Friday, August 26, 2005

Original blessing

I am currently reading Matthew Fox's book, Original Blessing. I like Fox's exploration of the myth of "original sin", on which so much of Christian doctrine is based. Probably the guy that has harmed Christianity is Augustine with this invention of his. So much of Christian thinking is based on the inherent sinfulness of humanity, based on original sin, and the need for atonement. This whole concept God becoming incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth for the sake of him/her becoming the ultinate blood sacrifice to make up for the fall of Adam and the passing on of original sin has always sounded silly to me. But I always thought, "What the heck... nice story."

Unfortunately, the story has done a lot of damage because it has been used throughout the centuries by the Church to make people feel unworthy, guilty, and inherently evil. The focus has been on attaining "salvation" from this evil through acceptance of the ultimate price that God/Jesus paid to rescue us. The line goes, "By accepting that Jesus Christ died for our sin(s), we are cleansed and thus saved."

It is refreshing to read the contrary view that humankind is essentially good because we are the perfect and divine product of God's creation. Creation theology is much much older the the theology based on Adam's fall. It is positive rather negative.

The problem for traditional Christianity is that does not provide the same opportunity to coerce people into following the teachings of the Church. Take away guilt and feelings of being unworthy, and people perhaps don't need the Church as much. It also makes it much more difficult to explain the Incarnation, the Death, and the Resurrection. What's the point of the God's sacrificial lamb when human's have nothing for which to atone? What's the point of this myth when the relationship between God and his/her creation has always been just fine, thank you. God created us as an act of love, grace. We were "originally blessed", not originally damned.


Anonymous said...

Check out this article about Fox.

Ben Finger said...

Have you ever given much thought to Ireneaus model of the fall? Instead of falling from such a high height as seen in Augustine we instead are in the process of maturing in the image of Christ to ratify the image of God. One thing though if the book is making an argument for original sin as to have begun with Augustine then I would have some hesistants about it. It might be better to say that original sin was redefined into its current Western state in Augustine's thought but that there were various concepts of original sin, some similar others vastly different, before Augustine.

By the way I have enjoyed reading your posts. Keep up the good work.