The Full Wiki

Christian views of sin: Wikis

Advertisements

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

Advertisements

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Christian views of sin are mostly understood as legal infraction or contract violation, and so salvation tends to be viewed in legal terms, similar to Jewish thinking.

Contents

Law and Gospel

The Bible portrays sin as rejecting God as the lord of the universe. Defining sin based on the account of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis who showed their rejection of God by eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, this act being a visual illustration of their desire to determine what is right and wrong (having knowledge of good and evil) rather than God fulfilling this role. In Eastern Christianity, sin is viewed in terms of its effects on relationships, both among people and between people and God.

In a New Testament biblical sense, sin is actually defined in 1 John 3:4 "Whoever sins breaks the law. In fact, sin is lawlessness". In the biblical sense sin is NOT law breaking, but reveals our sinfulness, lawlessness or disregard for God's law. The Law mentioned here is referring to God's rule over all creation. Sin and sins are not the same. Where sin appears to be the fundamental problem or disease that mankind shares, sins are the symptoms of that disease revealing themselves as transgressions of the law.

Original sin

Thus, the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree—which God had commanded them not to do—sinful death was born; it was an act of disobedience, thinking they could become like gods, that was the sin. Since Adam was the head of the human race, he is held responsible for the evil that took place, for which reason the Fall of man is referred to as the "sin of Adam". This sin caused Adam and his descendants to lose unrestricted access to God Himself. The years of life were limited. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). In Christian theology, the death of Jesus on the cross is the atonement to the sin of Adam. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22). As a result of that act of Christ, all who put their trust in Christ alone now have unrestricted access to God through prayer and in presence.

Hamartiology

The Greek word in the New Testament that is translated in English as "sin" is hamartia, which literally means missing the target. 1 John 3:4 states: "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness". Jesus clarified the law by defining its foundation: "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40)

Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments on a monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. The third non-indented commandment listed is "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy", but see also Biblical law in Christianity.

"All the Law" could refer to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 that God demands of those that follow Him. In Christianity, salvation is viewed in terms of reconciliation and a genuine relationship with Christ. In Romans 6:23 it says, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord". Both Eastern and Western Christians agree, on the basis of Scripture, that sin serves as a barrier to one having a complete relationship with God. But in the Gospel of John 3:16 it states "For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." This verse is a common base of Christianity (see article on John 3:16). Some Christian denominations believe that salvation is not obtained through good works but faith alone evidenced by obedience to the laws of their denomination. These Christians believe that humanity falls short of the 'perfect glory' of God because of sins (imperfections), but the sacrifice of the messiah Jesus provides the potential for redemption (Romans 3:23-24). See also Biblical law in Christianity.

Roman Catholic views

Roman Catholic doctrine distinguishes between personal sin (also sometimes called "actual sin") and original sin. Personal sins are either mortal or venial.

Mortal sins are sins of grave (serious) matter, where the sinner is fully aware that the act (or omission) is both a sin and a grave matter, and performs the act (or omission) with fully deliberate consent. The act of committing a mortal sin cuts off the sinner from God's grace; it is in itself a rejection of God. If left un-reconciled, mortal sins result in eternal punishment in Hell.

Venial sins are sins which do not meet the conditions for mortal sins. The act of committing a venial sin does not cut off the sinner from God's grace, as the sinner has not rejected God. However, venial sins do injure the relationship between the sinner and God, and as such, must be reconciled to God, either through the sacrament of reconciliation or receiving the Eucharist.

Both mortal and venial sins have a dual nature of punishment. They incur both guilt for the sin, yielding eternal punishment, and temporal punishment for the sin. Reconciliation is an act of God's mercy, and addresses the guilt and eternal punishment for sin. Purgatory and indulgences address the temporal punishment for sin, and exercise of God's justice.

Roman Catholic doctrine also sees sin as being twofold: Sin is, at once, any evil or immoral action which infracts God's law and the inevitable consequences, the state of being that comes about by committing the sinful action. Sin can and does alienate a person both from God and the community. Hence, the Catholic Church's insistence on reconciliation with both God and the Church itself.

The Roman Catholic view of sin has recently expanded. Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, Regent of the Catholic Apostolic Penitentiary, has said that "known sins increasingly manifest themselves as behavior that damages society as a whole,"[1] including, for example:

  • "certain violations of the fundamental rights of human nature, through genetic manipulations [or experiments],"
  • "drug [abuse], which weakens the mind and obscures intelligence,"
  • "environmental pollution,"
  • "abortion and pedophilia," and
  • the widening social and economic differences between the rich and the poor, which "cause an unbearable social injustice" (accumulating excessive wealth, inflicting poverty). The revision was aimed at encouraging confession or the Sacrament of Penance.

Mortal sins, which are any severe and intentional actions that directly disobey God, are often confused with the seven deadly sins, which are pride, envy, lust, anger, greed, sloth and gluttony. They are not, however, the same.

An other group of four or five sins distinguished by the Church are the sins that cry to heaven: murder, sodomy, (oppression of a people,) oppression of the weak and defrauding the laborer.[2]

View of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas

Sin is differentiated from the relativistic, individualized transgressions of moral standards pure human rationale dictates, by secular humanism, by its immutability and everlasting nature. Sin never changes, but popular notion does. Hence, sin will always be sin, regardless of epoch.

Religions other than Roman Catholicism view the concept of sin as a wandering from the path to enlightenment, and this also applies to Roman Catholicism, with the addition that God is a Person, and is unchanging; The Father by which everything in three dimensional reality is defined. What is contrary to the Will of God is sin.

Humankind is the only thing that can sin because free will is required, and with the exception of humans, everything in the Universe perfectly obeys the Will of God. The predictability of all things created belies the nature of all things as being ordered according to time, measure, and weight; as recorded in The Holy Bible. Relative physics adopted this view of the Universe and refers to the second, meter, and kilogram as the foundation of all three dimensional reality.

In the grand scheme of everything, from beginning to end, God's Will must be done. By this measure sin can be viewed as the wraith of primordial guilt, or original sin.

The term sin is only applicable to competent individuals past the age of reason. If a person doesn't know something is contrary to the Will of God they cannot be held accountable for sin until such time comes that the individual understands that particular sin is wrong.

This doesn't always happen during the temporal, physical, organic life of the physical body. In this instance the person will be illuminated after death, at which point the soul will be aware of exactly what sins they are guilty of. Atonement for sin cannot be made after the physical death of the human organism, and thus the soul of the unrepentant sinner is in an impossible predicament of final annihilation from existence.

However, God is not bound by time, and if a person was ever forgiven, they were always forgiven. And such is the nature of all Roman Catholics to pray for the departed soul, who didn't understand sin while physical life was in his/her flesh.

Roman Catholic Doctrine dictates Jesus Christ alone can forgive sin, although sin need only be forgiven if one desires immortality in everlasting paradise.

This section is based on the works: Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica, and Saint Augustine, Confessions and On Christian Doctrine

Protestant views

Many Protestants teach that, due to original sin, humanity has lost any and all capacity to move towards reconciliation with God (Romans 3:23;6:23; Ephesians 2:1-3); in fact, this inborn sin turns humans away from God and towards themselves and their own desires (Isaiah 53:6a). Thus, humans may be brought back into a relationship with God only by way of God's rescuing the sinner from his/her hopeless condition (Galatians 5:17-21; Ephesians 2:4-10) through Jesus's ransom sacrifice (Romans 5:6-8; Colossians 2:13-15). Salvation is sola fide (by faith alone); sola gratia (by grace alone); and is begun and completed by God alone through Jesus (Ephesians 2:8,9). This understanding of original sin (Romans 5:12-19), is most closely associated with Calvinism (see total depravity) and Lutheranism. Calvinism allows for the "goodness" of humanity through the belief in God's common grace. Methodist theology adapts the concept by stating that humans, entirely sinful and totally depraved, can only "do good" through God's prevenient grace.

This is in contrast to the Catholic teaching that while sin has tarnished the original goodness of humanity prior to the Fall, it has not entirely extinguished that goodness, or at least the potential for goodness, allowing humans to reach towards God to share in the Redemption which Jesus Christ won for them. Some non-Catholic or Orthodox groups hold similar views.

