28 February 2014

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry! Step Right Up!

by Phil Johnson

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Phil back in February 2012. Phil recounted an encounter during a trip overseas that highlights the bankruptcy of "performance art" as a substitute for preaching the Gospel.

As usual, the comments are closed.
This past week I've been thinking a lot about my first visit to Kiev, with John MacArthur, more than 20 years ago. I remember those days clearly. It was late September and early October 1991, exactly 50 years after the Nazis slaughtered 33,771 Jews at a Kiev ravine called Babi Yarand less than two months after the collapse of the Soviet Union. People were hungry—starved—for the gospel.

Since then I have been to some 35 countries on five continents, and I've never seen any culture more eager to listen to the gospel than Ukraine (and the rest of the former Soviet Union) in 1991. The churches I visited were all crowded. A steady stream of recent converts gave their testimonies in every service I attended. Each new believer was brought to the front of the church and encouraged to "repent." And they did—confessing their sins with heartfelt remorse, and verbally professing their newfound faith in Christ with overflowing joy and enthusiasm. It was amazing and uplifting and deeply convicting to someone like me, who had become somewhat sluggish spiritually with the comforts and refinements (and superficiality) of Western evangelicalism.

Anyway, one of my most vivid memories of Kiev in 1991 was a day we were walking across a public square in downtown Kiev with a bundle of Russian gospel tracts and Scripture booklets. Ukrainian people crowded around us, clamoring to get one. I was caught quite off guard by the suddenness and enthusiasm of people's response. The moment was unforgettable.

But we weren't the only Western Christians in the square that day. There was a group of "gospel clowns" and mimes from some American church, and we inadvertently interrupted their performance, because even the people who had been watching them suddenly ran over to get gospel literature from us as we approached the center of the square. One of the mimes glared at me. And then, breaking character, he said something to me in English. He wanted us to move on so that they could get on with the task of pantomiming the gospel.

To this day it amazes and appalls me that anyone confronted with the openness of Eastern Europeans in the wake of the Soviet collapse would think wordless "performance art" is a better medium for declaring the gospel than straightforward preaching, simple one-on-one witnessing, and plain-language gospel literature. It's like anti-contextualization—culturally insensitive, incomprehensible to the target culture, and tainted with the scent of spiritual jingoism—but I'm certain those mimes believed their method was the very epitome of innovative "relevance."

And it occurs to me: That reflects precisely how multitudes of American evangelicals still think. They are more enthralled with their clever methodologies and ingenious "contextualizations" than they are with the gospel itself. Honestly, they seem at times to love their own flamboyance far more than they care about lost souls.

A lot of what's called ministry these days is mere spectacle. Authentic apostolic-style gospel ministry is nothing like performance art.

When evangelical megachurches gave up the pulpit for a stage; traded psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for AC/DC tracks; hired vaudevillians instead of pastors; and turned away their ears from the truth to follow fables, they chose a path of apostasy.

The only way back starts with repentance.

25 February 2014

Worship-service style: "Ch-ch-ch-changes," or "I shall not be moved"?

by Dan Phillips

I am particularly interested in hearing from pastors, though any church-member's welcome to chime in. Have you (A) presided over, (B) spearheaded, or (C) adamantly resisted any significant change in the Sunday morning service of the church you serve?

This could touch on number or style of songs, composition of musical accompaniment, length of service, items in the service — anything.

Please tell the how, the what, the why, and the outcome. Full is good.

Dan Phillips's signature

23 February 2014

An indispensable home feature

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 31, sermon number 1,836, "First healing and then service."
"What glory Jesus casts upon common things!"

Would it not be well if many Christian people had some little consideration when they are choosing a house, as to whether it will be convenient for the hearing of the word?

Do you not think that a great many professors look chiefly for every other kind of advantage, and, when they have virtually made their choice, they afterwards enquire into the very secondary item of their nearness to a place where they may worship God, enjoy Christian fellowship, and be useful?

There are some in this congregation who have moved to this part of town to become members of an earnest, prayerful church. Such believers feel that the first consideration in life must be the health of their souls, the benefiting of their children, and their usefulness in promoting the cause of Christ.

