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Archive for February, 2012

“The garden of Eden is not viewed by the author of Genesis simply as a piece of Mesopotamian farmland, but as an archetypal sanctuary, that is a place where God dwells and where man should worship him.  Many of the features of the garden may also be found in later sanctuaries, particularly the tabernacle or Jerusalem temple.  These parallels suggest that the garden itself is understood as a sort of sanctuary…Further support for such a view arises from the overall purpose of Genesis.  The main weight of Genesis falls on the patriarchs: Genesis 1-11 is merely a prologue to the story of redemption beginning in chapter 12.  But as Clines has observed the promises to the patriarchs are essentially a reaffirmation of the divine ideals for all mankind expressed in Genesis 1-2…Looked at in this light, the opening chapters of Genesis describe what human life should be like.  According to the rest of the Pentateuch worship is of the greatest importance.” (Gordon J. Wenham, “Sanctuary Symbolism in the Garden of Eden Story,” Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies 9 (1986): 19-25

1.) The Lord was “walking” in the Garden (Genesis 3:8) just as he later “walked” in the midst of Israel’s tabernacle and temple (Leviticus 26:12, Deuteronomy 23:14, 2 Samuel 7:6-7).  Both Eden and Israel’s subsequent sanctuaries are portrayed as God’s own dwelling place with human beings.

2.) Adam and Eve are called to “work and serve” in the Garden (Genesis 2:15).  The only other Old Testament occurrences of these two words together are found in Numbers 3:7-8, 8:26 and 18:5-6, where they function as a job description for the Levite priests in the sanctuary.

3.) Cherubim play an important role in guarding both the Garden and the later tabernacle/temple.  In Eden, the Cherubim are stationed on the east side of the Garden to prevent sinful humanity from re-entering God’s holy presence (Genesis 3:24).  In Exodus 25:18-22, 26:31, and 1 Kings 6:23-29 Cherubim guard and adorn the place of God’s presence in the sanctuary.

4.) Both the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) and the later tabernacle and temple (Numbers 3:38, Ezekiel 10:19, 11:1, 42:9, 12, 15, 43:1-4, 44:1, 46:1, 47:1) are entered only from the east.

5.) The menorah in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-35) seems to be a symbolic tree, pointing back to the original tree of life in the middle of Eden (Genesis 2:9).  Both remind Israel that life is only to be found in the presence of the Lord.

6.) Adam and Eve are clothed by God after their rebellion with garments (Genesis 3:21) that are perhaps reminiscent of the priestly garments the Levites would later wear in the sanctuary (Exodus 20:23, 28:41-42, 29:8, 40:14, Leviticus 8:13, Deuteronomy 23:13-15), in view of the dangers that exist when sinful human beings come “naked” into the holy presence of God.

7.) A river flows out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14), a notable symbol for divinely given life in the Scriptures.  So also a river flows out of the eschatological temple in Ezekiel’s vision toward the nations for healing the curse of death (Ezekiel 47; cf. Revelation 21-22).

8.) The precious stones found in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:12), bdellium and onyx, are later found in Israel’s sanctuary as decoration or as a part of the priestly garments (Exodus 25:7, 28:9-14, 20, 1 Chronicles 19:2), and are compared to the heavenly manna (Numbers 11:7), which is “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4) and kept in the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies (Exodus 16:33).

9.) The description of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ as pleasant to the sight, good for food, and to be desired to make one wise seems to be echoed in the description of the Torah as making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart and enlightening the eyes in Psalm 19:8-10.  The law of Israel was kept in the Holy of Holies.  The stone tablets containing the ten commandments were kept inside the ark of the covenant and the book of the law (the rest of the commands given at Sinai) was placed besides the ark (Exodus 25:16, Deuteronomy 31:26).  And just as eating the tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought death in the Garden, so touching the ark that contained the law brought death (2 Samuel 6:7, Numbers 4:20).

10.) Wenham also notes that “the parallels in phraseology between the conclusion of the creation account in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the tabernacle building account in Exodus 25-40 have long been noted…The six commands in the instructions for building the tabernacle correspond to the six days of creation…[and] God’s rest on the first sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) corresponds to his resting, i.e. dwelling in the tabernacle…[So] the completion of the universe parallels the completion of the tabernacle” (p. 23).

