Saturday, July 25, 2015

The "Definition" of "Sin..."

So, continuing on with some attempt to at least partially explain himself (even if he won't fully attempt to do so), here's some more explanation from Stan at Winging It, who said said that there was no sense in explaining himself, that I "couldn't understand" because we are using words differently. I replied, well then, if you are using non-standard definitions of terms, you can explain yourself, just define the word as you are using it (and really, how is this difficult in an adult conversation?) Stan replied...

 I'm not using "justice" in a non-standard way. But "sin" appears to be a new concept to you. You're thinking "stealing cookies" or "not always completely honest" while I'm thinking "Cosmic Treason against the Most High". Nor is it a matter of "I'm too smart for you." As I said ... as I've always said ... we're defining terms differently. "Love", "sin", even "Christian" mean different things to me than to you. You "love the Word of God" and then explain it away based on your own experiences and perceptions and I "love the Word of God" and use it to figure out where my experiences and perceptions need to be corrected. Not the same concept.

Look, you ARE using "justice" in a non-standard way. You are saying that ONE "sin" (more on that later) is worthy of an eternity of torture. Your children DESERVE to be tortured for an eternity because of only one "sin" in their life. Whatever that sin is, that would be a disproportionate punishment for the crime.

Where specifically am I mistaken?

Now, you have attempted to define "sin" (which you are also using in a non-standard English way) to explain yourself. So see, you can explain yourself. You are able to define words you are using in a non-standard way and thus, make at least a little more sense.

So, as to this "sin," "cosmic treason..." hmm. That of course, is not the standard understanding/definition of the term. It is not how the word is used biblically (at all, not one time is anything of the sort mentioned ever) or defined in the Hebrew or Aramaic. I guess you just "feel" like that is not the definition, so you are asserting it is reality. Which is fine if that's how you feel, but do you have anything reality-based to support that feeling?

So, in your mind, your child, when they were of an age of accountability, decided to deliberately commit "cosmic treason" against God, is that what you're saying? When was that? Do you have any data to support that? I rather doubt you do. In fact, I would bet you absolutely do not have any data to support that claim. I, for my part, have never, not once decided, "I'm going to commit 'cosmic treason' against God." So, your claim, your feelings about that idea appear to be unsupportable by data in the real world, but you tell me.

But, let's suppose that some child somewhere actually DID decide to commit "cosmic treason..." What does that look like, exactly? I'll have to guess, unless you're speaking of R.C. Sproul's reference to the term that he apparently coined from thin air (certainly not from the Bible)...

Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.”

So, for someone to decide (if it actually happens in the real world, which I rather doubt) that "My judgment is better than God's," and decide to do something that, in THEIR mind, is the right thing to do, even if it is opposed by God... What are they doing in that case? They are trying to do the right thing, as best they understand it in their mind/psyche/soul. They are deciding that, even if they have to disagree with God, they will still strive to do this right thing.

And let's further assume that they were mistaken. In trying to what they thought was correct, they were wrong and "rebelled" against God. A sin, then, from error, it would appear. In their fallen human nature, they made a mistake and chose the wrong instead of the right.

And for that, you think that an appropriate and "just" punishment is an eternity of torture.

How so? Okay, so they "rebelled" against God, they chose incorrectly. They are HUMAN, of COURSE, we choose incorrectly sometimes. Is being imperfect (which is our very nature, unfortunately) justly punished by an eternity of torture? How so?

You are able to define your words when you use them in a non-standard way, Stan. You've demonstrated that with your "cosmic treason" definition of sin you and Sproul made up. You can explain yourself. Apparently, this is a very important issue, if people are possibly going to be tortured for an eternity for even one mistake/"cosmic treason..." Why would you not explain yourself?

(And, in a note to Stan, I wrote to him):
I'll take this comment to my blog, since I'm not very hopeful you will actually try to defend your feelings about this idea, fyi. Maybe someone there will try to defend your rather silly-sounding and wholly unsupported claims. 

And to be clear, "silly-sounding claims" is not an attack on YOU, Stan, it is a mocking of the idea that sounds silly or crazy and which you are not willing to even try to defend, nor is it contrary to me believing in you, which I do. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I don't believe in you or your ability to defend yourself/make your case, nor does it mean I don't love you as a brother in Christ, which I do. Just to be clear.


Craig said...


I see no upside to engaging in a long protracted debate about definitions with you on this issue, but a couple of suggestions.

1. The WSC starting around question 10 does a pretty good job of laying out an Orthodox understanding of sin and salvation along with copious scriptural references to support the answers. Perhaps that would be of help to you.

2. It would help immensely if you could clarify if you believe that sin actually is a thing. You have pretty consistently espoused the position that God has not given us rules to follow, so it seems that of there are no rules then there can be no sin.

