sin, judgment, punishment, and redemption
The concepts of sin, judgment, punishment, and redemption seem to keep coming up on various threads on the board. Often the discussion of these topics seems to take over the other treads original topic. I am creating this thread in hopes of focusing the conversation regarding these concepts on one thread. Please post away.
The following thread is one example:
These are some of my favorite topics! :)
Can't wait to dig into them with you all.
Sin & Grace
I was at a Unity class last night and the topic of sin came up.
The teacher said that sin is "missing the mark." Which I agree with. It isn't a inherent evil, a "sin nature". It doesn't separate us from God. It's just missing the mark of being who God is calling us to be.
And then the topic of Grace came up. I grew up with the idea that Grace is "unmerited favor." Example: While I was yet a depraved sinner, Christ died for me... Or when miracles & blessings happen, it is the undeserved grace of God. I know I don't believe in "being" a sinner. And I don't have a solid handle on the meaning of seeming miracles & suprise blessings.
So I'm confused.
If we believe that we are inherently good and thus deserving & worthy of God's love... then how does Grace fit in the picture? You can't have "unmerited favor" if you do merit the favor. He brought up some examples of how he miraculously avoided tragedy in the Vietnam War, but the offset to that is... if that was God's Grace for you, where was God's Grace for the person who got killed? Where is God's Grace for the innocent?
That understanding of Grace seems to be VERY tied up in the limiting, negative view of Sin. And thus in the idea of God being a partial, favorites-playing, moody being in the sky... which I absolutely don't believe God is.
So what is this thing we call Grace? And how does it fit with who we see God to be?
Clarify, do you or do you not believe that you are a "sinner" by nature? Sounds like you believe human nature is not "sinful" but that errors get made. Is that it?
That kind of illustrates what I believe.
I believe sin exists in the world, but it's only "missing the mark." It's not a cause for judgement or punishment. It's not a "sin nature" that some churches teach we are all born with.
Okay Nathan, ya want thoughts?
This from a completely non-Christian perspective (seeing as how I'm not christian, nor (well) educated about christianity). On the subject of grace, this is what I find so far.
That there are two graces operating in our lives. There is ever-present grace from the Lord always descending to us, infinite, never running out, and always there. And there is the grace of opening the Self to the Lord's grace, meaning the same grace which gives us determination when we need to survive and surmount dangers, especially psychological/spiritual ones. Without this inner grace operating, we cannot receive the Lord's grace, because it is like closing the door to it. And we can be variously more open or more closed to it, according to how that inner grace operates in us as that moment. In a being like Jesus, it is thoroughly activated, and completely open. We have to be determined to be with that spirit, yet we have to be determined "softly," because when we squeeze on it, we distort that energy with our minds, and that's when we become rigid in our ideas, how we live our lives. Then the rigidity starts closing us off to that inward grace.
And I also think that in terms of death, it is possible that there are certain times that are "meant to be" and others that are not. I do not know if it's possible to know which time is which, but I do believe there is a great deal of mystery surrounding death that *is* understandable to us, even here, if we are strongly attuned. That's just a theory, though. Ask me again in a few decades if I've found an answer!! :lol:
What does Original Blessing mean, and where is it in the Bible? I'm not acquainted with the teaching.
Also, could Nathan please respond to my last post on Apocalyptophilia? I did alot of thinking for that one and would enjoy some feedback. I might as well post it here since we got sick of the old thread.
"I appreciate the fact that you emphasize God's love. However, to emphasize His love at the expense of His righteous judgment is unrealistic.
If you take time to investigate what the Bible actually says about the sinful nature of humans, it should become obvious fairly quickly that while God's love is a major theme, so is God's judgment. There are at least 389 verses in the Bible that specifically use the word "sin", 90 verses in the New Testament alone. 285 verses use the word "judgement". 281 verses use the word love. 261 verses contain the word "mercy". A reading of the Scriptures that comes away with a belief that human beings are not sinful is unbalanced, blind and unrealistic.
I, too, pray that we may hope for God's love, but hoping for God's love does not require ignoring our sinful condition. The father certainly rejoices for the return of his lost son. But that does not exclude the father's recognition of his son's failing. The love of the father for his son is shown more noble by the fact that it exists in spite of the sin and the dirt and the swine-stench. The son only returned home when came to his proper senses, when he understood what he had done, that he had sinned against heaven and against his father.
I DID say that unholiness is consumed in the presence of holiness. I also added that I am thankful God has not dealt so with us yet, but has rather extended His loving grace and mercy in allowing us to continue existing. It is by God's supreme love and grace that the sinful world remains at all. I pray that God would, in His love and grace, take hold of us, bring us out of our present condition and grant us forgiveness.
My point is that a recognition of God's love does not preclude an recognition of sin and the wages of sin."
"Quickie" -I'll be back... (at some point..)
Great thread idea schoolboi :tup:
Original Sin Implies Original Blessing.
That concept of dichotomy is the key to the whole thing. It is the idea of imperfection in addition to Perfection. The impossible concept of nothing grasps this.
