“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."
Those words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian prisoner and eventual martyr in Hitler's Germany, were the concluding line in remarks at a world religions panel on Dec. 10 by Ryan Murphy, CCU Assistant Professor of Christian Thought.
Addressing a convocation of faculty and staff two weeks before Christmas, Murphy pointed out that Advent is unique for the same reason Christianity itself is. His talk began this way:
One question we were each asked to address was: “What is the most serious misunderstanding of you by outsiders?” It would have to be that Christianity is yet another variant of religion....
Why? Because in Christianity we have a fundamentally different assessment of the human condition. That’s what sets Christianity apart. The assessment is not that vice is ignorance (as per the classical conception, Plato, etc.); it is not that we have corrupted our revelation, lost knowledge of God, and we required simply a better prophet, a more sound revelation, as per Islam, or Joseph Smith).
What’s unique, is that Christianity posits that humankind is unable to bridge the gap between ourselves and God – not just ignorant of how, in which case further instruction would be necessary; Not just unwilling, in which case a helpful example would be called for. Unable. In which case, if this gap is to be bridged, it will be bridged by God himself. This is Anselm’s conviction – Man owes a debt he cannot pay, God wishes to pay a debt he does not owe – the elegant divine solution? The God-Man. God incarnate in the person of Christ, reconciling the world to himself.
Read the full text here. Ryan Murphy - This I Believe - 121010 And have a blessed Christmas, a liberating time in the highest and holiest sense of that word, a passage through that door of ultimate freedom of which Bonhoeffer wrote and Murphy spoke.