Sunday, January 30, 2011

Knowing vs Doing

"Let us imagine a pilot, and assume that he had passed every examination with distinction, but that he had not as yet been at sea. Imagine him in a storm; he knows everything he ought to do, but he has not known before how terror grips the seafarer when the stars are lost in the blackness of night; he has not know the sense of impotence that comes when the pilot sees the wheel in his hand become a plaything for the waves; he has not known how the blood rushes to the head when one tries to make calculations at such a moment; in short, he has had no conception of the change that takes place in the knower when he has to apply his knowledge."

Soren Kierkegaard, Thoughts on Crucial Situations in Human Life, pp. 35-36

Isn't this the story of the Christian life! We read; we hear, we sing, we say...but then the test comes. The moment when we are not looking at the situation from the outside, but from within. Then we say, "I know i ought...but..."

It is easy to examine someone else's life and actions and to see how they do not line up with their professed beliefs. It is easy to imagine that we have or would. But when we are tested, the situation is always different. We often respond in doubt and act antithetical to our beliefs.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Dog Kennel by the Palace

"A thinker erects an immense building, a system, a system which embraces the whole of existence and world-history etc. --and if we contemplate his personal life, we discover to our astonishment this terrible and ludicrous fact, that he himself personally does not live in this immense high-vaulted palace, but in a barn alongside of it, or in a dog kennel, or at the most in the porter's lodge. If one were to take the liberty of calling his attention to this by a single word, he would be offended. For he has no fear of being under a delusion, if only he can get the system means of the delusion.

Anti-Climacus in the Sickness unto Death, pp. 176-77 (Soren Kierkegaard)

i can relate to this all to well. Our actuality rarely matches our philosophy. This is bearable if one never realizes the inconsistency, or at the least, believes the inconsistency can be resolved. Instead we lament over everyone else's apathy toward the ideal. The real torture though is to have discovered the perfect world and to realize that you have great difficulty in adapting to it.

On the other side of the spectrum, N. T. Wright would likely attribute this as an "Echo of a Voice" that lives deep within each one of us. That we long for something which seems just outside of our grasp. We strive for it, though it evades us. This is not because it is unattainable, but rather because it is what we were meant for. In fact, it is what Christ is bringing about.

Friday, January 21, 2011


A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?
-Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 20, 2011


When we think of justice, typically we think of people being sentenced for crimes. This is a form of justice, but a lesser form. It is called "retributive justice". Criminal Justice falls under this sub-heading of "Justice".

When we say that we are establishing a society where there is "Justice for All", we are not primarily saying that we are seeking a society where people will be rightly punished for their crimes. Instead, we are seeking a society where there is justice for all because people are acting justly, each toward one another.

God is seeking a society that is built on justice. That is to say, a society where people act justly toward one another. In such a society, there is no need for retributive justice (a criminal justice system). In fact, any society that has need of a criminal justice system, is a society which is not completely just. It is a society in which there truly isn't "Justice for All' in it's purist sense.

That is to say, is justice really being served when the person who kills my loved one is put in jail for life or even sentenced to death? No. Why? Because it still falls short of making the situation right. The punishment of crime does not erase the crime or its effect. My loved one is still dead, and how can that be made right? Therefore, true justice is not the punishment of injustice, but the practice of actingy justly toward one another so that injustice never occurs.

When we speak of God's desire for justice, we are speaking of his desire for a society in which people act justly toward one another. Only in a secondary and lesser sense is the punishment of sin 'God's Justice'. In fact, God does not desire that kind of justice. His preferred forms of just include first and foremost, that people should act justly (rightly) toward one another. The second form of justice is that the unjust be made just, not punished or destroyed. In fact, the bible teaches that God disciplines those he loves. The discipline is not for the purpose of mere retribution, since that wouldn't make things right. Instead, the discipline is meant to transform and bring about a character change within the person, namely so that the person might be 'put to rights'.

Therefore, Grace is not antithetical to justice. Grace does not excuse or overlook sin. In fact, Grace is a form of God's justice. It seeks to transform (or make right) the person who has acted unjustly.

The Grace of Christ then is not mere forgiveness of sin, but transformation of the sinner. Grace without transformation is not the kind of Grace that God practices. God's Grace complements his Justice . God's Grace 'makes right'. That is, God's grace does not merely make us positionally or hypothetically right, but truly begins to make us right by transforming us. Without transformation there can be no justice. Without transformation we can only settle for that lesser form of justice, for which i don't think we have a name, which is retribution and/or punishment. This does not make things right or fully satisfy. It is merely the sense that we've done something and therefore not overlooked the wrong. But it certainly doesn't make things right, and therefore falls short of true Justice. God's Grace does not subvert Justice, but complements it by transforming us into people who live & act justly.

Ezekiel 33:11  Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!

The Kingdom of God will be a place where Justice reigns supreme. That is, where people always act justly toward one another. There will be no need for retributive justice there. If there was a need for criminal justice in the Kingdom of God, then it wouldn't be a perfectly just society in which there is genuinely "Justice for All". All this will be brought about by the transforming power of God's Grace.