“I believe God gave Israel the Law to magnify the heinous nature of sin.”
Those words were written by commenter Jon (who I think is actually the infamous Randy) in the comments thread of the article “Calvin’s False Gospel: On the wrong side of the Law, Galatians 3:15-25”, which can be found at paulspassingthoughts.com. Jon is a quintessential Reformed protestant, and you can tell by the massive amount of equivocation he uses, and the incessant way he states the same contradiction exactly one million different ways hoping that by shear exhaustion his opponents will concede that yes, black can also be white and baseball can also be football and water is dry. My friends, colleagues and countrymen, this is known as the deceptive bludgeoning of the contrary perspective. It has served despotic philosophies well for thousands of years. Why should Jon stop now?
Because the premises are full of shit. That’s why.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? They serve shit and when the great unwashed masses protest and say, “Wait a minute, this tastes depressingly like shit”, they respond, “Really? I don’t see it like that.” And they say, “There is only one way to see it! As shit!” And they say, “Not if you have been given the divine grace to perceive. And for your tithe, I’ll give you a second helping.”
Now, instead of terminating the thought and the theology where Jon does, which is far, far away from the root of the issue (a nasty habit of the Reformed), we need to take it to the next logical step and ask: Okay…sure, God gave the Law to point out the heinousness of sin, but what is the point of that, exactly? What was the purpose of God deciding that man needed to become acutely aware of this heinous nature? Was it to teach man how to stop sinning, or to announce that man couldn’t stop sinning? And if it was to inform man that he couldn’t stop sinning then what was the point of that? For to tell man that he is caught in the endless and hopeless cul-de-sac of his metaphysical essence (which is precisely the message of reformed theology) and which is beyond his ability to control since it IS a product of the endless and hopeless cul-de-sac of his metaphysical essence, and not a function or choice…well, I must admit that to declare this seems quite an irrelevant move on God’s part. I mean, if man cannot do anything about it, then what is the use in him knowing?
There is no use. There is no point. The message that “sin is heinous” when followed by “and there is fuck all you can do about it because it is a function of your rote existence” is entirely superfluous.
Furthermore, I question the ability of man to even apprehend such a revelation in the first place. Man’s metaphysical essence–the very root of his being–is absolute. And as an absolute it is an infinite singularity…a completely autonomous and non-relative SELF. It has no parts as such that can be distinctive or distinguished except in a purely conceptual/abstract sense. Man’s singular metaphysical essence cannot be literally parsed into “knowing” and “doing”, as though these actions are manifestations of a different, but singular, root being. The very notion is a contradiction in terms. “Knowing” and “doing” are both a function of the exact same metaphysical core, which is, again, absolute and singular. And further, actions and assumptions do not exist in a conceptual vacuum. They are only “real” insofar as they are a manifestation of the SELF of the individual human being as he or she interacts in relative relationships with other agents and objects.
Being is an IS. And it is ONE. This is the metaphysical truth behind every self-aware agent, man and God both. Everything man thinks (believes, understands) and everything man does is inexorably tied–and directly tied–to his uniform and infinite being. Therefore, if man is flawed to the point of unavoidable, inevitable, automatic and irresistible sin, then this must also affect his ability to cognitively/intellectually apprehend anything righteous, anything GOOD, be it an object, an action, instruction, or revelation. His irresistible sinfulness must inform his mind as well as his body, as the mind and the body are both components of the the same metaphysical singularity of SELF. Man can no more cognitively/intellectually grasp the concept of not sinning than he can avoid committing sin through action. Why? Because thinking (which includes believing), strictly and literally speaking, is an action. It is a work, in that both thinking and acting (in the visceral/”physical” sense) require volition and thus volitional movement via the consciousness of the human agent in service to an observable objective or standard.
(Note: Please spare me the Pauline proof-texts; I already know them.)
In other words, thinking is a behavior tied to the singular essence of being. Therefore, if we sin as a matter of our “nature”, then the sin, again, must wholly inform our thinking, which will affect our apprehension of the message: sin is heinous. Our “sinful nature” must affect the mind, and therefor our ability to grasp a clear and rational understanding of “good” and “truth” in any form, even, as I said, in the form of a heavenly message. So Jesus, God, and Jon (let’s hope he makes a distinction between the three…but you never know with the reformed types) can declare the horrors of sin until they are blue in the face, and about our need for a Savior due to the absolute inability of man to resist sin because man is totally (metaphysically) depraved, but man, by this very definition cannot possibly apprehend this, and cannot possibly understand its implications and how it can be remediated…no, not in a million fucking years. Man is a sinner because the doctrine demands that man IS sin. And sin, being itself an absolute, because it is an abstract concept, beyond and out of reach of anything in the material universe which man occupies (ostensibly) in his “flesh”…yes, sin being thus an absolute cannot in any way be efficaciously or logically coupled to GOOD, or RIGHTEOUSNESS, even the GOOD of the message, “sin is heinous”, because it is entirely exclusive of it. Sin incarnate as man cannot and shall not ever recognize the message from God, otherwise it must be said that it possesses the ability to concede the message is good. And this ability will completely contradict the singular essence of man’s metaphysical depravity.
Thus, what man requires is a complete change of metaphysical essence, and it obviously cannot come from his totally depraved and wholly insufficient SELF. It must come from outside himself.
But for those who are now tempted to get on bended knee and cry, “It is Christ who shall save me from this body of death!”…not so fast. There are two insurmountable problems. The first is that since man’s metaphysical essence is absolute, there can be no change to it, by definition. It is the utterly complete and self-contained meaning and sum and substance of itself.
And thus the second problem: there can be no other besides it (that isn’t defined purely in terms of conceptual/relative relationship). And this being the case, there can be no solution for man’s absolute metaphysical problem from outside himself because there is no outside himself. Man as sin = an infinite essence which cannot be breached by “other” because it cannot co-exist in any literal sense with any other, including God.
(Part two next)