October 13, 2016 - Sin

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

Ephesians 1:1-10

In his revolutionary 1963 Harvard Theological Review article entitled, “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West”, Krister Stendahl asserted that we may be making a mistake when we assume Paul’s concept of sin matches the modern idea of it as some specific behavior that we feel guilty about.   There are strong indications that Paul saw sin as the sum of all human shortcomings, shared by all of us and relieved in some way by divine action.

We can read today’s passage as a backward-sounding predestination: God chose a few of us for salvation before we were born and disregarded the rest. Or we can read it in the way that I think it was meant: God is aware that we, as a species, are far from perfect and has chosen to love us – all of us – anyway.

 Photo: The Blue Mosque