God’s thoughts, or Man’s?
Christians Are Not Sinners. : ThyBlackMan.com
This piece is so deficient, I don’t know how it ever got published, I don’t know how it got into my MSN news feed, and I really question whether it deserves a response. But it must have “hooked” me somehow, or I would not be writing this now.
The author means to correct what he sees as a widespread, wrong belief.
A belief held in common by the likes of Franklin Graham, John Calvin and Martin Luther.
The belief that Christians are sinners.
He calls it a man-made belief with no support in Scripture, but the perspective he sets forth is no less a man-made belief with no support in Scripture, either; or, at least, nowhere near the support he thinks. I find many, many errors in his argument, on the one hand; on the other hand, I have to ask myself: How else I would expect someone who believes this way, to speak? The crux is that different people believe different things. The Bible itself speaks from different perspectives at different times and in different places.
Otherwise, we would not have 35,000 different denominations.
So, on the one hand, it is a mistake to quote, as this author does — no matter how many — individual verses out of context, or in isolation, and attach inerrancy to them, while at the same time pretending that other verses, that express a different point of view, don’t exist.
Each of the Bible authors has his (as it happens, “his”) own point of view, and even within the words of a single author, for example the epistles of John, there are inconsistencies as to the question at hand.
For the sake of brevity, and because I’ve recently profoundly tired of refuting others’ views, I will here pass over the inconsistencies in First John, and instead attend only to the pertinent differences between Jesus and Paul.
Different views of the term “sinner”
During Jesus’ life, there was as yet no church, and no particular way to distinguish between folk who were born-again and others. The common view of “sinners” was as the Pharisees expressed in Matthew 9:
10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 12But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
Sinners were outcasts. Sinners were the lumpen. Sinners were people who lived life with no regard for morality; morality has no meaning for folk who have chosen to make their lives a struggle to survive.
Mainstream people seldom have occasion to observe those lives up close — the living hell such folk often create for themselves and one another. Yes, they do, in many cases, “sin” more often than other people. In the worst cases, the level of hostility in their ‘hoods is off the charts, as is the crime rate.
Sinners were people others looked down on.
When he speaks of “sinners,” these are the folk Trevo Craw seems to have in mind.
Let’s take another look at how Jesus viewed these people. Luke 18.9-14:
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’
Note the term Jesus used, “justified,” not “born again,” not “saved.” If Jesus had meant folk to anticipate some future sacrifice, perfect, once-for-all, to atone for sin, here was the perfect place to say so. He didn’t. That whole anticipation was a future invention by Paul.
Jesus did not speak of any instantaneous, life-changing conversion. He meant his followers to confess and repent of their sins, in this life, as life goes on, from day to day. So it was with “sinners.”
So it also is with Christians. We are without reason to believe otherwise.
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