Real Fruitfulness

Living with … handicapped people, I realize how success-oriented I am. Living with men and women who cannot compete in the worlds of business, industry, sports, or academics, but for whom dressing, walking, speaking, eating, drinking, and playing are the main “accomplishments,” is extremely frustrating for me. I may have come to the theoretical insight that being is more important than doing, but when asked to just be with people who can do very little I realize how far I am from the realization of that insight.… Some of us might be productive and others not, but we are all called to bear fruit: fruitfulness is a true quality of love.

—Henri J. M. Nouwen in Lifesigns

Of scientists and theologians

The scientist will find in theology a unifying principle more fundamental than the grandest unified field theory. The theologian will encounter in science’s account of the pattern and structure of the physical world a reality which calls forth his admiration and wonder.

—John Polkinghorne in Science and Creation


When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey, speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.

—William Carey in The Life of William Carey

Converted liberalism

I have come to the reluctant conclusion that what we liberals believe, and the way we believe it, is incompatible with the Gospel. Contra most liberal preaching that I do and hear, being a Christian is not synonymous with being a good human being. Jesus comes preaching a new way which is counter to innate human expectations, a narrow path of life which does not come naturally. This Jew from Nazareth comes, not to express the highest of human aspirations, but to transform human aspirations, to refashion human thinking and action in such a way that necessitates conversion from our innate liberalism to a countercultural way of living called discipleship.

—William H. Willimon in Good News (March/April 1991)

The doctor is in

People are asking questions that traditional churches can no longer answer for them.… There are a lot of self-help, pseudo-therapy groups whose basic tenet is that Christian mythology has failed and consequently other mythologies are needed to reinvent ways of being religious. Unfortunately, what these groups often do under the name of neopaganism, neo-Hinduism and so forth is take a very tiny part of mythology and turn it into a fifth-rate form of psychotherapy.

—Wendy Doniger in Conversation (U.S. News and World Report, July 15, 1991)

Heavenly wardrobe

Lord, in thy Spirit’s hurricane, I pray, Strip my soul naked—dress it then thy way.

—George Macdonald in Diary of an Old Soul

A God untamed by us

It is curious to realize that people like you and me, who set such store by being settled and secure, should worship a God whose revelation was to nomads and wanderers. We try to domesticate God, try to get God to settle down with us—but never succeed.

—Barbara Moorman in The Other Side (Nov.–Dec. 1990)

Real commitment

The motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be “Devoted for life.”

—Adoniram Judson in To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson

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