One of the more startling statements in Tillich’s sermon, “You are accepted,” is this one:
“It would be better to refuse God, and the Christ, and the Bible, than to accept them without grace.”
Tillich goes on to explain that the reason for this startling pronouncement is his conviction that, without grace, even spiritual truths can only serve to deepen the sin and brokenness of human relationships (with self, others, and God).
We had a great discussion the Sunday following the presentation of Tillich’s sermon, and we talked a bit about this statement, as well as Tillich’s view of sin and corresponding view of grace. It was–seriously, y’all–one of the best discussions of Tillich’s theology I’ve ever gotten to be a part of.
Today I followed a link to a sermon at Highland Church of Christ by Richard Beck, in which he talks about the ways in which Christianity can get in the way of being a Christian. It’s right in line with Tillich’s point: without grace, even our religion–the thing that’s supposed to help us become better, kinder, more just–becomes just another way we screw up. It’s worth a listen. (And when you’re done, you can vote below for whether or not the men’s public restroom sermon illustration goes on the list for Best or Worst Sermon Illustrations Ever.)