Friday, May 17, 2013

Self-abhorrence and the Christian

Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone? (#3 of 5 from the public profession of faith - OPC)

Agreeing, the prospective member voices his assent.

Charles Hodge weighs in on the teaching supporting this sometime controversial question and answer:
"In the New Testament the sacred writers evince the same deep sense of their own sinfulness, and strong conviction of the sinfulness of the race to which they belong. Paul speaks of himself as the chief of sinners. He complains that he was carnal, sold under sin. He groans under the burden of an evil nature, saying, O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? From the days of the Apostles to the present time, there has been no diversity as to this point in the experience of Christians. There is no disposition ever evinced by them to palliate or excuse their sinfulness before God. They uniformly and everywhere, and just in proportion to their holiness, humble themselves under a sense of their guilt and pollution, and abhor themselves repenting in dust and ashes. This is not an irrational, nor is it an exaggerated experience. It is the natural effect of the apprehension of the truth; of even a partial discernment of the holiness of God, of the spirituality of the law, and of the want of conformity to that divine standard. There is always connected with this experience of sin, the conviction that our sense of its evil and its power over us, and consequently of our guilt and pollution, is altogether inadequate. It is always a part of the believer's burden, that he feels less than his reason and conscience enlightened by the Scriptures, teach him he ought to feel of his moral corruption and degradation."
Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology: Vol. II - Chapter VIII - Sin, Section 13. Original Sin, Second Argument from the Entire Sinfulness of Men, 5. Argument From the Experience of God's People.


  1. It is noteworthy that the single bible quotation in Hodge's argument has been reinterpreted by much of curent scolarship; it is no longer the personal testimony of a sinner in which corruption remains. This weakens the argument fot the righteousness of self- abhorence. Is the reinterprtation the result of better excegesis? To what extent is it influenced by SELF righteousness? A.M. Laurie

  2. Good question, Mac. I guess 'better exegesis' would be the answer given by those holding to the view (Rom. 7:7-25) that the man spoken of is not a Christian. I can't see it. Nor, does that view flow with the whole argument Paul has been making since Rom. 5. Self-righteousness? Maybe for some, especially if they have too high of view of our abilities to do "righteous works." Some relevant sections of our secondary standards - WCF 6:4-5, 16:4-5, 19:6; WLC Q. 24, Q. 97, Q. 149, Q. 152.