There is dispute about where sin originated. Some who interpret the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 as a symbol for Satan believe sin originated when Satan coveted the position that rightfully belongs to God. The origin of individual sins is discussed in James 1:14-15 - "14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."(NIV)

Defined types of sin

Within some branches of Protestantism, there are several defined types of sin (as in Roman Catholicism):

  • Original sin -- Most denominations of Christianity interpret the Garden of Eden account in Genesis in terms of the fall of man. Adam and Eve's disobedience was the first sin man ever committed, and their original sin (or the effects of the sin) is passed on to their descendants (or has become a part of their environment). See also: total depravity.
  • Concupiscence
  • Venial sin
  • Mortal sin
  • Eternal sin -- Commonly called the Unforgivable sin (mentioned in Matthew 12:31), this is perhaps the most controversial sin, whereby someone has become an apostate, forever denying themselves a life of faith and experience of salvation; the precise nature of this sin is often disputed.

Eastern/Oriental Orthodox views

The Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox use sin both to refer to humanity's fallen condition and to refer to individual sinful acts. In many ways the Orthodox Christian view of sin is similar to the Jewish, although neither form of Orthodoxy makes formal distinctions among "grades" of sins.

The Eastern Catholic Churches, which derive their theology and spirituality from same sources as the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, do not use the Latin Catholic distinction between Mortal and Venial sin. However, like the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Catholic Churches do make a distinction between sins that are serious enough to bar one from Holy Communion (and must be confessed before receiving once again) and those which are not sufficiently serious to do so. In this respect, the Eastern Tradition is similar to the Western, but the Eastern Churches do not consider death in such a state to automatically mean damnation to Hell.

Emerging Church, Liberal Theology, and Liberation Theology

Within the emerging church movement and other progressive forms of Christianity, the definition of "sin" may or may not be central to an understanding of Christianity and its relationship to society. This non-dogmatic formulation of sin is perhaps more characteristic of the post-modern fluid views of the emerging church. Sin in this context can have multiple meanings, including but not limited to interpersonal sins (harming one's neighbours, friends, or families with negative actions), environmental sins (pollution, overconsumption), structural sins (homophobia or heterosexism, misogyny, racism, etc.), or even personal sins (actions which are harmful to oneself). As a result of this re-interpretation of the traditional concept of sin, new concepts of liberation and salvation are required.

Christian teachings on atonement, or the remedy for sin

In Christianity, atonement can refer to the redemption achieved by Jesus Christ by his virgin birth, sinless life, crucifixion, and resurrection, thereby fulfilling more than 300 Old Testament prophecies. Its centrality to traditional interpretations of Christian theology means that it has been the source of much discussion and some controversy throughout Christian history. Generally it is understood that the death of Jesus Christ was a sacrifice that relieves believers of the burden of their sins. However, the actual meaning of this precept is very widely debated. The traditional teaching of some churches traces this idea of atonement to blood sacrifices in the ancient Hebraic faith.

Christian theologians have presented different interpretations of atonement:

