Thursday, September 07, 2006

I do not want Someone dying for my sins!

I have made many mistakes in my life.
- Sometimes I was curious. And having tried something out of curiosity, I discovered that it was not good for me. And I learned from this, and grew in another direction.
- Sometimes I was selfish, and believed that my own needs should take precedence over others. And I have discovered in the pain of hurting those I love, a motivation to change my ways.
- Sometimes I chose to do nothing, and experienced a moment of cowardice, or a moment of selfish reluctance to assist someone. And I learned from this to be more participative in life.
- And then there were moments when I knew something to be wrong, but I did it anyway. I did it because I was angry, or I was frustrated, or I was just bloody minded. And I have lived to regret my actions. And learned to think more carefully before I just moer on with my own course of action.

Each of these moments was an opportunity to learn more about living life, and a moment of spiritual maturing.

And so I continue to learn about life – mostly through my mistakes and my selfish impulses. But these are my moments. I own them. And I find it preposterous that I should be punished by God for them! How else do I learn about life? I find it even more preposterous to think that God would both love me, yet need to klap me for my mistakes.

One Church Father tried to explain that God is both perfectly loving, yet perfectly just. Therefore, because God’s justice needed to punish someone, God’s love chose to kill Jesus instead of me. So how is justice enhanced by the death of a person? There is no opportunity for people to learn from their mistakes. One strike and you’re out! And anyway, killing the one person who was sinless is a travesty of justice, not a triumph of good.

This belief has nothing to do with God. It is a belief born within a culture of avenging crimes. If God is a loving Parent, then surely God would understand when I make a mistake? Surely God would encourage me to learn from it. I often imagine God saying to me “Ja, you stuffed up. Now try again”.

So I do not need someone to die for my sins. I am willing to take my chances with God for my mistakes. And more than willing to answer for my own actions.


digitaldion (Dion Forster) said...

MMmmm..... Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good heresy as much as the next person. And I must say that in some measure I agree with what you're saying. However, that does not mean that it is not heresy! Soon you and I will not only have to stand at SYNOD and say that we can no longer adhere to the discipline of the church, but also that we no longer adhere to the doctrine of the church! That'll be the day!

Now, here's where my problem lies: My feeling is that sin not only teaches us about life (that is to say, if sin truly does have a purpose. Which I am not so sure about. I think God teaches us lessons about life, and we learn lessons about life from those who are injured by our sin. Sin, in and of itself, cannot teach us anything. However, the reflections of others ON OUR SINFULNESS, or our own reflection on the outcomes of our sin, can indeed teach us quite a few things. The point is, that the lesson comes from elsewhere). However, back to learning lessons through sin - which is fairly important! I believe that the outcome of sin teaches us something much more important. The outcome of sin teaches us about a loving God in relation to an imperfect creation. Am I really so important that everything, even my sin, has to centre on me? I'm not so sure. Forgiveness seems to say much more about the forgiving God than it does about the culpable sinner.

Then, the other problem that I have is that your understanding of sin seems only to take account of the effects of sinfulness (i.e., what happens when we sin, and so how we learn from what happens when we sin). This is all good and well, but then what deals with the SIN that leads to the SINFULNESS? There must be something (other than just my moral conscience, and capacity to learn from my sinfulness) that is transcendently powerful enough to deal with the sin that has hold of my very being. Not just the sinfulness that stems from that. In short, I am convinced that I could make a dent on my sinfulness, but only if I am freed from the power of the besetting cancer of sin.

In terms of my agreement with you, of course I ALSO don't want someone to die for my sin. But that is a lot more about me, and my own selfish desires to choose for myself (i.e., to vindicate my OWN honour), than it is about the gracious God who freely forgives my sin.

I may not want it, but I need it to take my sinful focus off me.

Aluta continua...

(posting from a... shall we say interesting conference on science and religion [note: where I AM NOT OFFICIALLY REPRESENTING THE BRAND OF THE MCSA... Some will know what that means. Those who don't, well, just pray]

Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

Dion: at last I can find traces of karl Barth in you! "We are sinners through and through and nothing we can do will improve ourselves". But my point is that God's forgiveness of my sin does not require the death of an innocent person. It certainly will require many deaths of the sin within me. And only God can do this in my life. But the idea that Jesus had to die so that I can be forgiven has nothing to do with the loving compassion of God: and everything to do with a doctrine of retribution. And once we get into retribution it is very easy to begin to define those people (and groups of people) who deserve the wrath of God. My previous blod introduces the idea of a God who chooses to find us before we confess. Amazing!

word verification yezhn: sounds like God's affirmation of a sinful humanity.

Wessel Bentley said...

My son is turning 3 tomorrow. We got him a bicycle. I look forward to teaching him how to ride, but I know that as much as it will be a liberating experience for him, it will also be a journey filled with pain. My responsibility as a loving father will be to make sure that I do not let go of the saddle before I am absolutely convinced that he is able to peddle by himself. He may not be sure about my ability to assess the situation, but it is a risk. Furthermore, I will need to be the first one at his side when he falls to comfort him and to encourage him to get back on. The more he rides, the less he will fall, but I have to make peace with the fact that he will fall. It would be unjust for me to, as a token of solidarity, fall of my bike and tell him that I did that so that he won't have to worry about falling in the future. That is nonsense. It would be equally unjust to scold him for falling or to even punish him for scratching the paint in the process. My job is to love him more than what I do his bike. This is how I try to make sense of my journey with God and God's with mine.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely admire you for your honesty and bravery in the things you have said here.
My thoughts are exactly the same and I cant believe that I have read the writing of one whose thoughts paralel mine so absolutely.

I have lived the life and indoctrination of the Christian Church all my life and as a mature adult have finaly come to understand 'life' in a more liberated way.
I think that many of our Church laws are man made by his need for justice and control.
I also prefer the words you use ie: our own mistakes. The use of the word 'sin' speaks of an unloving and harsh God whom I do not think we serve at all.
Also somewhere in the belief that someone died for me (did it for me) is an abdication of accepting full responsibility for our own choices and 'mistakes'(and sucesses should also be included here)
What do we say? God has given us a free will..... why? so we can make those choices and learn and grow from them.

I grow everyday from the things that life teaches me and I thank God everyday for the opportunities I have to learn from this life that I live, so freely.

The big question we need to ask ourselves constantly.... Am I free?
Do my actions and choices leave me feeling good inside,free inside, or in awful bondage and darkness..
Jesus died to 'set us free'
Its our choices that keep us free or hostages of incorrect thinking.

So continue to be free my brother.