“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Thursday, March 4, 2021


If I was banished to a remote and isolated island (the original cancel culture), I would want two books to live out my days: The Bible and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Kempis’ book has been good for meditation on spiritual truths, spiritual discipline and development of my interior life. 




“Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness,”[1] says the Lord. These are Christ’s own words by which He exhorts us to imitate His life and His ways, if we truly desire to be enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let it then be our main concern to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ." 


"2. His teaching surpasses that of all the saints, and whoever has His Spirit will find in His teaching hidden manna.[2] But it happens that many are little affected, even after frequent hearing of His Gospel. This is because they do not have the spirit of Christ.[3] If you want to understand Christ words and relish them fully, you must try to conform your entire life to His."


I have met people who claimed to have read the Bible cover to cover and found it wanting, ordinary, and not particularly inspiring, even silly and inferior. I knew an agnostic man named Ted. He made such a claim; I did not believe him. His ignorance of Scripture belied his claim.  He said he found God to be vengeful and cruel. His usual example was to distort his face and imitate an ogre. In a guttural voice he would hiss, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” One day, I asked him where it says that in the Bible? He did not know. It’s Exodus 21.14.[4]


In fact, this passage does not reveal a cruel God exacting vengeance. Quite the contrary, it was instructions for judges that penalties must not exceed the crime, rather than retaliation by an injured party which was often out of proportion to the crime. A man does not kill someone who knocked out his tooth. This principle of proportionate punishment has guided laws into modern times. 


When someone says he’s read the Bible and got nothing out of it, the problem is not the Bible. The problem is with the reader who, as Kempis wrote, “… many are little affected, even after frequent hearing of His [Christ’s] Gospel. This is because they do not have the spirit of Christ.[5] If you want to understand Christ words and relish them fully, you must try to conform your entire life to His.” 

The Bible is not just another book, it is the Word of God.[6] The reader must be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.”[7] The Bible cannot be understood by merely reading it, as though it is a novel or history book. It must be prayerfully read. C.S. Lewis said, “The Bible, when read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him” meaning Jesus. Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Remember Thomas à Kempis said that “whoever has His Spirit will find in His teaching hidden manna.”  

I actually don’t believe that people like Ted could have read the Bible without a little voice within convicting them. The writer of Hebrews said, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”[8] This was the problem for Ted and why he was so quick to dismiss the Bible. He did not want to have God’s word penetrate his interior life and convict him of his sin, his thoughts or the intent of his heart. He preferred darkness to light.”[9]


Ted preferred darkness to light because light would have exposed his secret life and his evil thoughts and sinful deeds. He enjoyed his sin. He did not want to change. The word of God exposed to him that which he did not want exposed.[10] Somewhere deep inside himself, Ted was afraid of the implications of listening to that little voice.[11] He would be called to repent of things he was not ready to repent of. It was easier and more comfortable to smother the little inner voice (as he had done so often before), silence his conscience, and close the Bible.


Do you understand what I am writing about? We who have denied and defied God at one time or another have tried to silence that nagging little voice. We felt that piercing double-edged sword. So many people have heard the feet of the Hound of Heaven behind them.[12] When they opened Scripture, they heard its pounding paws closing in on them. They had three choices: flight, fight or surrender.

I hope that in the final moments of Ted's life he finally surrendered to Christ. The darkness that had covered his life would have become light as he stepped from this life to the next. 



 John 8.12.

[2] Revelation 2.17.

[3] Romans 8.9.

[4] Cp. Leviticus 24.20

[5] Romans 8.9.

[6] John 1.1. 

[7]1 Corinthians 2.10-12

[8] Hebrews 4.12.

[9] John 3.19-20. See 1John1.5, Acts 26.18, Romans 13.12.

[10] Ephesians 5.11.

[11] John 12.46.

[12] Francis Thompson (1859-1907), poem The Hound of Heaven.

[13] Romans 2.4.

[14] John 3.1-36. Also see 2Peter 3.9, Ezekiel 33.11, 1 Timothy 2.4.

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