Wholesome bitters and unwholesome sweets

“…because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true; nor because it is uttered with stammering lips should it be supposed false. Nor, again, is it necessarily true because rudely uttered, nor untrue because the language is brilliant. Wisdom and folly both are like meats that are wholesome and unwholesome, and courtly or simple words are like town-made or rustic vessels—both kinds of food may be served in either kind of dish.” – Bonhoeffer, Confessions 5.6.10, Outler Translation

“As we must often swallow wholesome bitters, so we must always avoid unwholesome sweets. But what is better than wholesome sweetness or sweet wholesomeness? For the sweeter we try to make such things, the easier it is to make their wholesomeness serviceable. And so there are writers of the Church who have expounded the Holy Scriptures, not only with wisdom, but with eloquence as well; and there is not more time for the reading of these than is sufficient for those who are studious and at leisure to exhaust them.” – Augustine, On Christian Doctrine

“Anyone who is thirsty will drink water from any utensil, even if it is somewhat inconvenient. And it is better to take some trouble in getting the water pure than to drink polluted water out of a glass. Anyone who is thirsty has always found living water in the Bible itself or in a sermon in fact based on the Bible, even if it were a little out-of-date—and it is an acknowledgment of a dangerous decadence of faith if the question of the relevance of the message, as a methodological question, becomes to loud.” – “The Interpretation of the New Testament,” (Aug 23, 1935) in Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Testament to Freedom (rev.; eds. Geffrey B. Kelly and F. Burton Nelson; HarperSanFrancisco, 1995), 151.

(HT: Ron Huggins)

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