Is religious deception a sin

Sin and vice

Friedrich Wilhelm Graf

To person

Dr. theol., born 1948; Professor em. for Systematic Theology and Ethics at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich; Author of, among others, "Götter global. How the world becomes a supermarket for religions" (2014); Evangelical Theological Faculty, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 Munich. [email protected]

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors ", pray Christians of all denominations in their truly most important prayer, because in every worship service and in open graves, the" Our Father ", which according to the New Testament tradition Jesus of Nazareth himself taught them to pray In this request of the "Lord's Prayer" it is assumed: We humans are notorious, even more: we are constitutively guilty, in spite of our likeness to God amor suiSelf-centeredness or self-referentiality, fixated on ourselves. In the faith languages ​​of Christian tradition, sin means radically narcissistic self-referentiality or sheer self-love, at least a state of consciousness in which an individual is always entangled in his own self and no inner reflexive self-reflection whatsoever Able to gain distance.

Then how can we sinners forgive others, "our guilty", their "guilt"? The search for an answer leads to age-old controversies among the learned experts in the faith, to harsh and subtle theological debates about terms such as "reconciliation", "forgiveness", "atonement", "satisfaction", "satisfaction", "debt relief" and later also " Sorry". If a person lives in sinfully radical self-centering, he suffers from alienation, the separation from his true self. According to both Jewish and Christian doctrine, this true human self is determined by the fundamental insight that none of us owes ourselves, but that we receive our own, individual life as a gift - from God's hand. True life is therefore a life in the consciousness of one's own creature, a life in wholesome, grateful reverence for God the Creator.

In his "Small Catechism" from 1529, Martin Luther made this Christian belief in creation in the interpretation of the first sentence of the creed - "I believe in God, the Father, the almighty Creator of heaven and earth" - so present: "I believe, that God created me with all creatures, body and soul, eyes, ears and all limbs, reason and all senses, gave me and still keeps me, clothes and shoes, food and drink, house and court, woman and child, field, Cattle and all goods, abundantly and daily supplied with all necessities and food of this body and life, protected against all dangerousness and guarded and preserved from all evil, and all of this out of pure fatherly, divine goodness and mercy without all my merit and worthiness, des everything I owe him to thank and praise and serve and be obedient for it; that is certainly true. " The existential point of the Creed of Creation, which affects each individual in its own way, cannot be emphasized more strongly.

Guilt and self-determination

Many Jewish and Christian theologians had interpreted the wrong, sinful life as a state of alienation in which the sinner, thanks to his radical self-centering, remains separated not only from God but also from his fellow human beings. Overcoming this alienation was then often linked to the death of Jesus and that of his "disciples", his first followers, be it experienced or alleged resurrection. In the almost two thousand year history of Christianity, very different interpretive patterns and narratives have been developed for Jesus' death on the cross. In his willingness to be passionate or in his self-giving, Jesus made a sacrifice on behalf of sinful humanity, with which God, who was angry with human misdeeds, was appeased or gracious once and for all. Theologians call this doctrine, which Anselm von Canterbury represents particularly impressively, the dogma of satisfaction or the dogma of the vicarious sacrificial death of the crucified.

But this doctrine always found strong critics in the history of Christian theology who pointed out, for example, that the ideas of the "wrath of God", the "punishing God", even the "god of avenge" contradict the old biblical discourse about the gracious Father God. Especially radical reformers of the 16th century, for example critics of the ruling church doctrine such as the Socinians and theologians of the Anabaptist movements, as well as other representatives of the so-called radical Reformation, rejected the traditional doctrines of satisfaction with great polemical determination.

In the 17th and 18th centuries they were followed by the so-called neologists, critical Protestant enlighteners in the theological faculties. Wilhelm Traugott Krug, the liberal Protestant successor of Immanuel Kant at the Königsberg chair for philosophy, wrote in a critical study on the doctrine of reconciliation in 1802:

"The doctrine of reconciliation is indisputably the fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion. It is put forward so often and so emphatically in the documents of this religion that the whole purpose of the mission of the founder of Christianity is so often and so clearly defined as follows: Jesus should make people with God reconcile, your Sin guilt to wipe out his life for them Atonement surrender etc. - that it is in vain to try to criticize or exegesis that doctrine away from the writings of the new covenant. Nevertheless, the doctrine of atonement has always, and especially in recent times, met with so many and so violent opposition from the best minds that it no longer seems to have become a characteristic feature of an enlightened way of thinking in theology, no longer of that doctrine to believe, but to regard it merely as a relic that passed from the superstitious ways of thinking of the prehistoric world into Christianity through its earliest, not yet adequately informed, heralds. "[1]

The decisive objection of these many "best minds" among the critical theologians and philosophers was: It is a necessary part of human freedom to let one's guilt be ascribed to oneself - no one else, not even an ideal redeemer, can represent the free human being or the autonomous self decrease his guilt. In the intrinsic logic of decisive self-determination, any idea of ​​external compensation for one's own individual guilt was destroyed.