-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lutheran Quote of the Day: Forell on Unbelief and Sin

"Man's predicament is that he who was created by the love of God to trust in God lives in unbelief and distrust. Pride in relationship to God is unbelief: we do not even believe that he is God. We live as if there were no God. And yet somehow we know that we are not really alone, that we are not merely whistling in the dark. Somehow we know that we are not really the Atlas that carries the universe. Somehow we know that we are not the masters of our fate or the captains of our soul. God is all about us. In him we live and move and have our being--and yet we do not believe. Theologically speaking, unbelief is the basic sin, the ultimate sin: unbelief in the love of God in the very face of this love; unbelief in death in the very face of death; and unbelief in the judgment of God in the very face of his judgment.

"Man looked at from the point of view of revelation looks far different from the man we discussed philosophically and religiously so far. In the light of revelation, man is incurably ill. His disease is sin, the "sickness unto death." It is a disease which he has contracted voluntarily but which he cannot get rid of voluntarily. It is a disease that affects and corrupts everything he does but above all a disease that separates him from his Creator and condemns him to meaninglessness and hopelessness. The disease creates many outward signs. We could mention the tradition capital vices as examples--pride, envy, anger, covetousness, sloth, gluttony, and lust. But theologically speaking, we must say all these characteristics of the disease are expressions of one basic trouble--the chief sin from which all others descend is unbelief. It is because man does not believe in God that he cannot live a meaningful life. As long as unbelief rule men's hearts the Christian life is impossible. It is unbelief which separates man from God, unbelief which brings him into judgment, unbelief that dooms him for all eternity. Man created in God's image becomes through unbelief a caricature. Created to reveal God's love, he chooses to reveal God's wrath and judgment."
-George W. Forell, Ethics of Decision (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1955), 78-79.

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