Karl Holl on the “Newness” of Jesus

image“The God who rigorously insists on the highest does not will that any man should come within range of His judgement…  Therefore He seeks them out.  And the means by which He lays hold on them is His pardoning grace.

In all other doctrines of salvation the belief in liberation is founded on the conviction of the ineradicable nobility of mankind…  The god-like in man must come into its own. Jesus, however, instead of this, sees a deep gulf between God and man…  Jesus stress is laid… on the fact that man has forfeited his worth but that nevertheless God accepts him.

Jesus’ conception of God was new…  the idea that a pathway to God was available to the impure, to the sinful, could appear only as a reversal of all religious and moral conceptions, as an outrage on the most fundamental feelings for the dignity and sublimity of the Godhead.

With Jesus… God takes the initiative: with His forgiveness He creates something quite new, out of which arises at once a real, close, and warm relationship to God, and with it at the same time a morality which ventures to take even God Himself as its model…  Pardoning grace overcomes, because at the same time it encourages and humbles.  It creates an inner affection, a feeling of gratitude which must find expression, and for which the highest is not too much to do.”

Holl, Karl. “The Distinctive Elements in Christianity” pg 16-17, 21-23

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