Pithy Quotes often = Poor Theology.

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Have you ever noticed that pithy, well-worded quotes often promote wrong ideas more than right. A case in point is this one Ijust noticed here on this board:

    “We might be wise to follow the insight of the enraptured heart rather than the more cautious reasoning of the theological mind.” - AW Tozer

    This could very easily be pared down to "Man's heart is wiser than the Word of God."

    Now I know that Tozer did not quite mean this. However I put "quite" in italics. Given what Tozer has written - his frank endorsement of several of the Roman Catholic mystics (several of whom were enemies of the Reformers) - he shows a willingness to trust "enraptured hearts" more than he should. He downplays that...
    1. The heart is deceitful. Who can know it?
    2. "Enraptured" is a nebulous, subjective term. It is useless as a guide for growing Christian. Unlike the guideline of the Word of God.
    3. He also downplays the Bible and those who teach it.

    My point, getting back to our time, is that we are too prone to base our theology, and our evangelism to others, on catchy quotes. We don't rely enough on the Bible, patient teaching of it. Trusting God to enlighten (not enrapture) those He calls.
     
  2. humblethinker

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    I think we are always in danger of being wrong or misrepresenting someone or something said when we don't know the context in which it was given... whether a quote from man or a passage of scripture. So, in this case, it would be my obligation to inquire and discover the context of the quote... so, asterisktom, since you brought it up, what was the context in which Tozer made the statement?
     
  3. Jkdbuck76

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    'God helps those who help themselves'.

    That's a problematic one, too.
     
  4. asterisktom

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    To look up the context would actually run contrary to my very point of the thread. My point is that the quotes is launched into the world as a self-contained units, not as child of context. When we read these quotes do we usually:

    A. Automatically look up the context? or
    B. Copy-and-paste it and add it to our repertoire of footers and one-liners that might serve some future need.

    Most people use and abuse quotes rather than investigate them.
    -----------------------

    BTW - and this is beside my point in this thread - I believe I do know something about Tozer's theology. I have been taking a closer look on his major works. You can see these articles here. I believe I understand his context reasonably well. Certainly well enough to make the assertion above in the OP.

    My articles on Tozer are here:
    http://asterisktom.xanga.com/528878026/aw-tozer-reconsidered/
     
    #4 asterisktom, Mar 18, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2012
  5. asterisktom

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    Certainly. That one is also bad because people believe it is in the Bible. It obviously goes against what we know of God's grace. We know that God helps (or "works in") those who cannot help themselves, who know that they are wretchedly helpless to do the least truly good thing their own conscience points out to them.
     
  6. HankD

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    Methinks thou dost protest too much.

    :)

    HankD
     
  7. asterisktom

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    I tried to find the actual context of the quote, since you asked. Unfortunately, living as I do in China, the results are all being blocked (presumably because they are all from blogs). But I can see from the Yahoo result page that it seems to come from "Knowledge of the Holy". Unfortunately, my copy is stateside. Maybe later I will find this chapter online on a site that is not blocked.

    Now about my "misrepresenting": This cuts two ways. 1. My supposed misrepresenting of Tozer's writing (though the six articles I wrote, linked above) should show otherwise).
    2. The misrepresenting of God's Writing. This is what short quotes do - not just from Tozer . They all misrepresent God's Word. By being pithy and catchy there has to be, the vast majority of times, something essential (though difficult) pared off.
     
  8. asterisktom

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    What do you expect from a Protestant? ; )
     
  9. HankD

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    Protestation! Of course.

    HankD
     
  10. Winman

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    "There but for the grace of God go I"

    I think I have heard folks say this hundreds of times in my life. It is false and very misleading. It is usually said when someone observes another person who is less fortunate than oneself, a homeless man, a drunk lying on a sidewalk, someone born with a disability, etc...

    It assumes two things that are not necessarily true, first, that the person saying this is enjoying God's grace and favor, second, the other person somehow is not receiving God's grace and favor.

    Scripture shows this false, such as the poor sick beggar who died and went to Abraham's bosom, and the rich man who died and went to hell in Luke 16.

    We see an example of this false thinking from the disciples themselves in scripture.

    Jhn 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
    2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
    3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

    The disciples falsely assumed there was some secret sin committed by this man or his parents that he was born blind. Jesus corrected them and told them this blindness was not because of sin either the blind man or his parents had committed, but that the works of God could be demonstrated through him.

    So, next time you see a homeless man, do not assume that you have or are receiving God's favor more than him. The exact opposite may be true.
     
    #10 Winman, Mar 18, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2012
  11. asterisktom

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    Very good observations. I guess I hadn't thought of this saying in this way, although I never really liked using it. Now I am doubly likely to avoid it.
     
  12. humblethinker

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    IMO, I try not to take offense at people using such piphy quotes but try to take them as opportunities to create or further a relationship with them by asking what it is they mean by interjecting that statement/quote into the public realm of discourse (again, tag lines are a little different that someone just coming out and blurting the statement)... now, bumper stickers seem to be another issue though, right? with those it is rare that I have an opportunity to have a discussion with those people.

    I saw the quote as well on BB. I believe that the person using it (as a tagline at that!) has a context in which he is using it. Maybe it was in the same context that Tozer was using it and maybe it was in a different context. Maybe ask Skandelon in what context he is using it? I have found him to be a thoughtful, pleasant person.
     
  13. asterisktom

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    I am sure that he is. I don't remember him to ever have been otherwise. But I left his name out on purpose because I wanted to focus on quotes as quotes, not as representative of context. When they are used like that they most often become free-floating, having a bubble-like existence to themselves.

    I wanted to discuss how the overuse of quotes is perhaps symptomatic of modern Christianity's low attention span and sparse concentration tolerance.

    I read somewhere (Was it Neil Postman?) that, while we were awaiting a fearful Orwellian ("1984") dystopia we, instead, have been engulfed by a Huxleyan ("Brave New World") one.

    In the first, freedom of thought is very rare because it is very efficiently stamped out by brute force. In the second it is very rare because the people are so distracted by entertainment, drugs, and such that they are not even able to even desire freedom of thought, let alone formulate their own free-standing thoughts.

    I think there is also a collateral dumbing down in Christianity, slogans and sound bites taking the place of careful reasoning and mature Berean testing of all things.

    Present company - and me! - excluded of course. ; )
     
    #13 asterisktom, Mar 19, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2012
  14. humblethinker

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    :thumbs::thumbs:

    I see this on Facebook as well...
     
  15. HankD

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    On the other hand some of these cliches are not totally without merit.

    e.g. "There but for the grace of God go you or I...".

    Though I avoid quotes and cliches of this nature this one does have some merit.

    I suppose to make it more in line with a particular theological philosophy one would have to say (for instance):

    "There but for the Common grace decree of an absolutely Sovereign Triune God (from the calvinistic 5 point Supralapsarian point of view) go you or I".

    Admitedly a mouthful (and your friends might think you a bit strange).

    Perhaps there could be other modifications to align it with the several variations of schools of thought (that is if one is concerned about cliches and the correctness of their theological root).

    Tom, you need to get back to the states (at least temporarily) to refresh your outlook on life.

    HankD
     
  16. thomas15

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    No, stay in China. This place is overrun with goofballs!
     
  17. kyredneck

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    As long as he stays away from Pennsylvania he should OK.
     
  18. Earth Wind and Fire

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    LOL....otherwise known as Pennsyltuckey.....full of rednecks I'm told :smilewinkgrin:
     
  19. thomas15

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    PA is actually semi-redneck. But my real concern is with keeping the semi-reds safe from the goofballs.
     
  20. asterisktom

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    Actually here in China is where I get a more refreshed outlook on life. People are very friendly, straightforward, astonishingly outgoing and frank. My kind of people. Of course, this is a provincial city ( a mere 2 or 3 million)! In Shanghai and Beijing you come across a higher percentage of sophisticated rudeness - similar to what is encountered here. But the Chinese here do not claim to be Christian.

    Where I do not get refreshed is reading some of the comments here from those who veneer their ungraciousness with a thin veneer of cleverness. Not you of course, Hank.
     

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