My All-time Favorite Quotes


“The image of God is the image of Christ crucified.”  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, p. 302.
“The eschatological future of the world becomes present in the person of Jesus without as yet bringing history to an end.  This is the claim of the gospel: the personal future of everyone and the universal future of the world are linked to the eschatological event hiddenly present in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.”  -Carl Braaten, Flaming Center, p. 6.
“Tell them about the Lamb of God till you can tell them no more.”  -Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf
“The statement that Jesus Christ is the one Word of God has nothing to do with the arbitrary exaltation and glorification of the Christian in relation to other people, of the church in relation to other institutions, or of Christianity in relation to other conceptions.”  Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/3, 91.
“The Body of Christ is the locus of mutual participation of God in humanity and humanity in God.”  William Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination, 13.


“… we will not fully understand the current malaise of Western Christianity until we come to terms with the phenomenon of Christendom in its many dimensions.”  -Alan Kreider, The Change of Conversion and the Origin of Christendom, p. xiv.
“With the collapse of historical Christendom, the church today is a minority in most countries.  To be viable the church must assume a missionary relationship to every culture.”  -Wilbert Shenk, “New Wineskins for New Wine,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research (April 2005), 77.
“We are forced to do something that the Western churches have never had to do since the days of their own birth-to discover the form and substance of a missionary church in terms that are valid in a world that has rejected the power and influence of the Western nations.  Missions will no longer work along the stream of expanding Western power.  They have to learn to go against the stream.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission, p. 5.


“The Church should fear God and not fear the world.  But only if and as it fears God need it cease to fear the world.”  -Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 1/1, 73.
“We confess that, although our Church is orthodox as far as her doctrine of grace is concerned, we are no longer sure that we are members of a Church which follows its Lord. We must therefore attempt to recover a true understanding of the mutual relation between grace and discipleship.”  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, p. 55.
“The Church, wherever it is, is not only Christ’s witness to its own people and nation, but also the home base for a mission to the ends of the earth.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season, p. 2.
“The Christian gospel continues to find new victories among the non-Western, premodern cultures of the world, but in the face of this modern Western culture the Church is everywhere in retreat.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season, p. 67.
“The Church exists in being sent and in building up itself for the sake of its mission.”  -Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 4/IV/1.
“The house of the church is on fire!  In our missionary outreach we resemble a lunatic who carries the harvest into his burning barn.”  -P. Schütz, Zwischen Nil und Kaukasus (1930), cited in Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 5.
“The real triumphs of the gospel have not been won when the church is strong in a worldly sense; they have been won when the church is faithful in the midst of weakness, contempt, and rejection.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission, p. 62.
“Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to humankind and the world. Our earlier words are therefore bound to lose their force and cease, and our being Christians today will be limited to two things: prayer and the doing of justice.”  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, May 1944, from Letters and Papers from Prison, 1971, page 300.


“I decree that there can be no Christianity without community.” Zinzendorf on February 4, 1734, cited in Gollin, Moravians in Two Worlds, p. 7.
“Too many mainstream churches are trying to get their so-called internal life right before reach­ing out to others.  They’ll find that they’ll never get the internal stuff right.  If you focus on community formation solely, you almost never get to any mission.”  -Michael Frost, Exiles, p. 128.


“We do not see nature or intelligence or human motivation or ideology as ‘it’ is but only as our languages are. And our languages are our media. Our media are our metaphors. Our metaphors create the content our culture.” -Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 15.
“We have to be endlessly entertained and we have to have idols to fill the empty space from which the living God has been removed. In the end, the society we have is not a secular society but a pagan society in which men and women are giving their allegiance to no-gods.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season, p. 150.
“Television’s strongest point is that it brings personalities into our hearts, not abstractions into our heads. That is why CBS’ program about the universe were called ‘Walter Cronkite’s Universe.’ One would think that the grandeur of the universe needs no assistance from Walter Cronkite. One would think wrong. CBS knows that Walter Cronkite plays better on television that the Milky Way.  And Jimmy Swaggart plays better than God. For God exists only in our minds, whereas Swaggart is there, to be seen, admired, adored. Which is why he is the star of the show. And why Billy Graham is a celebrity, and why Oral Roberts has his own university, and why Robert Schuller has a crystal cathedral all to himself.  If I am not mistaken, the word for this is blasphemy.  -Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 123.


“Fear can hamstring the soul.”  -Amy Carmichael, Learning of God, p. 134.
“Atlas, my children! Is this how ye remember to what ye were called, and in what path ye were started?  For not for this life and its concerns do we exist: this is only a pilgrimage, and its concerns are only for the temporary needs of the pilgrims.  Heaven is our country, hence our care should be about heavenly things.”  -John Amos Comenius, Bequest of a Dying Mother
“Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity with discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, p. 59.
“We should not only want to be merciful, kind, unassuming, and patient persons but also be making plans to become so.  We are to find out, that is, what prevents and what promotes merci­fulness and kindness and patience in our souls, and we are to remove hindrances to them as much as possible, carefully substituting that which assists Christ-likeness”  -Dallas Willard, The Great Omission, p. 29.
“The link between Jesus’ own time and the time of Matthew’s community is, in fact, given in the command ‘Make disciples!’ (28:19).  In other words, the followers of the earthly Jesus have to make others into what they themselves are: disciples.”  -David Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 74.


