The Power And The Guilt
Jesus the World’s Perfecter, by Karl Heim (Muhlenberg, 1961, 234 pp., $3.75), is reviewed by Paul K. Jewett, Associate Professor, Fuller Theological Seminary.
Though this book is a fine piece of theological writing, at times it is more than that; it is a book of devotion. It not only informs, but ennobles the mind of the reader. Heim, speaking as a German who lived in the hour of Germany’s trouble, to Germans who have lost a sense of meaning and purpose in life, reminds his readers that in God’s order, the problem of guilt must be met and solved before there can be an answer to the question of power. I his is the burden of part one of the book. Guilt, argues Heim, is not fate; it is that which is inexcusable and inescapable. “The future hell,” as Luther said, “will be nothing else than an evil conscience; had the devil no evil conscience, he would be in heaven. An evil conscience ignites the fires of hell and arouses in the heart terrifying torment and the infernal activity of the devil” (p. 15). Never, therefore, can we deduce guilt from something else or excuse ourselves by giving a reason. Such rationalizing away of our guilt simply increases it. When we recognize the implication of our guilt as sinners, when we acknowledge that the problem of sin must be solved before the problem of power can be solved, then the mission of Jesus as the Suffering Servant becomes meaningful. Jesus must first atone for sin by his death before he can openly seize the power (as he will at his Second Advent) and bring about the final settlement and perfecting of the world.
In part two of his work Heim, therefore, proceeds to a consideration of a Christian interpretation of Christ’s death. He is critical both of Abelard ...1
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