Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Target Missed-Doctrine of Sin Part 1

A few notes to start our discussion of sin:

Belief in one area always impacts belief in other areas. What we believe about the doctrine of sin effects what we believe about other doctrines.

Sin & what we believe about God:
-If God, being holy, expects holiness, then we are in deep trouble in our sin
“If, on the other hand, God is himself rather imperfect, or if he is an indulgent, grandfatherly type of being and perhaps a bit senile so that he is unaware of much that his going on, then the human condition is not so serious.” (Erickson, p580-581)

Sin & what we believe about humanity:
-If people are judged in comparison to the holiness of God then anything other than holiness is sin and deserves punishment.
-If people are judged in comparison to people, then just don’t kill anybody and you’ll be alright.
-If humans are free beings then they are responsible to bear the consequences for their sin
-If humans are basically good then the problems in this world can be fixed by a change in environment and behavior modification. There is no need for a savior
-If humans are basically sinful then the problems in this world are only solved by changing the nature of people. There is need for a perfect savior.

“If intended to reflect the nature of God, a human is to be judged not by comparison with other humans, but by conformity to the divine standard. Any failure to meet that standard is sin. If humans are free beings...then they are responsible for their actions, and their shortcomings will be graded more severely than if some determining force controls or severely limits the capability of choosing and doing.” (Erickson p581)

"Our approach to the problems of society will also be governed by our view of sin...if we feel that humanity is basically good or, at worst, morally neutral, we will view the problems of society as stemming from an unwholesome environment. Alter the environment, and changes in individual humans and their behavior will follow. If, on the other hand, the problems of society are rooted in radically perverted human minds and wills, then the nature of those individuals will have to be altered, or they will continue to infect the whole.” (Erickson, p581)

Sin & what we believe about salvation:
“If a human is basically good with intellectually and moral capabilities essentially intact, then any problems with respect to his or her standing before God will be relatively minor. Any difficulty may be merely a matter of ignorance, a lack of knowledge as to what to do or how to do it. In that event, education will solve the problem; a good model or example may be all that is needed. On the other hand, if humans are corrupt or rebellious, and thus either unable or unwilling to do what is right, a more radical transformation of the person will be needed. Thus the more severe our conception of sin, the more supernatural the salvation needed.” (Erickson, p581)

Sin & what we believe about the church:
“Our belief about sin also determines in large measure our view of the nature and purpose of the ministry of the church. If human beings are essentially good and capable of accomplishing what God requires, then the mission of the church is to exhort persons to achieve what is already in their ability to do. Appeals to kindness, compassion, generosity, and charity would be sufficient to move people in the right direction. If human beings are sinful, then our message is to proclaim the good news of salvation that comes by faith in Jesus Christ. in this case, the ministry of the church would engage sinful humans with calls to repent of sin, place one’s trust in Christ and be born again.” (Norman, A Theology for the Church, p411-412)
How does the Bible define sin?

1. Sin is missing the mark
2. Sin is going beyond an established limit
3. Sin is the absence of righteousness (sin is wickedness)
4. Sin is a departure from what is right and true (sin is lack of integrity)
5. Sin is rebellion
6. Sin is a breach of trust (treachery and unfaithfulness)
7. Sin is perversion
8. Sin is abomination

Sin is our active opposition to God

“Sin, biblically speaking, is not only the absence of good. it also entails our active opposition to God. it is, then, the defiance of his authority, the rejection of his truth, the challenge to his sovereignty in which we set ourselves up in life to live the way we want to live. It is the way we wrench ourselves free from obedience to him, cut ourselves off from his grasp, and refuse to let him be God. It is therefore all the ways we live life on our own terms, to our own ends, with accountability to no one but ourselves.” (David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant, p102)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 19

From the blog series "Twelve Appeals to Prosperity Preachers" by John Piper

Entire Post Here: Part VII: To Prosperity Preachers: Preserve Salt and Light

"The great tragedy of prosperity preaching is that a person does not have to be spiritually awakened in order to embrace it; one needs only to be greedy. Getting rich in the name of Jesus is not the salt of the earth or the light of the world. In this, the world simply sees a reflection of itself. And if they are “converted” to this, they have not been truly converted but only put a new name on an old life."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Systematic Theology Part 25-Equal Yet Different

You have $15 in your pocket. What will you spend it on? Your choices abound. There are so many things that cost $15. You can buy a DVD of The Simpsons Movie, a package of Alium flower bulbs (really crazy big purple ball-like flowers), a Five Iron Frenzy album, a steak, a rake or 8 boxes of Shake n' Bake. The choices are too many. Each of these items has their own benefits due to their differences. You may not know what to buy, but you know one thing: each of these choices have equal value despite their differences.

