Don’t use the Bible for threatening

I classify as comminorism any teaching that suggests that God punishes us for our sins.


The belief that God punishes us for our sins by letting bad things happen.

I had to find a new word to name this. I chose comminorism, which comes from Latin comminor (to menace). It is inspired by the German word “Drohbotschaft” (“threatful message”), which is used since 1995, together with its opposite “Frohbotschaft” (German for Good News) by KirchenvolksBegehren, an Austrian grass-root movement within the catholic church who works against comminorism. See also a sermon by Franz Alt in Die Zeit 2019-01-02 : Frohbotschaft statt Drohbotschaft.

Jesus definitively saved the world from the idea of a God who punishes us for our sins. The story where he heals a man born blind John 9:1-18 illustrates his fight against this idea. The new testament later confirms it. “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Comminorism is a temptation in every religion. When you work as a professional faith teacher (a pastor, a priest or a preacher), then you are tempted to get attention of your fellows and/or increase your authority by threatening.

I’d guess that Jesus refers to comminorism as the leaven (sourdough) of Pharisees (Mt 16:6).

My mother used to say “Kleine Sünden bestraft der Liebe Gott sofort” in situations that might foster this belief. Fortunately she said it with a twinkle in her eyes, like a joke, as if to remind us that we should not take this too serious.

Seems that my mother is not the only one to know that sentence: Nane Jürgensen wrote Gilt „Kleine Sünden bestraft der Liebe Gott sofort“ für Sie?.