The Added Ingredient – E.Clowney

Read ingredientsMadison Avenue agencies have at last convinced us that man does not live by bread alone, but by the added ingredients.

Only as bold a writer as C.S.Lewis would entitle a book Mere Christianity. Leaders of the flourishing isms are all advertising what has been added. The golden tablets dropped from heaven at Palmyra, N.Y., make all the difference (A reference to Joseph Smith and the beginnings of Mormonism -cjt). More refined revisions of Christianity have a similar zeal for the insights of some leaders of neo-theological fashion.

Even stout defenders of plain Christianity are not immune to the lure of the added ingredient, as compounded perhaps by a sensational Bible teacher. Worst of all, sometimes the Gospel itself is promoted as something added, a booster shot of happiness, instead of a new life in Christ Jesus. God’s saving power operates not by addition, but by transformation (19).

Quote from the book Eutychus (and his pin) by Edmund P. Clowney (Eerdmans, 1960).

Taking his cue from the latest new ingredient added to his toothpaste, Clowney describes how this popular advertising technique also applies to what we observe taking place in the realm of Christianity. Some always want to add something more to the Christian faith.

Still today too, we might add. No doubt, more so than in 1960.

Eutychus – Deliverance from Lady Luck (Word Wednesday)

Eutychus - ClowneyA while back I came across an unusual title in a local Thrift store – Eutychus (and his pin), edited (“with an apology”) by Edmund P. Clowney (Wm.B. Eerdmans, 1960). The book is a collection of letters Clowney (professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia) wrote under the pen name of Eutychus (You do remember him from your NT Bible stories, right?) and which were published in the letters section of Christianity Today.

With a combination of wit, sarcasm and biblical truth Clowney attacks modern evangelicalism for its “ecclesiastical pretense, sham, and present-day religiosity.” These “letters” are well-written, hard-hitting, and still relevant. I recently picked the book up again and started reading through it, and it is good reading.

Clowney’s very first “letter” is an explanation of Eutychus’ name (cf. Acts 20:9), along with some good commentary on its significance for Christians today. So, for our Word Wednesday feature, I introduce you to Eutychus – and Dr. Clowney.

May I suggest a study of the original Eutychus? …The name meant ‘good luck’ in an age when Lady Luck was even more fervently worshiped than at our race tracks.

Do you suppose anyone reflected on the name when Paul’s prolonged discourse was interrupted by the abrupt disappearance of ‘Lucky’ from the window sill? Was anyone shaken by a sudden thought that the goddess Tyche was revenged on an apostate from an old cult?

At any rate, the First Church of Troas, without the benefit of centuries of jokes about sleeping in church, no doubt failed to see anything comical in the still form on the dark street. Yet their joy must have been the richer when Eutychus was restored. The gates of death could not prevail against the church of Christ. The bondage of ‘good luck’ was broken by the Good News.

Too many Christians still live with crossed fingers, sweating out their good luck as a portent of calamity. To see them you would never guess that God’s good pleasure and not the goddess of Fate rules human destiny.

No doubt Eutychus should have been listening and praying rather than sleeping, but childlike faith and deep sleep are not unconnected. Tyche’s devotees are great insomniacs; they must keep one eye on their capricious goddess. The psalmist, on the other hand, said, ‘In peace will I both lay me down and sleep’ for the Lord who never slumbers was his Keeper.

A fine explanation of Eutychus’ name, don’t you think? And good food for our souls on this Wednesday. Keep reading and learning the meaning of words. I am. 🙂