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"...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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  • « The Guardrail of the Creeds | Main | The Power and Purpose of Money »

    Reasons of the Heart by Bill Edgar

    pg. 72

    Surprised my Laughter

    Few things dislodge the complacency of certain skeptics as humor. Closely related to a sense of the extraordinary, humor has an element of mystery that makes it a powerful tool for conversation. Why is a good joke funny? Why do certain animals make us laugh? Why does someone slipping on a banana peel strike us as droll? One reason is that in each of these situations two realms clash—the ideal and the ordinary. We spend much of our lives focused on the ordinary, where life can be sadly dark and meaningless. But at times the other reality intrudes and there is a clash, to which we respond with laughter.

    In the classic film Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin satirizes the rule of technology. At one point, Chaplin is invited to test a remarkable new eating machine—one that feeds him mechanically without any human effort required. Something inevitably goes wrong, and the robotic arms and dishes become out of the synch, food is flying around, and chaos reigns. We laugh at such a scene because the pretensions of modern technology have been shown to be inadequate to the needs of humanity. The ideal realm, where eating is more than a biological function, forces its way into the ordinary sphere of the dull technology.

    Humor can be cynical and destructive, showing a lack of shame and a loss of honor. Often this negative humor is escapism rather than a reality check. Not only is it an indiscriminate judgment, it is not good humor. Distrust, which lies at the heart of humor, can work both ways—being a sign of arrogance or a conventionally permissible way to reveal problems. Such literary and dramatic masters as Shakespeare and Cervantes deploy humor through the clown, revealing truth as the two worlds clash. Through humor we can proclaim basic truths about God, sin, and redemption, and even suggest the great surprise of the gospel.

    James is one who journeyed toward faith in Christ through humor. He’s now an Episcopal priest, but as a young man he was thoroughgoing skeptic. Though he had been raised in a Christian family, he had had several negative experiences and was turned off by some unattractive Christians. A number of the most outspoken believers he encountered were not consistently living out their faith—some were terrible parents, for instance, and others were dishonest in business dealings. James found that many Christians were, in a word, hypocrites. If the gospel is true, he wondered, how could so many of adherents be so phony?

    What arrested his attention was essentially a joke. On one occasion he raised his objection to Christian belief with a believing friend. After telling his friend that he could not join a religion with so many hypocrites, the Christian turned to James and said there was room for at least one more! The rather elementary quip jolted James into the realization of Augustine’s wisdom, that the church is not a museum of saints but a hospital of sinners

    Posted by Marco on January 28, 2015 05:32 PM

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