THE CHRISTIAN QUOTATION OF THE DAY
Christ, our Light
Saturday, February 28, 2004

All theological language is necessarily analogical, but it was singularly unfortunate that the Church, in speaking of punishment for sin, should have chosen the analogy of criminal law, for the analogy is incompatible with the Christian belief in God as the creator of Man.
Criminal laws are laws-for, imposed on men, who are already in existence, with or without their consent, and, with the possible exception of capital punishment for murder, there is no logical relation between the nature of a crime and the penalty inflicted for committing it.
If God created man, then the laws of man’s spiritual nature must, like the laws of his physical nature, be laws-of—laws, that is to say, which he is free to defy but no more free to break than he can break the law of gravity by jumping out of the window, or the laws of biochemistry by getting drunk—and the consequences of defying them must be as inevitable and as intrinsically related to their nature as a broken leg or a hangover.
To state spiritual laws in the imperative—Thou shalt love God with all thy being, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself—is simply a pedagogical technique, as when a mother says to her small son, “Stay away from the window!” because the child does not yet know what will happen if he falls out of it.
... W. H. Auden (1907-1973), A Certain World, London: Faber and Faber, 1971, p. 180-181 (see the book; see also Deut. 6:4-5; Rom. 7:14-23; 8:1-2; Gal. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:11; more at Freedom, God, Knowledge, Law, Love, Man, Nature, Punishment, Sin, Theology)

 
Compilation Copyright, 1996-2019, by Robert McAnally Adams,
        Curator, Christian Quotation of the Day,
        with Robert Douglas, principal contributor
Logo image Copyright 1996 by Shay Barsabe, of “Simple GIFs”, by kind permission.
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Last updated: 02/02/17

 

 



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