Writing about some kind of religious matter is rather specific. It is connected with a lot of challenging tasks and difficult assignments that are given to the writer by different factors. First of all, religious topics demand a high degree of knowledge of the religion you are writing about and its connection to other religions of the world. Secondly, religion is a rather delicate matter to write about and demands from the writer to know the rules of political and religious correctness in order to avoid any possible conflicts on religious grounds. Thirdly, the ability to think logically and analyze the information in order to make conclusions is of great value for everyone who is to write on a religious topic.
In every religion of the world, there are certain concepts and ideas that are considered to be basic for this or that religion. In all religions, however, there are ideas that are common, although sometimes different definitions are used to indicate the same phenomena. If we speak about Christianity, the main ideas of this religion are the divine creation of the world, the Holy Trinity, Doomsday, etc. Some of these ideas are common to other religions, some are exclusively Christian.
For example, the divine creation can also be observed in Moslem religious literature, Buddhism. On the contrary, the idea of the Holy Trinity is typical of Christianity only. Besides these ideas, there is one more thing about Christianity that has crucial importance. It is the concept of sin. Although it can be met in other religions, sometimes under a different name and with a slightly different meaning, Christianity attributes special importance to this very concept, as the religion itself is built around this concept (Grenz, 1996).
Drawing from the above said, we can observe the aim of this very essay. In the current paper, we are going to examine the importance of the concept of sin as the one viewed by Stanley Grenz, whose view is completely Pauline (i. e. are based on the ideas expressed by St. Paul) and the one based upon the Holy Bible and expressed by Jesus.
This is necessary because we should know the essence of sin, the thoughts of prominent Christian figures concerning this issue, and the consequences that sin can have for each of the human beings and for mankind as a whole. To achieve this, we are going to resort to the help of the Holy Scriptures, as well as the book by such a famous theologian as Stanley Grenz. We are going to compare the view upon sin expressed in both sources in order to see the differences and to understand their reasons.
Historians have different points of view concerning the question of differences in views of St. Paul and the views expressed in the teachings and stories by Jesus that can be found in the Holy Bible. Some historians suppose that the views of Saint Paul were faked after his death, others assume that he has never met Jesus, that is why their views contradict each other so much. In any case, the contradiction between them is obvious. Although some common points are also present, the views of St. Paul and Jesus upon sin and its consequences for people are different.
The main role in the theory of sin developed by St. Paul is taken by the idea of the Original Sin which is considered to be the cause for all the misfortunes and sufferings of mankind further on. St. Paul states that before the Original Sin was committed, people lived in peace and in the love of the God who created them. After Adam committed the Original Sin together with Eve, the whole of mankind was condemned to suffer during its existence and every next generation has to pay for what was committed by the first people. St. Paul also identifies the four consequences that sin has for the existence of mankind. Among them two are physical, and two others are moral.
The physical consequences of sin are different diseases and pain that people must suffer because of the Original Sin, and death is considered to be the main punishment for every sin committed by a human being. St. Paul says that “sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4) which is why it must be punished (Grenz, 1996).
One of the moral consequences of sin for human beings is moral diseases, i. e. conflicts that people experience inside themselves, for example when they face certain moral dilemmas and can not make the right choice between good and evil. Another moral consequence is the feeling of remorse, grief, sorrow, and pain, moral, not physical. The main idea of St. Paul’s theory is that the Original Sin was committed by people and people, although other, must pay for it irrespective of the sins they committed or not in their own lives. This idea is the leitmotif of the works by St. Paul because the statement that death is the punishment that people deserve for sin can be met very often in them (Grenz, 1996).
Compared to St. Paul’s views, the ideas that are attributed to Jesus and can be met in the Holy Bible are much milder and merciful. For example, there are no categorical and radical statements that all people are condemned to be punished for the Original Sin. Even vice versa, those people who sin but admit it and repent their sins are not considered to be sinners anymore:” If we sin if we are honest about it and turn from it to God, we are freely forgiven and freely justified.” (1st John 1:8-10)
Furthermore, Jesus said that sin is the phenomenon of the life in this world and it has nothing to do with the life in the Heavens that all people will see if they repent their sins and face the Doomsday without sins:” Once we are saved sin has no bearing on us, honesty before God does.” (1st John 1:8-10) In these lines, we can see that Jesus, God’s Son, preached the views that have much more to do with Christian ethics than the ideas expressed by Saint Paul. Jesus’ words are filled with mercy to people and with understanding that people can not stop omitting sins.
Sin, in this understanding, is the phenomenon given to people by God himself, so that people could feel if they act in a wrong way and make their choice between good and evil (Barker, 2002). Also, sin is a way to examine one’s faith in God, because only the person whose faith is strong, can admit his or her sin and repent it turning to God and begging for mercy:” When we sin, God is right there with us, He is just a glance away, just a thought away, waiting to say:”I love you, I believe in you, I am with you, I am for you, we will beat this TOGETHER, you will shine and make me smile.” (Ephesians 2:10)
One more important idea expressed by Jesus is that one can not be considered a sinner if he or she did not know that he or she was committing a sin when they did something, but if they sinned knowing that they do a bad thing there is nothing that could justify them:” If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).
So, as we can see, the concept of sin is viewed differently in the sources that we have studied. Although both St. Paul and Jesus say that people must pay for sins, the ideas of Jesus are more merciful and leave people a chance to correct their wrong deeds, while St. Paul is convinced that, irrespective of their own sins, all people have to pay for the Original Sin. The consequences of sin according to St. Paul are sufferings and death that people have to experience, while Jesus preached that all people who repent their sins will be saved (Barker, 2002).
Grenz, S. Created for Community. Baker Book House, 1996.
Barker, K., Burdick, D. Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Zondervan; Revised edition, 2002.