The Cosmic War

Philip Pullman’s views on religion have become topical once more with the BBC’s recent adaptation of His Dark Materials (still available to view on iPlayer). This serialisation (season two, which will deal with the events of The Subtle Knife, is due to come out later in 2020) has encouraged many to (re-)read the books.

As a child I read Northern Lights, but was not sufficiently connected with Christianity at the time to understand the links. I enjoyed it, but could not get into The Subtle Knife, so I never got to the end of the trilogy. School book reviews meant I was treated to synopses of the further plots, and my current knowledge of Second Temple literature gives me some idea of what to expect in the subsequent seasons of the show.

As a liberal Protestant (though I am not overly fond of this label), I find myself in a strange position when watching the show (and the film adaptation called The Golden Compass), because a number of the criticisms levelled by Pullman (who is an agnostic/atheist) are directed at the Catholic Church in particular (e.g. the enemy organisation in this fictional world is called The Magisterium). While I wish to offer an apologia for Christianity generally, I am not committed to defending positions from other traditions that I do not myself share.

Standing squarely at the centre of the storm of controversy is the Augustinian doctrine of Original Sin (note: I did not say Pauline). I am not persuaded that the Scriptures teach the doctrine of Original Sin as taught by the Catholic Church (and as retained by a number of Protestant denominations). Indeed, this doctrine as typically elaborated is not held by the Orthodox Communion and is quite foreign to Judaism, whence Christianity sprang.

Lest the reader think that I am attacking the core of Christianity, I wish to affirm that the Scriptures teach that all humans who attain moral consciousness at one time or another will sin, and thus stand in need of the salvation offered by the Messiah, whose death takes away our sin. (I adopt a criminal law approach to parsing sin when viewed through the forensic lens: i.e. for there to be guilt, there must be at least a mens rea. Where the mens rea is lacking, sin cannot be attributed to a person – thus there is no reason why unbaptised children should be consigned to limbo.)

Original Sin is not the only religious theme in His Dark Materials: the role of religion as a means of control is also discussed, as is the question of free will and the problem of evil. Nationalism is another topic that lurks beneath the surface: The Magisterium as a world-wide force influences various nations – though some keep it at bay. This theme plays into the paranoia concerning Catholicism that came in the wake of the Protestant Reformation in Tudor and Stuart England. Those who are familiar with the Glorious Revolution can find echoes of this paranoia in His Dark Materials.

A non-traditional approach to history would downsize the role of the Catholic Church in the affairs of Europe. While Catholic ideas had (and still have) great power, it would be quite wrong to imagine that the kings and princes of Europe were slaves to the will of the Pope and clergy. While many acts – both good and evil – were done in the name of Catholicism, these were not all sanctioned or instigated by the clergy. Much (most?) must be placed squarely at the foot of the laity.

We must, therefore, not confuse fact with fiction. Nor must we imagine that we are still living in periods that have long since ended. The Catholic Church today is a diverse organisation, and it is in fact quite generous in its support of open-minded enquiry (both sciences and arts). Indeed, it is probably true to say that there are Protestants who have benefitted from Catholic support of academia, both indirectly (in the transmission of ideas and knowledge) and directly (in the form of grants and other munificences).

Nevertheless, Christianity – though not afraid of the Truth – does make comments about the application of knowledge. Whereas detractors tend to characterise this as control and manipulation, Christian advocates point out that they are motivated by a desire to protect people. The rights of the unborn are a common topic of discussion in this context, but other matters are also relevant to the question of scientific research and application.

It seems likely that such controversy will continue into the foreseeable future. Just as Phillip Augustine has been discussing Soviet propaganda, so we must all be aware of the trends in the zeitgeist that might serve to alienate people from the Gospel of Christ.

81 thoughts on “The Cosmic War

  1. The interesting thing is that that I’ve recently just read On Nature and Grace. And I’m so convinced of original sin that without it Christianity and Jesus Christ as Augustine puts it to Pelagius, “You have made void The Incarnation.” I think most scholars would say that an over Judaism of Christianity would be refuted by Galatians alone, if not by Romans: as that the source Augustine quotes most frequently.

    I think in an overall reply. I will be forced to defend the Incarnation by this post.

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    1. Nicholas

      I make use of multiple lenses when making sense of the Incarnation. Being a Western Christian, the forensic one tends to come most easily, but there are others, one of which is co-suffering. I believe God became us to experience the world as we do, to know its injustices, its fears, its temptations, etc. God became the Second Adam to achieve what the first could not, but I do not believe we are all descended from Adam, or from Noah. I do not believe Adam was the first human, just as I do not believe Israel was the first nation. Adam was the first Israel.

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      1. I honestly think you’d have to omit the Gospel of John, Roman, Galatians, 1 Cor., Hebrews (especially), and Apocalypse to make the argument.

        Humani Generis also for Catholics explicitly rejects such a believe and Pius XII puts it in magisterial language.

        Also, I think the renaming of Jacob sort of contradicts the view of Adam as Israel. To be honest this take I’d use as evidence enough for councils and Magisterium.

        I was always suspect of the idea of objecting to the Church Fathers. However, you’d have to even forgo the earliest of Fathers to make these claims—those who knew the Apostles.

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      2. Nicholas

        I’m not convinced the NT anywhere teaches Original Sin in either of the two senses typically use:
        A) A charge sheet that has been passed down
        B) A stain

        We do sin as a consequence of our free will and the choices we have to make because of our environment and our relationship. But if we accept the Augustinian view, we’re stuck with Calvinism because Augustine is Calvin in embryo. We end up with a God who judges us for being who He made us to be – I can’t (and won’t) worship a God like that. That is not what Genesis or Paul teaches (and nor do the Gospels). Christ states that people will sin – but He does not say that we are judged for what Adam did. Paul says that we were all lost when Adam made his choice, but that is not the same as Augustine’s formulation. If you read the Genesis narrative in a straightforward way, rather than reading it in parallel as creationists tend to do, then God made the humans and then made Adam and Eve. That is the narrative structure.

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      3. Augustinian does not equal Calvinism. Come on, Nicholas, you know that’s a straw man. One could easily say Augustine is Thomism in embryo. And it’s so constant in Romans and Hebrews to say it’s not taught is willfully ignoring it. You’ve simply read what you want to into Augustine out of disdain for Calvinism? I don’t know.

        What causes us to sin? Our free will. Sure. But to then say that we will sin with our free will because the scripture says so—but this isn’t teaching a deprivation—is like having your cake and eating it too.

