"corporate sin" revisited

Yesterday I was in Evanston at Reba Place, to deliver vegetables from the farm. And I got into a discussion with a friend there. It brought up again the concept of "corporate sin," in this case mostly to do with how we all contribute to the technologizing of our society and how it hinders our relationships with each other and with God. What we eat (or buy) also came into the discussion at points.

I've written about "corporate sin" before, years ago, and since then the idea has become even more widespread. My arguments yesterday were similar to what I wrote then:

One of my main objections is that "corporate sin" implies that we are guilty for the sins of others (because we enabled them in some way through our [economic, political, social] inter-connectedness), implying that we sin without meaning to, without even knowing about it. This is not the understanding of sin Jesus preached, [he said] that sin is "in the heart," or in the intention/will...
And I am also concerned because it seems to implicate us in an evil or sinfulness that we cannot escape, since we need to participate in society to some extent and there often are not options that are completely unconnected from injustices and oppression.

But after further reflection, I think I'm more troubled by the way "corporate sin" is tied up with thinking of ourselves as part of a corporate entity, a body, a "we," that is not the body of Christ. Because if it is a "we" that is caught in sin or evil, it is not the "we" that is Christ's body. And the apparent difficulty (perhaps even impossibility) of breaking free from involvement in this sinful "we" makes us feel even more tied to and identified with it. We are set against a great social beast, much greater than ourselves and quite impervious to radical change—and not only that, we are told we cannot deny that we are part of the beast. I understand that the preaching of "corporate sin" is meant to challenge people to see how they are part of the world's problems. But Jesus' challenges were never like this.

There is no great beast, no sinful corporate being that can claim us or hold us. There is only the body of Christ, waiting for us to let go of ourselves and our delusions of grandeur and submit our own will to his.