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Sermon Quotes

The City

Augustine of Hippo

All earthly cities are vulnerable. Men build them and men destroy them. At the same time there is the City of God which men did not build and cannot destroy and which is everlasting.

Al Barth

[People in cities] turn to false gods, such as power, fame, possessions, privilege, and comfort.

 “A vision for Our Cities,” Q: Ideas for the Common Good, http://www.qideas.org/blog/a-vision-for-our-cities.aspx/ (accessed May 5, 2019).

Craig G. Bartholomew

What is clear on all accounts is that a garden was an enclosed area designed for cultivation… [so] what we have, then, rather than an image of primitivism, is one of an area that is bounded, probably by walls; carefully landscaped; intensively cultivated with orchards and the like. In the light of its urban connotations in the ancient Near East, Eden may well have included buildings.

Where Mortals Dwell: A Christian View of Place Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011)

Philip Bess

There’s a reciprocal relationship between good cities and human flourishing. Good cities make it possible for us to live better than if we lived without cities. Nevertheless, even the best city can’t make a person good, can’t make a person happy.

Interview with Paige Smith, “Architecture and Man: A Reciprocal Relationship.” Traces: Litterae Communionis, http://www.traces-cl.com/2010/03/architecture.html/ (accessed April 27, 2012).

Craig Blomberg

[Speaking of the early church] A cosmopolitan spirit grew, particularly in the cities, that transcended national barriers. Old tribal distinctions and identities were breaking down, leaving people ripe for new religions or ideologies to fill the gaps, The gospel would meet many felt needs in this climate…. Closely related was the elimination of many cross-cultural barriers to dialogue and the dissemination of new worldviews.

Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), p.23.

Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick

There are churches that are merely in the city. Their heartbeat is to get people in the doors to hear the gospel. That’s a good goal. But, unfortunately, that’s often where it ends. Such churches create programs for people inside the church walls, and the reach of their ministry only occasionally goes outside to the city. The primary focus of these churches is what happens inside the church building. Churches like this are geographically in the city, but they aren’t effectively engaged with the people and culture of the city.

For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), p.24.

Harvie M. Conn and Manuel Ortiz

The city is the fulfillment of the purposes of the Eden of God. The city is the fulfiller of the paradise of God… which is tied to the future city with the original, sinless past of Eden and its restoration in Christ. Even under the curse, man’s cultural calling will be maintained. Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City & the People of God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2001).

Harvie M. Conn and Manuel Ortiz

One could not live in any village in lower Galilee and escape the effects and ramifications of urbanization.” Life here was urbanized and urbane as anywhere else in the Empire. Did these urban influences escape the attention of Jesus and his disciples whose principal ministry was in this region? Not if we judge by a vocabulary studded with references to urban institutions like courts (Mt. 5:25) and city market squares (Mt. 23:7; Mk. 5:56), and with financial analogies built on interest-bearing accounts (Mt. 25:27; Lk. 19:23) and metaphors of God as an absentee landlord (Mk. 12:1-12). Centurion leaders of one thousand soldiers (Mt. 8:5) and bureaucratic tax collectors controlling even fishing rights (Mt. 9:10; Lk. 5:27) dot the Galilean narratives.

Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City & the People of God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2001).

Bill Crispin

The city is the place where there are more people… fand since] God loves people… few can be assured that] He loves the city.

As quoted by “Food for Urban Thought,” A City Lit by Fireflies (blog), January 16, 2008, 

Leonardo de Chirico

[There] are social idols that capture the life of the city…overarching sinful narratives on which people rely. We have to exegete them. We have to spot them out. We have to capture their core values, their history, their attractions, and the shape they have given to the city…. We have to grasp spiritually the theological skyline of the city.

“Identifying the Idols of the City,” Q: Ideas for the Common Good.

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

The world that we enter in the book of Acts is the most modern in all the Bible by virtue of its urban identity. Most of the action occurs in the famous cities of the Greco-Roman world, not in the local villages or the countryside. This prevailingly metropolitan world is, moreover, international and cosmopolitan. There is a sense in which the city is vindicated in the history of the early church—not in the sense that the city is mainly good or cordial to the gospel but in the sense that the city is where most people now live and where the influential power structures exist…. It is easy to see that the mission strategy of the early church was to evangelize the city. It is no exaggeration to say that in Acts the church is almost exclusively associated with the city.

“City,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p.153.

Jonathan Edwards

A man of a right spirit is not a man of narrow and private views, but is greatly interested and concerned for the good of the community, to which he belongs, and particularly of the city or village in which he resides, and for the true welfare of the society of which he is a member.

Richard Florida

In the United States, more than 90 percent of all economic output is produced in metropolitan regions, while just the largest five metro regions account for 23 percent of it.

Who’s Your City? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where You Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, Basic, p.9.

Richard Florida

All these technologies have carried the promise of a boundless world. They would free us from geography, allowing us to move out of crowded cities and into lives of our own bucolic choosing. Forget the past, when cities and civilizations were confined to fertile soil, natural ports, or raw materials. In today’s high-tech world, we are free to live wherever we want. Place, according to this increasingly popular view, is irrelevant.

Who’s Your City? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where You Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, Basic, p.9.

Garden City Church

Through the gospel we gain a new community, a new family of deep friendship with brothers and sisters in Christ who come from all walks of life. We grow in Christ and put his love on display as we open up our lives to participate in community that’s built upon grace, The church is not a meeting you attend, it is a network of relationships you belong to—relationships that share a common confession and mission. As we do life together in community, with God’s Word at the center, disciples are made. Jesus changes us and uses us. He shrinks our pride and surfaces our gifts. We come to see that all people stand on equal ground at the foot of the cross, giving us a freeing humility that welcomes the messy and glorious work of church community. Our model for community is our Triune GodFather, Son, and Spirit who have eternally enjoyed loving, servanthearted community.

