sin

Proper 18

September 7, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 12.1-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 149
Reading 3: 
Romans 13.8-14
Reading 4: 
Matthew 18.15-20
Alt Reading 2: 
Psalm 119.33-40
Alt Reading 1: 
Ezekiel 33.7-11
By David J. Lull

Unless otherwise noted, the biblical quotations are from the NRSV.

 

In your preparation for preaching on today’s readings, you might consider their different approaches and solutions to sin.

  • The Exodus reading and today’s psalm focus on God’s liberation of those who have been sinned against, and God’s fierce judgment against those who sin against others that leaves no room for repentance.

Proper 10

July 13, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Genesis 25:19-34
Reading 2: 
Psalm 119:105-112
Reading 3: 
Romans 8:1-11
Reading 4: 
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Alt Reading 2: 
Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13
Alt Reading 1: 
Isaiah 55:10-13
By Marti J. Steussy

Both of today’s New Testament lections invite us to ponder the mysterious interaction of divine power and human choice.  Romans has been developing the theme of life/death “force fields” (see commentaries for recent weeks), often using the term sarkos (NRSV “flesh”) for the sin/decay field. This terminology reflects the Greek sound byte soma sema, “the body is a tomb.” We should not conclude that human bodies are detestable.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 30, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
I Sam 16: -1-13
Reading 2: 
Psalm 12
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 5:8-14
Reading 4: 
John 9:1-41
By Marjorie Suchocki

The texts deal with good versus evil, with I Samuel challenging assumptions concerning inward versus outward goodness, and the Psalm repeating the ever-present plaint: why do evil doers flourish while the righteous go unrewarded? The New Testament texts continue the theme of good versus bad actions, using imagery of moral light and darkness in Ephesians, and physical versus spiritual blindness in the gospel.

What Is Process Theology: A Conversation with Marjorie

Red book coverA Conversation with Majorie

by Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki

This accessible booklet, written in a question and answer format, addresses questions about the nature of God, sin, redemption, and resurrection, from the perspective of a process theologian. Ideal for small group discussions or church adult study programs.

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From Hurt to Healing: A Theology of the Wounded

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The Fall to Violence

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Original Sin

Question: 
Traditional theology ascribes sin to a fall from a previously perfect state. Scientific evolutionary theory suggests rather a struggle from an imperfect prehuman but perhaps innocent state towards a more ethically aware and responsible state. The end result is the same; imperfect and fallible beings doing their best in a complex world. As I understand it process theology sees God as experiencing and luring evolving humankind towards the higher state, but scientific materialism sees no purpose in evolution. The process view seems attractive to me as a scientist who experiences God in a way that is somehow beyond the limitations of rational thought. Can you explain how process theology deals with the idea and origin of sin, and the apparent absence of any purpose in evolution?
Publication Month: 
October 2001
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

This is an excellent question especially in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. All of us agree that the killing of masses of people who have done nothing to deserve death is a terrible evil. Many go on to call the perpetration of this evil a sin. Although "sin" is a theological, rather than a philosophical, term, it is an appropriate term for process thinkers generally to use -- and certainly for process theologians. Nevertheless, it needs to be used carefully.

Evil & Sin Revisited

Question: 
Taken in the broadest way, process theodicy seems to me to be pretty satisfying intellectually, but there is a nagging detail . . . While I certainly wouldn’t wish to posit a literal existence for the devil, I have the sense that there’s something agent-like about evil that seems somewhat unaccounted for by process theology. A possibly related conundrum–it seems to me that God’s proffering of initial aim to occasions must needs in some way conceal that the aim offered is the one to be most valued in the circumstances–otherwise, wouldn’t an occasion’s exercise of freedom in rejecting the aim be mere perversity? And if the value of the initial aim is somehow hidden, then doesn’t an occasion’s failure to take it up come to be mere ignorance?
Publication Month: 
November 2004
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

Let me say at the outset that I do not believe that anyone, certainly including process theologians, has ever provided a fully adequate account of sin and evil. Most emphatically, this short response to some thoughtful questions will not provide that. But I agree that the process response is “pretty satisfying intellectually.” I also think that some of the remaining difficulties arise from too abstract an approach. After clarifying my use of the terms “evil” and “sin,” I’ll turn to examples to respond to the questions.

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