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Posts Tagged ‘sin’

is sin imaginary?At first I was reluctant to interact with this atheist person, who was commenting on a Frank’s Cottage essay (and the graphic to the left), and you’ll realize it in my initial responses. All too often, I’ve been disappointed to find that people who believe there is no God simply want to score points and win debates over people they look down on.

But Jill was different and when I realized it, we ended up having a good conversation. Read on and see if you agree with me:

Jill: I think the topic of sin is interesting. From my perspective, the graphic is meant to show that in order to sell the “cure”, you have to make people believe they are sick, right?

Pharmaceutical companies have figured out the same thing. They want to sell more drugs. What better way to sell more drugs than to convince people through commercials that they might have a whole list of diseases which they pitch all over media. And by reinforcing the sin/sick concept over and over it keeps people flocking back to church or to their doctors for the cure.

I believe there is a big difference between the word ‘sin’ and words like ‘mistake’, ‘error’, etc. They are not interchangeable.

Frank: Thanks, Jill. Guess it’s a matter of perspective.

Jill: Isn’t sin the hook which churches use to keep people returning each week? Christianity is based upon original sin.

Frank: Perhaps that’s the perspective of some non-Christians….

Jill: I really resent watching people being told they are broken. I sometimes wonder if there is any data to link religiosity to depression. There is no perfect standard by which we should be judged.

Frank: Yes, your resentment would be expected in the non-believing world. And for me as a follower of Jesus Christ, there absolutely is a perfect standard by which we should be judged.

Jill: Do you ever feel depressed to be compared to a perfect standard for which you will never meet?

Frank: Nope, I never feel depressed about that. Because Christ is my lord and savior, God sees me as He sees Jesus: perfect, without a single blemish. 🙂

Jill: I’m glad to read that, Frank. It makes me feel a little better. But why sin then? If God sees you as he sees Jesus, why is sin such an important part of Christianity?

Frank: Great questions! Why sin? Because of the gift of freewill. Serious Christians believe God knew this would be the result of giving us freewill, but He did it anyway because He wanted (and wants) a REAL relationship with real people, rather than goose-stepping robots.

Serious Christians believe sin is important because in the end, it’s a rejection of God. It’s telling Him we know better than Him how to live our lives. And thousands of years of history have shown how horribly wrong this is.

In addition, serious Christians believe God is perfect and cannot stand the sin that all human beings commit. But rather than condemn us all, we believe God sent His son as a gift to everyone who wishes to accept the gift. And that gift (a) clears away the sin and (b) strengthens us to see our sin clearly and avoid it more in the future.

Jill: But he’s God, for goodness sake. He could have created perfect beings, couldn’t he? He could have created goose-stepping robots if he wanted to, correct?

Instead, he created humans with flaws, which he already knows about because he’s omniscient. Then he grows frustrated with them and causes great harm to many. Whose fault is that?

Frank: Yes, He could have created perfect beings who were in perfect relationship with Him. And it would be a real as a TV “reality” show.

Serious Christians believe the Biblical viewpoint that humans are made in God’s image. That means the emotions we experience are the emotions He experiences. Pain, frustration, anger, joy, etc. Goose-stepping robots would be as useless to Him as they would be to us.

Jill: How do you know those are the emotions God experiences? How do you tell the difference between real emotions as God experiences them and human emotions which humans project upon God? Couldn’t “in His image” be just a physical descriptor? Or a metaphor for something else?

Frank: I know these are the emotions God experiences because the Bible – which serious Christians trust as absolutely reliable – depicts God with those emotions.

In addition, I guess “in His image” could be a physical descriptor because we all resemble Jesus – human beings with two arms and two legs and a face that expresses every emotion known to humans.

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So, what do you think? Is the idea of ‘sin’ — and the way to escape the prison it creates for every person on this earth — more real to you now? And what about that ‘escape’? Do you want to know more about it? Type your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

 

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Sin+is+an+imaginary+disease+invented+to+sell+you+an+imaginary+cureI’d never heard anybody call “sin” an imaginary disease, so when I saw this graphic posted on the Internet, it instantly grabbed my attention.

“Sin” has become a strange and cliched term in our culture. Either something is “sinful” (a favourite positive term in TV commercials for rich foods like chocolate) or it’s something most of us associate with annoying, badly dressed TV evangelists.

So I looked up the term. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website defines it this way:

Sin is the breaking of God’s law.  If God says “Do not lie” and you lie, then you have broken His law and sinned.  The reason God says to not lie, not cheat, etc., is because these laws reflect the moral purity of His nature.  Therefore, the law is a reflection of the character of God.

Dictionary.com is a little briefer:
Any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle. Any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It’s a sin to waste time.

Maybe that’s not a “sin” to you. So let’s use less loaded words: Misdeed. Mistake. Error. Wrongdoing. Imperfection.

Whatever your preferred term, I can’t for a minute believe it’s an “imaginary disease”. Is there even a single person on this planet who hasn’t done or said something they regret? Or NOT done or said something and regretted that?

