Re: [asa] (introducing... sin) "Evolutionary Creation" book comments

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Wed Oct 07 2009 - 16:24:07 EDT

Hi Gordon,

For my own part, I think we need to distinguish ontological and epistemological issues here.

It may well be the case that things fall either side of a clear line, but that's not to say that we can identify where that line lies.

As a consequence we have to affirm some fuzziness - not because the issue itself allows of no definitive answer, but because we don't know what that definitive answer might be - it's a matter of intellectual humility and of not making an idol of our own so called knowledge.

I actually see, curiously enough, Jesus making a related point in the Sermon on the Mount. Here the point is not to offer a more precise articulation of the Law but rather to draw out its complexities. Thus, he starts by affirming his commitment to the letter of the law (Mat 5:17-18) but then goes on to show that the Law has implications that his listeners hadn't considered.

For example; "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matt 5:21-22)

But, consider, if this were simply a restatement of the letter of the law (rather than an exposition of some of its implications) THEN as long as we have a good reason to be angry, or use a term of abuse other than "Raca" or "fool", then we are quite okay.

But that, of course, is silly. What Jesus is trying to express is that the command "do not murder" has a very broad scope - so broad that we could not, in fact, articulate it in any precise manner.

Consequently, while it remains crystal clear that murder is an infraction of the law - all murder is wrong, period - it is considerably less clear as to what acts (or attitudes) constitute "murder".

But that's a limitation on OUR knowledge (or ability to precisely define "murder" in its broad sense) and NOT a claim that the concept itself is "fuzzy".

For what it's worth, I think that moving from here, we go onto the Pauline discussion of Romans 7 & 8 (sorry to get back to that, again!) as to the fact that the Law is "holy and just and good" but is still unable to restrain human sin. Therefore, the need of the Holy Spirit in Christian living so that we might know "intuitively" whether a particular behaviour is appropriate even if we can't precisely articulate clear moral boundaries for every conceivable situation.

Actually, I might just add a couple of points: First, I see the entire POINT of the two trees (tree of life, tree of the knowledge of good and evil) in the Genesis narrative as expressing a very deep theological truth - namely that Godly living is ALWAYS by the Spirit, never by the Law. Second, that there is a certain idolatry (in the sense of forgetting our creature-hood and denying our utter dependence upon God) involved in the very notion that we might define right and wrong, and then choose the right, without the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit. When we live by the Spirit we in practice render God his due honour as creator, law-giver, and judge.



gordon brown wrote:
> This is an extreme example of something I frequently see on this list:
> namely, trying to base answers to spiritual questions on physical
> criteria. If one sees the biological division between humans and some
> other creatures as fuzzy, then must there also be fuzzy versions of
> souls, sinners, salvation, the image of God, etc.? I don't see the Bible
> as allowing various degrees of these concepts.
> Gordon Brown (ASA member)

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Received on Wed Oct 7 16:24:51 2009

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