When they have made the selection of a house in that way and for that reason, they have found a blessing resting upon them, according to the promise, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Some who have forgotten this rule, and, like Lot, chosen the well-watered plains of Sodom, have lived to rue their choice. Although the house may be commodious, and the position convenient, these advantages will not make up for losing the means of grace and missing opportunities of holy service.

When Mephibosheth lived at Lo-debar, the place of no pasture, David fetched him up to Jerusalem, where he himself delighted to dwell. It would be well for many a limping brother if he made a like change.

21 February 2014

Metaphor: Delight and Danger

by Dan Phillips

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Dan back in April 2006. The topic was the proper approach to dealing with Biblical metaphors.

As usual, the comments are closed.
Thank God that the Bible as a whole doesn't read like a legal document or — worse — anything written by any department of any branch of any government. Whereas legaloids, bureaucrats and eggheads tend to generate documents addressed mostly to themselves and the rarefied atmosphere of their peers, the Bible is addressed to craftsmen, tradesmen, farmers, parents, kids. Folks like us.

For that reason the Bible bristles with vibrantly colorful ways of communication, including stories, riddles, poems, aphorisms, personal letters, alliterations, similes and metaphors. We pretty instinctively know what a metaphor does: it illustrates something about something. It doesn't illustrate everything about anything. We shouldn't go nuts with it.

So when we read that Yahweh is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1), we're usually smart enough to let the psalm itself bring out the implications of that word picture. We don't go nuts, and depict God as wandering around in the desert, carrying a literal stick, picking grit out of His stew and being bitten by bugs. That's leagues beyond, and beside, the point of the metaphor.

On the other hand, of course we don't sniff, "Well, of course, He isn't literally a shepherd," and then simply ignore the point of the psalm. The metaphor is used for a purpose, and we're both fools and the poorer for it if we evade that purpose.

We should similarly avoid going to either extreme when it comes to Biblical metaphors applied to believers. There are many of them.

Take the one I think is most misunderstood: disciple. What does that word itself mean? Ask any church gathering and, assuming that you know the answer, you'll be a bit disheartened. "Follower?" the first brave soul will venture. "Apostle?" "Believer?" "Disciplined, uh, person?"

They'll all mean well, and they'll all probably be wrong, because disciple has just become one of those words we use without definition. In Greek, it's quite unambigous. Mathetes is related to the verb manthano, which means "I learn," and it simply means "a learner," "a pupil," "a student." (See how much better sense that understanding makes of Matthew 28:18-20, and John 8:31-32.)

It's a neglected and much-needed metaphor, in my view. How many professed Christians come to church, Sunday after Sunday, mentally and physically prepared to do everything but learn? No pen, no pencil; no laptop, parchment, crayon, stub of coal. More often than I can bear to think, no Bible. They simply come to watch, to observe, perhaps to sing, hopefully to be entertained to some degree -- but not to participate, not to catch what they hear, tie it up, make it their own, and do something with it. They feel that their mere bodily presence fulfills all requirements.

So we'd move on a good bit towards the reality of Hebrews 5:11-14 if we stressed that image, that picture, that metaphor, more insistently. But it is not the only metaphor! Is the only goal of a church's function to fill up notebooks, or load heads with facts? Is a pastor doing his job if he develops a vocabulary that only his special students can understand, and develops the atmosphere of a college classroom?

Not at all. The Bible also pictures the church under the metaphors of a body (1 Corinthians 12:12), a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5), a temple (Ephesians 2:2), a new man (Ephesians 2:15), a priesthood (1 Peter 2:5), and a family (Galatians 6:10) -- among others.

In sum: the Bible is a big book, on purpose. In crafting our view of anything, we should take in the whole range of revelation, and not just isolate the bit that strikes us at the moment.

16 February 2014

The danger of "animal enthusiasm"

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 32, sermon number 1,900, "Rejoice evermore."
"Certain religious people are of a restless, excitable turn, and never feel good till they are half out of their minds." 

You would not wonder if their hair should stand bolt upright, like the quills of the fretful porcupine. They are in such a state of mind that they cry “hallelujah” at anything or nothing, for they feel ready to cry, or shout, or jump, or dance.

