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 J. B. Phillips Quotes
40 Famous Quotes by J. B. Phillips
- (Present)
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J.B. Phillips
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If you're going to San Francisco, Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

Cities Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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We may with complete detachment study and form a judgement upon a religion, but we cannot maintain our detachment if the subject of our inquiry proves to be God Himself. This is, of course, why many otherwise honest intellectual people will construct a neat by-pass around the claim of Jesus to be God. Being people of insight and imagination, they know perfectly well that once to accept such a claim as fact would mean a readjustment of their own purposes and values and affections which they may have no wish to make. To call Jesus the greatest Figure in History or the finest Moral Teacher the world has ever seen commits no one to anything. But once to allow the startled mind to accept as fact that this man is really focused-God may commit anyone to anything! There is every excuse for blundering in the dark, but in the light there is no cover from reality. It is because we strongly sense this, and not merely because we feel that the evidence is ancient and scanty, that we shrink from committing ourselves to such a far-reaching belief as that Jesus Christ was really God.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Jesus once declared that God is "good to the ungrateful and the wicked" (St. Luke 6:35), and I remember preaching a sermon on this text to a horrified and even astonished congregation who simply refused to believe (so I gathered afterwards) in this astounding liberality of God. That God should be in a state of constant fury with the wicked seemed to them only right and proper, but that God should be kind towards those who were defying or disobeying His laws seemed to them a monstrous injustice. Yet I was but quoting the Son of God Himself, and I only comment here that the terrifying risks that God takes are part of His Nature. We do not need to explain or modify His unremitting love towards mankind.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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From the crude cry which we have so often heard during the war years: "If there is a God, why doesn't He stop Hitler?", to the unspoken questioning in many a Christian heart when a devoted servant of Christ dies from accident or disease at what seems to us a most inopportune moment, there is this universal longing for God to intervene, to show His hand, to vindicate His purpose. I do not pretend to understand the ways of God any more than the next man; but it is surely more fitting as well as more sensible for us to study what God does do and what He does not do as He works in and through the complex fabric of this disintegrated world, than to postulate what we think God ought to do and then feel demoralized and bitterly disappointed because He fails to fulfil what we expect of Him.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, & his sister Macrina, Teachers, c.394 & c.379 It is a singularly unpleasant thought that a book about Holy Communion is more likely to produce disagreement and controversy than one written on almost any other Christian subject. It seems a truly terrible thing that this Sacred Appointment, which was surely meant to unite, in actual practice divides Christians more sharply than any other part of their worship. Christians of various denominations may, and frequently do, work together on social projects, they may study the Scripture together, and they may ... pray together. But the moment attendance at the Lord's Table is suggested, up go the denominational barriers... I would make a strong plea that we do not exclude from the Lord's Table in our Church those who are undoubtedly sincere Christians. I cannot believe that to communicate together with our Lord should be regarded as the consummation, the final pinnacle, of the whole vast work of Reunion. Suppose it is the means and not the end. We might feel far more sharply the sin of our divisions and of our exclusiveness if we came humbly together to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord, and in that reception we might find such a quickening of our common devotion to Him that the divisions between us might be found not nearly so insuperable as we supposed.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Commemoration of Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690 The preacher and the writer may seem to have an... easy task. At first sight, it may seem that they have only to proclaim and declare; but in fact, if their words are to enter men's hearts and bear fruit, they must be the right words, shaped cunningly to pass men's defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds. This means, in practice, turning a face of flint toward the easy cliche, the well-worn religious cant and phraseology -- dear, no doubt, to the faithful, but utterly meaningless to those outside the fold. It means learning how people are thinking and how they are feeling; it means learning with patience, imagination and ingenuity the way to pierce apathy or blank lack of understanding. I sometimes wonder what hours of prayer and thought lie behind the apparently simple and spontaneous parables of the Gospel.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Suppose Christianity is not a religion but a way of life, a falling in love with God, and, through Him, a falling in love with our fellows. Of course, such a way is hard and costly, but it is also joyous and rewarding even in the here-and-now. People who follow that Way know beyond all possible argument that they are in harmony with the purpose of God, that Christ is with them and in them as they set about His work in our disordered world. If anyone thinks this is perilous and revolutionary teaching, so much the better. That is exactly what they thought of the teaching of Jesus Christ. The light He brought to bear upon human affairs is almost unbearably brilliant: but it is the light of Truth, and in that light human problems can be solved.