Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We is one bad rag

So often due to our Western/modernity/Christendom mindset-worldview,

we completely misunderstand ..and "misundertake" Scriptures..

especially in an individualistic (and dualistic) way.

(see "I am in sin if I 'avoid the appearance of evil'")

How many have heard a sermon on "our righteousness is like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) which was all abouy our individual sins/filthy habits...

not grasping that it actually says "All of us (as one, together) have become like one who is unclean/Together, our (one, corporate) righteousness is like filthy rags. "

Sure, we were found individually unrighteousness; but the "more than the sum of its individual parts" corporate unrighteousness is what is primarily commented on here

As usual, the King James only trips us up even more:

"all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags"

Sounds like each individual has several "unrighteousnesses"...which of curse we rread as bad habits..

But it's more akin to, we are a "committee of buzzards" (see "A Crash of Rhinos...a Committee of Buzzards"); or better yet one bad buzzard.

(Not to be confused with "One Bad Pig")

Sure, we go bowling and do "Judo Alone"...and that is sin, but we are worse off as "alone together."
Likewise, Isaiah 53:

" We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to their own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."

..not fundamentally "the iniquity of each individual one," but "the one iniquity (and inequity) of us all as one."

On a related note, follow Derek Flood:

I'd like to share a new take on Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

As an evangelical the interpretation that I had always been taught for this verse is that it means that everyone has done something wrong, we all have lied for example, and because God is holy this means that we need to be punished with Hell, even for one small infraction. Anyone who has grown up in Evangelical circles as I have will instantly recognize this line of argument.

Now I don't deny that sin and separation from God is a reality, and that we as humans need to be reconciled into a personal relationship with God. I wholeheartedly affirm that as an Evangelical. But reading through Romans, I do not think that Paul here was intending to present this verse as a kind of moral score card...

What I think Paul is saying here is that because we all are sinners, this wish for God to wipe out the "bad guys" means we would be wiped out too. That's why he says God held back (πάρεσιν), because God wanted to show his righteousness and justice in a different way, though Christ now making us right (v 26). This is what Luther called "God's alien justice" making us right with him though God's righteousness. It's not a quid pro quo payback justice, its a justice that justifies - that sets us aright. This new way in Christ is the way of redemption instead of wrath. That means that in this context, Ro 3:23 is not some sort of judicial score card, it is a statement of non-violence. Paul is saying: look I know you want to see people being judged, I know you want to see those who have oppressed and hurt you get hurt back, but that way is a deathtrap because we all are guilty, we all have hurt and been hurt. This vicious cycle of blame will only perpetuate injustice. It's not just them over there, it's all of us, and so we all need mercy and redemption.

That's Paul's message here in its original context. Not one of petty accounting where the smallest infraction has the most severe consequence, but a recognition of our own brokenness and need - even as religious people, especially as religious people - to live in mercy and grace.

See also

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