remain sinners

remain sinners cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

“Remain Sinners” (ink on paper, 8″x8″)

The other day I did a cartoon “Religion is Fear” that states that religion is largely upheld by our fears. It’s also upheld by our fantasies. Primarily it endeavors to keep us in a place of need and dependency so that it can perpetuate itself.

Just think: What if you are already perfect? How would that change your mind toward religion? Toward church? How would it be different?

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25 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

  2. Will says:

    Honestly, if we were perfect, then we would be walking with God and Jesus would’ve have died for our sins. If I was perfect, I wouldn’t need to justify myself by posting this comment.

  3. Jimmy says:

    Yes, we are perfect, as in complete and whole in our spirit, soul and body. Jesus came to reveal our perfection, completeness, wholeness (holy = wholly) and innocence since we are originally made in the image and likeness of God/Divine Love. From my understanding, the concept of “Jesus dying for our sins” is a Jewish concept for that particular time and age when they were under the old covenant of law. We are living in the new covenant of grace and since we are never under the law in the first place, we were not sinners but rather we are all beloved and blameless children of God/Divine Love and we are one with God and one with one another – therefore there is no need for any religious church “business” every week as we can commune with God/Divine Love in us (and with us and as us and around us) wherever and whenever we are.

  4. Steve Martin says:

    The truth is that we WILL remain sinners…no matter what any preacher says.

    That the mirror needs to be constantly held up to the little ‘gods’ (including the preacher) is part of the job. The other part, the better part, is to announce what God has done about it in Christ Jesus.

    That is the law/gospel paradigm.

  5. Jim says:

    I remember making a mistake … once … a few years ago ….

  6. Gary says:

    I am not perfect Will…But I am no longer a sinner. (No matter what any little god named Steve declares to the contrary)

  7. Doug Sloan says:

    An important part of the Good News message is:

    We are…
    …to stop seeing each other as sinners
    …to stop looking for ways to see each other as sinners

  8. Narky says:

    I understand that ministers/vicars/preachers can play on the sinners thing, keep us bound by fear, stop us seeing the true love and grace of God, but we are not perfect and if anyone looks at their actions, words, thoughts or motives they will see that, or they are deluding themselves.

  9. glamaria says:

    I’m not a sinner anymore, because Jesus took the nature of sin with him to the cross! but I’m still sinning because i’m not perfect.
    If i would be perfect i don’t need a saviour anymore and i don’t need His help every day and i would not need His rightusness.(?)
    I just wanna be perfect if i act like Jesus in every way!
    that’s how i think about this…

  10. David, you nailed this one. (no pun intended)

    The statement, “We are all born sinners.” is one of those sound bytes that stops all thought. No one really knows what it means, but it sets up the need for a savior.

    No one stops to think that maybe if we stopped rating our moral performance we might end up being a lot happier.

    The other problem is this idea that we are born sinners is somehow just. As far as I know I didn’t choose to be born on this planet and yet I am born condemned. If you believe this, your subconscious has to hold the illogical and unjust nature of this in tension with what you are told to believe. To me, that is formula for insanity.

    I have discovered that the tension goes away as soon as I acknowledge the idea that I’m born a sinner is made up. It has no authority over me because I no longer believe it to be true. And Christians then accuse me of being arrogant.

    They miss the fact that my lack of belief in being born a sinner does not mean I think I’m perfect. I’m not concerned with rating my moral performance at all. And, to me, that is true humbleness.

  11. Caryn LeMur says:

    I am not personally familiar with speakers like the cartoon depicts.

    My experience with full-time ministry public speakers is that normally the inertia of the boards and congregation become so frustrating, that they often see their fantasies frozen cold… and face the fork-in-the-road to frustration or to withdrawal.

    I have encountered one full-timer that resigned over the high expectations placed upon him by the boards… but only one.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  12. Caryn LeMur says:

    Steve Martin:

    I view the question of ‘sinners’ as very academic, and my answer is ‘yes, but forgiven, and now what?’ I lean towards the question being a ‘done deal’… and very much want people to move beyond the question.

    It seems from your post that you lean towards a cyclic review of the question as being important… and also that your view considers the job of the preacher to be one that reminds a person that they are a sinner? Is this a correct interpretation of your view?

