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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Acceptance and Faith

Suilaid!

So I've recently gotten into a few discussions concerning several different theological points. I hold a few...unpopular views, mostly revolving around the "sin nature" (which I believe we don't have), etc. (Of course, I also hold unpopular political views, but that's an entirely different subject.)

Inevitably, every discussion concerning these points comes down to this line, quoted in various different ways by nearly every person- "Well, there are just some things we have to accept on faith because we can't understand them, so we just shouldn't worry about them."

...........

o.0

So...um...I guess since I can't understand God, I should just not think about it, right?

Whatever logic that is.

I think God intended for us to exercise and brains and try to understand things. Why else did He give us the Bible? So we could just blindly stumble through life, trying not to think about things?

Maybe it's just me. I am of such a temperament that I want to try to understand stuff. Including the Bible. That doesn't make me less of a Christian, or less faithful. I exercise my faith by trying to understand. Without faith, I couldn't make sense of half of what I read in the Bible.

There are many things God tells us in the Bible. For instance, He tells us about salvation. Salvation is beyond man's superficial comprehension. Yet men have, for centuries, turned their minds to the questions of sin, salvation, and sanctification. Why? Because they wanted to truly understand. Yes, salvation still in a way transcends our efforts to understand. But does the fact that some of it we do not yet understand mean we should stop trying? That we should simply stop in our tracks, go no further, and simply accept "by faith" whatever we are spoon-fed from the pulpit?

You never see that in the Bible. I don't think Paul stopped thinking about things because he didn't understand them. No. He kept on trucking, and he was one of the greatest Christians ever. All throughout history, man's understanding of the Bible has increased because there were a few who didn't stop at accepted doctrine and teachings, and instead plowed ahead and actually thought about things, letting it all soak into their minds and trying to make some sort of sense of the puzzle pieces they had been given.

Neither do I see in the Bible the commandment to merely sit back, doze off, and let everything difficult to understand float around in the ether somewhere. I do see commandments to meditate and a commandment to study, commandments to think, and commandments to read. God does tell us to accept certain things on faith- but always in the context of salvation, etc. Never in the context of learning more about Him, the Word, and the world around us.

Just because there are some things that are beyond our mortal comprehension (or supposedly beyond that comprehension) doesn't mean we should stop thinking about those things. Only through applying our minds and meditating and studying those things can we truly grow and get to know God.

Namárië and 爱於耶穌
~Liberty

(Also posted on Teenage Musings)

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9 comments:

Tragedy101 said...

What is this "sin nature" you speak of? The term is unfamiliar to me.

Romans 5.12-14

Sin is not imputed when there is no law, and yet those between the first command and the commands given unto Moses died.

Ezekiel 18.4

The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Infant death and the deaths of those aforementioned cannot be explained, except for a form of "natural" sin (which of course is very unnatural in its nature).

Unless, you have an alternate explanation?

Is this the "sin nature" you mean? If not, by all means disregard my second guessing your supposed answer, and explain, please.

Liberty said...

The sin nature is often defined as natural, or hereditary sin. "Sin nature" is the common jargon in the Independent Baptist circuit, so it might be called something else elsewhere, but I wouldn't know. ^.^

No, I don't believe we have a sin nature, or hereditary sin, or anything of the kind. I probably ought to do a blog post on the subject, because my thinking is a bit long.

It goes back to a pure definition of sin. Sin is doing something wrong to get or attain something that may not necessarily be wrong. For instance, we all need food. Food is not bad. It only becomes bad (and becomes a "sin") when we either a) get that food in the wrong way, like stealing it, or b) eat constantly (gluttony).

That is sin. Sin is individual. It starts at birth yes, but does a baby really have any concept of sin? Of course not. He or she is merely taking the most direct route to what they want, which sometimes happens to be just throwing a temper tantrum until they get it.

Yet...the child chooses that individual action. They choose to take that action. There is no mysterious force, some mysterious "need" to sin.

