From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Hamartiology (from Greek: ἁμαρτία, hamartia, "missing the mark, error" and -λογια, -logia, "study"), a branch of Christian theology, is the study of sin.[1] It is closely related to concepts of natural law, moral theology and Christian ethics.

Divisions of sin[edit]

Sin can be divided by reason of:

  • gravity: mortal and venial;
  • state of the conscience: formal and material;
  • act or state: actual and habitual;
  • person offended: sins against God, against neighbor, against self;
  • manner: commission, omission;
  • manifestation: internal, external;
  • author: original and non-original (personal, actual);
  • attention: deliberate, half-deliberate;
  • cause: ignorance, fragility, malice;
  • special disorder: sins against the Holy Ghost and sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance;[2]
  • proper or improper;[3]
  • psychological fertility: capital sins.[4]

Original sin[edit]

Substantial branches of hamartiological understanding, including Roman Catholic,[5] Presbyterian,[6] Continental Reformed,[7] and Reformed Baptist[8] subscribe to the doctrine of original sin,[9] which the Apostle Paul espouses in Romans 5:12-19 and which Augustine of Hippo popularized in the West and developed into a notion of "hereditary sin". The North African bishop taught that God holds all the descendants of Adam and Eve accountable for Adam's sin of rebellion, and as such all people deserve God's wrath and condemnation – apart from any actual sins they personally commit.[10]

In contrast, a view sometimes ascribed to Pelagius states that humans enter life as moral "blank slates" (tabulae rasae) responsible for their own moral nature.[citation needed] The Fall that occurred when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, according to Pelagianism, affected humankind only minimally as it established a negative moral precedent. Few contemporary theologians (especially thinkers in Augustinian traditions) and no orthodox theologians, however, continue to hold this hamartiological viewpoint.[citation needed]

A third branch of thinking takes an intermediate position, asserting that since the Fall the sin of Adam has naturally affected human beings such that they have inborn tendencies to rebel against God (in which rebellion by personal choice all accountable humans, except Jesus and Mary, will choose or have chosen to indulge). This is the hamartiological position of the Eastern Christian churches, often called ancestral sin as opposed to original sin, but it is sometimes viewed as Semipelagian in the West, especially by the Reformed.

How individual Christians believe that either a literal or metaphorical "Fall" has affected humanity typically forms the foundation for their views on related theological concepts such as salvation, justification, and sanctification.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hamartiology - Define Hamartiology at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  2. ^ Gaume, Jean (1883). The Catechism of Perseverance; Or, An Historical, Dogmatical, Moral, Liturgical, Apologetical, Philosophical, and Social Exposition of Religion. M.H. Gill & Son. p. 871. Q. What other sins ought we to fear most? A. The other sins that we ought to fear most are sins against the Holy Ghost and sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance.
  3. ^ Whidden, Woodrow W. (18 April 2005). "Adventist Theology: The Wesleyan Connection". Biblical Research Institute. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  4. ^ https://paroquiasantabertila.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/09-moral-fundamental-pecado.ppt
  5. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church - PART 1 SECTION 2 CHAPTER 1 ARTICLE 1 PARAGRAPH 7". Scborromeo.org. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  6. ^ "Historic Church Documents at". Reformed.org. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  7. ^ "Historic Church Documents at". Reformed.org. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  8. ^ "THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH" (PDF). Rblist.org. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Calvin". History.hanover.edu. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  10. ^ Bavink, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 3. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) Pages 75-125 detail the historical development of Hamartiology, including Pelagius's position and the mediating positions)

External links[edit]