I do not condemn their delirium, but I am anxious to know what goes with it. Come hither, friend; let us have a talk. What do you know? What? Is it possible that I offend you the moment I seek a reason for the hope that is in you? Is it so, that you do not know anything of the doctrines of grace? You were never taught anything; the object of the institution which enlisted you is not to teach you, but only to excite you.

It pours boiling water into you, but it does not feed you with milk. That is a miserable business. We like excitement of a proper kind, and we covet earnestly a high and holy joy, but if our rejoicing does not come out of a clear understanding of the things of God, and if there is no truth at the bottom of it, what does it profit us?

Those who rejoice without knowing why can be driven to despair without knowing why; and such persons are likely to be found in a lunatic asylum ere long. The religion of Jesus Christ acts upon truthful, reasonable, logical principles: it is sanctified common sense.

A Christian man should only exhibit a joy which he can justify, and of which he can say, “There is reason for it.” I pray you, take care that you have joy which you may expect to endure for ever, because there is a good solid reason at the back of it.

The excitement of animal enthusiasm will die out like the crackling of thorns under a pot; we desire to have a flame burning on the hearth of our souls which is fed with the fuel of eternal truth, and will therefore burn on for evermore.

14 February 2014

Use Scripture the way its writers used it

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Frank back in February 2007. Frank pointed out the necessity of the right kind of hermeneutic.

As usual, the comments are closed.
Can the Bible be figured out? If Deu 6 is one explanation of what Scripture is and does, how does it turn out that so many people disagree about what Scripture says, and how do I make sure that I don’t fumble the football?

We have to use Scripture the way Christ used Scripture. We have to use it the way John the Baptist used it. We have to use it the way Paul and Peter used it – and Stephen, and James, and John and Matthew and Mark and Luke.

You know: the hermeneutic of the men who delivered the word of God to people as prophets and apostles is not actually a very complicated hermeneutic. It is a rigorous hermeneutic, to be sure. And it is hardly an “objective” hermeneutic in the sense that it calls for the reader to be sort of a flavorless paste. And it requires something from us, to be sure. The position these men all put Scripture in was one which is above human reasoning in such a way as to guide and form human reasoning.

But the problem with people today is that we prefer a more-complicated hermeneutic. We have things we like just the way they are, and sometimes we want to find a way to justify that. We can do extraordinary linguistic studies to find out if God saved anyone eternally in the Old Testament in order to justify our truncating of the New Testament expression of salvation; we can do the same thing to make a sin out of wine-drinking, and out of married love, and to tone down the problem of excessive riches because we live in an excessively-rich society. We can use Scripture to buttress our beliefs in the church to make it more than it ought to be, and also less than it ought to be.

What we ought to do with Scripture is come to it in complete poverty and desperation, knowing that it is the wisdom of God which makes the wisdom of men look like foolishness. Our hermeneutic ought to be one where we frame ourselves not as peers to the writer but as abject beggars before the writer. Our hermeneutic ought to be the sinner who will die without God’s intervention.

That’s what Deu 6 says, isn’t it? The word God has commanded is there for us to remember who God is when we think we have enough that we can live without Him. The word of God ought to be taking us down a notch from satisfied to grateful, from safe to seeking refuge, from comfortable to poor in spirit. You can know your conclusion about the word of God is sound when what you have brought out of the text something you could have never put in there. When you are a student of the text, drawn there by God’s wisdom in the face of your own foolishness, you will be getting it right.

09 February 2014

The apple tree

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The teachings of nature in the Kingdom of grace, Song of Solomon chapter 2, pages 96-97, Pilgrim Publications.
"We are content with Him, and want no more." 

It may be that in the midst of the forest, while you are hungry and thirsty, you come upon a strangely beautiful tree: its proportions are exact, and as you gaze upon it from a distance you exclaim: “How wonderful are the works of God!” and you begin to think of those trees of the Lord which are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He hath planted.

You stand under it and look up among the majestic boughs and the spreading branches, and you again admire the beauty of Nature as it comes from the hand of the Most High. But beauty can never satisfy hunger, and when a man is dying of thirst it is vain to talk to him of symmetry and taste. He wants food.

This reminds us that nowadays there be some who try to satisfy the souls of men with beauty. Look at their processions; who would not be charmed with their varied costumes, their spangled banners, their gilded crosses, and their melodious hymns? Listen to their choir; is not the singing perfection?

