This is an upper-level introduction to the doctrine and understanding of sin in modern theology. Christianity concerns itself with salvation. But salvation implies something from which one must be saved, as reconciliation implies an estrangement and redemption a loss. The classical theological symbol naming the problem to which salvation is the solution is sin. Interpreting the meaning of sin, however, has become difficult for two reasons: sin has become a taboo subject in popular discourse, and has acquired an extremely broad meaning in recent theology. "Sin: A Guide for the Perplexed" is intended as a mid-level, comprehensive introduction to the notion of sin and its significance for Christian theology. Nelson situates and interprets biblical material on sin, and then offers a lucid history of the doctrine. He elucidates Augustine's conception of original sin and defends it against its many caricatures. Special attention is paid to sin as an ordinary, yet highly interruptive, phenomenon in the lives of individuals. This is supplemented by a careful look at the non-individualistic dimensions of sin, and an appreciation of how sin relates to other key theological commitments.
"Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.
Derek Nelson is Assistant Professor of Religion and Co-Director of the Thiel Global Institute, Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, USA
I. The Good News about Sin; a. The eclipse and return of sin in modern theology; b. Alternatives to "sin-talk" in contemporary culture; c. Why "sin" is good news for everybody; II. Objections and Hang-ups: Why Sin Offends Us; a. Freedom; b. Pessimism; c. Antinomian. III. Biblical Perspectives; a. Sin and Torah; b. Sin in the prophetic traditions; c. Sin in the teachings of Jesus; d. Sin in Paul's witness; IV. Original Sin and the Legacy of Augustine; V. Distinguishing Sin: Deadly and Trivial, Mortal and Venial, Commission and Omission; VI. "In All, the Work of Each" - Ordinary Individuals and How They Sin; a. Succumbing to be less than we are; b. Pretending to be more than we are; VII. "In Each the Work of All" - Sin as Social Reality; a. Sin's Social Dimensions; b. Liberation Theology: Problems and Prospects; VIII. Sin and Redemption; a. Justification and Guilt; b. Reconciliation a.