This post is by RJS
Here is the big question facing us today… What is the problem?
We do not live in the Garden of Eden (Utopia, Shangri La, Paradise — you name it). Most of us would agree that it is self evident that something is fundamentally wrong with the world we currently occupy. The 20th century, with genocide, war, greed, injustice, and selfishness, has disabused the optimistic view of the inherent goodness of humanity and the evolution of human society. So then, what is the problem — and — what is the solution? In Chapter 10 of The Reason for GodTim Keller tackles the problem.
The Christian answer of course is Sin – but this simply begs the question, unless we first come to an understanding of sin.
Keller defines sin fundamentally as seeking to establish self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God. (p. 162) Sin is failure to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Keller expands on this idea:
Identity apart from God is inherently unstable. Self worth and self identity can disappear in an instant if founded on freedom, success, parenthood, work, achievement, church leadership, the esteem of others…
Worse yet – identity apart from God is socially destructive. If our highest ultimate goal is centered in the good of our family we will tend to care less for other families. If our highest goal is the good of our nation we will tend to care less for other nations, and may “defend” ours at all costs. If our highest goal is our individual happiness we will put our economic and power interests ahead of others. If our highest goal is our religion we will despise and demonize those from other religious traditions. If our highest goal is the good of our church, if our identity is centered in our church or denomination, we will defend it by denigrating other churches and denominations.
And – think about it — if our identity is centered our class, our race, our gender — classism, racism, and sexism are the unavoidable consequences.
So racism, classism, and sexism are not matters of ignorance or lack of education. Foucault and others in our time have shown that it is far harder than we think to have a self-identity that doesn’t lead to exclusion. The real culture war is taking place inside our own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, and that fail to satisfy us even when we get them. (p. 169)
The problem is not “human evil” – power, domination, and violence – these are merely unavoidable consequences of the problem.
Ok — Keller has had his say (with a little of mine thrown in for good measure) , now lets open the general discussion:
What is The Problem? And— if the problem is sin: What is Sin?