It seems crystal clear to me that this is a universal human condition. We “invented” it and, sadly, we live it out every day.

So what about the “imaginary” cure? The person who created this graphic is probably an atheist and so believes if the “disease” isn’t real, then there’s no need for a cure.

But if you’re comfortable in disagreeing with the former, then the latter is no longer imaginary.

For people like me, the cure is wonderfully simple: Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is the son of God. Jesus is God’s gift to humanity, given to all who believe that He died to make up for our sins. All we have to do is accept the gift.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean we will avoid the consequences of our actions (or inactions). But it does mean that, if we truly believe Jesus offers the way to eternal forgiveness and if we sincerely ask for that forgiveness, we will receive it from the creator and master of time, space and the universe. No matter what.

(Looking for an incredible example? Then read about the ‘Son of Sam’: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K)

So, does the cure for your “disease” interest you? Yes or no, post your answer below and let’s have a conversation.

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Popularity 2.14

What do you think? Does the atheist person who created this graphic have a good point?

I guess that depends on what you think the point is; for me, this graphic (which criticizes Christianity) doesn’t really speak about truth. It speaks about popularity.

Consider this: Nazism must be true, because it was very popular with a very large segment of Europe. For about a decade, people all over Germany, France, Austria and other countries were knocking on doors to get into the club.

And what about this: smoking cigarettes must be a good thing, since hundreds of millions of people have done it. In fact, there are still young people who knock on the door to get into the smokers club.

What I’m saying here is the truth of Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with its popularity. Zero. Zilch. Squat.

So let’s go further and explain why people are, for the most part, NOT knocking on the doors to get into the club.

1. Christianity starts with absolute reality and that reality is so unpopular, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I write that some people would rather cut off their ears than hear it: we do bad things and fail to do good things. All the time – so often, in fact, that we often don’t realize when it happens. (That’s certainly the case for me.)

It can be as small as failing to give to charity or getting unjustifiably angry with your spouse. And it can be as large as sabotaging a friend’s marriage, cheating on your taxes or defrauding your workplace. The size doesn’t matter. It’s still reality. It’s still bad. It’s still happening all the time.

2. Many people think truth is kinda relative. But there is an objective morality to Christianity – a morality that doesn’t change with time or culture or anything else.

Wrong is still wrong, even if everyone’s doing it. And right is still right, even if no one is doing it. And that definitely makes Christianity unpopular.

3. The solution is as simple as accepting a gift from God – Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is His son.

Christ came to serve anyone who believes in Him and follows Him – His death is a sacrifice that makes up for all the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do. And His resurrection provides a way for eternal life with Him, long after our lives on planet Earth are finished.

This is overwhelmingly unpopular because it forces us to examine our lives and admit we have blown it so often that we can never do enough to make up for it. Even someone as remarkable as Mother Teresa knew that.

4. One final reason for the unpopularity of Christianity? It takes a combination of reason and faith to become a follower of Jesus Christ. It will never, ever be possible to prove or disprove the existence of God. There is certainly evidence, but that evidence MUST be combined with a leap of faith (and I write about that here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-3i). That’s certainly enough to turn off many people.

And yet, in the end, Christianity is so simple. And what you need to do to get in on God’s offer of a changed life NOW and for ETERNITY is remarkably straightforward.

Are you interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Bill MaherIf anyone knows how to stimulate conversation, it’s militant atheist and U.S. talk show host Bill Maher. That said, I’m not sure Bill ever thought this quote would be used to explain a truth about the Christian faith.

Bill asks a great question here. It’s a question I asked before and after I decided to become a Christian more than 10 years ago.

After making that decision, I held up Bill’s question to the hard light of examination. And I pondered the nature of all us human beings. Then the answer came to me.

  • What message am I sending when I selfishly refuse to talk to my wife if I don’t get my own way?
  • What message am I sending when I use all my tax return for vacations or electronic toys instead of putting some aside for charity?
  • What message am I sending when I’m driving to work and I give someone the one-finger salute because I don’t care for his or her driving?
  • What message am I sending when I pay a contractor under the table and avoid the taxes I should be paying?

It’s the same message every time. And it’s this simple: “God, don’t even lay one finger on the devil”.

When I do wrong and/or fail to do right, I’m telling my creator that I’m siding with His opponent. In fact, let me go so far as to write that I’m informing God that I like the devil more than I like Him.

If you’re a little disturbed, good. I’m certainly disturbed when I find my actions broadcasting that message. And yet, I seem to do it almost as often as breathing. In fact, when I live my life without acknowledging God and His gift to everyone who will accept it (Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son), I’m goose-stepping to the beat of His opponent.

Now take my “sins” and multiply them by, oh, a trillion. Now you can see why God doesn’t just defeat the devil. Because the actions of all humanity tell Him, with numbing frequency and nauseating volume, that we don’t want Him to. And so He doesn’t.