From the very beginning of creation man and woman have been seen as equal.

There are two main views in Christianity regarding the equality of men and women. They are defined by Alexander Strauch in the book Equal Yet Different.

Complementarian: God created men and women as equals with different gender-defined roles...the role differences promote godly manhood and womanhood and marvelously enrich family life as well as life in the local church...the fall of mankind into sin...created the battle of the sexes. (Strach, p6-7)

Evangelical Feminism (Egalitarian): The submission of the woman in marriage and womanly restrictions in Christian ministry are inconsistent with the true picture of biblical equality. They consider the equal-yet-different doctrine taught by complementarians to be a contradiction in terms...true biblical equality assures that both men and women are full and equal partners in hold no unique, leadership-authority role solely because of their's gender does not determine one's status or role in life, nor does it limit spiritual giftedness and ministry opportunities. (Strauch, p8)

Any debate over godly/biblical manhood and womanhood has to start in the beginning. Genesis 1-3 provide a foundation for ANY conversation on the roles, relationships and authority of men and women.

Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27 establishes the equality of men and women as they are both made in the image of God. What kind of equality does the image of God imply?

Men and women have equal personhood
Men and women have equal value
Men and women have equal dignity
Men and women have equal responsibility to God

But does the equality proclaimed in Genesis 1:27 go beyond these 4 things? Does the equality extend to all areas and arenas of life?

We have to realize (as we will see in Genesis 3) that sin has marred the relationship between men and women and the understanding of equality. Thankfully we have Genesis 1 & 2 which are the only pre-fall (perfect/before sin) references to men's and women's roles, differences and extent of equality.

The reality is that men can do, for the most part, anything women can do. Movies like Mr. Mom, Mrs. Doubtfire and Daddy Day Care have shown this aptitude in men to take care of roles that are traditionally for women. Of course, men can't have babies-that is something uniquely female.

In the same way women can do, for the most part, anything men can do. (If you'd like to read a humorous story of Caroline's realization that she can't do everything a guy can do check out her blog)

But just because someone can do something doesn't mean they were intended or designed to do it. I can dig a hole with a spoon, but it doesn't mean the spoon was designed (or ideal) for that task. And if the spoon is occupied with digging a hole, what's helping eat the soup?

Genesis 2-3 give clear indication that men and women, while equal, were designed for different purposes. This doesn't mean they can't do things they were not designed for, but that would not be ideal. And if men and women are busy doing what they were not designed for, who is taking up the slack?

Genesis 2 establishes men as leaders:

1. God created Adam first
-Genesis 2:15: God placed Adam in the garden to care for it before Eve was formed
-Genesis 2:16-17: God gives Adam the first divine revelation and instruction before Eve was formed and trusts the man to pass that revelation and instruction on to the woman after she is created
-Genesis 2:19-God gave Adam responsibility (naming the animals) before Eve was formed

2. God formed woman out of man

3. God created woman for man
"She had her own biology, physiology, and psychology. She was made to coplement the man, to help him populate and rule the earth, and to unite with him as a loving companion-partner. This is the first statement in the Bible concerning the woman's role; she is to be a help to the man." (Strauch, p 23)

Now, before you get up in arms over the idea that women were created to be "helpers", look a little more closely at the idea of helper.

Helper or support is not a demeaning term. This term is often used of God as a "help to his people."

"To be a helper means that the woman has the necessary ability, fitness, resources, and strenght to be a help...for the Christian man or woman, whatever God calls us to do or be is just, good, holy and desirable." (Strauch, p23)

4. God gave Adam the right to name Eve

Feminists will say that submission and authority are introduced in Genesis 3 and are therefore a result of sin and the fall. Everyone agrees that sin has changed the male/female relationship for the worse, but the basic structure of authority, that, as we have seen, begins in Genesis 2, is still in-tact today. The differences are still there, though they have been marred by sin.

Genesis 3 recognizes differences in roles

1. Eve's Penalty afflicted her (and all women) with pain in her chief roles as mother and wife (3:16)

2. Adam's Penalty afflicted him (and all men) in his key roles as worker, protector and provider for his family.

Adam's penalty also brought death for all that Adam had authority over: his entire family, which includes us!

Notice also that in Genesis 3:9 Adam is the first one called to account for sin even though he was the 2nd to sin. This again speaks to his authority and responsibility over Eve.

People tend to get up-in-arms over teaching on gender in the New Testament. This is because they either reject or do not fully understand the foundation of gender equality, and differences, as they are defined at the beginning.

Let us understand and live the biblical truth of equality and differences and demonstrate this better way to the world.