Since late Roman times, the seven deadly sins have been one way for people to think about patterns of living that fly in the face of the faithful life. Christians contend that lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride are incompatible with a well-lived human life.
I want you to consider another way of thinking about unfaithful living: the possibility that the greatest loss of faith in our culture occurs not because people want to do bad things, but because they find their experience of the faithful life disappointing. As Herbert Butterfield put it, “their expectations have been cheated… the future is not what they thought they had a right to hope for.”
In the next few posts, I want to offer an alternative list. Not seven deadly sins, but seven deadly disappointments: responses to the world that corrode and undermine faith.
I suspect that these disappointments are not specific to Christians, but reflect a wider cultural malaise – our hope is misdirected, and we live lives characterised by disappointment. However, for Christians, living out of these false visions of life represents not merely disappointment but abandonment of the great hope that our story of the world offers. Biblical hope is not the hope of avoiding grief, pain, angst or loneliness, but it is hope to confront and move through even the greatest of disappointments, death.