Monday, September 15, 2014

The clutches of self-analysis

The benefit of the eucharistic controversy cannot be overlooked. Faith in the Word of God is essential for overcoming the spiritual-psychological focus on the inwardness of pious communion.  What makes this so significant is that the Enemy, an expert on the single soul,loves individualism.  He can penetrate the psyche and control it.  He can twist and cripple even the believing Christian so that, lost in introspection, he despairs of God and the world.  But there is one thing the Devil cannot do:  he cannot become really present flesh.  The call of the words of institution liberates the Christian from the clutches of self-analysis.
(Oberman, Man between God and the Devil, p. 243)

What is the good side and the bad side of introspection?  We are talking here about being "lost" in introspection, and "liberated" from introspection.  What does that mean?

We need to have the background here of the requirement that all sins be confessed for complete forgiveness, at Luther's time.  The conscience needed to be scoured for every hidden sin.  This was a torture.  And then our attitudes, they are ever so dubious.  We MUST despair of ourselves.--When can we ever be done finding fault with ourselves?  In an honest introspection, we will "lose" ourselves, in fact, we could go insane.  There is no bottom to our circling around ourselves.  We can never be good enough, believe well enough, confess well enough, to be worthy or acceptable for anything, including communion. 

And yet, it seems sometimes, we don't even make a beginning.  How many things have we not thought about?  What do we really understand about ourselves?  Have we penetrated anything that applies to our sin and problems?  

Do we even understand our own feelings, so we can analyze them?  Do we understand our attitudes so we can understand others better?  

Introspection is a double-edged sword.  He hurts and it heals.  It can slay you.  Strike you dead, tie you up in knots, incapacitate the soul.  Or it can awaken you to your need.

The answer lies somewhere else, though.  The answer lies outside ourselves.  The gift comes from beyond me, and is more than spiritual.  It is tangible, edible, solid, hopeful, and true.  The true coin.  The bar of gold.  Test it.  Test it with your teeth.  It is good.  It is the currency.  Take it. 

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