Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is sin?

Greed, lust, sloth, etc may be the initial way to answer the question of what sin is. And to be sure, these are real things. Looking at Wall Street might show evidence of greed. The fact that the porn industry is booming might be evidence to suggest sexual lust is in high gear. Look at how much time is wasted by people on blogs and facebook (click here to see all my firends and read my status updates ;-)) and perhaps it could be said sloth is infecting us...and let's throw in some hypocisy...just for full disclosure on my part.

I do not contest these as sin. But maybe I do a little bit. What if greed and sloth and lust etc are not so much sin itself, but rather they are outcomes of sin? What if sin is more like a web of influences? What if sin is an ubiquitous, but nuanced, network of forces which work against humans being fully human? Could it be that when we try not being greedy or selfish we are still not getting at the source? Could it be that in trying to be good by not being bad as defined by what I am calling the outcomes of sin, that we remain fully vulnerable to fall into another part of the network of forces which is sin?

Furthermore, what if the power of this de-humanizing network of forces I am referring to as sin is difficult to detect or avoid? What if it is everywhere you ahve been or will go? What if this network of forces is "The Matrix" in a sense - a simulacra of life meant to provide a minimally acceptable experience of life which would for the most part suffice most people, but systematically de-humanize people, degrading their free will, their capacity to give and receive love, and slowly separate people from their ability to know and be known?

Is this is sin, then I need rescue more than I ever believed I ever did.


If this perspective more closely approximated the truth of sin, I wonder what the implications would be for defining morality. How would this more nuanced and mystrious view of sin influence how people lived and treated each other?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ancient Document Quote Quiz

From which ancient document does the following quote come?

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
No prizes, just pride.
Cheaters can click here for the answer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Theological Whiplash

Last Sunday I went to worship gatherings at two different churches. One was rooted in a modern, positivist philosophy (an evangelical church) and the other was influenced by a postmodern, constructivist philosophy (an emergent church). Wow.

Now, since I was paying attention, I noticed the very different tones of the meetings. Certainly many of the elements were the same. Both had music, prayer, scripture, public speaking, announcements, and basic church business. On the surface, it could be said that these church differed only by decor, one casual and the other artsy.

The difference came, however, in how truth was presented. At the evangelical church truth was prepackaged, trimmed with scripture scraps, centered on a topic, and presented with premise, evidence, and neat conclusion. All was resolved. At the emergent church three different translations (TNIV, The Message, King James) of a long chunks of scripture was read by three different people. People were asked to practice Lectio Divina during these three readings. There was no prescribed take home message. The pastor literally said, "Tonight we'll let the scripture was over us," whatever that means. No one knew what they were supposed to learn, but at the same time it was understood that that what was needed to be learned was learned.

The difference was how truth was dealt with. Both assumed that there was truth involved. However, in the evangelical church the truth was owned by the pastor and issued to the people. In the emergent church the truth was assumed to be owned by each individual.

I like both churches, and both are full of good people. I do not mean to be critical of either. It's just that I experienced these two very different approaches to truth within hours of each other. Whiplash.