The idea that there is no sin is of course a wonderful demonic expression that the modern world has adopted with relish. It is demonic because it has about it the hiss of the serpent in the garden and it is the cause of all the sickness and illness and weirdness. The idea that we can be like God and therefore free turns in on itself and becomes a fear of freedom which makes humanity schizophrenic. Stanley Hauerwas in a commentary of Luke quotes from Dostoevsky in “The Grand Inquisitor”. If you haven’t read it, the plot is basically that Jesus is arrested by the Inqusition for failing to be a proper Messiah in that he did not enslave us by a miracle. That is grist for another mill, but the grist today is the idea of no crime and no sin and what it does to mercy. Here is the Inquisitor –
“Nothing has ever been more insufferable for man and for human society than freedom! But do you see these stones in this bare, scorching desert? Turn them into bread and mankind will run after you like sheep, grateful and obedient, though eternally trembling lest you withdraw your hand and our loaves cease for them. But you did not want to deprive man of freedom and rejected the offer, for what sort of freedom is it, you reasoned, if obedience is bought by loaves of bread? You objected that man does not live by bread alone, but do you not know that in the name of this very earthly bread, the spirit of the earth will rise against you and fight with you and defeat you, and everyone will follow him exclaiming: “Who can compare to this beast, for he has given us fire from heaven!” Do you know that centuries will pass and mankind will proclaim with the mouth of its wisdom and science that there is no crime, and therefore no sin, but only hungry men? “Feed them first, then ask virtue of them!”—that is what they will write on the banner they raise against you, and by which your temple will be destroyed. (Dostoevsky)
When mercy, as our response to God’s mercy to us is blasted down to the bare notion of service to hungry men who need to be fed and then made virtuous, the words of Jesus must be heeded again that “man does not live by bread alone”.