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The Ontological Impossibility of Guilt Before God

The central thesis: No man can avoid being forgiven by the God who elects to love the world in Jesus Christ. From God's point of view we are forgiven, whether we know it or not, and whether we receive it or not. Forgiveness belongs to human existence as such and cannot finally be negated by human rejection or misunderstanding of it. The Christian community does not merely teach the idea that we are being valued despite our value negations. It celebrates and proclaims a particular historical event in which we are once and for all unconditionally valued amid our value negations. Valued by whom? By the ground of reality itself. By the unconditioned source and end of all finite values.

However clearly or unclearly man may perceive himself, he is perceived by God, according to the Christian kerygma, as a pardoned man. He is forgiven, ontologically, despite the tenacity of his subjective guilt feeling. Ironically, therefore, the human predicament consists in man's failure to be who he is. The pardoned man is in a sense liberated to fail without intolerable damage to his total self-understanding; free to be inadequate, free to foul things up, and yet affirm himself in a more basic sense than the moralist or idealist can affirm himself amid his value negation. He is free to be a man who chooses and negates values, free to take guilt upon himself and to see it as an inevitable and constructive part of his human condition.

Man cannot be guilty before God, but only before the gods. Inasmuch as God has chosen to regard the whole fallen cosmos from the vantage point of its participation in Jesus Christ, according to Scripture, man is not guilty and cannot be if God chooses to take this guilt upon Himself.

The Temptation to License. But are we thus opening the door to lying, thievery, sexual license, and the indiscriminate subversion of human values, under the clever guise of divine forgiveness? When freedom is turned into sheer irresponsible license in the name of self-actualization, it tends toward self-destructive anarchy. It becomes antinomian (irresponsible, anti-legal, anarchic-pseudo freedom).

References: TSOA, pp. 90-94.