Yesterday I posted a semi review of Matthew Anderson’s book Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith.

Today I want to provide a number of quotes from the book that will hopefully spur more to get the book. I have broken up the quote into two groups. First, there are quotes from the book that give a flavor of how Anderson responds and comments on a number of issues like tattoos, food, church, dieting and the like. Second, since this book is so gospel-focused, I wanted readers to see how Anderson applies the gospel to a Christians view of the body. There will be some overlap in these quotes but they all help to serve as a model for how to apply the gospel to our understanding of our bodies.

Quotes on Various Subjects:

The combination of economic prosperity and media saturation has allowed us to industrialize personal beauty, giving the most physically mediocre among us the freedom and ability to refashion ourselves into a Brad Pit or Angelina Jolie. Where our grandfathers might have turned to prayer for self-fulfillment, many today prefer plastic surgery. (p. 24)

We have become a nation of joggers in our desire to preserve a standard of physical health that the priests in the medical community have handed down to us from the mountain. (p. 25)

Because we do not like the inconvenient, uncontrollable, spontaneous interruptions that sometimes characterize the very young and very old, we professionalize their care so we will not be bothered. (p. 25)

For our creation care to be authentically creation care, we must respect the Biblical order of keeping humanity at the center. Because of the incarnation, our ecology flows from our theological anthropology – and not the other way around. (p. 80)

To put it bluntly, a Christianity that spends more money improving and beautifying the homes of its members than it does its places of corporate worship is a Christianity that has forgotten the profligate lavishness of God’s mercy. (p. 85-86)

Health is good, but the dieting movement teeters on the edge of affirming a standard of bodily perfection that owes more to Maxim or Men’s Health than Jesus. (p. 90)

The Samaritan’s holy attentiveness to teh needs and cares of the body are precisely what make him a neighbor to another, and provide a model for us to implement throughout our everyday lives. Some of us might, like the Levite, deliberately reject caring for the bodies of those around us. But the more plausible scenario in our distracted world is that we would walk by without noticing, focused on accomplishing our tasks for the day, attentive only to the music in our ears and the status updates in our cell phones. (p. 101)

While tattoos and piercings may be hidden from the world, the fact that they must be covered is a constant reminder of the body’s social nature. The decision to reveal or conceal our body modifications contains the implicit question, “To whom?” – a question that is unavoidable because the body is unremittingly social. (p. 108)

While tattoos mark a desire for significance within a destabilized world, they are a live option for most young people precisely because we have not escaped the clutches of the consumerism and the individualism that are so often criticized. (p. 112-13).

Christian sexuality is not simply an expression of an abstract or vague inner desire – it is a dynamic encounter between a man and woman in the fullness of their humanity before God, which is constituted by their mutual self-giving to the other for the other’s good. (p. 125)

The tendency within liberal sexual theologies to ignore the sexual complementarity evident in humanity’s original creation rests upon an ethic that minimizes the differences in male and female bodies – and between Christ and the church, which is the pattern for marriage. (p. 151)

The spiritual disciplines are not techniques wherein we dominate our bodies with our wills. They are not tasks that we accomplish as a means of self-perfection or to maximize our experience of God. Rather, they are the God-ordained patterns or response to his presence in our lives, and are means of opening ourselves to his transformative power, which empowers us to live authentically Christian lives. (p. 191-92)

The central challenge when it comes to Christian worship is that one man’s syncretism is another man’s baptism. What appears to one person as giving Christianity over to false ideologies may appear to someone else as the contextualization of Christianity to the culture around it. (p. 208)

The rapid adoption of online church within evangelicalism is a surrender to our culture’s view of the body, which undermines the importance of our physical presence within our corporate response to God. (p. 213-14)

Our presence with other Christians is properly one in the Spirit rather than one mediated by technology. (p. 216)

When we cannot hear each other singing together as the people of God lifting their collective voice in worship to the King, we individualize our faith, undermining our corporate witness as the body of Christ. (p. 227)

Quotes on Gospel Application to a Christian view of the Body:

If there is ever a question about the goodness of the physical body, the incarnation of Jesus Christ definitively answered it. (p. 21)

Our lives, our existence, our bodies, will manifest all the glory and goodness that is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ when we see the creation as it is, given to us for our stewardship by the generous hand of God. (p. 23)

God transforms our bodies not through technique, the assertion of our own wills, but through giving us himself through the Holy Spirit. (p. 31)

The freedom of the gospel is that we have been bought with a price and that our bodies are no longer ours (p. 32)

Ina world where the body’s status is in question, we have an opportunity to proclaim that the God who saved our souls will also remake our bodies; that the body is nothing less than the place where God dwells on earth. It means moving the body to the center of our understanding of what it means to be human, but it is a move that is justified when we remember that the Word himself became flesh. (p. 50)

The God in whose image we are made took on human form. The incarnation establishes that God is with is in all the dust, the sweat, and the tears of our physicality. (p. 60)

The good news of the gospel is that the God of the universe took on a body, dies on our behalf, rose again on the third day, and now lives in our hearts and our limbs. (p. 69)

The libertarian-minded freedom that we are often presented with in public is simply a cheap imitation of the freedom we have in Christ by virtue of the Holy Spirit. (p. 95)

Embracing an aesthetic of the cross sets us free from the anxieties, the stress, the sense of control that motivate our tireless efforts to conform to the image of beauty that we see in Cosmo. (p. 96)

Where baptism is a confirmation of our entry into the community of Christians, tattoos inaugurate a community of the searching. Yet the people of God are not shaped by a narrative of searching, but one that has at its center the unique and unrepeatable sacrifice of Jesus Christ and his glorious resurrection. (p. 114)

The more we see ourselves in light of the gospel – “You have died, and your life is hidden in Christ with God” – the more we will be set free from treating our bodies as objects, instead seeing them as the place of our personal presence and the indwelling presence of God himself. The Lord has come to his temple! (p. 134)

Can we receive our bodies as created gifts that are loved by God rather than reshaping them according to our psychological state? It’s very true that such a position may make some people feel as though thier bodies are “damaged goods” upon delivery. But it is the Lord’s pleasure to make damaged goods his temple, a temple that he himself destroyed, only to raise it again. (p. 152)

We do not sculpt ourselves into the image of Christ. The good news of the gospel sets us free from turning our sanctification into one more body project, like attaining tight abs, clear skin, or perfect SAT scores. It is not a task we complete. The work of sanctification is not ours, but God’s. He is the one who gives himself to us, and as we open ourselves to his presence the impurities that we mistakenly treat as essential to our humanity will fall away without effort. (p. 182)

The bodies habits and dispositions, which have been trained by fallen people in a fallen world, need to be reformed according to the reality of our redemption in Christ. (p. 184)

 

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