15 January 2009

Mystery quotation: the flesh

by Dan Phillips

It's been a good long while, so...how about another round of Mystery Quotation? This one goes well with our recent talk of sarkicophobia.

Remember, no tricks
  1. Use your memory (or guessing) alone
  2. No electronic tools
  3. No Googling
  4. No murmuring about the "no tricks" rule
  5. No murmuring about the "no murmuring" rule
And so, without further eloquence, here is your Mystery Quotation:
A young man, who had been "in fellowship with the brethren," wished to join the church at [omitted]. I knew that they would not grant him a transfer to us, so I wrote to ask if there was anything in his moral character which should prevent us from receiving him. The reply they sent was laconic, but not particularly lucid:—"The man _____ has too much of the flesh." When he called to hear the result of his application, I sent for a yard or two of string, and asked one of our friends to take my measure, and then to take his. As I found that I had much more ‘flesh’ than he had, and as his former associates had nothing else to allege against him, I proposed him for church-membership, and he was in due course accepted.

Have at it.

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36 comments:

agonizomai said...

My first guess (based on size) would have been Chesterton. But he was RC, I believe, and this sounds like a different sort of church hierarchy.

So I'm going with Spurgeon, who could make the stairs creak a bit himself.

Gary Benfold said...

At last - one I know! It's Spurgeon, and quoted in the Autobiography - Volume 2, I think.

SK said...

I agree: Spurgeon. Sounds similar in language structure to the famous cigar stories.

donsands said...

I guess Luther.

Al said...

Had to be CHS...

Or DL Moody...

No, CHS.

al sends

Frank Turk said...

what my last pastor would say about me.

Scott Weldon said...

I'm a bit of a newbie around here, but I know this one. It is Pastor Spurgeon. I only know because I have been compared to him (in girth, not in giftedness!), and I love this quote.

And I believe it might be in vol. 3, not 2, but I'd have to go back and check.

Keep up the fine work, my friends

Gary Benfold said...

In my edition of Spurgeon's autobiography, there is no volume 3. I was talking about the Banner of Truth Edition, Vol. 1 The Early Years, Vol. 2 The Full Harvest. 'course, Stateside it may be different.

ErnestoPerdonado said...

Doctor Lloyd Jones!

DJP said...

Agonizomai ended up right, and Benfold has the right book, and even knows the page number. See here for context.

Not a hard one, just a fun one, I thought.

olan strickland said...

I'm going on a diet! That's one way to get rid of some flesh :)

James said...

DJP, thanks for the citation link.

I have not had the opportunity to read Spurgeon's biography yet, and this little section was just what I needed to read to set the tone for work today: hard work, but of merry wit :).

Dave Sherrill said...

Dan,
Is this a way to stir us back to our New Year's resolutions?

Rachael Starke said...

Great quote.

And as of this morning I am 2.5 pounds more godly than I was on January 1.

Lisa Nunley said...

i think it is Spurgeon, but I don't remember reading this in his autobiography.

Patrick said...

Spurgeon my favorite fat preacher!

LeeC said...

Pure Spurgeon. No mistaking that wit. :D

Scott Weldon said...

Gary,
Sorry about that. I have a version in a PDF file and it's in 3 volumes.

reformedlawless said...

It sounds very Spurgeon.

tck said...

Legendary qoute that one..

Becky, slave of Christ said...

I think Spurgeon; it just sounds like him.

Becky, slave of Christ said...

Oh...and the comments confirm it. :)

Susan said...

Sounds like Spurgeon's humor. (Really, I didn't cheat. I'm glad to know that I got it right!)

TwistTim said...

I thought Spurgeon, but then I was thinking twice about the girth thing and for some reason John Haggee came to mind, and then so did Jerry Falwell... but given that Haggee would never say anything like that.... he was down, and the story telling wasn't enough like Falwell.... which left Spurgeon....

and reading the Comments, I got a confirmation of that...

nice to be holier than a lot in this area... as I am skinny if overweight(relative to my height, I'm overweight, but only have a gut that sticks out, not a flop over gut {that is, your stomach flops over your belt})

that said, as I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt (yes, it's cold outside, but warm inside) I have a lot of skin showing.....

though this quote almost sounded gnostic... or was he telling on the gnosticism of those around him? perhaps that of the other group?


first rule of gnosticism: Flesh bad, spirit good.

Highland Host said...

