The Chair and the Desk, 2/25/16

Today, “the desk” drove me back to “the chair.” I put these in quotes because lately “the chair” has been the kitchen table and “the desk” has been the chair. A lot to process, I know.

In one of my classes, we’re reading Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, in which he tries to describe how morality works. He seems to believe that “the moral law” is self-evident (much like C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity). He also believes that we couldn’t be expected to obey something we cannot obey, so he believes that we’re free to act as we choose. He also believes that we are reasonable, so he believes that when we are free to act as we choose and know the moral law, we will behave morally. Finally, he believes that because we can obey this self-evident law, we eventually will: We will eventually be holy, but because that doesn’t seem to get accomplished in this life, we must be immortal. In Kant’s defense (for Christian readers), he does attribute this all to God, and in all this wants to help his readers obey God better.

Like Kant, I do believe in the moral law, freedom, moral behavior, and holiness. However, I don’t believe in these things for the same reasons, nor do I believe they unfold in the same order. I’m going with the Apostle Paul on this one instead:

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

-Romans 8:2-4

I believe that our freedom isn’t owed to us–we actually give it up when we choose sin–but the Spirit of life can free us in Christ Jesus. I believe that we actually are offered holiness before we start to live well, because God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemning sin in the flesh. I believe that in this new holiness, we will be able to do good, to live morally, because we can walk by Spirit. I think Kant and I may want very similar things, but I don’t trust in human reason to get us there. Rather, I’m putting my trust in what we call “apocalyptic events,”* God breaking in from the outside, and making us what we forfeited, what Jesus Christ has won.

No post tomorrow–mom’s coming for the weekend!

*Thank you, Jim Neumann, for reminding me that we call this this while enjoying some teriyaki chicken yesterday


“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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