Apostle Paul, The CEO of Sin.

Almost half the New Testament is written either by Paul, by imposters pretending to be Paul or by imposters pretending to have traveled with Paul.  We learn Paul used sin to bend people to his will.

II Corinthians is a letter which has confounded New Testament scholars for a long time.  They are confounded because about half of it refers to how well Corinth was following Paul’s teaching and the other half is about how it was not.

A passage from the first part interested me–Paul talks in an obtuse way about how sin was put on earth by the sinless Devine and that allowed sins to be forgiven.  I don’t  understand.  Why not just prevent sin in the first place?

I could not follow the logic of that so I looked up scriptual ”commentaries” on the web.  There was not agreement on what was meant, but long convoluted essays.

Even within Paul and the fake Pauls, there is not agreement as to whether Jesus died for our sins, or, died to warn us of our sins. In either case, sin is big.

Other religions do not use sin to control people. A better world this would be if we could replace ”sin” with “behavior destructive to ourselves and others.” Then we could get somewhere.

If people, themselves, came to recognize destructive behavior, instead of saying a god decides, they would be forced to take ownership of their behavior.  As it is, they can just say, “Paul says God will judge.”

http://www.christianpost.com/news/6-questions-runaway-prophet-jonah-compels-us-to-ask-about-our-souls-health-112891/

 

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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69 Responses to Apostle Paul, The CEO of Sin.

  1. Carr says:

    “If people themselves came to recognize destructive behavior ……”

    I agree Jon. Just as blaming the devil for all the evil in the world. That gives people an excuse and takes away personal responsibility. I still think we could get rid of the Ten Commandments and live by ” Do unto others ….” Could you imagine what this world would be like? Instead we have people who seem to think they can define and legislate my morals.

  2. Michael Ross says:

    Jon is as obsessed with sin as the apostle Paul or any other Christian, but he only recognizes 3 kinds of sinners: Racists, sexists, and homophobes.

    • Carr says:

      Michael, maybe we shouldn’t point out others deficiencies but work on our own. Stay warm up there. Sounds like it’s going to be brutal!

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Carr 2:47 “Stay warm up there. Sounds like it’s going to be brutal.”

        I just put a little post on facebook people say they like. Maybe some here would enjoy it:

        For decades there has been a running gag here in the North, “Cold weather keeps out the riff raff. This year is terrible and it really is working. The airport reports record boardings. Before Bakken, the riff raff left town on buses.

        • H.P.Drifter says:

          Been snowed in for days- that is inside the Arab Tent- outside snowing it Zero degrees with wind chill-wind 25 miles per hour. Can change in five minutes

          • entech says:

            Just had 4 days over 111.

            I hear hat Niagara is frozen over, must be to prevent the new same sex marriage people from going there on honeymoon – that is reserved for the real people.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 12:12 Four days over 111 F. That’s really hot. It wonder if the gods of other religions are punishing us too. :)

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 1:18 “..but he only recognizes 3 kinds of sinners: Racists, sexists and homophobes.”

      Actually, I don’t recognize those as sins because there is no such thing as sin. There is self destructive behavior, harmful to individuals and to society. Reacists, sexists and homophobes are behaviors destuctive to our society. Treating people as equals is constructive. Including everyone helps us all.

      • Ray says:

        That’s interesting, Jon, because I consider everything that Christianity would label as ‘sin’ to be a self-destructive behavior.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Ray 3:37 “..because I consider everything that Christianity would label as ‘sin’ self destructive behavior.”

          You use the word, “Christianity”. I’ve been criticised for using the sweeping term. In the church I grew up in, sins included movies, cards with aces, kings, etc. ballroom dancing, any alcohol and some others. Nothing self destructive about those (alcohol in moderation).

          Today, there are Christians who don’t regard abortion or homosexuality a sin, others who do. Which are not Christian?

          • Henry says:

            Jon:“Today, there are Christians who don’t regard abortion or homosexuality a sin, others who do. Which are not Christian?”

            Both are Christian.

            Your argument is false.

          • entech says:

            Jon, as I seem to become increasingly invisible I think I would like to add ageist to that list of non sins.

          • Avatar of realist realist says:

            Entech, isn’t it amazing that old people become invisible? I’ve noticed this myself; although sometimes it comes in handy. It can be counteracted by being more vocal thereby confirming the stereotype of the crabby old person. :)

          • I like to read says:

            Henry 4:49 Jon:“Today, there are Christians who don’t regard abortion or homosexuality a sin, others who do. Which are not Christian?”

            Both are Christian.

            Your argument is false.

