Sunday, June 25, 2006

Questions about Sin and Grace

Over the past year here at The Philosophical Midwife, I've taken as my target the fundamental dogmas of Protestant Christianity. But I've really only scratched the surface. There's much there about which I've said nothing or only very little.

Perhaps before I launch yet another broadside, I should ask a few questions. I might well harbor certain misconceptions about Protestantism. If they are cleared up for me, I can invest my time here more wisely.

I have two questions. The first concerns sin and the second grace.

1. We live in a world ruined by the Fall. The ruin is not merely around us. It is within us. We ourselves were ruined by Adam and Eve's sin. As a result, sin is quite inevitable for us. We come into the world unable not to sin. All who have come after Adam and Eve have sinned. All who will come after us will sin.

But how then can we be held responsible for our sins? Indeed if they are inevitable, it seems a mistake to call them 'sins'. They are more like disabilities, something that we cannot help, something that it would be perverse to hold us responsible for.

In the above, I rely upon the premise that if we cannot help but do a thing, we cannot be rightly held responsible for it. I you deny it, all I can think to say is that here we must part company. It seems to me as obvious as any moral truth. I say to you that, if you feel it necessary to deny it, you should trace backwards and find the belief that leads you to deny it; and then give up that belief.

2. It is characteristic of Protestant Christianity to hold that only those who know Christ and put their faith in Him will be saved. But what are we to say of those who've never heard the name of Christ? What do we say of those who, though they've heard the name, do not know who He is? Will they be damned? Will they suffer because of an ignorance for which they cannot be faulted?

(This question occurred to me very early on in my religious education. I was brought up Church of Christ, and like most Protestant denominations, it taught that those who did not put their faith in Christ were lost.)

God surely could have insured that all would have come to know who Christ was and thus would have had the choice to either accept or reject Him. But He did not. How then can He hold those responsible who, through no fault of their own, do not know who Christ was?

1 comment:

John W. Loftus said...

At my Blog we broadside evangelical Christianity over and over. Have you seen it? My name will take you there. Come and comment.

BTW, I liked your comment at Victor Reppert's Dangerous Idea blog.