Jenson: Sin and Righteousness

“Throughout Scripture, the central moral and historical category is ‘righteousness.’ Since Israel’s God is invested in Israel’s community, her righteousness consists in faithfulness in that community; thus righteousness in Israel’s Bible is the vigor of the entire network of communal relations within which participants divine and human live…Scripture’s many words for sin are mere contraries of ‘righteousness’ and denote one or another betrayal of community (pp. 71-72).”

How often do we portray sin and righteousness in this way? So often, it seems to me, sin and righteousness are defined by participating in or refraining from particular acts. For instance, some traditions forbid dancing and drinking alcohol as sins. I think these can be sins, but only in the sense in which Jenson here defines sin. Only as authentic community with God and neighbor are compromised are these sin. We can easily see alcoholism as a sin. Dancing? Maybe if it is dehumanizing in some sense. So, let’s start to define sin and righteousness communally, and maybe we’ll make some strides in our conversations about sin.

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