What’s Wrong with Sin

What’s Wrong with Sin’ by Derek R. Nelson

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It’s a pleasure to announce that ‘What’s Wrong with Sin. Sin in Individual and Social Perspective from Schleiermacher to Theologies of Liberation’ will be published in July.

This volume discusses two primary doctrines of sin that have been posited in the last half-century, namely ‘the structural sin’ type and ‘the relational self’ type. Nelson offers an interesting debate that includes criticisms of thinkers such as F.D.E. Schleiermacher and Charles Finneys, Gutierrez, Segundo or Boff. Nelson also touches upon doctrines of sin from Asian Christian theologians, emphasizing here Korean Minjung theology. ‘What’s Wrong with Sin’ concludes with recommendations drawn from the preceding analyses for further understanding of the social dimensions of sin: the need for clarifying the agential status of a “social structure;” the moral culpability of a relational self; and a call to integrate the structural sin and relational self types into a future doctrine of social sin.

We have already received some very interesting commendations for this volume:

‘For the theological student or pastor, Derek Nelson’s study on the changing understanding of sin should become a vital reference. Nelson traces the critique of individualistic views of sin for more social views and the relational self in 19th century theology. He then shows the flowering of these new understandings in Latin American Liberation theologies, Feminist and Womanist theologies and Korean Minjung Theology in the last third of the twentieth century.’ – Rosemary Radford Ruether, Claremont Graduate University, USA

‘Derek Nelson offers persuasive proposals about how better to formulate a social doctrine of sin. It is based on the most wide-ranging analytical map available of such doctrines of sin, a map that exhibits their differing senses of “sin" and “social" and the various strategies they use to avoid the individualism characteristic of older theologies. Placing them in a larger historical perspective, Nelson shows that although social doctrines of sin are widespread in the past half-century, especially in liberationist theologies, have instructive precedents in nineteenth century theology.’ – David H. Kelsey, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT, USA

‘Hyper-individualism is everyone’s favorite whipping-boy these days, but solutions to the problem too often end up flat or trite. Derek Nelson’s survey of responses to individualism in the doctrine of sin in the last two centuries nicely sets the table for a constructive theology of social sin. A generous yet incisive reader, Nelson listens to and learns from wildly disparate voices (Schleiermacher and Finney and Gutierrez – oh my!). His critical patience and concern to engage in constructive Christian theology ensure that the strong medicine of contextual theology is not hopelessly diluted by mere description, the vacuous praise of the guilty holders of power, or the flattening of inter-religious generalizations. His proposal to integrate a structural account of sin and a relational anthropology, coupled with a call for analytic rigor in our understandings of both, brings clarity to a cloudy discussion. One only hopes that he will write the constructive theology of social sin for which he calls!’ – Matt Jenson, Biola University, La Mirada, CA, USA

‘What’s Wrong with Sin’ is available in the UK in July 2009 and in the US in September 2009.

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