Worm theology

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Worm Theology is a term used for the conviction in Christian culture that in light of God's holiness and power an appropriate emotion is a low view of self. Some might suggest that because of this view God is more likely to show mercy and compassion. The name may be attributed to a line in the Isaac Watts hymn Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed (Pub 1707) [1], which says "Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?" This thinking was prevalent in the days when this hymn was originally written, perhaps because there was also a higher view of God. Furthermore, worm theology can be attributed to a recognition of the ugliness of sin, resulting in contrition.

Some might suggest adherents of worm theology have inner wounds that they are not necessarily aware of, and such a belief just matches what they feel about themselves and sometimes others. On the other hand God detests sin so much because it separates us from Himself; it could then be argued that in our sin we are as worms in God's sight.

C.S. Lewis expresses the view, "Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good-above all, that we are better than someone else-I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object." (Mere Christianity 1952, P.124)

Its Origins[edit]

John Calvin (1509–1564) a 16th-century theologian and Protestant reformer much of his theological thinking was similar to Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Augustine of Hippo [2] Calvin saw mankind as being totally unable to do anything for ourselves to free us from the stranglehold of sin, hence the reason why Jesus came to reveal what God the Father was really like (John 14:6) and that it is only through faith in Jesus and a continual yielding of ourselves to the Holy Spirit that we are able to have an intimate relationship with a holy and righteous God [3].

John Wesley (1703–1791) from whom the Methodist Church commenced seems to hold to this view as his notes on Psalm 22:6 seem to suggest [4]. (Further comment follows). Although Wesley was a firm believer in the 'Grace of God' [5] which emphasises the goodness of God towards humankind even though we have done nothing to deserve it.

Worm Theology was more acceptable by Christians of previous generations. St. Paul writes "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24, NIV). This was understood as being a way in which one was able to humble themselves before God and man. However, the context of this verse suggests otherwise [6].

Paul of Tarsus was an extremely influential Christian who took the Gospel all over the then known world, suffering greatly for the cause of Christ; eventually losing his life in defense of the Gospel. He also wrote a number of powerful letters which are now a substantial part of the New Testament. One of these is the book of Romans Epistle to the Romans, where he develops the argument where a person is changed from a sinner to a saint though faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the sinless Son of God lived a perfect life before God and man, and Paul sought to imitate his Lord and Saviour. However no matter how hard he tries, he finds it impossible to achieve. This leads him to write the phrase, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" [7] But in the very next verse he points out that Jesus has made this impossible task possible [8] through the help and enabling of the Holy Spirit [9], who is able to change us from slaves of sin to sons of God [10], without condemning us in any way [11]. The only way one feels condemned is when we chose to go our way instead of keeping in step with God's Holy Spirit [12].

The term 'worm theology' is generally used by those who do not accept this, and so is used as a way of expressing the belief that this theology is wrong. But 'worm theology' is not as prevalent today.[citation needed]