A Jagged Contention: A Categorical Giver

“The biblical and reformational understanding of a generous God, who is continuously giving, sharply contradicts the activism that is advocated in the present age, which wants nothing to be given as a gift. But God is categorically the one who gives. His giving nature defines the form that is his actions take, as the one who ‘justifies the ungodly’ (Rom. 4:5) and who in the same way ‘gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist’ (Rom. 4:17). Creation and new creation are both categorical gift. The first Word to the human being is a gifting Word: ‘You may freely eat of every tree!’ (Gen. 2:16)—renewed in the gifting Word of the Lord’s Supper: ‘Take and eat. This is my body, given for you!’ According to Luther, God’s entire trinitarian being, within his own being as well as for us—though it is not usually emphasized in the theological tradition—is to be apprehended as giving and giving as a sacrifice.”

– Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation. Pg. 98-99


What do you think of Bayer’s contention that God’s essence as a categorical giver contradicts the activism our present age advocates?  Respond to Bayer’s contention below.


One thought on “A Jagged Contention: A Categorical Giver

  1. Bayer is correct if we assume that activism is a moral imperative. This would be the case where in order to be “person” we must be active in working to benefit the other. I would point to John Zizioulas who makes a great argument that the very character of God is such that it leads to activism. In this case activism is the natural result of God’s free-will act to give personhood to humanity through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the person of the son. The activity of the regenerate Christian is a natural response, therefore, to the gift of personhood from God. Salvation is the rejoining of humanity to the activity of an ecstatic God. Luther reflects this in his “happy exchange.” Also, the union language of his “Treatse on the Holy and Most Blessed Sacrament.” Luther’s “May a Christian Rightly Flee a Deadly Plague,” illustrates the moral activity of the regenerate Christian who, not disregarding her own health and well being, serves the neighbor by assuring the neighbor has all he needs for his well being. Luther’s activism is the continuation, therefore, of God’s self revelation and the mediating and sharing of personhood. See Andrew Root’s “Christopraxis”.

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