One of the most pressing issues about “sin” for theologians is the issue of intention. Does it count for a sin only when we intend something to be harmful? According to Biddle, in his Missing the Mark, we make a mistake in sinking all of sin into intention. Why?
First, he says, this makes sin purely individual (which arises through Peter Abelard in the 12th Century) and it creates a situation in which this obtains: if we did not intend something, we are not responsible for it. So, intention is individual and it creates potential irresponsibility.
Second, Biddle investigates, rather seriously, the issue of intentional and unintentional sins in the Bible and contends, very importantly, that whether intended or not, sin is real and sin’s impact is palpable. In other words, evil is inherent to an act whether intended or not.
Third, Biddle strays from this into a bit of a discussion about the tragic view of life that Christians need to embrace more completely. God made this world; we are in this world; and bad things happen to good people; and sometimes the impact of something is devastating whether intended or not. Meaninglessness sometimes impacts this world.
Very interesting chapter.