There is a way out of this deeply vicious cycle. A way to ensure that my actions don’t help fill up the bottomless sea of ugly messages to God. And that way is to accept His gift.

Tell God you’re sorry for the bad things you’ve done and the good things you’ve failed to do. Tell him you accept Jesus Christ as your saviour and acknowledge His death wipes your past, present and future slate clean. And invite Jesus into your life.

If you’re serious about this, then watch things start to happen. Amazing, life-changing things.  You’ll never be the same. And you won’t be siding with God’s opponent anymore.

Does this make sense? Yes or no, type your comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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Sin 10.13“Sin” is not a word we use much anymore.
And it’s easy to understand why: embarrassing televangelists have turned it into a ridiculously pronounced cliche (can’t you just hear them pontificating about ‘see-in’?). Furthermore, in North America, the media and entertainment industries have mercilessly lampooned the word and anyone who dares to even whisper it.

So, call it what you want. Moral crimes, moral failings. I’m sure I could find more names for sin, but you get it.

Responding to the charge in this online ‘graphic’ (conveniently posted for me on an Atheism Internet community), I looked up the word. Here’s what I found:

Transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
Any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
Any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It’s a sin to waste time.

After reading these definitions, all I can do is think about the world we live in, then scratch my head in puzzlement. Epic greed (which directly caused the 2008-2011 recession), sickening entitlement (think about the salaries most professional athletes demand because they think they’re worth it) and lust for power (which have brought us the likes of Adolf Hitler) are just a few of what Dictionary.com calls “a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principal”. You can probably suggest other examples.

So how is any of what I’ve described ‘imaginary’? The people who are still struggling because of the recession, the people who receive piddling salaries for doing important work (social workers come to mind) and the victims of someone’s lust for power (just consider the victims of Cambodia’s horrific Pol Pot regime) would surely tell you sin is as real as cancer, reality TV and government deficits.

And the ‘imaginary cure’? I have no trouble telling you there are many parts of the Christian Bible that I don’t fully comprehend. But that’s not what sticks with me. Instead, I think of the parts that are crystal clear:

  • Love your enemies;
  • Treat others as you would like to be treated;
  • Deal with your shortcomings before pointing out the failures of others;
  • Don’t be a hypocrite;
  • Forgive and you will be forgiven;
  • Put the needs of others ahead of your needs.

Am I crazy to write that these commandments, mostly given by Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) will go a long way to solving the moral crimes of humanity? I don’t think so.

That’s why I became a follower of Jesus. That’s why I treat His words seriously, even the parts that puzzle me. Jesus knows better than I do what’s wrong with this world and how it can be made right. I want to be part of that process. Do you? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Glass half fullIs the glass half-full or half-empty?

That’s the essence of what atheist blogger Staks Rosch is getting at when he wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called “Dear Pope, Atheists don’t need redemption”.

Here’s a key excerpt:

I don’t believe humans are evil sinners in need of redemption. I don’t see the glass as half empty. I think people are more nuanced than that. We do good things and we do bad things.

First of all, let me write that I would dearly LOVE to agree with Staks. In fact, for many years I was onside with his main points. And it’s hardly a stretch to say that yes, we do good things and bad things.

So what happened?

Simply put, I came to ask these questions: what do we do about the bad things we do? And what do we do about the good things that we FAIL to do?

I’m not talking about destroying skyscrapers or failing to stop genocide – for most of us, such “sins” are as relevant as contemplating life on Mars. I’m talking about when I’m blatently insensitive to my wife or find an excuse not to help a friend in need because it makes me uncomfortable.

What does Staks Rosch do about these things? Apparently, nothing except writing that “I have come to understand that people generally try to be the best they can.”

And to that point, I have to sadly disagree.

In well-off North America it’s easy to be distracted by shiny things (oooh, a new iPad! And look what dumb thing that politician/movie star did today!). But if you and I pay attention to what’s really happening in this world, we would have to admit that people generally DON’T try to be the best they can. I can think of no other explanation for:

  • Thousands of child soldiers in Africa;
  • Rampant sex slavery in southeast Asia (supported by western ‘sex tourists’);
  • Massive corruption in developing nations (aided by North American companies like engineering giant SNC Lavelin);
  • Cash-strapped western governments cutting social services, but propping up banks.

When I think about these things, I have no trouble believing this quote in a section of the Bible called ‘Romans’: “All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness.

Staks Rosch doesn’t face this truth in his blog. But lots of people do face it. And some of them, like me, decide to follow Jesus Christ – whom genuine Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God – because we need REAL, PERMANENT good news.

The good news is by believing that Jesus sacrificed his life to wipe out the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do, we also welcome Him to change us. To make us more like him.

And, if you believe life goes beyond 70 or so years on this planet, then that good news is permanent. When I’m done with this life, I’ll face God’s judgement. And I’ll come through that judgement scott-free because of what Jesus did for me.

He can do it for you, too. So, what do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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