Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reformation 3 / some more Giertz

(Below find a Giertz quote from Bror Erickson's new translation into English; I'm sorry, I lost all the paragraph breaks and I can't redo it just at the moment. Just read it nice and slowly and put in your own breaks. These are sermons, anyhow. Perhaps read it out loud!)
What is the Church's way today? What is meant by "the Church's way"? It may mean approximately the same thing as when one speaks about the church's program or the church's work methods, her goal-setting and the means with which she will attain her objectives--just like an association, a party, or some other societal organization. But this only skims the surface of the problem. The Church's way is something more and something deeper. One discovers it if one goes to the New Testament and sees that the Chruch is quite simply called "the Way." It happens in many verses in Acts. In our Swedish translation, it is written "this way," but in the original text, it is written simply "the Way." ... And Paul says in his speech before Felix, "But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers" (Acts 24:14). This last bit is very revealing. The Christians also call themselves "the Way," while the Jews call it a hairesis. This is the same word that we have in heresy, also the word for false doctrine and sect. The word did not mean the same thing at that time. It meant choice or decision in classical Greek. It can also mean that which one makes a decision for or selects, for example a standpoint or a philosophical opinion. So for example, the Stoic school of philosophy or Platonists could be called heresies. The same meaning is used at the same time for the movements within Judaism, for example, the Pharisees or the Sadducees. But here, with Paul, it has a small hint of condescension. The others call us a hairesis, he says, but we are "the Way." this difference is essential for early Christendom and for all Christendom. A hairesis is a movement, a faction, a party with its program. It is something that one chooses, implying one among many other thoughtful opinions. But Christendom is something more. It is not one opinion among other opinions, not just one way of thinking, not just a manifestation of the zeitgeist. But it knows of itself that it builds upon an intervention of God that happened once and for all, in a manner that has consequences for every age. This claim is clearly expressed behind the whole person and work of Jesus. There lies in His own word "I am the Way." He explains what this means in the same context: "No one comes to the Father but through Me." He is the one who has come to seek and save those who are lost. He is the only-begotten Son. Whoever believes in Him shall be saved. Once and for all, He has sacrificed Himself. Peter expresses it pregnantly and classically when he says before the great council: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
From Bo Giertz' Ordination Sermons, "Then Fell the Lord's Fire", pp. 153,154.

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