a bit of spiritual provocation for a Tuesday morning

“Someone who has actually tasted truth is not contentious for truth. Someone who is considered by people to be zealous for truth has not yet learnt what truth is really like; once he has truly learnt it, he will cease from zealousness on its behalf.”

– St. Isaac the Syrian, Kephalaia 4.77

(HT: Matthew Francis)


7 responses to “a bit of spiritual provocation for a Tuesday morning

  1. Don’t think I agree. Of course one doesn’t have to be contentious in his zeal for truth, but he will lovingly “contend for the faith.” First century disciples were definately zealous for truth!

    I found your blog by following the link on John Mark Hicks’ page. Will bookmark it and look forward to reading it in the future. I don’t know if I know you because I couldn’t find your last name, but it looks like we may share thoughts and background. Thanks for linking to my little web page.

  2. Sorry, that’s “definitely”

  3. I think St Isaac would probably agree with you when you make a distinction between “contending” and “being contentious.”

    Are you related to Sewell and Bill?

    Your description of the “Tennessee” — to use JMH’s terminology — element in NI circles (You said: “Those influenced by that ‘tradition’ strongly emphasize grace, the non-sectarian nature of God’s church, holiness and separation from the world, non-participation in the military, acceptance of 1 Cor. 11:2-16 as applicable today, etc. At the same time they still believe in a primitivist approach to the scriptures which in turn produces their aversion to the denominational machinery and promotionalism of the mainstream.”) is one that I definitely recognize. I was, for the most part, raised by my grandparents, who came to these conclusions through the preaching and tracts of men like James A. Allen, John T. Lewis and Howard See. It’s funny: JMH refers to these as “Tennessee” ideas; I grew up thinking they were “Alabama” ideas.

    At the same time, they were for a long time subscribers to a certain magazine (I will refrain from naming names) of the “Texas” persuasion. So, I suppose I got a mix of both growing up.

    Well, I’d love to talk further about our experiences, but a comment box isn’t really the place to do that. You mentioned Irven Lee (I’ve read his books and couple of tracts he wrote — “A Friendly Letter on Benevolence” was especially influential on me), Bennie Lee Fudge and others who held to these ideas; I would be interested to hear other names you would say belong in this category.

    Chris Cotten

  4. …I meant to close by asking you to drop me an email. You can find my address on my “About” page.



  5. Gardner- please note that Chris said ‘a chat box is not the place for this’.
    Thanks to you both. I’ll see if I can follow the chat.

  6. Hi pochp,

    I appreciate your concern about keeping the comments on topic.

    All I really meant, though, was that I thought my personal stories (and Gardner’s) would be best shared over email, not in a (relatively) public forum like this.

    All the best,


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