Saturday, December 13, 2008

The sociopathic propensities of Christians

Here's a list:
  • They don't really seek after God.
  • They don't do good.
  • They use their tongues for deceit, their throat is an open grave, the poison of asps is under their lips.
  • Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness
  • Their feet are swift to shed blood.
  • Destruction and misery are in their ways.
  • They don't know the way of peace.
  • Ultimately, there is no fear of God before their eyes.
A bit surprising, isn't it? Doesn't this list sound like an attempt by hard-headed atheists to slander an entire religion? Problem is, this list comes from the bible, from Romans 3. It's actually a list of the propensities of all people. The passage repeatedly says there is no one who does good, and I would guess that this "no one" includes saved Christians. Problems between Christians and the world can erupt when one side or the other forgets that we're still human.

Martin Luther had a friend, Spalatin, who became disconsolate that he had given some really poor moral advice, so poor that he became distraught over his sin. Luther rebutted:
"Had you fully realized the awful corruption of your heart in its relation to God, you would not be so inconsolable; for you would say to yourself: Alas! the fountain is so polluted; that is why such filth has to flow from it.
'Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ seem paltry and trifling to us, as thought He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in grand total."
quoted in C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between law and Gospel, Concordia Publishing House, St.Loius Mo, 1986, p.97

Christians can too often elevate political positions on "nominal and childish sins" to conditions for saving faith. Nonbelievers can too often point to the doctrine of sin itself as something that makes Christianity to be archaic or dangerous. I on the other hand agree with Chesterton that "Original sin is the only Christian dogma that can be proven by reading the morning paper." Come and join our company of real, hard boiled sinners.

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