In prayer, he (the Christian) makes use of the freedom to answer the Father who has addressed him, or, to put it in another way, to go to meet the Father whose goodness he proceeds, or, to put it in yet another way, to give direct and natural expression of the truth of the situation in which the Christian finds himself as a Christian. When he prays, he puts himself in the position in which faith and obedience can always begin again at the beginning. As this primitive movement, prayer, which is the basis of all other activity, is included in obedience. It is itself the act of obedience par excellence, the act of obedience from which all other acts must spring. (Church Dogmatics III.3 49.4. p.265)
Archive for Faith
“Faith itself cannot be without prayer, for, as we have already maintained, faith is neither a possession which is transferred to the Christian from without, nor is it a conviction which he has reached from within, but it is an act which is creaturely by nature, which fulfils itself in those two movements, but the fulfilment of which is anything but self-evident, needing the awakening of man by the Word of God. Therefore, it is inevitable that in faith, in the fulfilment of this act, God is always a surprise to man, and man a surprise to himself. Man stands amazed before the divine goodness which gives him the freedom for this act. And he stands amazed before all that it shows him—the fatherhood of God, his own sonship, and the right of sonship in the house of the Father as the Father confers it and he himself receives it. It is in this inevitable surprise that the faith of a Christian as such is also prayer—the prayer of thanksgiving and praise. Again, he stands amazed before the unmerited gift that he himself is actually enabled to believe, to believe this. And he can never understand how it is that he is able to do so, to receive this unmerited gift. Indeed, the more freely he can believe, and the more fully he receives in faith, the more he is conscious of his own inability and unworthiness, his own incapacity. It is in this surprise that his faith as such is prayer—the prayer of penitence and confession of penitence towards the great God who has done such things towards man, and still does so. And again, the Christian stands amazed before the nearness of God, and the superabundant wealth of all those things which call him to faith, and which as the gift of God are calculated to appease his hunger, to cover his nakedness, to make good his deficiencies. ” (Church Dogmatics, III.3 49.4. 252-253)
In the last post I introduced Yale’s Faith and Globalization Initiative of which Volf is key contributor. There he was introducing the topic of faith and reconciliation between different faiths, here he introduces the topic of violence and faith. Is violence intrinsic to faith as some voices from within the ‘new atheist’ movement suggest? What are the conditions in which faith becomes violent?
Volf distinguishes between external conditions (political power, association with holy spaces)and internal conditions (absolute truth claims). External conditions, so he says, legitimise the defence of power and place.
This is part of a fascinating series of lectures that Volf gave in partnership with, amongst others, Tony Blair, dealing with the subject of faith and globalisation. Here Volf introduces the topic of reconciliation and drafts a brief way forward for how people of contradictory faiths may reach reconciliation.