Taking Sin Seriously

Journal of Religious Ethics 31 (1):45 - 74 (2003)


Contemporary Roman Catholic ethics endeavors to take sin seriously by offering theologies of sin that emphasize it as a force and as a basic, personal orientation. Such efforts rightly counter the Catholic tradition's earlier reduction of sin to sins, and sins to external acts and moral culpability. But perhaps they go too far in this regard. By engaging Charles Curran, this study argues that inattention to sins undermines the theological referent of sin as a discourse that concerns more than moral culpability, obscures God as the source of freedom and value, and neglects the way in which acts express and sustain sin and fashion a personal orientation. Drawing on the work of Jean Porter, the essay shows that attention to sins highlights the historicity, particularity, and provisionality of human acts because of the theological referent and analogical character of sin and sins

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