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    March 6th, 2012 @ 3:40 pm by Kevin

    In case you’re confused, hamartiology is the branch of Christian theology devoted to developing and articulating the doctrine of sin.

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  1. Since you asked,

    1. “Harmartiology” is a silly word. It sounds like someone is making a sculpture from roast pork.

    2. Even with your brief definition and looking up the word on Wikipedia, I am still not sure exactly what you mean by “your hamartiology.”

    3. The implied argument of “no possibility” of redemption may be a typical stance of the typical crowd but such a teaching usually has to insist that:

    1) The dead are not really dead but alive and fully aware in some sense,
    2) The dead are judged (usually in lesser torments) before the judgment,
    3) The dead must have their will sealed or even purposely blocked to prevent repentance when they are judged,

    … because it would just throw the whole scenario (based on those assumptions) out of whack if anyone threw themselves on the mercy of the court when they actually did get to see God, wouldn’t it? Then someone would have to answer if God ever would despise a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).

    It seems that your image has less to do with understanding of sin, but more about questioning whether the proposed punishment is just. The teaching that we are all sentenced to death before we began is scripture, “he that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:18).

    This includes Joseph Stalin and the nameless Muslim children who are killed by U.S. bombs, everyone who ever lived and everyone who has yet to be born. By default the sentence is passed upon all men because we are sinful. If someone hasn’t exhibited that sin yet then just give them a little time. You cannot earn salvation by being lucky enough to be killed before you could think (and therefore sin.)

    Specific sins can be used to prove that we are sinful, much like you might perform tests on rocketry to prove whether it was reliable. If you were to demonstrate a flaw in a spaceship and the designer refused to fix it (refused to change) the design would be condemned and the spaceship would be destroyed before it could cause lasting damage. This would be just and appropriate.

    One more thought for you concerning that picture. People have made up stories before that involved around time-travel, as in “What if we went back in time and killed Hitler?” If you think about this, wouldn’t you be killing a young child before he proved what he could be capable of? How do you know that the young child in your picture wasn’t another Stalin?

    For that matter, how do you know that any one of us wouldn’t be another Stalin if we had the power and opportunity? Most of us are never tempted with the ability to loot a country and murder our opponents. And then another question… is it any better to murder one enemy, as long as we do not murder millions? And is murder the only sin worthy of death? What saith the scripture?

    To make your picture fair and complete, you really need to add a picture of someone that everyone recognizes as still being alive. It would be even better if you could manage to put a mirror there to capture one’s own image, and also include the sentence “Eternal Damnation with No Possibility of Redemption.”

    That at least would be a more fair presentation of the Christian doctrine of sin, but it would illustrate the need for clarification (and I think this is where the issue lies):

    1) Is the punishment itself without possibility of redemption, or
    2) Is the present condemnation without possibility of redemption?

    One of those concepts is biblical, the other is not.

    • To the ever verbose Andrew: I like your “sculpture made from roast pork” comment. It makes me think of the word onomatopoeia, which sounds just as silly considering its definition. But I don’t think the aural qualities of a word should be the standard by which a word should be judged. Otherwise I would lobby for the word “phlegm” to be stricken from the English vocabulary.

      Aside from that, any theology of sin–or hamartiology, if you like–will also include a theology of appropriate punishment. So to my way of thinking, this image (which I did not create, by the way) asks a valid question. Does your theology of sin put you in a position where every infraction is punished with a life sentence?

      You also draw a distinction between sinful acts and a sinful disposition. Which leads me to conclude that you are lobbying in favor of the concept of Original Sin. Am I correct? If so, can you help me see how you infer that teaching from Scripture?

  2. In answer to your “Does your theology of sin put you in a position…” question, the answer is not exactly and absolutely not.

    * Not exactly, because sin is not a matter of infractions. It might be better to say “any sin” or “all sinfulness” instead of “every infraction. Willful sin without repentance is death.

    * Absolutely not, because the wages of sin is death, and the penalty is not a life sentence but rather the deprivation of life. Since you were asking about appropriate punishment this is a vital distinction.

    I am not lobbying in favor of any theological term. Can you define what you mean by “Original Sin” for the sake of discussion? If you could do this, I would be happy to explain whether or not I see it supported by scripture.

    And I will try to contain my verbose nature until you have a chance to confirm what you mean by “Original Sin” (because there may be all sorts of strangeness associated with that label…)

    • Andrew, I believe you’re overthinking this a bit. The simple message of the above graphic is, to quote Rob Bell… “Really????”

      No Christian can, with intellectual honesty, explain the inevitable logical conclusion to the doctrine of eternal punishment (or even deprivation, as you put it). This picture casts a glaring floodlight on that conclusion and the resulting cognitive dissonance.

  3. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15)
    “Original sin” is just that, as Adam’s offspring, we inherited death (we are all the ‘living dead’ born into bondage on death row–if any place is ‘hell’ it is this journey in the wilderness while awaiting execution).

    But, thanks be to God, His remedy, in Christ Jesus, is sufficient for the disease. Adam’s failure is not greater than Christ’s victory. Jesus never fails!

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