1417) “What is it You Believe?”

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   Gerhard Forde (1927-2005) was a professor of systematic theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota for almost forty years.  He told the story of going to a social gathering at a local college several years ago.  One of the professors of that college introduced himself to Professor Forde in this way: “I am a writer of books,” he said, “and what is it that you do?”
     Dr. Forde said, “Well, it just so happens that I write books as well.”
     The other man asked, “What sort of books do you write?”
     Dr. Forde replied, “I mainly write about Jesus Christ.”
     The other man then said, “Imagine that, a learned man like yourself writing about Jesus Christ.  Do you mean to say that you write about him as the Son of God, Savior of the world, risen from the dead?  You don’t really believe all that religious mumbo-jumbo, do you?”
     “Well, I suppose I do,” said Dr. Forde, and then asked, “And what is it that you believe?”
     And the other professor said, “I believe in the dignity of man.  I believe in the basic goodness of all human beings.  I believe that through reason and the power of science, we can begin to address those problems that have plagued the world from the beginning, and in the end, I believe that love will prevail.  If I did not believe this, then I would not be able to get up in the morning and write my books.”
     And Dr. Forde replied, “Imagine that, a learned man like yourself, believing in all that mumbo-jumbo.”

–From a sermon by Luther Seminary professor Steven Paulson at a 2006 conference.

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 I Corinthians 1:17-25 — For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 
     Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

I Corinthians 2:13-14 — This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

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A PRAYER FOR ONE’S STUDY by SAMUEL JOHNSON (1709-84):
     O Lord, my Maker and Protector, who hast graciously sent me into this world to work out my salvation, enable me to drive from myself all such unquiet and perplexing thoughts as may mislead or hinder me in the practice of those duties which thou hast required.  When I behold the works of thy hands and consider the course of thy providence, give me Grace always to remember that thy thoughts are not my thoughts, nor thy ways my ways.  And while it shall please Thee to continue me in this world where much is to be done and little to be known, teach me by thy Holy Spirit to withdraw my mind from unprofitable and dangerous inquiries,  from difficulties vainly curious, and doubts impossible to be solved.  Let me rejoice in the light which thou hast imparted, let me serve thee with active zeal and humble confidence, and wait with patient expectation for the time in which my soul, which Thou receivest, shall be satisfied with knowledge.  Grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

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