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Sin

Sin

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sin, in most religions, may be rooted in human being but shows itself in human action. This action is of a negative character and represents what the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner (1904-1984) described as an awareness that things are not the way they ought to be (Rahner 1961-1979, p. 164). In some faiths the stress is on the corporate character of sin: what causes it, how it is manifested, and what a community does with it. Thus when ancient Israel offended against the way things ought to be as prescribed by Yahweh, the people together experienced punishment by this God and recognized a need to atone for sin, to bring the lives of the community and individuals in it in line with the way things ought to be.

The source of that sense of ought may relate to the ways humans in the earliest and simplest of circumstances sensed that there must be a right way, but they were not able to attain it or resisted attainment. Or the source may be in conscience. How the separate faiths account for conscience or any other inner apparatus that inspires and informs conduct tells much about what each considers to be sin and what each prescribes to be a remedy, often called atonement. Alongside a primitive sense of oughtness and conscience, a third way of discerning the source of sin is in divine revelation. Ordinarily this means that gifted and charismatic individuals, prophets within the tradition, judge people against the standard of what some holy book has described as conformity to the proper way or prescribed as atoning action.

In cultures informed by the Bible of the Jews and Christians, the definitions and experiences of sin come to focus in a witness to a living creator God who interacts with people, stipulating how they should live, and who in a sacred scripture sets forth a covenant, a divine-human pact that must be followed if God is to be pleased or given an opportunity to show mercy. Whether on a communal or an individual level and whether on gross or trivial scales, sin is seen as a free violation of what God commands and expects. In Christianity there is a similar stress on locating the errant individual in light of how he or she affirms or departs from a divine-human covenant. Christianity preaches that God is both just and merciful. Being merciful, God can recognize value in the efforts of those who try to live in accord with divine commands and can extend mercy even where there is failure.

Sin in most Christian traditions is seen against the background of what Christians call original sin, which they perceive as a reality even if they have difficulty accounting for it along with other negative features and experiences in a universe created and governed by a good God. Traditionally original sin, the factor in human experience that makes it impossible for anyone to live a perfect life, is traced to Adam and Eve, the first humans, according to the account in Genesis. Tempted by an external agent, the serpent, they willingly responded and went against the express decree of God. When, acting upon this evil agency in and around them, their heirs, all humans, engage in actual sin also a technical termthey are breaking the covenant. In some biblical language, sin means missing the mark or transgressing Gods boundaries.

In Judaism and Christianity various paths of return to the covenant and Gods good graces are prescribed and are called atonement or reconciliation to God. The same God who set forth the mark that was missed or the boundary transgressed and who can be wrathful and will exact punishment is also witnessed to as merciful. Through atoning activities, for Christians in the agency of Jesus Christ as Gods Son who is offered up in a loving sacrifice for others, believers are set on a path that allows them to approach hitting the mark, staying in the boundaries, pleasing God, and receiving a reward, thanks to the grace of this covenanting God. One of the main differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant varieties of Christianity is the stress in the former on human participation in redeeming activities through good works, while for Protestantism, which also expects good works, the accent is more on Gods grace.

In virtually every faith, though terms like original sin and transgressing may be absent, there is some pattern or ideal to be followed to place human individuals or the community in a positive relation to the highest power or source. This is usually God, under a variety of names, such as for Muslims Allah. Allah has created an ordered universe, but humans who violate the laws of Allah cause disorder and are evil or act evilly. While Islam does not employ concepts such as original sin, Muslims know that they are in a universe where something is expected of them that they do not and cannot achieve on their own. Practicing rites of prayer, almsgiving, and submission to Allah represents a turning from sin and the threat of punishment and makes room for Allah the All-Merciful to show mercy.

Religious communities that either do not witness to God or gods, such as Buddhism, or where deity is represented by various supernatural beings, as in Hinduism, will not speak in terms of a covenant with a merciful God that humans choose to follow or break. Thus in Buddhism, which cannot connect human evil with a covenanting God because there is no witness to God, the concern is to deal with negative forces and actions, summarized in the term karma. Individual actions are measured in the light of whether the intention of an act was positive or negative, with the goal of dealing with suffering, which is a universal human experience, by disciplines and practices that in their intention make room for good and positive karma and actions.

