Sunday, May 28, 2006

What the Heck Does this Sound Like to Someone Outside the Church?

Tonight at The Gathering we discussed Paul's manner of dealing with the Pagan population in Athens, and noticed his supreme control over his emotions. We read that he was distressed, or 'provoked in his spirit' by the idolatry in Athens, and yet his response was to reason with the people daily. Can you read between the lines, and see dialogues occurring in the marketplace?

In considering this issue, we wondered out loud, "What does it sound like to someone who is not an evangelical Christian when they hear the words 'Hate the sin, but love the sinner?'" We generally agreed that it was a pretty condescending statement.

What do you think? Is this a helpful way to communicate what our attitude should be toward those outside the little circle of our church life?

6 comments:

izenbet said...

how is someone provoked to reasoning? i find if someone is provoked they use the 'you made my day all the worse' and yell at you for no good reason! and about the cliche...to say it to someone who's struggling with something is like saying "i'll put up with you, but i look down on what activity you're involved in". how high and mighty does one sound when they say this to someone? enough to make the person feel condemnation, instead of 'hope' that Christians are supposed to offer.

kidpositive said...

i think the "Hate the sin, love the sinner" is a load of garbage. it's like an excuse to hold hatred in your heart. we are called to love. and i don't understand how we can completely love another person, and help that person to feel like they are loved, when we focus so much on their sin.

you know phil, i think that Jesus would be cast aside and crucified again today if he were to come back. i just don't see His love alive in the modern, American church. and it's so frustrating. but i guess that's what he ran into, as well. the giving up of one's self is the hardest thing to do. so it shouldn't surprise us that Jesus' message is as misunderstood today as it was 2000 years ago.

carl said...

as long as the evangelist claims to be a sinner I don't see it being condescending to say "Hate the sin, love the sinner" but if that cliche' is used to dismiss a debate on whether something is a sin or not that would be lazy, insensitive, annoying and unchristlike. In Athens, Paul was communicating his faith to an intellectual people so he got to their level in order to respectfully offer the Gospel in a language they could understand. Same goes with us today. One thing that stands out in my mind is that prayer is a must whether we open our mouth or not. who knows perhaps there is a plank in our own eye.

izenbet said...

i suppose a way to not be "you're going to hell without me" is to remember what Our Master taught us.Jesus was ultimately able to recognize the hurt and minister to just the sick or the children, but then he also recognized the proud and speak to them accordingly. kick up dust was the term used by a sociology teacher. but also be willing to listen and see where one can help.

Mike/Cern said...

Hate the sin but love the sinner..... Well I know I hate it when my son 'borrows' money from me with promises to repay me, yet doesn't. But I also know I love him so much that even if I complain about it to him and try earnestly to encourage him to take some responsibility for the debt he is building up with me, I'll still lend him more and I'll probably write off the debt.

I know that I can hate the way a racist for example behaves towards people of a different race to them. But somehow I can generally find something that explains (but doesn't excuse) why they are as they are and I can love them for their human frailty. I do the same for extremeist Christians too. With a different set of life circumstances it could so easily be me in their position. Perhaps that is where the concept of hate the sin but love the sinner being condescnding came from. Hmmmmmm, interesting.

Pastor Phil said...

Mike bro,

I love how you think outside your Pagan box. We seem to be on a similar search for the authentic, and in it both are deconstructing the worldviews we come from.

We sure need the continental drift to push our countries closer to one another so we can hang out regularly rather than once/twice a year.