Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Human's Are Wicked...( wicked, skill, skill ;0D )

From a previous post a discussion has resulted about human nature and sin, so I want to try and clarify where I stand in all of this.  My thoughts have been aided and helped by 'Promise and Presence'.

'We are more wicked than we feared' or the doctrine of 'Total Depravity' assumes that humanity is basically evil.  In my previous post I spoke of my struggle with this belief.  I'm going to try and expand where I'm coming from.

Much of (evangelical?) Christianity understands humanity in relation to Adam's sin.  So Adam's sin and its consequences define my life and the life of every human being.  Yet this is the wrong place to start. 

This is secondary rather than primary.  Sin is a distortion  or disorientation of our human nature, yet we are not defined in this way (think of sin as disorientation like this:  humanity was on a journey to a place of total fulfilment, yet we got lost and confused and journeyed in completely the wrong direction leading to a place of wilderness).  

The place to start in defining who we are is not even with the pre-fallen Adam created 'good' in the image of God.  The place to start in defining who we are is with the resurrected and ascended Christ.  Jesus did not become human as previously defined by Adam; Adam was created in the image of the humanity that Jesus would take.  

So in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus our original destiny and identity is defined.  And at the Cross of Jesus the disorientation and distortion of our original destiny and identity is seen 'in all its unspeakable horror' (Colwell, Promise and Presence p 199).

So the humanity of Jesus reveals and defines our own humanity.  Sin is 'unnatural' to human nature. What is 'natural' to human nature is expressed and seen and defined by Christ's human nature.  It is to be in relationship with God.  It is to share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  

Sin is a corruption of human nature.
It corrupts our relationship with God.
It corrupts our relationship with one another.
It corrupts our decisions.
It corrupts society.

Yet it does not mean we are totally wicked; it is that there is not one aspect in all of creation that is not fundamentally disorientated because of sin.

Sin is not about stuff we have done which we shouldn't have done.  Sin is that we have not loved God with all that we are and means there is a total distortion of human nature.  We are 'sin-sick' (Stanley Hauerwas coined this phrase).

And because of this Christian understanding of 'salvation' falls short when it focuses purely on forgiveness of sins and 'going to heaven'.  Salvation is about that distortion and disorientation that sin has caused being completely healed and restored.
It's about all of creation being reoriented back to God, about journeying towards God and his goodness and enjoying God for all of eternity.
It's about humanity being healed from its 'sin-sickness' and the whole of life reflecting that.

So we are defined by Jesus, created to reflect him in all that we are.  Anything contrary to that is 'unnatural'.

P.S.  I think it's important to grapple with and understand what we believe about God.  Jesus said we should love God will all our heart, soul, MIND and strength.  I believe that the way we live our lives reflect what we believe about God.  So it's good to understand what we actually believe.  


Tim said...

I have spent some time thinking about this, trying to define exactly what Sin is.
To say that sin is when humans break the commandments of God is too simple an answer as it doesn't really explain anything that makes sense to most people. I have worked through some ideas very similar to your own and the common denominator of all of them is the need to see all of life or existance as the outcome of Gods Creative purpose. Thus sin is anything that is counter to the creative purposes of God. This, I think is quite abstract, but it is a concept that most folk can easily understand. It does beg the question as to what exactly is God's Creative purpose for life, the universe and everything... but thats another question altogether.

Joe said...

I like that Tim, I think it is a really helpful way of understanding what sin is. It's such a difficult word to grapple with.

Loving God with all that we are and loving each other could be what those creative purposes are. As we do these something beautiful happens in the world, something creative, something 'divine', but when we don't it leads to decay and something ugly...

I'm trying to understand it from a point that helps my own relationship with God but also in a way that helps others journey towards God. Difficult!