Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Expanding our understanding of sin

I've talked (and written) quite a bit on the topic of salvation previously. However, a concept of salvation is really no use unless you have something that you need to be saved from. One of the reasons that our understanding of salvation has become so narrow is that our concept of sin has shrunk to become almost exclusively individual and moralistic. A redefinition of sin doesn't necessarily mean discarding personal responsibility but does allow an expansion of the concept that I believe more accurately reflects Scripture.

If you begin (as we should) with the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament), you will find a much greater recognition of corporate and structural sin. The community can be seen to have sinned in the way that we treat our most vulnerable - orphans, widows, refugees, the poor. Whilst there can still be a personal aspect to this, there is also a social responsibility that is shared by all the people. Not just those who create, but those who accept, structures that perpetuate injustice are guilty of this kind of sin.

Homelessness, a binge drinking culture, racism and gender inequality are all examples of corporate sin that exist today. None of these things reflect God's intention for the world and all are in need of redemption.

No comments: