Author Topic: Wretched Sinner Theology?  (Read 1403 times)

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Offline Desert Fox

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Wretched Sinner Theology?
« on: December 22, 2016, 12:24:06 AM »
I don't know if it is mainstream or not, or even what mainstream Christianity is, but large numbers of Christians seem to find being described as a wretched sinner appealing.  I don't think I ever felt that way as a Lutheran, maybe I was a bad Lutheran, but I think I never really understood it.

So can anybody explain why people seem to almost get off on the wretched sinner theology?
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2016, 05:29:13 AM »
It's not that they "get off" on feeling wretched - it's more that it's a part of their worldview. It's to escape their wretchedness that they endeavour to be pious. They don't want to be wretched sinners, but they know that they are, and that Jesus is the only way for them not to feel wretched all the time.

Except for Calvinists. I think they actually do get off on it.

Offline Desert Fox

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2016, 06:33:04 AM »
It's not that they "get off" on feeling wretched - it's more that it's a part of their worldview. It's to escape their wretchedness that they endeavour to be pious. They don't want to be wretched sinners, but they know that they are, and that Jesus is the only way for them not to feel wretched all the time.

Except for Calvinists. I think they actually do get off on it.

What makes them think they are wretched sinners though? Some people join groups from ones who are less into that kind of belief.
Why would such a crazy theology come into being in the first place?
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll

Online The Latinist

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, 08:12:05 AM »
Ignoring the "wretched" part, the idea that all humans are sinners in need of salvation is orthodox Christian teaching common to most sects.  It's the reason we need a savior, after all. 
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Online daniel1948

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2016, 08:30:10 AM »
It's not that they "get off" on feeling wretched - it's more that it's a part of their worldview. It's to escape their wretchedness that they endeavour to be pious. They don't want to be wretched sinners, but they know that they are, and that Jesus is the only way for them not to feel wretched all the time.

Except for Calvinists. I think they actually do get off on it.

What makes them think they are wretched sinners though? Some people join groups from ones who are less into that kind of belief.
Why would such a crazy theology come into being in the first place?

Just off the top of my head, I'm going to say it comes of trying to interpret the Bible as a consistent, unified, divinely-revealed whole. Luther rebelled against the corruption of the Catholic Church, and decided to use as his argument that theology must come from the Bible alone. (Not from tradition, as in the Church.) But because the Bible is not a unified whole, but rather a collection of diverse and conflicting scriptures, any attempt to interpret it as divine and consistent must necessarily create conflicts and paradoxes. Later followers of Luther, in their attempts to understand the Bible as divinely revealed, and therefore inerrant and consistent, constructed differing theologies. One of these is that only Christ's sacrifice can save us. But if anybody were not a sinner, then they should be saved by their own goodness. The conclusion is that everybody must be a sinner in order for everybody to need Christ. Adding "wretched" is a simple step to aid the preachers in subjugating their flocks, and thereby keeping their parishioners coming and giving money. And as with all religions, brainwashing very young children while their minds are still forming, is key to their lifelong enslavement to the church. People being people, a few will break free, but most will stay. So, from an attempt to reconcile the Bible as inerrant, you derive a theology that effectively binds those who accept it, not only to stay, but to enslave their children to the theology as well.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2016, 09:13:03 AM »
There is still a lot of attraction in this theology to people who "crash and burn" their lives through destructive lifestyles. I've known several "saved wretches" who have made remarkable turnarounds, but probably as many that revert, because prayer alone sometimes/often cannot fix the underlying dysfunction.

As I recall, the original words of John Newton's Amazing Grace were "that saved a worm like me.

However, I also recall that Newton continued to captain slave ships after his conversion.
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Online Ah.hell

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2016, 09:28:50 AM »
I'm pretty sure it comes from Paul, the notion of us all being sinners.  As long as it inspires humility, its probably not such bad part of the theology. 

Online The Latinist

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2016, 09:30:20 AM »
It's not that they "get off" on feeling wretched - it's more that it's a part of their worldview. It's to escape their wretchedness that they endeavour to be pious. They don't want to be wretched sinners, but they know that they are, and that Jesus is the only way for them not to feel wretched all the time.

Except for Calvinists. I think they actually do get off on it.

What makes them think they are wretched sinners though? Some people join groups from ones who are less into that kind of belief.
Why would such a crazy theology come into being in the first place?

