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"Latin: Incurvatus in se" (Turned/curved inward on oneself) is a theological phrase describing a life lived "inward" for self rather than "outward" for God and others.

Paul the Apostle wrote of this condition in the Epistle to the Romans 7:15, 7:8-19:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. [...] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

It was perhaps Augustine of Hippo who first coined the phrase incurvatus in se.[1] Martin Luther expounded on this in his Lectures on Romans and described this state as:

Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin, [being] so deeply curved in on itself that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them (as is plain in the works-righteous and hypocrites), or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake."[2]

This was later extended by Karl Barth to include other sins beyond pride.[1] It is also believed that, even though people are justified by Jesus dying on the Cross, they still possess a propensity to sin against God because of this condition (i.e. simul justus et peccator).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Matt Jenson (2006). Gravity of Sin. T & T Clark. ISBN 978-0-567-03138-9. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  2. ^ Johnston, Mark (6 July 2009), "6", Saving God, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 88, ISBN 978-0-691-14394-1, retrieved 2012-11-17 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incurvatus_in_se — Please support Wikipedia.
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18 news items

First Things

First Things
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 06:52:30 -0700

To worship idols is to be incurvatus in se ipsum; more specifically, it is to be incurvatus in corde suo, incurvatus in oculis eius. What we devote our hearts to is not really the idol, but our heart that we devote; what dazzles is not the idol but the ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:35:28 -0700

The church reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) loves the Latin phrase "Incurvatus in se." It comes from St. Augustine and means to be curved in on oneself. Luther believes that we have a tendency not just to worship our self, but to see the world only ...
Korea Daily
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0800

사랑이 병이다. 온갖 종류의 뒤틀린 사랑이 질병의 수와 깊이만큼이나 가득하여 우리를 병들게 한다. 심지어 타자를 향한 사랑조차 사랑은 기만적이다. "남에게 베풀면 내가 행복해진다"는 주장은 가진 자들이 고난 받는 자들을 자신들의 '사랑받이'로 전락시켜 그 ...

Patheos (blog)

Patheos (blog)
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 18:50:00 -0700

Dr. King's namesake, Martin Luther, had a word for this sort of ceaseless self-reference: incurvatus in se, which can be roughly translated as: “curved inward on oneself.” When we curve in on ourselves, on our industries, our families, our clans, we ...

Patheos (blog)

Patheos (blog)
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 11:02:09 -0800

outside of our heads when we say 'God'; Augustine's Incurvatus in se applies. We become turned/curved inward on ourselves, instead of open to what others have to say. I'm pretty sure God wants to speak to all of us, from all of us. When this fails, we ...
First Things
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 21:26:15 -0800

At its heart is a spiritual disorder, what Martin Luther (borrowing a phrase from Augustine) described as incurvatus in se, “twisted back into one's self.” In our own era, we have seen the evisceration of those communities that sustain us during the ...


Wed, 03 Dec 2014 12:35:29 -0800

This form of incurvatus in se is a sign of the sin and brokenness of our world. It's sin because we are our brother's keeper. God created us to love others and live in community. That's how we express and experience His love. So committing only to ...

Patheos (blog)

Patheos (blog)
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:42:46 -0800

This basic posture of shameful, fearful defensiveness is what Augustine and Luther called homo incurvatus in se (“humanity curved inward on itself”). Basically, Adam and Eve's story illustrates the origin of humanity's preoccupation with the thing we ...

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