If you want a concert on the Sabbath day, and do not like to attend a theatre, you can find it in the cathedral, and in many a parish church, and please the Lord almost as well; if you want to have your senses gratified and cannot conscientiously attend an opera on Sunday, you can have ear and eye gratified at church—ay, and the nose as well in some places; and these amusements they mistake for religious exercises.

Compared with the plainness of worship which we follow, our casting out of everything like symbol, our abhorrence of everything that would take away the mind from God Himself and fix it upon secondary objects—compared with all this, their worship is enchanting indeed to the carnal mind, and we do not wonder that those who are led by taste should follow after it.

But oh, if a man once hungers after the bread of heaven, his taste for finery will be reduced to a very secondary position as a governing power of his mind. If once the soul craves after God, after peace, pardon, truth, reconciliation, holiness, it will seek the Lord Jesus, the apple tree, and forget the other trees, however shapely they may be.

07 February 2014

"Be watchful!"

by Phil Johnson

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Phil back in March 2010. Phil offered his thoughts on the warning Paul gives in 1 Cor 16:13.

As usual, the comments are closed.
"Be watchful" (1 Corinthians 16:13)

That's a single word in the Greek text, γρηγορέω. It's a common New Testament word with doctrinal, practical, and eschatalogical overtones, and Paul clearly has all those things in mind in his message to the Corinthians: Stay on guard. Enemies of the truth are already in your midst. You need to "strengthen what remains and is about to die." And the Lord is coming. (That's the exact meaning of Maranatha in verse 22.)

The mass of modern and postmodern evangelicals simply ignore this command. I'm tempted to say they rebel against it. Many are simply too arrogant to think they need an admonition like this. They carelessly think they are skilled enough and knowledgeable enough to recognize any and every error at its very first appearance, so they have let down their guard.

Mostly, though, evangelicals simply have no stomach for the duty—and they won't tolerate it if anyone else tries to interrupt the evangelical frat party with shrill alarms—even while the frat house is engulfed in flames.

We don't mind reading about Spurgeon's courage and foresight in the Down-Grade Controversy; we just don't want anyone today to exercise that kind of discernment. In fact, listen to what Spurgeon said about that very same phenomenon in his era:
    It is very pretty, is it not, to read of Luther and his brave deeds? Of course, everybody admires Luther! Yes, yes; but you do not want any one else to do the same to-day. When you go to the [zoo] you all admire the bear; but how would you like a bear at home, or a bear wandering loose about the street? You tell me that it would be unbearable, and no doubt you are right. 
    So, we admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago; the past ages are a sort of bear-pit or iron cage for him; but such a man to-day is a nuisance, and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine [if] in those ages past, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and their compeers had said, "The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps, and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better." Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on.
The need for vigilance today is greater, not less, than it has been in times past.

When before our very eyes we can see "evil people and impostors [going] from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived"—it is more important than ever to stay alert and on guard against false teaching and against personal temptations. And it's more important than ever to make ourselves ready for the return of the Savior.

That's what Paul was telling the Corinthians: "Be watchful"—first of all over yourselves—your hearts, your passions, your words, and your whole way of life. Be watchful over one another, lest you fall into sin and temptation. Be on guard against Satan, "so that we would not be outwitted by [him]; for we are not ignorant of his designs." Likewise, be on guard against false teachers, who lie in wait to deceive and who have already begun to sow their deception in your midst. Be on guard against the world, with all its snares and seductions. Also, watch unto prayer, and prepare yourselves for the Lord's return.

All of that is packed into this one-word admonition: "Watch."

05 February 2014

Which you Allegedly Know

by Frank Turk

Dan did a great job yesterday pointing at the dog's breakfast which Donald Miller recently shared regarding his view of the local church.  However, because my hiatus is actually in large part about the local church in a very huge way for me personally, I have a few hundred words to add to the topic.

It has to get old eventually for anyone to claim they love Jesus and therefore the broad spectrum of all the people he saves BUT they can;t possibly spend time with the people God has called out together in any specific local church.  When I say "old," I mean like that vermin your cat killed and dragged under the sofa -- stinky, rotten, dead, and likely to make everyone sick.  What a complete pile of rubbish that somehow we get closer to Jesus by staying away from the object of his work and desire.

