What so often makes us liars

“What so often makes us liars is not what we do, but the justifications we offer for what we do. Our justifications become the way we try to defeat the contingencies of our lives by telling ourselves consoling stories that suggest we have done as well as was possible.” (Hannah’s Child, 159) I don’t know whether I could say it better than Hauerwas, but I do think that he is into something here. We do, indeed, try to console ourselves that we have done as well as we can and hence there is no need to regret or undo things that we have done. We fear to be found in the Wrong. We want to be found in the Right. Thus we justify ourselves.

Incidentally, Barth mentioned that Jesus is actually the one who does not try to justify himself. He readily takes upon himself our sinful nature and bears the judgment that comes with it on the cross. Perhaps counterintuitively, then, in not trying to justify himself, Jesus is justified. For us, it means that life is meant to be constituted by confessions and forgiveness. We have, indeed, wronged God and our neighbors.


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