Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4J

Original Sin is a condition of disorientation that is the consequence of the loss of sanctifying grace that accompanied the Fall (as told in the mythic stories of Eve and Adam).  FaithUnChristian in “my own xiety” manifests this disorientation.

Baptism – the restoration of sanctifying grace – is the gateway to finding the xiety that God has given me.  The xiety that God has given me reflects the principle that binds my soul to my body and thereby orients me.  That principle is “God’s creative activity in binding my soul to my body”.  It has the structure of a “gift”.

My anxiety, as a Christian, is the fear of the loss of that gift.  I fear the loss of the creative act that binds my soul to my body.  I fear becoming a soulless automaton, like a psychopath, a person filled with rage, a member of a totalitarian cult, and any of the characters that Peters described in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of his book on Sin.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4I

Peters first three steps to radical evil fit a single nested form:


This nested form stands on the threshold of the commission of sin.

Pride is the feeling that one can define ‘reality’.  This includes defining the xiety (whatever one has, could have had, or pretends to have) that one believesUnChristian in.

Pride puts anxiety into a normal context.

Anxiety is the fear of the loss of one’s xiety.

No doubt, Peters could have used other descriptors for how we situate faith.  But anxiety is palpable and drives people to action, whether it is turning outward in aggression or inward in psychosomatic illness.  Anxiety motivates sinful action.

FaithUnChristian makes sin-inducing anxiety possible.  FaithUnChristian is belief in the possibility of a particular xeity:  my xiety.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4H

Pride is the feeling that “I can define reality” and that includes the feeling that “I can belong to what others have defined as reality”.

There is great comfort in belonging to a group – a tribe – so completely that one “does not know any different”.

At the same time, in Civilization, no group is the whole, not even the Church or the Sovereign.

But, what is to stop a group – a Church or a Sovereign or Whatever – from defining itself as the whole?

Pride goes before the fall.

The tribe can commit sins that no individual in the tribe would imagine possible.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4G

Pride includes the feeling that “we” can create a “tribe” by “definition”.

Classic American historical cases of pride-filled “belonging to a tribe by definition” revolve around defining what the member is not.  For example, I am not a black man.  I am not a woman.  I am not a homosexual.  These definitions put Negroes, women and homosexuals outside “the tribe” and subject to emotions reserved for “people who do not belong to our tribe”.

Today, such cases would be called “racism”, “sexism” and “homophobia” by other “tribes by definition”.

Ironically, these latter-day “tribes by definition” fear the one “tribe that just wants to be left alone”: southern Baptists.

All branches of Progressivism feel that southern Baptists are “people who do not belong to our tribe”.  But at the same time, it is not enough to say: “I am not a southern Baptist”.  But it almost is.

This brings me back to the old timey pride of “not being one of those unfortunate creatures”.  That old timey pride is gone.  Why were the racist and homophobic patriarchs able to change?  They were able to change because they had dual identities.  They were oppressors.  But they were also Christians.  As Christians, they could repudiate the sins of their old timey pride.  They repented. They asked God for forgiveness.  They were made whole.

At the same time, the newly constituted “tribes by definition” have to insist that these folk never changed.  They must claim that these folk are unrepentant.  These tribes preserve “the sins of old timey pride” in their Museums of Perpetual Grievances.  They are constantly on the lookout for fluke instances that they can display (see Ann Coulter in this regard).

Thus, pride leads to escalation, not repentance.  The Progressives do not suffer the vulnerability of a dual identity.  They are not Christian.

So one wonders, can they repent of the sins of their own group excesses?


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4F

Besides the pride that goes with putting the spotlight on yourself, there is the pride of standing in the spotlight of others.

Peters first mentions tribalism.  Tribes often appear to have different “moralities” than individuals.  So when an individual stands in the spotlight of her tribe, she takes on moral views that could contradict her own personal moral views.   The pride of belonging to her “tribe” may take her to places where she would have never gone on her own.

In terms of An Archaeology of the Fall, “belonging to a tribe” is the closest that an individual typically gets to the impossible stance of “not knowing any different” (that characterizes the Lebenswelt prior to the emergence of Civilization).   Every individual in our fallen world feels the lure of group identity; the lust for truly belonging; and the attraction of “not knowing any different”.  And, each group tries to deliver the goods by pretending that “the illusion that constitutes our identity” is so real that it will transport each member back to that time before “time”.

Pride makes the illusion seem true.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4E

Celebrity is full of narcissism and insensitivity.

M. Scott Peck’s The People of the Lie contains accounts of people who are self-absorbed and lack sympathy.  Often, these people seek positions where they have power over others.  They want to win.  They want others to lose.  They are not winning unless others are losing.  They struggle to tilt the game in their favor.  They force the other person to play, even when the other person is not interested.

Celebrity shows a bad ass attitude.

Celebrities want you to join their “club” because their “clubs” are better.  After all, their clubs are about them.

So modern Celebrity serves as a metaphor for pride.

Pride allows you to turn the spotlight on yourself.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4D

Celebrity is full of tragedy.

Modern celebrity is an advertisement for Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Today, substitute the word “rehab” for “destruction” and “fall”.

Peters placed “pride” alongside “tragedy” in the ancient Greek story of Prometheus, in the ancient Hebrew idea of the king as the representative of God, and in the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel.  To me, celebrity is equally on the spot.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4C

Pride allows you to turn the spotlight on yourself.  You can define ‘reality’.  Pride is the feeling that you can carve your own destiny.  You can make yourself into a graven image.  Or maybe, a craven image.

You can make yourself into an object of desire.  And, the only way to do that is through illusion.  Pride casts illusions.

Celebrity is an illusion.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4B

According to Peters, the first commandment goes like this: You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself a pesel (Exod. 20:3-4).

A “pesel” is “a graven image”.  The Greeks translated “pesel” into “eidolon”, which is related to the word “eidos” or “form”.  Today, we are familiar with a word derived from eidos: “idol”.

The idolatry of the modern world does not come in the eidos of pesel.  Instead, we have made pesels of our ideas (another word derived from eidos).

What ideas have become “graven images”?  In 1969, Langdon Gilkey argued that, for Americans, “the idea of freedom” was our equivalent to a graven image.  I guess some graven images do not last long.  In 2012, “Freedom” pales in comparison to modern “Celebrity”.  Is “Celebrity” the next “American Idol”?

Do “free people” define “reality”?  Do “celebrities” define “reality”?

The answer is “yes” for both questions.  But there is a difference.  The difference can be seen on the pages of the Enquirer every week.


Thoughts on Sin by Ted Peters (1994) Pride 4A

Pride puts anxiety(faithUnChristian) into context.

Humility puts anxiety(faithChristian) into context.

Did “pride” play a role in the temptation of Eve?  Yes, the serpent promised Eve that she would become like God if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

If the serpent was simply telling Eve ideas that she already – at some level – knew, then pride – at some level – dwells in all of us.  We are always waiting to hear confirmation of what we already – at some level – know.

And what do we know?  At some level we know that, like our Creator, we can define “reality”.

Thus, pride is the beginning of sin.  It exalts a power that we all know – at some level – we have: The power to define ‘reality’.

Pride is the feeling that puts anxiety(faithUnChristian) into context.

Pride makes the emotions of anxiety(faithUnChristian) so real that we feel compelled to take our self-absorption to the next level.