Forgiven Sins

“I have been saved and forgiven. All the burdens and consequences of my former sins are gone.” So goes the substance of the claim widely professed within Christianity.

In general, this statement comports with Christian doctrine across the spectrum of Confessions. Yet, among conscientious and thinking people, Christians as well as others, a certain facet of it disquiets rather than consoles, and for the less delicate is not only a repugnance but a basis for mockery. And perhaps justifiably so, for while Christianity should represent the highest of all moralities, and forgiveness one of its noblest attributes, there is something inherently immoral about this claim, as we shall see. So subconsciously apparent to all is the ethical violation that endless qualification has been variously rationalized into it by Christian apology.

What is the immorality, and how can it be expunged? The immorality is rooted in the word “consequences.” For focus consider three illustrations (there are, of course, endless more subtle shades of the problem).

First, a criminal properly convicted of murder with malice is sentenced to the maximum penalty of the law in a jurisdiction which has abolished the death sentence.1

Second, a person with endless personal materialistic desires and thoughtless financial profligacy runs up large debts, fully enjoying and consuming their wherewithal, then declares bankruptcy, leaving creditors totally unpaid.

Third, a highly successful professional man, married to his childhood sweetheart who gave up her own opportunity for college in order to support him through school, and father to minor children, having created an “enviable” lifestyle and saved little for family support or education, leaves his wife and family for another woman and shirks to the fullest degree possible any commitment to his former family.

In each situation, confession of sin and acceptance of Christ is made, followed by the above assertion of salvation.2

Typically, theology rationalizes that actions speak louder than words, thus casting doubt upon the sincerity of the confession, while at the same time acknowledging that it is possible that the latter is real and that salvation does exist, and that there is no way for humans to know the sincerity since only God knows the human heart. In this, theology has indeed patched together several spiritual and scriptural truths to rationalize its way out of what, by all appearances, is a moral atrocity. The fallback is simply to “have faith,” a phrase usually mouthed along with the confession itself to establish a theologically impregnable fortress—but one that repulses humanity’s more conscientious element.

The faithful shrug off this problem by saying that some things (such as knowing the mind of God on this judgment) are beyond the limits of human knowledge. On this, they collide with one of Steiner’s seminal and most potent assertions, namely, that it is inappropriate to speak of any limitation on human knowledge (see The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity [PSA], Chap. 7). That humanity reverts to this shelter is based upon the spiritual darkness in which it still dwells. The biographical sketch of Steiner, inadequate though fair, in 11 Brit 241, hints simultaneously at Steiner’s pronouncement and at the rarity of those capable of such knowledge when it characterizes anthroposophy as being “based on the notion that there is a spiritual world comprehensible to pure thought but accessible only to the highest faculties of mental knowledge.” Yet it recognizes Steiner’s assertion of equality in that such “ability . . . [of intellect] is theoretically innate in everyone” (compare Jn 10,34, “you are gods”).

The “immorality” in the above three situations is the screaming objective injustice in the “saved” person’s escape from the “consequences” of the sin. This is not to deny the sincerity of the person’s experience or the reality of “salvation.” It is merely to recognize that from an earthly perspective, it is grossly unjust. How then can a “just God” permit it if indeed everything on Earth has its pattern and predicate in the spiritual world (see “As Above, So Below,” Vol. 2, “What Is Man?”)?

The second part (How can it be expunged?) of the initial question, can be answered only by anthroposophical insight. First, it is necessary to recognize that the earthly endowments of humanity have never been, are not now, and never will be, a constant, but have evolved from highly primitive to present descended state as a part of humanity’s Fall, salvation and reascent (the journey of the primordial Prodigal Son of God). The corollary of this is that neither the past nor the future can be understood on the basis of the outward appearance and spiritual mentality of the present. Second, it is absolutely essential to recognize that from the time of the Fall until a distant future time of reascent (see the third through the sixth Evolutionary Epochs in I-1 and I-2, the period of humanity’s mineral-physical existence in its Earth Condition of Consciousness) the Individuality in each human being lives again and again on Earth.

This evolutionary change in humanity’s condition is reflected in the Biblical usage of the root term “forgive.” Thus, the entry “Forgiveness” in 2 ABD 831 “consists of three articles surveying the concept of forgiveness as it is presented in the Old Testament, in early Judaism, and in the New Testament, respectively.”

Spiritual Economy, Page 5
Forgiven Sins, Page 2