Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Commentary on a Doctrine

“Sin is that which separates us from God”

Literally, I see no way to be separated from an omnipresent being. Either God is not omnipresent or I can not be separated from him.

Figuratively, I don’t believe Jesus would abandon me when I need him most. Human parents continue to love and care for their children even when they make mistakes. I expect no less of my God.

-- Further Commentary and Thoughts --

I was trained to repeat this phrase as a child at church camp. I have not been able to find a direct reference for this in the bible; it may be there and I just haven’t dug it up yet. I currently believe this to be a direct quote from Christian doctrine, not the bible. I’m sure it could be supported by Christian scripture, but what can be supported by Christian scripture is vast, ranging from the sublime to the grotesque.

I fully acknowledge that this doctrine can be explained in a variety of fashions. The predominate approach, is to explain that sin itself, its very nature, separates us from God since he is perfect. Of course this explanation can not apply to Christians. Their sin no longer separates them from God, Jesus has covered that debt. For those covered by Christ, our sins do not separate us from God in this life or the next – they are forgiven.

This leaves the question: What is the nature of sin in the Christian life? It does not separate us from our God. It does not condemn us to eternal punishment. Sin is left with its inherent negative effect upon our lives. It is the damage of sin in this life that we are left to deal with.

This appears to leave the doctrinal phrase applicable to non-believers only. You may be tempted to hang onto this doctrine in this way, but please notice, the example of Jesus spending time with sinners. He did not separate himself from them. Their sin did not drive him away. He was able to be himself and still be in the presence of those who sin. In fact he talked with, ate with, and loved those with sin. He clearly did not flee from their presence. With Christ as an example, I see no reason to believe that the sins of a non-believer would exclude them from the presence of God, at least where this life is concerned.

This leaves us with a possible common denominator for sin; its real measurable affect upon our lives. This is pragmatic scoping. Both believers and non-believers can communicate about sin at this level. This is not how Paul talked about sin. This is how Jesus talked about sin.

I fail to see how sin can separate people from god when Jesus came explicitly, "not for the righteous but for the sinner." You can't seperate yourself from me, and then come over for a visit.

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