The Land Of Nod Eastward Of Eden; Or, The Psychology Of Sin -- By: John E. Kuizenga

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 084:334 (Apr 1927)
Article: The Land Of Nod Eastward Of Eden; Or, The Psychology Of Sin
Author: John E. Kuizenga


The Land Of Nod Eastward Of Eden; Or, The Psychology Of Sin

John E. Kuizenga

“And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”

Dramatically the Cain story suggests individual experience of sin, both in its beginning and development. Very little is suggested of individual emergence out of sin; but how the power of sin is broken may be found in the lives of psalmists and prophets, and even better in the experience of John and Paul. The Bible gives us a unique doctrine of sin, and a very distinct psychology of the sin-experience. Can we find to-day any confirmation of the sin-experience described in Holy Writ?

I.

Individual discovery that one is himself sinful is always socially and objectively mediated,—that is surely one of the first facts one gathers by introspection and observation. Farthest back in childhood memory lies the commandment with its “Thou shalt not!” From parents it came, or from the play group, or from the community, or from all together; but it came, and always from without, taught the child by others. There came a time also when one discovered an attitude towards the commandment, and in the attitude he found out something about himself: One wanted to do the forbidden. It was disobedience, wrong, and reprehensible, one knew all that, and dreaded all the “folks”; and there was a deeper dread of “One Greater with whom we have to do,” who would somehow surely bring the deed home to one. So much is clear from earliest childhood recollections.

In this earliest sin-experience there is implicit practically all that later experience unfolds, nor is it a mis-

taken backward projection of later elements of experience upon early childhood. In that earliest experience lie all those distinctions we later make, when we call sin wrong because it violates a standard, crime because it breaks law, vice because hateful to society, folly as failure to be one’s best self, and guilt in relation to God. All is there in earliest experience, but vaguely as a whole, not yet explicit. Let any man test it by his own memories.

There is a double parallel here between the experience of the child and of the simple groups often called “primitives.” Early tribal and simple ethnic sin-experiences show this same sort of vaguely apprehended view of sin as having relation to authority, society, self, and God.1 Moreover, both the early sin-experience of the child and of the simple group show that while all this is dimly sensed, yet the command (prohibition) is felt to be an external thing,

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