Rene S. Maiava
Rene is a first-generation New Zealand-born Samoan woman worshipping and serving as a layperson within the Anglican Communion of Aotearoa and Polynesia, in Auckland. Having completed her theological undergraduate and postgraduate diploma, studies in Auckland, she graduated with her MTh in Theology and Ethics from the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji in 2021. Reni is committed to supporting the articulation of theology from the Pacific region by her own contributions and actively encouraging fellow Pacific theological and biblical students.
Rene S. Maiava, “Agasala: A Reconstruction of the theology of sin from a New Zealand born Samoan woman’s Perspective”
Liberation theology working through people’s faith and religion free’s them to “act justly” (Cooper 2013, 1). My investigation into the privatisation of sin highlights the neglect of individuals and communities to act justly particularly in cases of racism, sexism, and colonization.
As a New Zealand-born Samoan woman, shaped by Western Christianity for most of my life, the concept of sin conjures up ‘original sin’ or ‘humanity’s total depravity’ influenced by St Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther respectively. The development of the theology of sin inadvertently took an individualistic focus, privatising the notion of sin to the extent of sin being seen narrowly as a personal insult against God – a vertical view framed within an anthropocentric focus.
Agasala is an interrogation, reimagining and (re)embracing of sin from a Samoan Christian theological reconstruction. The intimate relationship God has with creation places the emphasis on the systemically destructive nature of sin occurring in relationships that humanity has with each other and with creation. Attitudes and actions that are destructive towards one’s neighbour and creation negatively impact one’s relationship in and towards God. I posit, agasala allows a reimagination of sin that renders social and climate injustice as systemic sin.
What agasala offers is another way of viewing sin horizontally and systemically, reconstructing it from a Samoan cultural theological perspective. This horizontal view does not neglect God’s involvement in the private or personal, as God is affected by the systemic and structural nature of sin that we all personally and privately commit.