Charles Spurgeon Quotes

“The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up. You have to cut every step with an ice axe. Only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress. If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity. You can never stand still.”

“I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the gospel if thou can eat it all to thyself.”

“In spiritual things, when God has raised a desire, He always gratifies it; hence the longing is prophetic of the blessing. In no case is the desire of the living thing excited to produce distress, but in order that it may seek and find satisfaction.”

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

“We are convinced that all of our race who die in infancy partake in the redemption wrought out by our Lord Jesus. Whatever some may think, we believe that the whole spirit and tone of the Word of God, as well as the nature of God Himself, lead us to believe that all who leave this world as babes are saved.”

“Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificied on the altar of conformity and popularity.”

“The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. He is like a traveler in an inn, perfectly satisfied with the inn and its accommodation, considering it as an inn, but putting quite out of all consideration the idea of making it his home.”

“I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.”

How is it that some of us are converted, while our companions in sin are left to persevere in their godless career? Was there anything good in us that moved the heart of God to save us? God forbid that we should indulge the blasphemous thought!

“I take it that the highest proof of Christ’s power is not that He offers salvation, not that He bids you take it if you will, but that when you reject it, when you hate it, when you despise it, He has a power whereby he can change your mind, make you think differently from your former thoughts, and turn you from the error of your ways.”

“Love your fellowmen, and cry about them if you cannot bring them to Christ. If you cannot save them, you can weep over them. If you cannot give them a drop of cold water in hell, you can give them your heart’s tears while they are still in this body.”

Book Review: “Orthodoxy”

It’s been a few months since my previous book review, but that’s because my wife and I only read a few pages each night before bed. I mostly read medical texts and classic fiction on my own time…which doesn’t always make for great “book review” material.

For those who aren’t familiar with G.K. Chesterton, the man was a genius. I actually posted a Chesterton quote page back in May of 2012, so clearly I’m a fan.

In “Orthodoxy”, Chesterton sets about describing his own intellectual journey – from his early Christian upbringing to his adolescent skepticism and back again. It’s very much a “gut-level” approach, with Chesterton explaining how, despite his best efforts, the orthodox teachings of Christianity gradually won him over.

Chesterton was also a pretty sarcastic (and hilarious) guy, so there were a few laugh-out-loud moments.

I actually think that the chapter titles do a pretty good job of describing the progression of the book:

Chapter 1: Introduction in Defense of Everything Else
Chapter 2: The Maniac
Chapter 3: The Suicide of Thought
Chapter 4: The Ethics of Elfland
Chapter 5: The Flag of the World
Chapter 6: The Paradoxes of Christianity
Chapter 7: The Eternal Revolution
Chapter 8: The Romance of Orthodoxy
Chapter 9: Authority and the Adventurer

“Orthodoxy” is the perfect book for anyone looking for an honest, intuitive, lighthearted, and personal sort of apologetic. Chesterton defends the Christian worldview in an easy-to-grasp manner by appealing to “an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts” (as he puts it).

As usual, I’ve collected below a few of my favorite passages:

“As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out…The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle…The Christian admits that the universe is manifold and even miscellaneous, just as a sane man knows that he is complex. The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist’s world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane. The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation, just as the interesting person before mentioned is quite sure that he is simply and solely a chicken. Materialists and madmen never have doubts.”

“A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert – himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt – the Divine Reason.”

“Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, ‘Why should ANYTHING go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?’ The young sceptic says, ‘I have a right to think for myself.’ But the old sceptic, the complete sceptic, says, ‘I have no right to think for myself. I have no right to think at all.'”

‎”…But when I came to ask [the determinists] I found they had really no proof of this unavoidable repetition in things except the fact that the things were repeated. Now, the mere repetition made the things to me rather more weird than more rational…The recurrences of the universe rose to the maddening rhythm of an incantation, and I began to see an idea.”

‎”…What we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening.”

“I found it was [my agnostic teachers’] daily taunt against Christianity that it was the light of one people and had left all others to die in the dark. But I also found that it was their special boast for themselves that science and progress were the discovery of one people, and that all other peoples had died in the dark. Their chief insult to Christianity was actually their chief compliment to themselves, and there seemed to be a strange unfairness about all their relative insistence on the two things.”

“Some satisfaction is needed even to make things better. But what do we mean by making things better? Most modern talk on this matter is a mere argument in a circle – that circle which we have already made the symbol of madness and of mere rationalism. Evolution is only good if it produces good; good is only good if it helps evolution. The elephant stands on the tortoise, and the tortoise on the elephant.”

