Lent is always an interesting season to me, mostly because some Christians celebrate and others don’t, but those who don’t sometimes think those who do are strange or believe that they are special because they do so. I always need to remind myself exactly what this season is about, so of course I went to my favorite place: dictionary.com and looked up the word. What I always rediscover is that this is a season to mourn — our own sin and what Christ sacrificed for us that we might be reconciled to God. It is a season to set aside something satisfying to remember that Jesus is the only one who can truly fill our desperate craving. Not because that makes us “righteous,” but because he made us righteous. Today, I am meditating on sin, so whether you are a Lent observer or not, I invite you to read Cornelius Plantinga’s summary of sin and see if you find yourself there anywhere.
P.S. For bonus points, what is the origin of the word “Lent”?
(in the Christian religion) an annual season of fasting andpenitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on AshWednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed byRoman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches.
SIN: “The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images: sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it – both transgression and shortcoming. Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal. Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God, and it does all this disrupting and resisting in a number of intertwined ways. Sinful life, as Geoffrey Bromiley observes, is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life.”
Cornelius Plantinga, “Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be”
- 15th September 2011
- Filed under: Featured
I like to talk about and teach on shalom. Though people aren’t always accustomed to the term to describe universal wholeness and delight for which God created the cosmos, I find that they quickly understand it as a structure from which to view the Christian story. One of my favorite writers on shalom is Cornelius Plantinga. Here’s an excerpt from an article on Christian higher education that I think applies to all human endeavors.
[The prophets] “They dreamed of a new age in which crookedness would be straightened out, rough places made plain. The foolish would be made wise, and the wise, humble. They dreamed of a time when the deserts would flower, the mountains would stream with red wine, a time when weeping would be heard no more, and when people could sleep without weapons on their laps. People could work in peace, their work having meaning and point. A lion could lie down with a lamb, the lion cured of all carnivorous appetite. All nature would be fruitful, benign, and filled with wonder upon wonder; all humans would be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; and all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God, and delight in God, their shouts of joy and recognition welling up from valleys and crags, from women in streets and from men on ships.”
For reflection: Read the entire article and think about your own calling to be a part of God’s plan for renewal.
- 22nd June 2010
- Filed under: sin
I know it probably won’t end up being the number-one read ‘post,’ but let’s go back to Genesis 3 and our inherited tendency to blame. This runs deep, and the good news of the gospel is acknowledging our own sin is, while terrifying, also, the smooth path to living in the freedom of forgiveness. Hear an excerpt from Cornelius Plantinga’s devotion on this verse in Beyond Doubt:
“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate,’…The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’” Genesis 3:12-13
“At three I had a feeling of
Ambivalence toward my brothers.
And so it follow naturally
I poisoned all my lovers.
But now I’m happy; I have learned
The lesson this has taught;
That everything I do that’s wrong
Is someone else’s fault.
In this folk song, Anna Russell jabs at the no-fault ethics of certain psychiatrists, who have developed an allergy to personal guilt. The allergy has spread…
Deep in our fallenness is the urge to shrug off personal blame. We see it early on in the lineup of figures in the Garden — each pointing a finger at someone else. And we keep on seeing it in the familiar attempt to fix blame on heredity or environment…
Apart from the gospel of Christ, we are tempted to say we have no sin. We are tempted to see ourselves not as sinners but as victims, nto as fallen but frustrated, not as wrong but as misunderstood or underestimated.”
Cornelius Plantinga, Beyond Doubt: Faith-Building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask