Yo guys! Been awhile. Nice to see Phat and ringo are still at it . I saw this post and thought I might come out of hibernation to engage in some discussion. I'm excited
Yo Blue Jay, hope you are well bro. In typical Raphael fashion this may be long. Apologies in advance lol. Your original question was:
Blue Jay writes:
Logically, if God created all of reality, then He also determined what would cause us to be unworthy to enter Heaven. So, He set it up to match His specifications from the beginning.
So, am I right? What is sin?
In order to answer this question we need to back up and examine your original framework for Christianity. This is important, because if we start the conversation with incorrect assumptions it will lead us to a very different place. From what you've written here, it seems the view of Christianity/God/the Bible you're asking about is all about going to heaven. Perhaps the classic "if you do good things, you go to heaven, while bad things send you to hell" view. In this view the whole story and thing ends up being about personal morality management, and if you're good enough, you get to go to "the good place" (hilarious show starring Kristen Bell btw )
The problem with the above framework is....it's not in the Bible. Lol. Or rather, it's not what the truest expression of the Biblical story leads us to. The Bible is, perhaps first and foremost, not a story about how, if we're moral enough people, we get to escape earth when we die. The Bible is the story of how the Creator is redeeming and restoring this place (earth) and the people in it.
Now lets pause for a moment. I totally understand why you might have the view/assumption about Christianity that you do, since the Biblical story has been so misrepresented and butchered over the years by people claiming to believe in it. So as a result, it's probably pretty easy to google some well known evangelical and quote him or her saying the opposite of what I've just said. However when you actually read the pages of the book, you'll find that what I've said is true.
So, with that said, your original question, "what is sin?"
If you're asking for the Biblical definition, there are a couple different Hebrew words that get translated as "sin" in the Old Testament. The most common one is " חָטָא " , or "Khata." It means to "miss the goal," like you were at the shooting range and totally missed the target. In Greek, this is the word that's translated as " ἁμαρτία" or "hamartia" in the NT.
KHATA The most important question here, then, is what goal? The way the Old Testament answers this is with the "Ten Words" in Exoduds Ch. 20 (commonly known as the 10 Commandments). If you split them up, the first four are all ways we can worship and love the creator, while the latter 6 are about how to love and care for other people. To "Khata" is to "miss the goal" of being a conduit of love in the world. As you can see, it has very little to do with keeping arbitrary rules to appease a god so you can be worthy enough to get into heaven.
"Khata" is an interesting word because it also describes how we "miss the mark" on understanding what is truly good, and end up deceiving ourselves chasing after things that end up destroying us. It's basically a word describing the brokenness of human nature.
In summary, under the definition of "Khata," sin is a failure to love other humans in our communities well, a failure to love the Creator back in response to his love, and a commentary on our own twisted human nature.
PESHA Another word that gets translated to "sin" from the Old Testament is " פֶּ֫שַׁע " or "Pesha." In Greek, " παράπτωμα," or "Paraptoma/ai." It means (and is sometimes translated as) "transgression," and refers to the ways that people violate the trust of others. In other words, "Pesha" describes betrayal in the context of relationship. Like, if you came home one night to discover your spouse in bed with someone else, that would be "Pesha." Part of the complexity within the word is it also describes the relational chaos and pain that happens when trust is broken in the context of relationship.
"Pesha" is important to the Biblical story because it's essentially one of the themes of the whole story, mainly, a "Pesha" between the Creator and his creation. You mentioned that God "set it up to match his specifications from the beginning." Again, I can understand why you have this assumption, considering this is the narrative of a lot of evangelicals, but it's not actually in the story. As I mentioned earlier, the Bible is much more about how the creator will restore the world than it is about being "moral enough" to get into heaven.
In conclusion, there are one, maybe two other words that could fit the category of "sin" here, but these two are the most prominent. So, Blue Jay, to answer your question:
Sin is both: 1) A failure to love my community and the Creator well, I.E., a failure to be a conduit for love in the world
2) When I break the trust of others and cause relational damage and pain for someone else, and release that pain into the world.
Hope this helps!
Edited by Raphael, : punctuation, fixing some code errors
Edited by Raphael, : fixed another error, changed my description of evangelicals as "right wing" because i felt it was a blanket statement