“We need an eschatology for mission which is both future-directed and oriented to the here and now. It must be an eschatology that holds in creative and redemptive tension the already and the not yet; the world of sin and rebellion, and the world God loves; the new age that has already begun and the old that has not yet ended; justice as well as justification; the gospel of liberation and the gospel of salvation.”  -David Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 508.
“No one ‘discovers’ the future. The future is not a discovery. The future is not a destiny. The future is a decision, an intervention. Do nothing, and we drift fatalistically into a future not driven by technology alone, but by other people’s need, greed, and creed. The future is not some dim and distant region out there in time. The future is a reality that is coming to pass with each passing day, with each passing decision. … The future is a function of our choices and creations.”  -Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, p. 55.
“… eschatology means the doctrine of the Christian hope, which embraces both the object hoped for and also the hope inspired by it. From first to last, and not merely in the epilogue, Christianity is eschatology, is hope, forward looking and foward moving, and therefore, also revolutionizing and transforming the present.”  -Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope, p. 16.


“History is kept open by mission.” – J. Hoekendijk quoted by Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 503.
“Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice.”   -Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, p. 12.

India / Hinduism

“No understanding of the impact of globalization with respect to India is possible without a more discriminating definition of ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism.’ Nor can one understand the character and place of the gospel in India, or of ‘conversion,’ without appreciating and refining distinctions between the terms ‘Hindu,’ ‘Hinduism,’ and ‘Hindu World.'”  -Robert Frykenberg, “Gospel, Globalization, and Hindutva: The Politics of ‘Conversion in India,” in Christianity Reborn, pp. 109-10.


“Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love. … The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.”  -Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 34.
“The Sisters should get a very full knowledge of the interior life-from holy priests who would help them to become so united to God as to radiate Him when they join the mission field. They should become true Victims-no words-but in every sense of the word, Indian victims for India. Love should be the word, the fire, that will make them live the life to its full. If the nuns are very poor they will be free to love only God-to serve Him only-to be only His.” -Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 50.
“Missionaries except for a few of the very best, seem to me to fail very largely in getting rid of an air of patronage and condescension, and in establishing a genuinely brotherly and happy relation as between equals with their Indian flocks… You have given your goods to feed the poor. You have given your bodies to be burned. We also ask for love. GIVE US FRIENDS.”  -Bishop Azariah to delegates at the 1910 Edinburgh Conference, cited in Jonathan Bonk, Mission and Money.


“Semen est sanguis Christianorum.” (The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church)  -Tertullian
“In these trials the splendid martyrs of Christ let their light so shine over the whole world that they everywhere astounded the eyewitness of their courage-and small wonder: they furnished in themselves unmistakable proof of our Saviour’s truly divine and ineffable power.  To mention each one by name would be a lengthy task-nay, an impossibility.”  -Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, 8.12.
“O holy Lord Christ draw near to us, we cannot follow Thee. Give us a strong and willing spirit, and when the weakness of the flesh appears, let Thy grace go on before us, accompany and follow us. For without Thee we can do nothing, least of all suffer a cruel death for Thy sake. Grant a willing spirit, a fearless heart, true faith, steadfast hope, perfect love, that for Thy sake we may, with patience and joy, surrender our life. Amen.”  -Jan Hus, penned to a friend, two weeks before his death, cited in Schweinitz, Unitas Fratrum, 70.


“Mission is the mother of theology.”  -Martin Kähler, Schriften zur Christologie und Mission, p. 190, quoted in Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 16.
“I think that the deepest motive for mission is simply the desire to be with Jesus where he is, on the frontier between the reign of God and the usurped dominion of the devil.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season, 129.
“Missions continue without being appalled by the severe lack of sufficient forces to attend the fundamental issues, issues which require competence and not merely good will or zeal.  We are investing in missions an enormous amount of money, energy, devotion, sacrifice, untiring zeal. … Yet if we look at the present world situation, in which our missions must deal with religions and cultures that are increasingly aware and jealous of their self-identity and spiritual achievement; and if we look at the dynamic world that, by its presuppositions and outlooks, is shaking Christianity to its very foundations, then we must realistically state that, by and large, missions are conceived and performed (without knowing or intending it) in an amateurish way.”  -H. Kraemer, “Syncretism as a Theological Problem for Missions,” in The Theology of the Christian Mission, p. 182.
“Missions, which have been accustomed to flowing down the current of world power, are now faced with the necessity of learning for the first time to swim against the current.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season, p. 8.
“The chief agents in the expansion of Christianity appear not to have been those who made it a profession or a major part of their occupation, but men and women who earned their livelihood in some purely secular manner and spoke of their faith to those whom they met in this natural fashion. Thus when Celsus denounces a religion which spreads through workers in wool and leather and fullers and uneducated persons who get hold of children privately and of ignorant women and teach them, Origen does not deny that this occurs. [see Contra Cels., III, 55]  In the commerce and the travel which were so marked a feature of the Roman Empire, the faith must have made many new contacts through Christian merchants and tradesmen. …  Involuntary travelers such as slaves and Christians deported for their faith were also agents.”  -Kenneth Scott Latourette, The First Five Centuries, 116-7.