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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One of Paul's most important teachings... is the doctrine of what we call "justification by faith". It frequently appears to the non-Christian mind that this is an immoral or at least unmoral doctrine. Paul appears to be saying that a man is justified before God, not by his goodness or badness, not by his good deeds or bad deeds, but by believing in a certain doctrine of Atonement. Of course, when we come to examine the matter more closely, we can see that there is nothing unmoral in this teaching at all. For if "faith" means using a God-given faculty to apprehend the unseen divine order, and means, moreover, involving oneself in that order by personal commitment, we can at once see how different that is from merely accepting a certain view of Christian redemption... That which man in every religion, every century, every country, was powerless to affect, God has achieved by the devastating humility of His action and suffering in Jesus Christ. Now, accepting such an action as a fait accompli is only possible by this perceptive faculty of "faith". It requires not merely intellectual assent but a shifting of personal trust from the achievements of the self to the completely undeserved action of God. To accept this teaching by mind and heart does, indeed, require a metanoia ["transformation"], a revolution in the outlook of both heart and mind.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Maundy Thursday There is joy and strength, of course, in this holy food and drink, but it is also an inevitable joining forces with the vast Scheme of reconciliation and redemption. Now there is something in our natural selves that may well make us wary of such a contact. The man who in his heart intends to go on being selfish or proud, or who has already decided how far his Christian convictions should carry him, is probably obeying a sound instinct when he keeps away from this glorious but perilous Sacrament. For, if the truth be told, men are often willing to put their trust in a god who in the end must be triumphant, simply because they want to be on the winning side; but they are not nearly so ready to bear any part of the cost of that winning. Yet the fellowship of the broken bread and the poured-out wine can mean no less than that.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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A man can not be "friends with" God on any other terms than complete obedience to Him, and that includes being "friends with" his fellow man. Christ stated emphatically that it was quite impossible, in the nature of things, for a man to be at peace with God and at variance with his neighbor. This disquieting fact is often hushed up, but it is undeniable that Christ said it, and the truth of it is enshrined in the petition for forgiveness in the "Lord's Prayer.".

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of Andrew the Apostle I would very earnestly ask you to check your conception of Christ, the image of Him which as a Christian you hold in your mind, with the actual revealed Person who can be seen and studied in action in the pages of the Gospels. It may be of some value to hold in our minds a bundle of assorted ideals to influence and control our conduct. But surely we need to be very careful before we give that "bundle" the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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The 'outsider' who knows nothing of the mixture of tradition, conviction, honest difference, and hidden resentment, that lies behind the divisions of the Christian Church sees clearly the advantage of a united Christian front and cannot see why the Churches cannot 'get together'. The problem is doubtless complicated, for there are many honest differences held with equal sincerity, but it is only made insoluble because the different denominations are (possibly unconsciously) imagining God to be Roman or Anglican or Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or what have you. If they could see beyond their little inadequate god, and glimpse the reality of God, they might even laugh a little and perhaps weep a little. The result would be a unity that actually does transcend differences, instead of ignoring them with public politeness and private contempt.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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God may thunder His commands from Mount Sinai and men may fear, yet remain at heart exactly as they were before. But let a man once see his God down in the arena as a Man, -- suffering, tempted, sweating, and agonized, finally dying a criminal's death - and he is a hard man indeed who is untouched.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher, 373 Our thoughtful observer who is outside the Churches has done a good deal of thinking on his own. The discoveries of modern physical and biological science, of astronomy, and of psychology, have profoundly influenced his conception of the "size" of God. If there be a Mind behind the immense complexities of the phenomena that man can observe, then it is that of a Being tremendous in His power and wisdom: it is emphatically not that of a little god. It is perfectly conceivable that such a Being has a moral purpose which is being worked out on the stage of this small planet. It is even possible to believe that such a God deliberately reduced Himself to the stature of humanity in order to visit the earth in Person, as all Christians affirm.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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So long as a man confines his ideas of Christ to a rather misty hero figure of long ago who died a tragic death, and so long as his ideas of Christianity are bounded by what he calls the Sermon on the Mount (which he has almost certainly not read in its entirety since he became grown-up), then the living truth never has a chance to touch him. This is plainly what has happened to many otherwise intelligent people. Over the years I have had hundreds of conversations with people, many of them of higher intellectual calibre than my own, who quite obviously had no idea of what Christianity is really about. I was in no case trying to catch them out: I was simply and gently trying to find out what they knew about the New Testament. My conclusion was that they knew virtually nothing. This I find pathetic and somewhat horrifying. It means that the most important Event in human history is politely and quietly bypassed. For it is not as though the evidence had been examined and found unconvincing: it had simply never been examined.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of All Saints What changed these very ordinary men (who were such cowards that they did not dare stand too near the cross in case they got involved) into heroes who would stop at nothing? A swindle? Hallucination? Spooky nonsense in a darkened room? Or Somebody quietly doing what He said He'd do -- walk right through death? What do YOU think?