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      4. Nicholas

        I take your point but the essence is there: Augustine teaches that God creates Adam who through his fault acquires a sin nature and this sin nature is passed on to the rest of humanity through procreation – that much should be beyond dispute. Calvin builds on this and takes it to its logical conclusion: God decides before the beginning of time who will go to heaven and who to hell.

        To the extent that Augustine rejects Calvin’s position, who is in self-contradiction because his basic position commits him to the Calvinistic conclusion.

        The Augustinian position essentially has God imposing a disease on mankind because He does nothing to prevent the transmission of this disease. It’s all very well to say that He sends Christ with the cure – but the cure would not be necessary if we were not infected to begin with. What kind of loving Father knowingly permits a situation like that?

        This position equates to Calvinism because God chooses to create a world in which we are infected by sin. In the Augustinian schema we are all free to choose Christ’s solution, so if we leave this as formulated, Augustinianism and Calvinism overlap but are distinct (like a venn diagram).

        However, we must follow the logic where it leads. By creating the world with the mechanism of sin-infection as formulated by Augustine, God is pre-committing people to Hell unless they choose to opt out by becoming Christians. So while on one level it looks like the choice is ours, it isn’t strictly speaking purely with us because we are already committed. Those who end up in Hell end up there because they did not counteract the divine starting point. So, although Augustinianism and Calvinism are technically distinct, they are actually much closer than one might think.

        By contrast, if we reject Augustine’s position, we end up with a different picture of God: one who gives us free will but who does not create us as sinners. This may look like casuistry to you, but it makes a big difference to me in my personal walk with God. I became a Christian in spite of my hatred of God and I have unlearned that hate through tears and and grief. I can’t worship the God of Augustine or Calvin.

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      5. “The Augustinian position essentially has God imposing a disease on mankind because He does nothing to prevent the transmission of this disease”

        That’s not Augustine’s position at all. In fact, he articulates both through observations, reason, and scripture that humanity in its nature was wounded by its disobedience toward God. Thomism builds on this with its body and soul composite of our nature.

        In fact, it’s clear from St. Paul, “

        Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned*—

        Romans 5:15 But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.”

        Paul totally contradicts your point. One persons transgression affected more than himself and that Christ’s single act brings all back to God. So, God doesn’t leave us on our own?

        It seems you have a problem with the Holy Scripture and the concept of Pauline notion of Sin—not Augustine. Why does God permit things? Why does any parent let a child fall? To learn a lesson and the child may not know at the time what the lesson to be learned.

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      6. Nicholas

        Re: Augustine – he most certainly teaches the transmission of sin. In so far as Adam’s nature was damaged by his rebellion against God and this rebellion was passed on to his descendants through procreation, Augustine is teaching that (i) concupiscence is transmitted and (ii) God created the world knowing that this would happen and did nothing to stop it. In criminal jurisprudence, a crime can be committed by omission as well as jurisprudence (note that tort, a civil area, generally does not operate this way). In this schema God is omitting to prevent the transmission of concupiscence – which He is in a position to do, being all powerful. in a non-Augustinian schema, God cannot prevent our sin without interfering in our free will, hence His non-action on that front, but we do not “inherit” concupiscence from our ancestors – we learn sin through culture. The results may be the same, but the distinction in mechanism is important because they say very different things about who God is.

        I don’t read Paul in the way that Augustine does and there is scholarly literature that argues strongly against that way of reading those passages. The following authors are worth reading on this point:

        A) Ziony Zevit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziony_Zevit)
        B) Michael Heiser (https://drmsh.com/paul-original-sin-and-rabbinic-theology/)
        C) Ronn Johnson (https://faithlife.com/ronn-johnson/about ; https://drmsh.com/bibles-big-story-part-3/)
        D) Denis Alexander (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiGheT3_vbmAhW7VRUIHUgsBsgQFjAAegQIBBAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FDenis_Alexander&usg=AOvVaw31-X8_CZMa4LznUbHtOYPb)

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      7. Yes. It’s certainly Paul’s teaching that Augustine merely puts terminology to by beginning from the observation of deprivation in early writings like Confessions then it is confirmed by the plain reading of Paul which he examines in On Nature and Grace. As Augustine puts it so beautifully to Pelagius, “Don’t take my word for it, take the Apostle’s word.”

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      8. Nicholas

        Perhaps the distinction between us is also in how you and I interpret the word sin, not just the transmission issue. Before commenting further, could you lay out (simply) what you think Paul is teaching in the passages you quoted?

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      9. Original Sin a deprivation of original holiness and justice as gifted to Adam. Adam’s personal sin of disobedience as one body of one man this affected the nature of all humanity to be deprived of original holiness and justice, which although divinely revealed is a mystery.

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      10. Nicholas

        Ah, but now that moves away from a positive to a negative: deprivation. Deprivation is the model I adhere to: but this contradicts transmission. It seems to me that Augustine is self-contradictory. Deprivation is what Genesis describes and Paul is explicating. But transmission – though naturally inferred from Paul’s language – does not seem consistent with God’s character to me, not in the traditional formulation. Now I concede I may be misinterpreting Augustine, but I think that is the upshot of what he is saying – namely two positions that, when fully explicated, are actually contradictory.

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      11. I don’t see the contradiction at all from what is expressed to Paul and Augustine. I rather find it the plainest reading of both the Genesis text, Paul, and Augustine. Augustine argues always from a standpoint of a deprivation of original holiness. Its actually how he moves away from Manicheanism.

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      12. Nicholas

        Augustine’s position is twofold: (i) an inherited charge and (ii) concupiscence.

        (i) It is immoral to pass a charge onto someone who had nothing to do with the facts that give rise to that charge. If we were simply deprived we would have our own inidividual charges, but we would not have an inherited charge from Adam. That has to come from something being done in addition to deprivation. You cannot say that the charge passively falls on us because God is in a position to stop that: He is the almighty. So Him letting it fall on us is functionally the same as it being pushed on us. You cannot simultaneously affirm the goodness of God and declare that God judges people for things they have not done. So in the context of declaring that God is good, you cannot have both deprivation and the inherited charge – but you can have deprivation by itself.