‎”In actual modern Europe a freethinker does not mean a man who thinks for himself. It means a man who, having thought for himself, has come to one particular class of conclusions: the material origin of phenomena, the impossibility of miracles, the improbability of personal immortality and so on. And none of these ideas are particularly liberal. Nay, indeed almost all these ideas are definitely illiberal, as it is the purpose of this chapter to show…”

“If I am asked, as a purely intellectual question, why I believe in Christianity, I can only answer, ‘For the same reason that an intelligent agnostic disbelieves Christianity.’ I believe in it quite rationally upon the evidence. But the evidence in my case, as in that of the intelligent agnostic, is not really in this or that alleged demonstration; it is in an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts. The secularist is not to be blamed because his objections to Christianity are miscellaneous and even scrappy; it is precisely such scrappy evidence that does convince the mind. I mean that a man may well be less convinced of a philosophy from four books, than from one book, one battle, one landscape, and one old friend….I can only say that my evidences for Christianity are of the same vivid but varied kind as his evidences against it. For when I look at these various anti-Christian truths, I simply discover that none of them are true. I discover that the true tide and force of all the facts flows the other way.”

‎”Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them…If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant’s story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is, you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main principle of materialism – the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a perfect right to do so; but in that case you are the dogmatist. It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence – it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence being constrained to do so by your creed. But I am not constrained by any creed in the matter, and looking impartially into certain miracles of mediaeval and modern times, I have come to the conclusion that they occurred.”

Seven Studies with Politically Incorrect Findings

I thought this would be an interesting list to put together. Feel free to critique or comment on any of these…and let me know if there are others you think should have been included!

1. Couples that Share Housework Equally have a Higher Divorce Rate
A large-scale survey of married couples in Norway recently found that “the divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.” You can read a brief overview HERE…or a longer summary HERE…or the entire 228 page report (in Norwegian) HERE. I should also emphasize the distinction here between correlation and causation. The take home message isn’t that men doing housework contributes to divorce, but rather that younger couples with more “modern” attitudes toward gender roles are also less likely to take their marriage vows seriously. (Sorry fellas. The “I can’t vacuum honey, because science!” excuse won’t pass muster.)

2. Children with Gay or Lesbian Parents have Significantly Poorer Social, Emotional, and Relational Outcomes than Children from Intact Biological Families
Mark Regnerus’s New Family Structures Study raised a tremendous amount of controversy when it was published earlier this year. For those who remember, I wrote a post back in June addressing some of these reactions. There was actually something of a witch-hunt after the study’s publication, with a number of activists accusing Dr. Regnerus of scientific misconduct (his university has since cleared him of these allegations).

3. Over a Ten-Year Period in Spain, Increased Access to Contraception Corresponded with a Dramatic Rise in Abortion Rates
This study provides an excellent counterexample to the pro-choice dogma that increased availability of contraception is the key to reducing abortion rates. From the abstract: “During the study period, 1997 to 2007, the overall use of contraceptive methods increased from 49.1% to 79.9%…The elective abortion rate increased from 5.52 to 11.49 per 1000 women.” Marc (over at BadCatholic) recently did a nice write-up on this issue as well.

4. People Who Regularly Attend Church are Happier than Those Who Don’t
According to a 2006 Pew Research report, “People who attend religious services weekly or more are happier (43% very happy) than those who attend monthly or less (31%); or seldom or never (26%). This correlation between happiness and frequency of church attendance has been a consistent finding in the General Social Surveys taken over the years.”

5. Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals May Not Recognize
This is according to a 2007 paper by Jonathan Haidt, who is well-known for his Moral Foundations Theory. The basic idea is that there are five (later six) “foundations” that we use to evaluate morality: harm, fairness, liberty (the recent add-on), loyalty, authority, and purity. According to Haidt – formerly a liberal, but now a self-described centrist – conservatives emphasize all six categories equally, whereas liberals only recognize harm, fairness, and liberty. You can watch Haidt’s TED Talk here.

6. Abstaining from Pre-Marital Sex Leads to Fewer Divorces and More Stable Marriages
There are a number of large studies supporting this claim. According to Laumann et al, “For both genders, we find that virgins have dramatically more stable first marriages…Those who marry as non-virgins are also more likely – all other things being equal – to be unfaithful over the remainder of their life compared with those spouses who do marry as virgins.” According to Heaton, “Dissolution rates are substantially higher among those who initiate sexual activity before marriage.”

7. When it Comes to Church Attendance, Children Are More Likely to Imitate Their Fathers than Their Mothers
According to a large-scale Swiss study published in 2000, “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.” The statistics are pretty eye-opening. In families where both parents were regular churchgoers, 33% of children grew up to become regular churchgoers. In families where the mother was a regular churchgoer and the father was nonpracticing, only 2% of children grew up to become regular churchgoers. In families where the father was a regular churchgoer and the mother was nonpracticing, 44% of children grew up to become regular churchgoers.