            I think you missed the point. The comment was directed at Ray and seems to require self-reflection and internal evaluation….not judgement “Your argument is false.” It seems as though you were too anxious to judge and not evaluate the response (Christ Like not Christian)

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            read 7:14 Thanks for signing on and commenting.

            You will have fun responding to Henry.

          • Henry says:

            ILTR:“I think you missed the point. The comment was directed at Ray and seems to require self-reflection and internal evaluation….not judgement “Your argument is false.””

            I think you missed the points.
            1. Jon’s very question is posed as judgment: “Which one is a Christian….” Where did your criticism go?
            2. Jon’s argument: If one Christian believes abort/homo a sin, and one Christian believes abort/homo is not a sin, which Christian is not a Christian? His argument is false and conflicted.
            3. Although important, our understanding of the Law does not determine if we are a Christian or not. Jesus Christ determined that we are Christian. This can be rejected.
            4. This is a public forum.

            ILTR:“It seems as though you were too anxious to judge and not evaluate the response (Christ Like not Christian)”

            Well, that would be your opinion and judgment.

      • Michael Ross says:

        Jon, you don’t believe in “sin” only because that is the term the Bible uses. Sin is the transgression of the Law. You may not believe in biblical Law but you do believe in some legal structure such as the Constitution. If a law is in violation or transgresses the Constitution we say it is “unconstitutional”. “Sinful” or “unconstitutional” are saying the same thing of different legal systems. You may not believe in the Constitution either, most libs don’t.

        “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is SINFUL and tyrannical.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

        • entech says:

          Michael, If you extend that line of reasoning “ad absurdum” we would have to say that overstaying a parking time limit would be a sin.

          • H.P.Drifter says:

            It is in these parts

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 5:10 “Michael, if you exten that line of reasoning ad absurdum we would have to say that overstaying a parking time limit would be a sin.”

            And, instead of paying a fine, one could just pray and automatically receive forgiveness. Wonderful!

        • H.P.Drifter says:

          Yeah Michael

        • Avatar of realist realist says:

          “most libs don’t [believe in the constitution]”
          I call BS on this. The constitution simply “is”; it’s not something you need to believe in. It’s like believing in snow or buildings. Requiring belief in the constitution in order to be regarded as a real American is a way to separate “real” Americans from all those who don’t deserve to live in this country, right? This idea of belief is also a manifestation of those who think in terms of authoritarian systems where people submit to various authorities be they religious or governmental. I don’t buy this. The constitution is a wonderful document, but it exists as written without needing anybody’s belief. I can appreciate it’s dictates and provisions without seeing it as an inviolable document. Remember that it does have provisions for amendments.

          • H.P.Drifter says:

            Good Point Realist

          • Carr says:

            Realist, exactly! Palin, Bachman and our Texas tool Perry continually talk about “real” Americans or the “real” America. These people all wrap themselves in the flag and Bible in their quest to rally the base. A true Christian will shut the hell up when they have the urge to judge.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Carr; Those you mentioned are pietists too.

          • Jinx says:

            Now that ultra right christian politicians have been brought up, here is a link that discusses exactly what they believe the country needs…Dominionism.

            http://www.theocracywatch.org/

            Very scary and not enough publicity!

          • David says:

            I think generally when people say someone doesn’t believe in the constitution, what they mean is that they do not value the constitution as written in the original sense. So for instance one that “believes” in the constitution would probably be an originalist. For someone (in the eyes of an originalist) who doesn’t “believe” in the constitution they would support the notion of a “living and breathing” constitution. The idea to an originalist is that if you think the constitution can change on the whim of 9 learned lawyers that you don’t “believe” in the intent of the original document.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Michael 4:38 “‘Sinful’ or ‘unconstitutional’ are saying the same thing of different legal systems.”

          In all due respect, this is an absurb parallel. The civic legal system is something agreed upon by a majority with process and appeals–also subject to change when a collective consensus finds it necessary.

          Religion is all about indivdual people making up their own version of the faith. That’s why there are a gazillion denominations, plus different religions entirely, where whatever people want to believe is good, or bad, is all up to them. So far as we know, there are absolutely no consequences for bad behavior in religion.

          • Carr says:

            “… no consequences for bad behavior.” Ha! In many instances, it’s encouraged!

          • David says:

            I didn’t agree to the constitution. I didn’t agree to Obamacare. At least I have the ability to join a different church or completely abstain from any involvement should I choose.

            I do disagree in that for some religions there is certainly punishment meted out for bad behavior – stonings and the like.

  3. Ray says:

    Michael I had the same thought about Jon’s obsession. At this point, I think Jon has written more about sin than the apostle Paul.

  4. entech says:

    No one has written about sin as much or in such detail as the apostate Paul.

