Tuesday, June 3, 2008


In Tim Keller's book, The Reason for God, Keller defines "sin" as anything we put ahead of God. Keller's definition is interesting, I think, especially as many Quakers equate sin with "being bad" and reject the whole idea of it. While I think none of us like the idea of being "bad," we can't help but notice that many things in our world are quite awry.

The following about Keller's book is from the Jesus Creed site:

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.

What do you think of this?

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