Some how or other I wound up on a mailing list for a website that sells small group resources, teaching aids, advice, etc. I tend to forget about it primarily because the e-mails are routed to an account I checked only sporadically. Then, when I do see them, I often think: ‘Hey, I should probably unsubscribe because I’m not going to do anything with this site.’ However, the unsubscribe request remains to be sent, mainly because I keep forgetting to do it. (Maybe I will after this post).
This morning, on one of the sporadic times of checking that particular e-mail I found the site in question announcing a new teaching series. That much was not so interesting, mainly because that’s what the site usually does. However, the title, ‘Overcoming Sin‘ and the implied promise of a six-week completion date are what initially grabbed my attention.* I applaud the desire to teach on the subject of sin and their willingness to do so openly. But something about the series just doesn’t sit right with me.
My concern is simply this: the title, the promised six-week solution, and the synopsis of the series surprisingly lack reference to God, Christ and/or Spirit; you know, the three persons ordinarily associated with the solution to the sin-problem. Granted, the Scripture references do point in the more appropriate direction but it’s still the fact that the explicit cause(s) for overcoming sin is/are not mentioned;** the focus falls squarely on what humans can and should do. (I would be curious to see how they are going to apply 1 Tim 3.5 to this sort of discussion, but not curious enough to spend $29.70 +shipping). This sounds suspiciously like Pelagianism, or at least form of it.
I truly hope that this series is not going to suggest: do these six things and the burden of sin is no longer an issue; or: integrate these six lessons into your life and you will overcome the powerful stranglehold of sin and find yourself rising to the place where God desires you to be (and can therefore bless you). If that’s the focus, then my advice would be: read the Bible again. My sincere hope is that throughout this series, the wisdom of God, the nature of the cross (and resurrection) of Christ and the role of the Spirit are recognised as primary with regard to overcoming sin. To suggest otherwise is to do so in face of what Scripture teaches.
* I confess that my remarks here can only be based on what I see from the announcement and synopsis; I admittedly do not have thorough knowledge of what the series specifically teaches. However, while my observations are superficial I fear that something deeper might be at work. Or maybe I’m just being too cynical.
** I’ll leave to one side the apparent use of proof-texting for this series.