        (ii) Concupiscence: the innate tendency towards sin. Deprived of the sustaining presence of God we fall into sin – that is fair enough, so far as it goes, but it is not the whole picture. The Augustinian reading of Paul and Genesis seems to be saying that we inherit a desire to do evil. In other words, we will (eventually) do what is evil because we want to and we want to because we are descended from Adam. That version goes beyond deprivation and becomes something positive, something impelling us to do evil – and again we end up punished as a result of a chain of circumstances over which we have no control. We end up being punished for what we are.

        (i) Is theologically indefensible in my private estimation: we do not inherit Adam’s charge sheet. (ii) Can be rehabilitated. I don’t think “inherit” is really the word we want to use at all, and I don’t think we want to be involving transmission by descent either. I think Augustine was beginning to read Paul correctly and then made a misstep. We are naturally prone to sin because of our free will and the interplay between our environment and ourselves; ergo, we need a saviour. The salvation process began with Adam (hence the Pauline link between Adam and Christ), but Adam failed. The removal of Eden left the whole world in the wilderness and God would resume the story with Noah, then Abraham, etc, leading to Christ, the capstone (to mix my metaphors). We are in sin because we are in the wilderness and we are in the wilderness because we were not capable of Eden – Adam stands for the everyman. It doesn’t matter which human you put in the Garden, because each one would have failed – it took Christ to pass the trial of the Garden (Temptation in the Wilderness; Way of the Cross). We are deprived and we are sinners – but it is not right to describe us as inheriting some sickness from Adam – Adam cut us off. As I said before, that may look like casuistry, but it makes a big difference to how you see God.

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      13. Nicholas

        As you’ll see from my other reply, i have no problem with the deprivation model. To that extent I agree with Augustine and think that modern scholarship on Genesis enhances that position. That part is fine – the problem is with combinining it with (i) an inherited charge and (ii) an inherited sickness. Now if Augustine meant it to be metaphorical language, he perhaps should have chosen a different metaphor.

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      14. From reading Augustine any positive since of inheritance he gets from Paul. The deprivation model is Augustine’s from Platonism. So, again, I think your issue is with Paul; not Augustine.

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      15. Nicholas

        Perhaps it is – but I am less certain that we have been handling parts of Paul correctly since becoming more familiar with the Talmud and Second Temple literature. I feel far less certain about what Paul is saying and I fear that if we do not get a grip on that problem, we will have big problems in evangelism, because some Christian readings of Paul are not conducive to that. Take for example atheists and agnostics and believers who wrestle with genuine doubts about the existence and loving character of God. If we read parts of Roman in way that many do, we are going to drive those people away. In and of itself that is not a reason for revisiting Pauline scholarship, since we have a higher duty to the truth – but it does give me cause for concern. It seems to me that doubting God is a valid thing to do given the human condition (grief, the Psalms and Job are full of it) – are we to punish atheists and agnostics for being like the heroes of the Bible? That does not seem fair. Similarly, this question of original sin as formulated by some is disastrous for evangelism. How can we preach about the love of God and then effectively say, “Oh and by the way, God did this to you”? I can’t in good conscience do that, but I feel I am committed to that position by certain readings of Paul. I just cannot stomach it. It doesn’t seem fair. But “we did this to ourselves” is true – better to say we are all Adam than that we have inherited his evil in our blood. “Did I request thee, my Maker?” Those words haunt me. I do not want to be a satan figure, but equally I do not want to be intellectually dishonest. How can I worship a God I despise? How can I evangelise unbelievers if I don’t believe my own message? It isn’t right.

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      16. Nicholas

        No, I think you’re correct. I would not expect Wright to be on the same page as I am – I don’t tend to share a lot of his perspectives anyway. As in my earlier reply, I am influenced by Heiser, Johnson, Zevit, et al. I think John Walton is also on a similar page, but I would need to check. I’m less familiar with his Genesis 3 material, more with his Flood narrative material.

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      17. Nicholas

        I’m not sure I can be described as a Pelagian. Indeed, I do not think of myself as one. I believe that Christ was without sin (though tempted) and that His sacrifice was necessary to effect our salvation. I do not see how my beliefs put me outside a minimalist orthodoxy, or how they undermine the Gospel. We are condemned by our sin and we need a Saviour – that much is clear. The description of humanity at the beginning of the Flood narrative in Genesis (though using hyperbole for effect) is an apt description of what we are. As a misanthrope, I have no illusions about our wickedness. But I do not see how we can square the Augustinian reading of Paul with a loving benevolent God. So I would counter that Augustinianism could equally be said to lead to Christological problems. I think I would need you to elaborate this Pelagian point before I could proceed further: I’d need to see where you think I agree with Pelagius and then demonstrate where I do and where I don’t.

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  2. In regard to the lack of mens rea you mention that there is no parallel with the Jewish people. In fact, Circumcision is a model of both the circumcision of the heart and Baptism which is perfected in the Church; opening up the heart to the ability of hearing the Word of God . . . thus an introductory rite for the religion and overcoming a defect in our makeup due to Original Sin. Jews, not circumcised were considered barred from the Faith and denied entry into the life of the hereafter. In that way it is not much different than Baptism since the time of Jesus.

    I suppose that this defect in our nature is overcome though we may not as yet (as a child) been exposed to Faith and the Teachings of Faith and were not of age of reason to commit actual sin. But hereditary defects might well be an obstacle that prevents us from being fully incorporated into the Body of Christ . . . although in some way we are; and probably why we also include in Baptism the doctrine of Baptism by blood and Baptism of desire.

    Limbo was just a a word to describe a different state of being. It does not deprive the baby from being happy for all eternity but we admit no definitive teaching on what this looks like and may be. In fact, though not definitive proof, SaintSr. Faustina posited through a mystical experience, that at the moment of death a last grace is sent every soul to either accept or reject Christ. But it is far from a cut and dry definition but it is clear, as was to the Jews with circumcision, that a child should be, if at all possible, Baptized into the faith and freed from the stain of Original Sin though the fallen tendency toward sin is still present in our will and our disordered drives and desires.

    So in my mind there is a Jewish counterpart to the necessity for such actions even though the child has not yet any mens rea which leaves them free from the guilt of their particular action.

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    1. Nicholas

      I’m not entirely convinced that the Jews understood circumcision this way. Granted it was hugely important – hence the episode with Zipporah as Moses returns to Egypt (Exodus 5?). However, it seems very strange to think that God would judge a child for an act over which it has no control (and adult persevering in uncircumcision would be a different matter). Now you might say that it is not judgment, but I’m not sure that line can be drawn. – Unless you would care to elaborate further?

