How does Paul define sin? (Romans 14:13-23)

The Daily Office reading for today was Romans 14:13-23. I was particularly struck by verses 22-23: “The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith;for whatever does not proceed from faithis sin.” So basically Paul defines sin as “whatever does not proceed from faith.” But what does this mean? Continue reading

Is Paul a moral relativist in Romans 14:13-23?

I really was trying to stay out of trouble by sticking to the daily office readings as the source of my blog material for a little while. But the daily office reading for today, Romans 14:13-23, is filled with trouble, because in verse 14, Paul says something that sounds morally relativistic, and usually the more that Christians love Paul, the more they hate moral relativism. Here it is: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” Now I know somebody will say dismissively that Paul was just talking about sacrificial meat which has nothing to do with anything we deal with today (he doesn’t really mean “nothing” when he says “nothing is unclean” just like his “all” isn’t really “all” when he’s talking about grace). But why not confront this statement in its full radical nakedness? Because Paul seems to say pretty plainly that our perception of our actions is what makes them clean or unclean. And if that’s not relativistic, I’m not sure what is. Continue reading