Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
J.A.A. Purves

Christianity & Existentialism

114 posts in this topic

Here is video of an address given by Revd. Prof. M.C. Steenberg, now Hieromonk Irenei. The title of the talk is "Fallen man or exiled son? Voices from antiquity on 'original sin' in the 21st Century." It's just under an hour in length. In it he says that to learn about the nature of sin we'd do better to look to the parable of the Prodigal Son than to Genesis 3. In Genesis, he says, we are told about the origin of sin, but very little about its nature.

Although he states that he does not want to simply "excavate" an early Christian point of view (he belongs to the Orthodox Church) for Western ears, in a kind of tension with the Western Church, it is perhaps inevitable that the theology about sin that he espouses will resonate less well with Western Christians than Eastern Christians. In the West, the doctrine of total depravity is entrenched.

Edited by tenpenny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In the West, the doctrine of total depravity is entrenched.

Do you mean the doctrine of original sin?

Edited by Ryan H.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the West, the doctrine of total depravity is entrenched.

Do you mean the doctrine of original sin?

No, I think I mean the doctrine of total depravity which, it is true, derives from Augustine (although it would be more accurate to say it derives from theologians who interpreted Augustine at a later time) and his concept of original sin. A point Steenberg doesn't actually make in his lecture, but which I think can be inferred, is that we in the West tend to unquestioningly assume that "total depravity" necessarily follows from "original sin." But this is not a forced conclusion, as is clear from the Eastern tradition, where Augustine's thought is neither normative nor foundational.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the West, the doctrine of total depravity is entrenched.

Do you mean the doctrine of original sin?

No, I think I mean the doctrine of total depravity which, it is true, derives from Augustine (although it would be more accurate to say it derives from theologians who interpreted Augustine at a later time) and his concept of original sin. A point Steenberg doesn't actually make in his lecture, but which I think can be inferred, is that we in the West tend to unquestioningly assume that "total depravity" necessarily follows from "original sin." But this is not a forced conclusion, as is clear from the Eastern tradition, where Augustine's thought is neither normative nor foundational.

I am, by the way, in the process of reading and thinking through Ryan's Feb 28 post and tenpenny's last couple following posts as well. But for now I had to interject here, I'm not sure what you mean by "we in the West", but the doctrine of Total Depravity is by no means generally accepted in Western churches.

Yes, it is one of the five points of Calvinism, but Reformed theology still represents a minority in the Western church. C.S. Lewis famously rejected Total Depravity (in his book, The Problem of Pain) as did Thomas Aquinas (in his Summa Theologica, who criticized Augustine's formulation of it for Calvin was even around), and, as did Philip Melanchthon, John Wesley, and Charles Ryrie, to name a few other Western theological heavyweights off the top of my head.

What does necessarily follow from original sin is the inherently sinful nature of a man - conclusion consistently hammered on a regular basis by the Apostle Paul in the epistles. (More on this soon, as I respond to your other posts ...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The objective view, however, continues from generation to generation precisely because the individuals (the observers) become more and more objective, less and less infinitely, passionately interested.... The more objective the observer becomes, the less he builds an eternal happiness, that is, his eternal happiness, on his relation to the observation, because an eternal happiness is a question only for the impassioned, infinitely interested subjectivity.... If Christianity is essentially something objective, it behooves the observer to be objective. But if Christianity is essentially subjectivity, it is a mistake if the observer is objective. (pg. 32)

There's a disconnect between your summary of Kierkegaard's "leap to faith" idea and the passage you quoted. The passage touches on his essential notion, but Kierkegaard there is stressing the difference between objective knowledge of a truth and then a willful, deep submission to it, that there is a difference between "objective knowledge" of a fact and genuine belief, that is, faith. Nevermind that Kierkegaard's philosophy would suggest that reason is an essential component of bringing an individual to the point where the "leap to faith" can be made. It's not some discardable tool.

Alright, I've been thinking about this and let's put it this way. If all Kierkegaard is saying is that you need faith to be a Christian, then I do not disagree with Kierkegaard. You can only call yourself a Christian if you place your faith in Christ Himself, and in what Christ says, to save you. You can only call yourself a Christian if you make the choice to rely on Christ for your salvation instead of relying on yourself. However, that doesn't seem to be all Kierkegaard is saying.

