Sin boldly?

I was at my college Alma Mater this past weekend for a performance and it happened to be Open House weekend for the incoming freshmen. All the campus organizations had booths up and such, but one booth that really caught my attention was the Lutheran Club’s booth and members. They wore shirts that proclaimed, “Sin Boldly!” I am very familiar with Lutheran and typical Protestant theology, but this really really really bothered me. I just found it very disturbing that fellow Christians are actually endorsing sin. Terrible. I was just curious as to what you all thought on the matter.

The tee short you are referring to is a quote from Martin Luther himself. So you see, the corruption and decay in public morality started a while back.

Sad, very sad.

That’s only part of the quote from Martin Luther–the rest that followed encouraged a yet bolder trust in Christ. The quote is found in this letter to a friend of his. The letter also discusses the Mass, confession, and the priesthood. Yet the only part people seem to remember is the two words “sin boldly”. scrollpublishing.com/store/Luther-Sin-Boldly.html

I thought about those two words from Luther recently when I heard a sermon encouraging Catholics to live our faith boldly. A better motto for a Christian’s t-shirt is: Live Boldly.

I think Luther’s infamous epigram has to do with living by faith–that whatever is NOT motivated by faith is sin.

At least, it seems to me it should be seen in that context.

Not quite. The context was that simply having faith in Jesus was enough for salvation and that salvation, once attained, could never be lost. Therefore we can “sin boldly” because there are no consequences.

Trying to convince some people of the actual intent and context of Luther’s quote is pointless. Some get it and some just use it as their megaphone for criticizing Protestants.

From Walker Percy’s book, The Moviegoer:

Christians talk about the horror of sin, but they have overlooked something. They keep talking as if everyone were a great sinner, when the truth is that nowadays one is hardly up to it. There is very little sin in the depths of the malaise. The highest moment of a malaisian’s life can be the moment when he manages to sin like a proper human (Look at us, Binx–my vagabond friends as good as cried out to me–we’re sinning! We’re succeeding! We’re human after all!)

No matter what I do, no matter how good my good works are, there is sin in them, my sin, the sin that causes me, without Christ, to face eternal damnation. But because of Grace, I am called to do those good works, to the best of my ability, no matter how sin-filled I am or they are. If I am called to good works, and act on that calling boldly, I will sin boldly.
But I trust Grace.

I would encourage you to read the below article, then judge what Luther says.
Jon

“If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly,  but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world]  we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness,  but, as Peter says,  we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.  No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.

ntrmin.org/Be%20a%20sinner%20and%20sin%20boldly%20web.htm#a2

I’m not sure what you are saying my friend, but I do know that, unless we put away the sin, Christ will avail us nothing for salvation.

But because of Grace, I am called to do those good works, to the best of my ability, no matter how sin-filled I am or they are. If I am called to good works, and act on that calling boldly, I will sin boldly.
But I trust Grace.

I’m afraid you are grievously in error!

God sends his grace that we may* not* sin, not to “sin boldly!” But if we should sin, grace is offered that we may recover. Grace assists us in the avoidance of sin, in doing good works of charity, and growing in holiness. By doing these we hope to be saved.

Surely you don’t actually believe that God would send his grace in order that we might perform “sin-filled” works, do you???

And when we say to God the Father in the Lord’s Prayer, May your name be made holy (Mt 6:9), what else do we say but: May his name be made holy in us?

Frankly, I don’t see how any right thinking Christian could ever associate sin with grace in the performance of some action!

If however, I’ve completely misunderstood your meaning here, I do apologize.

=raumzeitmc2;5109400]I’m not sure what you are saying my friend, but I do know that, unless we put away the sin, Christ will avail us nothing for salvation.

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
Through Grace we make every effort to put sin away. Surly you are not saying that in all you do you are without sin?

I’m afraid you are grievously in error!

God sends his grace that we may* not* sin, not to “sin boldly!” But if we should sin, grace is offered that we may recover. Grace assists us in the avoidance of sin, in doing good works of charity, and growing in holiness. By doing these we hope to be saved.

Surely you don’t actually believe that God would send his grace in order that we might perform “sin-filled” works, do you???

And when we say to God the Father in the Lord’s Prayer, May your name be made holy (Mt 6:9), what else do we say but: May his name be made holy in us?

Frankly, I don’t see how any right thinking Christian could ever associate sin with grace in the performance of some action!

