Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Follies of Sin


Sin is folly; it is unreasonable, insane, senseless, and irrational. All sin is a flight into madness, an act of self-destruction, and warfare on God. When someone does something dastardly, we often ask, "Why?" There is no answer to that question. If an action makes sense, if it is explainable, logical, and comprehendable, then it would be right. Understanding the mind of the sinner, even when that sinner is us, is like chasing down the logic of a madman. Such an undertaking is a wild-goose chase. With sin, you will never reach a sensible answer to the question, "Why?"

“... the deep problems of apologetics are not finally intellectual, but ethical (Reason and Revelation, 145).” 

Take unbelief. Why do men persist in sinful and illogical unbelief in the face of a true and good God? Why? There's no good answer. There never will be. 
For the riddle of sin is the same as the essence of sin, with its anti-normative character and illegality. It is the same as the senselessness of sin. Therefore, since every “unriddling” of sin implies a discovery of “sense” where no sense can possibly be found, the very notion of “unriddling” is impossible. One cannot find sense in the senseless and meaning in the meaningless.
- Berkouwer, Sin, Studies in Dogmatics, 1971, pg. 134: 
Sin is foolish and irrational, “The riddle of sin... lies in its lack of rationale. Sin is essentially, and will remain, deeply unreasonable, utterly irrational (Revelation and Reason, 59).”

Sin is essentially anti-law: illegal; lawlessness. It breaks down, and rebels against, the law of God. The sinner is in living war with the living God. Sin is anti-God: it arises from a dislike, a hatred, a hostility and distrust of God. Sin is essentially anti-normative: it goes against nature (Romans 1.26-27). It goes against what we were meant to be. It goes against our dignity and uprightness as image bearers of God. It goes against our differentiated created-ness as men, or as women. Every sin is an attempt to do something impossible, namely, dethrone God.

Sin is senseless. It is done ‘without sense' -- it is thoughtless. A moment’s reflection would reveal that sin, any sin, is not a good idea. A wise and righteous man is a thinking man: a prudent man. He thinks about what he does before he does it, and what the consequences will be. Sin is also senseless in that it does not make sense: irrational. Sin is like putting orange juice in a gas tank and expecting to be able to drive. It is like jumping off a building and flapping your arms, expecting to fly. We speak of senseless crimes. Every crime is senseless – every sin is senseless. Abandoned sinners are characterized by a thoughtless, hasty, reckless lifestyle.

Sin is, then, a flight toward insanity. This means repentance is a flight away from insanity: a flight toward reason and right. The repentant man is like a man breaking forth out of an insane asylum into the clear clean air of rationality. Addicts will sometimes speak of a "moment of clarity" that turned their life around. In such a moment, they saw things as they were: they breathed, if only briefly, the air of truth and reason. The repentant man is committed to reasonable reality: moments of clarity fall down on him like the rays of the sun.  

In the literature of Scripture, wisdom is, broadly speaking, the knowledge of God’s world and the knack of fitting oneself into it. The wise person knows creation... its boundaries and limits, understands its laws and rhythms, discerns its times and seasons, respects its great dynamics... the creation possesses its own integrity and significance quite apart from (the) claim on it and quite apart from any possibility that creation will make (him) happy. This wise person gives in to creation and to God – and (he) does the first because (he) does the second... Wisdom is a reality-based phenomenon. To be wise is to know reality, to discern it. A discerning person notices things, attends to things, picks up on things... Discernment is a mark of wisdom: it shows a kind of attentive respect for reality. The discerning person notices the difference between things, and also the connection between them... To be wise is to know and affirm reality, to discern it, and then to speak and act accordingly. The wise accommodate themselves to reality. The go with the flow. The tear along the perforated line. They attempt their harvests in season... If wisdom is knowledge of God’s world and the knack of fitting oneself into it then, predictably, folly is contrariness or destitution in these areas – a kind of witlessness with respect to the world, and a tendency to either bang one’s shins and scrape one’s elbows on it, or else to miss its opportunities and waste its gifts.
- Cornelius Plantinga, Not The Way It’s Supposed To Be, 115-119.

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