  5. H.P.Drifter says:

    John Lennon- Imagine

  6. Wolfy32 says:

    Sin, can not only be used to manipulate and control people. But, also be used as a way to justify one’s actions… “God forgives all so I can do this questionable thing.”
    I watched a regular show you might know of called “Redrum”. (About murder). For ten years a triangle of affairs went on… The pastor of a longstanding church had a ten year affair with his wife, and the husband of the wife having the affair had an affair with someone else’s wife.

    The pastor had bought rings for both wives, used church money to pay for personal expenses, and justified them as “God forgives all”. Eventually he had the mistress’s husband killed (killing him himself).

    It again gives the religious elite another excuse to feel above everyone else. My sins are forgiven yours arent’. Funny, how, we may have misinterpretted something so critical to the point that people can do all kinds of things and it’s all forgiven by God.

    I would rather die a “sinner” knowing I had lived the best I could helping others as best as I could and being the best person I could be. Did I make mistakes, or hurt someone, yup you betcha, I screw up like everyone else. I’m only human.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wolfy32 2:05 Interesting that believer don’t see the inevitable weakness in their concept of sin and forgiveness. It allows more despictable behaviors than humans being accountable for their own actions.

      • Wolfy32 says:

        There’s the opposite side too… Depression, infatuation with death, etc.

        I’m evil, therefore why should I exist. I’m too evil for even God to forgive, I deserve to be dead because my sins are too great.

        Some people committing suicide over the belief in sin.

        All the while, many churches work harder and harder to pull on people heart strengs to let them know how evil the people are and how much they need God and the church and if they don’t feel guilty enough for existing then maybe they don’t believe hard enough.

        The art of perpetual putting people down and making people feel miserable for who they are.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Jon, wolfy; Guess you must have gotten all that from where you came from. The result of pietism, and you can’t shake it.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Once a pietist, always a pietist.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 3:13 “Jon, Wolfy; Guess you must have gotten all that from where you came from. The result of pietism, and you can’t shake it.”

            And, you must have gotten all that you believe from where you came from. Selective literal reading of the Bible without taking into account its politcal setting and critically considering the motives of its authors. You can’t shake it.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Yup. More evidence of your condition. Once a pietist, always a pietist.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 3:40 “Yup. More evidence of your condition. Once a pietist, always a pietist.”

            Yup. Once a selective literalist, always a selective literaltist.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Where does it make you come from…??
            Pietism: a: emphasis on devotional experience and practices
            b: affectation of devotion

            So, you’re experiences are void of affection and devotion? You’re undevotional?

            Yes, Pietism as I understand is a large focus of christianity. I know there’s liturgical christianity (mostly the catholic persuasion).

            From the liturgical perspective there is certainly a lack of emotion. Just a ritualistic formality that very few actually care more than to make a show of appearance for the sake of either socialization and/or well they can say they attended mass and are good to go on sinning now. At least for a couple weeks anyways.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Wolfy; Back to the books.
            Jon; Back to the playground I see. “so’s yer old man”.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            To be pious is one thing. Add on an “ism”, and you get unintended consequences.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            I get that some of pietism is unintended.. (For example suicide). However, if it is so focussed on how bad one is. I can’t tell you how many missionaries or evangelical special speakers I saw that said if you’re hand isn’t in the air stating you need christ then god’s spirit is not prompting you and pressing you enough!

            It didn’t matter if people had asked christ into their lives yesterday, they indicated that no one is in God’s presence unless they were raising their hand saying how much they needed God in their lives today.

            And just prior to that they would talk about how many people they got to come to christ at the last church or place they were at…

            Hmm..If we’re not raising our hand asking christ into our lives something must be wrong with us, but, yet, you just said of how awesome it was of how many people raised their hands last night? … I’m confused… Isn’t it intended that people raise their hands because you told them there’s something wrong with them if they don’t?

            And some people probably took those speakers pretty seriously… I must not be good enough for God since he’s not telling me or prompting me to raise my hand….

            The best I loved was when they were telling us that we weren’t raising our hands or coming to the altor because we were too ashamed to be seen doing so…

            Then brag about how they got hundreds or thousands to come to the altor the night before… Somehow the numbers justified how blessed they were by God…

            When in the end it was a con game… Do as I say or else you’re a sinner too ashamed to admit it!

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Wolfy @ 4;15; Yes, some symptoms of pietism. Another is at Luke18:9-14.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Then there is atheistic pietism.

