see the king’s initial guests were not worthy because they rejected his invitation. Yet, even the bad who attend the feast are more worthy than those who do not. Jesus here seems to be making a statement about the social standing of the Pharisees in comparison to their worthiness. Who would have been considered the most worthy by Jewish society: the religious leaders. They had wealth, political clout, as well being closest to God. They would have been the ones who garnered an invitation to the king’s wedding in the parable; according to societal standards, they would have been most worthy. Yet, Jesus, through the parable, declares them unworthy. And in this parable we have a hint of two groups that Jesus declares more worthy than the religious leaders: the poor and the Gentiles.

The bad folks whom the servants invite in the parable were the dregs of society. The word could have been translated “wicked” or “evil”. Yet they receive an invitation to the feast. They do not have to reform themselves; they do not have to clean up their act. They only have to go to the feast. It also seems that the Gentiles might have been in Matthew’s eye here as well. They, along with the poor, would have been looked down upon. They would have been seen as inferior. Yet, the servants invite them.

In the parable, all the servants have to do is invite them. This is what we must do as well. We must invite people to attend God’s Feast; we must tell them about what Christ has done for them and how they can be reconcile with God. We must faithfully extend that invitation to them. Yet, we must also know that we cannot make them accept the invitation. The human heart is wicked and deceitful; the only thing that can overcome the human heart is the Holy Spirit. He turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He does the saving; we do the inviting.

So as we extend our invitation to others to join God’s kingdom, we must be ever prayerful and ask the Holy Spirit to invade the hearts of those with whom we are sharing our testimonies of God’s grace and mercy.

A Misconceived Misconception

Recently, I read a blog post from J. D. Greerar concerning “Three Misconceptions Westerners Have About Muslims”. The first and second misconceptions were helpful enough; however, the third misconception poses some problems. He writes,

Muslims claim to worship the God of Adam, Abraham, and Moses. Many missionaries find it therefore helpful to use the Arabic term for God, “Allah” (meaning literally, ‘the Deity’), to refer to God, and to explain that the God Muslims believe in, the God of the Prophets, was the God also present in bodily form in Jesus Christ and the One worshipped by Christians for the past two millennia. This is not the same as saying that Muslims are really “proto-Christians” or that becoming a Muslim is like a “first step to becoming a Christian” or that Christians are “completed Muslims” or anything like that–simply that we are both referring to the only, One deity when we say “God.”

This is something that I heard as early as high school. Muslims are not really worshipping another god; rather, they are just worshipping our God wrongly. However, this seems to paper-over some important differences between Muslims and Christians.

To say that someone is worshipping something wrongly is to say that the object of worship is the same. I might say to some of my Presbyterian friends that in baptizing babies they are worshipping wrongly and I can say this because we affirm the same God. We can both say the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed and mean it. However, I cannot say to a Muslim that he is just worshipping wrongly; I must say he is worshipping the wrong thing. The object of Muslim worship and the object of Christian worship are not the same. Allah and God are not two different terms for the same being.

Allah in the Muslim conception of God is radically unitarian. The basic affirmation of Islam concerning Allah is: “He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him” (112:1-4). In this statement, we come to understand that the differences in Allah and God cannot merely be ignored. Islam denies the ability of God to beget, which is crucial to a Christian understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son. The Father begets, while the Son is begotten. The New Testament reveals this relationship within the Godhead (Jn. 3:16).

God in the Christian conception is triune. He is one ousia (essence) in the three hypostateis (persons). Therefore, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God, yet are all distinct. This has been the understanding of Christianity implicitly since the time of Christ and this understanding became explicit with the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381). As one can see, this is not the same God. These are two radically different conceptions of God.

Even on the matter of how God reveals Himself, Muslims and Christians do not in any sense agree. Christians say that Christ himself is the ultimate revelation of God to mankind while Muslims would say that Allah revealed himself finally and authoritatively through Muhammad in the words of the Quran.

Christians and Muslims do not have the same object of worship and are worshipping differently with the Muslims worshipping wrongly. No, Christians and Muslims are worshipping two entirely different beings. To say any less is an affront to both Christians and Muslims alike. While I understand that many Christians want to find common ground with Muslims in order to share the gospel, we must not do so in a way that undermines our own doctrinal fidelity.

(Originally posted at Protestant Thunder)