Rowan Williams on Christian Freedom

Rowan Williams on Christian Freedom

What does it mean to talk about the service of God being perfect freedom? It means that living with or in or from God provides the structure and shape that most frees us from distractedness and fragmentation of life and thought. As the Christian Platonists were always saying, this is a life in which we are “simplified”; the threads are drawn together, not in an intellectual synthesis of concepts, but in some kind of unity of heart and mind. We become sufficiently “at home” in ourselves-in-God to act and respond to others with clarity, without the bondage of our power-hungry, fantasy-ridden instincts clouding our vision. That is the kind of simplicity that can live with the terrible contradictions, the multiplicity and conflict, of Christian theology and Christian images, of the church itself and its relations with humanity at large. In the center of freedom is the language of compassion, prayer, self-offering, self-forgetting, crucifixion, and resurrection, the language whose “grammar” is the life and death of Jesus.

from A Ray of Darkness, 3rd Ed., (Cowley, 1995), 156.

Helmut Thielicke on leisure

Helmut Thielicke on leisure

Don’t let others entertain you; do something yourselves, whether you dance or sing or play music or put on a play. It doesn’t matter whether any of it is good enough to put on the stage. Far more important is doing something together and working on these things that bring you together and liberate you from the cursed role of always being nothing but passive objects and empty pots for the professional amusement functionaries. Such a project entered into together will develop your own talents and show you who you are; it will show you how rich and fascinatingly fine life can be.

from “Our Freedom and Our Free Time,” in Christ and the Meaning of Life, (Harper, 1962), 150.

Robert Jenson on predestination

Robert Jenson on predestination

“No even distantly Christian thought can avoid a doctrine of predestination. Fear of the doctrine is merely — or profoundly — fear of God. Nor can this fear validly argue, as it regularly does, that it is human freedom that must be defended against the notion of a truly final God. For the absoluteness of God’s will is in no way inconsistent with the reality of our freedom. On the contrary, if we think of God and ourselves as competitors for control of our mutual affairs, so that to whatever extent God determines my destiny I do not, then increased assignment of determination to God must indeed mean lessened freedom for me. But the very point of the doctrine of predestination is to deny any such competition, any such appearance of God and creatures on the same level of decision. Precisely because God is absolute, we are in no competition with God’s freedom to choose — and just so God’s absolute freedom does not diminish our creaturely freedom. Medieval theologians worked this point out with beautiful precision and subtlety. Whatever God wills, they said, must indeed happen, and exactly as God wills it. Thus, if God wills some things to happen as acts of free choice, they will happen, and happen in that way.”

from Christian Dogmatics, Vol II, (Fortress Press, 1984), 135-6.