— 2.J.1 Christian Response by Philip Sheldrake

(Response to 2.J.1 Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, The Lights of Penitence, Chapter 2, Sudden and Gradual Penitence, presented by Alon Goshen-Gottstein)


Needless to say, the language of sin and penitence was very familiar as there are striking parallels in Christianity! My question, as it would be to my own tradition, is whether such an emphasis on sin and repentance expresses a fundamentally negative assessment of the fundamental human condition? This hardly fits with an understanding of creation as God’s gift. For me, an over-emphasis on sin can too easily lead to exclusive notion of God as judge rather than God as love. “Sudden penitence” seems to correspond to those Christian traditions (e.g. evangelical charismatic) which place great emphasis on the power of immediate and total conversion. That is not my tradition. However, the notion of “gradual penitence” as described in the second text, is much more familiar to me. (see commentary to text 2.j.2)