In Hinduism there is also no covenant with the one God (monotheism) or original sin, yet there are also prescribed paths for conduct pleasing to the deities adored in Hinduism. In Hinduism, as well as most other faiths, there are actions equivalent to atoning ones in monotheistic faiths, actions that through conduct and proper ritual or meditation lead one to positive conduct and reward. In almost all faiths atoning activities that counter sin or bad karma have positive rewards in this life and, in many faiths, in life after death. This is so in Christian resurrection or Hindu reincarnation. In none of the faiths is the realistic note wholly lost. That is, they do not envision a complete overcoming of evil as expressed in human sin but teach ways to live and think in the face of such evil that resides in the external world and in the self.

SEE ALSO Christianity; Hell; Hinduism; Judaism; Punishment; Purification; Reincarnation; Religion; Supreme Being

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Häring, Bernard. 1974. Sin in the Secular Age. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Park, Andrew Sung. 1993. The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christian Doctrine of Sin. Nashville, TN: Abingdon.

Rahner, Karl. 1961-1979. Anonymous Christianity. In Theological Investigations, vol. 12. Baltimore: Helicon.

Smith, C. Ryder. 1953. The Bible Doctrine of Sin and of the Ways of God with Sinners. London: Epworth.

Martin E. Marty

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Sin

Sin


Sin is the condition or act by which a human person produces evil. Evil is suffering produced by either sin, disease, or accident. Suffering that leads to death and loss of relationship to God is the ultimate evil. The classic Christian list of seven deadly sins includes pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. Islam, led by the Qur'han, sees sin in terms of pride and opposition to God. Iblis or Satan provided the model for human sinning when he refused to obey God's command to prostrate himself before Adam. In an ancient Hindu-Buddhist myth of the fall a primordial disembodied mind living in the golden age descends into a physical body where desire, lust, passion, and covetousness prevail. Others follow, souls taking on flesh. Greed leads to stealing and violence, and the human soul becomes trapped in a physical world of temporal temptation from which it longs to escape to eternity.

Phenomenologically, evil is first experienced biologically as suffering. The most primitive awareness of sin takes the form of defilement, of external contamination deriving from physical contact with what is profane. Rituals of cleansing, usually with water, become the liturgical means for ridding the sinner of defilement. When this becomes internalized, defilement is associated with physical passions welling up from within, with carnal desires that tempt by threatening to overwhelm the rational mind by chaotic passion. Fleshly desires become identified with the lower nature, while mind or soul or spirit becomes identified with the higher nature. The higher nature is where the human will is lodged, and the highest form of sin is a freely willed act of evil.

The Hebrew and Christian scriptures advance no theory of sin, yet examples of sinning abound. Sins corrupt a person's whole heart, and total corruption requires total transformation or renewal by an act of divine grace. Sin applies to the individual heart as well as to a people or nation, warranting transformation of all things into a new creation.

Twentieth-century theologians and psychologists tended to associate the origin of sin with anxiety, anxiety understood existentially as feeling threatened by loss, threatened by dissolution into nonbeing. Death is nonbeing to a human, and the threat of death triggers in the human psyche a panic impulse to steal what it can from the imagined life force. In the moral sphere the pursuit of virtue becomes sinful, as those fleeing anxiety engage in self-justification and scapegoating. To define oneself as virtuous simultaneously requires assigning responsibility for the evil in the world to someone else, usually an enemy; this provides justification for decimating the enemy through gossip, lawsuits, war, or genocide.

Some religious theories associated with sin have been challenged during the era of modern science. The biblical story of Adam and Eve in paradise falling into sin, for example, has long been considered a historical event in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, though interpreted quite differently. With the rise of evolutionary theory and deep time, the idea of a single pair of human progenitors has lost scientific credibility. No sinless paradise would be possible according to evolutionary theory because natural selection and survival of the fittest would necessarily apply at the point of origin. This dilemma has left theologians with two options. One is to deny acceptance to evolutionary theory, the path taken by scientific creationists in American Christianity and fundamentalist Muslims in Turkey. The other is to admit evolutionary theory and deny historicity to the Garden of Eden, the path followed by liberal Protestant Christian and Jewish commentators who see the Adam and Eve story as a myth describing everyday human activity.

