Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gerhard Forde on Sanctification:

from "Christian Spirituality"--

(pp. 31-32) "But if we are saved and sanctified only by the unconditional grace of God, we ought to be able to become more truthful and lucid about the way things really are with us. Am I making progress? If I am really honest, it seems to me that the question is odd, even a little rediculous. As I get older and death draws nearer, it doesn't seem to get any easier. I get a little more impatient, a little more anxious about having perhaps missed what this life has to offer, a little slower, harder to move, a little more sedentary and set in my ways. It seems more and more unjust to me that now that I have spent a good part of my life 'getting to the top,' and I seem just about to have made it, I am already slowing down, already on the way out. A skiing injury from when I was sixteen years old acts up if I overexert myself. I am too heavy, the doctors tell me, but it is so hard to lose weight! Am I making progress? Well, maybe it seems as though I sin less, but that may only be because I'm getting tired! It's just too hard to keep indulging the lusts of youth. Is that sanctification? I wouldn't think so! One should not, I expect, mistake encroaching senility for sanctification! "But can it be, perhaps, that it is precisely the unconditional gift of grace that helps me to see and admit all that? I hope so. The grace of God should lead us to see the truth about ourselves, and to gain a certain lucidity, a certain humor, a certain down-to-earthness."


Anonymous said...

Seen this way, isn't this powerful theological grounding for encouraging homosexuals to come out of the closet and live truthfully, so long as they're willing to recognize themselves as filthy degenerate sinners with no hope of salvation or obedient living (not that it matters, in terms of salvation, anyway)? Why should the church care if anyone is sinning? We're all sinners, no matter how hard we try, no matter how old we become.

What is the basis (if any) for Christian moral teaching? It's not salvific, we all agree. What is the point?

John Zahl said...

Please read John Stamper's comments from April 25th.

Ethanasius said...

Gerhard Forde is so helpful here, because unlike many (even in the Reformational traditions) he understands that the Gospel actually relates to Christian people--even in their so-called Sanctification (most of the biblical material concerning this topic suggests that we are already sanctified in Christ). It is the Gospel and not the Law which allows and enables a rigorous honesty (which means naming sin as sin, not justifying one's urges) and actually produces the fruit of 'sanctified' living. Forde is wonderful on this topic, helpfully showing that sanctification is not something added to the Gospel, but just the deepening of the reality of Justification. So good, and so freeing...and so sanctifying!

Anonymous said...

So what is sanctification? I know it's the process of becoming holier, but what does that mean? I always thought it was loving more, or perhaps more accurately, letting God's love flow through you more. But a friend of mine described sanctification as the process of sinning less. Does Luther believe that Sanctification happens all at one time?

And, it seems like there's a thin line between letting God work through you and just being apathetic. Though in theory these two are polar, in practice they seem much closer together. I mean, it's not like God's going to work through you they way Patrick Swayze worked through Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost (though that'd be totally sweet!!). So what distinguishes letting go and letting God from just letting go? Just a couple of hurried thoughts.

trevor said...

Ethanasius' reading of Forde says that sanctification is "the deepening of the reality of Justification." I think this is the "lucidity" Forde talks about in the last sentence of the excerpt.

You know, I try all the time to just "let go and let God" but over and over again it feels that I am just "letting go". I don't think it's possible to prepare yourself for God. I'm never ready and I'm certainly never able (to receive, to be changed, to be convicted, etc). But it's precisely that state where God is needed. So really, I'm ALWAYS ready.

And if we believe in Grace, the burden falls on the one who is righteous, and it did, with the Cross. The reason why the theology John continues to present on this blog is not Antinomian is because where there is real Grace, change does occur, and love does flow. The most truly loving and merciful Christians I know are not the ones preoccupied with "sanctification" or Christian values and ethics, but with their undeservedness of God's favor. And what's really important...your first post admits that "we're all sinners, no matter how hard we try"...so are we gonna be concerned with a leading a "clean" life, or with gaining awareness of how unable we truly are, and how amazing Grace really is. And this is where the important external stuff seems to happen, like loving people who are continuously judged by the world's action-reward system. Only a person who is aware that they are underserving of so great a gift can in turn empathize and maybe even love someone who the world would call a fuck-up.

