Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5F2

[What art?  How about the three movies series entitled The Matrix?

Consider the quandary facing the Architect of the Matrix. The fact that there is an equal sign (“=”) in the Architect’s self-construction means that a remainder on the one side of its equation must be balanced with a remainder on the other side.

The imbalance in the Matrix consists of one remainder destabilizing the other remainder and visa versa.  The remainder itself is generated by acquisitive mimesis.  People choose to leave the Matrix.  However, once the remainder is balanced on the other side of the Architect’s equations, conflictual mimesis begins.  The programs themselves want to escape the Matrix.  They do not want to be deleted.  They want freedom.

The initial destabilization stems from the inability to predict human action – that is – the acts that situate human choice – once the human chooses to be free.  If a person chooses to belong to the Matrix, then the architect can mathematically account for all the person’s behaviors.  If not, then a remainder ripples through the Matrix, small but compounding with other ripples, eventually precipitating the crisis depicted in the movies.

So the question becomes: Are the Architect’s equations equivalent to mortal sins?

The answer is: The Architect is composed of the equations.  Can equations commit mortal sins?  No, but they can animate them.

By analogy, angels are what they do.  And what do they do?  They symbolize order.  They cannot commit mortal sins, but they can animate them, just as the Architect animates a Matrix of total deception based on mathematical equivalence.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5F1

Summary of text [comment] page 29

St. Thomas Aquinas also claimed that angels and the first couple (Adam and Eve) were unable to commit mortal sins because they were granted immunity from concupiscence.

[Schoonenberg showed great courage in raising a topic that calls forth derision by Modern Genius.  Allow me to follow the fool.

First consider the angels.  For angels, the vertical axis of the intersecting nested forms might parallel the human axis.  The horizontal axis must differ in that lawessential and dispositions must be very different in a purely spiritual realm than in the human realm.

Even though we cannot know what those differences are, we can explore models through art.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5E

Summary of text [comment] page 29

[In order to appreciate how the Aquinian definition of “venial” sin may be rendered by the intersecting nested forms, I start where the last blog left off:

Mortal sin alters the horizontal axis into:

denial of lawessential3(sin2(dispositionsrewarded1))

If you consider the mortal sin as distillate, the mash might be something like:

thoughtlessness – lack of consideration of consequences3(sin2(this feels good or lessens the pain1)).

The mash sure seems to correspond to the scholastic phrase “disorder of means”.

Venial sins are thoughtless and impulsive.

In a sense, venial sins mark spontaneous, situational and inchoate interpellations by the excluded vertical nested form of thinkgroup(sin(consciencelacking)).

These interpellations become more compelling – more and more “speaking to me” – once a venial sin becomes a habit.

Prayers and admonitions are important tools in quieting these interpellations.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5D3

[Sin often entails acts of mind that basically deny the consequences of the sinful act (that is, lawdenial).   The denial of lawessential makes it appear that there are no consequences.  This, of course, is never the case.

Thus, the definition of “mortal” sin by Aquinas is rendered in the intersecting nested forms.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5D2

[The Modern Slogan “addiction is a disease” totally distinguishes dispositions and conscience.

Addiction occurs when a disposition cannot be resisted.  One becomes physiologically dependent on a substance. But, just as importantly, one becomes psychologically dependent on a justifying attitude.

Moderns ignore consciencelacking.  This is why medical treatment alone rarely reforms dependency.  Any cure for addiction must alter both dispositions and conscience.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5D1

Summary of text [comment] page 29

The question of the difference between “venial” and “mortal” sin was addressed by the Scholastics, including Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Aquinas defined “mortal” sin as a disorder concerning the end itself and a “venial” sin as a disorder concerning the means.

[From the perspective of the intersecting nested forms, the “end itself” corresponds to “how sin is conceived and contextualized”. That corresponds to consciencelacking and thinkgroup.  Mortal sins serve to habituate the former and reify the latter.  This precisely fits Aquinas concept of “mortal sin” as “a disorder concerning the end itself”.

At the same time, the intersecting nested forms reveal another dimension.  Sinful acts also participate in the nested form along the horizontal axis.

Sinful acts reward certain dispositions over others.  Since both dispositions and conscience belong to the monadic realm of possibility, they cannot be totally distinguished, so the appeasing of dispositions and the fixing consciencelacking may feel indistinguishable.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5C

Summary of text [comment] pages 27 & 28

Schoonenberg examined the various enumerations of sin in the OT and NT and concluded that there were two varieties: ones that led to excommunication (in spirit if not in act); and ones that are “trespasses” for which we daily ask God, our Father, to “forgive our debts”.

Christ empowered his disciples to forgive sins.  The empowerment supports empirical questions:  What acts did Jesus’ disciples forgive?  At what price?

Over generations, ministers identified gradations of sin.  This is reflected in the Sacrament of Penance, where ecclesial penance is required for serious sins and prayer, fasting and alms-giving is expected for less serious sins.

What constitutes a sin that requires ecclesial (or sacramental) penance?

Apostasy, murder and adultery top the list.  These are “mortal” sins.  These are also in the 10 commandments.

What constitutes sins that are remitted by prayer, fasting and alms-giving?

Any act that shows an unclear conscience should be considered a “venial” sin.  After all, even a kindly act can be performed for selfish reasons.  Vanity and self-righteousness may wear the robes of humility and purity.  The person who goes against the counsel of God does not completely reject God’s law.  She commits a sin in the classic sense of “missing the mark”.


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5B2

[Consider the nested form of thinkgroup3(sin2(consciencelacking1)) and ask yourself:

Do particularly bad transgressions automatically fix attitudes (consciencelacking) and require self-justifying beliefs (thinkgroup)?

Are some sins so cruel that one could never perform them without blaspheming?

Are some sins so “being with Cupid” that one is instantly in the erotic thralls of concupiscence and the only way forward is self-justification?

These are the behaviors – the sins – that Ted Peters focused on in his book entitled Sin:Radical Evil in Self and Society.  These sins are called “mortal”.

Other sins, when habitually performed, may eventually produce the same results.  These are the “trespasses” mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

These are the behaviors – the sins – that Karl Menninger often focused on in his book entitled Whatever Became of Sin?  These sins are called “venial”.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5B1

Summary of text [comment] pages 25, 26 & 27

[Do these lists of particular transgressions tell us what “sin” is?

Does the word “sin” cover more than the realm of human action, the realm of actuality?

The answer is no and yes.

With the intersecting nested forms in mind, we can sense how “the realm of actuality” both fixes the range of possibilities and promotes “ways of thought” that justify its own configuration.  These too, may be caught in the label of “sin”.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.5A

Summary of text [comment] pages 25, 26 & 27

Section 5 of chapter 1 is titled, “Sin Unto Death – Mortal Sin – Venial Sin”.

What are consequences of sin?  In the Old Testament, heinous sins entail a break with God, life and His people.  In the New Testament, particularly bad sins can lead to excommunication, the equivalent to all the above.

What sins fit the bill?

Incest is obviously one (1 Cor. 5:11-18).   The OT has its lists, including sins against one’s neighbors.  The NT has its lists, including the continuation of pagan practices.

All these lists may be taken to be warnings.  They are signposts of danger.  Even though the community may not impose punishments, God sees all.  There are punishments far more deadly than being cast out or excommunicated.