Is sin dead?
By Cathy Lynn Grossman
Is sin dead? How can Christians celebrate Jesus' atonement for their sins and the promise of eternal life if they don't recognize themselves as sinners?
Take it from Pope Benedict XVI. He says the modern world "is losing the notion of sin." And not just personal sins such as greed, lust or the rest of the infamous Seven Deadlies, but social sins, too, such as polluting the planet or allowing injustice to flourish.
A new survey by Ellison Research in Phoenix finds 87% of U.S. adults believe in the existence of sin, which is defined as "something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective."
Topping the list are adultery (81%) and racism (74%).
But other sins no longer draw majority condemnation. Premarital sex? Only 45% call it sin. Gambling? Just 30% say it's sinful.
"A lot of this is relative. We tend to view sin not as God views it, but how we view it," says Ellison president Ron Sellers.
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Research, a company in Ventura, Calif., that tracks Christian trends, draws a similar conclusion: "People are quick to toe the line on traditional thinking" that there is sin "but interpret that reality in a very personal and self-congratulatory manner" — I have to do what's best for me; I am not as sinful as most.
Indeed, 65% of U.S. adults say they will go to heaven, and only 0.05% believe they'll go to hell, according to a 2003 Barna telephone survey of 1,024 adults.
See: Has the 'notion of sin' been lost? - USATODAY.com