Saturday, 24 March 2018

Is ignorance a sin?



Years ago I knew a man who did not believe in God. He was the kindest, most generous and nicest person you could wish to meet. Always smiling and helping others where he could. He just did not believe in God. He did not do it out of malice or rebellion or in any way in enmity with God. He just lived life as it came and did not venture into religion of any kind.

He was not like some people you meet today who openly proclaim their un-belief and encourage others to do the same. Or those celebrities and comedians who at every opportunity would say on TV and radio or in the press that they do not believe in an antiquated notion such as an Almighty Creator and Deity; and indeed would mock Christianity and those who profess it.

No, this friend of mine did not believe in God more out of ignorance and because he did not bother to find out more. Somehow, he never experienced the love of God in his life and he and Christ never walked side-by-side along life’s journey.

This man is long dead now; and I wonder, did his lack of belief mean that he is spending an eternity in hell? Or is his sin of ignorance, or sin of omission, somehow forgiven and God’s mercy has prevailed?

Is it right and just to treat and judge him as the same as those who not only disbelief out of rebellion, but encourage others to do the same?

How serious is the sin of ignorance, and perhaps stupidity, in the eyes of God?

What do you think?

27 comments:

  1. It’s something to ponder. I’d never considered it before. But you know, I trust in a merciful God. Who knows all. Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Too true, Cathy. He is merciful enough to understand peoples' motivation.

      God bless.

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  2. I think I became a Catholic when I 'knew too much.' That was the point at which I realized that our Lord gave authority to Peter, and that the person currently holding that authority is the Pope.

    Knowing that, I had options. I could decide that I'd stop following Jesus. Or that I'd act on what I knew, and sign on with the Church and formally accept our Lord's authority.

    Since I try to keep long-term goals in mind when making major decisions, disrespecting the Son of God seemed imprudent.

    About ignorance and sin, I've run into many opinions.

    Some folks say they don't "believe in" sin. I can sympathize with them, remembering venom-spitting radio preachers of my youth.

    Others take sin very seriously indeed, and seem to gleefully anticipate watching 'those sinners' roasting over a slow fire. That brand of spirituality isn't very popular these days, happily.

    I'm a Catholic, so I take the Bible and what the Church says very seriously. Romans 2 is one place discussing knowledge, ignorance, sin, and guilt.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church has quite a few Index entries under "Ignorance." 1735 http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a3.htm#1735 talks about imputability and responsibility. Quite a few factors, including ignorance, are involved. Turns out ignorance or other factors can reduce or even nullify responsibility.

    Everyone's still subject to what we call logical consequences, of course. I'd still experience immediate physical and other consequences of whatever unreasonable act I committed.

    But I wouldn't necessarily roast in Hell for doing something I didn't, and perhaps couldn't have, known was wrong. Catechism 1859 talks about that.

    If my memory serves, Jesus didn't tear into 'sinners' all that much: apart from instructions to 'go, and sin no more.' Our Lord seems to have been less gentle with the 'righteous' folks, who based their social position and prestige on extreme and profound knowledge of the Law - - - and gave scant evidence of acting on that knowledge.

    About the individual you discussed, a very dear friend of mine to committed suicide, and others who weren't conventionally 'righteous;' I'm very glad that we're told to not judge other people. I'm not qualified: in raw knowledge, God-level wisdom, or much of anything else.

    Being responsible for noticing actions that are or are not right - - - is another topic.

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    1. Thank you Brian for taking the time to write a full reply.

      This person I speak of, of course knew about God, Jesus and Christianity. How could he not know, living in a modern society in the 20th Century. He also knew of other religions. He just did not seem to care for any religion. As I said in my post; not out of malice or enmity towards God. He just did not "do" religion of any kind. As an individual though, he was the nicest, most generous and kind person you would hope to meet. Dare I say, living Christianity without being a Christian; and no doubt better than many practicing Christians I know.

      Hence my question: Does got excuse or forgive an individual who is not a practicing Christian out of ignorance, or stupidity even?

      God bless.

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    2. I don't know about excusing. Responsibility is real enough.

      About forgiveness, I must hope and trust that it's also real. I've been 'religious' in the sense of taking God seriously as long as I can remember. I've even been fairly consistent at following 'religious' procedures I knew about.

      Consistently living and thinking as if I take what I believe seriously has been and continues to be challenging.

      Like I said, I'm counting on forgiveness. That's not a direct answer - but that's beyond my knowledge. My hope is that "yes" is an answer.

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    3. That's what I hope too, Brian. Yes - God will forgive.

      God bless you, my friend.

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  3. I'm not sure ignorance is a 'sin'. I also believe our God knows our hearts and souls.