I don't really know. This is where the word "sanctification" turns my thoughts. A church that shames a person for his or her sins, that rebukes a person for "falling astray", is only making things worse by impeding on that "lucidity" about the way things really are. Only Jesus means anything, because with Him and in Him is found radical love and freedom. Otherwise it's just the same bullshit we get from the world- from our deceitful hearts.

Jeff Dean said...

Is it untrue that grace assists us in our attempts to keep the Law out of love for Christ?

What about those of us who do wish to respond somehow in holiness?

trevor said...

Yes, I think it is untrue. It seems that all of our “attempts to keep the Law” are inherently sinful and are never actually “out of love for Christ.” Grace is a gift. Where there is forethought to responding to that gift, we are being assisted by vanity. No Law is kept. Any time I may be doing or thinking something in line with God’s Law, I’m probably not aware of it, because the Holy Spirit was going to work before I had the time to think about it and fuck it up.

And if we are made holy in God’s sight by the blood of Jesus, through faith, then what does responding in holiness even mean? God has already declared us holy, so what do we have to offer to Him?

Jeff Dean said...

Well perhaps then I'm moving toward Calvin, because I can't fathom not attempting to walk in the light.

trevor said...

I'm not a studied theologian so I don't claim to represent the Lutheran view or anything. But my response is this:

Are we not walking in light by the very nature of Grace? Is the work of Jesus not powerful enough to save and to keep us in Him?

John Zahl said...

Hey Mr. / Mrs. / Miss "Anonymous",

If you don't have anything nice to say, then don' say anything at all!

And no more "Anonymous" comments will be allowed on John Camp. I will delete them on principle.

--John Zahl

Anonymous said...

Sanctify them by Your Truth.Your word is Truth. John17:17
I have had exsperince of seeking a church that say they believe in sanctifcation.But do not know what that is.Many come into the plain that they count thier self moralistic rightousness for being sanctified.People come up with these rules to live by.And thats not what God had in mind when he wanted his people to be sancitifed.Sanctification gives realization to knowledge of God and understnading.which grace goes along with this process of santification.- responding to a comment of "anonymous" on homosexuality.I have to say that many who are in this place have no knowledge of the harmony of God and natural design of his creation.They are not sanctified by truth.And not given the opprotunity to know the things of God and know what his divine truth is.Something to value.With grace comes an open pathway to the knowledge of God to pass through.God has only spoken through his prophets .Which the world deny.God is the sanctifyer and He sanctifies by his chosen.Yes the homosexual is debase but so is the one who have not the knowledge to sanctify them.to be light is to be a vessel of truth.Gods truth.Everyone seems to have rules for their own idealism.Idealism? But wheres the knowledge.when society has put blinders on us. Don't seek to understand just do. Sanctification gives knowledge of HIs Truth when in wrong.Gives understanding.Sanctification is nothing without love.Love hurts but Love does not murder.Love will not murder love.Love is truth.Love is knowledge.Love is understanding.Love is GOD.Sanctification.I don't think I have ever met anyone who carries the light of sanctification.Everytime I encouter a church that claims sanctification.(Which sacnification brings RIGHTOUS judgement.Sanctification of the chosen will convict .The Holy Spirit ,the Word of Truth.Is Gods' and His servants are sanctifyers.)But when I encouter this doctrine. I come into the problem of seperation.We are and you aren't. The biggest abusers of the bible.Who put themselves in their own positions,with their own moralistic rules and rituals.That actually blind people into a spirit of stupor. Sanctification as one matures in Christ.Is going to cause your heart to thrive to clean house. It doesn't cause one to pick out wo is good enough and who isn't. Why clean a place where they think thier house is already clean. And Jesus said .It'll be harder for you to enter