  • Origen taught that the death of Christ was a ransom paid to Satan in satisfaction of his just claim on the souls of humanity as a result of sin. This was opposed by theologians like St. Gregory Nazianzen, who maintained that this would have made Satan equal to God.
  • Irenaeus of Lyons taught that Christ recapitulated in Himself all the stages of life of sinful man, and that His perfect obedience substituted for Adam's disobedience.
  • Athanasius of Alexandria taught that Christ came to overcome death and corruption, and to remake humanity in God's image again. See On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius.
  • Augustine of Hippo said that sin was not a created thing at all, but that it was "privatio boni", a "taking away of good", and uncreation.
  • Anselm of Canterbury taught that Christ's death satisfied God's offended sense of justice over the sins of humanity. Also, God rewarded Christ's obedience, which built up a storehouse of merit and a treasury of grace that believers could share by their faith in Christ. This view is known as the satisfaction theory, the merit theory, or sometimes the commercial theory. Anselm's teaching is contained in his treatise Cur Deus Homo, which means Why God Became Human. Anselm's ideas were later expanded utilizing Aristotelian philosophy into a grand theological system by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, particularly in his masterpiece, the Summa Theologica, which eventually became official Roman Catholic doctrine.
  • Pierre Abélard held that Christ's Passion was God suffering with His creatures in order to show the greatness of His love for them. This is often known as the moral influence view, and has dominated Christian liberalism.
  • Martin Luther and John Calvin, leaders of the Protestant Reformation, owed much to Anselm's theory and taught that Christ, the only sinless person, was obedient to take upon Himself the penalty for the sins that should have been visited on men and women. This view is a version of substitutionary atonement and is sometimes called substitutionary punishment or a satisfaction theory, though it is not identical to that of Anselm. Calvin additionally advocated the doctrine of limited atonement, which teaches that the atonement applies only to the sins of the elect rather than to all of humanity.
  • D.L. Moody once said, "If you are under the power of evil, and you want to get under the power of God, cry to Him to bring you over to His service; cry to Him to take you into His army. He will hear you; He will come to you, and, if need be, He will send a legion of angels to help you to fight your way up to heaven. God will take you by the right hand and lead you through this wilderness, over death, and take you right into His kingdom. That's what the Son of Man came to do. He has never deceived us; just say here; "Christ is my deliverer.""
  • Arminianism has traditionally taught what is known as "Moral Government" theology or the Governmental theory. Drawing primarily from the works of Jacobus Arminius and Hugo Grotius, the Governmental theory teaches that Christ suffered for humankind so that God could forgive humans while still maintaining divine justice. Unlike the perspectives of Anselm of Canterbury or Calvinism, this view states that Christ was not punished for humanity, for true forgiveness would not be possible if humankind's offenses were already punished. Christ's suffering was a real and meaningful substitutionary atonement for the punishment humans deserve, but Christ was not punished on behalf of the human race. This view has prospered in traditional Methodism and all who follow the teachings of John Wesley, and has been detailed by, among others, 19th century Methodist theologian John Miley in his classic Atonement in Christ and 20th century Church of the Nazarene theologian J. Kenneth Grider in his Wesleyan-Holiness Theology. Variations of this view have also been espoused by 18th century Puritan Jonathan Edwards and 19th century revival leader Charles Grandison Finney.
  • Karl Barth taught that Christ's death manifested God's love and His hatred for sin.
  • Barbara Reid (theologian), a feminist Dominican theologian argues that atonement is a harmful theology, especially to women and other oppressed groups. Other Liberal or Progressive theologians have also challenged the traditional view of atonement. In this view, atonement theology—as central as it is to traditional Christian faith—needs to be re-interpreted or perhaps even disposed of as it focuses on death, sin, and suffering as opposed to liberation, life, and resurrection.
  • Mary Baker Eddy taught that atonement exemplifies our underlying spiritual unity with God, whereby we reflect divine Love (God): Christ's atonement reconciles man to God, not God to man.

The ideas of these and other Christian theologians can be summed up under these rubrics:

  • Victory: the idea that Jesus defeated Death through his death, and gave life to those in the grave. Both following models may be understood as variations of the Victory idea:
  • Participation: the idea that God's death on the cross completed his identification with humanity - God's participation in our sin and sorrow allowing our participation in his love and triumph;
  • Ransom: the idea that Jesus released humanity from a legal obligation to the Devil, incurred by sin. (Theories involving ransom owed to divine justice are generally classified under Punishment, below.)
  • Punishment: the idea that God assumed the penalty for human sins on the Cross, and volunteered punishment as the price paid to release humanity from so that the faithful might escape it;
  • Government: the idea that God forgives the penalty due humans for their sins, provisioned on their acceptance of that forgiveness, but that Christ suffered on the Cross in order to demonstrate the seriousness of sin;
  • Example: the idea that Jesus' death was meant as a lesson in ideal submission to the will of God, and to show the path to eternal life;
  • Revelation: the idea that Jesus' death was meant to reveal God's nature and to help humans know God better.
  • Liberation: the concept that both the life and death of Jesus are somehow responsible for social and personal liberation from the effects of sin.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Vatican lists new sinful behaviors". The Associated Press. 2008. http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/03/10/vatican.updates.sins.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  
  2. ^ Catechism of the Chatolic Church, 1997: "1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are "sins that cry to heaven": the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner."

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message