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Friday, March 20, 2009

Freedom and Grace

Freedom and grace seem to me to be two of the most difficult things for human beings to live with.


Jonathan Erdman said...

It seems like people are willing to fight for these things. For example, the Modern era is full of political struggles and killing in the name of freedom, and religions have fought to defend doctrines of graces. However, it is so truly rare that people actually live in light of freedom and grace--that freedom and grace are truly present and evident.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Perhaps this is because it is far easier to conceptualize these things than it is for them to be embeded in our every context and situation.

Rich said...


"Perhaps this is because it is far easier to conceptualize these things than it is for them to be embeded in our every context and situation."

But Bro, don't you get it, in the beginning was the Concept, and the Concept was with God and the Concept was God!

Words are synonymous with so many things that have an appearance of truth, substance but in fact apart from revelation, at best they are things that keep the Matrix of religion doing what it does best, establishing a "form of godliness" with a total lack of dunimus-power to fully form His likeness and image in us as us!

I so love the Christ I see living out as Jonathan..be enriched in the unfathomable depths of His love for you today my friend!

Jonathan Erdman said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Rich!

john doyle said...

I don't think the financial sector has any difficulty with these concepts, Erdman. Freedom = unregulated wheeling-and-dealing; grace = government bailouts and million-dollar bonuses.

Jonathan Erdman said...



No kidding.

Have we found some political common ground?

Jason Hesiak said...

doyle - that was funny!

rich - do you live in los angeles? cuz lol you sound exactly like my friends from there!

Javetta said...

This was simply but powerfully stated...

Rich said...


I live in Stratford Ontario Ca na da... eh! :)

Kevin Winters said...

I think part of this is because we see freedom and grace as something that must be bestowed on us, as something to be 'had', whether inalienable or culturally bestowed (for the two extremes). We can only be 'free' when such and such external conditions come about, like being able to do what we want when we want, when we have money enough to do the former, when we are suffering-free, etc. We can't even fathom being free in an oppressive society, when in prison, or in poverty. Perhaps this orientation is an escape from a more fundamental and infinitely more worthwhile 'freedom'.

Similarly, and I realize this may be the most controversial of my two positions, we see 'sin' as something that is imposed on us, perhaps by some supernatural being (Satan), by some innate nature (original sin), or by blaming others (not taking responsibility for our sins/weaknesses/the suffering we cause others). Since the causes of our sin are external, so must the grace. By not seeing (and I'm taking an explicitly Buddhist approach here) that the causes of our 'sins' are our habitual grasping, aversion, and ignorance towards phenomena/things/people, we wait for some external being to deliver us from our suffering and weaknesses.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head...my two pesos.

Jonathan Erdman said...


I'm wondering about something......could you explain how original sin is something "external" or "imposed on us"???

My understanding of sin from my days of being evangelical is that there is a deep sense that sin is a very "internal" problem requiring an external solution. The idea is that we are culpable for our sin and helpless to save ourselves, which then requires some external justification and regeneration. This is certainly a formula I have been questioning and re-thinking, and I also have wondered about the "inner" vs. "external" sense, but I have always thought of traditional Christianity as interpreting "sin" as an "internal" issue.

Jonathan Erdman said...


By way of clarification, I'm not trying to put you on the defensive as much as just trying to understand what you are getting at, b/c I think I may be thinking along similar lines.

Kevin Winters said...

No defensiveness at all! It was relatively cryptic, so more elaboration is definitely needed.

There are a handful of senses in which original sin can be taken to be an external problem: (1) we did not 'decide' to inherit this attribute, but it is 'forced' on us by a Creator due to the actions and choices of two of our descendents. (2) Our fallen nature 'forces' us to sin, insofar as not sinning is not in our power due to our fallen nature. (3) I have yet to hear a good theological reason why God could not have made us like himself, morally impecable (as that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-conceived it seems to be the case that having an impecable nature is 'better' than not having one). (4) Not only are the causes of our sin out of our control, but the solution is likewise.

While I'll admit that not all of these have the same strength, the one thing that they have in common is that they are all out of our control, are not chosen by us, and essentially cannot be chosen (or rejected) by us. Inasmuch as the suffering that is the result of our sin is personal, yes, it may be called 'inner' in some sense (as much as I don't like the inner-outer distinction). However, every other element of our fallen nature is imposed on us and as such are 'external'.

At least that's my thinking. :o)

Jonathan Erdman said...

So, your point if I understand it correctly, is to view both "sin" (fallenness, etc.) and "grace" as something that is more under our own control. Freedom and grace are within?

How does this relate to a Heideggerian view of Dasein? That we are contextual, not just Cartesian brains/souls that can disconnect from context in order to find truth, objectively find a foundation, or look within for freedom and grace.

Kevin Winters said...

Yeah, that seems about right: our fallen nature is something that is imposed on us and that we are completely and essentially impotent in relation to changing, so it does seem to have an 'external' feel to it. While this argument and what I'm proposing as a possible alternative certainly contradicts any substitutionary theory of atonement, I do believe what is sometimes called the moral theory of atonement could still fit. For myself, the objectifying of sin, both as something that 'stays with us' and needs to be 'payed off' by another and, as its basis, as a fallen nature, has never made any sense.

Kevin Winters said...

Oh, I forgot about your question about Heidegger: I really don't know how it fits in. That sin is contextual and sinful action is a way of being-in-the-world might open up the space wherein not sinning is in our power: that sin is not acting appropriately in the context, perhaps in a phronetic grasp of the context (as a virtue ethic). Sinful action also wouldn't be an essential element of our fallen nature and, as such, it infects all of our actions, intentions, and such. Rather, it would a question of how (not a stark what of brute existence), a quality of our action, our way of relating with things that requires such categories as tempo, timing, degree of investment, amount of attention, etc.

Again, this isn't very well thought out on my part, but it does seem to be heading in the right direction.