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      1. Nicholas

        I agree that the Rabbis thought the fall of Adam was one of the causes of sin in the world. That much I do not dispute – but they also blamed the fall of Satan and the fall of the Sons of God. It is not clear to me that they (univocally) taught (i) original sin as formulated by Augustine and (ii) that non-circumcision had a significant impact on the afterlife in the way conceived in the analogy that pairs it with infant baptism. Indeed, the Apostolic formulation of baptism analogises it with the passage through the Red Sea as well as circumcision (and with the Flood), so I think we need to be careful not to strain the comparison too far. For the record, I’m not particularly concerned about infant baptism, but I really am not sure about theology that says people are treated differently in the afterlife on the basis of baptism. I would understand children being given some opportunity to “develop” in some way in the afterlife – but that is not baptism qua baptism, that is about childhood vs adulthood.

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      2. Of course neither of the practices are definitively covered by Scripture and so it is a theological argument that is outside of the concrete: it is, as we say, mystical. But God did institute both circumcision and Baptism for initiation into His people and it was done in infancy if possible.

        Even then, the question should bring to mind the additional question as to why those who did not commit the Sin of Adam have to live by the sweat of their brow and give childbirth in pain etc. It is the same judgement that is made by God which lacks the men Rea of man’s legal system.

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      3. Nicholas

        I agree that the rest of humanity has to live by the sweat of their brow, etc. These conditions obtained outside the Garden and Adam was, in effect, demoted to them. I can understand that God would create the world in this way for various reasons, but what seems strange to me is the idea that the rest of humanity should inherit a spiritual disease from Adam when they had nothing to do with his choice in the Garden – that does not look right to me. This transmission process just does not seem consistent with a loving God.

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      4. And Jessica thought the same thing about the concept of Hell. But then, God (and His Justice) is far beyond our understanding. He is not like us and we are viewing His inner workings by our own fallen nature and our (perhaps, misunderstanding) of true justice.

        I guess there are many mysteries like these that we look forward to having solved if we make to the beatific vision.

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      5. Nicholas

        The comparison with Jessica makes sense and I can’t help but wonder if she and I are on a similar spiritual journey. But this point is important and I don’t think in good conscience I can preach a version of the Gospel shaped that way to non-believers. I have done in the past, but won’t anymore. Perhaps I am no longer an evangelical. Well, I can wear the badge of heretic and apostate if I have to. From the perspective of intellectual honesty, I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. I grant that God’s ways are not our ways, as the Prophet Isaiah relayed from God to us (the original passage is in the first person). But we also have a conscience and we are supposed to love God. How can we love Augustine’s or Calvin’s God? Adam sins, and God permits us to inherit something disgusting from him, despite the fact that we had nothing to do with that disobedience. That just doesn’t seem right.

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      6. And it also doesn’t seem right that a mother who uses crack will have a sick or malformed baby. But this is the test we are all facing. Does it really matter that we are all put to the test in various ways and that some of us find some modicum of happiness in this world while others do not? Does it matter in what manner we die whether with or without suffering? Only insofar as we have died with faith and love of Christ our Redeemer and have truly been contrite for our sins against Him. His mercy is ultimately what we appeal to for none of us is just in the eyes of God. Do we deserve eternal damnation? I suppose that if there is only one rope to cling after we’ve fallen into the deep ocean, if we do not grasp it and hang on for dear life we will in the end sink to the depths of the ocean . . . that doesn’t seem just either but it is obvious truth. Maybe the same can be said of God? He gives us our chances and usually many more than one. Ultimately it is not Christ who places us in Hell but the sinner himself who despises God. Where else would an eviternal soul be kept? I’m sure God could create another reality but we have to accept the reality that He Created out of His Wisdom.

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      7. Nicholas

        I don’t disagree with the essence of what you are describing. It seems to me that is a correct description of our reality. But the problem lies in untangling the connection between us as individuals and Adam a historical person. It’s one thing to talk about the general paradox of the problem of evil, but another to actually make sense of the biblical passages in a way that doesn’t make God out to be a monster.

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      8. I typically think of the seriousness of the original trespass and Who was offended. Perhaps we have too much of an anthropomorphic idea of God and do not realize the Stature of God and His dignity compared to ours. It makes Adam’s sin so much more egregious if we think of Whom was offended and what the consequences should then be.

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      9. Nicholas

        Yes, that makes sense to me. But the traditional model also contradicts Scripture: God says He does not punish the children for the sins of the fathers quite plainly (which means we should be careful about how we understand the visiting unto the X-generation in Exodus). Ergo, the traditional model, at least as popularly understood, cannot be correct: it contradicts Scripture.

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      10. And I think of Christ’s plain words in the sense that our crosses might be due to the natural (in a fallen world) of our parents sins or genes or poor lifestyles BUT it does not visit their sins upon them. The blind man can be saved as easily as the sighted. And the poor, the maimed the mistreated the suffering can all do the same thing and the attending graces given to them to do that will be in proportion to what they need.

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      11. Scripture says God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their father? That’s not true, not at least from the Torah.

        Numbers 14:18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in kindness, forgiving iniquity and rebellion; yet certainly not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children to the third and fourth generation for their parents’ iniquity.’

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      12. Nicholas

        Ezekiel 18:20 says “The soul that sinneth, the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son: the justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Douay-Rheims). Both of those verses cannot be correct – I don’t think we are reading Numbers 14:18 correctly (otherwise we would have to give up on inerrancy). I’m with Ezekiel on this one.

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      13. The context of Numbers is pretty clear. What parents do effect their children negatively in some manner.

        I find it odd that if you disagree with a passage, the way you push it aside is “we’re not reading it correctly.”

        Actually, what is interesting if you around the passages of Numbers it’s pretty clear about atonement of transgressions.

        Ezekiel is speaking about atonement of death—sin of the flesh, which is very Pauline in understanding and different from the normal Rabbinic Judaism which cannot be read into Paul.

        So, I’d say you’re not reading Ezekiel correctly.

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      14. Nicholas

        It is clear that God allows the consequences of parents’ choices to affect their children. That is entailed by permitting free will – it could not be otherwise, because otherwise is a contradiction.

        However, it cannot be correct that God punishes children for their parents’ sins. Therefore, it cannot be correct that God punishes children of Adam for the sins of Adam. Therefore, there can be no inherited sin in the sense of a charge sheet that is passed down from one generation to the next.

