According to Ingolf Dalferth (Creatures of Possibility), Christianity “contradicts a view that understands human beings in their fundamental dependence, finitude, and passivity, not merely biologically, but anthropologically, as deficient beings, interpreting their absolute dependence as absolute neediness, their finitude as a metaphysical evil, and their experience of the inaccessible as a threat of fundamental meaninglessness.” Such an “anthropology of deficiency” blocks our understanding of gift (105).
How so? Dalferth points out that the absence of something is not necessarily a deficiency: “not everything one does not have is a deficiency; not everything one becomes realizes a predisposition that one always had; not everything that one is provided with satisfies a need, so that it can be said to be that need’s fulfillment; nor can one be said previously to have lacked everything that is given to one” (108-9).
The relation of recipient to what is received is not single but multiple; to receive is not always to have a want satisfied or a need filled. To think otherwise is to miscontrue the gift character—the sheer unanticipated surprise—of gifts.