3. It would also help immensely of you would characterize the positions of others accurately and with specific support for people exact positions. It is really not helpful when you say "Bob believes (or seems to believe) X without any of Bob's actual words to allow people to evaluate what is actually being said as opposed to your version.

4. You seem to disagree with the notion that rebellion against the God who created and rules the universe is significant, if this is the case perhaps you could lay out a positive case that accurately summarizes God's position and role as well as our position relative to God and how we relate to Him.

Dan Trabue said...

I see no upside to engaging in a long protracted debate about definitions with you on this issue

Why? It's how we communicate. You all are insisting on using non-standard and sometimes non-rational definitions of words and then insist that everyone should understand you and how can we, unless you explain your position?

We're left with, "Oh, he doesn't want to be understood or simply is unable to defend his position rationally... it would appear, given all data, that he has no case beyond bullying in god's name..."

WSC? Am I supposed to know what that means? I'm guessing Westminster Shorter Catechism, but that's just a guess. Want to confirm? If that's what you're referencing, I don't see how it makes your case or explains your position at all. Perhaps you could just answer the questions if you want to be understood?

You'll remember that while I didn't grow up Presbyterian or "Reformed" I did grow up Southern Baptist and am well familiar with the traditional human understandings of the evangelical traditions. The question remains valid:

On what basis is saying "if you sin one time, you 'deserve' an eternity of torture..." in any way Just? How is such a claim anything but grossly unjust and immoral and monstrous?

These are the questions your apparent position begs. Now, I know that I went many years without questioning it and simply accepting it myself. I understand the idea of even raising the question may be harrowing and unacceptable, but Truth is Truth, and there is no shame or sin in asking reasonable questions, in trying to answer them and, if you are unable to answer it rationally, admitting it. Perhaps if you are wholly unable to answer these questions, it's time to reconsider your position, eh?

Dan Trabue said...

It would help immensely if you could clarify if you believe that sin actually is a thing.

Yes, I do. As anyone can tell who reads my words. I repeatedly refer to bad behavior, sin, doing wrong. I wouldn't do that if I didn't believe that there is such a thing as doing wrong, now would I?

No, what would help is if you would either answer the questions raised by your claims or admit that you are unable to answer them. Begin with reality, that's a good place and no shame in admitting reality Is.

It would also help immensely of you would characterize the positions of others accurately and with specific support

I don't know what it is to which you refer here. I referenced Stan's exact words, quoting him verbatim, copy and paste. I've asked questions where I didn't have the answers to TRY to clarify the positions of Stan and you and others. That you all refuse to answer the questions or even acknowledge them (for the most part) leaves me with "it seems to me that they are saying..." as the only option, short of you all actually stepping up and explaining yourselves and answering reasonable questions.

This is ALL about trying to characterize others accurately and about seeking clarification. You can't refuse to clarify reasonable questions and what it SEEMS like you're saying and then say, "He's not characterizing my position correctly!" Not rationally, anyway.

By all means, help me correctly characterize your position. Answer questions.

You seem to disagree with the notion that rebellion against the God who created and rules the universe is significant

Well, seeing as how I have never said such a thing, and indeed, frequently note the severity of sin and its consequences, I don't see how one could reach that conclusion. Suffice to say, you reached it and you are incorrect. Of course, "rebelling against God" is significant. That I disagree with you about rules found in the bible and their significance does not mean that I think "rebelling against God" is not significant. Don't be silly. Think these things through, man.


Dan Trabue said...

Stan apparently is not going to post my response to your misunderstanding of my position, Craig, so here it is...


In your comments at your place you continually reference some magic number of sins that will tip the scales toward hell, you also refer to minor sins.

You are misunderstanding me, then. I factually do NOT reference some magic number of sins that will tip one towards hell. I use "one" sin because that is a claim on the conservative evangelical side one often finds, that "even one sin" will doom us to hell - to an eternity of torture - outside of repentance. So, as a starting point, I deal with that number, since it's one your side tends to make.

You all could clarify by saying, "No, Dan, ONE minor sin would not condemn one to an eternity of torture," or agree that one minor sin is not justly punished by an eternity of torture, but I don't believe you all can or would say that (I wouldn't have, back when I was a conservative who believed as you appear to believe.)

So, by all means clarify. I have clarified for you, your misunderstanding of my position, why don't you clarify for me?

I have a different understanding of what the Bible does and doesn't say about hell, sin and salvation than you all do, so my starting point is not "Every human is grossly immoral and JUSTLY deserving of eternal torture." That is not, to me, a biblical, moral or rational understanding of a perfectly just, loving God.

My starting point, for what it's worth, is that we all are beloved by God, that God is not willing that any should perish, that God came to seek and to save the lost, and that we are all flawed, fallible, sinful humans, created in God's image to do good works, created just a little lower than God! My starting point is that we do have a sin problem, and our mistakes, our hatred, our violence... all of these negative things lead to a Path to hell - not necessarily some eternal fiery torture, but to a hellish life. Contrariwise, Jesus came teaching the way of Grace and that in this way of Grace - of love, repentance, forgiveness, peace, accepting Jesus as Lord... in this way of Grace is the Realm of God, is salvation.

