Friday, July 18, 2008

Abi's Pondering of Original Sin

It's been a busy summer ... but I felt I needed to share a little ramble of a comment I made over at Jesus Creed today, where Scot McKnight is beginning a Friday is for (Original Sin) Friends series on Alan Jacob's book Original Sin. It is a bit of a follow up from this earlier post on Sin: A Reflection back in May.

Anyway, here's what I had to say:

It is not the fact that humans are unable to consistently make choices that are in line with God's holiness that I have issue with when considering the concept of "original sin". Rather, it is the extent to which this reality is spun into bondage of the will that concerns me....

I think we have to stop and consider what "sin" is. If we believe sin is missing the mark of God's intent, then we have to consider what that intent (the target, as it were) was and is. What if it is as simple as this: to walk humbly and joyously in community with God; to trust God's requirements are just and right (as well as the consequences being true) and, therefore, due obedience; and to faithfully accomplish our task to steward the rest of God's creation cooperatively with each other.

Bear with me, we use the archery concept from which the term for "sin" derives....

And then, what if the command against eating and getting the knowledge of good and evil was meant to be like a guard and guidance for keeping proper focus necessary for good "aim" at the "target". While Adam and Eve were constantly presented with the opportunity to choose to keep on target, their innocent trust and simple obedience made their task easier.

When they turned from obedience and trust, they basically removed the safety and guide from their "bows" and the task of keeping on target got immediately more difficult. They were distracted by the knowledge they gained and were introduced to the "evil" of which they had not previously been aware: the ability to freely choose that which is harmful (to self and others) and disrespectful and disobedient to God. Relationships crashed on all sides and the cooperation necessary to steward the creation suffered terribly.

What if, then, humans (as created in the Garden) were without sin (able to consistently hit the target) until they ate of the forbidden fruit? What we have inherited, as a result of their rebellion, is the requirement to continue to strive to hit the mark, but without the safety and guide of innocence and with a marred creation that requires much more effort to steward. It does not mandate that we cannot ever aim well, but it makes it virtually impossible to completely and consistently hit the mark.

The Law, in time, was introduced as an echo of the safety and guide in that it called out to warn against terrible choices and call God's people back to focus on God's will. It was a first level of reinstating restraint.

But it was not until Christ came and set up the New Covenant that the safety and guide is in full view again. As we are "in Christ" and continually submit to the Spirit's transforming power to make us "like Christ" that we are able to be "with Christ" -- and feel his strong arm and steady hand on our bow, helping us focus our aim and shoot ever nearer to the center of the target. Here again the importance of restraint comes to the fore....

The hope and promise of the coming age is that the time of weak restraint in dying human flesh will be supplanted with the perfection in the new, imperishable bodies -- safety and guides restored -- able to again commune with God and each other while stewarding the New Creation.

I realize that there are many out there who will disagree with The Abbess over this, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to clarify what I believe about original sin.

Be blessed ... I hope to be back with some real good stuff to share soon!


sonja said...

This falls right in line with something I read recently about original sin that was very simple and very profound ... it is the state of being not God. Given that we constantly miss that mark (being God) I think your post makes imminent sense. I love it ...

AbiSomeone said...

Hmmm...I'm wondering about that, Sonja. How can original sin be the state of not being God? This "not being God" has always been humanity's state, yet there was a time when there was not yet sin.

More pondering will be required, to be sure ... maybe it is the state of not being God, but not realizing it?

Thanks for chiming in, sister!

sonja said...

I think the state of being not God, yet desiring to be God is what is sin.

That desire to have power over others and control over our own lives and the lives of others in the way that only God has.

So I went back and re-read the post that had me thinking ... and now I need to re-think. And ... now my head hurts ;-)

AbiSomeone said...

Sorry for the headache, girl!

I know what you're saying -- and I agree that the sense of wanting to be the only one to which one must answer is foundational to our problems -- it makes it impossible to actually hit the target if we're not aiming at the right, um, target!

A bulls-eye in the wrong target still loses.

The temptation the Serpent brought was that they would be wise like God, wasn't it? And they thought it would be good to be able to make their own decisions, eh?

So, I agree that "the" original sin was rebellion against God's lordship. But that which passes to us is the knowledge of good and evil, which has corrupted and complicated all our relationships. And combined with the implications of the ground being cursed, community became very fragile and mutuality in equality, along with the ability to join the perichoretic dance, were the big casualties. Sigh!

But I do not believe in a kind of resultant genetic depravity that makes humans totally degenerate and unable to make good choices or be held accountable for their choices.

I think they lost their safety and guide to consistently identify the true target and Jesus is the ultimate solution -- even though all the ill effects will not be reversed until the New Creation. need to make it more complicated, seems to me. ;^)