A second challenge is indirect, the challenge to human free will from biological reductionism in genetics. During the era of the Human Genome Project, public belief in the determining power of DNA grew, and molecular biologists began to assign genes for not only physical traits but also predispositions to behavior. Antisocial behavior such as a propensity toward alcoholism, aggression, and violence were postulated as genetic in origin, as was homosexuality. Sociobiologists added the idea of the selfish gene, the principle that genes employ human bodies and human culture to insure their own replication through reproductiontheir version of survival of the fittest. The fittest are those genes that bring their hosts to reproductive age. This idea allegedly explains why families and clans protect their own kin and are willing to prosecute war or even genocide against others. Moral behavior and religious practices became explainable as the result of genetic expression. Some scientists began to claim they had produced a biological explanation for original sin in the sense of an inherited propensity to survive to reproductive age even if it means perpetrating violence against genetic competitors.

The naturalistic question arises here for theologians. If theological interpretations of sin are compossible with genetic or other forms of biological determinism, one needs to ask: If something is natural is it good? If a doctrine of creation asserts that what exists presently in nature is due to God's will, then biological impulses even toward aggressive behavior must become normative. This is a theological version of what philosophers call the naturalistic fallacy: What is is what ought to be. However, much of traditional spirituality in Asia as well as the West has regarded human biological makeup as the source of misleading desire and dangerous passion; biological determinism would only increase religious resolve to pit the power of the spirit over the power of the flesh.

See also Evil and Suffering; Fall; Genetic Determinism; Selfish Gene; Sociobiology


Bibliography

medina, john. the genetic inferno: inside the seven deadly sins. new york: cambridge university press, 2000.

o'flaherty, wendy doniger. the origins of evil in hindu mythology. berkeley and los angeles: university of california press, 1976.

peters, ted. sin: radical evil in soul and society. grand rapids, mich.: eerdmans, 1994.

ricoeur, paul. symbolism of evil, trans. emerson buchanan. boston, mass.: beacon, 1967.

suchocki, marjorie hewitt. the fall to violence: original sin in relational theology. new york: continuum, 1994.

tillich, paul. systematic theology. chicago: university of chicago press, 19511963.

wright, robert. the moral animal. new york: pantheon, 1994.

ted peters

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Sin

Sin

Judaism

In the Hebrew scriptures there are three main categories of sin. Ḥet indicates a failure of mutual relations, Pesha indicates a breach in the relationship between two parties. The verb awah (avah) expresses the notion of crookedness. The rabbis used the term averah (passing over), so sin is a passing over or rejection of the will of God. The primary cause of sin is the evil inclination. See also SACRIFICE; TESHUVA; FORGIVENESS.

Christianity

In the New Testament there are distinctive treatments of sin in (i) Paul, for whom sin is a ruling power in the world (Romans 5. 12; Galatians 3. 22) and in people (Romans 6. 6, 7. 14–20); (ii) the Johannine writings, where ‘sin’ is the opposite of ‘truth’ and is related to disbelief in Christ (John 9. 41, 15. 24); and (iii) Hebrews, where it is a disorder atoned for by sacrifices (2. 17, 5. 1). Otherwise the word and its cognates are used without great precision, particularly in expounding the saving work of Christ.

Of later elaborations of the understanding of sin, the most important is probably the concept of original sin. Also important was the development of the penitential system. Social sin has been increasingly recognized as amounting to far more than the sum of individual sins and sinners, as e.g. in Liberation Theology. See also SEVEN DEADLY SINS.

Islam

There are more than ninety words in the Qurʾān for sin or offence against God or one's fellow human beings; it is therefore impossible to summarize the many nuances of sin in Islam. But from that fact alone, it is obvious that the mission of Muḥammad was addressed to humans who are in grave danger because of their propensity to sin. There is no trace of an ab-original fault which affects all subsequent humans. Nevertheless, there are many ways in which humans fall into sin or error, and the Qurʾān offers guidance so that there can be no doubt what behaviour God requires. The Day of Judgement (yaum al-Din) is decided on an exact balance between good and evil acts—though evaluation takes account of niy(y)a (intention). But God is merciful and compassionate, and the way of repentance (tawbah) is always open. Even so, there were those in early Islam who held that a Muslim who sins has become an apostate and therefore no longer belongs to the community (see KHARIJITES).