All, according to the bible. It just has the additional benefit of not being bat-poop crazy-sounding.

Craig said...

I just wrote a tremendously long response that got lost.

I will summarize it like this.

As long as your starting p[point is that anyone who has a definition other that yours is "insane", "crazy","bat poop crazy", etc, then I see no point in trying to hash out definitions when you have already declared your to be sane, rational and "the Truth", while disparaging others before they are offered.

That discussion does seem crazy.

"I don't know what it is to which you refer here."

I posted a bunch of examples at my blog, feel free to provide the documentation (Quotes and links for context) to demonstrate otherwise. But at this point "I don't know is just one more lie"

As to your last paragraph or so, it seems that your argument isn't with me it's with Jesus.

Dan Trabue said...

No, Craig, as you can clearly see, I'm following Jesus' teachings as I understand them, as I think are correctly understood. My disagreement is with you, not with Jesus. You are simply mistaken. You appear to be conflating your interpretation of what Jesus had to say with Jesus' Word himself, be careful there.

As to my starting point, I have to think that you agree with me, which is why I keep asking for you to clarify.

My starting point is this:

1. God is perfectly just.
2. It is NOT just to punish someone disproportionate to their crime.
3. Thus, it is rationally inconsistent (ie, crazy, insane) to say that God is just AND that God will do unjust things. It's internally inconsistent, Crazy.

Now, if you want to clarify that you disagree with what is just obvious... that God DOES do unjust things, then clarify that. Or, if you want to offer some alternative definition for justice and say that you don't think Justice includes disproportionate punishment, then offer your non-standard definition.

Or, if you want to explain exactly how ONE sin is worthy of an eternity of torture, how that is just, then do so.

In the meantime, I'm just stating a rationally sound point: That torturing someone for eternity for one sin is NOT justice. I don't think you would say it is, either... if someone tortured a loved one of yours for a year "for god" to "punish their sins" you would NOT think "Oh, well, they deserve it, that one year of torture is entirely justified. You would call that crazy, too.

I don't think we're disagreeing on crazy, but you tell me.

Craig said...

A couple of additional reasons why this discussion would not be fruitful from my perspective.

I could (by simply copy pasting any of the number of confessions/catechisms) lay out a case that was supported by scripture that spanned the entirety of the Bible. Alternatively, you could pick a confession or catechism and do that yourself.

The problem with that is, I have seen all of your responses to dismiss scripture.

Original sin- Genesis is myth
The Law and the purpose of the Law- It's specific to Israel and doesn't apply now
The symbolic nature of the sacrificial system and foreshadowing of the Cross- Something they borrowed from pagans
Jesus mentions of sin/heaven/hell- Hyperbole or parable
Paul- Paul is not Jesus
Orthodoxy- I used to believe that but it's just tradition

And so on.

If I thought there was even a reasonable chance that I could lay out a case supported by scripture and not have it dismissed without being considered, I'd think about it.

But as long as that's not an option, I fail to see the point.

Dan Trabue said...

If I thought there was even a reasonable chance that I could lay out a case supported by scripture and not have it dismissed without being considered, I'd think about it.

Forget about your favorite interpretations of the Bible for now, I'm not interested in your human opinions on biblical interpretations. I'm asking you a reasonable question that you can answer rationally, from your head. Stand up and reason, man.

If a person sins ONE time, is an eternity of torture a rationally just punishment?

This is a rationally answer-able question, one that a reasonable child could answer. Can you? Will you?

Answer it or move on.

Refusal to answer, however, shows me that you have no case to make, that your case is based only on human traditions, NOT on solid reason.

Your call.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, if you're not answering the questions asked of you - reasonable questions, respectfully asked - the conversation is over, isn't it?

Don't bother adding more comments, then, unless you're prepared to answer questions. Conversation is a two way street.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan, Craig, Marshall, I would entertain an answer to another question, if you decide you want to answer questions to, you know, communicate and stuff...

Have you EVER even one time thought to yourself and to God, "You know what? Screw God! I don't CARE what God thinks! I know that God wants me to NOT do this action and I know it's wrong and I'm going to do it, anyway!"? I'm asking because I've never done that, nor do I know many people, if any, who would say they have.

Now, I've made plenty of wrong choices, I've made mistakes, I've sinned, I've been morally weak, but never done anything to deliberately rebel against God. And I don't think I'm any kind of super moral guy on this point... My wife, my kids... all my close friends, I don't know of anyone who would say they've done that. Who does that? Do you?

I just think that some times we become indoctrinated to stuff, we get in the middle of conversations about ideas and we find ourselves defending things we don't have any data for and making claims that, given some time and space, we would recognize are just foolish. Lord help us.