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Worst Among Sinners


debrand

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I've always hated to hear people describe themselves as the worse among sinners. At best, you sound arrogant. Really, are your cruelties worse than a serial killer? Most of us, thankfully, aren't evil. At the worse, it makes it sound as if the speaker believes having a stray angry thought is as bad as genocide.

 

 

 

puritanboard.com/f15/im-worst-sinner-i-know-76607/

 

 

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Lately I've heard this phrase thrown around more and more, "I'm the worst sinner I know" or, "You're the worst sinner you know."

 

Most recently I heard someone counseling a girl whose dad had been caught in sins of addiction to pray for him and be merciful towards him, "Because after all, you're the worst sinner in your house." Is this accurate? Is this helpful? Is this how Paul intended us to apply 1 Tim 1.15? How does Matt 7:3ff influence this? Or James 5:16?

 

What a crappy thing to say to a young woman who has to come to terms with her less than ideal childhood. Luckily, many of the posters on the Puritan Board agree that it is very unhelpful comment to make to the young woman

 

Some of the commenters though have some really disturbing ideas. One person asks if a woman whose husband was caught in the act of adultery should be told that she is as bad a sinner as her husband.

 

 

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Ideally there would be a strong remedy for the victim (s) of adultery in civil law, to help deter adultery, whereby they could take the adulterer "to the cleaners" if they so wished i.e. they could sue them for everything they have. Maybe a few years hard labour for adultery wouldn't go amiss, but we're not living in that world, at present.

 

 

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Having been in the position of the Dad in the OP scenario, I can testify that it is very difficult for some family members and church family members to ever believe that someone who has been exposed for living in a particular sin can repent and truly change. When I confessed my sins to my wife, all of my children, the spouses of my married children, my elders, etc.,

 

What advantage is there in sharing an affair with your kids, family and church members?That sounds potentially embarrassing to the kids and wife.

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There's a reason the Catholic and Orthodox churches moved away from public confession.

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I've always hated to hear people describe themselves as the worse among sinners. At best, you sound arrogant. Really, are your cruelties worse than a serial killer? Most of us, thankfully, aren't evil. At the worse, it makes it sound as if the speaker believes having a stray angry thought is as bad as genocide.

I read the autobiography of John Bunyan (contra all those trail of blood folks, the founder of the Baptist church) in class a few years ago. The title is Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, which totally makes sin sound like a contest to me.

The whole "sharing the affair in public" thing was probably not entirely a choice on the part of the person who did it. It sounds from PB and other sources as if that's something that churches emphasizing "church discipline" require-- no communion and no reconciliation with the community until you've made a public confession and stopped doing whatever it was you were doing. I can't tell if the congregations who do that think that the embarrassment to one's wife and kids is acceptable collateral damage, or if they hold a whole family responsible for the choices of one of its members, or what.

PB is fascinating to me because my family comes from a denomination (UCC) that formed as a merger of a couple of Calvinist offshoots and the German Evangelical & Reform church. The resulting merged church is more politically and theologically liberal than any of its component denominations. My father is more Calvinist theologically than most people in the denomination are now; reading PB is like seeing what might have happened had he gone to a less pluralistic seminary.

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I feel like that, but I never call myself that, in Case people ask me to explain why. I'm not a murderer, but according to Christians and even a lot of secular people I'm the next step down

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I feel like that, but I never call myself that, in Case people ask me to explain why. I'm not a murderer, but according to Christians and even a lot of secular people I'm the next step down

I'm afraid to ask and if it is private, you don't have to say, but what did you do that people would consider you the worst among sinners?

Different Christian denominations seem to have different views on what sin is. A lot of people believe that Catholics have a harsher view on sin but they actually seem more moderate to me. The Vatican has an article on mortal and venial sins. Moral sins are worse but according to Catholic theology, you can't accidentally commit a mortal sin. Venial sins

"However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God's grace it is humanly reparable. "Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness."134

I think that you have to confess mortal sins but not venial ones-someone correct me if I am wrong.

It sounds like Calvinist believes that anything that all sins are equal. So, a person who has an angry thought is no better than a person who rapes a child. Is that correct? I am uncertain why anyone would want to worship the Calvinist version of god.

