Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard and Mantzarides’ teachings on Sin

7 July 2015
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It`s obvious here, that Mantzarides comprehension of the content of sin is more orientated on men`s relation to God and Jesus, whereas Kierkegaard and Schleiermacher concentrate more on the existential movement in between a single person. Following Schleiermacher sin can be committed with and without consciousness, but can just be realized after having a self-consciousness. He stresses that sin is something subjective and internal, which cannot be judged by objective facts. Concerted to it Kierkegaard indicates, that men can sin with and without being conscious, but can be aware of it only after a revelation of God. As well as Schleiermacher, he describes sin as an inner movement, which isn’t visible from the outside. But whereas Kierkegaard stresses that sin is something which is laying in the will of men, Schleiermacher rejects this understanding by putting sin into the self-consciousness rather than to will or understanding. In this aspect, Mantzarides agrees with Kierkegaard, when he describes sin as a consequence of will. The Orthodox theologian furthermore names sin egocentrism, lack of charity to ones neighbours, mistrust to God and as a result of putting too much attention to worldly things.

Female hands reading the old book Bible

Last I examined that the term sin includes a distinction between original sin and actual sin and that one also has to define its connection. Schleiermacher deals with that distinction in the thickest way, because he even separates his observations of sin into two chapters. He assumes, that there is an original sin, which lays in the very nature of men and therefore belongs to a common consciousness, not to an individual one. According to him, original sin connects time and space within different generations. He also as points out, that we could derive a general need of being redeemed because of the original sin. Schleiermacher names the actual sin the real one, which follows the original sin and for which one is responsible individually. Kierkegaard doesn’t use the terms original sin and actual sin directly. Nevertheless his construction on the human self implicitly shows that he has in mind an original sin, which everyone holds. More specifically he deals with the actual sin, which he describes as the self-relation towards the original self of men. Kierkegaard explains the actual sin as an inner movement, which is visible only in a very moment and never can be judged from the outside. Mantzarides doesn’t separate original sin from actual sin at all. He only concludes, that everybody is sinful.

Comparing Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard and Mantzarides to their comprehension of the theologian term sin, it`s been obvious, that here are more similarities than differences between them. As well as their construction to the human nature and the consequences of sin for men`s relationship to God, the content of sin and the distinction between original sin and actual sin, their understandings are quite similar. Structural differences between Mantzarides towards Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard I would ascribe to the fact that his observations come from a more ethical point of view then from a dogmatic one. All in all I come to the conclusion, that concerning the term sin a protestant and Orthodox view are much more alike than I before thought they would be and hence that an ecumenical dialogue could be possible very easily.


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