How Advent liberates us as ordinary religion never can

“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.

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