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Speaking of Sin: the Lost Language of Salvation

Taylor, Barbara Brown | Cowley, 2005


pp. 4-6

The words “sin, “ “damnation,” “repentance,” and “salvation” sound as if they come “from an earlier time when human relationship with God was laced with blame and threat.” The words seem to judge us which is why a lot of Christians don’t say them anymore. We go for grace instead. No confession of sin these days. Preachers like to say that like the waiting father in Luke 15 Jesus died with his arms wide open. But we need the old language because God’s calling is for us to bless others, and we can’t do that till we are saved, including not only forgiveness of sin, but also new life, “new vision, new values, and new behavior.” But this is tough for us. Easier “for us to rely on God’s forgiveness of our sins than it is to believe that God might support us to quit them.” But we can’t quit them if we aren’t allowed even to talk about them. It’s no help to stop talking about sin. We just keep doing them. The waiting father’s kiss forgave all, “but not because the son was innocent. The son was guilty and he knew it, which is what gave the kiss its power.” “Sin” is a deep old word that has meant terrible things. When BBT was a baby she was baptized in a side chapel at a Catholic church. The priest took her in his arms and “began saying all kinds of terrible things about me. He said that I was sinful through and through, that I had the devil in me, but not to worry because the waters of baptism would soon wash me clean as snow.” At this BBT’s mother said to her father, ‘’we’re getting out of here and never coming back.’ She chose a Methodist church after seven years of staying away, and nobody there ever said a word about sin.”