JACKSON, Tenn. – Jan. 4, 2005 – A cultural change in the understanding of sin means Christians now face new challenges in sharing the gospel, according to Union University professor Hal Poe.
Poe, the Charles Colson Professor of Christian Studies, addresses these challenges in his new book, “See No Evil: The Existence of Sin in an Age of Relativism,” published by Kregel Publications.
“For centuries people in the west have understood what sin was,” Poe said. “We’ve lived in a culture where Christianity had made its mark. Even if you didn’t believe in God or have faith in Christ, you knew the vocabulary. All that’s changed.”
For much of the last century, Christians talked about sin as a legal matter of breaking the rules. But now, Poe said, when people don’t believe the rules anymore, there is no sin.
“So we have a situation in which sin is no longer thought of as a reality,” he said. “Christians have a challenge in explaining to our culture what it means to be saved from sin. If that’s what Christianity is about – a savior – then what is sin?”
Poe, the author of seven books and two more forthcoming, argues in “See No Evil” that today’s culture is one of relativism in which people don’t believe in absolutes – there’s no right and wrong, there’s only feelings. What’s right for one person may be wrong for another.
“When C.S. Lewis wrote ‘Mere Christianity’ in the 1940s, his whole approach is the moral argument for the existence of God,” Poe said. “We have this sense of right and wrong, and we have this evident evil in the Nazi attempt to conquer the world. He had a great advantage, because people during World War II understood what evil was. His argument made sense.”
Now, however, Christians no longer have that advantage. Thus, Poe’s book is “an effort to reintroduce people to the concept of sin, not as breaking the rules but as falling short of the glory of God.”
The book deals with what sin is, how people experience it and how Christ deals with the different ways that sin affects people’s lives.
“Everyone experiences the affects of sin,” Poe said. “The problem is most people don’t know that sin is what they’re experiencing. They will experience sin and not know what it is. Conversations with people about what’s bothering them are an avenue to share the gospel.”