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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, 7:18-19:

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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34 news items

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 ...

The Federalist

The Federalist
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 04:12:35 -0800

At the time of the Reformation there was a description of sin, "incurvatus in se", curved in upon one's self. This is certainly apt also for our day and time and not looking outward as the author pointed out. Another Reformation saying in the Lutheran ...

Emirates 24|7

Emirates 24|7
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 00:38:01 -0800

To say the least she is echoing empathy by being sensitive to others needs in a secular world where the rat race is on & we are all "Incurvatus in se" (a life lived "inward" for self rather than "outward"being sensitive to others..) while running the ...

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 ...
First Things
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 21:32:00 -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 ...

The Christian Century

The Christian Century
Thu, 12 Feb 2015 06:55:00 -0800

Our ashes are the ways in which we have turned away from the will and love of God, followed our own will and pursued other loves. Luther said the human being is incurvatus in se, curved in upon itself. Our love is like a boomerang that, no matter how ...

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 ...

Chron.com (blog)

Chron.com (blog)
Thu, 04 Dec 2014 04:56:15 -0800

On Homo Incurvatus in Se—Man Turned in on Himself—as and entry point for the discussion of sin in the 21st Century. When I speak on the subject, I use my hands a lot to describe how we get when we are turned in on ourselves and how this connects to ...

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