A few quotes from the many books vying for my attention.
“By the later fourth century when Athanasius made his list of New Testament books, many features of the church that evangelical, particularly free church, Protestants find questionable are already functioning. Does it make much sense to say that the fourth-century church was making very good decisions about the Bible but mostly poor ones about everything else?” (“The Canon of Scripture in the Church” by Frederick W. Norris in The Free Church and the Early Church edited by D.H. Williams, p. 15 – unfortunately it is out of print.)
“Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us, to glorify and enjoy him and to enrich the lives of others. It is all too easy to turn other people in our lives into a supporting cast for our life movie. . . . Boomers believed that traditional church experience was too ordinary—even boring—with its weekly routine of preaching, sacraments, prayer, praise, teaching, and fellowship. What was needed instead was a new plan for personal growth, something that would take our walk with God to a ‘whole new level,’ Boomers tended to make the Christian life—and the church—more individualistic and performance-oriented, removing checks and balances, structures and practices that have historically encouraged and sustained growth in faith over the long haul.” (Ordinary by Michael Horton, pp. 16, 17.)
“The point I’m making, then, is that Jesus didn’t come to make the ‘world’ a better place or to ‘influence’ or ‘transform’ the world. He came to redeem people out of the world. Trying to make the world a better place is a species of worldliness, and ‘worldliness,’ to quote Hauerwas and Willimon, ‘is a hard habit to break.’” (Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight, p. 16)
“Everyone wants a miracle. But here’s the catch: no one wants to be in a situation that necessitates one! Of course, you can’t have one without the other.” (The Grave Robber by Mark Batterson, p. 14)
“Not only did martyrs picture Christ for the average person, they carried prayers to them as well. Ancient Christians delighted in the knowledge that they could share prayer requests with friends who already dwelled in the presence of God. When modern Christians struggle with some significant issue in their lives, they ask their fellow believers to intercede with the Lord. Together these friends approach the throne of grace, seeking mercy through their several petitions. But how much more glorious would it be to think that a martyr, who already resided in heaven yet remained spiritually accessible at his or her grave, might actually pray to God on one’s behalf? This possibility reassured the early Christians as they faced life’s uncertainties. At its best, the, the cult of the martyrs was about the twin ministries of imitation and intercession. Visiting a martyr’s shrine served as a profound inspiration to draw ancient believers closer to the sufferings of their Savior, and deeper into the prayer life of the body of Christ.” (Early Christian Martyr Stories by Bryan M. Litfin, p. 14-15)
“Francis is the world’s most popular saint, as well as the primary inspiration for our new pope; but Francis of Assisi is misunderstood. more books have been written about him than about any other person in history but Christ, but much of what’s been said and written is misleading or downright incorrect. Peter Barnes, one of the great playwrights of the late twentieth century, once said: ‘If you didnt’ know me you’d think I was a stranger.’ Francis of Assisi might say that to us.” (When Saint Francis Saved the Church by Jon M. Sweeney, p. 17)