Friday, April 18, 2008

Bring Back Sin in the Church

"You must make it palatable to your hearers". This was the advice given to me by a pastor a few years my senior when I was in my early years in ministry. I won't name the denomination of that pastor but you can guess if you have been visiting this blog. I almost choked when I heard that comment, living me speechless for a few minutes, I could not believe my ears.

"Relativize". That seems to be the cause of anxiety now a days. How does one make Christianity relevant to pop culture? In this post-Christian age, people are no longer into religion as once known, they are now into spirituality. People's problems center around what is seen, heard or felt. For example, their problem is not having money, not having relationships, not having _______ (you can fill in the blank).

So do we talk to them about those surface level things hoping we can get them to listen about the main thing, their lost relationship with God?

Today's pop culture is not even exactly angry at the Church, it is indifferent. They look at Christians as like looking at a museum. Just old artifacts of history gone by.

Jesus said "they will hate you because of me". In the Western world, we are not exactly hated, and when we are hated, it is not because of Jesus. It is because of the foul things we have done, the scandalous actions and not because of the message of Jesus, no sir ree.

There is always something that the Church has that will never be found anywhere else in the world. Forgiveness of sins. Notice, in todays language there really is no such thing as sin. People are not really Law breakers, they are just making bad choices. People generally think they are quite ok with God. They got a good heart. The Church is by default agreeing with this when it allows itself to be side tracked and go along with pop culture's conversations.

When the Church stops discussing sin, it will stop giving the answer for it, the needed forgiveness that can only be found in Christ's death and resurrection.


Steve Newell said...

If there is no need to show us our sins by the Law, there is no need to show us Christ by the Gospel.

Also, we keep redefining sin from that God calls sin to what we call sin. For example, if one drinks a beer some will call that a sin. Likewise, we keep redefining the Gospel from Christ crucified for sinners to Christ the example of how to live.

Anonymous said...

One of the best recent treatments on the subject of sin, at a popular and/or pastoral level, is Why Sin Matters by Mark McMinn. It is written from an American Evangelical perspective (i.e., not Lutheran), but it is a fantastic, pithy work that I cannot recommend enough!

L P Cruz said...


we keep redefining sin from that God calls sin to what we call sin

And the Church goes along with the world as to how to "un-define" it out of existence, no?


L P Cruz said...


I have not heard of the book, I will check it out in my next visit to a Christian bookstore.


Doorman-Priest said...

I think you've nailed that one pretty well, LP.

Carrie said...

Amen, brother!

David said...

Dern does this mean I should stop trying to become a better, relevant, emergent, seeker sensitive and missional me?


God's peace. †

L P Cruz said...


I wanted to say to the Church "listen up people, we are relativizing ourselves out of existence"!

I sometimes now get a bit timid when I am about to share the Gospel with pop people. Pop folk kinda gets surprized that I have to talk about sin and the Law. I get the look ' how does that help me'? It looks weird that we have to start to talk first about the bad news before we can get to the good news. "oooh you sound so so negative". Looks like I have to be the one that needs to be embarrassed.

But we can not get out the best news if we deny the reality of the bad news, no? And that is really the point, the good news.

Sometimes I feell like I have to talk first to Christians specially the evangelical/pentecostal ones like "could you please first stop talking about the 'Gospel' (as you understand it)".

Do you feel that way too?

Caramba. A bit messy now.


Augustinian Successor said...

Yes, the issue of "relevance". Relevance is understood as a temporal sequence. What the Church does not realise is the fact that it is the World which is IRRELEVANT! Praise be to God who has ushered in a NEW age, a new creation, His Kingdom which is only grasped by faith here and now. The World belongs to the old order, the old creation ... which is destined to decay and be destroyed at the consummation.

Therefore, it is the World which needs to be made relevant. By being baptised anew in the waters of regeneration so as to drowned and raised up again in newness of life. It is the Church which needs to re-claim the World, not the other way round. It is the world which needs to be SAVED.

What we have is a situation in which the Church needs to saved by the World through pandering to its culture so that the Church does not collapse into "irrelevancy" and hence social oblivion.

What the Church does not realise is that its task is to EXPOSE sin, not cover it or make excuses about it, for that is surely the quickest way to make the Church irrelevant. By covering sin or domesticating sin, the Church is as Big Bro. Lito says relativising the LAW. Once the Law is relativised, God Himself ends up being relativised! The CROSS ends up being relativised. The Church then ends up relatising itself into irrelevance. And so, there is no end to the process, because one must "forever" relativise to keep oneself from being irrelevant. But that IS precisely the problem!

Relativisation is a trap and a curse. It is simply the Church fitting the Law to suit the World. But we do not "use" the Law; it is the Law which uses us. When we attempt to manipulate the Law, we are simply substituting the Law with ideologies and philosophies. We are imposing on the Law our own ideas and dreams.

The end result is NIHILISM. That is the road which the quest to banish the Law takes you. And the Church is complicit in this
conspiracy". Any attempt to banish the Law will make it even more determined to re-impose itself. The result is TYRANNY. And the Church ends up being one of the most irrelevant institutions in the World, and despised and hated for the WRONG reasons.

No, sin means bondage. And it is the task and mission of the Church not to keep people in bondage, but deliver and free them through dividing the Word into Law and Gospel.

Augustinian Successor said...

To be under the Law is to be in bondage. To be in bondage means there is no way out of the Law except the Gospel. Hence, ideologies and philosphies do not liberate but deepen our bondage to the Law. Only Christ is the end of the Law to all who believe.

L P Cruz said...


A great insight, I had not thought that it is the world which is actually has been made irrelevant by Jesus coming. How true, absolutely. It has been made disabled of none event now. What another good news!

Thanks for the philosophical input, it is very useful!