21 September 2010

The difference is not sin or no sin, but penitence or no penitence

Henri Nouwen:
Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied him. Both were lost children.

Judas, no longer able to hold on to the truth that he remained God's child, hung himself. In terms of the prodigal son, he sold . . . his sonship. Peter, in the midst of his despair, claimed it and returned with many tears.

Judas chose death. Peter chose life. I realize that this choice is always before me.
--The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (Doubleday 1994), 50


Pete Scribner said...

Let me first say that I love Nouwen and have been greatly blessed personally by this book. Secondly, let me also say that I agree wholeheartedly with your primary point that the difference is not sin or no sin, but penitence or no penitence.

Those things having been said, I think I take issue with Nouwen's statement that Judas was "God's child" who "sold...his sonship." It seems to me that our understanding of the perseverance of the saints (and a plain reading of John 17, for that matter) would suggest that he was not a son of God, but a son of perdition or destruction. Am I off base here?

Thanks for the insights in your blog! I appreciate them greatly.

Dane Ortlund said...

Good point Pete.

I take his comments to refer to God's 'children' only in the broadest sense, and not in the sense of a strict theology of adoption.

I.e. from the angle of divine sovereignty, Judas was the son of perdition, destined to fail and remain impenitent. But from the angle of human responsibility, could not Judas have repented even after denying Christ, and received forgiveness? (in which case the very failure would have facilitated the securing of his forgiveness for that failure!)

Bless you my brother!

Pete Scribner said...

Thanks for the response, Dane. Seems I've been studying the doctrine of adoption a bunch lately...perhaps I'm hyper-sensitive to "sonship" language.

Indeed, had Judas repented of his sin and sought cleansing in the very blood which he caused to flow, then forgiveness would have been his. And even more importantly, every part of that statement could apply to me just as well!