Friday, June 27, 2008

Not faith, but Christ

Matt Jenson makes the case that faith is nothing. Consider:
Faith, as Karl Barth puts it, is a ‘relative concept’ which ‘lives by its object’. Phil Cary puts Luther’s view nicely in writing that ‘to believe Christ’s word is to be uninterested in the fact that I believe but captivated by what Christ has to say to me. Even apart from its character as word of address, the gospel is good news for me because it is Christ’s story, not mine….I appear in Christ’s story as object, not subject – not the doer but the one on the receiving end of the good things Christ has done.’

Trouble is, we ever so subtly undermine the logic of faith when we too glibly exhort a person to ‘have faith’. It’s not so much that these exhortations must run counter to faith’s rhetoric of indication as it is our own recalcitrant tendency to smuggle in works. We relapse, again and again – and if you’ve been around addiction, you know relapse seldom happens once – into creative, but vain attempts to justify ourselves. We pay lip service to grace and then call people to drum up faith, to work with all their might to squeeze out enough of it to make their lives worth saving. We convert faith, in other words, into a work.
Amen. Thanks to Daniel Hames for the link.


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