There are modern day Christian churches that teach that you need faith even to know, for example, that God exists or that Christianity is true. They ultimately agree with the agnostics that there is no way of knowing for sure that there is even a God, and then they just say, that whatever your personal opinion is on the evidence that is there, you basically just have to have faith to believe it. This is where I disagree. You need faith to rely on Jesus to save you, but you do not need faith in order to know, objectively, that God exists or that Christianity is true. It's not going to necessarily be easy or simple, but there is an intellectual process you can go through (and that other nonbelievers have gone through) that leads to the rational objective conclusion that some truths are, in fact, true.

Again, concluding rationally that Christianity is objectively true doesn't even make you a Christian. You can be objectively convinced that God exists and that every basic truth of Christianity is rationally demonstrable, and still not choose to rely on Christ for your salvation. For what can be KNOWN about God is plain to us because God has shown it to us. For His invisible attributes, even His eternal power and His divine nature, have been clearly and objectively perceived by man - ever since the beginning of mankind. These truths are demonstrated by the things that God made. So we are without excuse for not knowing. Oh yeah, and yes, being able to know some things objectively? That is something to be happy about.

That article Tenpenny posted (really, a fine write-up) is quite helpful here in extrapolating Kierkegaard's own sense of the limits of subjectivity and the necessity of rationality, that his picture of faith has a kind of "faith seeking understanding" element.

That article Tenpenny posted says some interesting things, for instance ...

As convincingly irrationalist as these quotations may appear, Kierkegaard himself placed important qualifications and limits on subjectivity. Kierkegaard qualified his subjectivism significantly by his affirmation of the ultimate objectivity of truth: An existential system is impossible. An existential system cannot be formulated. Does this mean that no

such system exists? By no means; nor is this implied in our assertion. Reality itself is a system--for God;

but it cannot be a system for any existing spirit. (CUP, 107)

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The eternal essential truth is by no means in itself a paradox; but it becomes paradoxical by virtue of its

relationship to an existing individual. (CUP, 183)

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Christianity exists before any Christian exists . . . it maintains its objective subsistence apart from all

believers. (On Authority and Revelation, 168).

Kierkegaard thus does not question the objectivity of truth, but is calling for epistemological humility with claims to that truth. A distinction must be drawn in Kierkegaard's thought between ontology and epistemology. He does not doubt an objective ontology, he simply views that reality as being transcendent of any human's capacity to understand. He makes an objective ontological commitment with epistemological humility. Even after "Christendom" had been demythologized of its speculative graveclothes, a core of objective content remained necessary for Christianity, such as the "nota bene on a page of universal history" (PF, 130) and the objective revelation of the "Teacher" in the "Moment" to the student in the condition of "Error" (PF, 9-33). It was not enough to believe just anything, no matter how passionately, but some objective content was required as the object of faith.

See, it is useless to claim, like Kierkegaard does, that objective truth exists, but is just impossible for us to comprehend. Kierkegaard's epistemological claims about man's inability to know objective truth (or even to absolutely known a few objective truths) is to be properly distinguished from saying that Kierkegaard denies objective truth's very existence. Even these quotes from tenpenny's article affirming Kierkegaard's acceptance that truth exists also demonstrate the he thinks, once applied to the brains of man, the truth becomes paradoxical, subjective, unknowable, etc. You do not have to have "epistemological humility" about some things. And at least the Apostle Paul certainly didn't think so.

Again remember my friend, who has read everything by Kierkegaard and about Kierkegaard that he could get his hands on, told me that you just can't know anything 100% for sure. He reasoned that even when making the most simple of logical arguments - a syllogism - you still have to take the first 2 presuppositions on faith in order to reach any conclusion that A = C at all. From what I've read and from who I've talked to, even tenpenny here, I don't see any Kierkegaardian disagreement with my existentialist friend's claims.

Christians also can reasonably believe that we have the truths and reason necessary to make water-tight, systemic demonstrations of certain basic tenants of Christianity, i.e.; the existence of God, the existence of right and wrong, the sin nature of man, the divinity of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, etc.

On this you and I must strongly disagree. There is no genuinely water-tight, systemic demonstration of any of those ideas. There are arguments in favor of them, some of which are more plausible than others, but not one of them is absolute and unassailable.

I guess I'm interested in knowing how you can say this in light of what Romans 1:19-20 and even what Romans 2:14-15 say about General Revelation. The Apostle Paul is sounding a lot like C.S. Lewis in there. In fact, how do you define "General Revelation" in the first place? I'd suggest it's the doctrine of general revelation that Christian Existentialism most denies.