        Equally, it cannot be moral for God to put the desire to sin into us. Indeed that would contradict Scripture, since St James condemns as heresy the belief that God tempts (seduces) people. But Augustinian reading of Paul would have us believe that God in effect does that.

        I don’t read Rabbinic Judaism into Paul – not wholesale at any rate, but that is his intellectual milieu, so it is relevant to consideration of his theology. At times he carries it forward and at other times he disagrees with it. At any rate, it is neither static nor monolithic. But I would recommend this article, which discusses the relationship between Paul and the Rabbinic material: https://drmsh.com/TheNakedBible/TynBull_1990_41_1_01_Porter_OriginalSin.pdf

        Regarding my methodology: I am required to revise my opinion on a text and its significance when presented with new data. Therefore, for example, I no longer believe in a global flood – but I once did. When presented with new data that contradicts Scripture, I can either look for a reconciliation that preserves inerrancy, without which Christianity is false, or I can conclude that Christianity is false and apostatise. Currently I am doing my level best to preserve inerrancy, but if I cannot complete that task, I will abandon Christianity.

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      15. My whole next post is about how Paul disconnects and innovates from Judaism. Personally, I think there’s no way around Numbers and it’s connect to Israel’s sins against God affect newer generations.

        Are you sure it’s if you cannot fit it into your concluded worldview then you will abandon it? In fact, that is the context of Numbers the judgment of turning away from God.

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      16. I think your animosity toward Calvinism, blaming Augustine for Calvinism, and the constant need mold a personal Christianity is caused by some personal want for doing so.

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      17. Nicholas

        That may be: I cannot rule it out. That in fact is to the point – the heart is deceptive, as Jeremiah says. Unfortunately, the fact that my motivations may be suspect does not entail that my whole reasoning is.

        Consider Calvinism – why do we both reject it? The initial reason we both rejected it is not that we knew Calvin had misread the Scriptures. That knowledge comes later once proper enquiry has been made into the context, the language, etc. The initial reason for rejecting Calvin is that it is bad theology. Calvin’s God is a moral monster. But until we have actually done the necessary textual work, we actually have no authority for rejecting Calvin and I don’t blame Calvinists who are bound by their consciences to accept the teachings of Calvin. Prima facie, Calvin is reading Romans in a natural way and those who resist Calvin are ignoring parts of the text that make them uncomfortable. That would be a fair criticism of people who reject Calvin for the wrong reasons.

        In the same way, I can be criticised in my opposition to Augustine. Apparently I am ignoring parts of Romans that make me uncomfortable. Apparently I have no authority for holding back: I’m not only disobeying Augustine, I’m disobeying Paul, an Apostle. I get it: I get the criticism.

        But either the Christian message is coherent or it isn’t. As far as I can tell, the Augustinian formulation of original sin is bad theology in the sense that it leads to a contradiction.

        Either God is good or He isn’t. If He is not good, then He is not God. Now, I take on Scoop’s point that God is transcendent and His ways are beyond our ways – but that leads to an inability to know God at all if taken to its logical conclusion and that contradicts a basic principle of Christianity, namely that God created us to know and love Him (which I believe is one of the first points of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). So, we have to conclude that there are some things we can know about God, however poorly that may be relative to God’s omniscience.

        We have to know that God is good and believe it sincerely. If something evil is attributed to God, then such a thing is a contradiction, since God must be good. Indeed, the reason we reject Islam is because Islam attributes evil to God. God cannot be evil – by definition (i.e. analytically, known a priori).

        Now it seems to me that just as some of the Rabbis attributed evil to God falsely (and thus were wrong), so we must be careful not to read passages of Scripture in such a way that attributes moral evil to God (as opposed to “evil” when used to mean “bad”, as in “calamitous”; Scripture plainly says that God causes catastrophes on occasion as judgments – but we should not infer that all calamities in our lives work that way).

        My concern is that the Augustinian reading of Paul attributes moral evil to God in two forms: (i) God permits the existence of a charge that is passed from father to son; (ii) God allowed the creation of “disease” (for want of a better metaphor) that passes from father to son and which results in acts for which the sons are then held accountable, despite the fact that they had no say in contracting the disease.

        (i) and (ii) surely cannot be consisted with the character of a good God. Accordingly, we must deny these propositions if we are to maintain faith in God.

        We must deny that God permits the transmission of a charge sheet from father to son. It is not sufficient to say that God blots out that charge through the Atonement of Christ. It was immoral for the charge to be passed in the first place. If even our human courts recognise this principle, a fortiori, so must the court of heaven. Accordingly, I ask you – do you deny or aver (i)?

        Regarding (ii) – if we do not deny it, we are not far from saying that God puts the (potential) desire to do evil in humanity. Can that be right? Doesn’t it make much more sense to say that God gave us free will and that free will entails the (unfortunate) formation of evil impulses? If we take the latter view, then we can preserve Adam as a representative head – in the sense that he stands for all of us as an everyman – but we are not forced to believe in a God who puts evil directly into people.

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      18. In regard to Paul, I think it’s Paul not Augustine who originates all of this, I simply think Augustine just puts terminology and brackets in the language of Paul.

        And there is some tension there. It’s clear that we’ve both quoted text that on surface disagree with each other one. Sometimes, though things lay in mystery. All we need to know is Jesus Christ heals through the repentance of Sin.

        At any rate, you most sound to me like a Messianic Jew, one who wants to apply Judaism and follow Jesus.

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      19. Nicholas

        Well, I do not wish to apply Talmudic Judaism – that would not be a true assessment of my position. I’m trying to help unbelievers, to carry on with sharing the Gospel in a world that seems intent on using the failures of Christianity as an excuse to reject Christ.

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      20. In fact, I think the whole storing up the treasury concept which is found in 2nd temple Judaism as a means to protect future generations from judgement in texts such as Tobit and Sirach challenges your notion of God punishing inequities. The example of those asking whether the man’s father had sinned and being told it was for God’s glory doesn’t abrogate true Torah for one or the cultural understanding.

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      21. Nicholas

        see also from the Torah: “Deuteronomy 24:16
        Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.”

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      22. Again. Atonement of Transgressions vs. atonement of death in regards of sin. You’re not making that Jewish distinction. You’re lumping them all together.

        So, it appears, that the Old is simply pointing toward Christ. As Paul explains, Christ will vindicate the sons. So, it’s still very much in line with Pauline and traditional understanding of sin.

        There’s no other way you can simply explain away the context of that particular Numbers passage with these others.

        You could ignore it’s there. Most people do, but it’s still there.

