Friday, February 11, 2011

Theology: We Bewail our Manifold Sins and Wickedness

In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the confession of sins says "We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us." Harsh words. I've heard it complained that they make it sound like we commit murder every week. And yes, they do, because we do. 

My roommate Josh recently wrote a post over on his blog about hypocrisy. In that post, he talks about a distinction between the cynic and the hypocrite. The cynic is one who sees the flaws of the system he is a part of, withdraws from them, and claims for himself superiority. The hypocrite, on the other hand, is one who sees the flaws of his system, bewails them, strives to get out of them, all the time realizing that he is a part of them inescapably, and that because of this he will always be part of the system.

We live in a world of horrendous injustice, our entire economic system is tied in with the exploitation of the weak, the destruction of animals, the rape of our world. What is more, this side of the Resurrection, we live as fallen bodies oftentimes overwhelmed with desire that leads us to sin. We cannot withdraw, not until Christ returns and we are transformed. We must fight it, but we must, always, realize that we cannot escape it. We sin each day, even in ways we don't realize. I sin when I look at another person and put her into a box (vain Hollywood girl), I sin when I eat chocolate harvested by slaves, I sin when I sit in a car whose fumes are destroying the planet. There are even situations, as I have talked about before, where any action I can possibly take is wrong (kill the one, or let the many die?) 

This isn't to say that I am some wicked or worthless person. I have been made in the image of God, and remade in the Resurrection of Christ. I have been sanctified and my sins are no longer held against me. I am beloved of God. When I bewail my wickedness, what I bewail is that I am not yet whole. I have been made clean, the seeds of the Resurrection have been planted in me, but they have not yet blossomed. 

This is why we cannot judge. But for the irresistible Grace of God, what would we be? 


  1. I'm doing this as anonymous, cause I don't know how else.

    Don't believe everything you read. We've seen cocoa production at the other end. OK, maybe some places it's slaves, in the sense of people forced to work against their will. But an awful lot of chocolate comes from little family holdings, in which the kids help, because kids on small farms in Africa, etc, grow up helping so they can do the job as adults.

    As long as they get to go to school, have enough to eat, etc, it's ok. Sorry if it spoils the breast-beating.

    Don't overdue it on the focus on sin. Can lead to a life of misery. I thought you weren't going to be one of those 'evangelistic' vegetarians!

    Be aware, really aware, that you are new in Christ. Try reading the NT letters some time with that in mind. Make a chart: you were, you are.

    True, we must do what we can to make things better, but I can say that each age has its 'pet' sins it harps on, so keep a historical view on this.

    You DON'T put Jesus on the cross again if you sin. Please read the NT more carefully. He is the one who died, and who lives to die no more.

    The only time Jesus talked about murdering was of a brother when you denigrate him.

    WHO are you reading now? Visit the New Testament with these things in mind.

    As for sin, if you make everything sin, nothing is.

    Your Mom

    1. Hi somebody's Mom,
      You got it right.
      Somebody's son.

  2. I'm sorry you read the post that way mom, I was trying very hard to be clear (hence to paragraph about being remade in Christ) that I'm not talking about being guilty. I'm not thinking in a legal sense. I'm talking about being sad that we live in an imperfect world where we will sin. It's not about judgment, its about sadness about not being there yet. The whole point of this is against judgment.