The Nature of Sin | INFJ Forum

The Nature of Sin

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Satya, Apr 4, 2010.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I recently read a book by a religious expert and he profoundly changed my perception of sin. He argued that the word "sin" as it is used in the Bible is taken from a Greek archery word meaning, "missing the mark". How profoundly that changes the definition of sin. Instead of sin being an act of evil, it is simply a deviation from the target. The question becomes, "what is the target?" Some will argue that God's will is the target, but there is something interesting about that reasoning.

    It reminded me of a discussion I had with the pastor of my church when I was growing up. The pastor had given a sermon on the Garden of Eden story. He argued that man's first sin was eating from the tree of knowledge, and therefore defying God's will. I asked the Pastor a rather innocent question. If God created man knowing everything that man would do, then how could God not know that man would defy his will? There is only one answer to that question. God knew that man would defy him, and he created man not only knowing so, but with every intention that man would do so. He could have easily created man in such a way that man would not defy God, but God wanted man to defy him.



    This created two distinct theories. The first is what is known as the "life is a test" theory of existence. God created man to test him, and to see if he could find his way back to God's ultimate will. The second is known is the "God created man in his own image" theory of existence. In essence, God bestowed every man with his own unique path to follow in life, and it is God's will that each man find that path for himself.

    If you follow the Bible, you very likely follow a "life is a test" theory because you believe that the scriptures represent an ultimate law and deviating from that law as written is sin. If your spiritual quest is self guided, then you likely follow the "God created man in his own image" theory because you believe that only you can determine what God's purpose was for you and sin represents deviating from the path that was etched into your heart.

    Frankly, 99% of the happy and decent people I have met in life fall into the latter camp. They don't follow the Bible, they live a life of self reflection and correction in an attempt to find the path that is right for them.

    This is why I detest the Bible. While it is beautiful poetry, it represents the paths for some men, but not all. It is the assumption that this book, written by men, is the absolutist path, which has caused such heartache and turmoil within the Christian faith.

    While I withhold judgment of whether or not "God" or "sin" exist, I do recognize the wisdom in the quest for happiness and self actualization. If sin is defined as missing the mark of true happiness, then I think anyone could seek in their own way to find it.
     
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  2. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    how many ways are there to shoot an arrow and how many of them work at hitting the tharget?

    (this question is semi literal)
     
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  3. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    You neglect the possibility that many people INTERNALISE what is in the Scriptures, so that they both keep the letter of the law and are true to themselves/heart.

    As though the law was no longer written on stone tablets, but upon human hearts.
     
  4. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I don't neglect it, I feel it is self evident. It would be a sin for me to follow your scripture. I would not be true to myself if I were to try to live my life by that book. If following scripture is how you feel you are suppose to live your life, then have at it. Just don't assume that everyone is meant to follow the path that you feel you are destined to follow, and certainly don't assume that your path is superior or more righteous just because it makes sense to you and for you.

    In my heart, scripture is not part of my path. Your law does not serve me the way it serves you, and so I don't serve it. It would be a sin for me to attempt to follow your law. I feel my heart has the same destination as yours, just a different path to take to get there.
     
  5. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    A straight arrow doesn't always hit the target. Sometimes the arrow has to be aimed into the wind rather than towards the target, in order to be carried to where it needs to go. Not every arrow must follow the same flight path to get to the same destination.
     
  6. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    That's an immensely unfortunate combination of factors:
    1. What is usually called gay, as if people are assigned some roles, is still seen as something very special, and unofficially still "morally" questioned.
    2. The question of why some people do it is viewed as a strict dichotomy between "nature" and "choice". As if nothing else exist.
    3. Following from 1. and 2., "if it is not nature, then it must be choice". Then, it's a choice for what society still bashes unofficially. Then it's a choice to be evil. Then it should be punished. (eeehaaa, let's go beat someone!)
    4. As a result from 1.,2.,3., the so called gay community is inclined to support the "nature" side of how human character is formed; sometimes very rigidly. Gays would support genism, even social darwinism, under such social construction.