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    1. Yes indeed, Terri. He knows our hearts and souls.

      God bless.

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  4. "How serious is the sin of ignorance, and perhaps stupidity, in the eyes of God?"

    I'm almost certain that YA would probably agree that no body, "I" mean nobody knows what GOD (Good Old Dad) ever thinks although there were some who were indignant of Jesus... whatever that word means.

    Call "IT" Stupid if YA like but I think that they just didn't know what they were doing back then and it's worst "I" mean just as bad nowadays. Let's just say that their egos just didn't understand.

    For example... When Jesus was getting His Feet washed by some body, "I" mean somebody's ego was UPSET that so much perfumed oil was being used cause back then it could have been sold for more than three hundred days' wages and the money given to the poor. I dare say that most of these egos were infuriated with that Fee Male, "I" mean female.

    While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.”
    Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
    He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Long story short, they all wanted to understand but couldn't and..................................and............................and...

    END! END! END YA SAY sinner vic? DON'T BE LIKE THAT! BE NICE NOW!

    Go figure!? Sorry Victor #1... There's so much more that "I" need to say but wife is yelling at me saying... WE'LL BE LATE FOR CHURCH.


    WHO'S LAUGHING?

    God Bless

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    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYKWch_MNY0

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    2. Never be late for church.

      Praying for you all. God bless.

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  5. As I ponder this question. I started praying about this. I often wonder as well about people I have met in life who are very nice and generous but no relationship with God. What the Lord reveal to me in his word is that we are all sinners psalms 14:2 and 3, Romans 1:20. Did you ever try to talk to this person about God and salvation? Did he just didn't want to hear it? I don't think just being a "good and generous" person is enough. No judgment here..

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    1. Hi Save by grace,

      It is great to see you visiting me here. Thank you. Please visit us again.

      No ... I never tried to talk to this person about God. He knew I was a Christian; but this was a subject that was never raised in conversation. It was as if it was an un-written rule or agreement that this subject is never brought up. I find that this is normal behaviour here in the UK. People rarely discuss religion openly; and it is frowned upon if you discuss religion at work. So, it was normal with this individual not to discuss Christianity. But as an individual he was one of the best people you would wish to meet.

      God bless.

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    2. I definitely understand that. I think it's great that you are concern with your friend's salvation. Hopefully, salvation will come to your friend. I'm sure if I met him I would think he was a great person, peace and blessings to you brother Victor.

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    3. Thank you so much for your kind words, Save by grace. Sadly, there are so many people who do not believe, like this man, because they never bothered to find out and learn about God and Jesus.

      God bless you.

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  6. God knew his heart and saw the love he showed others. Maybe the man was just ignorant enough not to recognize that his motivation to do good and show kindness came from God, Himself. As always, we have to let God be the judge of souls.
    Blessings, Victor!

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    1. You are right, Martha. God is the judge of our souls. This individual never bothered about Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, because he did not see it as relevant to his life. He was a good man and did good in life; but religion did not form part of his life.

      God bless.

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  7. I don't believe it is a sin but the Bible tells us the ONLY way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and are only saved by Grace not by any works. It is so sad to me how some really good people just don't believe, including my children and it just breaks my heart.

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    1. I understand Happyone, how heartbreaking it is to see one's loved ones not believing in God and Christ. All we can do right now is to pray for them.

      God bless you and yours.

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    2. Yes, and I do EVERY day.

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    3. So do I, Happyone. I pray for those I know in this situation.

      God bless you always.

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  8. I don't believe it is a sin either. I believe God will be the judge and he knows us. What about those Christians, and I not saying all Christians, who love to tell people how to live and obey the word of God and at the same time, live their life totally opposite and don't practice what they preach. They are hypocrites. Like I said, God will be the judge.

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    1. You are right, Bill. Many of the hypocrites I know happen to be Christian. They just pretend to be religious but in reality they are probably sleep-walking their way into hell.

      God bless you.

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  9. I am not the judge, I do know what the Word says. "I am the way, the truth, and the life, NO MAN comes to the Father EXCEPT through me. John 14:6"
    God Bless You, Victor!

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    1. I understand, Lulu. I understand.

      God bless.

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    2. Here's my penny's worth, Victor in reply to your excellent article. Our standards of judgement will never see the full picture as God's judgement does. I am reminded of a saying, 'you see what I drink, but you cannot see my thirst.' Happy Easter to you.

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    3. Thank you David for visiting me here. Please call again.

      I agree that our standards of judgement are human based, and therefore totally different to God's This man I speak of did not believe in anything, God, or any other religion. Not out of malice or evil intent. He was just happy to get on in life and help others as best as he could. One could almost call him a true Christian, minus the religion bit !!!

      God bless you, David.

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God bless you.

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