Derek Flood offers a mini-sermon on “Sin and Chewing Gum“:
Yesterday, I was walking through Dolores Park and heard a street preacher, saying “If you’ve ever stolen a stick of gum, then you are guilty of sin! If you’ve ever looked at Facebook at work, then you’ve stolen from your employer, and that’s sin!”
Of course we all know where he was headed: If we have sinned — even with a trivial infraction like a stick of gum — then God who is holy must punish us for all eternity in Hell unless we accept Jesus right now.
I mean, seriously, gum? Why can’t God just get over it? Is God less moral than all of us are? This is not a picture of holiness, it is a picture of a petty tyrant. …
Which recalled something I read earlier in the day — the latest of Juan Cole’s translations from Omar Khayyam:
You are the alpha and omega;
without you everything is nothing.
If you wish, you can
sentence us to hell,
and if you wish, you can
decide to cherish us.
A great deal of Christian theology winds up defining God’s holiness as a limitation on God’s power and freedom. Perhaps God wishes to “decide to cherish us,” this view says, but God cannot do that because, you know, we stole some gum.
God cannot do that? God “cannot”?
It’s just odd that some of the people who talk the loudest about God’s sovereignty also deny that such sovereignty would allow God to choose to cherish a gum-thief and deny God the sovereign freedom not to sentence us to hell.