Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Christians and "2nd Amendment Rights"

Teaching today on existentialism, so read this passage to a group of undergrads.

Is it my imagination?  Or could this say something about Christians who insist on their "2nd Amendment Rights"?

St Paul sees that the life of man is weighed down by anxiety (μεριμναν, I Cor. 7.32ff.). Every man focuses his anxiety upon some particular object. The natural man focuses it upon security, and in proportion to his opportunities and his success in the visible sphere he places his “confidence” in the “flesh” (Phil. 3.3f.), and the consciousness of security finds its expression in “glorying” (καυχασθαι).
Such a pursuit is, however, incongruous with man’s real situation, for the fact is that he is not secure at all. Indeed, this is the way in which he loses his true life and becomes the slave of that very sphere which he had hoped to master, and which he hoped would give him security. Whereas hitherto he might have enjoyed the world as God’s creation, it has now become “this world”, the world in revolt against God. This is the way in which the “powers” which dominate human life come into being, and as such they acquire the character of mythical entities. Since the visible and tangible sphere is essentially transitory, the man who bases his life on it becomes the prisoner and slave of corruption. An illustration of this may be seen in the way our attempts to secure visible security for ourselves bring us into collision with others; we can seek security for ourselves only at their expense. Thus on the one hand we get envy, anger, jealousy, and the like, and on the other compromise, bargainings, and adjustments of conflicting interests. This creates an all-pervasive atmosphere which controls all our judgements; we all pay homage to it and take it for granted. Thus man becomes the slave of anxiety (Rom. 8.15). Everybody tries to hold fast to his own life and property, because he has a secret feeling that it is all slipping away from him.

The Life of Faith
The authentic life, on the other hand, would be a life based on unseen, intangible realities. Such a life means the abandonment of all self-contrived security. This is what the New Testament means by “life after the Spirit” or “life in faith”.
For this life we must have faith in the grace of God. It means faith that the unseen, intangible reality actually confronts us as love, opening up our future and signifying not death but life.
The grace of God means the forgiveness of sin, and brings deliverance from the bondage of the past. The old quest for visible security, the hankering after tangible realities, and the clinging to transitory objects, is sin, for by it we shut out invisible reality from our lives and refuse God’s future which comes to us as a gift. But once we open our hearts to the grace of God, our sins are forgiven; we are released from the past. This what is meant by “faith”: to open ourselves freely to the future. But at the same time faith involves obedience, for faith means turning our backs on self and abandoning all security. It means giving up every attempt to carve out a niche in life for ourselves, surrendering all our self-confidence, and resolving to trust in God alone, in the God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1.9) and who calls the things that are not into being (Rom. 4.17). It means a radical self-commitment to God in the expectation that everything will come from him and nothing from ourselves. Such a life spells deliverance from all worldly, tangible objects, leading to complete detachment from the world and thus to freedom.

Rudolf Bultmann, “The New Testament and Mythology,” in Kerygma and Myth (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961), 18-20.

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