ill·ness – ˈilnəs/ – noun – a disease or period of sickness affecting the body or mind.
The Town and the Mayor describes a world that was existing under a cloud of debt. Everyone was in debt.
However, the reader of The Town and the Mayor will later learn that through a series of legal cases that were won on behalf of everyone on the planet, debt had long ago been extirpated. But few people actually knew about this momentous development. Most people still believed they were deeply in debt.
So, were all the people still in debt since they didn’t know all debts had been taken care of on their behalf? Did believing they were still in debt mean that they truly were still in debt? No. The wrong belief they walked around with every day certainly affected their every day life by making it much less fulfilling and much more stressful. But in the grand scheme, believing something that was not true did not turn the lie into reality. In reality all debts were wiped out and no amount of ignorance or unbelief would ever change that.
That was my way of explaining the wrong thinking that has been going on for a very long time with respect to the topic of Sin.
Part 1 of the basics of my outlook of sin – what it is and what it is not – is enumerated below. I am sure there will be more follow-up articles to this topic after this (Part 1) and later, Part 2. For now, see how the following bullet-points resonate with you…
- If we read the first book of the Bible – the Book of Genesis – and examine the text without preconceived ideas that cause us to insist that we already know what needs to be known, we will see that sin is a man-made invention. In other words, it is not something God put upon mankind; it is a wrong-headed way of thinking that man put on mankind.
- If we read what theologians say about sin, it becomes almost instantly apparent that they apply the practice of circular reasoning in order to define it. [For a discussion of Circular Reasoning (and how it is used to put forward the false idea that God looks forward to sending the vast majority of past, present and future of the Earth’s inhabitants to an endless fiery punishment called Hell), please check out a previous article on that topic. Click HERE for an example of the kind of theological circular reasoning I am talking about. Notice how the reader is expected to agree with the author’s way of viewing sin even though the text of the scripture referenced actually offers no definition at all.]
- Theologians say that the Bible shows sin expressing itself in one of two ways. They say that, depending upon context, sin is either described as a transgression (doing something that was forbidden) or as “missing the mark” (failing to be perfect).
- However, I believe that before it came to be thought of in either of the those two ways, it was, at its core, something much more fundamental; that it was a wrong belief that then later produced the above ways of defining sin.
- Most people agree that all behaviors are merely a reflection of certain beliefs at some level. In fact, you will hear people saying that about sin; that sin starts out in our thoughts… and then we sin. Or, we commit a sin after we have a sinful thought.
- What I am trying to convey here is deeper than all that. I am going beyond the idea that sinful behaviors are a result of sinful thoughts. I am saying that bad behaviors (things that we do that are hurtful to ourselves and others) are side effects of a wrong belief the first man and woman were deceived into adopting before they took a bite of the forbidden fruit.
- Their wrong belief was one that originated in deception in the form of a question that had a false premise attached to it. The false premise, planted like a seed in the mind of mankind, grew into the wrong belief that took hold and lives in our habitual way of thinking to this day. [As in the beginning, we can choose to engage in the way of thinking that governed Adam and Eve’s choices after they ate the fruit (we do so when we believe the lie of the false premise deceptively suggested by the Serpent), or we can believe something different; a set of facts that God would prefer that we believe.]
- The wrong belief Adam and Eve entertained has everything to do with man’s relationship with God and, more specifically, man’s perceptions about how God views us.
- The wrong belief can also be called a wrong conclusion.
- The wrong belief, the wrong conclusion, is… itself… SIN.
- The first man and woman created it together.
- Sin is the name of the belief that something I can do – or, worse, something that I am – can cause God to decide to withdraw Himself from me, creating a gulf of separation between me and God. I have done something I was told not to do. This has caused separation between me and God. <– there it is! That’s the lie. THAT is sin. The premise that this sort of separation based upon behavior was ever even in God’s way of viewing His relationship with mankind is a pernicious form of poison and completely false.
- This idea – this conclusion that we have arrived at in our mind – is a completely wrong idea. It was never correct. It was never right. It was never accurate. It was always false. It was always a lie. It was always based upon the premise – THE FALSE PREMISE – that God views the crown jewel of all of His Creation through the lens of a picky, legalistic, cynical, critical, crass, crummy, small-minded critic… and that God is carefully watching our behavior so that when, not if, we step on the grass in defiance of the sign that requests that we not do so, He will turn His back on us and mutter over His shoulder something to the effect that ‘I knew you’d do that’ … right before leaving us all alone in the world… unless and until we can convincingly convince Him to please come back.
- A careful examination of the story in Genesis shows everything I have outlined above to be completely accurate. Go there and look for yourself. You will see that God did not label what Adam and Eve did (eat what they were told not to eat) as sin. You will see that Adam and Eve – having drawn a completely wrong conclusion about God’s view of them – ran and hid from God. In other words, they withdrew from God; God DID NOT withdrawn Himself from them. You will see that God came looking for them; reaching out to them; calling for them; and engaging with them, asking what they did. We will see that God is not recorded as being angry with them. And again, He DID NOT accuse them of sinning… even though, in their minds, that is exactly what they did. As a consequence of what they had done, God chose to protect Adam and Eve (and, by extension, all of mankind) rather than punish them. He could not permit them to both think the wrong way AND to be able to live forever (by eating from the Tree of Life). God protected mankind by tethering us to the ultimate accountability of mortality. You will see that God does not mention sin until later when He is dealing with what Cain had done and, there again, God did not even define Cain’s reprehensible action (in anger, murdering his own brother) as sin! Instead, God warned Cain that sin is an external thing, NOT an internal thing existing inside of him (and the rest of mankind) as popular theology teaches. Sin is rather described as something that is “crouching at the door.” Essentially, Cain was being warned that if you don’t pay attention, this wrong way of thinking will creep into your thought processes and affect the way you see everything and the way you react to everything. And then what did God do? Did he call Cain a sinner? No. He placed some kind of mark upon Cain as a means of protecting him. So, in the very first book of the Bible, in dealing with the first two instances of man bringing pain upon himself and others, did God judge and/or condemn the wrongdoers? No. Did he label their actions as sin or sinful? No. Far from it, actually. God did something very loving. He took steps to protect them from themselves. That reminds me of what new parents do all over their house when a baby is present. They “child proof” the house. They make it as safe as possible in order to protect the child. Loving indeed. Yet, we grew up being taught that God is carefully watching our behavior, which, if we don’t make right our wrongs before we die, He will harshly punish us for what we’ve done. Is that “version” of God even hinted at in the first few pages of Genesis? Not even close.
The Hebraic tradition for determining the meaning of a word or concept appearing in scripture is very straightforward: give special (if not exclusive) weight to the word or concept’s first use. The way a word or concept was first used; that is the biggest clue as to its intended use going forward.
The religious Christian world completely ignores all of that, especially when it comes to the word and/or concept of Sin. The clues that we are given from the very first instances of both Sin and of people doing wrong things that brings pain to themselves and others, should lead rational, thinking people away from what traditional Christianity has taught the masses. If we read scripture just for what it says rather than what religious tradition has told us to think it says, then we will be taken in the direction of a vastly different “version” of God than the one that promoters of religious ideas have been selling for so long.
Please come back for Part 2. We will conclude this brief discussion of the wrong ideas about Sin held by so many; how it all just amounts to wrong thinking; a case of mental illness that can be cured by right thinking!