    If so, please help me to understand how that view has affected your view of yourself and how that view has assisted you growing beyond the fear of God into loving Him?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  13. Carol says:

    Whether we are rejoicing in our righteousness or agonizing over our sinfulness, we are still focusing on ourselves. While presenting one as “sinner” may sound more “humble”, they are two sides of the same self-obsessed narcissistic coin.

    True religion takes our focus off of ourselves and leads us to trust our lives to God’s Grace which frees us to focus on God.

    Unconditional Love frees us from the self-centered need to be constantly taking our spiritual temperatures. God will judge us justly, mercifully taking all of our weaknesses and life’s painfully challenging circumstances into account.

    “The root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved”.
    –Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

    And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved, to feel myself
    beloved on the earth.
    ~Raymond Carver, “Late Fragment”

    “If I live in a world that has no meaning beyond my own biography, my own personal pains and joys, I will experience an emptiness that always threatens to render even my most joyous moments “meaningless.” Only through participation in a universe whose ultimate meaning is larger than my own life and life span can this psycho-spiritual problem be resolved.”
    –Jeremy Taylor, “Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill”

    Becoming a Christian is not so much inviting Christ into one’s life as getting oneself into Christ’s life. ~Orthodox Study Bible

    The point of the spiritual life is not our personal private holiness but rather opening our selves so that the life of God can pour out on the community. ~ Maggie Ross

  14. Carol says:

    Caryn, it was my experience in the MS Lutheran Church that an obsession with *sin* rather than on the possibility of beginning a new life in Christ, in this world, too, and not just in the next, had made transformation an eschatological hope.

    Until passing into the fullness of Eternity, the Christian’s life would consist solely of sinning and claiming your forgiveness. Any desire for transformative change or cooperation with Grace (opps, there can be no cooperation with Grace according to classical Protestantism. That is synergistic; not *Grace Alone*) is interpreted as a sinful desire for self-righteousness.

    I once told my Lutheran pastor that reading the Bible was helping me to see things more from God’s point of view and I was told to NEVER say that. Seems to me that the Bible says something about the “transformation of our minds” (Romans 12:2) . . . .

  15. When there exists no such thing as sin, there is no such thing as perfection. There is no need for church, but a great need for art and books.

  16. Connie Kane says:

    WOW!! I guess I’m at the wrong site! You folks sound like you’ve swallowed this god thing hook-line-&-sinker. I came to see the cartoon and read these comments. They start when you are VERY young. We are told about this god and heaven & hell. In short order we believe it ALL because at that age we TRUST. Only latter does one begin to question. Pretty soon that queasy feeling of SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT start to add up with all the questions NOT answered or told DON’T ASK THAT. Then one day it hits you : this is all bullshit! All the lies and excuses come together. So I believed all this stuff how many more lies have I been fed all my life? ‘Cause once you believe the god lie all the rest is easy. Like the garbage on FOX NEWS. What an oxymoron that title is! Sorry to intrude, I’ll go back to my Friendly Atheist site now. Good luck folks. I really wish the best for all of you. By that I mean I hope you come back to reality some day. Try it you might find it refreshing! Your friendly atheist, Connie

  17. nakedpastor says:

    Connie: I’ve met friendlier atheists.

  18. Connie Kane says:

    The nakedpastor himself? I really like your cartoons. You’re very talented.
    What did I say that wasn’t friendly?

  19. nakedpastor says:

    I’m just teasing with you. Actually, you might be surprised at what you find here. Sure you’ll find fundamentalists, evangelicals, gnostics, agnostics, and atheists. In fact, some of the commenters on this very post are atheists. Quite a diversity. It can, at times, be infuriating. But it is always interesting. Welcome! I hope you try it out again.

  20. Connie Kane says:

    Thanks for the invite and I do like your cartoons. I’ll stop by from time to time just to see what people are saying and of course to see the latest cartoon.

  21. nakedpastor says:

    Connie: You must’ve seen one of my cartoons on The Friendly Atheist site. We are friends and he uses my cartoons from time to time. Nice to meet you.

