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PTypes Pride Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance




Biblical Support for the Pride Thesis


Reinhold Niebuhr believed that "biblical psychology clearly supports the Augustinian assertion that pride or undue self-love is the dominant factor in human sin" (Cooper, pg. 58). Niebuhr (pg. 230) had said: "The Pauline-Augustinian theological tradition interprets the relation of sensuality to sin fairly consistently in the light of the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans. Here lust, particularly unnatural lust, is described as a consequence of and punishment for the more basic sin of pride and self-deification."

"For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

"For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless." (Rom 1:21-31, NRSV)

Cooper (pg. 59) adds: "In this passage, it seems clear that the dishonoring of God by placing ourselves as the center of the universe sets us up for disordered desires. Pride and self-deification, the replacement of God with self, throw the rest of our lives out of balance. We lose our center and cannot order our lives properly."




Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1996, c. 1941, 1964). The Nature and Destiny of Man: a Christian Interpretation, Vol. 1. Louisville: Westminster Charles Knox.




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