Original Glory

Last week I wrote about how the cardinal doctrine of Christian faith – the resurrection – was not a mere product of the New Testament writers. If anything it like the virginal conception of Jesus developed alongside the writing of the new testament books. This time I want to discuss the problem presented by the doctrine of original sin.
This teaching developed during the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and was first formulated by St. Augustine. This doctor of the church committed the modern unforgivable sin of reading his intentions into the text of Romans. Western believers and non-believers have become so (if you will) indoctrinated that it is now difficult to read St. Paul’s letter to the Romans without an assumption that original sin is involved. One may ask, if Paul is not talking about original sin, what is he talking about? The sin of eisogesis can corrupt over generations just like…original sin (except for the fact that it does not have to be done).
The problem of original sin is so pervasive that western political theory takes it into account as a basic point. Theologically, it rigs the game. One cannot escape the original sin of Adam; and therefore is born damned. God allows us to be born to be damned? Salvation is necessary because God makes us sinners? No one actually argues in these words. But, this is the medieval argument held by some modern christian fundamentalists. Most churches cannot reconcile this doctrine when it is applied to babies for whom exceptions are made. Of course, this distinction was not contemplated by medieval theologians or the Reformers. In fact, it is a modern assumption. The Roman Catholic Church has all but given up on the idea of Limbo where unbaptized babies go when they die. Original sin is now regarded as the pervasiveness of sinning that cannot be avoided in human culture.
I believe the Bible provides a better view. The scripture gives us a sense of original glory. God gives the whole of Creation including humans a glorious blessing that we often fail to live up to. During Sabbath meals, Jewish families offer blessings on their children to give them goals to which they may aspire. “May you be as Isaac.” Or “may you be as Rebekah.” These examples of offered blessings are truly examples of godly grace being given and responded to.
The christian churches can revisit and reject the ideas that humans are so bad that we cannot in anyway respond to God’s grace. The truth is we can and often do. Original glory is a gift. For too many believers original sin has become an excuse for doing nothing.

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