Sunday, September 28, 2003

Feet of Clay

Yesterday I was reading some of Augustine's translated works (yes, I have learned how to find things in a library), and I came across a very interesting tidbit:

During St. Augustine's ongoing debate and denunciation of Pelagius, he actually quotes this directly from Pelagius' writings:

"The fact that we speak is a gift from God; whether we use this gift for good or evil is our choice."

I read Pelagius' comment, and I thought, "Sure, that makes sense. Most Christians would agree with that statement."

Not St. Augustine. He's upset at that kind of thinking. He goes on to quote part of Matthew 10:19-20:
"At that time, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (NIV)
...and uses this verse as "proof" that we have no choice in the words we speak -- God gives us our words.

Of course, in the original context of these verses, Jesus was speaking to His disciples about not being worried about what to say when they were arrested and dragged into court on account of Jesus. To stretch this verse to say that all of our words are ordained by God is a bit much.

Interesting, eh? That St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, regarded as one of the greatest theologians of the Patristic period of the Church, took a verse out of context in an attempt to prove his point.

George Mercado used to say every now and then "Feet of clay, man, we all got feet of clay." Even at our best, we're only human. We make mistakes. We let agendas cloud our interpretation of Scripture. We say dumb things as if they're foundational truths.

Bob Wilson, who was the senior pastor of our church when George was the youth pastor, often said "If you think it can't happen to you, you're halfway there already."

Feet of clay, man, we all got feet of clay.

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