    It seems people are rarely willing to consider that anything else than "nature", "choice" (or god) could play significant role in what people do.
     
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  7. Jack

    Jack Community Member

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    I think a person could follow "the Bible" in principle, and not be obsessed with the letter of the law. After all, if we took Jesus as our model example, or telos, noting that he tended to be pretty pissed off at the "letter of the law" as overbearing, or as opposed to the principle, we could find ourselves in a very good spot. Also I like Virtue Ethics, they seem more personal than all this cold talk of "laws" and such.
     
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  8. tovlo

    tovlo Well-known member

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    Perhaps it's not about God testing us to see if we can make it to the right end or creating us to defy him, but rather a desire for people to make it to whatever end they choose by an act of free will, even with foreknowledge that some would use their free will to choose what was not (according to God) in our best interest. I allow for the possibility that there may be a particular path that supposedly we will be most happy choosing because it is aligned with how we were created, but despite that, we are created with freedom to choose any path to reach any end.

    So the definition of sin as being off the mark would fit in here as a stepping away from one's created path. It's possible that path could be one bible-defined path that we all were created to follow, but perhaps it could also be many different paths for the many different manifestations of creation.

    I followed the Christian-advocated path for a while, but it stopped making sense to me. I'm starting to gather my own sense of path, but it's hard to know how close to happiness one will end up by following any path. It seems to me there's plenty of suffering to be had on any of them.
     
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  9. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I is confused. :m075:
     
  10. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    "Missing the mark" is good insight, but I suggest further, similar insight could be added to this. Missing the mark is about missing God's will, yes, but God's will is only this...that a person become fully alive. Everything points to this factor and all flows from this. God's will as creator isn't like ours, it flows eternally in unalloyed love in every dimension at the same instant....God is not linear like us and we are so prone to superimpose our own limits on this Reality. So, when we limit ourselves, or efface the nature of our existence, or disconnect ourselves from the Ultimate Unity, this is what we could refer to as "sin"....we miss the mark of our true destiny. And it isn't so much that sin offends God...if it does at all it is because sin it is an offense against us, the object of eternal love and eternal creation. We push ourselves down, or systems to this to us.

    And this love, in it's creation, created us to have choice...freedom. God did not intend for disconnection, that too is less than our destiny and misses the mark. It is a paradox to think that God who is almighty would have certain limits in all this but there ya go. So we were not created "to fail"....and it is really not so much about "failure" per se: we were not created for cosmic disconnection. The point of failure (if one could call it that) is the disconnect. This was not part of his design...but we were given freedom in this regard. There are many physical laws (like say, gravity) that generally always function along certain principles. Same with personal freedom....it is foundational part of God's creative act.

    I do suggest not getting too hung up on the Bible in the micro view...one can find all kinds of twists and turns and blind alleys. Some of these are created within the text (the stories represent an unfolding of an understanding by a people over time). Some are created from our applying very tiny ideas to tiny limited words that actually relate to enormous principles. I suggest the macro view. Once the macro is clearer, the micro snaps into sharper focus inasmuch as these find their truer context. We often miss the forest for the trees on this.
     
  11. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    Back from running the morning errands...

    Yes, I think we all "miss the mark"....we are rather limited in our perspective and capabilities and we probably operate in systems or assumptions that are similarly limited. It is part of our destiny, however, to move past these towards more inner freedom and greater humanity in the fuller sense.

    I think the experience of parenting might be considered as a pale reflection of this, much as the natural world often mirrors the Divine in some small way. A parent does not fret too much over a child's mistakes...they can be part of learning. But learning patterns wrongly or in a harmful fashion is not in the child's long term interest either, so we might try to move them away from those kinds of patterns towards those that actually work. We see life from a whole other perspective than the child. We want them to grow up straight and tall and able to enjoy their life and be free from limitations. And yes, that does involve them becoming who they truly are...that is my only agenda in the whole matter as a parent. I love them and I value them as an individual, and certain freedoms go along with that. Any negative consequences, if any, are merely for teaching, not for punishment or torment. Surely if I can do this as a human parent, it illustrates certain dynamics of the Divine Creator (who in some traditions is linked with parental imagery).

