Justification, Christ’s Merits, and Heschel on the Sabbath

So I’ve recently been going back and forth with Jack Quirk, Kevin Hadduck and others w/r/t justification and the gift of righteousness.  Yesterday (swapping driving duty on our way back from Connecticut) my mom and I were reading  Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath aloud to each other (after trying to collaboratively do last week’s NYT Magazine crossword, which didn’t get very far.)   I ran into this:

The Sabbath is the most precious present mankind has received from the treasure house of God. All week we think: The spirit is too far away, and we succumb to spiritual absenteeism, or at best we pray: Send us a little of Thy spirit. On the Sabbath the spirit stands and pleads: Accept all excellence from me.

When the author of Hebrews pleads with people to enter into the Sabbath rest of God that is being offered in Christ, I think what he’s saying is something like, The time in history we’re at is the time when the Spirit stands and pleads almost exactly what Heschel says He pleads.  (And yes, I know I am calling out of Heschel’s words a trinitarianism he didn’t have in mind.)

I think the legal/accounting ideas about Christ’s merits being transferred to us are right, but I also think that this idea of the Spirit calling us to accept all excellence from the one who is Lord of the Sabbath might make the other ideas make more sense…

4 responses to “Justification, Christ’s Merits, and Heschel on the Sabbath

  1. I think that even more than circumcision, the Sabbath set Judaism apart from the ancient religions around it (no, no citation, sorry.) Their god was a god of more-than-enough, whereas gods of maybe-just-enough-if-you-hold-your-mouth-right were a dime a dozen.

  2. Over my head, just a little. I think you’re maintaining the legal fiction theory of salvation, only now with a twist.

    It’s unsettling to be mentioned in a blog post you don’t fully comprehend.

  3. Here’s a Barth-Bonhoeffer-Balthasar-post Vatican II kind of take: There’s no pleading, no call, no ongoing transfer. The work is *done.* The train has arrived, and there is no outside-the-train/ Maybe some people are theoretically capable of deboarding themselves and taking a walk on the third rail, who knows. But anything you hear pleading at you is likely a religious idol in the hands of people who use their gods to gain power over others.

  4. Would love to believe that, but I don’t think I do… The idea of telling someone who’s searching spiritually that any pleading-to-enter that they perceive is an idol… seems to me like telling a person with a curable disease not to let in the doctor. The call to conversion is real, and important. But God helps us, completely. This is one of those things where I need God’s help to be able to be emotionally OK with believing the truth. But He does give that help, and I know there’s a lot that I don’t understand, and it’s in the “better than I can ask or think” category.

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