You’ve Gotta Have Heart!

Neander_The Heart_MemeYou’ve Gotta Have Heart! What An Obscure Historian’s Motto Can Teach Us About Life – By Daniel W. Sheridan (Twitter: @DanielWSheridan) #History #Joy #Love #Heart #TheBible #Inspiration

“The secular historian should be filled with universal human sympathy, the church historian with universal Christian sympathy. The motto of the former is: Homo sum, nihil humani a me alienum puto (“I am a human being, I consider nothing that is human alien to me.”); the motto of the latter: Christianus sum, nihil Christiani a me alienum puto (“I am a Christian, I consider nothing that is Christian alien to me”). —Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church

—The Father of History

History is like life; it’s sequential, but it’s also full of variety, full of life.

The Greek historian Herodotus (484-414 BC), known as the “Father of History,” wrote about ancient Egypt, Persia, and Greece. It has been said of him that he broke new ground in his histories in that he didn’t merely sequentially document facts concerning the war between Persia and Greece, he dug deeper examining the causes of the war. He incorporated into his accounts surrounding information that shed light on the conduct of the war and the personalities of those who waged it. That’s what makes Herodotus a good read; he didn’t just record events, he went below the surface to find the reasons and motives behind the events. Herodotus brought history to life!

The word “histories” in Greek means “inquiries”. To inquire means a whole lot more than documenting places, dates, and events. To inquire is to ask questions, to interrogate. “What happened” is the event. But a good historian asks, “Why did that happen?” What makes for good history is when the historian “inquires” into the underlying causes that move people to act in any given time or place. It’s not so much the locations and dates which create the events, but the thinking, beliefs, and character of the people. The study of history is essentially the study of man and his beliefs; the events are the results of those beliefs.

What should characterize the historian, history buffs too, are empathy and a love for humanity, in spite of all its faults (Re-read Schaff’s quote at the beginning of this article).

—Fathers of Church History

One field of historical studies deals with the history of Christianity – “Church History.” Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, in Palestine, contemporary of Constantine the Great, wrote a ten volume church history covering the years from the birth of Christ to 324. This work has been praised because of the author’s moderation and love of the truth and have won Eusebius the title, “Father of Church History.”

In the nineteenth century another Church Historian, a Professor of Church History in Berlin, took pen in hand, August Neander, and for his work he has been labeled the “father of modern church history.” One of his students describes him as “…a child in spirit, a giant in learning, and a saint in piety, led back the study of history from the dry heath of rationalism to the fresh fountain of divine life in Christ, and made it a grand source of edification as well as instruction for readers of every creed. His General History of the Christian Religion and Church…is distinguished for thorough and conscientious use of the sources, critical research, ingenious combination, tender love of truth and justice, evangelical catholicity, hearty piety, and by masterly analysis of the doctrinal systems and the subjective Christian life of men of God in past ages. The edifying character is not introduced from without, but naturally grows out of his conception of church history, viewed as a continuous revelation of Christ’s presence and power in humanity, and as an illustration of the parable of the leaven which gradually pervades and transforms the whole lump. The political and artistic sections, and the outward machinery of history, were not congenial to the humble, guileless simplicity of Neander. His style is monotonous, involved, and diffuse, but unpretending, natural, and warmed by a genial glow of sympathy and enthusiasm. It illustrates his motto: Pectus est quod theologum facit”

That Latin phrase translates, “The Heart Makes the Theologian.” No wonder his work touched hearts!

The combinations of heart and head make history live! We can see this vividly illustrated when we compare and contrast Neander with one of his contemporaries, J. C. L. Gieseler, the Professor of Church History in Göttingen.

Both worked on their valuable Church histories at the same time. Gieseler, however, wrote under the influence of German rationalism, a philosophy which affected his narrative. He didn’t have the heart of a Neadner, so his writings, though valuable, were dry and uninspiring.

“From Gieseler…a profoundly learned, acute, calm, impartial, conscientious, but cold and dry scholar, we have a Textbook of Church History from the birth of Christ to 1854. The skeleton-like text presents, indeed, the leading facts clearly and concisely, but does not reach the inward life and spiritual marrow of the church of Christ. The theological views of Gieseler hardly rise above the jejune rationalism of Wegscheider, to whom he dedicated a portion of his history; and with all his attempt at impartiality he cannot altogether conceal the negative effect of a rationalistic conception of Christianity, which acts like a chill upon the narrative of its history, and substitutes a skeleton of dry bones for a living organism.”