Just off the top of my head, I'm going to say it comes of trying to interpret the Bible as a consistent, unified, divinely-revealed whole. Luther rebelled against the corruption of the Catholic Church, and decided to use as his argument that theology must come from the Bible alone. (Not from tradition, as in the Church.) But because the Bible is not a unified whole, but rather a collection of diverse and conflicting scriptures, any attempt to interpret it as divine and consistent must necessarily create conflicts and paradoxes. Later followers of Luther, in their attempts to understand the Bible as divinely revealed, and therefore inerrant and consistent, constructed differing theologies. One of these is that only Christ's sacrifice can save us. But if anybody were not a sinner, then they should be saved by their own goodness. The conclusion is that everybody must be a sinner in order for everybody to need Christ. Adding "wretched" is a simple step to aid the preachers in subjugating their flocks, and thereby keeping their parishioners coming and giving money. And as with all religions, brainwashing very young children while their minds are still forming, is key to their lifelong enslavement to the church. People being people, a few will break free, but most will stay. So, from an attempt to reconcile the Bible as inerrant, you derive a theology that effectively binds those who accept it, not only to stay, but to enslave their children to the theology as well.

Original sin and the idea that human beings cannot avoid sin because of it are orthodox Christian teachings dating at least to St. Augustine (others would say Irenaeus, and others would argue that it's there in Paul, even if not clearly stated).  They are not a Protestant innovation.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2016, 10:25:01 AM »
I don't know if it is mainstream or not, or even what mainstream Christianity is, but large numbers of Christians seem to find being described as a wretched sinner appealing.  I don't think I ever felt that way as a Lutheran, maybe I was a bad Lutheran, but I think I never really understood it.

So can anybody explain why people seem to almost get off on the wretched sinner theology?

Lutherans heavily embrace the wretched sinner theology and the concept is pervasive in protestant denominations. Luther said, in his normally very colorful language, that people were snow covered piles of shit. Protestants view the Catholic and Orthodox teaching that we are not completely corrupt and can do good things as Pelagianism.
common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Online Ah.hell

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2016, 10:33:29 AM »
Luther,  much more interesting character than Lutherans would like to admit. 

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2016, 10:43:17 AM »
Luther,  much more interesting character than Lutherans would like to admit.

Every once and a while I will read some of his Table Talks where he got drunk with his students and got really colorful. His writings at the end of his life when he was going crazy are also a fun read.
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Offline Enkidu Shamesh

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2016, 01:02:10 PM »
From the Roman Catholic Mass (spoken by the congregation as part of a call-and-response):

"Lord, I am unworthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed"

The idea that we are unworthy of god's forgiveness was drilled into me from a young age. It makes perfect sense if you don't think about it, the idea that a Supreme Being can create something, and then blame that something for not living up to It's standards. Like, if I burn a steak I don't curse the cow.

As others have mentioned, the idea of original sin was created to justify the necessity of Christ's sacrifice for everyone, no matter how virtuous, even a new born baby that hasn't had a chance to sin - we are all born evil. This has nothing to do with Jesus saying "we're all sinners." That was just an admonishment to keep our self-righteousness in check, as none of us are perfect. Original sin goes far beyond "nobody is perfect" into mind-fuck territory. "We're all sinners" means none of us are fit to condemn another; Original sin means we are all fit to be condemned.

Original sins says: You are unworthy of God's love, but if you abase yourself and grovel you will be saved by grace.

The priest at the church I grew up in gave a homily when I was around 10 or 12 where he talked about the above quoted part of the mass; he contested it, saying that if we weren't worthy of god's love and forgiveness it wouldn't be offered to us. He was genuinely bothered by this particular part of Catholic doctrine. A light in the darkness as it were.

Offline 2397

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2016, 01:28:40 PM »
I don't know if it is mainstream or not, or even what mainstream Christianity is, but large numbers of Christians seem to find being described as a wretched sinner appealing.  I don't think I ever felt that way as a Lutheran, maybe I was a bad Lutheran, but I think I never really understood it.

So can anybody explain why people seem to almost get off on the wretched sinner theology?

For one it might make it easier for some actually bad people to feel better about themselves. If everyone's a sinner, they're on equal footing.

Or if you're a sinner anyway, it doesn't matter what you do. Don't have you put much thought towards your actions, if the only thing you need to do is feel shame and ask for forgiveness.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2016, 01:31:31 PM by 2397 »

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2016, 01:38:02 PM »
The difference with Catholicism is that they believe in synergism vs monigerism.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Wretched Sinner Theology?
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2016, 02:33:46 PM »
This theology also comes in handy when you do get caught with your pants down. I remember the evangelist Jimmy Swaggart's tearful confession after being caught with a hooker, crying with great tears, "I have sinned!" He played his cards well and he was back to making money in no time. He was proof of his own preaching that we are all scum in God's eyes.
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