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      23. Nicholas

        I’m happy to make the distinction between transgressions and ritual impurity. Indeed, I am familiar with the academic literature that engages with our understanding of sacred space in the context of Bronze Age literature. However, we still have to engage with the underlying principles and the theology. If we believe that God punishes people for sins they did not commit, then we have a God who is a moral monster. Nowhere in Genesis is such a concept taught.

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      24. Of course, your whole conclusion of what it entails about God relies on the notion that Original Sin doesn’t exist.

        Iniquities on future generations is throughout the scripture even to Jesus himself. That’s where the whole concept of storing up Treasure in Heaven comes from. The whole theme of Tobit. And if you don’t think that’s canonical, Jesus still carries that teaching into the Gospels. Regardless if yoI’d suggest readying “Charity” by Gary A. Anderson. He explains that 2nd temple Judaism and Jesus center on this idea of a heavenly treasury by storing up treasure against past inequities.

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      25. Nicholas

        I think the distinction there is between corporate and individual judgment. Again, I’m aware that my position looks like casuistry, but bear me out: the gravity of our conclusions merits that.

        If we look at corporate judgments – the sack of Jerusalem in AD 70, the sack of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the destruction of eschatological Babylon (Revelation 17-18), etc – as you say, we see a culmination of the sins of the generations, which results in the destruction of the given offending city/civilisation. We can agree on this starting point.

        The purposes of the judgments are various.

        (i) To prevent further transgressions by the city (analogous to the use of imprisonment and execution in the criminal justice system as a means of reducing future crime). This could be called providential.

        (ii) As an exemplar: to show to onlookers that the given offending acts that brought about the judgment are wrong and, in simple terms, that rebellion against God in the general sense is wrong.

        (iii) To punish individual wrong-doers alive at the time of the judgment. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is paradigmatic here: the citizens of those city at the time of the judgment were themselves evil. When God judged those cities, he was not judging innocent bystanders so far as we can tell. Granted, innocent children may have been killed, but they surely were not consigned to eternal conscious torment in the afterlife.

        That’s fine so far as it goes, but we have to then examine the interplay between that part of theology and the doctrine of original sin.

        We are the products of our culture and our environment. In that regard, we end up sinning and it seems appropriate that: (i) we should be denied access to the tree of life and (ii) we should be judged in the afterlife for our transgressions.

        But it does not seem right that we should be judged in the afterlife for other people’s transgressions, and that seems to be the upshot of the doctrine of original sin. Original sin seems to be saying that we are born condemned.

        Now I can understand and agree with the idea that we are born condemned in the sense that, if nature takes its course, we will end up sinning, and therefore we will have our own transgressions to be judged for when we die unless we accept the pardon offered through Christ. That makes sense and I have no problem with that.

        But the idea that each of us is born with the sins of the past and that we will be judged at the Last Judgment for the sins of the past – that is unjust. No just judge would behave that way. So I draw a distinction between corporate sins which result in temporal judgment and personal sins which result in eternal condemnation.

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      26. In Genesis, 4:23-24 Lemach’s
        Boast in regards to Cain can be read that sins of the father continue in his sins.

        And God’s decree about visiting judgment sevenfold on one who would kill Cain. And in context of Cain’s seven generations.

        The concept exists in Genesis.

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      27. Nicholas

        Sevenfold judgment can be understood as an increase in the sentence, which is not per se inconsistent with the character of God. I am not making that point. I am making the point that on my understanding of Augustine, the equivalent would actually be God judging someone who hadn’t even killed anyone.

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      28. Nicholas

        Do you mean that murder is passed down from father to son and that if they had gene theory they would say it was encoded in the genes?

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      29. It would relate to the original state of holiness. Some of which, I’d say is a mystery. Do I have a genetic disposition to get stressed and easily frustrated or is this a nurtured response from my mother who carries the same trait? I don’t know the answer.

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      30. Nicholas

        Hmm – I’m not sure how far that really takes our discussion. Your original point regarding Lamech, if I understand correctly is to show that God judges the children for the sins of the fathers, that (i) this is a general principle (i.e. God is free to do this at any time and place and will not be immoral for doing so) and (ii) the Lamech text is a specific example, thus verifying the principle (a posteriori I suppose, since you do not seem to be offering a priori analysis for your position at this stage).

        By contrast, I am saying that “It is wrong for God to judge children for their fathers’ crimes” (granted requiring more nuance) is (i) true; (ii) analytic; and (iii) therefore capable of being verified and known a priori.

        Since you have adduced the Lamech episode as an illustration and support of your case, I need to nullify your interpretation of it in order to defend my position.

        The Cain/Lamech text does not ambiguously state that either that children are judged for the sins of their fathers or that they inherit a propensity for sin from their parents ultimately up to Adam.

        What the Cain text says is that God will punish severely the person who murders Cain. The minimalist reading of that text is that the person who murders Cain is being punished for his own act, not for what Cain has done. God may be doling out a harsher punishment than the exile that was Cain’s lot (and even then, that is not necessarily God punishing Cain, but simply the way society will treat him now), but He is not saying: “It’s your fault that Cain killed Abel”. That would be a lie, since it contradicts the law of cause and effect. God appears to be saying “Murder is very evil, and I’m going to impress the severity of it on the public consciousness.” At the same time, He also appears to be saying, “Human sin multiplies: Cain killed one person, but soon there will be a culture of murder”. The Flood narrative is then adduced to vindicate God’s point (Genesis being in the genre of theological history).

        To clarify, I have no problem with the assertion that sin multiplies or that our culture influences us towards sin. If we have immoral family and friends, it seems plausible that – as a general rule – we will also be sinful. Indeed, in order to keep ourselves in pleasantness, our societal framework compels us to sin – look at the wickedness in the form of certain competitive behaviours that capitalism entails when practised by unregenerate humans.

        But the Cain/Lamech text does not allow us to assert that God charges us with other people’s crimes. Now, the better text for that argument would probably be when Christ says that the sins of the previous generations (including the murder of a priest between the altar and Heykal) will be visited upon the generation of His own day (looking forward to AD 70 most likely) – that text is a much stronger support for your position.

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      31. Lemech certainly does indicate some sort of inheritance of sin, which is the point of the entire conversation. Just because I don’t know how such a transmission would occur doesn’t do anything for your position. You just need to disagree on principle for your position.

