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Criminology and Public TheologyOn Hope, Mercy and Restoration$
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Andrew Millie

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781529207392

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529207392.001.0001

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Sin, Shame and Atonement: A Challenge for Secular Redemption

Sin, Shame and Atonement: A Challenge for Secular Redemption

(p.111) 6 Sin, Shame and Atonement: A Challenge for Secular Redemption
Criminology and Public Theology

Christopher D. Marshall

Policy Press

In expounding on wrongdoing, both criminological theory and theological reflection have been controlled by the language of guilt and punishment. Both have largely failed to factor in the role of entrenched shame in understanding and responding to human transgression, and both often display an impoverished understanding of what is involved in atoning for sin and defeating its ongoing thrall in the lives of individuals. This chapter maps out the complex ways shame functions in human experience, then considers the place of shame and honour in the biblical world. It proposes that the unique saving power ascribed to the life, death and resurrection of Christ in the New Testament, known in theological shorthand as the Atonement, includes its capacity to expose, absorb and disrupt the tyranny of shame in human experience. It suggests the gospel’s offer of spiritual regeneration provides both a paradigm for and a challenge to secular attempts to secure rehabilitation and relational renewal through the criminal justice system.

Keywords:   Shame, Empathy, Remorse, Sin, Atonement, Punishment, Forgiveness, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Redemption scripts

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