I plan on reading this quote tonight during the study, but it’s so good, I wanted to post it here too.
Is it true that “repent” is an important part of the Christian message? Or, as many today would say, does it totally misrepresent Jesus and his love to talk about repentance to our friends and neighbors who don’t yet know Christ?
Here are some thoughts from Thomas Oden, whose book Classic Christianity, collects scripture and insights from the first few hundred years of Christianity into incredibly helpful discussions of topics which range across the whole range of Christian thought. Oden observes:
To make the call to repentance and faith plausible is the task of Christian preaching. When neglected, every other aspect of the mission of the church stands imperiled. Preaching that lacks the courage to call hearers to repent is tedious and timid. Theology that lacks the capacity for admonition smells of hypocrisy.
The purpose of preaching is to draw the hearer toward saving faith in God. That faith can only begin with repentance. It is in the repentance of one sinner that heaven rejoices. This is not a narrow or dated subject.
There reigns in the broken human heart a feeling of discord, a lack of congruence between what is and what ought to be. Christian preach does not sidestep this feeling of incongruence, but faces it openly. The crushed heart must be relieved by confession of sin. The longing for peace, the earnest desire for truth, the penetration of self-deceptions, the hunger for freedom from a life of sin is the direct concern of Christian testimony.
Every resource of language is employed to make the requirement of God as clear as possible and the eventful love of God palpable and real.
That is, I think, a helpful meditation on the history of Christian obedience to the command of Jesus recorded in Luke 24–“that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.“