Sin and Christian Teaching: Journal Critique

Effect of sin

Sin, in its very essence, is contradictory to the nature of God, creating separation in the intimacy between God and man, but is ultimately conquered by God’s grace, in the ultimate redemptive plan, through Jesus Christ. Upon this foundational truth, Octavio Esqueda asserts a clear understanding of the relationship between sin and grace is necessary to fully appreciate the grace of God and to understand sin’s goal in opposing God and His holy character. The purpose of this critique is to assess Esqueda’s conclusion regarding God’s grace being the key to overcoming a life of sin and why grace is necessary in Christian teaching.

SUMMARY

Esqueda acknowledges the grace of God and the sin of man are two essential realities that define the Christian faith and that all humans are sinners in desperate need for God’s grace. This hypothesis is traced back to the original sin and Esqueda illustrates how, “Sin permeates our entire being and alienates us from ourselves, other people, our world, and most importantly from our Creator.”[1] As time has gone on, Esqueda explains how culture continues to play a more dominant role in determining what is right and wrong, and what should be viewed as being happy or sad. Next, Esqueda establishes sin’s role in fading God’s plan for His creation and its ability to corrupt and isolate, leading to a life of pride. Citing Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Esqueda emphasizes, “Perceiving God’s grace without an appropriate understanding of sin is meaningless and becomes cheap.”[2] After establishing a clear definition of sin and its effects, Esqueda uses the seven capital sins to define specific character traits that lead individuals away from God. Robert Kruschwitz identifies, “These sins are the harbingers of destruction; and they are the first in order of attack after pride and they bring in other sins that destroy people’s love for God and one another.”[3] Lastly, Esqueda explains the need for Christian teaching because any teaching, which fails to stress the importance of grace to sinners, is futile.[4]

CRITICAL INTERACTION

Esqueda does an excellent job of explaining the responsibilities of leaders and teachers in cultivating the spiritual growth of his or her students and he firmly believes the Holy Spirit is vital in the supernatural transformation of learners. By demonstrating the effects of sin and then establishing how Christ restores all of those broken relationships by grace, Esqueda reaffirms the apostle Paul’s message to the Romans and the church at Corinth being: “Christ died for all sinners and His righteousness is imputed to us by His grace, which overflows to the world much more than any effect of sin.” Grace over sin is a continuing theme throughout the Bible and one in which Esqueda has implemented in his strategy in Christian education and spiritual formation.

The overview of the seven capital sins was an interesting insertion and tracks with a modern-day culture that ranks and classifies various crimes on different levels. However, in God’s eyes, sin is sin, so any attempt to provide levels or grades to specific sins seems folly. This is partly the reason Esqueda believes, “Most Protestants rejected this list of capital sins because the Bible does not provide this classification of capital vices and Reformers were also concerned the list of virtues could become a way to earn salvation by works and not a gift by God’s grace.”[5] Despite this, it was very interesting looking at each individual sin in its attempt for: selfish gratification, selfish physical pleasure, attachment to material possessions, selfish sin against temperance, sadness for the glory of another, laziness, and desire for recognition and approval from others.[6] Esqueda seemed to approach this topic with some presuppositions, as he documents the introduction of the piñata in Mexico and Central America. He explains the piñata represented Satan who often wears an attractive mask to deceive humanity, and as temptation. Blindfolded participants represented blind faith, forcing them to look upwards towards heaven.[7]

God created the family and He also ingrained a longing for community inside everyone. Sin, which is often rooted in pride, stands opposed to both of these systems, in an attempt to deny love for one another and towards God. This was one area Esqueda could have covered in more detail, especially since his overall goal is reaching sinners with Christian teaching. Over time, sin erects a wall to further isolate individuals from any sense of hope and grace. While he does mention virtues, which when implemented lead to a regenerated life, his argument would have been strengthened with a solution of how to bridge the gap and tear down the walls of sin.

CONCLUSION

Esqueda does an excellent job explaining if a consequence of sin is isolation, then grace produces community. He illustrates, “When Christian leaders and teachers model grace, they foster a sense of community among their learners.”[8] This is the first step Esqueda successfully identifies in the spiritual transformation process. Esqueda’s conclusions regarding God’s grace being the key to overcoming a life of sin and why grace is necessary in Christian teaching is also shown to be true. He also correctly identifies the Holy Spirit’s role and provides ample Scripture references and multiple references from respected philosophers and theologians. Overall, Esqueda provided substantial content in the importance of grace in teaching and over sin.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Betenson, Toby. “Evaluative Claims within the Problem of Evil.” Religious Studies 51, no. 3 (09, 2015): 361-77, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1703895888?accountid=12085 (accessed April 13, 2017).

