By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Is the Concept of Sin Passé?

I read an article this weekend titled "The Economic Problem of Sin" by Bruce Walker. (It's at American Thinker.) The author discusses the cost of sin in society and how much better a society is when it acknowledges sin and fights against it. He also discusses the way that society today dismisses the idea of sin as not relevant. It is a very good article and a thought-provoking one--good reading.

The article caused me to think about how the notion of sin has become passé in modern society. Everyone is afraid to call a sin a sin. They are afraid they'll offend someone, or they buy into the nonsense that morality and truth are relative rather than absolute.

We all sin in one way or another. No one is perfect. Is it not better, healthier, more healing to acknowledge when we have sinned so that we can repent and be made whole? Shouldn't we be honest about these things? I think so. Isn't God the One we should be worried about offending, rather than other people?

I am not advocating that we be condemning or unforgiving. After all, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. However, shouldn't parents teach their children what sin is and how to avoid it? Shouldn't children be taught to repent when they have sinned? Shouldn't parents believe that certain things are sins and avoid doing them, thereby setting an example for all around them?

What are your thoughts?

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Blogger T. F. Stern said...

The old idea of calling good evil and evil good still is used in order to destroy the Plan of Happiness.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

You're very right about that, TF! Confusion reigns, or attempts to reign.

5:06 AM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

Why does sin exist, if God created everything and God is holy? For that matter why does evil exist?

9:57 AM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

Also, is God totally holy?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Tigersue said...

Sin exists because we have this thing called Agency and Accountibility.
Meaning we choose our actions and we will be held accountible for those actions.
That is why sin exists, sin is not a thing to be "created" but a choice, a thought, that leads to some kind of action or inaction.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Prodigal, you ask some questions that occur to most people at one time or another. I don't pretend to have all the answers, but my understanding from the Book of Mormon is that there has to be opposition in all things (i.e., good vs. evil) in order for our time on earth to provide us with the learning and growing experiences we need.

As for sin--it's the breaking of God's laws, so where God is, sin will be, simply because we are imperfect humans. And, yes, God is totally holy. We aren't, however, and I think that our limited understanding of who God is and why He does what He does can cause us to question that. We don't have the eternal and omniscient perspective that He does, so we can't understand some of the things that God says and does.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

tigersue, thanks for your comments and for bringing in some thoughts I forgot to bring in. Agency and accountability do indeed play a huge role.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

Interesting replies. Please allow me to explain my interpretation of what the bible says so far as this most important subject.

So God is holy, perfect, without blemish, and He is totally in control of all things. The bible teaches that He created everything and that nothing transpires without His ordination; that is, He ultimately allows all things to come to pass. We must first recognize that God Himself did not create evil, but the potential for evil. This may seem like a fine line, but it isn't. It is the same line that separates the Creator from the created. Just as He created angels with the ability to choose good or evil, He gave us this choice in the person of Adam, mankind's representitive. We are by definition volitional beings who make choices constantly. Unfortunately Adam's choice to sin created in us a curse, which is the sin nature we all bear.

God uses evil for good. For instance, look at the story of Joseph and his brothers: Joseph's father loved him, gave him a multicolored coat, his brothers sold him into slavery, but ultimately Joseph became the second in charge in Egypt, during the famine his brothers came to Egypt to buy food, and Joseph revealed himself as their brother, Joseph forgave his brothers immediately even though he could have had them killed. Do you remember what Joseph said to his brothers? "What you meant for evil God meant for good." God used the sin of Joseph's brothers to eventually save Joseph's family from famine. There are countless circumstances in life that we can look back and see God using evil to complete His good purpose. He always does this without ever condoning it, after all He is perfect.

