“The solemn work with which the Christian ministry concerns itself demands a man’s all, and that all at its best. To engage in it half-heartedly is an insult to God and man.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students Volume 1, 1875)
This quote by Spurgeon is perhaps the best that I can provide to capture the sense of drive, compassion, and mission that Robert Wilken’s work in “The Spirit of Early Christian Thought” brought to bear within my soul. This is the first entry of 14 reflecting on the book as a whole. Each entry will begin with 1 quote, followed by a reflection on that quote, and finally, a scriptural passage meant to drive you, the reader, into a deeper reflection on what that passage means for how you ought to be living out and thinking about your faith. This is not meant to be overtly academic or philosophical but it may touch both those things at times for they are part of my devotional life.
Introduction: “The Resurrection of Jesus is the central fact of Christian devotion and the ground of all Christian thinking.” pg. xv
This single idea was like being plunged through a thin layer of ice into a cold lake. In protestant evangelicalism especially of a reformed flavor and disposition, it is incredibly easy to believe something quite different… that rather than the resurrection, it is the existence of the scriptures that is the central fact of Christian devotion and the ground of all Christian thinking. A lot of apologists and protestant Christians, influenced by the reformation, Scottish common-sense philosophy, and anti-catholic radicalism have a tendency to treat scripture as a text merely authored by God. The early church often viewed scripture as being an icon that had been made by God through which one may come to the presence of God in this life. The scriptures were not merely authored by God, they carried one closer to a lived experience of God. This lived experience is grounded and sustained in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and this is what the scriptures move us toward or remind us of, in fact, the cross and resurrection are the central moments of the Christian Religion and if the Bible replaces the cross and the resurrection one will find themselves practicing a faith that was never proclaimed or modeled by Christ or the apostles and prophets.
1 Corinthians 15, especially verses 13-17.
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”