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York, NY: Touchstone, 1995.

Boyd, Ian T. E. “The problem of self-destroying sin in John Milton’s Samson Agonistes.” Faith and Philosophy 13, no. 4 (October, 1996): 487-507. (accessed April 13, 2017)

Blass, Rachel B. “Sin and Transcendence Versus Psychopathology and Emotional Wellbeing: On the Catholic Church’s Problem of Bridging Religious and Therapeutic Views of the Person.” Spiritus 12, no. 1 (Spring, 2012): 21,42,156, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1019770875?accountid=12085 (accessed April 13, 2017).

Clendenin, Daniel B. “God is Great, God is Good Questions About Evil.” Ashland Theological Journal 24, no. 0 (1992): 35-48. (accessed April 13, 2017)

Crisp, Oliver D. “On Original Sin.” International Journal of Systematic Theology, 17, (June 2015): 252–266. doi:10.1111/ijst.12107 (accessed April 13, 2017).

Egan, Robert. “Epistemological Foundations for A Theology of Sin.” The Heythrop Journal, 57, (May 2016): 553–567. doi:10.1111/heyj.12318 (accessed April 13, 2017).

Elwell, Walter A. ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2001.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013.

Esqueda, Octavio Javier. “Sin and Christian Teaching.” Christian Education Journal 8, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 164-176. General OneFile http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA254754469&sid=summon&asid=7cd444ab8fa87f29079655e13d84de39 (accessed April 21, 2017).

Frame, John M. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.

Geisler, Norman L. The Problem of Evil, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 1999.

Geisler, Norman L. and Ronald M. Brooks. When Skeptics Ask. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990.

Gockel, Matthias. “‘Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’: an orientational approach to suffering and evil.” Modern Theology 25, no. 1 (January 2009): 97-105. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed April 13, 2017).

Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

Harrison, William K. (William Kelly). “Origin of Sin.” Bibliotheca Sacra 130, no. 517 (January 1973): 58-61. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed April 13, 2017).

Haven, Joseph. “Sin, As Related To Human Nature And To The Divine Purpose.” Bibliotheca Sacra 020, no. 79 (July 1863): 445-488. (accessed April 13, 2017)

Himma, Kenneth Einar. “Eternally Incorrigible: The Continuing-Sin Response to the Proportionality Problem of Hell.” Religious Studies 39, no. 1 (2003): 61-78. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20008447 (accessed April 13, 2017).

Hume, David. Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. Edited by Henry D. Aiken. New York, NY: Hafner, 1948 [1779].

Köstenberger, Andreas. Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2013.

Kruschwitz, Robert. Reading Thomas Aquinas’s on Evil. Waco, TX: Author, 2010.

Moo, Douglas J. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

Pasternack, Lawrence. “Kant on the debt of sin.” Faith and Philosophy 29 no. 1 (January 2012): 30-52. (accessed April 13, 2017)

Sehon, Scott. “The Problem of Evil: Skeptical Theism Leads to Moral Paralysis.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67, no. 2 (2010): 67-80. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25652862 (accessed April 13, 2017).

Venter, Dirk J. “Romans 8:3-4 and God’s resolution of the threefold problems of sin, the incapability of the law and the weakness of the flesh.” In die Skriflig 48, no. 1 (2014). Academic OneFile http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA406163579&asid=6a1e0a7a5321bc7b9c4c11a1a02b29d6 (accessed April 13, 2017).

Wilcox, David L. “A proposed model for the evolutionary creation of human beings: From the image of God to the origin of sin.” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 68, no. 1 (2016): 22-43. Academic OneFile http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA486164679&sid=summon&asid=e80c6aa2b9a2eae051ab74327ee96e56 (accessed April 13,2017).

Zacharias, Ravi and Norman Geisler. Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Questions of Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

[1] Octavio Javier Esqueda, “Sin and Christian Teaching,” Christian Education Journal 8, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 164. General OneFile. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA254754469&sid=summon&asid=7cd444ab8fa87f29079655e13d84de39 (accessed April 21, 2017).

[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1995), 44.

[3] Robert Kruschwitz, Reading Thomas Aquinas’s on Evil (Waco, TX: Author, 2010), 11.

[4] Esqueda, “Sin and Christian Teaching,” 173.

[5] Ibid., 170.

[6] Esqueda, “Sin and Christian Teaching,” 167-169.

[7] Ibid., 170.

[8] Ibid., 175.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s