Thursday, January 03, 2013

Sin as intention

A critical development that hinges, at least in part, on his developing understanding of the centrality of love, is the distinction he makes between intention and performance. The will may have a perfect intention, but the performance may be marred. If God sees the intention, then is the person condemned simply because of faulty execution? Wesley defines sin (“properly so-called”) as a voluntary breach of a known law of God and this is based on his conviction that there must be personal culpability before we can be held accountable. Sin has to do with choices made where the consequences are known. The crucial question to be decided regarding whether an act, word or thought is sin has to do with its intention – is it intended to break or harm the relationship? If it is not, then the person is not culpable, and thus not guilty of sin. While breaches of the relationship may occur without the concurrence of the will, they are strictly speaking an infirmity. This is the crucial definition on which his whole claim to Christian perfection as a reality in this life stands or falls; it will occupy his pastoral attention for the rest of his life.—Wesley as a Pastoral Theologian, page 87

<idle musing>
Indeed. This is the key issue. If sin is a failure to deliver due to being human beings, then Adam and Eve were sinners before the fall, as was Jesus after the incarnation! Don't want to go there, do we?

But, if sin is a willful act, then there is hope for all of us in Christ. The Holy Spirit can cleanse us from all of the junk in the old man—after all, Romans (and other places) says we are DEAD! And a dead person doesn't have life in itself. All a corpse can do is stink...
</idle musing>

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