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On Spiderman 3 & Sin Nature

spiderman 3 venon suit spideyLike millions of other red-blooded American men I went and watched Spiderman 3 last week.  By the time the credits rolled, I had seen a man gripped by the passions of vanity, self-centeredness, pride, power, fame, lust, arrogance and vengeance.  I had seen a man enjoy and revel in these passions, actively seek their increase in his life, and then witness the destruction of himself and others that they left in their wake.

No, I’m not talking about Peter Parker.

I was referring to me.  My sin nature.

Not being a woman, I don’t know what the sin nature “feels like” in a woman’s soul. But I can tell you, it feels real close, uncomfortably close, to Peter Parker in my soul. And if you’re a guy and you say to me that you can’t identify with Mr. Parker, “No, I’m never tempted to want people attractive women to think I’m special, I have never had someone mistreat me that I wanted to see get “what was coming” to them, I have never used whatever type of power or prestige I possessed to feed my ego” then I suggest you take the log out of your eye and take a hard look in the mirror.

C. S. Lewis once commented that the Puritans had Christianity right when they considered that,

One essential symptom of the regenerate life is a permanent, and permanently horrified, perception of one’s natural and (it seems) unalterable corruption.  The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.

Strong words, “to be contually attentive to the inner cesspool.”  That’s not a very popular idea in Christian or non-Christian circles, to be continually on the watch for the evil that is within us.  I find it very telling that the scriptwriters for Spiderman 3 went out of their way to repeatedly have different people describe Peter Parker as “a good person.”  And yet the storyline makes clear that the seeds of vanity and pride and all those other poisonous passions were in Spidey’s soul before he ever put on the Venom suit, that the symbiote merely amplified what was already there.

At the end, Spiderman 3 said what the world  semi-Pelagians  my flesh wanted to hear: that although we are tempted to do selfish things, that we, at heart, are good people who can always make the right choice.  The truth is harder to bear: that our emotions, minds, and wills have been pervasively and permanently distorted by the Fall, and that only by God’s work within us to be “continually attentive to the inner cesspool,” to be continually putting to death the sin that we will daily find if we are willing to look, and to be continually looking to Christ for wisdom, strength, forgiveness, and grace can we live lives worthy of our Saviour’s calling.


Of Spiderman and Salvation

I was reading this passage from the autobiography of George Mueller the other day and noticed that he used the word “unconverted” for someone outside the faith. And I thought, there’s a word you don’t hear much in 2006, the word “conversion” to describe our passage from death to life.  I believe it was a common term a century ago, but then people started getting “saved” instead of “converted”, then people started having a “personal relationship with Christ” instead of getting “saved”, and if you’ve been scanning the blogosphere lately apparently some people don’t even want to use the name “Christian” anymore.  It seems to me that there is a pattern here: each term is a little less radical, a little more “seeker friendly”, a little less life transforming and a little more flesh accomodating. 

I wonder if part of this change in phraseology could be caused by a watering down of our soteriology, our understanding of the nature of salvation. What do most evangelicals really think happens at “conversion”?  How is a converted person different than an unconverted?  Are they merely “saved” from hell?  Do they just have a “relationship” with Jesus?  Or are they converted, transformed, totally regenerated, given a new birth and a new life?

Which, for someone disturbed reason, made me think of your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.  After his encounter with a certain radioactive spider, what happened to him was a total transformation of every part of his being—not one cell was left untouched, might I even say that “all things were made new”?  I wonder if he would describe what happened to him as merely being saved from an old life?  I wonder if he would describe what happened to him as a personal relationship with the spider?  Might he even want to call himself “smallinvertebrateman” so not to offend or scare anyone that had a thing against spiders?

If Jesus Christ has brought us from death unto life, let us kindly but clearly voice it as His ambassadors and witnesses.  But if we do not yet clearly understand the incredible, miraculous nature of justification, adoption, & regeneration, let us first get that straight before we attempt to share the gospel with others.