Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Newbigin on sin

"God who created man in his own image has placed in every man and in every race the mark of his origin. There is written deep and in every man's conscience the knowledge that he is not his own, that he is accountable to another and that the claim of that other is one that cannot be weighed against anything else.
Here we meet the self-contradiction that is the measure of man's sin. Man estranged from God, has yet the witness to God in his heart. He seeks to build upon that edifice of his religion and his morals. St Paul has shown us once for all how, in the sphere of morals, this effort to obey God's law leads not to union with God but to estrangement. The further the effort is pressed the greater the estrangement. The fundamental law is love to God. Man made in God's image is made to love God, to love him with a love which is a free spontaneous response to God's love to him. But man fallen into self-love apprehends God's love as a demand challenging his obedience. The effort to meet that challenge drives him deeper into the mire of self-love because his very effort is centered in a self-alienated from the source of love. Love can never be achieved - it can only be received and then given back."
(A Faith for this One World, Lesslie Newbigin, 73)

[Photo: Lesslie Newbigin, 1909-1998.]