Wenham concludes with this insightful observation:

“If the Garden of Eden story is meant to be interpreted symbolically in terms of later cultic legislation…[then] the divine threat ‘in the day that you eat of it you shall die’ [Genesis 2:17] should also be interpreted symbolically.  According to later cultic ritual the sanctuary was the center of life, because there God was present.  To be excluded from the camp of Israel was to enter the realm of death…Thus the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden was in the narrator’s view the real fulfillment of the divine sentence.  He regarded their alienation from the divine presence as death [cf. Ezekiel 37, where Israel’s return from exile in the promised land characterized by God’s presence is likened to a resurrection from the dead].  But the serpent was a literalist who believed death meant physical death and so he denied that eating the fruit would result in their demise.  Though many commentators imply that the serpent was right after all, because God relented and acted more leniently than he had threatened, I suggest this is unlikely.” (p. 24)

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The LORD called to Moses out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, because the whole earth is mine.  And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:3-6)

Michael Goheen comments perceptively on the deep meaning of this central Old Testament passage:

“But why would God—the Lord of all nations—liberate this one nation, Israel, and bind it to himself in covenant?…Here [in Exodus 19:3-6] we find the ‘unique identity of the people of God,’ the special role God’s people will play in the rest of the biblical story.  In Genesis 12:2-3, God had promised that Abraham would become a great nation to bring blessing to the whole earth; the book of Exodus tells us about that ‘great’ nation formed and called and redeemed to bring that blessing.  Specifically, Exodus 19:3-6 tells us how Israel will fulfill its role in delivering God’s blessing…It is hard to overestimate the importance of these words for understanding the role and identity of Israel.  As Terrence Fretheim observes, ‘The lens through which one may view the entire Book of Exodus is the speech God utters in 19:3-6.  Indeed, it has been said that in the whole tradition of Moses, this is very likely the most programmatic speech we have for Israelite faith’…The rest of the Old Testament offers a narrative account of how well Israel fulfills its calling: ‘This special role [in 19:3-6] becomes a kind of lens through which Israel is viewed throughout the rest of the Bible.’

Three designations describe this special role [given to Israel]: Israel is to be God’s ‘treasured possession,’ ‘priestly kingdom,’ and ‘holy nation.’  The first term, ‘treasured possession,’ refers to a king’s personal treasure.  Even though the whole kingdom in some sense belongs to him, the king also has his personal treasure set aside for his own use.  Even though God rules over all nations, Israel belongs in a special sense to God and has been chosen for a special task.  God’s choice of Israel is put in a universal context: ‘because the whole earth is mine.’  For this reason God chooses Israel: the whole earth belongs to him and he is taking it back.  Israel will be the means by which God accomplishes this goal: the renewal of all creation and all nations.  As Williamson notes, ‘Israel’s election as Yahweh’s ‘special treasure’ is not an end in itself, but a means to a much greater end.  Thus understood, the goal of the Sinaitic covenant is the establishment of a special nation through whom Yahweh can make himself known to all the families of the earth.’  How Israel will play this role is set forth in two images: it is to be a priestly kingdom and a holy nation…

What priests are for a people, Israel as a people is for the world.  It is instructive here to consider three elements of the role of priest in the Old Testament: he is to be set apart in holiness, to mediate God’s presence and blessing, all for the sake of others.  A priest is set apart and devoted fully to the Lord: this is the very essence of what he is to be and to do.  He is to function as a mediator and channel of God’s holy presence to the community through his own holy life and behavior, a model of consecration and devotion to God…Israel is likewise called by God to mediate his presence to the surrounding nations, to be a tangible evidence of his living reality in its midst.  All of this the priest carries out for the sake of others.  The priest’s life is not for himself: he lives to bring blessing to Israel.  God commands Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace’ (Num. 6:22-26).  Likewise, God had promised that the nation to come from Abraham would bring blessing to all other nations; in this way too Israel is to fulfill a priestly function before its neighbors.  Dumbrell can even say that the call of Exodus 19:4-5 is a ‘virtual restatement of Genesis 12:1-3.’…

The other title, ‘holy nation,’ expresses a similar understanding of the people’s identity and role.  Holiness is the special quality of something that has been withdrawn from normal use and consecrated to God’s service.  As a holy nation Israel is to withdraw, as it were, from the nations.  The lives of Israel’s people are to be markedly different from those of the peoples around them.  As Durham notes, they ‘are to be a people set apart, different from all other people by what they are and are becoming—a display people, a showcase to the world of how being in covenant with Yahweh changes a people.’  As a holy nation they are to live as a model or paradigm before the world of what God intends for all…Israel is to embody God’s creational intention for all humanity for the sake of the world, living in such a way as to draw the nations into covenant with God.  Or, to use the later language of Isaiah, Israel is called to be a ‘light to the nations’ (Isa. 42:6).

