Monday, September 06, 2010

Reconciliation part 2, sIn

The first chapter entitled Sin, is a chapter that possess much truth and doesn't pull any punches. Pastor Ward Clinton describes sinners in a way that many pastors will not. In fact, Pastor Clinton goes to great lengths to explain the doctrine of "Original Sin" without ever calling it that. For instance, on page 9 he differentiates personal sin from being a sinner.
Actual sin or personal sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person.
On the same page he explains why men sin.
We are legally constituted sinners neither by what we are, genetically, nor by what we are doing, but by the disobedience of our Federal Head, Adam.
I must say this is quite refreshing. How many local pastors explain the doctrine of Original Sin?! He writes on the next page,
The concept of Adam as the head of the human race and that his actions determined the natural direction for all his posterity is clearly taught in the Holy Bible.
By which he then quotes Romans 5:12,18,19 to defend his thesis.

Now for the many good things that he writes, the style of the chapter itself is not exactly one that I would use in a Sunday School class. Perhaps it is just the reader trying to understand the flow of argumentation and missing it, so the problem very well may be me.

However, it is one thing to say that the Bible teaches "Federal Headship", it is another thing to explain it. Pastor Clinton is saying true things without laying down a proper foundation as to "Why" Original sin is the teaching of Scripture. In other words, why does Paul assert in Romans 5 that we are in union with Adam in his sin? This is a glaring problem from one (me) who approaches this from a Covenantal Theological position.

Also, the chapter is so full of cliches, that the thoughts being expressed lose their connection. For instance, the last sentence of the first paragraph on page 13 ends with this statement,
See Matthew 18-23-35 in His guidebook, the Holy Bible, also known as the basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. [a popular song by Burlap to Cashmere?]
The next paragraph starts,
Unfortunately for fallen, unreconciled man, physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, expulsion from the earth, not annihilation.
Although these things are related, the author just seems to jump from one thing to the next. A reader may very well be totally unfamiliar with the doctrine of "annihilation". How this is related to being a sinner is simply not sufficiently laid out.

For another example, the very first page quotes Anon, Thomas Carlyle and Benjamin Franklin as sources for the definition of sin to which he starts,
Sin exists. Sin separates man from God. What is sin anyway? Mr. Franklin's little statement quoted above can take us a long way toward understanding the Ten Commandments: The "Thou Shalt" and "Thou Shalt Nots" thingy, and the purpose behind them; obey them and have a better life ignore them and things won't go as well. Generally speaking, things tend to trend downhill when we ignore God's word.
It is this type of presentation that I think leads to some inconsistent problems that show up in the next chapter.

In conclusion, although much more material could have been used to lay a solid foundation for explaining why man is a sinner, it is obvious he is attempting to be brief in that area while not holding back passages that speak to God's hatred for the wicked and his assured punishment on the "day of wrath".

Perhaps this chapter would have been better if he avoided the use of so many cliches and that the thoughts argued for were consistently presented. But hey, I truly appreciate the fact that a local pastor wrote a book in order to not only encourage his flock in sound doctrine, but even getting his book in a local library.

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