The word "sin" in the Bible?

Discussion in 'Languages' started by jwright82, Feb 9, 2012.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I am part of a discussion group on theology and one of the men in the group, who is a typical Fundamentalist, who is trying to argue that God is the author of sin. My question is in the original languages what is the words for sin and what do they mean? Also are these same words used in places like Romans 1:18 for "ungodliness" and "unrightousness"? Are these words synonomous for sin?
  2. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Sin (ἁμαρτία) a failing to hit the mark

    Transgression (παράβασις) properly, a going over; metaphorically, a disregarding, violating

    Unrighteousness is simply “not righteious”

    Ungodliness is simply “not godly”

    The English translations of these words are faithful renderings. I really don’t think there is help in the words in dealing with one “who is trying to argue that God is the author of sin”. Such a one would have to prove from God's Self Revelation that it is true. He must necessarily fail.
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

  4. rookie

    rookie Puritan Board Sophomore

    Below is an extract from John Piper's Desiring God. And apparently it's an extract from John Frame's book "the Doctrine of God"

    God Is Sovereign Over Sin
    . . . God does harden hearts, and through his prophets he predicts sinful human actions long in advance, indicating that he is in control of human free decisions. Now theologians have found it difficult to formulate in general terms how God acts to bring about those sinful actions. . . . Do we want to say that God is the “cause” of evil? That language is certainly problematic, since we usually associate cause with blame. . . . t seems that if God causes sin and evil, he must be to blame for it.

    Words: The Theologian’s Tools
    Therefore, there has been much discussion among theologians as to what verb should best describes God’s agency in regard to evil. Some initial possibilities: authors, brings about, causes, controls, creates, decrees, foreordains, incites, includes within his plan, makes happen, ordains, permits, plans, predestines, predetermines, produces, stands behind, wills. Many of these are extra-scriptural terms; none of them are perfectly easy to define in this context. So theologians need to give some careful thought about which of these terms, if any, should be affirmed, and in what sense. Words are the theologian’s tools. In a situation like this, none of the possibilities is fully adequate. There are various advantages and disadvantages among the different terms. Let us consider some of those that are most frequently discussed.

    1) Does God Author Sin?
    The term authors is almost universally condemned in the theological literature. It is rarely defined, but it seems to mean both that God is the efficient cause of evil and that by causing evil he actually does something wrong.1 So the [Westminster Confession] says that God “neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin” (5:4). Despite this denial in a major Reformed confession, Arminians regularly charge that Reformed theology makes God the author of sin. They assume that if God brings about evil in any sense, he must therefore approve it and deserve the blame. In their view, nothing less than libertarian freedom will serve to absolve God from the charge of authoring sin.

    God Does Not Author Sin
    But as we saw [in chapter 8] libertarian freedom is incoherent and unbiblical. And as we saw [in chapter 4] God does bring about sinful human actions. To deny this, or to charge God with wickedness on account of it, is not open to a Bible-believing Christian. Somehow, we must confess both that God has a role in bringing evil about, and that in doing so he is holy and blameless. . . . God does bring sins about, but always for his own good purposes. So in bringing sin to pass he does not himself commit sin. If that argument is sound, then a Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God does not imply that God is the author of sin.

    1 Lest there be confusion over language: the “author/story” model of God’s relation to creatures, which I [will advocate later], does not make God the “author of sin” in this sense. Nothing about that model implies that God commits or approves of sin. In fact I shall argue later that it provides us a reason to deny that.
  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Don't forget to start out with a clear definition of "author." That's quite a slippery term, and people on different sides in a dispute often invest it with different shades of meaning.

    The WCF uses "author" for God with regard to Scripture, in ch.1:4, in the typical sense of a book's author. With regard to sin, the following two sections:

    Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree
    3:1 God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass (Rom.9:15, 18; 11:33; Eph.1:11; Heb.6:17): yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin (Jas.1:13, 17; 1Jn.1:5), nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established (Prv.16:33; Mt.17:12; Jn.19:11; Act.2:23; 4:27, 28).

