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Posts tagged "Gerhard Forde"


The Logic of Grace and the Exclusivity of Meaning

I was a bit surprised, reading Bulfinch’s Mythology yesterday, to discover an interesting ‘allegorizing’ move in the Greek myth of a river-god, Achelous, losing his horn. Hercules and Achelous, the story goes, were wrestling for the right to wed Dejanira, a beautiful woman. Achelous transforms into various creatures, including a snake, in his attempt to best […]

Gerhard Forde on What Matters

From the brilliant Gerhard Forde’s sermon on Galatians 6, found in his work on the Captivation of the Will:

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.

-Galatians 6:15-16

Captivation-of-the-Will-Forde-Gerhard-O-9780802829061“The God of all grace and mercy whose intention it is to relate to us through faith and trust has (you might say) two big problems with us – both of which destroy the relationship God purposes.

One is quite obvious. It is the problem designated by ‘uncircumcision,’ or the problem of our lawlessness, our existence among the lesser breeds without the law, our immorality and waywardness and heedlessness, even our temptation to boast in it. We are all aware enough of such things to acknowledge the problem and to recognize that it destroys faith and trust.

But the other problem is more subtle, and mostly hidden from us, especially at this place. It is really the main one that Paul wrestles with in his letters. It is the problem of the ‘circumcision,’ the problem of our lawfulness, our morality, our holiness, our so-called sanctification, our do-it-yourself religions, and all of that. What we don’t see is that the ‘circumcision’ destroys the relationship of faith and trust as surely as the ‘uncircumcision.’

So now God has acted finally in this very proclamation by his apostles to have his way with us. God has taken the whole business out of our hands. Neither your lawlessness nor your lawfulness, you immorality nor your morality, your unholiness nor your holiness – none of it matters a bit now, but a new creation. Indeed, in most radical fashion, Paul announces not only that it no longer matters but that it is now exposed as sin! ‘The scripture consigned all things – good and bad! – to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.’ ‘Whatever is not of faith is sin’ (Gal 3:22; Rom 14:23). All escape routes shut down. There is nothing to be done now but just listen. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision count for anything, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule.”

Gerhard Forde Won’t Mistake Senility for Sanctification

From pages 31-32 of his unforgettable contribution to Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification: “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 […]

Disgruntled Millennials and Theology of the Cross

It’s hard to talk about millennials without feeling the same confusion as Whit Stillman’s post-college prep, Des McGrath, over the term “yuppie”, ht DZ: Des McGrath: Do yuppies even exist? No one says, “I am a yuppie,” it’s always the other guy who’s a yuppie. I think for a group to exist, somebody has to […]

Forde on the Bound (Religious) Will and Freedom

From Gerhard Forde’s Where God Meets Man, one of the most grace-packed bits of Lutheran theology out there, despite the retro cover design:

197424“It is in this theology of old versus new that we can see, finally, the reason for Luther’s formulation of the problem of bondage and freedom. The old Adam is totally bound. No compromise is possible with him. To allow him a ‘little bit’ of freedom is to open the doors to the whole sticky attempt to combine grace with his fraudulent spiritual ambitions. It is to bind man to his self-imposed legalisms and reduce God to his helper. It is to reintroduce the insipid piety of the ‘little bit.’ There is absolutely no way to cure this old Adam, no way to allow him into the picture. He is ‘totally depraved.’ He must die. And that is just what the Gospel means. The cross and resurrection sounds his death knell. Almighty God moves onto the scene to reclaim his own.

And so the gospel is the announcement and realization of total freedom. It is not a matter of little bits. God moves in Christ to raise up a new man – a completely free man – not just to do a partial repair job. When the old Adam is put to death one is set free from bondage to spiritual ambition, legalism, and tyranny. And Luther, for one, meant this quite literally. One is absolutely free. It is a total state.”

“We Rap About What We See, Meaning Reality”: The Prophetic Voice of Hip-Hop

“A theologian of the cross says what a thing is. In modern parlance: a theologian of the cross calls a spade a spade. One who ‘looks on all things through suffering and the cross’ is constrained to speak the truth…it will see precisely that the cross and the resurrection itself is the only answer to […]

Dead Faith and Learning to Sing Lullabies

An amazing portion from one of Gerhard Forde’s ‘responses’ in the Five Views of Sanctification book: I think that most of our talk about [sanctification] represents the bad conscience of the old (moral or immoral!) being who has not really been put to death and so is worried because salvation as a free gift seems […]

Adrian Peterson’s Theology of Glory (and Why It’s Unhelpful)

Perhaps you know the story: Adrian Peterson, who suffered from an injury that was to alter his career (tearing his ACL), returned the next year and had such a good season that he was named the NFL’s most valuable player. Players who tear their ACL usually don’t bounce back very well or very quickly, let […]

Tiger Woods: Theologian of Glory

Tiger Woods’ new ad campaign (or, more accurately, Nike’s new ad campaign featuring Tiger Woods) is making the rounds. Featuring Woods staring down a put, the tagline is “Winning Takes Care of Everything,” a quote attributed to “Tiger Woods, World #1.” There has been much debate about the taste level of this ad, seeing as […]

Grace in Addiction: Stanley Runs Into Barbed Wire

Continuing with our series of previews of our recent publication Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody, here’s a section from the chapter having to do with Step 7, i.e. “Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.” An important part of parenting comes when the parent makes a mistake. Perhaps tempers […]

The Mighty Breakup: Conditional Calculations, Unconditional Promises and the Beginning of New Life

Alrighty kids, time for another dynamite portion of Gerhard Forde’s dynamite essay in Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification. I assure you that the 35th anniversary of Rumours this week is purely coincidental:  Justification by faith alone, without the deeds of the law, is a mighty breakup of the ordinary schemes of morality and religions; […]

Lance Armstrong Redeems…Lance Armstrong?

As I write this (Wednesday, January 16), Oprah Winfrey has confirmed that, in an exclusive interview taped on Monday to air on Thursday, Lance Armstrong has admitted to the use of performance enhancing drugs. At this point, this is a total snore. With the baseball writers’ recent decision to not vote a single player into […]