Sin

What’s Wrong With The Mormon Church?

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Introduction:
Today is October 31st, “Reformation Day”.  It was on this day 494 years ago that Martin Luther nailed “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (commonly known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) unto the door of The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. “The Ninety-Five Theses” is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

And while readily acknowledging that I’m no Martin Luther, it is with a hopeful spirit for reformation in our lifetime that I offer these Ninety-Five Theses to a modern church that, in my opinion (as well as in the opinion of many others) is badly in need of it. More

What is Sin?

The latest Priesthood lesson was about repentance (For Brothers and Sisters following along it is Chapter 19 in the Gospel Principles Book). I often find the opening question of the lessons to be the most intriguing point of the lessons. They are meant to be thought provoking and start a dialog. This weeks opening question was a whopper of a question “What is sin?” I am sure that the textbook/Primary answer has something to do with “things that take your spirit further from God blah blah blah.” But that is not the answer I am looking for.

I am not a philosopher, I am sure there are others out there that know about sin from a philosophical view than I. But the majority of my lesson was spent on these three words. This was not an easy lesson for my quorum. While trying to establish what sin is, I attempted to set up a few things that were absolutely sinful things and those that were not and write them into two lists on the chalkboard (you know the obligatory list on the chalkboard). Here were some of my questions and answers from the quorum:

Q: “Is murder a sin?”
A: “It depends, Nephi was commanded to kill Laban, and Abraham was commanded to kill Isaac (or Ishmael if you are Muslim).”

Q: “OK, Is it a sin to shoot Brother Jones in the back of the head, while he was jogging down the street because I didn’t like his shirt, and God didn’t tell me to.”
A:
“Yes”
My response: “Whew (I chalk ‘Murder’ up on the board under the ‘Sin’ column), Brethren we are thinking too hard on this, don’t try to pull on nuances, remember ‘thou shall not kill.'” (I didn’t go into what if I “heard” God tell me to kill Brother Jones, am I then a prophet or loon?).

Q: “Is having Family Home Evening a sin?”
A: “It depends, are there other things that are more important for you to be doing?”
My response: I start searching for a gun because the voices in my head are screaming out for “sacrificing” this crowd to Baal.

Next we read James 4:17 , “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”. I read that and I had to ask, “Is this justification for moral relativism?” Is sin just those things that the local culture approves of and disapproves of? It really has nothing to do with what is moral or not, it is just what my parents have said is right and wrong.

I asked them to find the definition of “Sin” in the scriptures and of course there isn’t one, really other than 1 John 3:4 and 1 Cor 15:56 that basically says that sin is breaking the law. So what is the need for the concept of “sin” when we have a strong government and legislative, and punitive/reformation system? (Personal interjection here: Come on God and/or God’s mouth pieces, if there was one bit of information that we need down here before we get our eternal reward it would be a clear cut definition of what sin is and isn’t. This is the stuff that we are going to get graded on. At least put it in the Bible Dictionary for me to reference!)

This lesson taught me a lot about sin. It reinforced to me that there is no such thing as “sin”. But it went a step further, there is not even the need for the concept of sin. It is time to get over this concept and do what is right, not what those in leadership positions want us to do (not just church leaders, but parents, teachers, government leaders etc). We need to the things Christ taught, like love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, and so on. It is the concept of sin that brought us the holocaust, which was nothing worse than any other genocide God has ordered his prophets of the Old Testament to carry out. Only by doing things that are truly right can we improve the world around us.

Now all we need to do is figure out what “right” is.

-Defiantly wearing a non-white shirt
Big Al