Hamartiological Sublimation

(The following post is a move from another blog of mine that I am going to delete in the New Year. ~RR)

Hamartiological Sublimation – At the moment I cannot find a better name for this idea that is floating around my head, but anyways… I will start with two definitions.

Hamartiology: is the branch of theology which studies sin.

Sublimation: Freud I believe originally came up with the idea. It has to do with dealing with a bad habit by of channeling our energies and drive for that bad habit, off into some other good or better habit. Wiki describes is thusly:

“…where socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are consciously transformed into socially acceptable actions or behaviour..”

So for example, if you have problem area such that you get into a lot of bar-room brawls, then you may want to channel your energies into rugby or American football or weightlifting. That may help you to release some energy and cool down your bad behavior in the world.

Anger Management Problems? This may help.
Anger Management Problems? This may help.

Now there are forms of improper sublimation. For example, you may have a problem with cigarette smoking and you read all this data about how cancer sticks kill and how bad breath and generally a bad odor commonly accompany cigarette smokers – so… so you sublimate by smoking cigars instead. While cigars are a lesser harm than cigarettes, they are not the proper solution either.

So here is the thought that I have been processing:

~ Moralism is the false religion of do’s and don’ts.  It involves telling people what to do or not do in order to be a “good” person and also while not telling them of the means by which they can be empowered to do those do’s and not do those don’ts. Confused? So its about being courteous. Its about being nice. Its about being a “good” boy and this by in large for external reasons.

“Hey… I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t swear. All my aunties and uncles think so highly of me. I am a good person.”

Within a secular context this happens when you point out to a person their woes and then offer as a solution things like ~~> “Hey. You can change via sheer dint of will power” or “Here – practice this behavioral modification exercises” or heaven forbid, I saw this on tv the other week “You simply choose not to do that thing. You simply choose.” – Like its that easy! So like if I have been smoking for 20 years, and I want to stop, I simply choose to stop smoking. Right!

Yes. These things can work to some extent but they is not the best solutions. They are cigars.

Indian Woman Smoking a Beedi. She needs to sublimate. (Or maybe she already is.)

Ok. So you get the basic idea. Lets see how this plays out in some contexts.

Within the context of evangelism, this can happen if you only tell point out to people that they are sinners by nature and choice and do not point out to them how the Gospel is the answer. Or 90% of your message is how they are such evil sinners and 10% is the evangel.

Within the context of Christian living, this happens when you attempt to some of the stuff listed out up above but fail to rely on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to help you change. Rather than fall back on prayer, being accountable to others, being cleansed by worship, God’s goodness and sufficiency, etc., you rather attempt change by some technique, for example say wearing a rubber-band and snapping it when ever a bad thought occurs. Legalists also provide fine examples.

So how does Moralism relate to sublimation?

~ If all you do is point out some moral do’s and don’ts to a person and you do not point out to them how taking the Gospel and living it seriously feeds real and authentic change in their lives, then they will simply sublimate and go off and do another wrong thing. They will simply redirect their sinful activities into another channel.

So you tell them that what is wrong with worshiping one idol, they go off and worship another idol. You tell them what is wrong with one false worldview (= darsana), they go off and espouse another false worldview. They simply exchange a cigar for a cigarette, a vodka for a whiskey.

Life on the rocks or Life on the Rock?

In John 6:68, when Jesus asked Peter if he [Simon Peter] was going to abandon Him, and “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'”

Well if we do not provide the Words of Life to people, then to whom can they go to for an answer to their problems? – The world – they go right back to the world.

Required Reading:

1) The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847)

2) The Expulsive Power of a New Affection – Douglas Wilson’s comments on Chalmers essay @ Blog & Mablog