Hinduism

As in other E. religions, the most radical fault which has to be overcome is not so much sin as ignorance (avidyā). Nevertheless, it is perfectly well recognized that there are behaviours (and thoughts) which are wrong and which might well be called sin, for which the most usual word is pāpa. The foremost of these (pāpātama) is moha. Closely associated are lobha and krodha (anger). The classic texts of dharmaśastra develop an elaborate casuistry, dividing sins into mahāpātakas (great offences) and upapātakas (lesser offences). There are five greater offences: killing a brahman (brāhmaṇahatyā; killing an outcaste is a lesser offence than killing a cow, since there is no dharma of religious consequence in relation to those without caste); drinking intoxicants (surāpāna); stealing (steyam, not in general, but in specified ways); sexual relations with the wife of a guru (guruvaṅganāgama; sometimes interpreted as ‘father’, i.e. against incest); associating with a known sinner (mahāpātakasaṃsārga). The lesser offences are far more varied and differently listed. The way to deal with offences is to undertake penance and make atonement. Penance may range from prāṇāyāma and tapas (to burn out offence) to gifts to brahmans and pilgrimage.

Buddhism

Buddhism does not accept the existence of an omnipotent deity and has no concept of sin as the offence against such a being by the contravention of his will as expressed through revelation or deduced by reason. It does, however (in terms of the doctrine of karma), distinguish clearly between good and evil deeds.

A wrongful thought, word, or deed is one which is committed under the influence of the ‘Three Roots of Evil’ (akusalamūla), namely greed (lobha), hatred (dosa), and delusion (moha). Wrongful actions are designated in various ways: as evil (pāpa), bad (akusala), demeritorious (apuñña), or corrupt (sankiliṭṭha), and all such deeds lead inevitably to a deeper entanglement in the process of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) and away from the fulfilment and enlightenment of nirvāna.

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sin (in religion)

sin, in religion, unethical act. The term implies disobedience to a personal God, as in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is not used so often in systems such as Buddhism where there is no personal divinity. In ancient Israel, besides personal sin there was national sin, usually idolatry; to regain God's favor the whole people had to be purified. Ex. 32–34. Crimes of a few might also be visited on all, but punishment of the criminals could avert this. Joshua 7. Apart from original sin, Christianity and Islam have no developed idea of collective sin. As to what constitutes sin, Christian ideas differ. Some Christians divide human acts into good, indifferent, and bad; others regard all acts not positively good as necessarily sinful. Thus, some may think gambling is indifferent so long as no obligation is infringed, while others consider gambling wrong as such. The traditional view, presupposed by Christian asceticism, is that a major way to perfection lies in performing or in refraining from indifferent acts solely to please God. The theory that no act is really indifferent is common among conservative "evangelical" Protestants. For Christians, the effect of sin may be twofold, since a sin is at once a rebellion against the omnipotent Creator, risking punishment (even hell), as well as a cause of the interruption of grace, a notion that was popularized in the Middle Ages, notably by the Cistercians in the 12th cent. and the Franciscans in the 13th. It is explicit in Western mysticism and in modern Roman Catholic teaching. Among Protestants it was typical of Martin Luther and John Wesley. In Western theology (particularly Roman Catholicism) sins are mortal if committed with knowing and deliberate intent in a serious matter; other sins are venial. Habitual sin is called vice. Roman Catholics are required to confess individually all mortal sins (see penance). The seven deadly, or capital, sins are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. The sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance are willful murder (Gen. 4.10), the sin of Sodom (Gen. 18.20,21), oppression of the poor (Ex. 2.23), and defrauding the laborer of his wages (James 5.4). The sin of the angels (specifically of Satan) is pride. The opposite of sin is virtue, but in Christian practice the opposite of sin is grace, i.e., the merits of Christ's virtues given to humanity. See atonement; baptism; ethics; purgatory.

