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Problems in discussing sin


Treasured Sins by Duncan Long copyrighted http://duncanlong.com/art.html

Treasured Sins copyright Duncan Long http://duncanlong.com/art.html

The following thoughts come from Cornelius Plantinga’s Not the Way It Is Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. Have been looking at what he says about shalom but maybe worthwhile making some posts here about sin in general.

Plantinga says that shalom is “the way things ought to be” and sin is a disturbance of shalom, a culpable shalom breaking.

Problems in talking about sin

  • It is not popular, it makes people uncomfortable
  • It makes us appear prudish, we may be called fundamentalists
  • People question absolute truth today
  • Sin is trivialized and publicly flaunted by our leaders
  • People are reluctant to tell anyone that what they are doing is wrong
  • “Christians are often labeled negative people”—we define what we don’t do rather than what we do do!!  How do we talk about sin without being labeled negative or being “holier than thou?”

Why we need to talk about sin

  • Self-deception about our sin is a narcotic, a tranquilizer and a disorienting suppression of our spiritual nervous system” xiii
  • Sin is the main human trouble (worse than annoyances, regrets, old age, other miseries)

Biblical Images of Sin (1572 times in OT and 584 in NT)

  • Missing of a target
  • Wandering from the path
  • Straying from the fold
  • Hardened heart and stiffened neck
  • Blindness and deafness
  • Overstepping of a line and failure to reach it
  • Transgression and short coming
  • A beast crouching at the door
  • “Sin is a disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony.  Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God”  5

Sin is different from

  • Crime. Crime is statute breaking, sin may not.  18
  • Immorality.  Not all sin is immorality.  19
  • Disease. Disease is physical, makes us miserable and needs healing while sin is moral and spiritual, makes us guilty and needs grace. 19-20
  • Mere error or mistake.  Sin is not the same as finiteness or humanness.

All Sin is equally wrong but not all sin is equally bad

“The badness or seriousness of sin depends on some degree on the amount and kind of damage it inflicts, including damage to the sinner, and to some degree on the personal investment and motive of the sinner.”  22

For sin to be sin, there must be responsibility or blame or culpability.  23-25

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