Thomas Aquinas is an example of a guy who believed in explaining how general revelation clearly reveals certain truths to us (yes, even water-tight and systematically). C.S. Lewis was challenged, over and over again, for demonstrating particular Christian truths. Yet his arguments still hold, and even the argument he rewrote & refined after debating Anscombe is pretty much now logically undeniable. Yes, we're human and can make mistakes. That doesn't mean we have to have epistemological humility about elementary facts like our own sin and depravity. I realize these are still topics debated all over the world, and yet, by process of elimination, you can reach a conclusion. The Scriptures specifically tell us that God left enough facts laying around ... on purpose ... for us to understand ... with the precise intention of our being forced to reach certain conclusions.

Edited by Persiflage

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are modern day Christian churches that teach that you need faith even to know, for example, that God exists or that Christianity is true. They ultimately agree with the agnostics that there is no way of knowing for sure that there is even a God, and then they just say, that whatever your personal opinion is on the evidence that is there, you basically just have to have faith to believe it. This is where I disagree. You need faith to rely on Jesus to save you, but you do not need faith in order to know, objectively, that God exists or that Christianity is true. It's not going to necessarily be easy or simple, but there is an intellectual process you can go through (and that other nonbelievers have gone through) that leads to the rational objective conclusion that some truths are, in fact, true.

What is the objective evidence that God exists and Christianity is true? Complexity in nature (for one common example) isn't objective proof of the truth of Christianity.Simply because a smart/educated person found something convincing isn't evidence that it is fact or objective truth.

Edited by Nezpop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the objective evidence that God exists and Christianity is true?

Creation itself. (Psalm 8:1-3, 19:1-2, Romans 1:19-20, Acts 14:15-17, Isaiah 40:12-14, 26)

The ability of man's brain to comprehend truth. (Luke 1:4, I John 1:1-2)

The logical demand for either a primum movens immobile or an infinite series of movers, only one of which is not logically contradictory. (re: Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica)

The impossibility of the sum total of contingent things being caused by anything that was contingent. (Cosmological proof, see Thomas Aquinas)

The logical idea itself of a Necessary Being. (Ontological proof, see St. Anselm.)

The purpose/design that every complex ordered system always displays. (Teleological proof)

The mathematical impossibility of all the Biblical Messianic prophecies and their every little tiny detail (made by different men, at far different historical times, in different places) all coming true in the life of one Person in an mathematically finite place and population (earth).

The fact that mathematical improbability always reaches a point of impossibility. (a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters for a billion million years into infinity will never = Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

The existence of rational thought. (See "The Self-Contradiction of the Naturalist", chapter 3 of Miracles by C.S. Lewis, also see the writings of Alvin Plantinga, Victor Reppert & William Hasker on "the argument from reason")

The existence of self-evident truths. (See also Norman Geisler and John Locke)

The existence of the laws of nature & natural, inalienable rights of man.

The existence of the human soul.

The existence of right and wrong.

The knowledge of right and wrong by man, or the existence of man's conscience. (Romans 2:14-15, the Anthropological or Ethical proof)

The elementary fact that man does not always follow right and wrong, but, in fact, often does wrong. (See Mere Christianity by Lewis)

The outright falsehoods fundamental to every other philosophy and religion on the planet earth.

The logical process of elimination. (The Congruity proof)

The existence of the perception of beauty (human and divine) in the universe. (The Aesthetical Proof)

The existence of the 4 Gospels.

The witnesses to Christ's Resurrection from the grave. (I Corinthians 15:5-8, including Doubting Thomas, John 20:24-29)

The claims and words of Jesus. (spoken by either 1 - a man mentally insane, 2 - a man morally a flat out liar, or 3 - one who was speaking the truth)

[intricately ordered] Complexity in nature (for one common example) isn't objective proof of the one particular truth of Christianity., namely, that there is a God.

Why isn't it? That's the Teleological proof.

I fail to see why so many Christians are so shrinking and delicate about this. I'm happy to openly meet anyone's challenge to any of these logical proofs, any time, anywhere, any place, in a spirit of fascination, wonder, joy, and gentleness. Why not? We've got a whole huge rich Christian tradition of rational and intellectual giants on whose shoulders we can begin. Besides, I take the Apostle Peter seriously when he says, "Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience ..."