  22. Connie Kane says:

    Nice to meet you too. It’s not often that I get to talk with an artist. Sorry about so much time between posts. Cooking dinner. It’s that time here. Husband, little dogs & I live here on the West Coast next to the waves. Can hear them at night. Peaceful. The timer above says 2hrs ahead of us. Desert time where you live I guess. Do you mind me asking? : are you a Christian minister? Your moniker & all. ‘Cause you have an interesting perspective of church, pastors, flock, things christian. Almost forgot this is your site. Just read your bio. You don’t say if you still believe? Connie

  23. Carol says:

    There is a reason why people are claiming to be “spiritual, not religious” and leaving organized religion in the West. “Spiritual formation” has become a legalistic conformity to the Law and hierarchical authority that produces compliant citizens, rather than reconciliation and the restoration of a trust relationship with God that produces saints.

    First-hand religion is based on direct experience of the sacred, also called mystical experience. Second-hand religion is based on another’s experience, authority, or dogma. This distinction is often framed as the difference between spirituality (first-hand) and religion. (second-hand). –John Davis
    The Christian Tradition may have begun its transformation into a civil religion (Christendom) in the West with Constantine; but the transformation gained impetus with the confounding of sectarianism and politics in the 16th century:

    The results of political amorality were all too apparent. This was not simply a matter of unscrupulous rulers who, for example, would murder anyone who got in their way, but of German princes who changed their religion as if changing a cloak, or the avarice of the Spanish unleashed on America in the name of God. The advent of vicious inter-confessional strife in the wake of the sixteenth-century Reformation had also led to a redefinition of the meaning of ‘religion’ as an external reality divorced from fear and love of God. In the works of Machiavelli politics had slipped its transcendental moorings too; t he result was that religion had become a political convenience rather than an end in itself. Instead of using religion to direct men towards God, rulers were using religion to advance worldly goals. ~Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War

    The three most common reasons that people seeking mature spiritual formation leave the Church–dogmatic absolutism, self-righteous judgmentalism and sectarian triumphalism–affirm rather than challenge narcissistic egoism.

    Transformational faith communities in the Latin/Western Christian Tradition are rarely experienced outside of Religious Orders that have remained faithful to their Founder’s vision and the parishes entrusted to their spiritual care.

    “The point of the spiritual life is not our personal private holiness but rather opening our selves so that the life of God can pour out on the community.” ~ Maggie Ross

    An excellent resource for articles on transformational spirituality is the Inner Frontier website:

  24. This idea that I need to acknowledge god’s unconditional love for me to fix my psycho-spiritual rift is still ego based. This rift wouldn’t be there unless there is some judgment going on. To me, it makes more sense to just stop judging.

    I have found a much deeper connection with my fellow humans when I stopped doing all the god chatter. I no longer participated in the moral olympics.

    I engage with others in community for the simple reason that I feel joy when I do. The more I let go of outcomes; the more I let go of fear; the less I pass judgment; the deeper I feel connected and the greater my sense of meaning.

    These are not measures of my goodness. They are tools to be used and mastered in a cause and effect world. Christianity so often teaches us to apologize for seeking things that make us feel good. This is teaching ego.

    And the only “legitimate” joy is the one you have to get by going through the Christian mental gymnastics machine. If there ever was a definition of hell on earth. This would be it.

  25. Carol says:

    Of course, there is no need to acknowledge God’s unconditional love, most of the time it is intuitively apprehended quite apart from any theological awareness.

    My mother had an intuitive rather than a theological faith for most of her life. She always told us that she “believed in God”; but she never said what she believed *about* God. I don’t think she believed anything about God, she just “sensed” a benevolent, nurturing Presence during “good” times and challenging times. She was never alone and valued her solitude as much as the time she shared with others. The funeral home was packed when she passed.

    It is not so much that we acknowledge God’s Love as it is that we no longer need others to acknowledge ours that is the mark of spiritual maturity. Theological belief, or the lack thereof, has very little to do with it.

    I agree with you that cradle Christians have little understanding of intuitive faith. I think that we are all born with it; but it is fragile. Cruelty and/or neglect, if it does not acquire some theological content, will destroy it for most people.

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