June 14, 2012

The Human Stain & Face Plants

Original Sin

By entering into Genesis 3 directly we jump over the awesomeness of Creation in Genesis 1, the uniqueness of humanity made in the image of God in Genesis 2 and then…we face-plant into the cesspool of human iniquity and our distance from the Holy God. It is startlingly early in the Bible narrative and remarkably depressing in its finality and completeness for all of us. Falling down...The Fall. The Devil tempts Eve, most likely with Adam right there abdicating his duty as spiritual leader. He then acquiesces with absolutely no resistance. We as humanity then suffer the echoing effects of this “original sin”. Nice going Adam and Eve. Upon closer review we realize (if we’re honest) we would’ve done the same thing. The death they would suffer we will also, not only for their sin, but also for ours. These sin(s) and these deaths are the very thing Jesus came to atone for and remove the teeth (or stinger) from.

Romans 5:12~ “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned

Romans 5:19 elaborates further on humanities plight but also its escape, “…through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

It is not only our own sins that condemn us but also Adam’s-Imputed Sin. All are guilty before God unless redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ in the Cross. As it is stated nicely in the Catholic Encyclopedia, original sin is the deprivation of sanctifying grace in consequence of the sin of Adam. One man has transmitted to sin to the entirety of humanity and along with it, that stinker death which are the wages of sin. What is worse is he even conveyed sin itself, which is the death of the soul. Sin kills sanctification and “flips off” God’s grace even though He continues to extend it to sinning humanity. If this is the case there is nothing within us capable of lifting us from this face-plant of spiritual and cosmic proportions. It could only come from outside of us. Enter: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” John 1:29

Humanity turns away or deviates from God in disobedience and face-plants into their own sin. Humanity turns to God, and they recover part of what they lost in Genesis 3 in an exchange of repentance, grace, mercy and atonement. When we veer off course and deviate from the correct path, we must exchange our map of human origin for the correct map of divine origin. The original map from God was discarded by Adam with the Original Sin but regained in Christ. Even if we now correct our path and try to get back on course we are still plagued with the after-effects of having left the correct road and the damage it has already done to our vehicle. Meanwhile we have lost time, lost precious valuable life and turfed up and did burnouts all over God’s “good” plan. We can essentially save the true occupant (our soul) of the vehicle but the vehicle itself (our body)…is trashed because of the errant path we’ve taken both in Adam and ourselves. We are all Adam because sin is universal. Not in some mystic sense but literally just as Romans 3:23 tells us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

So why did God allow it to happen? If we had no way out of this and were doomed I would say we were on more solid ground to complain but there is a way out. This needs to temper our immediate “sinful” nature or reaction and need to complain about the “unfairness” of it all when we are talking about the plans of a perfectly just God. God offered us the salvation in grace and mercy if we would repent and believe in The Lamb that will take away our sins that we and Adam earned by our transgression or deviations.

Within this damning doctrine of man we see a particular heresy from Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life. Having read the above statements especially the one from Romans 3 and 5 we can see this is just not true. Adam, contrary to Pelagius’ claim was more than just a bad example, we actually fell in him as a race whether it was Adam as the (head) of man in Federalism or through actual “soul stuff” past on through the idea of Realism. Sin radically perverted humanity.
People and their human nature is debilitated and prone to sin; subject to ignorance and rarely even realizes they’re ignorant, subject to suffering, and consigned to certain physical death.

If we look to the early church fathers we see a distinguished line of men from the time of the 2nd Century onward that have sayings or writings attributed to them about affirmation of this doctrine or statements thereof that can be interpreted as such. They may not be canonical but they are awful strong evidence of early church tradition being passed down from the very earliest days of Christianity. Irenaeus (c. 180 AD), Tertullian (c. 200 AD), Origen (c. 244 AD), Cyprian Of Carthage (c. 250 AD), Methodius Of Philippi (c. 300 AD), Aphraates The Persian Sage (c. 340 AD), Ephraim Of Syria (c. 306 - 373 AD), Athanasius (c. 360 AD), Cyril Of Jerusalem (c. 350 AD), Basil The Great (c. 379 AD), Didymus The Blind (c. 313 - 398 AD), John Chrysostom (c. 344 - 407 AD), Pacian Of Barcelona (c. 392 AD), Ambrose Of Milan (c. 383 AD), Ambrosiaster [Pseudo-Ambrose] (c. 366 - 384 AD), St. Augustine (c. 354 - 430 AD).

Pelagius thought he knew better but appears he was the odd-man out on this one. I suppose this isn’t much different than Adam? It is interesting that, just like sin entering through one man, often times so do heresies. It just seems as though it is man’s nature to pick up errors and run with them. Before we absolve the other early Church Fathers of any wrong doing we should note that they introduced and backed some real losers too. Such as Augustine who is last on the list above. He was known for having promulgated or at least was accepting of the idea of purgatory. Depending on your exact view of the afterlife and how it makes you make decisions now, Augustine’s belief in purgatory could be just as damning as Pelagianism.

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