Our nature is something we cannot help, we do not choose. It is defined as "•the essential qualities or characteristics by which something is recognized." For instance, it is the nature of fire to burn. It is the nature of people to eat. It is the nature of cows to give milk. They cannot help it. However, sin is clearly a choice we make. If it is not, then how can we hold sinners accountable? How can God?

For instance, if it is my nature to sin, then I murder someone, then by a logical process, it is obviously my nature to murder. I cannot help it; I am that way by no choice or forethought of my own. I cannot help it. In the same way, we cannot hold a homosexual or a rapist or a thief accountable, because that is their nature. They cannot help it. Hence, if we have a true "sin nature", then we cannot choose and hence cannot be held accountable.

On to the death thing. There is a verse...too lazy to look it up right now, but it's somewhere in Romans. "So by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men." This verse is often used as concrete evidence for a sin nature/natural sin/total depravity/etc.

However, Adam and Eve didn't eat of the Tree of Good and Evil. It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So sin had existed before this time (just look at Lucifer). All they did by eating of that tree was give humanity a knowledge of the rightness or wrongness of certain things. So it was the knowledge of those things that killed them. Once they ate of the tree, they knew they had done something wrong, and that it was sin, and hence they had sinned. But that was a choice they made.

Liberty said...

What was also a choice was Cain bringing an incorrect offering, and summarily killing his brother. Both choices: not random acts he couldn't help.

What also makes me think we don't have a sin nature is that our natures can't just change. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin..."

Our natures cannot fundamentally change. The nature of fire is to burn, but if we take away its' nature to burn, then...it is nothing. It is no longer fire. So we cannot change our fundamental nature (to sin, supposedly).

What does happen after salvation is that the "old man" (our flesh, or our mind, will, and emotions) is cleansed from the power of sin, the penalty of sin, and then we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit to give us that power daily. Our bondage wasn't our "nature"- that was a choice we imposed upon ourselves by our day-to-day choices to live wrong, to do things we knew weren't right, etc. etc.

So, to summarize what has probably become a huge comment- I think we do not have a sin nature/natural sin/inherited sin. We have just yes, our sin, and our knowledge of said sin. Each person is held accountable for their individual sin, and that is how it should be.

Tragedy101 said...

Romans 5.12 is the verse you mention "Wherefore by one man sin entered..."

You didn't read my comment or check the verses I cited in any translation, did you?

Only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us are we capable of doing God's will. Would you agree with this statement?

I'm thinking of the "insert title here" story on Carpe Noctem: Natural sin is the same as evil in that story.

Liberty said...

I am familiar with the passages you cited, and tried my best to answer them, however I'm afraid I'm not conveying my thoughts well. I rarely debate theology, and it shows. >.<

Anyway...

Death- yes, babies die. Children who have not sinned, and have had no chance to sin, die. But that is not conclusive proof of natural sin or of a sin nature. I tried to explain the whole "nature" thing in my comment, but I guess it must have made little sense. So me, LOL

Anyway, here's my thinking- in the Garden of Eden, there were two special trees. One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil- the forbidden tree. However, there was also the Tree of Life. This tree was the reason Adam and Eve were turned out of the Garden, "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever, Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden..."

Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, so that they would be able to live in a state of innocence, much like children and babies do now. However, after that innocence was stripped away and they knew about sin, and their minds were no longer pure, they could not live forever by eating of the Tree of Life.

So, yes, in a way, sin/death is hereditary. But it is not because we have a "sin nature" or "natural sin", it is because we are separated from the life-giving power of the Tree of Life (which will, BTW, be in Heaven).

"Only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us are we capable of doing God's will. Would you agree with this statement?"