So why does God allow evil to exist? Well look at it this way: Those who have given their life to Christ, have repented of their sin, and have openly confessed to follow Him, have been saved. Jesus says that "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one can get to the Father but by me." These individuals, called Christians, have been given eternal life, free from the penalty of God's just wrath; the penalty that all people deserve. Christians will experience the grace and mercy of God in its fullness in heaven. To understand this, let me pose to you a metaphor:
Lets say you were driving at 100mph on the highway. There are no speed limit signs anywhere and no one has ever given you any inclination that going over 65 mph is illegal. Would you understand that what you were doing is wrong? Now look at the law of God, the ten commandments. If we didn't have the ten commandments would we know that idolatry is wrong? Probably not. In the same way, Christians, the true believers, would not be able to appreciate the extent of God's grace and mercy if they were not intimately acquainted with the reality of evil. We live through it daily, the suffering, anguish, and pain are the converse of the grace, peace, and infinite love that God has for people. God has chosen to demonstrate His grace on this earth through the reality of evil. God chose to allow His son to be killed, and not only that, but while on the cross, God poured out His wrath on Him, the wrath that belonged to Christians. The Romans crucified Him, the Jews called for His blood, the people cheered, but what man meant for evil, God meant for good.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Prodigal, I have no argument with your assessment. God does indeed turn evil into good through His work with us mortals.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Rachel Woods, Latter-day Saint Guide said...

Thanks for this post... very thought provoking!

3:32 PM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

Oh, that is good Mary. I am glad we agree so far. Now why don't we discuss the illegitimacy of the LDS church: specifically the unbiblical reinstitution and replication of offices such as apostle and high priest?

4:09 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Rachel, I'm glad you've found the post/comments thought-provoking. I have, too!

Prodigal, well, there we're going to have a bit of a problem. I totally disagree with your entire discussion topic! What's unbiblical about the reinstitution and replication of the offices of apostle and high priest (and other priesthood offices)? And since God directed the restoration of the gospel through the LDS church, how is it illegitimate? Of course, I understand that if you don't believe that God directed the restoration, then the LDS church will appear illegitimate to you.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

Mary, in your opinion, what are the qualifications of an apostle, or what are the criteria that one must meet be become an apostle in the LDS church?

4:47 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Prodigal, the main criteria is that he be called of God to become an Apostle. He would, of course, be a man of faith, a priesthood holder, one who obeys God and keeps the commandments that God has given us.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

The reason why there cannot be apostles currently is because the defining qualifications cannot be met. In Acts 1, the apostles choose one who had been with Christ and witnessed Him after the resurrection. This was done to establish official apostalic authority to the church through the ministry of Matthais and the eleven.
There are simply no apostles in scripture that did not have direct contact with Christ Himself. In addition, all of the apostles recieved education in the things of God by a direct day in day out relationship with Christ or in the case of Paul, by special revelation. Gal 1:12
I would also point out that the qualifications for apostles are never mentioned in the pastorial epistles. If the replication of this postion is as important as the LDS church says, surely Paul would have laid out some groundwork and criteria, the same way he did for the other places of leadership in the early church. Lastly, Paul outlines three things that mark an apostle: signs, wonders, and miracles; all of which are done with great perseverance. Seen any of those latley??? 2Cor 12:12

8:02 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Prodigal, thank you for answering my question. And thank you for being courteous.

Actually, one of the responsibilities of our latter-day apostles is to bear special witness of Christ. Now, I cannot say one way or the other whether Christ has appeared to those who are apostles today. Such a vision would likely be too personal and too sacred to be talked about in public. However, it is a possibility. Certainly, the LDS church believes that revelation from God occurs now just as it did in times past.

As for there not being a listing of criteria for apostles in the New Testament as there are for, say, bishops, I agree with you that there are not, but then I personally think it is possible that such things were written about, but not placed in the Bible. Of course, that is just speculation on my part.

These are matters of faith more than of certain knowledge for most people, so I understand that not everyone can accept them.