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sin

sin1 / sin/ • n. an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law: a sin in the eyes of God | the human capacity for sin. ∎  an act regarded as a serious or regrettable fault, offense, or omission: he committed the unforgivable sin of refusing to give interviews | humorous with air like this, it's a sin not to go out. • v. (sinned , sin·ning ) [intr.] commit a sin: I sinned and brought shame down on us. ∎  (sin against) offend against (God, a person, or a principle): I had sinned against my master. PHRASES: (as) —— as sin inf. having a particular undesirable quality to a high degree: as ugly as sin. live in sin inf., dated live together as though married. sin of commission a sinful action. sin of omission a sinful failure to perform an action.DERIVATIVES: sin·less adj. sin·less·ly adv. sin·less·ness n. sin2 / sīn/ • abbr. sine.

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sin

sin an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law; an act regarded as a serious or regrettable fault, offence, or omission. The word is recorded from Old English (in form synn), and is probably related to Latin sons, sont- ‘guilty’.
it's a sin to steal a pin proverbial saying, late 19th century; meaning that even if what is stolen is of little value, the action is still wrong.
the sin against the Holy Ghost in theological debate, the only sin which may be beyond forgiveness, as indicated in the words of Jesus in Matthew 13:32. In extended modern usage, the phrase may be used for the one thing in a particular context which is seen as beyond toleration.
sin-eater someone traditionally hired to take upon themselves the sins of a deceased person by means of food eaten beside the dead body; the term is recorded from the mid 17th century, in Remains of Gentilism and Judaism by the antiquary John Aubrey (1626–97).

See also charity covers a multitude of sins, Satan rebuking sin, seven deadly sins.

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Sin

367. Sin

See also 146. EVIL ; 203. HELL ; 205. HERESY ; 349. RELIGION ; 392. THEOLOGY .

hamartiology
Theology. the study or science of the doctrine of sin.
hamartomania
an obsession with sin.
hamartophobia
an abnormal fear of error or sin.
peccancy
1. the state or condition of being sinful or in sin.
2. a sinful act. peccant, adj.
peccatiphobia, peccatophobia
an abnormal fear of sinning.
simony
the sin or offense of selling or granting for personal advantage church appointments, benefices, preferments, etc. simonist, n.

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sin

sin State or instance of being or acting in a way that is contrary to the ideals of righteousness propounded by a religion. In most religions, sin results from contravening the will of God or the gods as revealed in the code of behaviour upon which the religion rests. See also original sin

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Sin (in ancient Middle Eastern religions)

Sin (sĬn), moon god of Semitic origin, worshiped in ancient Middle Eastern religions. One of the principal deities in the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheons, he was lord of the calendar and of wisdom. The chief centers of his worship were at Harran and at Ur, where he was known as Nanna.

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sin

sin transgression of the divine law. OE. syn(n) wrongdoing, offence, (also) enmity; :- *sunjō, rel. to OS. sundea, OHG. sunt(e)a, sund(e)a (G. sünde), ON. synd.
So sin vb. OE. syngian (:- *sunniʒōjan), ME. sun(i)gen, singen, repl. by sinne, based on the sb.

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Sin (places in the Bible)

Sin:1 in the Bible, one of the wildernesses through which the Israelites wandered when they left Egypt. It is not the same as Zin. 2 The town Pelusium, which is rendered Sin in Hebrew.

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Sin

Sin' (It.). Abbreviation of sino, until, e.g. sin' al segno, until the sign.

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sin

sinagin, akin, begin, Berlin, bin, Boleyn, Bryn, chin, chin-chin, Corinne, din, fin, Finn, Flynn, gaijin, gin, Glyn, grin, Gwyn, herein, Ho Chi Minh, in, inn, Jin, jinn, kin, Kweilin, linn, Lynn, mandolin, mandoline, Min, no-win, pin, Pinyin, quin, shin, sin, skin, spin, therein, thin, Tientsin, tin, Tonkin, Turin, twin, underpin, Vietminh, violin, wherein, whin, whipper-in, win, within, Wynne, yin •weigh-in • lutein • lie-in • Samhain •Bowen, Cohen, Owen, throw-in •heroin, heroine •benzoin •bruin, ruin, shoo-in •Bedouin • Islwyn •genuine, Menuhin •cabin, Scriabin •Portakabin • sin bin • swingbin •bobbin, dobbin, robin •haemoglobin (US hemoglobin) •Reuben • dubbin • dustbin • Jacobin •kitchen, lichen •Cochin • urchin

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"sin." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"sin." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sin-2

sin

sin (saɪn) Maths. sine

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"sin." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"sin." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sin-0