Monday, June 30, 2008

Sin-less

We've come a long way from Johnathan Edwards prophetic image of mankind as the spider.
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire...
The apostle Paul wrote something similar, placing us in the lineage of Satan and calling our destiny 'wrath' (see Ephesians 2:1-3). God holds no affection for transgression and sin.

Unfortunately, the term sin is becoming curiously absent in our culture. Whether it's been modified for cultural equivalents, or exchanged for the banner of empathy, the long-term effects are worrisome.

Where this is most evident is in the writing/preaching of younger generation leaders, like myself. In Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell's therapist says his issue is 'sin.' In an interesting turn of phrase, Bell translates, "I was split... I saw I had all this guilt and shame because I wasn't measuring up to the perfect person I had in my head" (pg. 114). In effect, 'sin' is an offense against myself, not God. Sin is my brokenness, emptiness, weakness, shame, dysfunction.

Moreover, we've grown weary of the church being labeled judgmental--which, in light of Jesus' great sermon (Matt. 7:1-5), is laudable--and thus swung the pendulum in favor of the sinner. As revealed in Kinnaman and Lyon's recent publication, unChristian, the church has a reputation for casting stones (and ballots). This perception is damning to (and from) the church, so Christians must create a new perception "show[ing] grace by finding the good in others and seeing their potential to be Christ followers" (pg. 181). On the surface, this suggestion is fine; however, when considered theologically, the potential of any person to follow Christ rivals that of a corpse. We were all dead in sins and trespasses (Eph. 2:1).

But there's more. In the absence of 'sin,' our talk gravitates toward love. "Why judge," I read, "when you can love?" Again, on the surface, "Love is a many splendid things, love, lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!" But love separated from sin, covers nothing (see 1 Peter 4:8). True love must acknowledge sin.

The church may now be in the twilight of sin. My fear is that we no longer offer the resurrection power and life of Jesus, but a forced empathy and a feeble love. We're on course to sell out the whole gospel to popular psychology and group therapy. We will give people all benefit and no doubt. And perhaps no faith, either.

2 comments:

willtolive said...

Well said Spanky....The church has little relationship, little accountability, so what else does it have? Superficial love.

How is "accountability" going in your church?

How do you subscribe to someone else's blog anyway...Blogger is not user friendly at all!

Sprained Ankle said...

As for accountability, it depends how you define it, but I've had several people share frankly of sin in their past/present, and others share meaningfully of spiritual growth. If accountability is only sin-focused, I don't think it's full. I'm glad to hear both sides. I'm so glad for the time in Phoenix/Denver, which instilled in me a passion for relationship. Strong ones, however, center on trust, and this, unfortunately, is a slow-birthed virtue.

As far as subscribing, I think you do 'live feeds' which sends you updates on spot. But I don't really know.