What Is “Sin”? Even More Conclusions

sin-apple-snake-266x300As reader Charles likes to point out, we have a tendency to abstract our God so that we love his love, love his faithfulness, love his salvation, but don’t love God himself because we don’t know God as a person — not a human person, of course, but a being with a personality, emotions, desires, and free will — a real person to whom we may relate.

How is this done? How do we get past the stuff we know about God and find God himself? Well, I’m hardly the expert, but here are some suggestions –

A. Pray. Conversation with God on a regular, recurring basis helps us think of God as a person, especially if we truly pour ourselves out to him. And why not? He knows how we feel anyway. Continue reading

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What Is “Sin”? Some More Conclusions

sin-apple-snake-266x300I dunno. I’m not that happy with my last post. I mean, it’s right enough, I think, but not as pointed as I meant to be.

I blame the drugs and slow recovery from mostly deadness. (I’m better, but it’s so…0…o slo…o…ow!)

Let me try to shape this into some simple takeaways.

1. The point of the scriptures is to reveal God. (We did a series on that not long ago.)

2. One reason God is anxious to reveal himself to us, through scriptures but also through Jesus and the ongoing work of the Spirit, as well the Creation in which we live, is because he has called and elected us to become like him. Continue reading

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What Is “Sin”? Some Conclusions

sin-apple-snake-266x300So how do we respond when the question is how to conduct the Lord’s Supper? We’ve wrapped this common meal with 2,000 years of tradition — much of it quite bad — and have nearly lost sight entirely of what the meal is all about.

Moreover, we just ever-so desperately want to make the meal into a magic ritual, a positive command, and special “act of worship” that separates the faithful from the damned.

But that is just not its purpose. It’s a meal. And meals in that culture symbolized acceptance into community. To eat with someone was very nearly to become family.

Jesus ate with sinners. He spoke countless parables about common meals and inviting strangers and the poor to a banquet. The Lord’s Supper is not about punctilious rule keeping. It’s about hospitality, acceptance, and brotherly love brought to reality. Continue reading

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If Jesus were a hipster, emerging, post-evangelical …

Hilarious post by John W. Frye at “Jesus Creed.”

And, no, I don’t know anyone exactly like the viewpoint described — but I know a few who are very, very close …

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What Is “Sin”? The Image of God

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The word sin means literally “missing the mark.” It means the failure to be what one should be and to do what one should do.

According to Orthodox Handbook Series Vol 1 by Thomas Hopko, posted at the Orthodox Church of America website,

Originally man was made to be the created image of God, to live in union with God’s divine life, and to rule over all creation. Man’s failure in this task is his sin which has also been called his fall.

Notice the subtle distinction. In Western theology, Adam and Eve sinned because they broke a law. The Orthodox, however, say they sinned because they failed to be like God. All agree that sin is to miss the mark. It’s just a question of what the mark is. Continue reading

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The Impact of Missionaries on Colonies

missionary with children, 1961Missionary work has a bad name within the sociological community, especially when associated with European colonization.

However, Christianity Today has published an article showing that a history of evangelistic Protestant missionaries is overwhelmingly associated with democracy and other positive social outcomes — Continue reading

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What Is Sin? Paganism

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The Romans saw the gods as beings to be manipulated into providing blessings.

The gods themselves cared little, if at all, about the people. Indeed, the stories about the gods suggested that that gods might rape and commit murder at will. The gods were in no sense “good.” But they had great power.

The gods’ influence on humans was called numen. The gods had a need for sacrifice — a pinch of incense or the blood of a bull — and providing sacrifices to the gods would be rewarded with numen. You can think if numen as a finite pool of goodwill or beneficence toward humans. As one author explains  Continue reading

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What Is “Sin”? The Nicene Creed

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This brings us to the Nicene Creed — believe it or not.

The fact that Jesus is the Messiah is the core of Paul’s gospel. And yet the modern Churches of Christ don’t teach this, not really.

We ask our converts to recite “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” but how many of our converts could tell us the meaning of “Christ”? Most, I suspect, would say that it means he’s divine, a part of the Godhead. We emphasize “Son of the Living God” purely in the sense of the Nicene Creed. Our theology is Fourth Century. Continue reading

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What Is “Sin”? Positive Law

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How did we get in this fix? What causes us to think that there is but one “right” way and that all others damn — even when it comes to how to take communion? Indeed, why especially communion?

Well, part of the answer comes from a strange bit of human philosophy that helped define the Church of Christ hermeneutic: positive law.

“Positive law” is a law that prohibits something not intrinsically wrong. A “moral law” is based on fundamental morality. In civil law — the law of governments — we would say that the prohibition of murder is a matter of moral law, because murder is wrong even if the government doesn’t choose to punish it. However, the law setting a minimum wage is positive law, because general principles of morality don’t declare wages below $7.25 an hour immoral — although there certainly is a point at which wages are immorally low — which may be higher or lower than the federal minimum wage. Continue reading

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What Is “Sin”? The Lord’s Supper as Example

sin-apple-snake-266x300Reader Raymond Gonzalez asked in a comment,

I have a question to those who advocate having a “larger meal” between the eating of the bread in memory and drinking of the cup in memory of our Lord. Are we in SIN if we just eat the bread and drink the cup in memory of Jesus WITHOUT the common meal in between? I ask this question because some are condemning churches that continue in the traditional manner.

First, a little background. I’ve often pointed out that the early church did not take the Lord’s Supper as a symbolic meal with crackers and juice. It was in fact typically taken as part of a full meal, called the “love feast” or agapē. We’ve covered this many times before. Continue reading

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