In this show, Tim and Jon sit down with Dr. Matthew Croasmun. Dr. Croasmun is Associate Research Scholar and Director of the Life Worth Living Program at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture as well as Lecturer of Divinity and Humanities at Yale University. He completed his Ph.D. in Religious Studies (New Testament) at Yale in 2014 and was a recipient of the 2015 Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise for his dissertation, "The Body of Sin: An Emergent Account of Sin as a Cosmic Power in Romans 5-8."
He discusses his new book, The Emergence of Sin. It was a resource that Tim drew on heavily as he wrote and prepared for The Bible Project’s Spiritual Beings video series.
Part 1 of the episode (0-53:15) is the interview with Dr. Croasmun. Dr. Croasmun discusses some of the highlights of scientific research, theology, and philosophy, pointing out how they overlap. Dr. Croasmun also discusses dualism and reductionism. Tim and Dr. Croasmun briefly touch on the nature of reality.
Then they dive into a discussion on the nature of sin. What is the exact nature of sin or of evil? Dr. Croasmun uses a few examples from nature, including the example of a bee and beehive. He posits the idea of sin or evil as a “super organism.” That is to say, not only do humans “sin” individually, but we are members of larger sin structures and systems. These are systems that create death and pain in the world.
Dr. Croasmun shares Romans 6:6 (New American Standard Bible): “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
Dr. Croasmun asks what Paul means by this phrase, “the body of sin.” Or does Paul have multiple meanings in mind?
Tim notes that C.S. Lewis and other writers have spoken of sin as a “parasite on the good,” meaning that sin does not exist on its own but always exists as a distortion of the good.
Instead of people having total autonomy over their lives, Dr. Croasmun notes, they are always in service to something. We are either in service to systems of sin or to systems under Christ.
The systems of sin would be examples of rampant, violent nationalism, racism, or discrimination against vulnerable people, animals, and nature.
Dr. Croasmun shares that it’s important to think of sin on three levels: an individual level, a large, super-organism and corporate level, and on a cosmic, supernatural level. All three ways will help a person to more fully understand these issues.
In part 2 (53:15-end), Tim and Jon recap their conversation with Dr. Croasmun. Tim says that all theologians are in a constant state of forming and reforming their ideas. He adds that sometimes, in our quest to simplify things, we actually do reality a disservice. Reality is complex, and so are the ideas surrounding God, man, nature, good, and evil.
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Show Resources: Dr. Croasmun’s book: The Emergence of Sin
Show Music: “Excellent Instrumental” by Propaganda “Defender Instrumental” by Tents
Show produced by: Dan Gummel