And there is far far more objective evidence than just this. This post is only just a small smattering, off the top of my head, of a majority of ultimately & collectively conclusive evidence that has long existed in ready access on our planet for anyone who wants to ask questions. I realize there are objections to each of these proofs, but the objections can be met. I realize that many Christians use these logical arguments in the wrong spirit, but that doesn't mean they can't still be used rightly.

So if you really want to discuss this in detail, we should take it to a separate thread.

And yet, so many Christians still insist that there is ultimately no intellectual rational basis for absolutely claiming Christianity to be true. This is why I will never be a Christian Existentialist.

Edited by Persiflage

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's an interesting list. However, none of which is somehow factual proof of God-let alone Christianity. They are things Christians believe, certainly. And things mentioned in the Bible. But the existence of the Bible and Gospels are no more proof if Christianity's eternal reality than the Koran is proof that Islam is correct.

Using the Bible to back up the Bible is circular and does not make the Bible true.

The claims and words of Jesus. (spoken by either 1 - a man mentally insane, 2 - a man morally a flat out liar, or 3 - one who was speaking the truth)

This always gets me. I don't assume anything else in life has to be 100% infallible or get everything right 100% to have value. No other speaker or writer is expected to be always right...but somehow...Jesus and the Bile have to be exactly what they say-because otherwise everything Jesus said and that is in the Bible is crap? That's not logical in the least.

It was not the best argument Lewis ever put forth.

The existence of the Gospels is no more proof of the truth of Christianity than the Koran is proof of the truth of Islam.

Absence of current information regarding complexity in nature isn't proof of God. And can you show me a soul? I've never seen one before.

Edited by Nezpop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There are modern day Christian churches that teach that you need faith even to know, for example, that God exists or that Christianity is true.

And they're right on the latter count, I think. Not so much on the former.

I guess I'm interested in knowing how you can say this in light of what Romans 1:19-20 and even what Romans 2:14-15 say about General Revelation. The Apostle Paul is sounding a lot like C.S. Lewis in there.

Having a conscience does not mean that you are suddenly inclined to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

In fact, how do you define "General Revelation" in the first place?

Paul's writing in Romans puts forth the idea that nature testifies to the existence of God and his power and, furthermore, that we have a deep, inherent knowledge of basic moral law in terms of conscience. But I wouldn't push the category of General Revelation much further than that.

That's an interesting list. However, none of which is somehow factual proof of God-let alone Christianity.

Yeah, all of them can be substantially challenged, and to believe that they automatically point to God, you kind of have to look at them already believing in God to begin with.

Edited by Ryan H.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's an interesting list. However, none of which is somehow factual proof of God - let alone Christianity. They are things Christians believe, certainly. And things mentioned in the Bible. But the existence of the Bible and Gospels are no more proof of Christianity's eternal reality than the Koran is proof that Islam is correct. Using the Bible to back up the Bible is circular and does not make the Bible true.

Well, you'd actually have to read the actual proofs themselves instead of just my haphazard list of them, in order to explain how their conclusions aren't logical. And I bet you could at least admit that the existence of the Bible could be proof of the truth of Christianity IF there were certain facts about the Bible that would be impossible unless the Bible were true. As far as the Scripture references on the list are concerned, that's just to demonstrate that making these arguments is Biblically based within Christianity. I could delete all the above mentioned Bible verses from the above post, and that wouldn't change the logical arguments.

The claims and words of Jesus. (spoken by either 1 - a man mentally insane, 2 - a man morally a flat out liar, or 3 - one who was speaking the truth)

This always gets me. I don't assume anything else in life has to be 100% infallible or get everything right 100% to have value.

I don't assume that either, so good.

No other speaker or writer is expected to be always right...but somehow...Jesus and the Bible have to be exactly what they say - because otherwise everything Jesus said and that is in the Bible is crap? That's not logical in the least.

Well, it's not every religious leader who just outright tells everyone that he happens to be God, can forgive your sins, and save you. It's Christ's claim to Deity that that 3-way choice is talking about. When Jesus told everyone that He was God, either He was mistaken (and just as crazy as someone walking around today telling everyone that he's Napoleon), OR he knew he wasn't God but lied to deceive everyone, OR was telling the truth. I don't know if this is one the best arguments for Christianity out there, but it's a decent one - particularly when you start investigating the possibilities of [a] or being true.

Absence of current information regarding complexity in nature isn't proof of God.

You're right there.

And can you show me a soul? I've never seen one before.