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm

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I hate the "worst among sinners" line too. I always felt bad because I never felt like I was that horrible of a person and there was always a push to claim that in God's eyes you are this wretched soul that is as bad as a child rapist.

Let's face it, most people aren't that bad of sinners. Sometimes natural human emotions that we all experience are used to say that the person is a sinner worse than others, but everybody has moments when they have angry, hateful thoughts. Having them doesn't make you a "chief of sinners." it just makes you a human.

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Fundies can't just be a garden variety sinner like everyone else. They have to be the speshul snowflake sinner, ruler over all us ordinary sinners.

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I tried for many years to become a believer, a Christian. I sat in church many times and heard the "all sins are equal in God's eyes" message. It's one of many things I could never accept. I realize I'm not perfect, but if I overeat at Thanksgiving dinner, that's the same as being a serial killer or a child molester? I don't think so. Thank Spaghetti Monster our laws and punishments are supposed to fit the crime and not one-size-fits-all. If the Christianists ever got their theocracy would the punishment for the crime of coveting your neighbor's possessions be the same as the punishment for murder? Stoning for everybody!

:angry-fire:

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I tried for many years to become a believer, a Christian. I sat in church many times and heard the "all sins are equal in God's eyes" message. It's one of many things I could never accept. I realize I'm not perfect, but if I overeat at Thanksgiving dinner, that's the same as being a serial killer or a child molester? I don't think so. Thank Spaghetti Monster our laws and punishments are supposed to fit the crime and not one-size-fits-all. If the Christianists ever got their theocracy would the punishment for the crime of coveting your neighbor's possessions be the same as the punishment for murder? Stoning for everybody!

:angry-fire:

I remain Lutheran but I definitely do not ascribe to that church's doctrine that "all sins are equal in God's eyes." Understandably, the church fathers [sic] wish to teach us that we all fall short of perfection, which only Jesus attained. But I have to ally with the Roman Catholic church in understanding that some sins are far worse than others.

Just FTR, in my decades of experience, public confession of sins has never included personal recitations of individuals' sins. This link ergodubito.org/?p=564 isn't the best but it was the first hit and I need to step away from the ipad this morning. Here's the part that actually describes the rite of public confession on any given worship day:

After a few preliminaries, the heart of the confession is the following:

"We confess that we are in bondage to sin, and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your son, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen."

This is spoken by the entire congregation, including the Pastor. In fact, the Pastor is not standing up front facing the congregation, but is turned around facing the cross along with the rest of us. We are not confessing our sins to the Pastor, but the Pastor is confessing his/her sins along with everyone else to God. As we say it to the cross, we are acknowledging that it is by way of the cross that we even dare to ask for forgiveness. And it is through Christ’s death on the cross that we receive it.

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In the eyes of neo-Calvinists/Puritians, every human being is a miserable, worthless sinner because of the effects of original sin, regardless of what they themselves have actually done. Therefore, the newborn baby is just as deserving of Hell as Hitler or Charles Manson. This line of thinking not only leads to a pessimistic outlook on life, but also to things like baby spanking and the need to break a child's will.

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Poetry to the rescue! (If only it were that simple with fundies.)

Once in a saintly passion

I cried with desperate grief,

"O Lord, my heart is black with guile,

Of sinners I am chief."

Then stooped my guardian angel

And whispered from behind,

"Vanity, my little man,

You're nothing of the kind."

~James Thomson

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In the eyes of neo-Calvinists/Puritians, every human being is a miserable, worthless sinner because of the effects of original sin, regardless of what they themselves have actually done. Therefore, the newborn baby is just as deserving of Hell as Hitler or Charles Manson. This line of thinking not only leads to a pessimistic outlook on life, but also to things like baby spanking and the need to break a child's will.

Not to mention a recipe for low self-esteem, no matter what doublespeak the fundies try to talk around it.

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What is up with the fixation on sin and declaring yourself the worst sinner? It's almost like they're proud of it...and wouldn't that be a sin in itself? I just can't even wrap my head around this sort of thing at all (probably doesn't help that I reject the concept of "sin" anyway).

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It never stops to amaze me how differently core doctrines can be interpretted and presented. I have always understood this teaching as Jesus saying: "Hey, guys, listen up, don't hold yourself above others, sin is sin, you are all guilty of it, but guess what, I took it upon myself, so go on, you are free and loved and should therefore treat each other with kindness, you are all sinners but all loved".