Spurgeon. I only had to read the first few words to recognise it. I printed it in a Christian Union magazine when I was in university nearly ten years ago. I know this one very, very well.

Tim Bushong said...

I really love Spurgeon, and I really don't think that "model-skinny" is healthy, but I also think that fat pastors ought to put some effort towards getting, well, less FAT! It just doesn't 'fit' (no pun intended) with the biblical image of a disciplined man of God.

Jonathan Hunt said...

I guessed Spurgeon as well, even though I cannot recall reading it, it is ever so typical. His treatment of 'the brethren' was always gentle but searching.

Ryan and Kelly said...

My first guess was Jimmy Carter....you said to be honest. Looks like I'm way off though! Not the first time.

Phil said...

The response Spurgeon was given does sound dozy. No-one is justified without the flesh being present. In fact,without being 'in the flesh'. And it remains in all. But here's my genuine question. I understand Paul means one's physicality on occasion when he uses 'flesh' in the sense of 'flesh and blood '. But in Rom 7,that's not the case with 'sarx'. 'The flesh' is human faculty kinked to misrepresentative operation. Misrepresentative patterns of thought/actions concerning the character of God as visaged in God's intended humanity. Now, I've seen it said that Augustine was rather influenced by Platonic Dualism with his views of the inherent(rather than derived) sinfulness of human faculty. You see the dualist tendency manifesting in various forms, e.g. strands of ascetism,'body bad,spirit good',other-worldliness, etc,including in Protestantism. So,my question.
..how do you describe 'the flesh'? I think I see it as something we yet have, but are not 'in'/controlled by, as new creations, as to a 'living'(dying!) principle...you're input gratefully considered.

Phil said...

I guess I should add the material brokenness in the physical body as the last element of 'the flesh'.

w.rust said...

Phil,

I would refer you to the great Puritan John Owen in his book The Mortification of Sin. He talks about how the flesh is our actual body and refers to Romans chapter 7, "deliver me from the body of this death". He teaches that we can have mastery over it (by feeding our spirit on a steady diet of the Word, and following the leading of the Spirit of God in application - and suffocating the desires of the flesh), but we will never be completely free until we are glorified. Apparently it does control us from time to time, at least in that 'we do what we don't want to and don't do what we should', again as Paul said in Romans 7.

Also, I don't think dualism is necessarily a bad thing. The Bible is highly antithetical: Spirit - flesh, light - dark, good - evil, etc. I hope this helps.

Phil said...

w.rust,I appreciate your answering me. I have to say,though,without wanting to get into it here, that I don't think that's right. The Spirit/our spirit isn't waging war against our humanity/God-given faculties, but against what's yet wrong with them as misused. Otherwise, the ascetics were right. One can hardly blame the brethren for other-worldly spirit/flesh dualism, and then push a soul/body dualism! Too, Rom7 evidently sets forth a position of continual bondage, as concerning one's identity as a creation before God. It doesn't seem to be 'sometimes I do what I don't want to do, etc'. The man is experiencing the continual bondage of the law of sin and death(v23,24), a bondage of sin by way of the law, which has his human faculties disabused and in slavery to the same. Whereas the man is delivered from that bondage in Rom8v2. He's been delivered from the control of the law,and the sin and death aroused by the law. Thus he is free to the life-consequences of Christ's resurrection, as a new creation in him. He puts off the misdeeds of the flesh, not by crucifying his God-given faculty, but by appropriating the life that is his as a new creation, with the resurrection life and blessings of Christ's redemption welling up in him to transform him into the same image in the present. Realigning his faculties, as he walks by faith...by 'dualism', I didn't mean dichotomy, but some form of disconnect in the operation of the 'parts' that make the 'whole',that sets them inherently against each other somehow. I think 'Platonic Dualism' basically said that we are soul and body in a bad marriage where the body is the inherent problem.

Phil said...

Sorry...where I said 'disabused',I should have said 'abused', and where I said 'dichotomy'I should have said 'such antitheses'.

Derek Ashton said...

Okay, so what does Agonizomai get for being the first to answer correctly? I think it's worth a Team Pyro T-shirt, at least - and maybe even a set of John MacArthur Commentaries, eh?

DJP said...

We don't have any, and I don't have any, respectively.

He gets... my respect. And my appreciation. My respect and appreciation. He gets that.

Derek Ashton said...

Well . . . those are no small rewards, and he is surely deserving of them (intangible though they be).