By Alistair McFadyen
This booklet discusses the Christian doctrine of sin with regards to sexual abuse of youngsters and the Holocaust, permitting those pathological events to light up and query our knowing of sin. Taking heavily the explanatory strength of secular discourses for reading and regulating healing motion in terms of such occasions, the publication asks no matter if the theological language of sin can supply extra illumination by means of talking of God and the realm jointly. The e-book is rare in discussing the Holocaust relating to Christian doctrine.
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The conditions of the moral Part of the function of moral discourse is the location and tracking of responsibility for the performance of acts that may be subject to moral evaluation. It is a language of responsibility, in the sense that it holds and calls people to account for their actions. That accountability concerns a particular form of relation between an individual, an action and its consequences. Merely tracing a line of sufﬁcient causation back from a given circumstance to behaviour is insufﬁcient.
In such a view, every particular instance of sin is a free act in the sense that it does not arise ‘naturally’ out of the ontological structure of human existence. If sin is removed from the domain of necessity in order to preserve its moral character as free, personal act, its contingency is evidently preserved. But can it at the same time be held to be strictly universal, or is that correlate of original sin to be lost equally in counter-interpretation and reinterpretation? A number of modern positions argue that, whilst any particular sin is a free, responsible act which might have been avoided; empirically, it is not possible for anyone to avoid sinning altogether.
Both argue on that basis for a view of sin which is principally axiological and anti-metaphysical, which appears to ontologise all the acts of a person’s life, giving sin a substantial quality (notwithstanding Barth’s insistence that it is nothing) within the person. See Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1952), pp. 93, 110; Man in Revolt, pp. , 300–4; Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/1 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark 1956), pp. , 500ff. (where he recommends a change in German theological idiom, from Erbsünde to Ursünde).
Bound to sin by Alistair McFadyen