“Where would be own faith be, I wonder, without Augustine, Donne, Dostoevski, Jurgen Moltmann, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis? Many times I have leaned on their words as an exhausted traveler might lean on a roadside monument.” -Philip Yancey

This will be a dynamic and ever-growing library of quotes, maxims, and assorted aphorisms that I really like that I come across in my reading.
If you would like to add one, simply leave it as a comment, and I’ll look into incorporating it. Or, if you have a better idea for a category name, please suggest that as well; I don’t always know quite how I want to tag a quotation. The tags are alphabetized as well as the authors within them.


  • “Only those willing to risk going too far can find out how far they can go.” -T.S. Eliot
  • “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do.” -Dwight L. Moody
  • “No man shares his life with God whose religion does not flow out, naturally and without effort, into all relations of his life and reconstructs everything that it touches. Whoever uncouples the religious and the social life has not understood Jesus. Whoever sets any bounds for the reconstructive power of the religious life over the social relations and institutions of men, to that extent denies the faith of the Master.” -Walter Rauschenbusch

Bureaucracy/Committees/Red Tape

  • “In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.” -John Adams

The Church

  • “The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.” -Morton Kelsey
  • “The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded.” -Brennan Manning

Difficulty vs. Ease

  • “If you find God with great ease, perhaps it is not God you have found.” -Thomas Merton


  • “One short sleep past, we wake eternally / And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.” -John Donne


  • “Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.” -William Blake
  • “Such ever was Love’s way– to rise, it stoops.” -Robert Browning
  • “Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.” -G.K. Chesterton
  • “If one wishes to eliminate uncertainty, tension, confusion, and disorder from one’s life, there is no point in getting mixed up either with Yahweh or Jesus or Nazareth.” -Andrew Greeley
  • “We do a disservice if we witness only to God’s presence and do not prepare others to experience the times when God seems absent.” -Philip Yancey

Faith and Doubt

  • “When we get our spiritual house in order, we’ll be dead. This goes on. You arrive at enough certainty to be able to make your way, but it is making it in the darkness. Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty.” -Emily Dickinson
  • “It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.” -Fyodor Dostoevski
  • “If God and humankind resemble each other so closely so as to essentially belong to the same category of being, the conclusion “therefore Christ was God” makes perfect sense. But this is nothing but humbug. If that is all there is to being God, then God does not exist at all! …But if God belongs to a category infinitely different from the human, why, then neither I nor any one else can start with the assumption that Christ was human and then logically conclude that therefore he was God. Anyone with a bit of logical sense should be able to see this. The question of whether or not he was God lies on an entirely different plane: each person must decide for himself whether or not he will believe Christ to be what he himself claimed to be.” -Søren Kierkegaard
  • “Whatever faith may be, and whatever answers it may give, and to whomsoever it gives them, every such answer gives to the finite existence of man an infinite meaning, a meaning not destroyed by sufferings, deprivations, or death.” -Leo Tolstoy
  • “Some people call it a crutch, I call it my faith. For a crippled person, there is one thing worse than a crutch, after all- no crutch.” -Philip Yancey

(Appreciation of) Fermented Beverages

  • Wine is wonderful stuff. But so many people are put off by the snobbery of it.” -John Cleese
  • “Talisker is not a drink, it is an interior explosion, distilled central heating; it depth charges the parts, bangs doors and slams windows. There’s nothing genteel about Talisker.” -Derek Cooper
  • “In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.” -Ernest Hemingway (thanks MShed)
  • Wine gives a man nothing… it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.” -Samuel Johnson
  • Jazz is like wine. When it is new, it is only for the experts, but when it gets older, everybody wants it.” -Steve Lacy
  • “It is better to think of church in the ale-house than to think of the ale-house in church.” – Martin Luther (thanks MShed)
  • But I drink red wine with fish. It just doesn’t bother me. I know the difference. I can play the game. But red is what I like.” -Tom Selleck
  • “Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye; That’s all we shall know for truth Before we grow old and die. I lift the glass to my mouth, I look at you, and sigh.” -William Butler Yeats (thanks MShed)

God’s Sovereignty

  • “I have learned one absolute principle in calculating God’s presence or absence, and that is that I cannot.” -Philip Yancey

Grace (& Un-Grace)

  • “Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.” -William Blake
  • “Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace.” -Brennan Manning
  • “In an odd way the very failures of the church prove its doctrine. Like water, grace flows to the lowest part.” -Philip Yancey