        Furthermore, it’s clear that Christ is influenced from texts such as Ben Sira, it’s very apparent in the treasury teachings which is why it’s always dumbfounding that people object to canonical status when Christ teaches from it.—see Charity by Gary A. Anderson.

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      32. Nicholas

        Do you mean this particular text from Sirach: “There is nothing so bad as a bad wife; may the fate of the wicked overtake her! It is as easy for an old man to climb a sand-dune as for a quiet husband to live with a nagging wife…. If a man is supported by his wife he must expect tantrums, shamelessness, and outrage. A bad wife brings humiliation, downcast looks, and a wounded heart. Slack of hand and weak of knee is the man whose wife fails to make him happy. *Woman is the origin of sin, and it is through her that we all die.* Do not leave a leaky cistern to drip or allow a bad wife to say what she likes. If she does not accept your control, divorce her and send her away.” (Sirach 25:13 ff) or a different one? If a different one, please provide the reference.

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      33. It’s has to be framed in the context of Prov. 10-2. Anderson’s argument speaks to the atonement from death and the treasury of Heaven. This fits into the Rich man narrative of Christ. So, Jesus is bringing the Prov. quotation into a new soteriology from its original text and applying it to his Lordship. At that point, Ben Sira teaches in what means this is understood from the early days of Christianity via Sira 5 and 35.

        Again, it’s an thorough argument in his book Charity that Jesus does teach that works has something to do with salvation from the sin of death, which is assumed in the teaching.

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      34. I just don’t operate that what Jesus or Paul says has to be applied to what it means in Judaism sense. John Chrysostom explicitly denounces this type of theology. I think that Jesus as Lord and Paul as his Apostle have the authority to develop from what is clear pedagogy of earlier Judaism.

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      35. Nicholas

        I do not dispute the authority of Christ or Paul – I am not arguing that they parrot the Rabbis. But I don’t think you can assert John Chrysostom here since that would be an argument from authority. Since I am not a Catholic, it is irrelevant what John Chrysostom says qua authority for accepting your premise. To persuade me, you would actually need to show me the text from Chrysostom and show why the argument he makes is persuasive. But that would be tangential to what we are actually discussing.

        I don’t think the relationship between Paul and the Rabbis is the main point here: the point is whether the Augustinian reading of Paul and the reading of Christ you mention are defensible theologicially in a particular context. Can God be called just if at the Last Judgment people are condemned for sins they did not commit? Ezekiel seems to be saying that this is not the way God operates.

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      36. And you don’t use the argument of authority? Look at this guy: list a bunch of articles. You’re free to look at Chrysostom’s point.

        And Numbers, Lemach, and Prov. indicate otherwise. And I’m sorry to say but Athanasius make it clear that Genesis 3 says disobedience brings death and Paul fits finally into that mold. And Athanasius predates Augustine. So, this is the common reading of orthodox Christianity.

        If that doesn’t persuade you then you’re just going to have to look more into it. We could get into more into the Son of perdition and the elect in Apocalypse, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort as literally you response will be; “We have to revisit what that really means.” Or “We’ve been reading that wrong.” As if 2000 years of people who specialize in reading scripture have been mistaken.

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      37. Nicholas

        I am not arguing with 2000 years in its entirety or even with most of it. The articles I am referencing are to show that I am persuaded by the arguments given in them. The fact is that Romans 5 is not an easy passage and much turns on the interpretation of certain phrases. The Porter article makes this clear.

        Particularly problematic is “ἐφ̓ ᾧ” in verse 12. It can mean several things. Augustine took it to mean “in whom”, referring back to Adam and this is a building block in the model he proposes. That is a possible reading, but it is not the only one and arguably not a natural one, since (i) the antecedent is too far removed and (ii) the preposition is not correct for that meaning (although we might make allowances on the assumption that Greek is not Paul’s first language).

        A possible and more suitable reading is “because”. This makes a marked difference to the passage. Augustine’s reads: “in whom all sinned”; the alternative reads “because all sinned”.

        I’m happy to read the Chrysostom passage – time permitting – if you will provide the link. As stated above, I am not asserting that the articles are right because they are scholars, but because they seem to make better inroads with the Greek and posit a better theology. Ultimately, we also have to recognise that the 2000 years you are talking about represents a particular strand of Christianity, It is not clear to me that Augustine’s full position was accepted by the Orthodox. Nor am I in disagreement with some elements of what he says – but the overall package is problematic for my conscience on a theological level.

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      38. The orthodox have not had an ecumenical council since the seventh. They cannot call one without a clear primacy either. The theologies of the orthodox are in contradiction with other orthodox churches. They are national churches without any sort of clear teaching—dead on arrival. So, what bearing that have on Augustine is dead on arrival. In fact, it is nothing more than a determination of each church or individual claims as their theology.

        So, what they claim is chaotic, I have little use for it.

        Liked by 1 person

      39. Nicholas

        That is fair enough, and I would dispute none of those points. My aim is not to create asperity between us, but to explain my position. No one doubts that Augustine has been influential and I do not dispute his intellectual brilliance or the sincerity of his convictions. But we are faced with the fact that he is not a contemporary of Paul and that Paul’s Greek is capable of different readings. That being the case, our dispute is about whether Augustine’s pattern is the best fit to what Paul is saying. The fact that many theologians have agreed with him is a point of evidence in your favour – I take that point. But in and of themselves, the numbers and piety of these men are not what makes an argument true or false or what determines how the grammar and rhetoric of a passage works. The main points are not in contention between us – viz: (i) Adam’s sin affected the rest of humanity somehow; (ii) we all sin; (iii) we all merit death; (iv) Christ is the one who liberates us from subjection to sin and death. We need not even know the precise mechanism for how sin spreads – that is not an essential point. But the theology remains: are you comfortable with what Augustine’s model says about the character of God and, if so, why?

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  3. I don’t know how much this will help the above arguments being discussed but I do think that our later understanding about the relationship between Body and Soul and their attendant faculties is what needs to be cleared up. It makes the language of the Bible a bit archaic but preserves the principles that are being discussed and gives me peace of mind which apparently you do not have.

    First, the Soul was made to love and know God and although the Body (which is the earthen vessel that contains this soul) is flawed and fragile. The vessel has and can carry on the sins of humanity from Adam which is significant because it can cause us to war within ourselves: body against soul. So if the Soul was made to serve God and the Body was made to serve the soul something has been knocked out of kilter by the sin of Adam. His transgression has altered the order that God established or desired in the proto-creation of the first human parents. The desires and thus the will dictated by the body are opposed now from serving the soul and thus God. That is a disorder that ALL humans are born with. The whole purpose of life in this fallen world is to allow Christ to fix the internal war of body, knowledge, understanding and will such that it will once again serve the soul so that the Soul will naturally be supported by its earthen vessel to bring glory to God and seek Him Whom it was made to love, know and serve forever.

