Thursday, August 02, 2007

Some more quotes from "Grace in Practice":

"It is crucial to examine the human will...Is the human will an engine for self-help? To put it classically, is the will free or is it bound? To preface this survey of the will, we have to admit that traditional Christian theology is swimming upstream against the surrounding culture. Traditional Christian theology, Catholic and Protestant, rooted as it is in the pessimism of Paul and the radical pessimism of Augustine, understands the will as bound, not free. Everyone else today understand the will to be free. For American people, this is almost a point of personal honor." (p. 103)

"If the will is free, then we do not need someone to save us. We may need a helper, but we do not need a savior. We may scan the horizon for 'a little help from my friends' (lennon/mccartney), but basically life is a matter of 'God helps those who help themselves.' This theology disagrees entirely with that concept of life." (p. 104)

"If you believe in people's free will, you will always judge them when they 'choose' wrongly -- or, as we say today, when they make 'poor choices'. If you understand, however, that these people are not free in their will, then you are able to summon some compassion in your dealings with them. One of the reasons we need to embrace the fact of the un-free will is for the sake of its effect on love... The relation of the un-free will to compassion is that the un-free will enables compassion. You can see this in the various sorts of Christianity encountered in the world. Forms of Christianity that stress free will create refugees. They get into the business of judging, and especially of judging Christians." (pp. 108-109)

"'Free will' creates judgement creates rejections creates flight. The un-free will creates sympathy creates mercy comfort creates change. Actually, there is only despair and hatred in the concept of free will. There is hope and mercy in the concept of the un-free will." (p. 110)


Anonymous said...

I think this book is great! I just read through those pages and the deeply rooted law side of me was uprooted. It might have helped that I also watched Half Nelson last night and thought it a great illustration of the un-free will. Paul Zahl (your father?) is going to be speaking at my church soon and I can't wait.

John Zahl said...

Dear Anon,

I'm so glad you commented! As far as I'm concerned, the experience you descibe is the whole purpose of this blog. Thanks for sharing! Yes, he's my dad, ...and he's much funnier in person too (i.e., not just physically). I'll check out Half Nelson, btw; it's in my netflix queue.

xxx & <><, John

Bonnie said...

Last night Simeon and I shared a moment of recognizing our un-free wills, and for the first time in like, 3 months, I (genuinely) wanted to pray!