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Really, I am looking for an answer from a "Trinitarian" perspective, but specifically whoever that Joy Ann McDougall is citing.

Source: McDougall, Joy Ann. "A Trinitarian Grammar Of Sin." Modern Theology 27.1 (2011): 55-71. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Aug. 2013.

Cited Source: David Kelsey, “Whatever Happened to the Doctrine of Sin?” Theology Today Vol. 50 (July 1993), pp. 169–178.

Having lost its traditional moorings in the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of sin, Kelsey argued, had not disappeared from sight as some suspected.

I have checked Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary.

According to the OED, it means a place where a boat is moored or anchored, or it may refer to the things that moor the boat in place.

According to the MWD, it (especially when used in the plural) means an established practice or stabilizing influence.

So, the sentence could have been read as "Having lost its traditional established practice or stabilizing influence in the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of sin, Kelsey argued, had not disappeared from sight as some suspected," or "Having lost its traditional anchorage in the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of sin, Kelsey argued, had not disappeared from sight as some suspected." I noticed that anchorage might be the right metaphor, because the author McDougall seems to be using it metaphorically to refer to sin having an anchor in creation later in the text. I am still unsure what that metaphor is supposed to be, or what the "traditional" interpretations of sin and creation and their relationship are.

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2 Answers 2

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I am going to break this sentence into its constituent parts.

The conditional:

[Sin], Having lost its traditional moorings in the doctrine of creation,

Here in the conditional, the author correctly states that sin is tied to creation. Regardless of how creation happened, it is assumed that Creation was good, but something happened to make it bad. That Creation is "Good" is attested to on every day of Creation, in the account of Genesis 1. That the Creation "fell" is the story of Genesis 3, and expounded by Jews and Christians alike, most notably by Paul:

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— ... 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

(The last part of "Creation, Fall, ..." is Redemption, which is taken up in Romans 5, and is called "The Big Story of Scripture" by many evangelicals.

The idea is simple: It was good, it got bad. This is what Christians mean by "Fall" and the consequence of the Fall is "Sin."

The Effect:

the doctrine of sin, Kelsey argued, had not disappeared from sight as some suspected.

The premise being attacked by "Kelsey" is thus:

If you disprove Creation, you disprove the idea of Sin.

The idea is that if the doctrine of sin has its origins in / is tied to (ergo is "anchored" or "tied to the moorings of") creation & fall, then ... if you can get rid of the idea that there was ever a single "creation" you would also take out the idea that sin exists at the same time.

The problem, is that sin, and hence the Fall, is empirically proven each day. (e.g. JUST WATCH THE NEWS!!!).

The premise (that denying the creation denies sin) is thus demonstrably false.

  1. At least some people don't believe in a literal creation
  2. Even some of those still see that there is "a fall"

Candidly, many evangelicals think that "intellectuals" want to believe there is no such thing as sin. (Indeed, I remember arguing with a professor so "enlightened" that he simply called sin "too exclusive a concept". I remembered thinking, "What an idiot".) Thus rooted to the story of Creation, it might have been assumed that successfully attacking the idea of creation could also disprove the existence of sin.

The Analysis

Kelsey via McDougall is saying, "It didn't work."

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Wow. So much theology packed into a single graceful sentence! –  Anonymous Aug 11 '13 at 18:32
    
Your comment on the news may imply actual sin, not original sin. –  Anonymous Aug 11 '13 at 21:02

Young Earth Creationists (and Old ones) have argued for the doctrinal importance of taking the story of the Fall in Genesis as literal history. Young Earthers have said that if you negate the creation story's claim, as they see it, that physical death did NOT happen before the Fall, you capsize the bible's whole doctrine of sin and need for a Savior. As one piece of evidence for my claim, this "Death Before Sin?" article from the Institute for Creation Research has a whole subsection on "The Effects of Sin Removed."

An important verse in this controversy:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned... For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Romans 5:12, 15b

Aware of these controversies, it is clear that the article is making note of the fact that the common view of creation has changed, yet the doctrine of sin has not disappeared.

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So, young earth and old earth creationists are both supporting the intertwined relationship of sin and creation. Rejecting creation ultimately means rejecting sin, and that means rejecting the need of a savior, so emphasis on Jesus is in vain. What the opposing view in the controversy - that the two doctrines are and should be separated from each other? –  Anonymous Aug 11 '13 at 13:10
    
The author also says, "The migration of the doctrine of sin to that of redemption and liberation...". How does the doctrine of sin change over time? What was the traditional interpretation of sin? –  Anonymous Aug 11 '13 at 13:13
    
In these views, rejecting the literalness of Genesis is rejecting a historical event if the Fall, which may go hand in hand with "rejecting creation." Opposing views (Roman Catholic to C.S. Lewis to liberals) would say the Fall is an ultimately true spiritual event, not meant (not needed) to be taken as history. –  pterandon Aug 11 '13 at 17:47
    
I disagree with the historicity of "the migration", but I can explain it. There are bible passages that talk about either of "social justice" or "family values," often in the same breath: (Ez 16:49-50, Job 31, for ex). There have been different movements in church history that neglected one or other parts of God's law/will here. Mid 20th century Christianity was big on the Family Values stuff. I take your author as positing the rediscovery of the Social Justice stuff as a "new" understanding of sin to be about liberation, etc. –  pterandon Aug 11 '13 at 18:06

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