    We will never know God in an inexhaustible way or our happiness in heaven would be incomplete for God is fathomless and even an eternity is not adequate to fully plumb His depths.

    Is is unfair then that a rebellious act of will against God by Adam has therefore created children with the same flaw? I dare say that it is just and good that this dynamic is set up between the Body and Soul and it turns into our Happy Fault that merited such a Savior. So we have a reward offered that far outstrips the negative consequences (or evils of this world) of this internal war to tame our desires and our wills and thus serve our Souls so that we become eligible for the reward (meriting) the salvation that God has offered to give us the grace to work out with fear and trembling that which we could not do on our own. We are too weak. God has repaired the flaw of the vessel and yet the will and understanding etc. are still tainted and must be trained to turn from serving the temporal body to serving the eternal soul. He gives us the grace and it is up to us to complete what God has given us the ability to do with our lives.

    I need not look at scripture to find competing texts. I simply know that this life is a series of trying to do the right thing and that it sometimes is very difficult and I will fail, have to pick myself up and try again. It seems to me that is why the flaws and the fear of hell are of themselves a means to understand the huge gulf between what we should be and what we are; the goodness of God and the once only chance at eternal happiness. Take it or live without it. It is your free will choice and to have your soul separated from its teleological end and aim in life forever is just and right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nicholas

      It seems clear to me that Paul is teaching we all sin and therefore we all die. If we do not repent of our sins and turn to Christ, we will end up in Hell. Hell is the punishment for evil. That much, I think, you, me, and Phillip agree upon.

      We can also probably agree that (i) Paul teaches that sin spreads and (ii) therefore death spreads. We may not know the exact mechanism, but the body and soul schema has some utility, as you say, for exploring the idea.

      What I cannot agree with is that (i) at the Last Judgment people will be charged with sins they did not commit (this seems unnecessary, since they have sins of their own and unjust since they played no role in those sins) and (ii) God causes sin. Furthermore, modern scholarship generally agrees that Augustine of Hippo misunderstood the Greek of certain key phrases in Romans 5 (which unfortunately was not helped by mistranslation into Latin in the Vulgate). The article by Porter discusses the Greek in depth: https://drmsh.com/TheNakedBible/TynBull_1990_41_1_01_Porter_OriginalSin.pdf

      See in particular this passage: “ἐφ̓ᾧ meaning ‘in whom’, with masculine, referring to ‘one man.”45 This interpretation fails because of the distance from the antecedent in verse 12a and because ἐν (‘in’) would be the more likely preposition, especially since locative ἐπί tends to refer to physical location. None of Paul’s uses (2 Cor 5:4; Phil 3:12; 4:10), or the other NT usage (Acts 7:33), of ἐφ̓ᾧ has this meaning. This appears to have been Augustine’s understanding,46 was embodied in the Vulgate’s in quo, and has had an influential history in biblical interpretation. While it may be true that humanity was in some way ‘in’ Adam (realist and federalist theologians would define this relation in different ways, see below), Augustine’s view is not textually well-based in this instance, and this factor should not be overlooked. That Augustine’s interpretation was probably based upon a misunderstanding of the grammar, and that later supporters have relied upon vague concepts of corporate personality in this view’s defense, should make modern scholars very hesitant to use his position without substantial re-examination (if it is not rejected outright). ”

      The points I am making are not simply to do with how to read text, they are to do with how we represent the character of God and the impact that has on our evangelism.

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      1. Actually what you are arguing is difference between particular sin (which is not inherited) and Original Sin which is the loss of the preternatural gifts. We had no right to them in the first place. And then the added gift of a Savior and the satisfaction of being able to use our wills and understanding in such a way that makes God give us that which he has promised to reward us with should we do the right thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. BTW: Original Sin, simply put, is the loss of the Preternatural Gifts given to Adam and that is for all humanity. Through Christ we can receive these again but more than that we can share in His Divine Nature: so that is a pretty gratuitous tradeoff for our present situation.

    Preternatural Gifts are: Favors granted by God above and beyond the powers or capacities of the nature that receives them but not beyond those of all created nature. Such gifts perfect nature but do not carry it beyond the limits of created nature. They include three great privileges to which human beings have no title–infused knowledge, absence of concupiscence, and bodily immortality. Adam and Eve possessed these gifts before the Fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nicholas

      I do not dispute that the failure of Adam and Eve resulted in the loss of a state that could have obtained for humanity at the time. The big picture is not the main problem for me: the problem is the individual who stands before the throne at the Last Judgment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nicholas

        Agreed, particular sins of Adam are not imputed to humans. To the extent that we all rebel against God, we are all sinners. To the extent that Adam brought a culture of rebellion into the world: (i) Adam is at fault and (ii) anyone who partakes of such rebellion is at fault. What is not true to say is that Adam’s descendants caused Adam to sin.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nobody does say that, to my knowledge. Only that through Adam we have a broken earthen vessel that needs fixing and we have all lost that peace and rest between the faculties of the vessel and the soul which desires nothing but God Himself. So we cannot but help to have a lack of infused knowledge (we have to work to get that . . . and thank God for revelation), a tendency to be tempted by evil (that is to say concupiscience) and of course we are not of our nature capable of eternal life. That is what man got from the fall of Adam. That is why baptism is important and rewards offered by Christ and redemptive act is more than anyone could or should expect. If they refuse the fix, then they will remain broken and the eternal soul will be separated from all that is Good, Beautiful, Just, etc. for all eternity. Seems fair to me.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I believe that he was the first person who received the preternatural gifts of human nature and thus lived in peace with God. He destroyed that by sin and from that sin his offspring have inherited a nature free of the preternatural gifts that he enjoyed.

        Other contenders for ‘humans’ via science do not help us understand what is truly human in the sense that was part of God’s plan. So yes, Adam is the first human parent of our race.

        You may enjoy this article as well: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=1183

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I do, but then others may disagree from scientific models recently arrived at. But it is much easier to understand if one understands that if it were Adam or more then they all fell victim to sin and thus the loss of preternatural grace.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: “You have Original Sin.”- Paul of Tarsus – On the Pilgrim Road

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