Sin is collective

Christian teaching too often focused on sins of the individual and failed to speak to collective sin. Salvation became a matter of each “soul” rather than salvation of the people, as the prophets taught. This created a theological foundation in the U.S. which allowed individuals to ignore the collective – the systemic – sin of racism if they felt they were not personally guilty.

The Christian Century published an excellent article, “Critical Race Theory is a Gift to Christians,” ( which presents the case for this collective understanding of sin. Here is part of what it says:

“The good news about collective and institutional sin is that, like individual sin, it can be redeemed. By acknowledging systemic sin and working to change unjust structures—with the aid of tools like CRT—we realign ourselves with God’s work in the world.A faithful path forward involves reckoning with institutional sin and learning new ways of speaking and understanding that can help us diagnose what ails us and help our nation on a path to healing. For this, critical race theory is a gift.”

The Christian Church has always had prayers and creeds for us to confess both our personal and corporate – individual and collective – sin. The Psalms and writings of the Prophets – along with Jesus and Paul – are filled with prayers and calls to prayer of confession that we might seek this healing together. It is one path forward.

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