No, I am not 'avoiding' anything. And 'intellectualizing' is what these boards about, as I recall. :) I am agreeing that her question, and distinction, is a good one. And relevant to the underlying point she is wondering about. While the early Christians probably would have also differentiated between "accidental" (what you call mistakes) and "intentional" ('sin' in the sense you are giving it) failures to at least some degree, I don't think they would have agreed with the guilt-mongering style that has crept into 'Christianity' over the centuries. Unfortunately, institutional Darwinism works even if social Darwinism does not. Institutions that survive over the long-term are the ones devoted to preserving and furthering themselves, and these will just organically work out ways to bind people even if individuals serving the institution don't consciously realize what they are doing. The issue underlying Susan's question, given at the end of her post, is precisely the 'kryptonite' that institutional religion hates and fears -- universal reconciliation
-- without the idea of 'sin' as guilt and debt, and the fear of 'hell' that comes with it, the accumulation of wealth and power through religion doesn't work anymore. People are not so willing to make overt religious gestures, such as donations to the institution, without the fear. (There is considerable support to be found for universal reconciliation in the NT, btw, which is one of the reasons I think the early Christians would not like the elements of hellfire & brimstone that grew up in the later tradition.)
By your lights, how would I 'answer' her question honestly? Wouldn't it be 'personalizing' to say that I don't use the word myself anymore? I did grow up in WASP America, so the word was known to me as a youngster. :) Where is the valid ground between 'personalizing' and 'intellectualizing' for you?