Brooks: We do not belong to ourselves

Another passage from Elbridge Gerry Brooks’s Our New Departure, pages 74 and 75.

Although the language sounds like ransom theory, this is an exposition of the moral influence view of atonement (also loved in antiquity), and a modern view of sin in human relationships. For this reason, it’s worth muscling past language that would place this in another, inaccesible time. (The race bit, for instance; but since it’s at the end of a widening band of human relationships, I assume he means “human race”. But the idea that God has an ownership claim on us might be harder to digest.)

Even in our mere human relations, considering the vast net-work in which we are woven, we are not our own. We belong to the Past, as the heirs of its blessings; to the Present, as the stewards of its responsibilities; to the Future, as the guardians of its welfare. We belong to our parents; to our brothers and sisters, if we have them; to our families and homes; to our associates and friends; to every human being who has done us a kindness, or who needs our aid; to our country; to our race. How much more, then, to Christ and to God! We have not a faculty — of body or of mind, we have not a gift. This is the central fact of which God, through Christianity, is seeking to make us aware. This is the meaning of His Fatherhood. It is equally the meaning of our Brotherhood. The cross is the consummate proclamation of this fact, in concrete. It is God’s sense of ownership and His great consequent interest in us, — it is Christ’s marvellous love, willing at any price to gain possession of us, put into sensible form; and in whomsoever its power is at all felt, self-assertion is so far vanquished, and the will of God, as expressed in Christ, becomes supreme.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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