Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Some Thoughts on Romans 1

Crudely put, the book of Romans is about proving that God’s grace and salvation is free to all who believe. For Paul, the author, no special group membership exists that gets you into the club. If you knock, you will enter. In chapters one and two, Paul lays out the judgment against humanity. We have known God, but in our evil, denied God and thus subject to the wrath of God.

Not surprisingly, Paul holds back no punches. He doesn’t just say that folks were bad or evil or not nice to each other. Nope, that’s too abstract for Paul. Rather, he states that they (meaning you and me and everyone else) are full of: wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and craftiness. Additionally, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.

This specificity bothers are modern ears and makes our cheeks flush. “We aren’t that bad,” we want to say. “Sure, some folks might be like this. You know, people like Hitler or Stalin.” We are uncomfortable with these accusations. Doesn’t Paul know that folks are nice and trying their hardest? Doesn’t Paul know that it isn’t their fault? Doesn’t Paul know that I don’t gossip, I just like talking? In our modern world we like to think that evil and malice have been expunged by the rule of law and modern psychology. In the capitalistic system, we just turn these negatives into positives, making a tidy sum along the way. Evil is a deficiency that can be fixed or at least mitigated. 

I don't think Paul would agree with that sentiment...

1 comment:

  1. Re modern attitude toward word 'evil': I think of Mike Myers' exaggerated, comic pronunciation of 'eee--veeel' as a case in point. The effect: evil is a joke word, outdated and foolish; something we are long past having to take seriously. There are a lot of words like that.