God Has No Grandchildren

From Richard Rohr’s Radical Grace:

Every generation has to be converted anew. Each generation has to know for itself the fidelity of God. Each generation has to do its own homework and walk its own journey of search and surrender. No person, ritual, or institution can finally do that for you. There are no spiritual coat tails on which to ride, they just give us a good head start.

It’s not enough to say that my mother was Catholic, my father was Christian, or “I am a son of Abraham” as Jesus put it. Until you come to that time in your life when you choose that you have been chosen, when you accept that you have been totally accepted, the real process of personal transformation has not begun. God has no grandchildren, it seems. Only children! And mercifully, many, many of them, because there are as many and varied journeys as there are people.

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3 Comments

  1. The quotation implies that Rohr is Roman Catholic and his emphasis is on transformation. Is that true?

    Although Roman Catholicism does emphasize transformation, I suppose he is making a larger point, but I don’t know what it is (I am not familiar with him.)

    I think a fair case can be made, within Roman Catholic theology and protestant theology, that God is moved by the love of parents for children, children for parents, spouse for spouse, friend for friend and even stranger for stranger – that we do have “spiritual coat tails.” I think even in Christianity it matters that we are “sons of Abraham.”

    I don’t agree with the condemnation of individualism in the writings of communitarians, and yet it seems that Rohr has pushed individualism a little too far in this theological quotation – he has overemphasized the autonomous moral agent making a choice, within his tradition and within Christianity.

    Do you hear the same thing in this quotation?

    1. Yes, I did notice the “coat tails” part of the quote and it made me pause before posting this. I do think that Rohr overemphasizes the individual component here, but I like the way he highlights our obligation to choose—to make our faith our own. Nonetheless, I absolutely agree that we have a significant head start by being “sons of Abraham.” None of us starts from zero. We are all born into ways of being, thinking, experiencing, and acting in the world that predate us and exert influences on our choosing that we no doubt barely recognize. I think you’re right to point out that overemphasizing either the communitarian or individualism has its perils.

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