Monday, December 13, 2010

This holiday season...

I am not going to be able to go home for Christmas; flights are just too expensive. I suppose if I had bought a ticket a few months back it would have been cheaper, but, that didn't happen. Oh well. Anyway, that means I need love from all of you this Christmas! :-D Just a note to say hello or whatever, so that I don't feel quite so alone.

At least I'll be able to have Christmas dinner with some friends from the NOOC (the place where I'm staying). And, I will have plenty of time to read, and focus on my research, which - to be honest - I need to do more of! Speaking of research, here's a little glimpse into what I'm thinking about these days:

I am considering how the concepts of sin and grace are articulated in Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard. This involves an expansion of the concepts, beyond the definitions implicit in the minds of many Christians, and a re-capturing of the traditional picture of both sin and grace as 'states', that is, categories of being rather than specific actions (though the latter is certainly not excluded).

A quote from Bonhoeffer's Discipleship adds, I think, a particularly poignant dimension to this conceptualization:

"'Sin Boldly'--that could be for Luther only the very last bit of pastoral advice, of consolation for those who along the path of discipleship have come to know that they cannot become sin-free, who out of fear despair of God's grace. For them, 'sin boldly' is not something like a fundamental affirmation of their disobedient lives. Rather, it is the gospel of God's grace, in the presence of which we are sinners always and at every place... to whom could such a thing be said ['sin boldly'] except to those who from their hearts daily reject sin... and who are still unconsoled about their daily unfaithfulness and sin?"

This passage, I suggest, may contain a profound truth: there may come a time when we have to acknowledge the desire of some to follow Christ who nevertheless have despaired of God's grace. In that situation, what is more important--that we make sure they have eliminated their sin, or work to relieve their despair, even if their sin remains? God's grace is surely needed at that point more than ever. This is a vital question for Christian ethics.

1 comment:

BenMc said...

Hey Geoff, Merry Christmas! I was actually thinking about the concept of grace this morning when listening to a talk from an Anabaptist biologist about how oxytocin (the attachment hormone) is one way God gives the grace of attachment to others. So I'm very interested in what you find/conclude! If you're going to be away from home for Christmas, at least Oxford's a good place to be away at ... seems a bit Harry Potterish to me. Yours, Ben