Classic and contemporary excerpts.

The “religious” state

Gallup and cooperating research agencies in Europe have done cross-cultural surveys of … “religiousness” in various countries. Among the nations of the world—measured by belief and behavior—India is the most pervasively religious society. Very close to India is the United States. At the very bottom of the list is the most thoroughly secularized society, Sweden. Peter Berger, the distinguished sociologist, has drawn from these findings a memorable apothegm: “America is a nation of Indians ruled by an elite of Swedes.”

—Richard John Neuhaus in America Against Itself

My will, God’s will

Will is the whole man active. I cannot give up my will; I must exercise it. I must will to obey. When God gives a command or a vision of truth, it is never a question of what He will do, but what we will do. To be successful in God’s work is to fall in line with His will and to do it His way. All that is pleasing to Him is a success.

—Henrietta Mears in Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears Story

What do you want?

What is your ambition in life today? Is it to get rich? Is it to make a name for yourself? Is it even to do some wonderful thing for God? Listen to me, beloved. The highest desire that can possess any human heart is a longing to see God.

J. Vernon McGee in Feasting on the Word

Total allegiance

We and Christianity are the same in one thing only: We demand the entire person!

—Nazi Judge Roland Freisler quoted in For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler, by Victoria Barnett

Morality and politics

Sufyân Thaurî, a classical Muslim writer, once wrote, “The best of the rulers is he who keeps company with men of [religious] learning, and the worst of the learned men is he who keeps the society of the king.” That is to say, religion and worldly affairs prosper together when political rules are qualified by moral principles, and they suffer when moral principles are qualified by political expedience.

—Lamin Sanneh in the Christian Century (Dec. 1, 1992)

Misunderstanding prophecy

We do not question that holy men moved by the Holy Spirit have foretold things that were to come to pass, which could not have been foreseen by the natural wisdom of men. But too much of importance has been attached to the purely predictive element of prophecy. Looking for fulfillment of prophecy in particular historical events, we do not see revelations of the character of our holy God, and his relation to a race of lost men. We do not read the lesson that we are the creatures of his all-wise and gracious purpose, the objects of his redeeming love and providential care.

—Wilbur O. Allen in The Book of Revelation: A Christian Philosophy

From responsibility to rights

We have seen a gradual change over the past several decades in our society from emphasizing individual responsibility to emphasizing, almost glorifying, individual rights.

—Kurt D. Bruner in Responsible Living in an Age of Excuses

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.