God’s relation to sin

Conceptualizing God’s relation to sin is one of the deep mysteries of theology. Why would a good and sovereign God will to allow sin? How does sin even exist in his world? Karl Barth powerfully attempts to explain in his Church Dogmatics IV/1:

“Sin has no positive basis in God, no place in His being, no positive part in His life, and therefore no positive part in His will and work. It is not a creature of God. It arises only as…what God has not willed and does not will and will not will, of that which absolutely is not, or is only as God does not will it, of that which lives only as that which God has rejected and condemned and excluded. When man sins, he does that which God has forbidden and does not will” (p. 409).

“Sin is that which is absurd, man’s absurd choice and decision for that which is not, described in the Genesis story as his hearkening to the voice of the serpent, the beast of chaos. Sin exists only in this absurd event….[Sin] exists only on the left hand of God” (p. 410).

2 Comments

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  1. That’s easily the most lucid statement I’ve ever read by Barth. And to think it relates to the complex subject of theodicy! Who’d ever thunk it!

  2. When I think of sin as a thing, I get hung up . . . who created it? Has it always existed? Barth does a great job of defining sin not as a “thing” but as an absence of something. Still can’t wrap my mind around it . . . someone once told me sin is the puzzle piece that just won’t fit . . . and I think that is a pretty good summary.

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