Friday, October 31, 2014

Quote from H.R. Mackintosh "The Christian Experience of Forgiveness"



"It is no matter for surprise that at the cross supremely we should become aware of elements in Christianity which pass the limits of human speech and thought. All true religion enfolds that which is unfathomable, and the cross with the saving experiences it engenders is the focus of Christian religion. If we have stood beneath its shadow, if its aspect has touched and changed us, we too can bear witness to its ineffable significance; we now know that the mystery of goodness is greater by far than the mystery of evil. That the abyss between the Holy Father and us the sinful should have been crossed, from the father side; that in Jesus the guiltless suffering of the righteousness, and for us, should have put on its absolute and final form, leaving nothing undone by God that might be done, nothing unendured that might be born—this is nothing of course, but a strange and unimaginable miracle, we cannot measure it; and its wonder, which no mind can compass or define, we can sing.
True, it cannot be assumed that the significance of the cross will be equally manifest, or indeed equally welcome, to all men or even all Christians. There are distinguishable stages in the appreciation of Christ and His achievement. A man may embark on the Christian life by taking Jesus as his example, and may derive from Him in that character an imparted faith and power which in a most real degree give victory over temptation. Christ thus far is in large measure only a new and homogeneous factor in his moral development, bringing his own higher impulses to fruition. But a deeper necessity may emerge. He may well be obliged to face the shattering discovery that all his moral efforts are vain and that, in the light cast by God, he now appears even to himself as one who, guiltily and unconditionally, has failed. In Christ’s presence he learns, gradually or suddenly, the final truth about himself; and the revelation breaks him. It is in such hours of inexorable conscience, when in his solely responsibility and acknowledged impotence a man has bowed his head and fallen on his knees, that “the word of the cross” can find its most effectual entrance. Nor will any message of reconciliation suffice which does not contain a worthy relief for this, or profoundest and sorest need." (pp. 196-197)

From The Christian Experience of Forgiveness By H.R. Mackintosh (1961, London, Fontana Books)

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