Let me start here, which is to say where the Apostle John started:
By this [that is: the sacrifice of Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit] is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4)
Right?  And just in case someone thinks that John means, "we ought to love them in theory and by some kind of epithetical formality, but not anyone personally," he also said this:
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3)
Not in talk or just with words, but in deed and truth.  That is: you should do something with this love you allegedly know and receive.

What that means is this: because we know what love is in Christ's death for us, it's a necessary consequence that we actually love people.  But look at the qualifier that John makes in that statement: "He loved us first."

He loved us FIRST.

Think about how that works.  The "first" means "before we were perfect and holy."  That is: God loved us while we were still sinners.  And John's call to love is to love "brothers" -- which here means "those who have seen God and know Him.

John's call, then, is primarily (though perhaps not exclusively) to love the people in the church you are in, without regard to how perfected they are right now.

That's what causes us to understand how fraudulent the claim that one can love Jesus but not any specific local church is: John says those who cannot do this are liars, and they have never seen God.

Because I am on hiatus, and I am really up to my armpits with things related to that, that's where I'm going to leave it with you: have you seen God?  Are you not a liar?  Then love the people God loves -- not in theory or merely with words, but truly, with your stuff, and with your person.

04 February 2014

Donald Miller's "trinity" votes church involvement optional

by Dan Phillips

Good brothers Denny Burke and Todd Pruitt are writing about this post from Donald Miller in which is says he doesn't go to church much.

Why not?

Because: I, Me, My.

(That's shorter Miller, distilling a post [as our elders might have said] utterly innocent of the least allusion to Scripture.)

All I have to add is to say that you Pyro readers would have been already abundantly well-prepared to respond to Donald Miller decisively and finally, as well as to all the thousands of anonymous donaldmillers running about clutching their notes from "god" excusing them from doing what the actual living real God of Jesus Christ has called all believers to do for the last 2000 years.

"Freshen my memory," you ask? Sure, I'm here to serve. To pluck out just three:

Thinking like a slave

Thinking Biblically about church attendance, involvement, and membership

Why you need to be in church this Sunday

And then finally and specifically to Miller, there is the indispensable Open Letter to him by the indispensable Frank.

About all of these, and the use they could have been made of in a cooperative Christian blogosphere that was really about the issues concerning which we claim to be passionate rather than the petty maintenance of clubhouses membership lists, I have a great deal to say.

But not here, and not now.

ADDENDUM: Miller circles a bit around the theme of "intimacy with God," free-associating as if Scripture had nothing to say on the topic. But it does. Were anyone to read Miller, then work through sermons 17-24 on Proverbs 3 in this series, he might think they were preached in response to Miller's entirely erroneous notions... if it weren't for the dates on them.

Dan Phillips's signature

02 February 2014

Mystical union

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Till He Come, pages 188-190, Pilgrim Publications.
"Seek thy Lord, for He is near; embrace Him for He is thy Brother; hold Him fast, for He is thine Husband; press Him to thine heart, for He is of thine own flesh."

Borrowing once more from the story of Ruth, we remark that Boaz, although one with Ruth by kinship, did not rest until he had entered into a nearer union still, namely, that of marriage; and in the same manner there is, superadded to the natural union of Christ with His people, a mystical union by which He assumes the position of Husband, while the Church is owned as His bride.

In love He espoused her to Himself, as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection, He toiled like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by His Spirit, and brought her to know and love Him, He awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb.

Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented His betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as His wife and queen; she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to His heart, precious in His sight, and united with His person. In love and tenderness, He says to her,—

“Forget thee I will not, I cannot, thy name
Engraved on My heart doth for ever remain:
The palms of My hands whilst I look on I see
The wounds I received when suffering for thee.”

He exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume His name, and to share in all His wealth. Nor will He ever act otherwise to her.

The word divorce He will never mention, for “He hateth putting away.” Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet is there this one marvelous exception to the rule, for in heaven Christ and His Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials.

And this affinity, as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame that burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ did leave His Father, and become one flesh with her.