The Worship Quote of the Week for (10/28/2008):

Sin Destroys the Fabric of Society
The hymn "Rock of Ages" draws attention to the double work of Christ, saving us and making us holy (justification and sanctification). Augustus Toplady pleads to God, "Be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure." How wonderful! I wonder if there could actually be a triple cure in which the presence of Christ in His redeemed people (the "transformed mind" of Romans 12:1-2) provides blessing and healing for a fractured society. Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE addresses the destructive force of sin on the social fabric and then shows how Christians (who understand sin's power) can look to God, and not to human effort, as the ultimate good--our SUMMUM BONUM.

Sin does not only have an internal impact on us but also a devastating effect on the social fabric. In the wake of World War II the English writer Dorothy Sayers saw many British intellectual elites in despair about the direction of human society. In her 1947 book CREED OR CHAOS? She proposed that their hopelessness was largely due to their loss of belief in the Christian doctrine of "original" sin, that is, humanity's inherent pride and self-centeredness. "The people who are most discouraged," she wrote, "are those who cling to an optimistic belief in the civilizing influence of progress and enlightenment." To them, the genocide in totalitarian states and the greed and selfishness of capitalist society "are not merely shocking and alarming. For them, these things are the utter negation of everything in which they have believed. It is as though the bottom had dropped out of their universe." Christians, however, are accustomed to the idea that "there is a deep interior dislocation in the very center of human personality." She concluded:

The Christian dogma of the double nature in man--which asserts
that man is disintegrated and necessarily imperfect in himself and
all his works, yet closely related by a real unity of substance with an
eternal perfection within and beyond him--makes the present parlous
state of human society seem less hopeless and less irrational.

In THE NATURE OF TRUE VIRTUE, one of the most profound treatises on social ethics ever written, Jonathan Edwards lays out how sin destroys the social fabric. He argues that human society is deeply fragmented when anything but God is our highest love. If our highest goal in life is the good of our family, then, says Edwards, we will tend to care less for other families. If our highest goal is the good of our nation, tribe, or race, then we will tend to be racist or nationalistic. If our ultimate goal in life is our own individual happiness, then we will put our own economic and power interests ahead of those of others. Edwards concludes that only if God is our SUMMUM BONUM, our ultimate good and life center, will we find our heart drawn out not only to people of all families, races, and classes, but to the whole world in general.

--Timothy Keller, THE REASON FOR GOD: BELIEF IN AN AGE OF SKEPTICISM. New York: Dutton/Penquin Group, 2008, pp. 167-68. ISBN-13: 978-0-525-95049-3. Highly recommended.

Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

To subscribe, unsubscribe, or view a complete
index of worship quotes, please visit