A Thinker’s Guide to Sin

A Thinker’s Guide to Sin

Neil Darrach (Ed.), Accent Publications, $39.95

Most of us have puzzled in recent years about the way “sin” is understood in Australian society. Although for some of us it still remains a religiously meaningful term, this old has somehow become less than helpful for many. If those in the Church are no longer sure what sin is, how can we speak about wrongdoing in a way that is meaningful both in the church and our wider society today?

The Guide is a collection of New Zealand articles written by over 20 different authors from different Christian traditions, all addressing different aspects to sin-talk. The aim is to articulate for Christians as well as interested members of other religions and wider society a broad understanding of sin and its contemporary equivalents.

Part One deals with some of the shifts that have taken place in recent years in the way sin is talked about. Part Two explores what we actually mean by the concept of sin and wrongdoing in our lives. In recognition that there are many shades of grey when we try to define wrongdoing, Part Three looks at the complexity involved in defining the boundaries of sin and wrongdoing. Finally, Part Four discusses some “new” kinds of sin, those areas of wrongdoing which may not have featured previously such as environmental, rural and intergenerational wrongdoing. The underlying message of the whole book is the hope that in discussing sin or wrongdoing, we might be more able to overcome, or even eliminate it.

It seems clear today, with the aid of new understandings in psychology and theology, that traditional emphasis on individual sin is neither nourishing or empowering, nor does it recognise sin as embedded within many of the structures of our society. This book offers thoughtful reassessment of this key theological concept.

Karyl Davison

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