Zerbie's, the inner grace being necessary to accept outer grace expressed the concept of grace perfectly. The description itself encapsulized the concept, the way in which it was described reflected it's very nature.
The key to explaining/understanding the paradox, is to continually recognize it can never be fully explained. All descriptions and expressions must work in cyclical fashion.
That's what makes the knowledge of fear so special, without it we don't recognize the meaning of Heaven. Heaven being "only" the knowledge of perfection. Until now we ONLY had knowledge of Heaven. The idea of imperfection IS the "knowledge of good and evil."
I think it's the idea of good and evil AND the idea of ONLY Heaven/Love/God
that is causing the confusion. We need to come to terms with both realities. Meaning that the idea of ONLY heaven contains the idea of here/separation/less than ONLY Heaven.
-Only perfection could create the idea of imperfection, or, Only original Grace would allow for the idea of Original Sin.
Original Sin is the belief in sin. All sin and notions of sin result from forgetting this. The real "sin" is in not being vigilant to remember that. The goal is to recognize this in every aspect of our response to "sin," a mistake in need of correction. (I don't mean to minimize, I know we have a few million years worth of ideas of "sins" to undo yet, including my own..)
Understanding the idea that the fear of pain is impossible IS God.
-ALL Powerful, ONLY Love.
Odd that the acceptance of that only changes my opinion of pain, not it's intensity, though it does help to infinitize my understanding of Love. :rainbow:
Here is my understanding of the common definition of original sin:
the state of sin that characterizes all human beings as a result of Adam's fall
In other words because Adam sinned and that makes everyone after him sinful. That puts the power of one man's sin way up there. I'm talking some real strong stuff. One guy sent the whole world to hell with just one bite of fruit. In this line of thinking I don't have to believe in Adam or his sin. Regardless what I think about it or what I believe about it, I am a sinner damned to hell. I get it if I want it or not. No Choice on whether I a born with sin or not. Death is automatic.
The Bible put it this way:
1 Cor. 15:22a "For as in Adam all die"
ALL DIE! That's a big statement. It make's Adam's sin very powerful. Most people who believe that Adams sin kills everyone without their permission do not believe that Jesus can give life to everyone without their permission. For them Adam and his sin are more powerful then the Son of God! They don't read part b of 1 Cor. 15:22 "even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
ALL ALIVE! Without giving mental assent to the concept. Just like I did not say, "O sin of Adam dirty my heart! Make me a sinner and send me to hell!" I do not have to beg Jesus to clean me up and get me out of it.
Just something to think about.
OT to schoolboi
I've been driving myself crazy trying to decipher your signature quote; I even tried some online dictionaries. I can't make any sense out of the word "cerevisiam," but I've been guessing the rest of the quote as "God gave us (blank) because he wanted us to be happy." How near/far off the mark is that? (I never took Latin, so it might be a bit off target.)
"All are made in the image of God" (there is original blessing in the Bible, Legion), but all fall short of the glory of God.
We hear a lot about original sin these days, probably because it's easier to control people using fear of original sin. (If people get too confident about original blessing, then they won't need to kiss any religious authority's a..., I mean, ring.)
Each needs to balance the other. Original sin leads to feelings of unworthiness, which people can plug up with various addictions (including churchly sanctimony). Original blessing tempers that with an understanding of love. It brings about compassion--if we are all broken-but-whole, what is the basis of condemning another?
But, focusing too much on original blessing can lead to an "anything goes" morality. So blessing needs to be tempered also.
This is where I found common ground between my Catholic upbringing and my current Buddhist practice. At the center of the Heart Sutra is the insight that not only are good and evil opposite sides of the same coin, but that neither exists independently of the other. "Neither increasing nor decreasing, neither defiled nor immaculate" ... which Thich Nhat Hanh explains more simply in terms of flowers and garbage. The rose is the garbage, and the garbage is the rose. When the rose dies and decays, as everything does, it becomes garbage. When garbage fertilizes the flower bed, it becomes the rose. Why is one disgusting and the other beautiful? Because our consciousness fractures that deeper reality.
Buddhists say everyone has the capacity for enlightenment, but very few realize it fully. Sound familiar? All are made in the image of God, but all fall short of the glory of God.
In the middle of it, we live, and what we think is sin and what we think is blessing is ultimately not important.
Heheh. Thought it looked like that - but the ending really threw me, and not knowing Latin I couldn't figure out the stem, so I wasn't sure.
Well, Benjie was correct about that, and too often people act like they've forgotten where intelligence comes from. Like it's alien from God or something!
Thank you. :)
In a dualistic worldview, there is no such thing as "blessing". All things are acceptable; all things are "good" (the word "good" here meaning "good and evil". Obviously). There is nothing. -1+1=0. If you truly believe what you say, you will have no reason to respond to this post.
Legion: Just posting a comment and question, do you believe in a dualistic worldview? If so, then such a belief system professes that life has absolutes: absolute good and absolute evil. Unless a person lives a sheltered life, then obviously one would conclude that a dualistic worldview does not fit into reality as life is very complicated. In reality, the world is very diverse and does not fit into nice little boxes (metaphorically speaking).
