Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Biology of Sin (A Review)

The debate around the proper interface between science and faith has widened in recent years beyond the confines of creation versus evolution. Nearly every area of human life is now contested. Matthew Stanford, an expert in psychology, neuroscience and bio-medical studies has spent most of life wrestling with a particular aspect of this debate : the question of how our biology interacts with our sinful behaviour. His latest offering, The Biology of Sin: Grace, Hope and Healing for Those Who Feel Trapped aims to deal with what he sees as the lack of of informed discussion on how the brain functions and how that should be understood in light of what the Bible teaches about human nature and personal responsibility.

The book is for anyone struggling with sin, which of course means all of us. As he says at the beginning, “People who have done very evil things are more like you and me than we may want to admit. Most have dreamed of better lives for themselves and desperately want to change but don’t know how”. As individuals it is particularly helpful to know the dangers of allowing certain sins or behaviours taking root in our lives, especially where we may have specific biological dispositions to certain actions.

A clearer understanding of the nature of sin, in all its manifestations and dispositions, should also help us support other people. Stansford helpfully observes that, “sin is a ruthless beast: crouching at the door, waiting to consume us all. When we encounter those whom it has overcome, we should feel sorrow rather than self-righteous pride”. It is therefore not surprising that a book such as this is particularly helpful for church leaders who may find themselves dealing with members in the congregation struggling with deeply ingrained sins.

Friday, 2 September 2016

One Minute Lessons (Lesson 24)

To what can we liken our human condition? 

Isaiah says our condition is like that of a patient in need of a doctor :
Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. You are battered from head to foot—covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds—without any soothing ointments or bandages. (Isaiah 1:5, 6)
The gospel account written by Mark tells us that the doctor is Jesus of Nazareth:
Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners. (Mark 2:17)
Have you come to Jesus the great physician of the human soul? 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Property rights and human flourishing

"The lesson of economics is clear. If we want to promote human flourishing, we need social institutions that foster the division of labor, capital formation, and wise entrepreneurship. The common condition that is necessary for all of the above is the institution of private property. The more the right to property is embraced and defended, the more empowered are people to participate in fulfilling the cultural mandate God gave our first parents in the beginning." (Source:  Institute of Faith, Work and Economics)
That line of thinking is misguided because it has not taken on board the fact that the "right to property" ican be argued to be a man made one. Therefore very much a second best. A more serious point is that no one has a right to property as such because God owns everything. Though property rights have their benefit, it is also arguable that in a fallen world, pushing people to embrace "property rights" could simply promote idolatry. We need a rounded view of what comprises human flourishing.

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2016

Saturday, 20 August 2016

One Minute Lessons (Lesson 23)

Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says: “The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them"

ISAIAH 1:2-3


The emotional pain expressed in this verse reminds us that our sins break God's heart.

Hiphop on the human condition

My ghetto ties got me living my life in pain
See the world knows, we gonna be thugs forever

You can take me out the ghetto, but you can't make it better
See the status of your money done changed
But the status of your danger remains the same
I need to clear my head of these evil thoughts
And teach Magnolia and Gateway what I was taught
Take a ride with me to eternity
And watch me live to see another century

('Ghetto Ties' from the 'Life and Death' album)
These interesting lyrics are penned by an incarcerated hiphop artist* . I find that hip hop artists express the depravity of the human condition in such profoundly honest ways. In those few words, Corey 'C-Murder' Miller not only captures that something is rotten within him, but that he cannot get salvation without such an inner transformation. Money cannot end the pain and danger he faces in this world. He is crying for help from another place.