To a certain degree. I think people who are not saved are capable of doing good- how else were Job, or Abel, or any of the other NT heroes of the faith able to do anything that would even remotely pass as God-honoring? I have met many good unsaved people. They keep the ten commandments to some degree, and in that respect they "do God's will." Yes, the Holy Spirit helps us and aids us in our walk with Him, but we are able, to a certain extent, to do things in our own power. That sounds awful, and not at all as I intended. >.>

So yes. I've utterly mangled most of this. Just another little tidbit- in the verse you cited in Ezekiel, there's also this- vs 20 reads "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

1. Each man is responsible for his individual sin, not the sins of past or future generations. This negates the view of hereditary sin.
2. Since sin is individual, it doesn't seem to be a problem that can be applied to all.

Yes, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But just because that is true does not mean that we all have some sort of hereditary sin problem. That seems to me to be nothing but an excuse. ^.^

Tragedy101 said...

Proverbs 3.5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall make thy paths straight."

The Bible is sure. My reasoning may fail me, but his word shall never fail.

There are so many non-biblical beliefs in your argument, I'm not certain where to start. Here is what I will do: I will back everything I say with scripture. I may be wrong, but you will be able to look up and evaluate for yourself what I say. I won't ask and don't want you or anyone to accept anything I say on faith. Examine what I say to see if it is true.

***

Job 19.25

"I know that my Redeemer lives and will stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh will I see him."

Who is Job's Redeemer?

Acts 4.12

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Ephesians 2.8

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God"

Genesis 15.6

"And Abraham believed the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness."

How many times can you find "to obey is better than sacrifice" in the Old Testament?

Revelation 13.8

"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

Who is the lamb?

What does "slain from the foundation of the earth" mean?

It is my opinion that Job, Abel, Abraham, all the heroes of faith found in Hebrews, all humans who will be/are with Christ in heaven have/are/will be saved by grace through faith. God is with his people which is why they can obey him.

Daniel 4.34-35

"And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"

It is my opinion that God is sovereign, he establishes and overthrows kings, nation, and powers of this world. It is through his sovereignty that sometimes wicked people do good, not through some inherent ability of their own.

Tragedy101 said...

I apologize for my last comment. Some how took one small portion of your explanation (Job wasn't saved?) and couldn't follow the rest.

*I agree:

Defining nature as the characteristics by which something is recognized.

Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, by eating its fruit humans became aware of Good.

Lucifer was not Good before the fall of man.

Cain's inappropriate sacrifice and murder of his brother were not random acts.

Our natures cannot change fundamentally.

No inherited sin.

We have free will.

We inherit consequences of sins committed by our predecessors.

*I disagree:

Defining sin as doing something.

No mysterious force/need to sin.

The idea that without free will there should be no consequence.

The "old man" is cleansed from the power and penalty of sin.

We have knowledge of our sin.

Job was not saved.

We know who is saved and unsaved.

Sin is individual.

Liberty said...

Just a question- how would you define sin if not "doing something" that is, presumably, wrong? Also, how can you say sin is not individual? If it is not, then how can we hold one individual accountable for his individual sin?

Also, I'd also like to ask- why don't you think that the "old man" (our sin, it's penalty and power) dies at salvation?

I dunno- maybe I'm misreading your comment. ^.^

Anyway- your explanation about how Job, etc. could be saved is interesting. I'll have to study that one out. ^.^ However, it was always my understanding that it was the blood sacrifices, and the remission of sins thereby that cleansed them...but I could be misunderstanding the situation. I do that. :P

Tragedy101 said...

Sin is not doing wrong.

Sin is the state of not being good.

The "old man", yes, dies, but is not cleansed. We are cleansed of all unrighteousness. But the "old man" of sin, the man with the "sin nature" dies, as Paul writes. When we are of the world we are like the dead, dry bones in Ezekiel, but the Spirit of the Lord moves upon us and we live. The nature of dead bones is to be dead. The nature of the living is granted us not of ourselves, but of God.

We might say dead bones once were something alive, but the nature of the living is not the nature of the dry bones. Nature: The essential qualities or characteristics by which something is recognized.

The nature of sin and the nature of God are at odds. Either I am a slave to one or the other. "True liberty is service."

Sin is death, it is seperation from God.