Cultural norms and mores refer to indivudual concepts of "good and evil."
For example, orthodox Muslims believe eating pork is evil. Some or most Jews believe in kosher meals as it is believed wrong for certain foods to be next to one another. Hindus believe cows are holy & thus eating one would be a great sin.
The point is: the world doesn't exist is simple black/white absolutes. Life is much more complicated & diverse.
No, I was demonstrating to dewdrop a few of the many flaws in a dualistic worldview. I certainly don't believe in a balance of good and evil myself.
Okay, just curious of your stance on the issue.
So, am I the only one who read Dew's post completely backwards from you guys? Like a photo negative. I understand Dew to be saying the polar opposite from what I believe you guys read. As in, there are NOT two separate realities (good AND evil) but only one.
Seriously, I came here to be challenged among other reasons, so I'm very glad for your response.
I have to admit, I don't quite follow your reasoning. How do you extrapolate from the idea that good and evil are mental concepts we use to make sense of the world, concepts that are difficult if not impossible to pin down to static realities, to the idea that such a worldview necessarily precludes any sort of ethical discernment?
One of the great ironies of religious debate is that people spend more time looking for differences, typically but not always to convince other people to believe the way they do, and wind up overlooking common ground. Terminology has a lot to do with it; Christians use very different language from Buddhists. It's easy to fixate on that and say that there are problems with what you perceive the other's viewpoint to be.
A concrete example: just this morning, I had a major explosion of road rage. Completely unjustified, of course; the right thing to do would have been to let the other guy have his way. But there I was, honking my horn, flipping the bird, rolling down my window and cussing the guy out. It was over in a few minutes, and I went on to work as normal. But the unsettled feeling wouldn't go away and I felt not quite right the whole day.
Thursday nights I have a group meditation, so I had a chance to look at that feeling in detail. The sitting was not exactly restful. Flashes of anger kept popping up, and I felt sad for bringing that suffering into my life, and into the other guy's too. Then quite unexpectedly, my awareness expanded and the river of suffering touched his suffering (what made him react so badly this morning? I don't know), it touched street violence, hate crimes, suicide bombings, the mess in Iraq, and I understood, not just intellectually but on a soul level, I saw how it's all of a piece. I'm not so much different; had I grown up in a different milieu, one that glorifies violence, I could be one of them. During walking meditation, this sense of connection melted into compassion. (Usually my meditation is a lot more mundane--this was a wild ride :) )
I could explain the same experience in terms of sin and redemption, of course--to oversimplify terribly, "I prayed for forgiveness and God taught me what humility is"--and I can imagine how meditating on original sin can lead to the same insights. My conditioning--a tendency toward self-doubt at least, if not self-loathing--leads me to flinch a bit when I hear too much emphasis on "sin," but if I look more deeply, try to see what's behind the word, I can draw a connection.
I don't know if I can really say we believe "the same" thing underneath the language, but when you write, "I, too, pray that we may hope for God's love, but hoping for God's love does not require ignoring our sinful condition," I recognize that in Buddhist practice too. I'd say it requires not ignoring said condition!
I've rattled on a bit, time to be quiet and listen.
Repaint you thinners!
I think Dewdrop said it well.
To clarify, for me, God knows no sin, except through our perception of it. When we “sin,” the cause of it is the belief in sin, in that someone or something has done us wrong or is wrong. The negative consequences of those actions further cut us off from the awareness and perception of only Grace.
The idea of anything less than perfection is the idea of sin. Anything perceived as unjust (imperfect) is then responded to with sin causing a chain reaction. Leading to a human condition where the idea of sin (imperfection) is a fundamental aspect of our perception and thus our decisions. So for me, we are all “dirtied” only by that chain reaction "Adam's" original sin set off, we break the chain when we put an end to it's idea.
Without that idea, “sin,” is recognized ONLY as a “call for Love,” as A Course in Miracles puts it. No sin, no blame, no need for retribution or to forgive, this is how God sees us. When we ask for and receive forgiveness/salvation, we are recognizing that we were never blamed to begin with or not “safe” in God’s Love. So whether it’s ‘forgiveness’ or the recognition of 'only Grace always,’ depends on one’s perception of God/Love.
We here in the physical aspect of creation were designed to experience the building blocks of Love – to learn “The knowledge of good and evil.” Without that, it’s just another ‘day’ in heaven, everything blissfully happy all the time without knowing or caring how or why.
The only motive Love could have would be to create more of itself. By understanding it’s absence (evil) we understand the meaning of it’s presence (good). A good analogy is an adult whose learned responsibility and productivity by remembering the ‘painful’ lessons of childhood. The pain of consequences is not intended to be ‘punishment,’ just the result of “missing the mark” as Nathan mentioned, for the sole (soul) purpose of knowing BETTER.
The goal is to recognize the perception of sin/evil as an expression of the absence of Love, not as it's opposite. To do so is to accept the miracle of Love. To do so with singularity is to accept the ability to perform miracles. :rainbow:
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