Sunday, February 21, 2016

C.H. Dodd and the Quote of the Day

I was reading through the great C.H. Dodd's little book, Gospel and Law: The Relations of Faith and Ethics in Early Christianity (Bampton Lectures; Columbia University; 1950) and ran across this gem of a quote regarding judgment, repentance, and ethical behavior in light of the Kingdom of God:

C.H. Dodd (1884-1973)
'Give to everyone who asks.' 'Turn the other cheek.' 'Leave father and mother, wife and children, and hate your own soul.' 'If your hand or eye is leading you astray, cut it off and cast it away.' 'Never worry about food or drink. The morrow will look after itself.' The one thing that all such sayings enforce is the unlimited scope of God's commands. They leave no room for complacency. It is impossible to be satisfied with ourselves, when we try our conduct by these standards; and yet, since God is here in His Kingdom, these standards are obligatory. It is put briefly in the maxim: 'When you have done every thing say, 'We are unprofitable servants: we have only done our duty' (Luke 17:10). Such sayings as these invite us to recognize how far away from God's demands our best has been. They provide an objective standard for self-criticism. In other words, they bring home God's judgment upon us. To accept this judgment is the first step in what the New Testament calls 'repentance.' 
...The precepts of Christ, then, in judging us, expose our need for forgiveness and throw us back on the inexhaustable mercy of God which offers such forgiveness. Forgiveness is clearly not merely a balm to the uneasy conscience; it is the actual creative power of God coming in His kingdom, released for action when men accept His judgment and repent; and it opens up unlimited possibilities to the enterprise of the repentant and forgiven sinner. (61-2; italics mine).

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