“Neander and Gieseler matured their works in respectful and friendly rivalry, during the same period of thirty years of slow, but solid and steady growth. The former is perfectly subjective, and reproduces the original sources in a continuous warm and sympathetic composition, which reflects at the same time the author’s own mind and heart; the latter is purely objective, and speaks with the indifference of an outside spectator, through the ipsissima verba of the same sources, arranged as notes, and strung together simply by a slender thread of narrative. The one gives the history ready-made, and full of life and instruction; the other furnishes the material and leaves the reader to animate and improve it for himself. With the one, the text is everything; with the other, the notes. But both admirably complete each other, and exhibit together the ripest fruit of German scholarship in general church history in the first half of the nineteenth century.”

—You’ve Gotta Have Heart

The lesson of Neander applies to all of life. In sports they tell you, “You’ve gotta have heart”; in music, “You’ve gotta have heart”; the list of fields go on – you’ve got to have heart in just about every endeavor or it will be cold, mechanical, and uninspiring. This means, sticking with the athlete and musician analogies, you have to know more than the technicalities of the game or the music, you’ve got to play them with passion, with heart.

In life, “It’s the heart that makes the man or woman.”

Just as historians with heart inspire readers, people who live with heart will inspire observers.

Are you inspiring people?

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I Love Science!

Kepler MemeI Love Science! By Daniel W. Sheridan (Twitter:@DanielWSheridan) #SuccessfulSavior #TheBible #Science #ILoveScience
 
“I give thee thanks, O Lord and Creator, that thou hast gladdened me by thy creation when I was enraptured by the work of thy hands…” Kepler
 
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.”
 
To understand the speech and knowledge inherent in the universe, we must study it. That’s Science. Science is the study of God’s creation, the objects in nature and what happens to them. We are surrounded by innumerable things which are constantly in motion; they grow, move, boil, fall, decay, etc… God wants us to carefully study His magnificent universe in order to understand it, subdue it, and use it for the betterment of mankind.
 
The student of creation is humbled, his heart is enlarged embracing all mankind, he rejoices in God’s goodness, and looks forward to God’s glorious Kingdom! As the Psalmist joyfully exclaimed,
 
9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
10 All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee.
11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;
12 To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
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Who Are Universalists?

Whittemore PlainWho Are Universalists? #SuccessfulSavior
 
I just received in the mail a copy of Thomas Whittemore’s “The Plain Guide to Universalism.” I purchased it for one reason, the subtitle:
 
“Designed to inquirers to the belief of that doctrine, and believers to the practice of it.”
 
I was sold. The Apostle Paul said the Grace of God that brings salvation teaches that we should live… Titus 2. Grace trains us in the art of right living.
 
Truth is relational. Truth that doesn’t lead to action is useless. The teaching of God’s grace is the most wonderful message in human history, that means the corresponding life-style we are encouraged to translate into shoe-leather is also a thing of wonder.
 
“Who are Universalists?” asks Whittemore. He answers,
 
“A Universalist is one who believes in a God of infinite wisdom, and unbounded love and goodness, — who believes that Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Saviour of the world, — who believes in the record which God has given of his Son, — who believes that God will overcome all evil with goodness,and who labors to overcome evil himself, in the same
way, — who loves, God supremely, and his neighbors with brotherly affection, as he is required to do. He does unto others as he would that others should do unto nt under suffering, — comforted under affliction, — undismayed under the prospect of death,-— and filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory, in believing that all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God, — that the whole creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption and translated into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
 
Who could possibly argue with that? If this be heresy, let us make the most of it!
 
Live well beloved, Christ is worth it.
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How Do You Measure Success?

Jukes MemeHow Do You Measure Success? – By Daniel W. Sheridan (Twitter: @DanielWSheridan) #SuccessfulSavior #Bible #Jesus

How do you know if someone is good at their job? Doctor, lawyer, athlete, teacher, salesperson, any job. You know someone is good at their job if they are successful.

Webster defines the adjective successful: “Terminating in accomplishing what is wished or intended; having the desired effect; hence, in a good sense, prosperous; fortunate; happy; as a successful application of medicine; a successful experiment in chemistry or in agriculture; a successful enterprise.”