The thing is, once you try to apply earthly logic and fairness to this you miss the point, ofcourse stealing a piece of candy is not the same as murdering a pregnant person and cutting out her fetus, but it's not about earthly justice, it's not about earthly laws and courts, it's a spiritual issue, that people bastardize and turn into a competition of who is least worthy and therefore most loved since it would take more love to forgive a murderer than a child who couldn't stay out of the cookie jar.

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I think the original idea was that you shouldn't fixate on other people's wrongdoing.

Think of the tale of the Pharisee and the publican - not to mention all the eating and drinking with sinners and so forth. I suspect it was pretty common in Jesus's society for the Good People to consider themselves a bit special. "All have sinned and fall short" is the basis of the lesson, and "you are the worst of sinners" a bit of hyperbole to make people stop and think.

Of course, then the pendulum swings the other way... yet another reason for fluidity in religion.

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It never stops to amaze me how differently core doctrines can be interpretted and presented. I have always understood this teaching as Jesus saying: "Hey, guys, listen up, don't hold yourself above others, sin is sin, you are all guilty of it, but guess what, I took it upon myself, so go on, you are free and loved and should therefore treat each other with kindness, you are all sinners but all loved".

This. All of this. :agree:

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We confess that we are in bondage to sin, and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your son, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen."

The Episcopal Church uses that(the beginning part worded slightly differently)as part of the Sunday liturgy.

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I think the original idea was that you shouldn't fixate on other people's wrongdoing.

Yes.

It's not a contest. And it shouldn't be used to guilt other people into thinkin they are "the worst." For Christians, it is a reminder that even though we may have all the qualifications of spiritual leadership, a "godly heritage", a generally upstanding life, we still need Jesus.

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Ideally there would be a strong remedy for the victim (s) of adultery in civil law, to help deter adultery, whereby they could take the adulterer "to the cleaners" if they so wished i.e. they could sue them for everything they have. Maybe a few years hard labour for adultery wouldn't go amiss, but we're not living in that world, at present.

This is a naive view of human beings for someone who thinks that every person is fecal matter without Jesus. Human beings are going to have sex. Individuals might decide to not have sex or be monogamous but as a species we are designed to seek out a mate. There have been attempts by societies to control human sexuality and the only thing that works is separation of the sexes and even that isn't a guarantee. In the past, the rich and powerful continued to have sexual affairs while looking down or punishing the poor who got caught. The best thing government can do is stay out of people's bedrooms except to make certain that sex is consensual and between adults.

Hard labour for adultery? Yeah, let's fill up the prisons even more. America is already has the most incarcerated individuals. What is a few more people? Of course, a lot of Christian Reconstructionists would just stone most people so the prison population would actually go down. :?

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What these people don't mention is that sin can be forgiven, and there is hope. You have to admit what you did, that what you did was wrong, ask for forgiveness, and make amends. Also, we should leave the judging to God.

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What these people don't mention is that sin can be forgiven, and there is hope. You have to admit what you did, that what you did was wrong, ask for forgiveness, and make amends. Also, we should leave the judging to God.

This. And once our sins are forgiven, we're not supposed to sit there and dwell on them, we're supposed to forget them as God has forgotten them. Some of these people seem to enjoy wallowing in their sinfulness even after they've been forgiven; it's like they can't believe God forgave them.

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This. And once our sins are forgiven, we're not supposed to sit there and dwell on them, we're supposed to forget them as God has forgotten them. Some of these people seem to enjoy wallowing in their sinfulness even after they've been forgiven; it's like they can't believe God forgave them.

You two need to stop listening to that Jesus guy. What did he know about being a Christian?

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You two need to stop listening to that Jesus guy. What did he know about being a Christian?

I know, right? :roll:

:laughing-rolling:

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I have a religious aunt who is in her 70's who I am friends with on FB. She just posted that she listened to a sermon on the radio and it reminded her that her heart is just as black and the worst sinner in the world. I want to ask what she has done that has made her heart as black as a person who tortures children, but I try to avoid the drama with relatives on FB and it really would do no good with her.

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