When we hear the word ‘sin’ a host of Christian mythologies tends to colour our idea of what a sin is and imageries of doom and Hell flashes in the presence of the word, ‘sin’. The concept of ‘sin’ was important from the Greek philosophers, by route of the word hamartia, that in its most general meaning mean to miss the mark. Other Greek words have been considered synonymous with the idea of ‘sin’, such as parabasis, ‘transgression’, anomia, ‘lawlessness and paraptoma, ‘false and erroneous acts or steps’.
The consequence of failing the mark is that we fall away from our centre and confusion is bound to ensue. When we are confused error is a natural consequence as is bad decisions. Bad decisions will bring us further away from our centre and we are gradually losing sight of the path. For the Greek thinkers in Antiquity a ‘sin’ implied to act in ways that misaligned the person with destiny and what we can understand as a ‘fall from Grace’ would occur as an ongoing process. Sin, or vice and virtue might be better understood as a state of the heart that holds the capacity of infecting its surroundings, it is contagious.
It should be reminded that ‘sin’ is not a Christian idea – but rather an interpretation of the Greek ‘hamartia’ within the developing early Christian theology and found its current form in the Middle Ages. Prior to this Aristotle spoke of ‘sin’ in the guise of vices in his Ethics – and the Stoics were relentlessly occupied with vice, virtue and honour. It is from these philosophical schools the ideas of sin, vice and virtue was imported into Christian theology.
The nastiest of all sins were superbia, pride. The cardinal sin as it were as it was pride that made the angelic host to fall, causing humankind to gain knowledge of good and evil. The virtue that contrasts pride is faith, faith in the inherent goodness of creation – that all is love. Pride must be understood in reference to hubris – an attitude of false superiority, or to be dislocated from ones station and Fate in a boastful and arrogant way. Vanagloria or vanity is closely related to hubris, because vanity is about self glorification, a form of self adoration that gives a distorted importance to appearance, forgetting content. Hubris involves boastful behaviour, impudence, taking delight in one’s bad ways and hypocrisy.
Christian doctrine sees the most critical effect of this sin to be that man places himself above God and as such hubris is an attack upon faith itself. In reality the Christian doctrine speaks of a moral consequence in the presence of hubris caused by falling from ones centre. To fall from one’s centre was critical, because our centre was defined by our daimonic host, Fate and purpose, as a congregation of spirits of generosity and blessing. Faith is contrasted as the virtue to this sin greatly because faith is what causes us to believe something good will occur from approaching complications and difficulties in a spirit of interest and – good faith. If this spirit is cultivated within it will also spread and touch those around us as if it was contagious...as with all the virtues and vices.
Superbia however will reach out and touch the world with a spirit of impudence and arrogance. The one affected by this disease will grow great in its nothingness and will spread the husks of love’s remains as the world is laid barren and bare in the fields of illusions where the suffering one is lost in the fantasy of its own greatness mirrored in ruthlessness and self serving behavior.
Superbia has been said to be the sin of Lucifer – but if this was his sin, so his virtue must have been faith...because we cannot have the one without knowing the other, but we must choose well what we decide to keep and nurture, what we want to infect the world with.