Repentance as Recovery: What the Church can Learn from the 12 Steps

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Date: 
Wednesday, 1 September 2004

The Living Pulpit, pp 28-31. 7 pp.

"THE VOCABULARY OF CHRISTIAN FAITH SUFFERS from misunderstanding at every turn,” writes Canadian theologian Douglas John Hall, “but no one term is as badly understood in both society and church as the little word, 'sin'." Most modern critics of Christianity would concur. Dour Christian discourses of sin have been a favorite target of the culture of narcissism. For such critics, however, the problem lies in churchly concepts of sin that are too severe, too absolute, and too ubiquitous—in short, too big. Hall's argument, however, is that the notions of sin circulating in the North American churches persist in being too small.

A fatal mistake is made, Hall contends, whenever the church switches its focus from sin, a matter pertaining to the human condition, to sins, discrete transgressions to be catalogued and controlled. "The individualism fostered by pietistic and liberal expressions of Protestantism has greatly aggravated the tendency to identity sin with negative qualities (sins)—specifically, negative personal failings."

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by Ched Myers

All articles on this site were written by Ched Myers unless otherwise specified.