“Talk to him about ‘moderation in all things.’ If you can get him to the point of thinking that ‘religion is all well up to a point,’ you can feel happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all-and more amusing.”  -C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, advice from devil to another about how to destroy faith.
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”  -Attributed to Daniel Hudson Burnham, 1902.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  -Helen Keller
Regarding the clergy two centuries ago: “A nimble, adroit, lively man, who in pretty language, with the utmost ease, with graceful manners … knows how to introduce a little Christianity, but easily, as easily as possible.  In the New Testament, Christianity is the profoundest wound that can be inflicted upon a man, calculated on the most dreadful scale to collide with everything- and now the clergyman has perfected himself in introducing Christianity in such a way as it signifies nothing, and when he is able to do this to perfection he is regarded as a paragon.  But this is nauseating!  Oh, if a barber has perfected himself in removing the beard so easily that one hardly notices it, that’s well enough; but in realtion to that which is precisely calculated to wound, to perfect oneself so as to introduce it in such a way that if possible it is not noticed at all- that is nauseating.”  -Soren Kierkegard, Attack Upon “Christendom”, 258.


“Within this divine presence, we can affirm our limited life and become engaged in its limits. We become calm and composed, and we begin to live slowly and with enjoyment. Only the person who lives slowly gets more from life! Only the person who eats and drinks slowly, eats and drinks with enjoyment: slow food, slow life! … A person who is certain of eternal life has a great deal of time. We linger then in the moment, and open ourselves up to the intensive experience of life.”  -Jürgen Moltmann, Passion for God’s Reign, p. 41.
“We are on pilgrimage, not in permanent quarters.  We serve a Lord who for the joy set before him went forward to the Cross, despising the shame.  If we would follow him,, we must press on, not slacking, not accepting any concordat with the world, not looking for ease or security, but seeking only to offer him new obedience day by day until he comes.”  -Lesslie Newbigin, sermon preached at Riverside Church, May 25 1960, cited in A Word in Season, p. 6.


“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart …
try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms
and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it,
live along some distant day into the answer.”
-Ranier Maria Rilke


“The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”  -Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 35.
“In do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate thy sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree thy truths, which my heart believes and loves.  For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.  For this also I believe that unless I believe, I should not understand.”  -Anselm,  Proslogium
“The man who aims to tell approximate truth is a liar.  He who lives only in the neighborhood of honesty is a crook.  He who thinks he will be only a little courageous is a coward.”  -Joseph M. Dawson
“Complete truthfulness is only possible where sin has been uncovered, and forgiven by Jesus. Only those who are in a state of truthfulness through the confession of their sin to Jesus are not ashamed to tell the truth wherever it must be told. The truthfulness which Jesus demands from his followers is the self-abnegation which does not hide sin. Nothing is then hidden, everything is brought forth to the light of day. …  In this question of truthfulness, what matters first and last is that a man’s whole being should be exposed, his whole evil laid bare in the sight of God. … The cross is God’s truth about us, and therefore it is the only power which can make us truthful.  When we know the cross we are no longer afraid of the truth.”  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, pp. 138-39.


“The Christian movement must be the living, breathing promise to a society that it is possible to live out the values of Christ-that is, to be a radical, troubling alternative to the power imbal­ances in the empire.”  -Michael Frost, Exiles, p. 15.
“Everything that the Christian community is and does relates, either obediently or disobediently, to this vocation to witness.”  -Darrell Guder, “Worthy Living: Work and Witness from the Perspective of Missional Church Theology,” Word & World, p. 428.
“… God’s people are to be the salt of the earth.  Wherever men [and women] suffer and sin and die, you are to go.  You are to go with the contact of the Christian appeal and the Christian message, the Christian salt, to save decaying and dying humanity.”  -George W. Truett, The Salt of the Earth, pp. 18-19.

World Christianity

“What at first glance appears to be the largest world religion is in fact the ultimate local religion. … The strength of world Christianity lies in its creative interweaving of the warp of a world religion with the woof of its local context.”  -Dana Robert, “Shifting Southward: Global Christianity Since 1945, IBMR (April 2000):56.