Monday, March 17, 2008

"Of course God will forgive me; that's his job."

Of course God will forgive me; that's his job.
The above quote is attributed to German poet and journalist Heinriche Heine (1797-1856). He supposedly gave this answer when a priest asked him on his deathbed if he thought God would forgive him for his sin.
There is a modern ring to the defiant quote. Most, it seems, view it as God's job, God's obligation even to forgive. We want a God of grace, but not a God of wrath. A God of mercy, but not of justice. A God of heaven, but not of hell.
The Christian concept of forgiveness of sins is not merely wiping the slate clean. It is not mere expiation but propitiation. It involves God's wrath being satisfied in the death of Christ on the cross.
"Yet is pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief" (Isaiah 53:10a).
"He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11a).
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).


Rev. said...

Huge difference between humble dependence and presumption, eh?

Wes said...

I love this. John Stott unpacks this concept perfectly in chapters 4 and 5 of The Cross of Christ.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Thanks for the comments. I've not read Stott's book but I'll look for this if I do. I have been trying to trace down the original source for this anecdote. I think it might be in Freud. If anyone knows the original source, let me know.

Unknown said...

I recommend John Stott's, "The Cross of Christ" to you all. It is an awesome book. He examines all sorts of issues from many sides, letting people he disagrees with "speak" in the book using their own words (and he's not adverse to saying that he agrees with this viewpoint of a person while disagreeing with him on many others). He presents an excellent orthodoxy in a way that shows its relevance to modern society.