If however, I’ve completely misunderstood your meaning here, I do apologize.

His grace. My Sin. The good I would, that I do not. The wrong I would not, that I do. Even Paul realized that sin is strong, and Grace is stronger. We sin all the time. We make mistakes all the time, even when we try our best to do what is right. It is better to try with great effort to do what is right, and stumble (sin), than to not try.
Where on earth did you even get the idea that I was associating sin with Grace? Yes, my friend, you have completely misunderstood what I said. No apology needed.
Jon

Are you familar with th rhetorical figure of hyperbole ? Luther was using hyperbole. As does anyone who says, “There were millions of people in the street”. Such people are not lying, but exaggerating for effect, so as to make their point clearly & memorably. Luther does this in a letter to Melanchthon, not because he is counselling wicked behaviour, but because he is underlining, & underlining again, & underlining again, the power of God’s grace, which is not overcome by any sin of man, no matter how great. And that, is a basic Christian insight.

BTW - it is basic Catholic morals, whenever its moral character is not certain, to put the best construction possible on any act or word which allows a favourable construction. Those words of Luther can bear a favourable construction - so it’s only right to allow for the possibility that they can be interpreted in a good sense.

Thanks, Gottle. I hope I explained what I think Luther was saying well.
Of course, I would also say for a church group to simply put “Sin boldly” on a t-shirt with no explanation will, of course, lead to misunderstanding.

Jon

That is a brilliant insight of Luther’s. It does a very good job of underlining the offensiveness of the Gospel, the blasphemousness of it, & its injustice. Only the unrighteous can be justified - despite what the OT says. The Gospel turns things on their heads, & Luther excels at showing this.

Repentance from one unrighteous is the cause of more celebration in heaven than 99 righteous who are not in need of repentance.

Thanks,
Jon

I found the full letter in context at holytrinitynewrochelle.org/yourti19047.html if you’re interested in reading it. Not sure that makes the statement OK, but there it is.

NCSue
acts17verse28.blogspot.com/

Jon, before I respond more fully, I would first like to ask you the following so as to get a better idea of where you’re coming from:

Do you believe we keep the commandments perfectly?

If, for example, we have never committed murder, is it not true therefore, that we have kept the commandment to not kill perfectly?

Or what about the commandment not to worship idols?

Surely, you yourself have not, at any time, every worshiped an idol? Or do you worship idols?

But if not, have you not therefore kept that commandment perfectly as well?

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10

It follows that if you have ever broken any law- and every human I know has- you have kept exactly none of the commandments, in God’s eyes.

Murder? No, haven’t done that. Idolatry? It may depend on one’s definition, but in the sense of the early councils, no. Were I to keep all 10 of them perfectly, it would not change the fact that I am a sinful being, eternally damned were it not for the Christ.
Do you believe it is possible to live a perfect, sinless life?

Jon

Forgive me if this is wrong in reasoning, but I believe you are not understanding the scripture correctly. Things should not be read without proper context (which also includes holy tradition, but sense you are protestant, I cannot expect you to read it in that context). This chapter of James is warning against partiality. He says that one must not pick and choose which laws they keep, because just breaking 1 of the laws makes you a sinner, even if you did keep every other law. When you say that God sees us as adulterers when we commit murder, I feel you are reading scripture incorrectly. God’s logic does not have friction with ours, it just may be higher than ours. Therefore, saying that God finds us guilty of every sin because we committed one sin, is against our logic, and incorrect.

Am I right?

p.s. this is my second post, and I do not claim to be all knowing. I’d appreciate being corrected in my thinking. Any criticism is welcomed, actually. :smiley:

Hey, I’m no expert either. I’m here to be tested, too. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I come from a mixed religious background, and haven’t had the amount of continuous study that most here have.

It might be hyperbole for me to come right out and say that if you covet thy neighbor’s wife, you have murdered… But to me it seems the James quote is saying it’s functionally the same thing to keep 9 commandments and break 1, and to keep none of them at all.

I guess what I’m after is, if breaking one is functionally the same as breaking them all (as even the smallest sin makes one less than pure, and nothing impure can enter heaven), and we know that nobody keeps the law perfectly from other portions of scripture (as a logical matter, if humans generally were able to keep the law, what would be the need for a savior?), what’s the purpose in questioning Jon on what commandments he keeps?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.