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Commemoration of William Augustus Muhlenberg of New York, Priest, 1877 If our hopes, whatever we protest, really lie in this world instead of in the eternal order, we shall find it difficult to accept the New Testament teaching of the Second Coming. In our eyes, the job is not yet done; and such an action would be, though we would not put it so, an interference. But suppose our hope rests in the purpose of God: then we safely leave the timing of the earthly experiment to Him. Meanwhile, we do what we were told to do -- to be alert and to work and pray for the spread of His Kingdom.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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I did not expect to hear that it could be, in an assembly convened for the propagation of Christian knowledge, a question whether any nation uninstructed in religion should receive instruction; or whether that, instruction should be imparted to them by a translation of the holy-books into their own language. If obedience to the will of GOD be necessary to happiness, and knowledge of his will be necessary to obedience, I know not how he that withholds this knowledge, or delays it, can be said to love his neighbour as himself. He, that voluntarily continues ignorance, is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces; as to him that should extinguish the tapers of a light-house, might justly be imputed the calamities of shipwrecks. (Continued tomorrow) ... a letter from Samuel Johnson to William Drummond of Edinburgh, 1766 July 13, 2002 Christianity is the highest perfection of humanity; and as no man is good but as he wishes the good of others, so no man can be good in the highest degree, who wishes not to others the largest measures of the greatest good. To omit for a year, or for a day, the most efficacious method of advancing Christianity [i.e., the Bible], in compliance with any purposes that terminate this side of the grave, is a crime [the like] of which I know not that the world has yet had an example. ... a letter from Samuel Johnson to William Drummond of Edinburgh, 1766 July 14, 2002 Feast of John Keble, Priest, Poet, Tractarian, 1866 The "good" man, the man whose god is righteousness, has as his life's ambition the keeping of rules and commandments and the keeping of himself uncontaminated by the world. This sounds admirable; but, as the truth of Christ showed, the whole of such living, the whole drive and ambition, the whole edifice, is self-centered. That entire process of effort must be abandoned if a man is to give himself in love to God and his fellows. He must lose his life if he is ever going to find it.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of Lawrence, Deacon at Rome, Martyr, 258 There are doubtless many reasons for the degeneration of Christianity into churchiness, and the narrowing of the Gospel for all mankind into a set of approved beliefs; but the chief cause must be the worship of an inadequate god -- a cramped and regulated god who is a 'good churchman' according to the formulas of the worshipper. For actual behaviour infallibly betrays the real object of the man's worship. All Christians, whatever their Church, would of course instantly repudiate the idea that their god was a super-example of their own denomination, and it is not suggested that the worship is conscious. Nevertheless, beneath the conscious critical level of the mind it is perfectly possible for the Anglo-Catholic, for example, to conceive God as particularly pleased with Anglo-Catholicism, doubtful about Evangelicalism, and frankly displeased by all forms of Nonconformity... The ultra-low Churchman on the other hand must admit, if he is honest, that the God whom he worships disapproves most strongly of vestments, incense, and candles on the altar. The tragedy of these examples -- which could be reproduced ad nauseam any day of the week -- is not difference of opinion, which will probably be with us till the Day of Judgment, but the outrageous folly and damnable sin of trying to regard God as the Party Leader of a particular point of view.