Wednesday, April 7, 2010

more on sin

The sin discussion is continuing.  Nathan has posted on sin and righteousness.  It's well worth a read if you haven't read it already.  I'll respond to it when I have time.  I'll also respond to Stuart's long asked question of the biblical backing for my platonist positions when I can.  Last night I started mapping them out.  My easiest answer at this stage is that it's the vibe of the whole bible, it's Mabo etc.

In the meantime, here's a few thoughts on the current discussion.
1.  I have heaps of sympathy for Nathan's position.  Just getting on with the task of preaching the gospel and not dwelling overly on sin is, I think, the best way of living in this world.  Sin will pollute all of our actions.  We should repent as we can and press on doing the things that God says are good to do. 

[I've spent a bit of time over the years reading puritan prayers (from the Valley of Vision book) but after I've prayed a few of them I usually step back and think that too much of that stuff is actually unhelpful.  I know that I'm a miserable sinner.  Finding a thousand different ways to express that to God and myself doesn't make me any more forgiven.]

2.  My view which looks to the new creation as the place where desires will be met and demands patience in the meantime, probably needs a couple of clarifications.
a.) I came up with this idea in the context of my ongoing struggle with sin.  What do we do with desires (like ambition etc) that won't go away?  How do we, year in, year out, deal with our ever-present sins?  Never fully getting the things that we (part sinfully, part rightly) crave? 
b.) I see self denial and resisting temptation as a part of Christian suffering.  It is part of our groaning (Romans 8) for the new creation. 
c.) Our groaning is not futile.  Like the pains of labor, they will deliver something.


  1. RE puritan prayer -- I suppose (and this is only a supposal) that their idea was that 'he who is forgiven much, loves much' (eg. Luke 7:47). Not that the woman was more a sinner than the religious person, but that she was more fully aware of her sinfulness, and thus appreciated far more what Jesus did for her, and loved him for it.

  2. I'm hearing this. And I've read Nathan's stuff quickly too. I think I want to steer a middle course.

    And I wonder if you've given too much away to the not-yet dimension of our existence rather than seeing that even in this life we can find satisfaction and joy in Christ.

    I know that CS Lewis speaks of an "inconsolable desire" that those who follow Jesus will necessarily experience until the next life. In fact he says that the closer we follow Jesus, the greater the inconsolable desire.

    But can't we expect some satisfaction of our cravings in the now? Can't we have some power over sin now so that we struggle less as we become more like Jesus? Can't we experience the blessings of heaven, albeit watered down, in this life? Maybe we've reacted so strongly to the overrealised eschatology of the Pentecostal movement that our own eschatology has become underrealised?

    I remember Rob Smith telling us in Theology one day that

    We have been saved from the punishment of sin
    we are being saved from the power of sin
    we will be saved from the presence of sin.

    I think that's helpful.