    Chapter 5: Of Providence
    5:4 The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men (2Sam.16:10; 24:1; 1Ki.22:22, 23; 1Chr.10:4, 13, 14; 21:1; Act.2:23; 4:27, 28; Rom.11:32-34); and that not by a bare permission (Act.14:16), but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding (2Ki.19:29; Ps.76:10), and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends (Gen.1:20; Is.10:6, 7; 12); yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither, is nor can be, the author or approver of sin (Ps.50:21; Jas.1:13, 14, 17; 1Jn.2:16).​

    Last, Christ is referred to as "the author and finisher of our faith," in 14:3, quoting Heb.12:2 in the KJV. Arguably, the term has an elastic meaning even within the Confession.

    Bottom line is, I think it proper to settle on a definition of "author" that makes it clear that whatever God's responsibility for ordaining sin's existence, and permitting it, for a time until it is destroyed; he should not be charged with "authorship" of sin.
  6. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well this guy is a typical fundamentalist. He cites verses that he claims say that God is the cause of sin. He is not interested in anything other than simplicistic, plain, and "literal" understandings. He regects that verses refering to man's ungodliness or unrightousness are refering in any way shape or form to sin. I always took those words to be at least refering to the same thing as sin. I think that next time we meet I am not going to let him stack the deck so much. He says you have to provide a verse that says in plain language that Go dis not the author of sin. When we showed him Romans 1 he said but it doesn't use the word sin. He would wave away questions regarding his method, hermanuetics, or arbitrary distinctions.
  7. rookie

    rookie Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sounds like a friend of mine that said "Jesus never plainly said in English" - "I am God", so I don't believe anywhere that Jesus was God...

    Ignoring completely the vocabulary of the day
  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    That's not typical for fundamentalism: most fundamentalists, at the least the ones I have met, would shudder in horror at the idea that God would be the cause of sin.
  9. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    True enough, I guess I should explain what i meant better. I have had a somewhat obsession with studying the psychology, theological method, hermanuetics, etc.. of the various Fundamentalists that I meet. Yes you are correct that most Christians even would deny this but it is how he reached his conclusions that concerns me. The over emphasis on "literal", the refusal to ask any critical questions about the text (I would say this is to actually think about what the text is saying), Glorying in contradictory doctrines or just refusing to even speak about a system of doctrine. These sorts of psychological trends are true of at least most Fundamentalists that I have met.

    True that I can only say these things about Fundamentalists, and it may even be a southern thing. I don't know, so I guess I shouldn't be so universal about the Fundamentalists. But never the less he correctly fits the mold that i am talking about. He cites 2 Corinthians 5: 21 "For our sake He made Him to be sin (his emphasis) who knew no sin...". Now verse 19 speaks about God "imputing" (my bible is the NKJ Reformation study bible) our "trespasses" to him. But if we look at things his way than it makes a certian sense. The bible says he made him sin period the end, we don't doubt it, it doesn't have to make sense we just believe it and that is it. This is a simplafication of the argument but its form is the same way.

    I also need to point out that my oversimplafication of his form of his argument paints him in a picture that does not do justice to his intellect, he is very (too much?) logical and precise. He is guilty of over speculating about scripture but not for being unintelligent. I do not doubt his intentions, he beleives he is being faithful to scripture, nor his love of Christ.
  10. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    His method sounds more insane than fundamentalist! After all, Peter is pretty clear and straightforward: "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth."
  11. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I agree but never the less there is a trend amongst people I meet. The vast majority of them do not go this far but their methods are the same. For me the proof is when I can identify a person as being "Fundamentalist" and acuretly predict how they will behave. When I can basically "script" out how the conversation will go than that means I am on to something.
  12. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    But that essentially leads you to an idiosyncratic definition of fundamentalist: whereas many who would self-identify as fundamentalist would not fall into your categories.
  13. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Fair enough. Piper in his book Contending for Our All he lists on page 127 th reasons why Machen did not like Fundamentalism. Many of those are excemplified in this person's extrematy and others I have met. In essence they have not contradicted these things but took them to the Nth degree.
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