Wednesday, September 23, 2009

American Calvinism

I've recently discovered a blog that I find myself wanting to read everyday. Some blogs I check every now and then. Only a few have become daily habits. This one,, is led by the NT scholar Scot McKnight, a man I haven't met but whose work I have admired for some time. What makes the Jesus Creed blog so attractive to me isn't just the posts that McKnight makes now and then on a variety of subjects (he obviously is a very well-read man), but he has guest posters just about every day who offer their struggles with our Christian faith within the context of their expertise. One such poster goes by the initials RJS. And, I have found his/her insights (a scientific mind and a strong heart for our faith) to be very helpful and provocative.

A recent post discussing the biological determinism often associated with human behavior and the question of our culpability with regard to sin broke some new ground for me, especially in reference to our proclivity within American culture to assign all things to an inevitable future (even though we supposedly prize human free will). In the post, RJS asks something to the effect: to what extent are our brains wired for certain sins and what does that say about God's judgment? And, to what extent can science help us take more responsibility for overcoming our sins?

The comments by readers (many of them it seems from the scientific community) seemed to engage the debate regarding the common tautology: which came first, genetic wiring or imprinting by experience? Then, different answers were given for how to overcome this or that behavior. As I read their comments, all I could think about was: what about the Holy Spirit? For most of the posters, sin is nothing more than deviant human behavior. I kept hearing Paul shouting: sin is also a power outside of human will.

I think that is a scary idea to most Americans, for how do we oppose a power greater than human will power?