I clicked on your name and saw your blog. Looks nice.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

Actually, the bible says that Jesus will return only to rapture his people and then commence the judgement. Therefore it would be unbiblical to assume otherwise. I think that a subjective esoteric experience is what the LDS church is founded upon (a burning in the bosom) and what it and you have used to defend the illegitimate practices such as the reinstatement of biblical offices that no longer exist. Only when we rely on and follow through with what the bible says can we be sure of orthodoxy and obedience to God's outline and plan for the church. Unfortunatley the bottom line is this: Christianity is not based on an esoteric experience. It is based on faith rooted in historical and evidential fact. I hope that I have used this small area to demonstrate the apostasy that the LDS church displays in virtually all of it's doctrines. I would encourage you to read the book of Hebrews and then ask yourself if the mormon high priesthood can be reconciled with the bible. I have noticed that you are a fan of CS Lewis. He surley was not a mormon and held fast to the historic Christian faith: the faith delivered once for all to the saints... Thanks for the encouragement about my blog.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Prodigal, we will have to agree to disagree then. The LDS church is neither illegitimate or in apostasy. God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are not restricted to the major Second Coming. They communicate with us today just as they did with those in times past.

Thank you for the discussion. It was interesting to learn how you understand things.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

"God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are not restricted to the major Second Coming."

I would ask you then, where is Christ currently and why? What reason would He leave His current position? Please take notice that I have used scripture to demonstrate everything that I have said so that you might know that it is not by my mental acumen that I speak.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Yes, you do use scripture to demonstrate what you have said. Since I'm guessing you are not willing to accept the additional scriptures that the LDS use, along with the Bible, I don't know that you will accept my answers.

I believe that Christ is usually in Heaven, but that He does come to earth when necessary to further His work, such as when He and God the Father appeared to Joseph Smith (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith - History 1:11-20) and when He appeared to a group of people in the western hemisphere (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11-26). (Our scriptures can be found at by clicking on "Gospel Library" and then on "Scriptures".)

In addition, in Matthew 28:20 Christ says "...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." I take that to mean He is vitally interested in us, enough to come to earth occasionally, should the need arise.

I believe in all the scriptures we use. I see no point in continuing our discussion, but I thank you for your comments.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Prodigal said...

I think then you have come to the crux of your faith. Here I have clearly pointed out how the remainder of the quad seems to be directly at odds with what the bible says. I guess you'll have to ask yourself which to trust. Do you trust in the bible, which has been proven to be reliable from archiological and anthropological research (there are 30,000 copies of the bible from antiquity, more than any other literary work ever, all of which coincide with the orthodox translations used today). Or do you trust in the LDS writings of fallible men, whose claims have never been proven by evidential fact let alone any archiological find.

Choose wisely... If you call yourself a sinner, repent of your sin, trust in the Jesus of the bible (not the mormon jesus who does not exist): whose is God-the God, and ask forgiveness, and you shall have everlasting life because of His work on the cross.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Prodigal, I know you think I should say I've been wrong, but I can't do that. I'm not wrong. The Bible is the word of God, but you have to remember that fallible men decided what to put in the Bible, and copied it by hand through many years, and translated it. For the most part, I believe they did the best they knew how and that God guided them. I also think it possible that a few men knowingly tampered with what is in the Bible. LDS people revere the Bible and study it just as faithfully as we study our other scriptures. On the other hand, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price passed through few hands and weren't subjected to nearly as many opportunities for error, and they are definitely writings by prophets of God, inspired by God. We look for support of the Bible in our other scriptures. We do not dismiss or ignore the Bible.

The "Mormon Jesus" is the Jesus of the Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon, the D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price.

I was not raised in the Church. I was a Methodist from birth to age 10, then a Baptist from age 10 to age 21. That is when I learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I knew, by prayer and confirmation from the Holy Ghost, that the LDS Church is true. I will never regret my choice to become LDS.

I am sure you are sincere and mean well. I assure you that I am sincere and that I have not been led astray. You have every right to believe as you think best. I also have that right. I am quite confident that I have made the correct choice. I'm sorry that you think I haven't, but that is only your opinion. This is why I said we should agree to disagree and end the discussion.

I do thank you for your concern.

3:57 PM  
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11:12 PM  

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