Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tertullian on simple faith

People find the Gospel difficult to accept as it is, because frankly it is so simple. It seems like there has to be more to it, this whole "getting eternity" thing...surely there must be much that we have to do, solemn and elaborate ceremonies, a series of rigid moral laws. Right? Because getting into heaven cannot be as simple as admitting that you do not deserve it, and accepting a freely-offered gift of graceful love...no, that seems too easy. This misunderstanding comes from a limiting of God's love - a belief that His love must be limited as ours is, that He must have conditions upon His graceful forgiveness. But He does not.

Tertullian, one of my favorite ancient Christian writers, once wrote about the simplicity of a true baptism (as opposed to elaborate, often expensive, ceremonies of other faiths or false Christianities). His words could easily be applied to the whole of the Gospel:

There is indeed nothing which so hardens men's minds as the simplicity of God's works as they are observed in action, compared with the magnificence promised in their effects.
--Tertullian, De Baptismo Liber, 2, trans. Evans 1964

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