[Absolution] “is neither a response to a suitably worthy confession, nor the acceptance of a reasonable apology. Absolvere in Latin means not only to loosen, to free, to acquit; it also means to dispose of, to complete, to finish. When God pardons, therefore, he does not say he understands our weakness or makes allowances for our errors; rather he disposes of, he finishes with, the whole of our dead life and raises us up with a new one. He does not so much deal with our derelictions as he does drop them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. He forgets our sins in the darkness of the tomb. He remembers our iniquities no more in the oblivion of Jesus’ expiration. He finds us, in short, in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement; and in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, he puts us on his shoulders rejoicing and brings us home.”
“Jesus came to save a lost and losing world by his own lostness and defeat; but in this wide world of losers, everyone except Jesus remains firmly, if hopelessly, committed to salvation by winning. It hardly matters to us that the victories we fake for ourselves are two-bit victories, or that the losses (and losers) we avoid like the plague are the only vessels in which saving grace comes; we will do anything rather than face either the bankruptcy of our wealth or the richness of our poverty.
And what then is it that we do when we thus disregard our true wealth? We delude ourselves into thinking that our own salvation can be achieved by keeping books on others…’I know I’m no prize, but at least I’m better than that lecher, Harry’ – as if putting ourselves at the head of a whole column marching in the wrong direction somehow made us less lost than the rest of the troops. It would be funny if it were not fatal; but fatal it is, because grace works only in those who accept their lostness. Jesus came to call sinners, not the pseudo-righteous; he came to raise the dead, not to buy drinks for the marginally alive.”