A re-post from Mark Van Steenwyk, executive director of The Center for Prophetic Imagination (originally posted to social media on September 23, 2019).
Sin isn’t a homogeneous substance that exists in human hearts. It isn’t a phantomous thing that can only be combated with prayer and good intentions.
The Bible doesn’t make the case that all of humanity is bad to the core and that sin is about individual human choices and that the only way to fight sin is to win people to Jesus. That story has been placed upon Scripture and, at the same time, fits so nicely within the framework of individualism and religious conservatism. Which is why it persists in the USA.
Jesus shows us a way of love, not a way of sin remediation. Paul tells us that our struggle is against principalities and powers…systems of oppression. The prophets spoke to broad injustices as much or more than individual human hearts (though the two are, no doubt, interconnected). The early apostles were organizers. They didn’t start little hubs for individualized conversion; they, empowered by the spirit, started networks of alternative practice…collectives that challenged the economic, political, social, and religious norms of their day. They were, in a very real way, community organizers with roots deep in an ancient story of liberation.