Taken from Garden City Church San Jose, Core Values.

Edward Glaeser

Our cities’ gleaming spires point to the greatness that mankind can achieve, but also to our hubris…. Urban innovation can destroy value as well as create it.

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (New York: Penguin, 2011), p.268.

Edward Glaeser

On a planet with vast amounts of space, we choose cities.

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (New York: Penguin, 2011), p.1.

Edward Glaeser

Cities are the absence of physical space between people…They are proximity, density, closeness.

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (New York: Penguin, 2011), p.7.

Edward Glaeser

Cities aren’t full of poor people because cities make people poor, but because cities attract poor people with the prospect of improving their lot in life. [Thereofre] we should worry more about places with too little poverty. Why do they fail to attract the least fortunate?

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (New York: Penguin, 2011), pp.70-71.

Jane Jacobs

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Eric O. Jacobsen

It might be more accurate to say that the fear of cities, or the fear of of one another, or possibly the love of convenience has been the actual basis of much of our current perceptions about the city. Nor surprisingly, our perceptions have tended to be largely negative. We have moved our homes and our congregations to the very fringes of our historic cities or to suburban enclaves. And we have learned to speak of cities exclusively as places for rescue missions rather than as places to live, work, worship, or play.

Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith.

William James

No more fiendish punishment could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed by all the members thereof. If no one turned around when we entered, answered when we spoke, or minded what we did, but if every person we met “cut us dead,” and acted as if we were non-existent things, a kind of rage and impotent despair would before long well up in us, from which the cruelest bodily torture would be a relief.4

William James as quoted by Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety (New York: Vintage International, 2004), p.8.

Timothy Keller

The New Jerusalem… is the Garden of Eden, remade. The City is the fulfilment of the purposes of the Eden of God. We began in a garden but will end in a city; God’s purpose for humanity is urban!

A Biblical Theology of the City” The Resurgence.

Meredith G. Kline

The city is not to be regarded as an evil invention of ungodly fallen man… The ultimate goal set before humanity at the very beginning was that human- culture should take city-form… there should be an urban structuring of human historical existence… The cultural mandate given at creation was a mandate to build the city. Now, after the fall, the city is still a benefit, serving humankind as refuge from the howling wilderness condition into which the fallen human race, exiled from paradise, has been driven… The common grace city has remedial benefits even in a fallen world. It becomes the drawing together of resources, strength and talent no longer just for mutual complementation in the task

of developing the resources of the created world, but now a pooling of power for defence against attack, and as an administrative community of welfare for the relief of those destitute by reason of the cursing of the ground.

Kingdom Prologue

Meredith G. Kline

The couple in the garden was to multiply, so providing the citizens of the city. Their cultivation of earth’s resources as they extended their control over their territorial environment through the fabrication of sheltering structures would produce the physical architecture of the

Kingdom Prologue Vol.2

James Howard Kunstler

Americans, given the choice between civilizing their cities thorugh public works, and using the car to escape the demands of civility, chose the car.

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993); and Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Kyungsig Samuel Lee

The ultimate challenge of Jesus’ ministry was to go to the city, the city of Jerusalem. This city, which was the center of education, religion, and politics, was also the place where corruption and crimes abounded. Yet, Jesus went there anyway. Following Jesus to the city was a risky business. Many would-be followers dropped out when they saw this ultimate danger. What will it require of us to move to the city? I ask this question whenever I find myself wanting to settle down in the comfort of material well-being. God may not ask us to physically move to the city, but God does require that we reach out to hurting people with the gospel, wherever they might be.

Korean Family Devotions

Lewis Mumford

The first germ of the city… is in the ceremonial meeting place.,. because it concentrates… certain ‘spiritual’ or supernatural power, powers of wider cosmic significance than the ordinary processes of life.

The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its prospects (New York: Harcourt, 1961), pp.74-75.

McKinsey Global Institute

We live in an urban world. Half of the world’s population already lives in cities, generating more than 80 percent of global GDP today. But the urban economic story is even more concentrated than this suggests. Only 600 urban centers, with a fifth of the world’s population, generate 60 percent of global GDP. In 2025, we still expect 600 cities to account for about 60 percent of worldwide GDP—but the cities won’t be the same. The earth’s urban landscape appears to be stable, but its center of gravity is shifting decisively, and at speed. Companies trying to identify the most promising growth opportunities need to be able to map this movement and spot the individual cities where their businesses are most likely to thrive.

Urban world: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities, March 2011.

Doug Saunders

What will be remembered about the twenty-first century…is the great, and final, shift of human populations out of rural, agricultural life and into cities. We will end this centuryasa wholly urban species.

Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World (New York: Pantheon, 2010), 1.

Rodney Stark

To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with widows and orphans, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services…. when Christianity [appeared], ist superior capacity for meeting these chronic problems soon became evident and played a major role in its ultimate triumph…[for what Christians] brought was not simply an urban movement, but a new culture.

The Rise of Christianity, p.161-62.

John Steinbeck

American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash–all of them–surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered in rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountain of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use.”

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Albert Wolters

The whole course of history [is] a movement from a garden to a city, and it fundamentally affirms that movement … Redemption in Jesus Christ reaches just as far as the fall. The horizon of creation is at the same time the horizon of sin and of salvation. To conceive of either the fall or Christ’s deliverance as encompassing less than the whole of creation is to compromise the biblical teaching of the radical nature of the fall and the cosmic scope of redemption.

Rodney Stark

To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. . . . And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.

The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1997), 161.

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