The Downward Ascent by Edna Hatlestad Hong

The Downward Ascent

The Downward Ascent by Edna Hatlestad Hong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This little book is among the best Lenten reading that I have found. Edna Hong wrote this in response to overhearing a clergyman’s opinion that the season of Lent is far too long for modern times. Whether you are tempted to agree or not, this book will put things in a perspective which is the crucial importance of our awareness of both our fallen human nature and our divine nature of bearing God’s image. There is a tendency in Christian circles to emphasize one to the near exclusion of the other. Either we are ridden with an overwhelming or unhealthy sense of guilt, or we neglect that sense of guilt in favor of completely affirming picture of God’s love and acceptance. Both of these extremes leave us spiritually stunted, relying on our own ineffectual efforts in self acceptance. Edna Hong’s perspective is that the downward journey of honest self-examination is crucial to a genuine ascent in the understanding and experience of God’s love.

“There is no motivation for works of love without a sense of gratitude, no sense of gratitude without forgiveness, no forgiveness without contrition, no contrition without a sense of guilt, no sense of guilt without a sense of sin.” (p 24)

Hong explores the ways that we evade self-seeing in our relation to others and the world (horizontal) and in our relation to God (vertical) as well as the “dead end” efforts we can experience along the “descent” of self examination. A healthy understanding of our true position in relation to God provided by the Cross of Jesus Christ does not come easily or naturally to us, but is more that worth the effort (without earning it) to practice and live out. Edna Hong is a trustworthy guide.

I’m sorry that this book is currently out of print and hard to find in good condition for a reasonable price. My copy is pretty worn from other’s use. I hope it lasts me a lifetime.

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