    In all this, from what I can tell, "missing the mark" is also not an all-or-nothing deal either. Many of us are wounded, limited by the world we live in or by systems we encounter. For some reason, being willing to see the mark and move toward the mark is all that is asked of us....to become more human, and move away from those things that diminish us. Surely the ideals of healing, of forgiveness, of service which are absolutely central in the world of Faith (not the dogmas, although they have a seperate place) speak deeply to God's own attitude towards us and the limitations we perceive.

    btw...an aside: the word "disaster" comes from going against one's star, or one's destiny (that, too might be seen as a "missing of the mark"). If this is what is really at work here, then going against my true destiny would really be a disaster in the grand scheme of things!!! We were created for better things...more true freedom and fewer limitations.
     
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  12. Riven

    Riven Regular Poster

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    I really prefer this way of looking at sin because (as a Christian) it makes me see my life with God as a deep personal relationship. When we “miss the mark” we are not living up to our true potential and if anything that is what disappoints God the most; the fact that we’re falling short of what he knows we’re capable of being. This relates back to what Random was saying about seeing God from a parenting perspective.

    In terms of the “life is a test” vs. “life is a quest” question I think it’s both. I’m still trying to put this theory into words but it arose when I was thinking about the nature of God, the nature of the devil (before and after his fall but mostly before) the nature of angels and how they all relate to why God created the world. I know it might sound way out there but it’s actually very mundane.
    It's based off of this idea.
     
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    #12 Riven, Apr 4, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
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  13. Norton

    Norton XXXX

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    There are multiple targets. Each target has circles within circles. And, some see targets where others see none.
     
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  14. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    It wasn't so much "life is a quest" as "life is about being true to yourself". The difference is very important. Life is a journey for everyone, but the key to that journey is finding your own purpose and staying true to that as best as you can. Simply calling it a "quest" negates the entire point I was trying to make about sin being a deviation from the unique purpose you have in this life.

    If you assume that life is test, then you believe you can pass or fail based upon some set standard. That is not in keeping with finding your own purpose and path in life, and so the two do not coincide.
     
  15. Riven

    Riven Regular Poster

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    Yeah I went off on my own little rant there sorry :mpff:.
     
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  16. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    It's okay. I'm simply trying to make sure that people understand my point of view. There is nothing wrong with expressing your own.
     
  17. Stu

    Stu Constipated
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    seems to me "sin" has got to be more than a moral or ethical wrong, it has to be at odds with the perceived numinousity at the base of our being (it may not even be a wrong by that definition)
     
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  18. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    I agree. Sometimes I think the "staying true" part is really all that matters in the end. Some people struggle more with this than others because of limitations beyond their control, but at least they move in the right direction with the resources they have.

    There is story from the Desert Fathers of a monk who announces to one of the elders that he has become "impassable" that is, beyond the reach of sin. The elder responsed that he should "pray for a good temptation so that he will be worth something." Our reaching is often what broadens our hearts/minds, keeps us open...and gives us a little humility, too! This gets back once more to the idea of connection.
     
  19. just me

    just me GONE

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    If there is no law against love, in effect loving God and your neighbor, then there is no sin if we follow those two simple rules. We will not commit sin against God or our neighbor if we truly love them enough to do them no wrong.

    Lust and/or covetousness is a sin within our own minds that places us in a different light. "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin." It therefore becomes important how we think toward our God and neighbor also. This is where most fall short of the glory of God. This was the part of the law Paul fought with and found to be the part mankind has the most trouble with.
     
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    #19 just me, Apr 5, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
  20. Trifoilum

    Trifoilum find wisdom, build hope.

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    An interesting view of point.

    Aaaaand I have nothing more (that's coherent or genuine) to say. But this is such a good mental food for my brain, which I'm really collecting messily right now.

    So thanks for everyone :)
     
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