You are successful when you do your job. It’s that simple.

Jesus has a job. He’s a savior. Savior is one who saves. But most people believe Jesus is rotten at His job. Only a few of Adam’s progeny, according to many opinions, will be rescued from a fictitious torture chamber invented by pagans called Hell.

But Jesus is Successful at His job. Any other conclusion is dishonoring to God. These are saying that sin and death are too powerful for God and He will perpetuate sin and suffering forever. Jesus couldn’t save! But #BiblicalUniversalists recognize the holiness of God. We believe sin and death are so terrible that God will wipe out all traces of them – not perpetuate them!

Jesus is a Successful Savior. He is great at His job. His very name means Savior! He lives up to His Name! All will be permanently made alive, justified, and happy.

Name of Jesus! highest name!
Name that earth and Heaven adore!
From the heart of God it came,
Leads me to God’s heart once more.

Only Jesus! fairest name!
Life, and rest, and peace and bliss;
Jesus, evermore the same,
His is mine, and I am His.

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Dealing With Disagreements: How To Honorably Navigate Through An Argument And Have The Humility To Change

Franklin Change Mind MemeI have a very old book written by former Illinois Governor, Thomas Ford (1800-1850), “A History of Illinois,” which contains gems of wisdom.

Mr. Ford, in discussing the political climate of those days, noted how difficult it became for a person who, after receiving updated or better information, altered or changed his views. Such a one was branded a political heretic. He says,

“No allowance is made for the altered circumstances of the times, for the oblivion of old questions of dispute, or the springing up of new ones not dreamed of in former contests. Neither is any allowance made amongst fierce partisans for the fallibility of human judgment, nor for the results of a more matured, careful, and candid examination of political questions. Mankind adopt their principles when they are young, when the passions are strong, the judgment weak, the mind misinformed, and are generally influenced in their adoption by mere prejudice arising from attachment to friends. The mind has nothing to do with it. If afterwards they attain to more knowledge and capacity they are required to persevere in their first impressions or to be branded with inconsistency.

“Without asserting that Gov. Duncan was right in his change, for such would not be my opinion, yet it would seem from his example and that of many others that it would be better for politicians if they could reverse the order of their existence, come into the world in their old age and go out when they are young. As it really is, a man comes into the world without knowledge, experience, or capacity to think, and before he gets them, under the influence of his attachments to men, he is required to make up his opinions upon all the grave questions which are to affect himself or his country. He is to take a party name, and however much he may afterwards become enlightened, or parties shift grounds, he is never to change, under the penalty of being branded as a traitor to his party.

Amazing observation. I have discovered by personal experience that this lesson applies to Biblical discussions as well. I have, on numerous occasions, witnessed the ostracization of a person for merely changing views after further Biblical research. Like the persecuted in Ford’s above narrative, the Believer who maturely refines his views to line up with Scripture, as he understands it, is labeled a heretic or a flip-flopper by those who put party over principle. And like the party faithful in Ford’s story, those who ostracize are motivated by fear and insecurity. Ostracization over differences of opinion is the method of the fearful, the insecure, the selfish, and the stubborn. God forgive me for having committed this sin myself! Help me to never do it again!

How often do people adopt certain beliefs before they’ve studied the Bible? How often do people“believe” something just because a friend does, or a group of friends? How often is our “unflinching faith” nothing more than stubbornness, or worse, resistance to revealed truth?

Benjamin Franklin said to the members of the Constitutional Convention after months of disagreements and debates the following:

“I CONFESS that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present; but, sir, I am not sure I shall never approve of it, for, having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that, the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them, it is so far error…But, tho many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally an a certain French lady, who, in a little dispute with her sister, said: ‘But I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right.'”

If you are engaging with someone with whom you disagree, please remember how ignorant you once were, and may still be. I have discovered by experience that there are good men on both sides of issues, a fact which should teach us to be moderate, honest, kind, and sincere when expressing our opinions – even if convinced you are in the right. Too often we characterize those who disagree with our opinions as enemies. This should not be, it’s the easy way out. Plus, and here I speak with experience, the sorrow you cause to others – AND THEIR FAMILIES –  is cruel.

