“Unconditional redemption” means no price to pay

Gil Bailie quotes Benedict XVI:

“God is love. But love can also be hated when it challenges us to transcend ourselves. It is not a romantic “good feeling.” Redemption is not “wellness,” it is not about basking in self-indulgence; on the contrary, it is a liberation from imprisonment in self-absorption. This liberation comes at a price: the anguish of the Cross. The prophecy of light and that of the Cross belong together.”

Dean Hansen responds:

“God is love…..BUT love can be hated when it challenges us to transcend ourselves.” Is that what love is doing? Then what was Christ’s crucifixion for? (God is love, but by the time we get through explaining what it is, you won’t want it).  So let’s see if I’ve got this straight: Up is down, but a strong draft can push you in the other direction if you flap your wings. Freedom is slavery, (but by implication) work brings freedom. Truth is truth, but the opposite of truth is a different kind of truth that can kill you. Maxims can take you to hell but a series of worthless platitudes are somehow praiseworthy.

It’s interesting how redemption ends up being defined by the Pope in a way that makes it appear synonymous with the welcoming fiction printed on the entrance to Auschwitz!  Redemption is the clearing of a debt. Without freedom as the goal, the purchase is meaningless. Even the Catholic definition says as much: “The restoration of man from the bondage of sin to the liberty of the children of God through the satisfactions and merits of Christ.” Grace by its very definition is unmerited favor granted through the cross on our behalf. It can’t be earned, won, or deserved through personal self-recrimination or a struggle against “indulgence” because it’s free. It can’t be merited, only accepted. “Transcending ourselves” has nothing to do with it. The fact that it’s free means it’s unconditional. There are no hidden strings. You can’t be liberated from imprisonment by returning to your cage, rattling the bars and trying to impress the warden with your behavior. If it is “for freedom that Christ has set us free,” he has also set us free from second guessing what he has set us free from. If the anguish of the Cross proves anything, it’s that the accomplishment of Christ cannot be repeated with the express intention of accomplishing twice what has been achieved once and for all through him. Any attempt to repeat it is a repudiation rather than an embrace of the love that brought it about. That’s where the real self-absorption takes over. And it is anything but a romantic feeling.


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