Monday, November 13, 2006

Wicked?

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, is one of the top 20 books in Waterstones bookstore just now. My husband made reference to it in his sermon last night, mentioning how society is redefining - indeed almost erasing - the concept of wickedness (or in biblical terms: 'sin.')

According to Amazon's synopsis, Wicked vividly captures this trend: "An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn't so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature."

How 21st century this is. Growing beyond our childhood thoughts of her, the wicked witch isn't really wicked at all; she just has "issues." And of course, we know where the logic is heading: if the wicked witch of the West isn't wicked, then who is?

Two serious challenges thus face Christians. First, how will we convey to unbelievers this maligned concept of sin? And second, how will we understand our own sin, embracing our falleness from a biblical perspective and not in the world's terms?

On the latter front, I'd like to recommend some excellent books:
  • JC Ryle's, Holiness is probably as good a place as any to start, dealing with sin and then the struggle for holiness in clear, biblical terms.
  • Perhaps the best extrabiblical writer on the subject is John Owen, whose classic works on sin have recently been updated into modern language. The book's title is Overcoming sin and Temptation and is edited by Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic.
  • If Owen still feels too much of a challenge in this format, Kris Lundgaard presents Owen in his own, vivid language in The Enemy Within.
  • Finally, if you'd like to hear some talks by Lundgaard which are an excellent introduction to "mortifying sin" then listen to these four recent talks given by Kris Lundgaard at Omaha Bible church.
Let's remember to keep a balanced and biblical view of our sin. John Calvin probably summed it up best when he said:

"In every saint there is always to be found something reprehensible. Nevertheless, although faith may be imperfect and incomplete it does not cease to be approved by God."

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