Those who are faithful to the original grace of Protestantism are precisely those who, in all depth, see as Luther saw that the “goodness” of the good may in fact be the greatest religious disaster for a society, and that the crucial problem is the conversion of the good to Christ. Kierkegaard sees it, so does Barth, so does Bonhoeffer, so to the Protestant existentialists.
Thomas Merton 1968 Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander p. 170
When the sinner despairs of the forgiveness of sins it is almost as if he were directly picking a quarrel with God, it sounds in fact like a rejoinder when he says, “No, there is not any forgiveness of sins, it is an impossibility”; this looks like a hand-to-hand scuffle.” We actually do offend God when we reject the forgiveness he so freely offers. But we also offend God when we fail to give forgiveness to others.
God had lodged a veto— such love of God as Kierkegaard had conceived could not co-exist with the love of a human being. It compelled him to an asceticism as rigorous as that of the saints I and indeed, from this moment Kierkegaard’s life was in every sense that of a saint. He is perhaps the most real saint of modern times.
I came across Clement of Alexandria’s Miscellanies while looking for something to read for librivox.org and was struck by what Clement wote in his fifth book third chapter regarding faith and hope. He elevated the mind over the senses. He wrote about the crowd as Kierkegaard and Plato did. And he quotes ancient authors as he explains how their ideas fit well with the New Testament.
She was, for example, in that Helen on whose account the Trojan war was undertaken; for whose sake also Stesichorus was struck blind, because be bad cursed her in his verses, but afterwards, repenting and writing what are called palinodes, in which he sang her praise, he was restored to sight. Thus she, passing from body to body, and suffering insults in every one of them, at last became a common prostitute; and she it was that was meant by the lost sheep.