Sunday, February 04, 2007
In this increasingly ridiculous argument that has developed over sanctification, it has become eminently clear to me that there are two broad and overarching ways that people use to imagine what "sanctification" is. One way to envision sanctification is to see the Christian life as one of less and less sin. This is the "not sinning" view of sanctification, and it's the one I am going to talk about in this post. I'll reserve the other view for the next post.

The view that sees sanctification as "not sinning" takes it on faith that when Jesus told the prostitute whom he rescued from death by stoning to "Go and sin no more," his command implies that the deed is possible. After all, why would God in the flesh tell someone to "sin no more" if it were not actually possible? That would make God an arrogant monstrosity, but the testimony of Scripture is that he is not that at all.

We see this vision of sanctification throughout late eighteenth and nineteenth century theology, which actually is no surprise. This view rests on the above mentioned assumption that "if God said do it, it has to be possible." And that view is what we call a categorical imperative. It's most famous and articulate proponent was the German enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant said, "man must judge that he can do what the moral law tells him unconditionally that he ought to do." Stated more succinctly, "the ought implies the can." (You can find the original in The Metaphysics of Morals, part II)

Nineteenth century theology (German, British and American) took this and ran with it. If God said, "Be ye Holy as I am Holy," than by cracky it MUST be possible for us to do just that. By combining Kant with the pietism of the previous century, the Holiness Movement was born.

Now what does this look like?

It means that Biblical injunctions are to be taken as absolute requirements. And further, given the proscription against violating one's own conscience, it further means that anything that could be imagined to be a sin necessarily is a sin.

For example, Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 6, "your body is a temple," were pushed to their ultimate meaning. Anything that polluted or damaged the body was sin. The nineteenth century is rife with examples of how this thinking spread. The Mormon proscription against caffeine and alcohol (a proscription which they likely picked up from Charles Finney), the Seventh-Day Adventist's vegetarianism, the Health & Wellness movement (see the movie The Road to Wellville, if you want to know about this!), and many others.

Then of course there was dancing, riding in horse-drawn coaches (yep, that was considered a sin because of the potential damage done to the spine), living in cities (pollution of both the physical and spiritual kind), and many, many other examples.

Now that I've mentioned "spiritual pollution," let's move on to that.

"Be ye not conformed to this world." (Romans 12:2)

Applying this verse with the categorical imperative as the motivator leads to all sorts of fascinating behaviors. Anything that is "worldly" must (and, of course, can!) be avoided. Let's look at a few:

Anything that has any sexual implication--

  • can't watch college football games, because of the cheerleaders and their skimpy costumes
  • can't watch the Super Bowl today, because the beer ads (and many others) contain sexually provocative material
  • can't go to (most) movies, because, well, they're just filled with sex.
  • can't go to the mall, because you might pass by a Victoria's Secret window, and we all know that's not good
  • can't listen to jazz, and a good deal of classical music (well, operas mostly, but who listens to those anyway?)

anything that has any "vulgar" language--

  • see "movies" above
  • most Rock and roll music
  • much television programming

anything that encourages people to defy authority--

  • punk rock, specifically
  • sports, again (how many of our "sports heroes" were arrested last year??!!)
  • encouraging our young students to argue with their liberal college professors. Professors also fall under the rubric of "those whom God has put in authority".
  • People who blog and/or surf the internet at work are stealing from their employers.
  • Exceeding the posted speed limits, rolling stops, failing to use a turn signal.

anything that leads to excess--

  • Scripture specifically enjoins us not to live beyond our needs. When we know that poor and hungry people surround us in society, and yet continue to "supersize" our McValue meals, and exceed our necessary daily caloric intake, we are robbing from the mouths of the poor. Anyone who is more than ~15 pounds overweight (~15 pounds being the bounds of statistical weight distribution for healthy adults) may as well account himself a murderer.

anything which is not strictly necessary for basic survival--

  • just overall unnecessary one needs more than 1 television in their house. NO ONE.
  • No one needs more than about a week's worth of clothes, a couple of pars of shoes.
  • There is no need for a "dress coat" and a "casual coat", one coat will do. WHO are we trying to impress, anyways? (cf. James, chapters 1 & 2)
  • Let's not mention all the wasteful spending on CDs, DVDs, cable television, magazine subscriptions, overly huge houses which waste natural resources (robbing them from our neighbor) by heating and air conditioning excessive amounts of space. Who actually NEEDS a 3000 sq. foot house?

Even being casually associated with any of these things is, in fact, sinful. We are, after all to "avoid even the appearance of evil."

To fail to do those things which God commands of us will result in damnation. Without fail. To break any portion of the law is to be guilty of violating ALL of it.

Whether someone surfs porn, listens to music with violent lyrics, uses vulgar language, is overweight, steals from his employer, casually misrepresents others' words -- it doesn't matter. All of these belong to the Kingdom of Satan.

I'll probably edit this a bit later, but for now, that should provide an adequate picture of the theology of sanctification by "not sinning."

posted by Kepler at 12:31 |


At 2/05/2007 12:21:00 PM, Blogger solarblogger

This post is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to justify riding in horse-drawn coaches. Well, I know how this will end. People will be cooped up in hospitals, twisted like pretzels in their beds, and die in despair because of your counsel. You need to repent. The inflamation of bursitis is a foretaste of the burning you will feel later.


At 2/05/2007 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Kepler

An initial comment from Pastor McCain has been rejected because it failed to discuss anything related to the current post.


At 2/05/2007 02:38:00 PM, Blogger Kepler

No, actually I'm trying to make an excuse for taking antibiotics.

We all know that too many antibiotics can lower resistance; and if I lower my resistance too far then I won't be able to fight off infection. If I have deliberately put my body into such a state that it is vulnerable to infection, have I not abused the Temple of the Holy Spirit?

So, now, here I am, staring at my navel (which seems to be ever so much more capacious than a few years ago?!) wondering what, oh what should I do?

The horse and buggy is right out: the spondylolisthesis is acting up again.


Track with co.mments