14 November 2005

The S Word

I got sin coming at me from everywhere these days. Today our Anglican Tradition and Life class discussed sin and how the Church conceived of it after the Reformation, and how we conceive of it today. On the Episcopal Seminary Students listserve, we are discussing sin and what qualifies, how to rank them, which ones to really go after. Our Church History class has plowed through Augustine and Original Sin in response to Pelagianism. A classmate and I discussed the powers and principalities of Ephesians 6:2 and spiritual warfare. Our sermon at daily Eucharist today urged us to beware the Church that innoculates members with a mild form of Christianity, making them immune to the real version. This Church would avoid discussing sin as too controversial, so dangerously un-Jesus I don't know how to call it a Church. I see the Church with its inocculating needles out so often, with a Buddy-Jesus smile and a circle of hand-holding, and some sprinkled phrases about concern for the Earth, and then brunch afterwards to wash down that long drink of BS in which we all just participated.


I return again and again to Creation Regained, the book that changed my life, and the idea that the whole Creation was good, the whole Creation fell, and the whole Creation is offered redemption through Jesus Christ. This means that every person, thing, and institution can be restored to its whole created state. This also means that every person, thing, and institution has been corrupted by sin. Everything is broke down to some degree 'round here, I reckon.

I remember that in my Commission on Ministry interview, someone shared with me that through ministry they came to know the depth of their own sinfulness. The depth of my own sinfulness? I thought as he spoke. Where did that come from? But now his words are ringing in my ears, and a healthy dose of sin-talk is right up my alley today for some reason. I found I was hungry to delve into the workings of sin in my own life and in general, and was thankful for the reminder that I am finite, I am weak, and I am incomplete. Discussing sin, confessing it, makes that reality unavoidable. I am becoming aware that in seminary the emphasis on higher learning and theological understanding can draw us away from awareness of our own sinfulness and the personal moral implications of our theology, towards a distanced, general grasp of concepts and worship full of silent theological ponderings rather than confession and absolution. Coupled with this distance is that pesky PC pressure that props us all up on a floor of eggshells in mapping out where sin is, what it covers, and the radical realization in light of pervasive sin that Jesus has the power to redeem it all. Without acknowledging the depth of my sin, what will I conceive of as the depth of my salvation?


Blogger Bad Alice said...

I went through a long spell of not really taking sin seriously. I thought it was human nature, error, whatever. Coming face to face with my own seriously sinful state was quite an unpleasant shock and a real revelation. I'll have to check out that book.

On a side note, I sent an email at one point in response to a question you posted to me at one point somewhere on my blog or yours. Just wanted to make sure you got that, so that if you didn't you would know I wasn't ignoring you. :)

11:26 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm still sorting out my thoughts on this, but can I just say...Wow...

It's one thing to be drawn to study of the scriptures and better understanding/participation in liturgy, but those two aspects of a spiritual life cannot be practiced at the expense of wrestling with the S word.

This is a massive area that I have ignored in my life for a while, but I have realized that I MUST figure out A: how to identify what is truly sinful in my behavior, and B: how I can go about correcting those behaviors, if I want to get to the deep relationship with God that I feel like I'm called to have.

Thanks for the inspiring post,
The Episcobrarian

1:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

"Thud" by Terry Pratchett is a look at how sin is busy separating us from ourselves, each other and the Holy. The "summoning dark" and the "guarding dark" -- even Vimes is not immune.

1:45 PM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

I went through a neopagan spell -- pardon the pun -- back in my 30's, precipitated by a variety of issues and dissatisfactions with the Church as I was experiencing it at the time. But what I found lacking in neopaganism was a coherent understanding of/explanation for/remedy for sin -- the very evident brokenness, the disconnection between ourselves and the Divine and ourselves and others, that we experience in our own lives and in the life of the world.

Maybe part of the problem is the penal model of sin that the Western church has been saddled with. The more I hang out with Orthodox people online, the more I appreciate their "medical" model of sin -- sin as a sickness that Christ came to heal.

11:09 AM  

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