A Problem: How We Talk About Sin Has Changed.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
61 Knowing that his followers were complaining about this, Jesus said, “Does this teaching bother you? 62 Then will it also bother you to see the Son of Man going back to the place where he came from? 63 It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh doesn’t give life. The words I told you are spirit, and they give life. John 6:61-63 NCV
Luther, too, employed this “core” as unquestioningly in his catechism as the Council of Trent did in the Roman catechism. That is to say: every statement about the Faith is ordered to the four basic elements: the Creed, the Our Father, the Decalogue, and the sacraments. The whole foundation of Christian life is thereby included—the synthesis of the Church’s teaching as it is based on Scripture and Tradition. Christians find here what they are to believe (the Symbolum or Creed), what they are to hope (the Our Father), what they are to do (the Decalogue or Ten Commandments), and the ambience in which all this is to be accomplished (the sacraments). Today, this fundamental structure has been abandoned in many areas of catechesis with results that are plainly evident in the loss of the sensus fidei among the younger generations, which are often unable to take a comprehensive view of their religion.
Although all nations see the horrible confusion, vices, and grievous calamities of the human race and feel the burden of sin, yet only the church of God teaches both where sin comes from and what it is and hears the Word of God concerning divine wrath and present and eternal punishments. And though human wisdom teaches us how to guide morals [and] disapproves and punishes actions against common reason, yet it does not recognize what is inherent in the consideration of sin, namely guilt before God or the wrath of God. Alexander saw that he had acted shamefully when he killed Clitus and he mourned as a result, because he made a judgment contrary to nature, but he did not mourn because he had offended God or because he was guilty before God. But the church points out the wrath of God and teaches that sin is a far greater evil than human reason thinks. Nor does the church reprove only external actions which are in conflict with the law of God or reason, as philosophy does; but it reproves the root and the fruit, the inner darkness of the mind, the doubts concerning the will of God, the turning away of the human will from God and the stubbornness of the heart against the law of God. It also reproves ignoring and despising the Son of God. These are grievous and atrocious evils, the enormity of which cannot be told. Therefore Christ says, “The Holy Spirit will reprove the world of sin, because they do not believe in Me, and of righteousness because I go to the Father, and of judgment, because the prince of this world is already judged” [John 16:8–11].
It is now the third generation since the decline of the church in America began.
I have heard many theories about each of the generations as those in the church grieve over their absence. We mourned the boomers who came and went, sometimes coming back. Their kids, my generation, some either came and stayed, but others fell aside and rarely come back, even for Christmas and Easter. It is any wonder why we think the millennials won’t come?
Our situation could be described in the words in blue above, the desperate times, the confusion, the carelessness towards vice and greed. Those words are nearly 500 years old, but so reflective of our days today.
Except the church has forgotten about how to teach and preach about sin. Part of the church would ignore sinful acts, thoughts, deeds. The same part would love to condemn and even crucify some specific sins that abhor them. But our focus (and I do mean our) is on “sins” rather than sin. It is the symptoms that concern us, rather than the cause. It is act, the thought, the deed that we either want to justify or condemn.
And because we are so two faced in the church, those outside the church only hear our rants about sins and sinners, and never about the issue, sin.
One of the reasons for teaching the basics of the faith with the outline of Commandments, Creed, Prayer, Sacraments was that it causes us to deal with sin, not just sins. It causes us to face the evil that we live with, that we are held hostage by, that we love and we hate. To deal not just with sins, the individual thoughts, words and actions that are contrary to scripture, but we must deal with the root cause.
Sin. That which divides us from God. divides us from each other, and shatters us personally.
That’s what needs to be dealt with, that’s the evil that has to be overcome in this world.
Our evil. Your’s and mine.
That’s what Jesus did.
That’s what we all need to hear – no matter the generation, no matter the age. That’s what we’ve taught for generations… what we need to teach again.
To give them the hope we all need.
Church – get that straight.. give them hope to deal with their brokenness – help them realize God still loves them, will cleanse them, heal them, declare them to be His own.
They will come for that.. they always have.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Chemnitz, Martin, and Jacob A. O. Preus. Loci Theologici. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999. Print.
Posted on July 13, 2017, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Theology in Practice and tagged hope, Phillip Melancthon, Pope Benedict XVI, sin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.