No, Virginia, Not All Sin Is The Same

I’m not a Christian, but I am fascinated by the assertion, put forth by some Christians, that all sin is equal in the eyes of God–that there is no gradation of sin. (I heard it asserted again, today, while Dennis Prager was interviewing Christian students in Colorado.)

Having read the Bible (and having been, at one time, a Christian), I can’t for the life of me figure out where this idea comes from. A real head-scratcher, as if God wants us to weigh gossip and murder and find them morally equivalent. A very odd cartoon Christianity as it were, as if God commands us to abandon moral discrimination in a way that might seem familiar to sociopaths.

And as I noted earlier today on Twitter, if Christianity did indeed teach that there is no moral distinction to be made between gossip and murder, then Christianity would be far more monstrous than Islamism at its worst could ever come close to being (at least philosophically)–and I would likely become such a screeching Randian in response that Ayn’s CS Lewis marginal notes would seem like a gushing love note (or, if a monotheist, a convert to Judaism).

So off to google we go.

POW! First hit:

sproulProtestantism, writes R.C. Sproul, “rejected the Roman Catholic scheme of mortal and venial sin.” Rather than rejecting degrees and gradations of sin, however, it maintained them. Sproul explains:

“Calvin, for example, argued that all sin is mortal in the sense that it rightly deserves death, but that no sin is mortal in the sense that it destroys justifying grace. Considerations other than the degrees of sin were in review in the Protestant rejection of the mortal and venial sin distinction. Historic Protestantism retained the distinction between ordinary sins and sins that are deemed gross and heinous.”

“The most obvious reason for the Protestant retention of degrees of sin is that the Bible abounds with such gradations. The Old Testament law had clear distinctions and provisions of penalty for different levels of criminal acts. Some sins were punishable by death, others by corporal penalties, and still others by the levying of fines. In the Jewish criminal system, distinctions were made between types of murder that would correspond to modern-day distinctions such as first- and second-degree murder, and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.”

And this might be a good time to note:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Of course, this still begs the question of where the strange idea that there are no gradations of sin comes from. Wherever it comes from, it doesn’t come from the Bible.


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