Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

School

Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, MA: Theology

First Advisor

Denis Forton

Abstract

George R. Knight attempts to chart a middle course between various historical extremes on the doctrine of sin. His view of the Fall and of the consequent effects on human nature is not as pessimistic as that of theologians in the Augustinian tradition (including Martin Luther and John Calvin), who stress the complete corruption of human nature and the loss of free will. On the other hand, Knight’s view is not as optimistic as the views of such theologians as Pelagius or M. L. Andreasen, who tend not to see the Fall as having affected human nature itself, and believe as a result that humans have full potential for overcoming sin. Knight’s view falls in the middle, in that he holds to the corruption of human nature, yet continues to espouse human free will. Knight’s moderate position on sin leads him to a moderate view of salvation and perfection: He stresses the utter helplessness of humanity in the face of sin and human beings’ complete incapacity to contribute anything to their own salvation. Simultaneously, however, he maintains that a necessary part of the process of salvation is the responsive cooperation of individuals with God. As a corollary, he also maintains that perfection is, in a sense, both possible and necessary. Unlike Andreasen, to whose writings he is most directly responding, Knight denies that human beings can ever achieve absolute sinlessness on this earth; Knight does believe, however, that they can develop an attitude of perfect willingness to do God’s will. It is the divergences in the doctrine of sin that lead directly to the differences in the theologies of salvation and perfection of Knight and Andreasen.

Subject Area

Sin.

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