Monday, April 6, 2009

Considering affliction


The kerygma – the preaching of the Word is unintelligible when it is either denied or taken for granted the the whole race of man is universally enslaved in sin, which has cast the world into war and decay. Human life today is the struggle to either excuse, explain away, or justify ourselves to get ourselves off the hook – escape judgment or deny it altogether. The starting point of human freedom is to recognize that man is not born ino a marvelous light of freedom and peace but one of human bondage. True and authentic freedom begins when one resigns his delusion of an autonomous will and is captivated by faith in Christ as the crucified and risen One, which is the center of all the Scriptures. The universal enslavement of the race of man is of course confessed in the creed, when the church prays “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” The kerygma, the preaching of the Holy Gospel, can only proceed once man comes to terms with the divine revelation that he is creature rather than creator, mere man rather than God, that he is rebellious and dead in his trespasses. This enslavement comes by crushing imposition for whenever the law encounters man so comes with it despair and death.



This brings up the question – is the conflict between God and the devil still recognized by modern man? I am told by Christians older that I, that forty of fifty years ago Pastors seldom preached about the devil, his work, lies, and deceptions. At this time modern man was in full flight, with an unprecedented optimism in human reason and science to discern the great mysteries of the universe. Psychopathic therapy was exegeting the origins of fear and evil in the inner recesses of the brain. Experiencing wrath and affliction became a mental illness to be cured through talk therapy and group sessions. Post-modern man, with all his confusion may be better positioned to recognize the supernatural warring factions of God and the devil. Preaching demands that the called and ordained Pastor speak clearly and honestly about the work of Satan, who accusses and afflicts the human conscience, seeking to convince them that they lie outside of the arena of God’s gifts – forgiveness of sin and life and salvation. Post modern man, I believe, is more open to considering the demonic and the supernatural, and therefore also the great mysteries and inexplicable treasures of the church.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Michael,

    As a reply, I will let this be a brief ‘Annotated Book List’. Although I cannot generalise from my childhood church, but on this side of the pond, there were ‘populist’ books of the time like ‘Christian Answers About Doctrine’ [John Eddison .Scripture Union]. Interestingly, it was on your side of the pond, forty years ago, that Philip Rieff wrote ‘The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud’ – and he was not writing from a Christian perspective!

    Whereas you have followed Wingren here with one of his emphases, the continuing struggle between God and Devil, what is pertinent is what is not inferred in your mention of ‘enslavement to sin’ - Original Sin. May I suggest reading ‘Fideism and Skepticism during the Renaissance: Three Major Witnesses Author(s)’ [Robert Hoopes. The Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Aug., 1951)]. In reading about Wingren , who, in following the Lutheran division of Law and Gospel does not see the Law as reflecting God – whereas Judaism and Calvinism do –but as related to the creation of the world, I have found the comments by ‘alutheranbeggar’ [alutheranbeggar.blogspot.com/2008/11/gustaf-wingren-creation-vocation-and.html] insightful and helpful. On this point of Judaism and Calvinism seeing the Law reflected in God, I understand that Wingren “attack[ed the] Swedish New Testament scholarship which gave the biblical basis for this type of [High Church] ecclesiology and for the opposition to women ministers. He thought this was based in what he considered the Judaizing character of New Testament scholarship, which made Jesus and the early church much too Jewish, instead of stressing the contrasts between Jesus and Judaism. This construction of Israel and Judaism as the negative other in relationship to the gospel is constitutive of Wingren’s Lutheranism” [‘A Century of Swedish Theology’. Arne Rasmusson. Lutheran Quarterly. Volume XXI Number 2 Summer 2007].

    Christ the Jew Is Risen,

    Peter

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