Fleming Rutledge on Sin

“you have not yet considered the weight of sin”—Anselm, Cur Deus Homo? 

Sin appears to be making something of a comeback*. Consider that over twenty five years ago, Cornelius Plantinga could write, “The awareness of sin used to be our shadow…but the shadow has dimmed. Nowadays, the accusation you have sinned is often said with a grin, and with a tone that signals an inside joke”.** Most of us would agree that the heightened awareness of sin that Plantinga spells out seems to be returning, even if the places where that moral impulse is emanating from has shifted in perhaps surprising ways. The last two years, to say nothing of the last ten, have seen society rocked by public debates over race relations, the climate and public health. The language of justice, sacrifice and public wrongdoing have returned to our public vocabulary. Nevertheless, despite sharing a common language, we have fallen, even (or especially) in the church, into entrenched camps. Cultural conservatives have tended to deny the reality or existence of certain sins altogether. Cultural progressives have seen these sins everywhere and the hope for redemption nowhere. 

All of this makes it easier, in a sense, for me to write a blogpost on the subject of sin. It is still a challenging task, however. For while sin is back as a topic that we discuss, there is no denying that it is also a topic that we greatly misunderstand.

This applies on a very personal level. I have multiple degrees in biblical studies and yet when it comes to defining (never mind tackling!) sin, I find myself in spiritual diapers.

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Disillusionment on Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday sermon, preached at St Barnabas Church, Cambridge (14th April 2019).

On this Palm Sunday, let us pray: True and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory. Amen.

Have you ever felt disappointed with God?

In 2013, two things happened to me that caused me to re-examine some of my assumptions about life and God: the first was that the church I was going to experienced a painful split and the second was that one of my mentors became unemployed and began struggling with deep depression. I remember at the time feeling a mixture of emotions—anger, fear, a sense of loss—but the deepest feeling of all, was that of disappointment. Disappointment at my church, my family, but most of all disappointment at God. You see, I had thought—with good reason and a fair degree of logic since my existence up until this point had been relatively care-free—I had thought that God would give me an endless succession of the things I wanted. The events of 2013—which seem relatively minor now when I look back—blew that faulty assumption, that illusion, right out of the water. 

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