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of Bartholomew the Apostle The defenders of the Jargon and phrases of the Church's tradition hold that there must of necessity be a specialized vocabulary, just as there is in any other specialized form of human activity, whether it is music, architecture, or electronic engineering. To me, at least, this is a thoroughly unsound argument, for Christ did not come into the world to bring men "specialized activity," but life, fuller and more satisfying than it had been ever before. If the churches have made Christianity appear to be some kind of specialized spiritual performance so much the worse for them. The real purpose of Christ, the real relevance of the Gospel, is surely to enable men to live together as sons of God. Human beings, like children, love to have secrets, love to be "in the know." But the Christian religion was never meant to be a secret recipe for living, held by a few. It is Good News for all mankind and, because it is that, the more clearly and intelligibly it can be presented, the more faithfully it is following its Master's purpose.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of Juliana of Norwich, Mystic, Teacher, c.1417 Jesus, like all other religious leaders, taught men to pray, that is, He taught them to look away from the world of ordinary sense impressions and to open the heart and spirit to God; yet He is always insistent that religion must be related to life. It is only by contact with God that a better quality of living can be achieved -- and Jesus Himself, as the records show, speent many hours in communion with God -- yet that new quality of life has to be both demonstrated and tested in the ordinary rough-and-tumble of plain living. It is in ordinary human relationships that the validity of a man's communion with God is to be proved.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Feast of Justin, Martyr at Rome, c.165 Commemoration of Angela de'Merici, Founder of the Institute of St. Ursula, 1540 This astonishing sense of spiritual attack which, it seems to me, must inevitably follow the continual reading of the four Gospels, without preconception but with an alert mind, is not the sole privilege of the translator. It can happen to anyone who is prepared to abandon proof-texts and a closed attitude of mind, and allow not merely the stories but the quality of the Figure Who exists behind the stories to meet him afresh. Neat snippets of a few verses are of course useful in their way, but the overall sweep and much of the significance of the Gospel narratives are lost to us unless we are prepared to read the Gospels through, not once but several times.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Commemoration of Ini Kopuria, Founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, 1945 It is easy to criticise the many failings of the Church; it is all too easy to criticise the lives of those who profess and call themselves Christians; but I should say that it is almost impossible to read the Gospels thoroughly with adult, serious attention and then dismiss the central Figure as a mere human prophet or a tragic idealist. The reaction to such a study may indeed prove to be conversion or open hostility, but it would at least mean the end of childish and ill-informed attacks upon what is supposed to be the Christian religion.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Commemoration of Rose of Lima, Contemplative, 1617 Those who think God did this almost incredible thing call it Good Friday because only an extremely good God could do a thing like that. All religions attempt to bridge the gulf between the terrific purity of God and the sinfulness of man, but Christianity believes that God built that bridge Himself. This particular Friday commemorates His deliberate action in allowing Himself to be caught up in the sin-suffering-death mechanism which haunts mankind. He didn't let it end there, for He went on, right through death. But the men who believe in Him can't forget the kind of Person such an act reveals. That's why they call it Good Friday.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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Commemoration of Birinus, Bishop of Dorchester (Oxon), Apostle of Wessex, 650 In his enthusiasm, the evangelist often finds it difficult seriously to imagine that anyone could be called not to be an evangelist. The man of vision and imagination finds it difficult to see the value of those who do no more than plod on faithfully along a well-tried road. The man whose concern is in personal dealing with people and leading them to understand God better finds it difficult to be patient with the theologian or the Christian philosopher whose work is in the quiet of a book-lined study. Yet the truth is that the wholeness which God is working to achieve is never complete in an individual, but through individuals living together as one body, each supplying the deficiencies of the others.

Christianity Quotes, by J. B. Phillips

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