Thursday, August 30, 2007

How To Be Free From Sin While Smoking A Cigarette

Martin Zender's "How To Be Free From Sin While Smoking A Cigarette" is another one of his quick hitting books that's full of wit; even though the entire book is not much longer than the title.  I think one of the things that makes his books enjoyable is he doesn't make them any longer than they have to be to get his point across.  Martin doesn't go for quantity.  He doesn't mince his words.  He's a straight to the point kind of guy.  If you've struggled with the guilt that comes from a habitual sin, this book is for you.  It's not about the one off sins. It's about those sins that we commit, fret about and then commit again over and over.  It's about freeing ourselves of the condemnation we put on ourselves, telling ourselves that we've let G-d down again (and again); or even worse that our habitual sins puts our very salvation in jeopardy.  Once again, Martin takes a shot at traditional Churchianity and delivers a solid blow, using scriptural backing to make his points.  Martin once again has great illustrations (literal pictures and parables) to deliver his message in a way that is always effective and never boring.

One of my favorite parts of the book is where Martin discusses the passages in Romans and I Corinthians that clearly show that the same principle that says all were condemned in Adam, says all were made alive in Christ.  Churchianity has no problems with the first part of the passage.  Say you weren't there when Adam sinned, they say "It doesn't matter."   Say you don't "accept" Adam's acting on your behalf, they say "Too bad."  But, OTOH, they tell you that you have to accept what Jesus did for you for it to count.  They have no problem with you being unfairly condemned.  Yet, they think you have to be "fairly" justified.  You have to perform some act to be justified when you had nothing to say about the condemnation.  There's a cartoon on page 36 that is one of my favorites of Martin's (sorry, you gotta buy the book to get it).  It's very simple and to the point.  Of course, Martin addresses the inevitable charge that he's actually encouraging people to to out and sin more (just as Paul had to).  It always amazes me when people jump to that.  It reminds me of the old story:
Ballou was riding the circuit in the New Hampshire hills with a Baptist
minister one day, arguing theology as they traveled. At one point, the
Baptist looked over and said, "Brother Ballou, if I were a Universalist
and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head, steal
your horse and saddle, and ride away, and I'd still go to heaven."
Hosea Ballou looked over at him and said, "If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you."
There's another great story on page 49 that addresses the objective truth that we're free from sin while most of us are living subjectively feeling like we're condemned by it.

Martin points out that being a slave of  Sin doesn't necessarily mean we are committing lots of sin.  Being a slave of Sin means being obsessed with sin.  If we're fretting about sin, worried that sin is removing us from G-d's favor, we are, in effect, slaves of sin.  I had never thought of this this way. But, it makes perfect sense to me.  If we want to be free from sin, the first thing we have to do is stop obsessing about it.

For me, obsessing about sin is something that has become less and less a factor in my life. A few years ago, this book would have been much more needed.  Never-the-less, it was quite enjoyable.  There were some new ideas and a lot of affirmation of what I've already come to believe.  I do recommend it.


1 comment:

Robert said...

Martin once again has great illustrations (literal pictures and parables) to deliver his message in a way that is always effective and never boring.