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Quotes

“What’s wrong with the world? I am.”
G.K. Chesterton

“Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.”
Jonathan Edwards

“I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.”
(Psalm 119:63)

“It takes time to develop unity with others at any depth, and this never takes place, ever—not at any time or anywhere—without conflict.”
 Chuck Colson, in The Faith: Given Once, For All (p. 155)

“In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.”
Stephen M. R. Covey, in The Speed of Trust

“Resolved, Never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honour, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against any one, to bring it to, and try it strictly by, the test of this Resolution.”
Jonathan Edwards

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
(Philippians 2:3, ESV)

“You are most loving, patient, kind and gracious when you are aware that there is no truth that you could give to another that you don’t desperately need yourself.  You are most humble and gentle when you think that the person you are ministering to is more like you than unlike you.”
Paul David Tripp, from A Dangerous Calling

“Resolved, To do always what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment in other respects.”
Jonathan Edwards

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
(Romans 12:10, ESV)

“Resolved, To endeavour, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving, and sincere, temper; and to do, at all times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at the end of every week, whether I have so done. ”
Jonathan Edwards

“In your conflicts with others, even if you are convinced you have been right in the positions you’ve taken, can you say with confidence that you have also been right in your way of being toward them? Can you say that you have been seeing them as people rather than as objects in your disagreements?”
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict (p. 57)

“Resolved, Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and benignity.”
Jonathan Edwards

“The way in which you listen to others gives you clues about the ways in which you listen to God.”
A summary/paraphrase of Ignatius of Loyola Spiritual Exercise 22 (from Moment by Moment by Carol Ann Smith, p. 19)

“Self-righteousness is addictive because it makes us feel good, and after a while it defines who we are and how we see ourselves. It creates an ‘us and them’ mentality and ‘us’ is always right. Let me show you the process: self-righteousness starts with convictions (a good thing), then moves to discussion (another good thing), and finally falls into the devil’s trinity of dismissal, demonization, and destruction (some very bad things). John Frame, my colleague at Reformed Theological Seminary where I teach, is one of the finest theological minds of our time. He has said that refusal to talk (i.e., the spurious assumption that I’m right and you’re wrong and that’s all there is to it) is a sign of heresy. I think that refusal to talk is also a sign of self-righteousness.”
Steve Brown’s Three Free Sins (pp.45-46)

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
(Romans 14:19, NIV)

Calvin on the controversy between Luther and Zwingli

If you are even vaguely familiar with the huge debate between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli about the Lord’s Supper (whether it is literally or symbolically the body and blood of Christ), you might appreciate this description of that controversy written by John Calvin. Calvin points out how Luther and Zwingli had more in common than they were able to recognize because of the inflamed tone of their debate. He does not belittle the reality of their differences, but Calvin points out how the differences could never be resolved largely because they stopped listening to each other. Anyhow, here is good counsel from John Calvin on being careful to listen:

“When Luther began to teach [on the Lord’s Supper], he took a view of the subject which seemed to imply, that in regard to the corporal presence in the Supper he was willing to leave the generally received opinion untouched; for while condemning transubstantiation, he said that the bread was the body of Christ, inasmuch as it was united with him. Besides, he added similitudes which were somewhat harsh and rude; but he was in a manner compelled to do so, as he could not otherwise explain his meaning. For it is difficult to give an explanation of so high a matter without using some impropriety of speech.

On the other hand arose Zuinglius and Oecolompadius, who, considering the abuse and deceit which the devil had employed in establishing such a carnal presence of Christ as had been taught and held for more than six hundred years, thought it unlawful to disguise their sentiments, since that view implied an execrable idolotry, in that Jesus Christ was worshipped as enclosed in the bread. Now, as it was very difficult to remove this opinion, which had been so long rooted in the hearts of men, they applied all their talents to bring it into discredit, showing how gross an error it was not to recognise what is so clearly declared in Scripture touching the ascension of Jesus Christ, that he has been received in his humanity into heaven, and will remain there until he descend to judge the world. Meantime, while engrossed with this point, they forgot to show what presence of Jesus Christ ought to be believed in the Supper, and what communion of his body and blood is there received.

Luther thought that they meant to leave nothing but bare signs without their spiritual substance. Accordingly he began to resist them to the face, and call them heretics. After the contention was once begun it got more inflamed by time, and has thus continued too bitterly for the space of fifteen years or so without the parties ever listening to each other in a peaceful temper. For though they once had a conference, there was such alienation that they parted without any agreement. Instead of meeting on some good ground, they have always receded more and more, looking to nothing else than to defend their own view and refute the opposite.

We thus see wherein Luther failed on his side, and Zuinglius and Oecolompadius on theirs. It was Luther’s duty first to have given notice that it was not his intention to establish such a local presence as the Papist’s dream; secondly, to protest that he did not mean to have the sacrament adored instead of God; and lastly, to abstain from those similitudes so harsh and difficult to be conceived, or have used them with moderation, interpreting them so that they could not give rise to any scandal. After the debate was moved, he exceeded bounds as well in declaring his opinion, as in blaming others with too much sharpness of speech. For instead of explaining himself in such a way as to make it possible to receive his view, he, with his accustomed vehemence in assailing those who contradicted him, used hyperbolical forms of speech very difficult to be borne by those who otherwise were not much disposed to believe at his nod. The other party also offended, in being so bent on declaiming against the superstitious and fanatical opinion of the Papists, touching the local presence of Jesus Christ within the sacrament, and the perverse adoration consequent upon it, that they laboured more to pull down what was evil than to build up what was good; for though they did not deny the truth, they did not teach it so clearly as they ought to have done. I mean that in their too great anxiety to maintain that the bread and wine are called the body of Christ, because they are signs of them, they did not attend to add, that though they are signs, the reality is conjoined with them, and thus protest, that they had no intention whatever to obscure the true communion which the Lord gives us in his body and blood by this sacrament.

Both parties failed in not having the patience to listen to each other in order to follow the truth without passion, when it would have been found. Nevertheless, let us not lose sight of our duty, which is not to forget the gifts which the Lord bestowed upon them, and the blessings which he has distributed to us by their hands and means. For if we are not ungrateful and forgetful of what we owe them, we shall be well able to pardon that and much more, without blaming and defaming them. In short, since we see that they were, and still are, distinguished for holiness of life, excellent knowledge, and ardent zeal to edify the Church, we ought always to judge and speak of them modestly, and even with reverence; since at last God, after having thus humbled them, has in mercy been pleased to put an end to this unhappy disputation, or at least to calm it preparatory to its final settlement. I speak thus, because no formulary has yet been published in which concord is fixed, as is most expedient. But this will be when God will be pleased to assemble those who are to frame it in one place.”
 John Calvin, “Short Treatise on the Supper of our Lord, in Which is Shown Its True Institution, Benefit, and Utility” (1540), p. 195–7. In, John Calvin, Tracts Containing Treatises on the Sacraments, Catechism of the Church of Geneva, Forms of Prayer, and Confessions of Faith. Henry Beveridge, trans.; Calvin Translation Society; Edinburgh, 1859; vol. 2, p. 163–98.