"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Romans from 30,000 Feet by Michael Horton | Main | Contemporary Reformation Theology Page »

    5 Years of German

    JS - TRUE STORY: One Sunday morning, a distinguished looking couple from Germany came to our Church. In greeting and chatting with them after the service I made a very big mistake. I told them that I studied German for five years in High School.

    In their lovely thick German accents they said, “oh how nice. Please tell us something in our German language.”

    I said, “oh no, its been so many years since I studied German and I have forgotten most of what I have learnt. All I can remember now are little phrases that are quite useless.”

    “No, please, Pastor John,” the lady said with an eager smile, “we have been away from Germany for 3 weeks and have not heard any German at all – please, Pastor John, tell us – please tell us something in German.”

    I was more than a little suprised with their insistence. They seemed very determined for me to say something in their language.

    “O.K., here’s something I remember” I said, “but I do warn you, it is not a very useful phrase.”

    “We don’t mind,” the husband said, “just tell us something in German.”

    O.K., I said, “Ich kannst nicht ins kino gehen aber ich bin nur dreizein jahre alt.”

    The German couple looked completely stunned for a brief moment. Then they looked at each other. One started smiling, the other started laughing, and then they both started laughing in unison, to such an extent that their laughter became loud.

    Others in the room stopped their own conversations and began turning around to find out where the big noise was coming from.. and as they looked, they saw this visiting German couple holding each other up as they were almost falling down because their laughter was so pronounced.

    Amidst their gasping for air, the husband said, “You are right, that is totally .. ridiculous..” as he tried to breathe through the laugher again… “We thought you would quote a Scripture or have at least something profound to say, but that was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard…”

    Why would they be laughing so much?

    Well, in their imagination, they could see me in Germany, perhaps in one of the big cities.. perhaps I was driving a car and it broke down and I needed help.. finding someone on the sidewalk I rush up to them and say:


    Posted by John Samson on April 14, 2011 07:44 PM


    Good day Sir,

    your sentence sounds quite funny to the German ear and even more so because the two clauses are connected by the wrong conjunction (Also the verb form of "cannot" is not correct).
    Your sentence literally translated says: "I cannot go to the movies but I am only thirteen years old."
    So the sentence seems even more random and makes us Germans who already feel like someone stabbed a knife into our hearts if you use the wrong definite article (der,die,das) all the more laugh.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Thomas Berber.


    Yes, indeed, you are right. The word "aber" means "but" and is not appropriate for the thought I was wishing to convey and this just shows how feeble my recollections of German are from High School so long ago. :-))

    Thomas, If I was to seek to say the sentence “I CANNOT GO TO THE MOVIES BECAUSE I AM ONLY THIRTEEN YEARS OLD!” correctly in German, what would I say?

    You would say:
    "Ich kann nicht ins Kino gehen, weil ich nur dreizehn Jahre alt bin." :-)


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