Thus Israel’s calling from God to be a priestly people and a holy nation sets the people explicitly in the middle position between God and the nations.  On the one hand, they are set apart for God’s glory and purpose, oriented toward him to make known his majesty and thus play their role in his mission; on the other hand, they are set apart for the sake of the nations, oriented toward the surrounding peoples to be to them a mediator of God’s blessing.  The covenant set before Israel in Exodus 19:3-6 gives it this missional role and identity amid all nations.  Moses summons the elders to respond to God’s call, and they affirm, on behalf of all the people, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said’ (Exod. 19:8).” (Michael Goheen, A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story, pp. 37-40)

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“The description of Israel’s God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but never as the God of Moses, perseveres until the end of the biblical period.  While Moses may be brought into direct contact with the law, it is always Abraham who bears the promises which control the national or spiritual future of Israel…The Abrahamic covenant continues to be seen throughout the Old Testament as the framework within which all other concepts of relationships which concern the people of God would arise…At times of very great national calamity, when the future of the nation or a section of it may have seemed to have been imperiled, the people readily availed themselves of the wider ground of appeal which the Abrahamic covenant always provided.” (William J. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation: A Theology of the Old Testament Covenants, pp. 56, 78)

“The sin [of the Golden Calf] forces God to threaten to destroy Israel in agreement with the [Sinai] covenant and to start again with Moses.  But Moses pleads (certainly not on the basis of the recently broken Sinai covenant) on the basis of the descendants promised in the covenant with Abraham as grounds for saving Israel (Exod. 32:13).  It is only this reason that decisively moves God to have mercy on Israel…The curses (Lev. 26:14-39) far outweigh the blessings (Lev. 26:3-13).  The imbalance indicates an expectation of covenant violation.  In addition, the last curse of exile (Lev. 26:33-39) proves to be the ultimate curse that Israel could experience.  It is the death of the nation.  Hope is held out for Israel in a foreign land, however, and that hope is grounded not in the Sinai covenant but in the Abrahamic covenant, which is repeated three times in one verse (Lev. 26:42)…If there is hope, it is based not on Sinai but rather on the covenant with the patriarchs—genealogy and geography.  There is another structure of grace that encompasses the structure of law in the first four books of the Torah.  And that is the Abrahamic covenant with its promise of creation blessing and land…A detailed examination of the larger context and structure of the first four books of the Torah [shows] that the note of hope found in the Abrahamic covenant is the larger context for the more pessimistic covenant of Sinai.  Whereas the latter portends the inevitable exile of Israel and its diminution among the nations, the former speaks of the triumph of Israel through a particular descendant who will bring blessing to the nations, in fulfillment of the promise to the woman in the garden of Eden.” (Stephen Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible, pp. 104, 109-110, 113-14, 117)

Genesis 26:2-5, 24—“And the LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you.  Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.  I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws…And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.”

Exodus 2:23-25—“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.  And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”

Exodus 32:6-14—“And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'” And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.”

Leviticus 26:38-42—“And you shall perish among the nations (more…)

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The Dogma Is The Drama

“Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as a bad press. We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine—dull dogma as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama. It is the dogma that is the drama—not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death—but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world, lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death. Show that to the heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that man might be glad to believe.” (Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos?)

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A Light to the Nations

“God converts the nations by working in the midst of His own people.  His interventions, and these alone, make Israel the light of the world. The Church does its work of evangelization in the measure in which its Lord gives it life; when it lives by Him its very existence is effectual.  In contradistinction to what has sometimes been believed, mission has nothing in common with any sort of political or commercial enterprise; it is entirely dependent on the hidden activity of God within His Church, and is the fruit of a life really rooted in God.  The evangelization of the world is not primarily a matter of words or deeds: it is a matter of presence—the presence of the people of God in the midst of mankind and the presence of God in the midst of His people.  And surely it is not in vain that the Old Testament reminds the Church of this truth.” (Robert Martin-Archard, A Light to the Nations: A Study of the Old Testament Conception of Israel’s Mission to the World, p. 79)

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Who Seeks God?

“Seeking God is spoken of as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the saints; and ‘seekers after God’ is one of the names by which the godly are called in Scripture…The Scriptures everywhere represent the seeking, striving, and labor of a Christian, as being chiefly after his conversion, and his conversion as being but the beginning of his work.  And almost all that is said in the New Testament, of men’s watching, giving earnest heed to themselves, running the race that is set before them, striving and agonizing, wrestling not with flesh and blood but principalities and powers, fighting, putting on the whole armour of God, and standing, pressing forward, reaching forth, continuing instant in prayer, crying to God day and night; I say, almost all that is said in the New Testament of these things, is spoken of and directed to the saints.  Where these things are applied to sinners’ seeking conversion once, they are spoken of the saints’ prosecution of the great business of their high calling ten times.  But many in these days have got into a strange anti-scriptural way, of having all their striving and wrestling over before they are converted; and so having an easy time of it afterwards, to sit down and enjoy their sloth and indolence; as those that now have a supply of their wants, and are become rich and full.”  (Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, pp. 306-07)

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Good books should be reread throughout our lives for an assortment of reasons.  One particular consideration that ought to drive us into the cultivation of this discipline is simply the passing of the years.  As we grow older our changing insights, questions, experiences, and our deeper awareness of our own brokenness and inadequacy conspire together to make great authors more helpful to us than when we were younger and more immature.  What may have bounced ineffectively off one’s youthful, unformed heart a decade ago now lands with immense force, simply because you have become a more well-worn (and, hopefully, humbled) traveler in a different season of the journey.

