IX. Sin and Salvation:
In dealing with salvation, Systematic Theology generally begins with the theological
category of human sin (hamartiology) and moves from "sin" to the various aspects of salvation
(soteriology), such as redemption, reconciliation and etc.
But the methodology of Biblical
Theology will not permit us the luxury of such logic, if we intend to follow the authentic
patterns laid down for us by the biblical text.
In the OT sin is not a matter of "ontology,"
sinfulness is not inherent in humanity's created, creaturely existence.
Sin is not a matter of who
we are as frail, finite, and dust-formed creatures; rather, sin is a matter of what has been and is
being done with the human will.
Sin, in the biblical narrative, is a rebellion against God or a
transgression of God's Law (
In this context, sin does not have an independent history,
and it does not have an independent existence -- as though the God of Evil and the God of Good
were waging war against one another in the arena of human history.
If there were no God, if
there were no relationship with God established through the covenant, and no
the holy obligations of that relationship, one could not speak meaningfully about human "sin" --
in the OT sense of the term.
The OT possesses a rich and variegated terminology for describing human sin.
are many OT Hebrew terms which are translated as "sin" in our English versions, and often they
are rendered without a clear and consistent pattern of correspondence.
principle underlying all OT usage is that sin involves a failure, an irregularity or a distortion of
the proper, God-given order of things; that which is "righteous" (
) is (literally) "straight"
and therefore conforms to the norm or standard, but when something is "sinful" (
) or "evil"
) a certain perverseness or "crookedness" has been introduced into the God-given order.
S.J. De Vries, "Sin and Sinners,"
, IV, pp. 361-376; Dufour, ed.
Dictionary of Biblical Theology
, pp. 550-557;
Kenneth Grayson, "Sin,"
, pp. 226-229; cf. Jacob, Theology of the OT, pp. 281-297;