Nurturing Spirituality

 

oldtruck2Below is an excerpt from the essay "Shopkeeper's Gold", by the Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf. I first heard about this writer via Tim Keller, in his book, Generous Justice.

Could the hope for the inner cities lie in part in the retrieval of the doctrine of justification by grace? How could dead streets receive life from a dead doctrine? Imagine that you have no job, no money, you live cut off from the rest of society in a world ruled by poverty and violence, your skin is the "wrong" color - and you have no hope that any of this will change.

 

Around you is a society governed by the iron law of achievement. Its gilded goods are flaunted before your eyes on TV screens, and in a thousand ways society tells you every day that you are worthless because you have no achievements. You are a failure, and you you know that you will continue to be a failure because there is no way for you to achieve tomorrow what you have not managed to achieve today. Your dignitiy is shattered and your soul is enveloped in the darkness of depair.

But the gospel tells you that you are not defined by outside forces. It tells you that you count - even more, that you are loved unconditionally and infinitely, irrespective of anything you have achieved or failed to achieve, even that you are loved a tad bit more than those whose efforts have been crowned with success.

 

Imagine now this gospel not simply proclaimed but embodied in a community that has emerged not as a "result of works" (Eph. 2.10). Justified by sheer grace, it seeks to "justify" by grace those whoa re made "unjust" by society's implacable law of achievement. Imagine furhtermore this community determined to infuse the wider culture, along with its political and economic institutions, with the message that it seeks to embody and proclaim. This is justification by grace, proclaimed and pacticed. A dead doctrine? Hardly.

As I was reflecting on the social significance of justication by grace, I remembered a passage from Nietzsche's Thus spoke Zarathustra ... "O my brothers, I direct and consecrate you to a new nobility: you shall become begetters and cultivators and sowers of the future - truly, not a nobility that you could buy like shopkeepers with shopkeepers gold: for all that has a price is of little value."

Justification by grace, I thought, musing on Nietzsche's profound observation, is so deeply at odds with our "shopkeeper's culture". It takes the price tags off human beings not so as to devalue them but so as to give them their proper dignity, a dignity not based on what they have achieved but rooted in the sheer fact that they are loved unconditionally by God. Divine love is that indispensable nourishment for the human soul of which the prophet speaks when he calls, "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters: and you that have no money come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (Isa. 55:1)

http://stranzblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/miroslav-volf-on-justification-by-grace.html

Nurturing Audio & Video

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10

Reflections to Consider

  • 1

Nurturing Publications

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17

Publications

  • 1

Nurturing Music

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Music

  • River of Love

    There's a river of love that runs through all timeBut there's a river of grief that floods through our livesIt Read More
  • I Am Nothing

    I stutter when I tryTo speak the language of lifeI want to shout out loudBut I just cry insideSometimes it Read More
  • 1

Nurturing Reflection

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24

Audio & Video

  • 1

Favorites

  • Transforming this World: The Hope of Glory by NT Wright +

    Wright confronts the perspective that this world doesn’t matter, and that we live only to be in heaven. He shows Read More
  • What is Good in a World that Defies Hope: a talk by NT Wright +

    This is the second part of three talks by NT Wright at Harvard University in November, 2008 on the topic Read More
  • The Stream, the Lake and the River: NT Wright +

      Acts 2.1-21; John 7.37-39; a sermon at the Eucharist on the Feast of Pentecost, 11 May 2008, by the Read More
  • Jesus in the Perfect Storm by NT Wright +

    Zechariah 9.9-17; Luke 19.28-48; A sermon for Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011, In the University Chapel of St Salvator, St Read More
  • 1

Hidden Blessings

  • Christ is a Great Savior: a review of the movie Amazing Grace +

    Amazing Grace is a historical drama about William Wilberforce who was elected to British Parliament at the age of 21 Read More
  • Wilberforce, Hollywood's Amazing Grace, Charlotte Allen +

    William Wilberforce's relentless campaign eventually led the British Parliament to ban the slave trade, in 1807, and to pass a Read More
  • Making Beauty out of Ugly Things: Grace by U2 +

    Grace, she takes the blame She covers the shame Removes the stain It could be her name Grace, she carries Read More
  • The True Nature of Grace and Love: a movie review of the Soloist +

    The 2009 movie The Soloist is based on a book by the same name, written by Los Angeles Times columnist Read More
  • 1