Or at least this seems to me an accurate way to describe the unexpected impact Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s little gem, Life Together, had on me when I returned to it recently.  I remember not being very impressed with it in college.  Such an indifferent reaction embarrasses me now.  I had earlier read and loved his highly regarded The Cost of Discipleship, but Life Together seemed too focused on the community (rather than on the rugged individual taking up his or her own cross and following Jesus faithfully), too aesthetic, too gritty, and not enough occupied with deeper theological concerns.  Don’t misunderstand me to be claiming that I once thought it a bad book–far from it.  But this Bonhoeffer piece didn’t do much for me at the time, and was quickly forgotten.  Renewing my acquaintance with it has been eye-opening in the best possible way.

I am tempted to try to highlight many aspects of the book’s genius in the excitement arising from my new found discovery.  But I will content myself here to let Bonhoeffer speak for himself on the reality of confession of sin.  Admitting our trangressions regularly to one another within the Body of Christ is an increasingly lost art (for many reasons, no doubt).  The final chapter in Life Together provoked a deep restlessness in me to see this trend reversed among followers of Jesus.  What would it look like for this discipline, this habit, this routine to be reclaimed among us, to actually become normal when Christians gather together?  To propel us in that direction, perhaps these selections from Life Together can stir up such holy desires and sanctify our imaginations at the prospect of what could be in our communities of faith.

First, Bonhoeffer illustrates how the confession of our sins to one another can lead us from isolation to community:

“He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.  It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness.  The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners.  The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner.  So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship.  We dare not be sinners.  Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous.  So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy…In confession the break-through to community takes place.  Sin demands to have a man by himself.  It withdraws him from the community.  The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.  Sins wants to remain unknown.  It shuns the light.  In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person.  This can happen even in the midst of a pious community.  In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart.  The sin must be brought into the light.  The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged.  All that is secret and hidden is openly manifest.  It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted…The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power.  It has been revealed and judged as sin.  It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder.  Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother.  He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God.  It has been taken away from him.  Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.  Now he can be a sinner and still enjoy the grace of God.  He can confess his sins and in this very act find fellowship for the first time.  The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him to find true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ…If a Christian is in the fellowship of confession with a brother he will never be alone again, anywhere…” (pp. 110-13)

Second, confession of sin to a brother or sister in the Lord can bring with it the grace of certainty, as we move away from the self-deceived and dangerous hypocrisy of attempting to confess (only) to God rather than to other Christians:

“Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother?  God is holy and sinless, He is a just judge of evil and the enemy of all disobedience.  But a brother is sinful as we are.  He knows from his own experience the dark night of secret sin.  Why should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to a holy God?  But if we do, we must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God, whether we have not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution.  And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness?  Self-forgiveness can never lead to a breach with sin; this can be accomplished only by the judging and pardoning Word of God itself.  Who can give us the certainty that, in the confession and the forgiveness of our sins, we are not dealing with ourselves but with the living God?  God gives us this certainty through our brother.  Our brother breaks the circle of self-deception.  A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person.  As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sin everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light.  But since the sin must come to light some time, it is better that it happens today between me and my brother, rather than on the last day in the piercing light of the final judgment.  It is a mercy that we can confess our sins to a brother.  Such grace spares us the terrors of the last judgment.” (pp. 115-16)

Third, Bonhoeffer reminds us that the only qualification for hearing confessions from others is living under the Cross.  Those who are closest to the Cross–and therefore most removed from boasting in their own (non-existent) righteousness–are the safest people in the world for other sinners to open up to:

“Anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and of his own heart will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him.  Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified by even the rankest sins of a brother.  Looking at the Cross of Jesus, he knows the human heart.  He knows how utterly lost it is in sin and weakness, how it goes astray in the ways of sin, and he also knows that it is accepted in grace and mercy.  Only the brother under the Cross can hear a confession.  It is not experience of life but experience of the Cross that makes one a worthy hearer of confessions.  The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus.  The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is.  Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of men.  And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness.  Only the Christian knows this.  In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.  The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth.  The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness.  The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God.  The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.  It is not lack of psychological knowledge but lack of love for the crucified Jesus Christ that makes us so poor and inefficient in brotherly confession.” (pp. 118-19)

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:6-10)

“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

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