January 17, 2005

The Problem of Sin

So you all know I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Here's the reason: I have to write a senior thesis. The topic I've chosen is the postmodern world (and the transition from the modern world), the Christian response called the "emergent church," and how music fits in there. Why I did this, I'm not quite sure, because the more I read, the more confused I get. It's like the postmoderns haven't quite figured out what to do with themselves, but they do know that the moderns haven't gotten it quite right.

I've been pondering the topic quite a bit, because of (and sometimes, in spite of) my reading. The latest project is called "Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel". Good thing they talk about humility in the book. While I realize that it's a "wake-up call" for the church, I was a little worried about the title, and yet strangely excited as well. It got me thinking.

What's the point? I think that I've spent the last however many months/years trying to figure out what the point of all this is. Ministry, I mean. According to the postmoderns, the modernist church says it's about "winning" converts (like it's a game), "taking the city (or wherever) for Jesus" (like it's a conquest or burglary), and the like. They talk a lot about sin management, for starters, and about separating yourself from people so you don't get "contaminated" by the Godless infidel culture of modern/postmodern America. At least, this is what all the authors I've read have been saying. I more or less agree with them, although I'm not sure I'd put it quite as harshly.

But here's my latest revelation: sin isn't the problem. I mean, it's a problem, but it's not THE problem; it's a symptom of a larger problem. The problem seems to be something a little harder to deal with - evil. Sin is sort of an expression of evil, something that happens as a result of evil. I mean, actions aren't really evil in and of themselves - they're not evil a priori. Some actions are described as evil, like killing your mother because she didn't let you have your favorite ice cream for breakfast. That'd be pretty evil of someone to do. But there inlays the irony: it's the motivation behind it that's evil. Evil is a force, it's a current in affairs, it's a set of motivations, as much as it is a rather disgruntled former-arch angel trying to pit the world against the kingdom of heaven. When Lucifer decided to go against the will of God, he became evil in his intent.

Actions are like the people who commit them - they are capable of great evil, but also of great good. Some actions can be both, depending on what motivation was behind them. I'm not as sure I can support this last one, but if I think of a good example, I'll post it. Any input is, as always, welcome.

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