Wednesday, November 17, 2004

More on sin

I remember now what brought this all up. On Sunday we were saying the baptismal covenant and we got to the part about when we sin "repent and return to you" or whatever it says. And I was thinking, wow, that is so simple. The covenant is mostly about the person we're becoming in baptism, and about what we believe. It's not about dwelling upon our sins. We sin, we repent, we move on, and it warrants only one sentence.

I am troubled by the emphasis put on sin in many churches. I am bothered that I hear things like, "Well I sin every day" "I always have to be on my guard" "I'm just a sinner saved by grace". What kind of life is that? To always be on eggshells, always aware of your status as a disappointment to God?

What if sin is merely being out of touch with reality - I mean by that out of touch with God. it's not necessarily a certain list of do's and don'ts - it's when something we believe or are or yes, are doing, is placing us back in the false reality of the world.

When you think about it that way, you realize that it is actually possible to live sinlessly a lot of the time. In fact, perhaps we are supposed to actually do that. Perhaps it's not an afterlife only thing. If we are living in the Kingdom reality then we are not sinners. We are no longer sinners.
We are saints.

Am I being totally heretical?


Chris said...

Your comments are most stimulating! You know, for a pastor, I seem to wrestle with some supposedly pretty basic theological presuppositions--atonement, for one and certinly the concept of original sin. Luther offers the helpful(to me,anyway) understanding that we are at the same time sinner and saint, standing in both kingdoms on this side of the eschaton. Rather than feeling like a failure or disappointment to God, I try to imagine myself as my four-year old son, who knows that he needs to listen to his parents' direction, who chooses to frequenty ignore said direction, but who nonetheless never doubts the love behind the direction.
As to being heretical, church history is chock full of brilliant, faithful "heretics" who lost an argument to an institutional power. I suppose that there are true heretics--people who distort the gospel for their own ends (I live in the town where Jim Jones got his start)If questioning supposedly nonnegotiable dogmas or doctrines makes one a heretic, then I plead guilty as charged!I await the mob with the pitchforks and torches...

Paul said...

I wrestled with the "am I a heretic?" question as a senior in college when I was rethinking the whole issue of sin and salvation. My assurance to you is, No, you are not. You are beginning to do good theology, to struggle for your own answers to old questions. The tradition will never be truly yours until you engage it, question it, and reformulate it in a way you can live with. (When I got to seminary I learned that my radical thoughts had all been thought before and there are, within Christianity, more views than one on any topic you wish. Keep exploring and best wishes!

seeker said...

Didn't Paul Tillich say that the sin, rather than being a list of specific acts, is doing whatever separates us from God?

New Life said...

We are redeemed people. We need to live like it. MUCH, not all, of the talk on sin is unresolved shame.
I loved your post and have often thought the very same thing.