Christianity as Lack

In order to accept salvation, you first have to understand that by virtue of being (a fallen) human you are naturally a miserable creature who cannot save itself. Sometimes it is said differently: convince others that they are captives to sin, or that they don’t have control of their lives, so they should choose the right one.

But understanding ourselves as fallen is not something we choose to do. We are given it. If it is God who chooses us, this language of choosing to follow Christ because we have accepted that we are fallen seems rather pointless.  Maybe it makes sense ONLY in retrospect, after the event. I understand that I was in sin. I did not know how bad it was, how lost I was, how sinful I was, until now. “Now” being the time where I understand things. Where I have tasted the waters of true life. So if we are chosen by God and in being chosen we discover how fallen we really were, then it makes no sense at all to try and convert others by trying to convince non-believers that they are fallen. Moreover, Jesus did not go around telling people that they need him, rather he called out to people both in word and in deed.

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About JoeL

I completed a Master of Music degree from McGill University. I am currently working towards an Artist Diploma also at McGill. I like to do philosophy as a hobby.

3 thoughts on “Christianity as Lack

  1. I think that the logic goes a bit more like this: “I did not understand how fallen I was, but now I do see. Having reached this stage of enlightenment it is my responsibility to help others who also do not see the error of their ways learn to see truth and renounce their errors. Indeed to not do so would be a grave injury to the other.” The only obvious way to escape this route within a conception of Christianity as lack is to radically individualize sin, privatize religion, and relativize/erase truth – all problematic turns I think. Likewise, if we are chosen by God in such a way that there is no agency on our part or others, then it’s tough for me to see how that in-group would not develop the most problematic of superiority complexes. Furthermore I think the Scripture testifies to the event of Jesus as God’s choosing of all humanity, and also that the gift of belonging to God’s people is something that can never be secured or possessed and thus must be extended to (and received from) outside.

    So, I’m not really satisfied by this solution, I guess. I think this line has promise, though: “Moreover, Jesus did not go around telling people that they need him, rather he called out to people both in word and in deed.” If we add “telling people to repent” as a part of Jesus’s mission, then maybe we get the “Christianity as surplus” that we need. Although that’s a bit too easy too.

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  2. I am not satisfied with my tentative solution either. And I like this a lot: “The only obvious way to escape this route within a conception of Christianity as lack is to radically individualize sin, privatize religion, and relativize/erase truth – all problematic turns I think. Likewise, if we are chosen by God in such a way that there is no agency on our part or others, then it’s tough for me to see how that in-group would not develop the most problematic of superiority complexes.”

    you name this well. And I think you are right.

    I often wonder if an analogy to a relationship is helpful to think through this. Often we do not know how destructive our practices can be until our partner says “stop. this is hurting me. Let’s work through this.” So, I did not know that my practices were so harmful, now that I’ve been told I have two choices: (1) listen and work through it; (2) or tell the victim of the situation that they are not being wronged, and that they are being oversensitive and need to submit to the oppressor.

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    1. Thanks for the gracious response. I’m glad you found the comment helpful.

      I often find analogies to relationships helpful in a variety of contexts. A few comments.
      1. I think it’s very helpful in terms of seeing that the ideal is not for us to all leave each other alone (i.e., the Prime Directive response of non-interference is a rather poor vision), but that we can think of good ways of (further) intertwining and benefiting each other.
      2. There are many many cases when people (in relationships) should have known better; in fact, they have no excuse.
      3. Does your articulation still unintentionally give energy to the benevolent colonizer: “You do not know that your practices are so harmful, now that I’ve told you, you have two choices: (1) listen and work through it; (2) or tell the victim of the situation that they are not being wronged, and that they are being oversensitive and need to submit to the oppressor.” This may be unfair to you, especially since perhaps the key ingredient that you had that I removed is the importance of listening.

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