26 February 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

If the Law has not produced total self-condemnation, there can be - will be - no joy. Instead, there will only be self-righteousness and hypocrisy, salted with an arrogant condemnation and snooping for the sins of others - a bad conscience seared into numb bitterness by denial. -- Matthew Harrison, *A Little Book on Joy* p. 40


Anonymous said...

I have not read the book, and I do not know the context. “So”, you ask, “ignorance will not prevent you from making a comment?” Right, all I have is this snippet, but all by itself, it raises the hairs on my head.

“If the Law has not produced total self-condemnation…” So the Law has not done its job? Isn’t that the Law’s fault? I suspect that the writer means that the individual who has heard the Law has not achieved “total self-condemnation.” Is this addressed to Christians or those who are not yet Christians? If addressed to non-Christians, then it makes some sense. But how do we help this person achieve “total self-condemnation” so that he can have joy? And how does he know when his self-condemnation is “total”? From the way this is written, the mere absence of joy testifies that it is not total, so that the individual has to dig deeper and deeper into self-condemnation until he finds joy!

But I suspect that in reality Christians are addressed, though I have no way of knowing that for sure from the brief quotation. If it is so, then it is a grave error. Achieving joy through “total self-condemnation” is logic of the absurd. And how could a person have a bad conscience if he is self-righteous? What studies has the author done to show that all these terrible things are the result of not achieving “total self-condemnation”?

Joy is a gift from God, which He gives us through His Son and through the Holy Spirit without ever asking about our “total self-condemnation.” Joy cannot come from the working of the Law, but only from the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom. Our joy comes from the sure promise of our Lord, (John 16: 22) “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” It comes as a gift when we are made new through water and the Spirit (Acts 8:38): “And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.” It comes as we praise and thank God in our worship, as we hear His consoling, powerful word, and as we share the true Body and Blood of our Savior.

We do not trade “total self-condemnation” for God’s favor. Even the recognition of our own sinfulness is a gift from God, because “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.”

Peace and Joy, and again I say rejoice!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

That is a brilliant quote. And is something I must learn anew every day. Thank you for posting that.

Tom Fast