Heaven on Earth/Reconciliation of Creation to the Creator

  • “For Augustine, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and the consequences of the Fall. For the Celtic apostles, Jesus Christ also comes to complete his good creation.” -George G. Hunter III
  • “The kingdom is not an exclusive, well-trimmed suburb with snobbish rules about who can live there. No, it is for a larger, homelier, less self-conscious caste of people who understand they are sinners because they have experienced the yaw and pitch of moral struggle.” -Brennan Manning
  • “The kingdom of God is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.” -Walter Rauschenbusch
  • “Pastor, don’t forget the Kingdom is already here. I used to spend every weekend for the last decade at a club down the road here [in Houston] called Emo’s. And I’d start every Sunday night with a drop of ecstasy on my tongue and I’d wash it down with Bacardi 151. And now I come here on Sunday nights, and I close my night with the Body of Christ on my tongue, and I wash it down with the Blood of Christ. Don’t forget, Pastor, the kingdom is here.” -Chris Seay, during a time when he “needed a taste of the kingdom.”

Humanity/the Human Condition

  • “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” -John Donne
  • “First, human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it.” -C.S. Lewis
  • “We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh.” -Brennan Manning
  • “Jesus was about going, ‘hey this is a completely ****** up system that is happening here on earth. I have come to pull you out of this. If you want to come that’s fine.'” -Donald Miller

Humans in Relation with God

  • “As thou hast given me a repentance, not to be repented of, so give me, O Lord, a fear, of which I may not be afraid.” -John Donne
  • “Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you / As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; / That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend / Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.” -John Donne
  • “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” -Julian of Norwich
  • “The voice of God / To mortal ear is dreadful.” -John Milton
  • “Oh God, I don’t love you, I don’t even want to love you, but I want to want to love you!” -Teresa of Avila

Incarnational Living

  • “Christians best influence the world by sacrificial love, the most effective way truly to change a world.” -Philip Yancey


  • “[I am] one who is on the way, though not necessarily very far along it, and who has at least some dim and half-baked idea of what to think.” -Frederick Buechner
  • “In order to arrive at what you are not, you must go through the way in which you are not.” -T.S. Eliot
  • A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao Tzu
  • “The act of looking, the pursuit itself, makes possible the encounter. For this reason, Christianity has always insisted that trust and obedience come first, and knowledge follows.” -Philip Yancey


  • “God has a plan to bring justice to the world– and his plan is us.” -Gary Haugen
  • “‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,’ Jesus said about himself. I know no message more urgent for the wealthy countries of the West, who share a planet with three billion people earning less than two dollars per day, a world in which 40,000 children die each day from malnutrition and easily preventable diseases.” -Philip Yancey


  • “Like everything which is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will, any marriage, happy or unhappy, is infinitely more interesting than any romance, however passionate.” -W.H. Auden
  • “Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, / Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.” -John Donne
  • “Romance started for me as a blazing bonfire—you know, ‘You light up my life.’ After a few decades, it settled into something more like a heap of glowing coals. Sure, some of the heat dissipated, but coals are good, too: You can roast marshmallows, warm your feet. A different level of companionship opens up.” -Vernon Grounds
  • “When we talk about relationships with people, we use phrases like “invest in people,” “this person is priceless,” or “this relationship is bankrupt.” By using economic metaphor we’ve begun to think of love like money.” -Donald Miller
  • “By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” -Socrates
  • “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? … Not that God has anything against happiness, or that happiness and holiness are mutually exclusive, but looking at marriage through the lens of holiness began to put it into an entirely new perspective for me.”- Gary Thomas

Mountaintop Christianity

  • “The mothers of our friends who were bitchy were bitchy still. Mr. Billington, our history teacher, held in such veneration at the [camp], never relinquished his position in the high school as the most mean-spirited of all our teachers.” -Eugene Peterson, on going to religious summer camp as a child


  • “Why are we nevertheless so crazy about about our seemingly endless test runs? Because every single one of those kilometers helps us learn how to master them… even better.” -Porsche, on the new 911

Recreation/Rest/Wellness (and their opposites)

  • “Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health, and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you’d be safer to stick to the papers. You’ll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or snobbish appeal.” -C.S. Lewis, on how to ensure God’s absence
  • Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, I’m finding enjoyment in things that stop time. Just the simple act of tasting a glass of wine is its own event. You’re not downing a glass of wine in the midst of doing something else.” -David Hyde Pierce
  • “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” -Plato
  • “The work we do will always be here but if we do not rest and pray, we will not have the presence to do our work.” -Mother Teresa
  • “Do not go gentle into that good night / Old age should burn and rave at close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” -Dylan Thomas

The Sacred

  • “There is a Moment in each Day that Satan cannot find.” -William Blake

One response to “Quotable

  1. “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in all of us. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
    –Marianne Williamson from A Return to Love (made famous by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inaugural Address) also in Coach Carter

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