At the heart of the salvation doctrine is the proclamation that our lives and our deaths are in God’s hand; we are loved of God not by our own merit but by God’s gracious initiative toward us. We need not spend our lives in good works in order to be saved but only in grateful response to being so loved.
"Fear,” writes Karl Barth, “is the anticipation of a supposedly certain defeat.” Fear describes Joseph’s brothers, who fear and hate their brother’s favored status. Fear strikes the hearts of Jesus’ disciples when they see him walking toward them on the water.
Maybe it was time for Abram to move on. After all, he and his wife Sarai had been living in Ur for many years. Abram’s father had died, and Abram had lost his brother Haran to an untimely death. Moving on might do both him and Sarai some good. Yet we all know that in the wake of crises like these, moving on is sometimes difficult. Nostalgia can be paralyzing.
Some time ago the New York Times ran this headline in its science section: “Before the Big Bang, There Was . . . What?” The article surveyed cosmologists, those who study the whole physical universe, or, as some of them believe, universes.