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Doctrine (Part 5). Hamarteology.

August 20, 2009

Ever since Adam and Eve ate that fruit we have had a problem–sin (Rom 5:12). We are bad people. We do bad things. Harmartiology is the study of our sinful state. There is a sickness that each of us is born with; Soren Kierkegaard calls it despair. This is a fitting choice of vocabulary insomuch that despair categorizes a status that is beyond hope. Such is the case with our situtation from birth, which John Calvin coined total depravity. Our despair is comprehensive (as apposed to partial). Our hopelessness is devastating (as apposed to tolerable). Our separation from God is true (as apposed to figurative). Every human has dishonored God and fallen short of his glory (Rom 3:23).

This despair is not limited to image-bearing humanity. This world is bad. Bad things happen in it and to it. This is why our cold drinks get warm, and our warm drinks get cold. This is why some who do nothing are considered something and some who do something are considered nothing (case and point: Paris Hilton and my third grade teacher Mr. Parsons). This is why Thundercats got canceled and Pokemon and Spongebob Squarepants took over the world (for awhile anyway). This is a backwards place because sin has infected everything. And there is a groaning within this world that longs for this despair to be lifted (Rom 8:22).

On our main course toward knowing God we must fully grasp sin’s pervasive destruction. If we do not, we liable to commit a similar error of a popular atheist, Christopher Hitchens. He suggests that a perfect God can not exist because his (supposed) creation is not perfect. But if we understand sin, we see that it is not the Creator who is flawed, but the creation which has chosen the path of sin and evil. Creation is hopeless, in complete opposition to God, and deserved of destruction.

Here enters the glorious injection of the grace of God. In the midst of our despair, Jesus is the hope. While beyond remedy, Jesus died in our place (1 Cor 15:3). In our sinful state, Jesus loved us first (Rom 5:8). And it is in Christ that the curse of sin is lifted and the groanings of the world will be satisfied (Rom 8:1, 8:19-23).

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