          • entech says:

            BigW @ 4:25.
            You have really excelled yourself this time, high jacking the topic to one of your favourites. When I was a schoolchild a term of derision was “holier than thou”. I wonder if there is an equivalent for my theological knowledge is greater than yours than yours? theologism perhaps, or perhaps nooneunderstandsaswellasmeism?

            Then you get very Kierkegaard and make a leap into the absurd, atheistic pietism :lol:

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Hurts huh?

        • H.P.Drifter says:

          Good point Wolfy

      • David says:

        Sin allows despicable behaviors? Or perhaps its forgiveness that allows despicable behavior? I think for a secular guy like yourself you could likely substitute sin with doing something wrong – to someone else if you like. I certainly believe – cannot prove it – that you think that doing some things are wrong (a/k/a sins). So you generally believe in the concept of sin, but disagree with what the sin is and whether there is some eternal punishment. So your theory on one hand is that the church manipulates people out of fear so they won’t do what the church calls a “sin.” But then the church at the same time undermines their power by the whole forgiveness business. That argument seems a mess to me.

        I believe (again I cannot prove) that a devout Christian (probably Muslims and Jews as well) will generally try to avoid what they believe to be sinful regardless of the whole notion of forgiveness. (I know I’m falling right into the whole idea that religion is using sin to manipulate it’s sheep).

        Moreover, if forgiveness motivates Christians to do things that are wrong (killing, cheating on your wife), what could we say for the non-believer? If you profess that there is no sin (things that are wrong) then you’re pretty much freed up to do what you like. But we all know that atheists typically don’t do things that are wrong because they have concern for others.

        I would argue that Christians and atheists generally do what is right “not sin” or feel guilty about doing what is wrong. It’s a built in characteristic. We have empathy and sympathy. Christians may argue that it’s God. Atheist argue that it’s DNA. But it’s a little off-putting to hear that religion manipulates Christians into not sinning (not doing what is wrong) out of guilt and fear. Whereas atheists do good because they are good.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          Well, sin is a nice neat packaged concept.. The church declares what is sinful and not sinful (depends on the denomination as to what is sinful and not sinful.) My upbringing in evangelical pentecostalism was that of drinking, dancing, gambling, going to movies in a theater, were all bad and sinful. Now, my parents go to movies and a theater, I have an occasional drink, brew my own honey mead (amazing stuff!!) and brew my own beer.

          God hasn’t struck me down and I’ve done nothing to hurt anyone including nothing to hurt myself either.

          Then there’s the catholics for whom, drinking, dancing, and movies are not a sin, and because of this, my parents think all catholics are drunken fornicators… Because they’re allowed to be so..

          So, my issue with sin is who’s the judge? Who says what sins are right and wrong? Dancing doesn’t hurt people? Nor does responsible moderated drinking. Yet, most catholics are going to hell (according to pentecostals).

          So where does that put us. Some sins are sinse according to one branch, and some aren’t sins according to another branch.

          Then there’s the, church says so, therefore you need to come to church, pay your tithes, and to be forgiven for what the church says. It’s a business based on the church declaring what is right and wrong. You need the church remove what the church says you have…

          Let’s put it in perspective… If you went to the dr. for a check up and they inject you with the wrong medication that you get sick off of a few days later so now you have to go back to the doctor to have the illness treated.

          You go to the church to get told you need the church and that without the church you’d be nothing in the eyes of God.

          It’s one of the best business models of all time.. There’s nothing that has come close to replicating it except maybe Microsoft.

          • David says:

            Very interesting. I grew up in a Lutheran home where pretty much everything is a sin. Poor Luther tortured himself – perhaps literally because he felt he was always sinning, always doing something wrong or failing to do something good.

            I can see how you view the church as a cynical business to enhance the leaders. That I think assumes the leaders are fraudsters. I’m sure these types exist but I think they are in the vast minority. I think most denominations would suggest that you need God to forgive and not approval from the church. That said I’m sure in years past if the church was the center of your community you may have found it difficult to get absolution from the other members getting forgiveness on your own terms.

            I don’t think people largely attend church to get forgiveness (talking Christianity here). I certainly don’t think that they walk away thinking – “Whew! Glad that’s over! Now I can get back to some good old fashion debauchery!” Their faith is not that facile. Most try to take the teachings and live a better life. They would argue that it’s human nature that leads them astray – not the chance to get forgiveness.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            David 7:04 “Their faith is not that facile. Most try to take the teachings and live a better life…not the chance to get forgiveness.”

            I agree a substantial portion of the faithful see the faith in this rather casual way–not overly absorbed in its theological foundation and apply the theology in most generally. Going to church fulfills many functions for most people, a social life, a little entertainment, business contacts and a little deeper thought than they encounter in daily life. In this way, they are little different than most atheists who only occasionally think about not believing.

