Sep 28, 2007

you asked for it: original sin

Paul threw out a good meaty topic: "How about why there is nothing original about sin."

There are two ways to read this, and since I don't have the slant on it from Paul I can only guess he means to say one of these...
  • Way #1: "Nothing we do that is sinful has any originality to it."

  • Way #2: "Original sin doesn't exist."
If it's #1, well... that's easy enough. There really isn't anything original about sin... the atrocities that recent generations have committed are equal in internal carnality when compared with what inspired the brutality of other eras. The only catch is that we've learned how to sanitize our actions with logic - "at least we're not like those people," we say.

Which, by the way, is the way we often justify our sins. Think about it.
  • "My language may be rough around the edges, but at least I'm not like those people."

  • "I might get lost in alcohol a bit, but at least I'm not like those people."

  • "I've hated a few folks in my time, but at least I'm not like those people."

What we fail to see in such things is how trying to make yourself the lesser of two evils... still leaves you evil.

I remember when the internet became popular and people freaked out about how evil it allegedly was. Ironically, all the "bad pictures" (note how I worded that in case you have internet filters, which sort of proves the point I'm about to make) were around before Al Gore invented the world wide web... but now because people could view naughty things in the secrecy of their homes instead of having to otherwise go to a store to buy, it was considered a "new evil thing" (even though it wasn't).

Side note: This concern is a good one, and I don't mean to diminish the destructive impact of all the money that goes into that industry and those bad sites. Did you know that prior to 1996 the issue of internet "bad images" was hardly on the radar screen? Then in 1996 AOL offered the first taste of "pay a monthly fee for unlimited internet access." Sadly, this is also when pastors started to "fall" because of this temptation.

Granted, that's all just one example. There is nothing original about sin... in this sense.

Now - per the other possibility, I honestly can't agree with the concept that sin isn't original in the sense that it isn't a part of all people.
Our Story started in a good place... Genesis 1 & 2 speak of a time when mankind was in unbroken communion with God. This means that if God is Holy and nothing unholy could be in His presence, there was a time when something about us was "right" enough to be before a Right God.

But... now we can't... on our own, that is. Which means something is "off" from normal.

Keep in mind this context, for if you look at a few verses like Ezekiel 18:20 you will find that it seems to indicate that descendants are not to be punished for their parents' sins. However, Exodus 20:5 allows for the sins of parents to ripple into the lives of children from generation to generation. Many people struggle with this when it comes to infants, especially since from our perspective they seem so "innocent."

Again, when compared to "those people."

Oddly, so many theologians who believe in original sin suddenly forget about it when they have to do a funeral for an infant and are being asked by the parents if the baby is in heaven.

Separate issue, I know.

Nonetheless, while I could quote a bunch of Bible verses about this, the bottom line is that original sin isn't just an Augustine/Luther/Calvin thing - it's biblical and underscored by one thing - we die. I know that sounds like a weak point if you're not a Christian, but hang with me. Sin is often summed up as living a life of bad choices, but that's essentially limiting it. It's like saying, "I can drink some antifreeze and that would be a bad choice." Yes, it is a bad choice... but it also leads to death.

We see this when we sin in relationships... and when discovered the relationships die. Or when we sin in taking things that aren't ours... and when we go to court our bank account dies. Or how when we let our tongues run loose... people's sense of worth dies.

Sin is about a life that is marked by death... and we all physically die... which means that we all have something in us that is causing us to decay. Something original in that this reality exists beyond us, and yet relevant enough that we have a choice as to whether or not it will dominate us for all of eternity.

This is referened heavily in the book of Romans:

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come." (Romans 5:12-14)
We have inside of us the darkness of sin, and so God’s love has to go deeper than that darkness so that that sin can be forgiven. What does God do to show us His love? He walks the earth as Jesus Christ to reveal the Kingdom of God and eventually die/resurrect for our sins so that we might join Him in all of this. That same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that’s available to us to experience and extend of God’s love and the promise of eternal life.
Even Jesus spoke about how we are "evil" and yet know how to give good gifts, but again... that's just using the Bible to proof-text a point. We could do that quite easily, but instead I'd like to point out the innate sense you may have to begin slicing and dicing this post for what you deem faulty. Why would you do that?

I mean, is there something inside of you driving you to do so?

So... there is nothing original about sin, even though there is.


paul said...

Thanks Tony, good post on my rather vague suggestion ;)

it is easy to look at the evil of others and therefore in our relative pride miss/minimise our own.

And all of us face the consequence of sin, decay and death - which maybe is why Jesus talked about life in and through him as the cure to our illness.

irreverend fox said...

"Oddly, so many theologians who believe in original sin suddenly forget about it when they have to do a funeral for an infant and are being asked by the parents if the baby is in heaven."

I've noticed this as well...and have never understood the inconsistency...

separate issue I know...

brian said...

Amazing stuff as always Tony. I really like the spirit you shared this in too.