Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Christian as Ethical Agent

"We do not have the option to choose whether to exalt or abase ourselves, whether to save our lives or lose them, whether to take up our cross or to leave it, whether to hate our enemies or to love them, whether to accept suffering in the discipleship of Christ. We are not - to use one of Barth's favorite images - Hercules at the crossroads with a liberum arbitrium. There is no general principle or symbol of the cross about which we can deliberate and choose. Instead, we stand under the sign and direction of the cross because that cross is the cross of Jesus Christ and because God in Jesus Christ stood there first, in obedience and humility. We stand there because Jesus Christ is both the subject and the object of the election of God and because we are elect in him. Moreover, this existence under the cross is, for Barth, not a yoke of servitude that the Christian must bear because God wills it. It represents rather God's call 'into the freedom of the children of God, into a following of the freedom and the work in which God Himself is God.' It is only because Jesus Christ is the electing and elected Son of God who suffers and dies in love and freedom and obedience and humility that we are 'called and empowered in fellowship with Him to choose the humility which is natural to the children of God'."

- Paul Nimmo, "Barth and the Christian as Ethical Agent" in Commanding Grace, 237.

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