            We had a Methodist preacher we liked a lot years ago in Missouri. This was a downtown church but he had been at a rural church before. He said a church with mostly farmers is a preacher’s best congregation because some of their work is mondane, like riding a tractor. Since it did not absorb their minds much, they would think about last Sunday’s sermon and talk to him about issues they pondered. Urban people are not like this.

            All that said, I gravitate toward the thinking of Stephen Protero (God is Not One. In his book he took what he saw as the overarching one word or phrase that reflects each of the great world religions. It is the one theme each faith discusses most and it is what people have most on their minds and what they talk about. It is not necessarily what each faith’s religious scholars think the faith is about. For Muslims, this turned out to be humility. For Jews, it is rules. For Christians, it is sin.

            I think he is right about this.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “Poor Luther tortured himself”. Yes, that is true. This was Luther#1, who as was the custom of the RC Church understood the wrath of God was to put fear in everyone, and only through the church could one gain relief. The “righteousness of God” in Romans 1:17 was understood as righteous wrath. This is how Luther understood it, until he came to understand it differently. At his so called “tower experience”, it finally dawned on him that we are made “righteous” by Grace through faith in Him that paid the debt for us, (Justified). Not by demands of the church, (indulgences and manipulating guilt), or by anything we can DO to appease God. This was the beginning of Luther # 2, and the true start of the Reformation. Many today still understand as Luther #1 did. (“What must I do to be saved?”) Some anti-Christians try to falsely imply the same to Christianity today.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 12:48 “This was Luther #1…”

            Thanks for a good summary of Luther. I had never see it explained so succinctly before.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            I’ve often wondered what pastors think of their congregations. Do they see them as a business, this is my paycheck, and so I need to serve them… Or do they perceive them as emotional wrecks that need help and church is a much cheaper form of therapy?

            Either way, I agree that people don’t see church as being a way of getting “relief”. However, some churches do perpetuate that belief. I know when attendance was low, they would do sermons on how church was a way of refueling the “spirit”.. More or less spiritual food. And without church the soul would starve and decay…

            So, sunday was supposed to be a spirtual renewal a way of feeding the soul..

            Which, I’m still confused on a big thing, is the spirit emotions? Because the services usually involved the display of a lot of emotions, Extreme highs and lows. (Lots of crying and weeping, and lots of dancing with joy). So, I wasn’t sure if it was just an emotional cleansing or if there’s separate from emotions the church services were to renew.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon: @2:33; thank you. This is Luther 101.
            Re. Your 2:28 “…for Christians, it is sin”: We/ I would contend that is acknowledging sin for what it is, and the forgiveness of it, (Luther#2), the emphasis is forgiveness. Your understanding is Luther #1, (all law, and wrath. no Gospel.) But since you don’t accept either one, it should not make any difference to you.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 2:48 “We/I would contend that is acknowledging sin the what it is, and the forgiveness of it, the emphasis on forgiveness.”

            We discussed this before, but I continue to be baffled by, and I’m going to take liberties here with I take to be your views, that your version of the faith is more about forgiveness than sin. I don’t see how you can conclude sin is less important than forgiveness. There is no forgiveness unless there is a great leap of emotional irrationality into believing there is sin.

            If your version were to conclude, “Well there is bad behavior, harmful to others and to oneself, but it has nothing to do with religion, it just bad behavior.” your entire version of the faith would be gone. There would be no forgiveness. Again, its really all about sin. That’s why Prothero could conclude the basis of the faith is sin.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon: of course that is how you would rationalize it. There is no sin, then no need for forgiveness. Only bad behavior resulting in 1. civil threat or conviction, fines, jail. 2. physical deterioration.
            On the other hand, when one enters a race and finishes , one does not celebrate the start, but the finish. The celebration is at the end of the race, not the start.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            The start and the finish are both parts of the same race.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            And Prothero never leaves the starting line.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 10:49 “And Prothero never leaves the starting line.”

            You have convoluted logic. Prothero is an observer of the race, not a participant. You are in the race, a religious person. You are in it because you believe in the peculiar concept of sin. You would be unable to start the race had this concept never been made up in ancient times.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; What do you think “never leave the starting line” means? Of course, he isn’t a participant. Nor are you.

  7. H.P.Drifter says:

    Entec this guy sounds like he is a Jehovah Witness hiding under the skirts of Luther

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      That makes no sense what so ever, but it sounds profound. All noise, no content.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Expecting vulgarity. Careful with the vulgarity. Entech is really sensitive to it. He has revolted against what he calls vulgarity in the past. Strangely though, he has been silent with your verbal ejaculations.

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