Whatever Happened to Sin?

According to Barna Research Online, "Four out of every ten adults (40%) attend a church service on a typical Sunday. That figure is a significant decline from the early Nineties, when close to half of all adults were found in churches on Sunday...." Not surprisingly, attitudes toward sin seem to have changed and it has become less common--even laughable--as a topic. Do we really still believe in sin or are there psychological and emotional causes to behavior that mitigate our so-called guilt? Of course, the belief system of the atheist doesn't even allow for sin. And, if people are simply products of their environment, as behaviorists/determinists believe, then what point is there in discussing one's culpability for transgressing moral law? After all, as the relativist/Postmodern would ask, "Who's version of 'truth' or morality shall we hold people to?"

Could it be that sin--determined by a fixed set of norms--is the best explanation for the behavior and problems we see in our world? Whether or not you believe in the biblical concept of sin, open-mindedly consider the claims that there are standards that derive from a higher source than society. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that we will be judged accordingly and that the Judge Himself has provided a way to have the standard met in a very surprising way. One section of our special focus features the controversial Christian doctrine of original sin, which states that, through the first transgressor, all are guilty. See our special focus.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Feature Articles:

The Sinfulness of Humanity
Dr. Bob Pyne
Over the last couple of years we have witnessed some incredible events in our world. In Europe, communism has become a thing of the past. In South Africa, apartheid finally appears to be on the way out. The former Soviet Union is in the throes of reorganization as it moves toward democracy and free enterprise. It's easy to be optimistic when looking at the trend of world events, but it's a little more difficult when one takes human nature into consideration. The sinfulness of humanity may be an uncomfortable subject, but it is absolutely necessary to understand sin in order to understand both ourselves and the world in which we live.

Can't I Just Live a Good Moral Life?
Dr. Alan Scholes
Chapter 4 of Dr. Alan Scholes' book The Artful Dodger: A Skeptic Confronts Christianity. The story of one skeptic's confrontation with Christian beliefs. This chapter examines the questions: "How could God condemn anyone?" "Isn't man basically good?" "What about someone who's never heard?"

Character Deficiency Syndrome
Garry D. Nation
What causes character defects? Contemporary answers to this query usually suggest "disease" or "dysfunction" as the root cause for violence and other problems. The Bible offers a different answer. In particular, the Old Testament differentiates four stages of moral depravity.

Triumph of the Therapeutic: The President at Willow Creek
Chuck Colson
I thought I had spoken my last words about the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. Like most Americans, I'm sick of it. Then, on the eve of his farewell address to the Democratic National Convention, President Clinton discussed the subject before 4,000 pastors assembled at the Willow Creek Church in Illinois.

Blaise Pascal: An Apologist for Our Times
Rick Wade
The author examines the contemporary relevance of the apologetics of Blaise Pascal, a seventeenth century mathematician, scientist, inventor, and Christian apologist.

Overhaul at Stanford
Heather Williams
A Stanford undergrad tells how Christ changed her life in college, and specifically addresses the issue of sin.

Why a Moral Life Won't Get Us to Heaven
Jimmy Williams
"Won't a good, moral life get me to heaven?" The answer is no, and the author spells out why, including how we CAN get to heaven.

Special Section: Doctrine of Original Sin:

Augustine and Pelagius
R. C. Sproul
Sproul writes, "What was the core issue between Augustine and Pelagius? The heart of the debate centered on the doctrine of original sin, particularly with respect to the question of the extent to which the will of fallen man is 'free.' ...Pelagius categorically denied the doctrine of original sin...."

Original Sin: A Disputation
Edward T. Oakes
Oakes begins, "Even in those denominations that pride themselves on their adherence to the orthodox dogmas of the once-universal Church, the doctrine of original sin is met with either embarrassed silence...or at a minimum a kind of halfhearted lip service." NOTE: Oakes uses the Thomist method of fairly putting forth the opposing view without comment, then offering his own view.

Original Sin Redeemed
Review by James G. Williams
Review of The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes by James Alison. Williams favorably reviews Alison's reinterpretation, inspired by Rene Girard, of original sin in light of redemption.

Related Articles:

Smoke and Mirrors at the Crystal Cathedral
Michael R. Linton
A spectacular presentation of Christ's Passion story minus the redemptive element? The renowned production of the "Glory of Easter" by the Crystal Cathedral is the subject of this review.

John Studebaker
"We no longer see ourselves as 'sinners' in need of forgiveness. Maybe sin used to be a problem, but now we've outgrown that. So while the church has a solution for the problem of sin, it's a non-problem in the eyes of most Americans--at least not a serious problem."

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