“And what, then, does all this signify?” It signifies that every one, in silent inwardness before God, is to feel humility before what it means to be in the strictest sense a Christian; is to confess sincerely before God what his position is, so that he may worthily partake of the grace which is offered to every one who is not perfect, that is, to every one. And it means no more than that. For the rest let him attend to his work and find joy in it, let him love his wife, rejoicing in her, let him raise his children to be a joy to him, and let him love his fellow-men and enjoy life. God will surely let him know if more is demanded of him, and will also help him to accomplish it; for in the terrifying language of the law this sounds so terrible because it would seem as if man by his own strength were to hold fast to Christ, whereas in the language of love it is Christ that holds fast to him. As was said, then, God will surely let him know if more is demanded of him. But what is demanded of every one is that he humble himself in the presence of God under the demands of ideality. And therefore these demands should be heard, and heard again and again in all their absoluteness. To be a Christian has become a matter of no importance whatever.a mummery, something one is anyway, or something one acquires more readily than a trick. In very truth, it is high time that the demands of ideality were heard.
“But if being a Christian is something so terrifying and awesome, how in all the world can a man get it into his head to wish to accept Christianity?” Very simply and, if you so wish, quite according to Luther: only the consciousness of sin, if I may express myself so, can force one .from the other side, grace exerts the attraction.can force one into this terror. And in the same instant the Christian ideal is transformed, and is sheer mildness, grace, love, and pity. Looking at it any other way, however, Christianity is, and shall ever be, the greatest absurdity, or else the greatest terror. Approach is had only through the consciousness of sin, and to desire to enter by any other way amounts to a crime of lese-majeste against Christianity.
But sin, or the fact that you and I, individually, are sinners, has at present either been done away with, or else the demands have been lowered in an unjustifiable manner. both in life.the domestic, the civic, as well as the ecclesiastic.and in science which has invented the new doctrine of sin in general. As an equivalant, one has hit upon the device of helping men into Christianity, and keeping them in it, by the aid of a knowledge of world-historic events, of that mild teaching, the exalted and profound spirit of it, about Christ as a friend, etc., etc..all of which Luther would have called stuff and nonsense and which is really blasphemy, aiming as it does at fraternizing impudently with God and with Christ.
Only the consciousness of being a sinner can inspire one with absolute respect for Christianity. And just because Christianity demands absolute respect it must and shall, to any other way of looking at it, seem absurdity or terror; just because only thereby can the qualitative and absolute emphasis fall on the fact that it is only the consciousness of being a sinner which will procure entrance into it, and at the same time give the vision which, being absolute respect, enables one to see the mildness and love and compassion of Christianity.