Some may read this and snicker at it’s idealism, others may think that I am promoting a non-committal approach to God’s Word, a wishy-washy-anything-goes Christianity. Far from it. We boldly say with Martin Luther,

Luther Here I Stand Meme“Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

People usually call into service this Luther quote to inspire devotion in order to create “champions of the faith.” They love the in your face Luther holding his ground before kings! I do too. I’ve never, however, heard or read anyone using it to praise Luther’s humility to inspire a reverence for God’s Word thus creating a teachable people who joyfully adjust their lives and beliefs when corrected by the Sacred Volume. In other words, instead of using Luther’s words to boldly promote truth, many are using them to encourage an insecure-based stubbornly-bold devotion to a party. Imagine that! They are ignoring a Bible truth which says,

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23).

And again,

“I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:59).

Far from being wishy-washy, we are actually being driven to God’s Word for daily instruction and correction.

Humility, motivated by true love, will enable us to conduct ourselves through disagreements honorably. After all, we are far from perfect knowledge. Benjamin Franklin once encouraged his arguing friends to doubt their own infallibility. The older I grow, the more inclined I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. 

Alexander Hamilton once said,Hamilton Truth Meme

“…in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution…I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded…My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.”

Humility, a relentless desire to search for truth wherever it may lead us, a willingness to change when change is called for, and the ability to present our beliefs and opinions in such a way that will not disgrace the cause of truth – these are some of the greatest needs of our day.

Think about how many truly good ideas were lost or forgotten because the promoters of those ideas disgraced the cause of truth by their behavior in word or deed. Those who value truth adorn it with good character – they never want to get in the way of truth.

May this be our motto:

“I hope…that I shall do enough, if I uncover the purest and simplest sense of the Gospel as well as I can, and if I answer some of those unskillful glosses, in order that the Christian people may hear, instead of fables and dreams, the Words of their God, unadulterated by human filth. For I the nothing except the pure, unalloyed sense of the Gospel suitable for the low, humble people.” Martin Luther

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A City Upon On A Hill

Winthrop City Upon a Hill MemeOn this day, January 12, 1587, John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Colony, is born.

John Winthrop, in a picturesque a caravan of eleven ships containing about 1000 people together with their horses and cattle, arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1630. Winthrop, considered one of the wisest men of his day, became the founder of Massachusetts Bay Colony and its first governor. He eventually moved headquarters to a small hilly peninsula whereon the highest hill was crowned with three summits. The Indians called the place Shawmut, but the English called it Trimountain, or Tremont, an allusion to its triple hill. Not long after that, it was renamed Boston, after a town in Lincolnshire from whence the settlers came.

Winthrop and his friends settled in Massachusetts, separated from the Church of England, and set up their churches and parishes according to their views. In those days people who lived in the town were one and the same as the congregation of the Church. They practiced the American tradition of self-government. When they meet for church business, it was called a Parish meeting; when they met for civil business, it was called a town meeting. Massachusetts grew into a colony consisting of numerous self-governing little republics called townships. Each town was about six or eight miles square with a village street for its center surrounded by farms. Over time they erected church buildings, a town building, and a structure for defense from attack.

Thomas Jefferson said regarding these New England Townships:

“Those wards, called Townships in New England…have proved themselves the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government, and for its preservation. As Cato, then, concluded every speech with the words Cathago delenda est, so do I every opinion with the injunction: Divide the counties into wards.”

Jefferson believed the only way to preserve self-government is through localism! With this John Winthrop would agree. This is what Winthrop said about his town:

“We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.”

Sound familiar? That’s where President Reagan got his material from. But when Winthrop talked about a city upon a hill he wasn’t talking about an empire, or Washington D.C., or “the United States,” he was talking about Townships! Jefferson, influenced by this heritage, wanted America composed of thousands of self-governing “cities upon a hill” with a national government limited to few and defined purposes.

America is a product of local communities. Do you want a great country? Then create and maintain thousands of great towns and villages. America is a product of the township.

The thousands of local town meetings throughout the country set the tone for the nation. The character of these determines the character of the State and National Capitals. If you want to change America, think local!

The following is a video supplement to this article, It’s a short, simple, and concise overview of American Government – Local, State, and National. This lesson is unique in that it teaches the principle of Federalism. These twelve minutes will give you a wonderful grounding in the American Heritage of Constitutional Government.

 

 

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