Addicted to Glory

“Since the theology of glory is like addiction and not abstract doctrine, it is a temptation over which we have no control in and of ourselves, and from which we must be saved. As with the addict, mere exhortation and optimistic encouragement will do no good.”

“It may be intended to build up character and self-esteem, but when the addict realizes the impossibility of quitting, self-esteem degenerates all the more. The alcoholic will only take to drinking in secret, trying to put on the facade of sobriety. As theologians of glory we do much the same. We put on a facade of religious propriety and piety and try to hide or explain away or coddle our sins. In our day we will even curry affirmation and acceptance. We may listen to the voices that please us most, those of optimists who peddle ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ ‘Possibility Thinking,’ and similar theological marshmallows. We may even be temporarily encouraged. But in more lucid moments, we, like the addict, suspect it won’t do, that we aren’t really up to it. Instead of building self-esteem the voices of optimism eventually undermine and weaken it. Ultimately they destroy. As with the addict there has to be an intervention, an act from without” (Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997), 94-95).

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