The Essential Principle Of

The definition of sin as lack of conformity to the divine law does not exclude, but rather necessitates, an inquiry into the characterizing motive or impelling power, which explains its existence and constitutes its guilt. Only three views require extended examination. Of these the first two constitute the most common excuses for sin, although not propounded for his purpose by their authors: Sin is due (1) to the human body or (2) to finite weakness. The third, which we regard as the Scriptural view, considers sin as (3) the supreme choice of self or selfishness. In the preceding section on the Definition of Sin, we showed that sin is a state, and a state of the will. We now ask, what is the nature of this state? We expect to show that it is essentially a selfish state of the will.

1. Sin as Sensuousness.

This view regards sin as the necessary product of man?s sensuous nature ? a result of the soul?s connection with a physical organism. This is the view of Schleiermacher and of Rothe. More recent writers, with John Fiske, regard moral evil as man?s inheritance from a brute ancestry.

For statement of the view here opposed, see Schleiermacher, Der Christliche Glaube, 1:361-364 ? ?Sin is a prevention of the determining power of the spirit, caused by the independence (Selbstandigkeit) of the sensuous functions.? The child lives at first a life of sense, in which the bodily appetites are supreme. The senses are the avenues of all temptation, the physical domineers over the spiritual and the soul never shakes off the body. Sin is, therefore, a malaria?s exhalation from the low grounds of human nature or, to use the words of Schleiermacher, ?a positive opposition of the flesh to the spirit.? Pfleiderer, Prot. Theol. seit Kant, 113, says that Schleiermacher here repeats Spinoza?s ?inability of the spirit to control the sensuous affections.? Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion, 1:230 ? ?In the development of man out of the natural, the lower impulses have already won a power of self-assertion and resistance before the reason could yet come to its valid position and authority. As this propensity of the self-will is grounded in the specific nature of man, it may be designated as inborn, hereditary or original sinfulness.?

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