A quick zinger from Paul Tillich in 1963, characterizing the “new” (and yet strangely familiar) challenges for the Church in practice, specifically its inveterate tendency towards decay to legalism:
The moral ‘yoke’ that Jesus wished to make easy has only been made heavier, and the message of grace has largely been lost, despite the numerous liturgical prayers for the forgiveness of sins. They do not express the vision that appears in Paul’s letters and John’s Gospel, or is expressed in the seventh petition of the Lord’s Prayer – “save us from the evil one” – namely, the image of a demonic power ruling the universe and driving man into separation from God and hostility against Him. The prayers of forgiveness have, for many people, only the function of relieving the uneasy conscience from produced by trespass against traditional and often absurd rules of behavior, mostly of a prohibitive character. But they do not express the great paradox, that there is reunion with the eternal ‘Ground of our being’ without ‘right’ action on our part, without out being ‘good people’, or the ‘people of good will.’ Therefore, despite liturgical formulae, hymns, and the reading of lessons from the Pauline Epistles, the message of grace has been lost. Grace as the power of accepting the person who is unacceptable, and of healing the person who is mortally sick, has disappeared behind the preaching of the religious and moral law.
From Beyond Morality.