Sin is one of the important concepts in the Bible. Probably we could say it finds itself connected one way or another to all other biblical concepts. Sin is described in negative terms. Wherever there is a problem, it is because of sin. Sin is also seen as relational in its nature. Sin is that which separates us or puts us at odds with God, other people, ourselves, our surroundings. So evidently it is critical to have a good grasp of what it is that sin is.
Before we do that, let’s establish the the connection with anthropology, our view of mankind. In the Christian tradition God is a good God who, in turn, created everything good, people included. So far everybody is on the same page. But then there is this one problem: SIN. Now, some people believe that sin changes us ontologically (in our very nature as human beings) from good, as we were originally created, to sinful (bad people). The problem this raises is that whatever sin is it is more powerful than God, since it is able to change what God created. So the question is how can we maintain a high view of creation, specifically of mankind and yet address the reality of sin? By accepting the subjective nature of sin, that sin is nothing more than an illusion (albeit a powerful one), that it does not have any correlation in reality, except indirectly through its effects. This perspective changes everything, from how we see ourselves, to how we see others, to how we relate to God, to how we relate to creation in general. It does affect anthropology profoundly.
The Scriptures identify the nature of sin as A LIE. A lie is fabricated using imagination by projecting unto reality something that is not true about it. If we look at sins talked about in the Scriptures we can see they all originate in distortions. When we feel distant from God, for example, it is not because God is distant from us but because we have a distorted view of God which in turn makes us feel distant from God. When we hurt other people we do it (probably in an effort to defend ourselves) believing they meant us harm. We don’t hurt (intentionally) people we know are good, loving, who want our best, who are for us. People hurt each other because they believe a lie about the other. People who don’t achieve much in their lives are said to be people with low esteem, who believe a lie about themselves. And on and on, we see sin as a mental pathololgy, it is not an objective reality (in this sense) but a mere projection upon reality. That is not to say that sin doesn’t cause real problems. While sin at its origin is not real (i.e. it does not represent reality), its effects are real creating mayhem and suffering, a disturbance in the natural flow of life. The problem is that once you’ve started down this vicious road it turns into a labyrinth hard to figure out. We get lost in it, we get stuck. We don’t know what’s true and what’s not. So we need to be saved, we need to be helped to unmask the lies one by one and embrace the truth, that which is real. WE NEED GOD, WE NEED JESUS AS THE WAY OUT!!!
So a Christian anthropology will create a distinction between sin and our human nature. Ap. Paul, the first theologian, dealt with this throughout his epistles, but more directly in Romans 7:7-25. Part of the delusion of sin is to make us believe that sin is us and Paul says emphatically, NO. And a Christian anthropology will define sin as a lie, a distortion of reality concocted by our imagination.
What do you think?