Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Guilt, Sin, Responsibilty, and Humanness

    A full acknowledgement of human responsibility and therefore guilt, far from diminishing the dignity of human beings, actually enhances it. It presupposes that men and women, unlike the animals, are morally responsible beings, who know what we are, could be and should be, and do not make excuses for their poor performance. ... decision-making belongs to the essence of our humanness. Sin is not only the attempt to be God; it is also the refusal to be man, by shuffling off responsibility for our actions. ... The commonest defence of the Nazi war criminals was that they were merely following orders. But the court held them responsible all the same.
    The Bible takes sin seriously because it takes man (male and female) seriously. ... Christians do not deny the fact - in some circumstance - of diminished responsibility, but we affirm that diminished responsibility always entails diminished humanity. To say that somebody 'is not responsible for his actions' is to demean him or her as a human being. It is part of the glory of being human that we are held responsible for our actions. Then, when we also acknowledge our sin and guilt, we receive God's forgiveness, enter into the joy of his salvation, and so become yet more completely human and healthy. -- pp. 119-120, from The Cross of Christ by John Stott (italics original, bold mine)