And come on now, I've had other discussions with you before, I know you can do better than make arguments like that (not a very existentialist argument either, it's more of an extreme hyper-rationalist argument).

Having a conscience does not mean that you are suddenly inclined to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Agreed, but don't you see? All a seeker needs to do is pick up one little truth at a time. The existence of right and wrong is one truth that must be accepted in order to become a Christian in the first place, and it's a truth that many deny accepting. Having a conscience (and therefore soon recognizing yourself as a sinner) makes one more inclined to believe Christianity than someone who has somehow managed to rid himself of his conscience.

In fact, how do you define "General Revelation" in the first place?

Paul's writing in Romans puts forth the idea that nature testifies to the existence of God and his power and, furthermore, that we have a deep, inherent knowledge of basic moral law in terms of conscience. But I wouldn't push the category of General Revelation much further than that.

Paul's writing in Romans also says that nature testifies to the attributes (and therefore even the character) of God. In other words, Creation is meant to reveal certain truths to us, and does reveal them to us whether we want them or not. Then, add to that that man knows right from wrong, because his knowledge of the moral law was actually put there by God, and well, you're starting to find yourself with objective truths that you don't have to be in the least epistemologically timid or coy with anymore.

That's an interesting list. However, none of which is somehow factual proof of God-let alone Christianity.

Yeah, all of them can be substantially challenged, and to believe that they automatically point to God, you kind of have to look at them already believing in God to begin with.

I guess the problem with your viewpoint here is that many of these arguments have been explained to us by men who did not believe in God to begin with. I would submit that any of these truths can actually stand up to a substantial challenge. And it's not too hard to say they point to God since the logical conclusion of these arguments will often be just the three words "Therefore, God exists." One single proof does not have to immediately result in believing in the God of the Bible, but it's a step in the right direction. And once you start taking these steps, they do lead in one direction.

But not only am I saying that objective rational evidence pointing us towards the truth of Christianity exists, but I'm also asking why so many modern Christians don't believe there's even any Biblical basis for using it anymore. It's the lack of confidence in General Revelation and even mere rational thought within the church that I'm claiming is a direct result of the influence of men like Kierkegaard. And if Kierkegaard taught that, even if objective truth exists, man can't really be completely sure of it ... isn't that contrary to the Apostle Paul teaching that even nonbelievers know truths about God demonstrated to them by Creation?

Edited by Persiflage

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paul's writing in Romans also says that nature testifies to the attributes (and therefore even the character) of God.

Well, Paul specifies the attributes of God to which nature testifies:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

There you go. His "eternal power and divine nature," which is more or less what I said General Revelation consists of, as well as a sense of the moral law. You seem to be suggesting that Paul's argument goes beyond those attributes. I'm not sure it does. And, more importantly, Paul goes on to say, "they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

This introduces another element into the conversation about the testimony of General Revelation. What is the effect of sin on the way that this testimony is perceived? That, I think, is where this discussion of epistemological uncertainty must very much begin. You talk a great deal about rational argument, about clear testimony, but not about the corrosive effect of sin on our ability to recognize truth.

Edited by Ryan H.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Paul specifies the attributes of God to which nature testifies:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

There you go. His "eternal power and divine nature," which is more or less what I said General Revelation consists of, as well as a sense of the moral law. You seem to be suggesting that Paul's argument goes beyond those attributes. I'm not sure it does.

Eternal power and divine nature do consist of a number of different things. So in order for God's nature to be shown to be divine, you are going to have to go into specifics. I'll acknowledge these are generalizations that have the potential to run into trouble as different religions have disagreements over what divinity consists of. But, Biblically speaking, we are given specifics about what makes the nature of the God of the Bible divine. So when Paul says that Creation demonstrates God's divine nature to us, I take Paul to be speaking Biblically - he's referring to those attributes in the Bible that make God's nature divine. Instead of just going back and forth on which specific attributes would count, do you think we could at least agree that, according to this passage, there are at least a small collection of truths about God's divine nature that Creation reveals to us? I'd even say that a traditional view of Christianity (even if it's a view lost upon many modern Protestant churches) includes the idea that the very beauty of Creation itself reveals, to us, something about who God is.

And, more importantly, Paul goes on to say, "they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

This introduces another element into the conversation about the testimony of General Revelation. What is the effect of sin on the way that this testimony is perceived? That, I think, is where this discussion of epistemological uncertainty must very much begin. You talk a great deal about rational argument, about clear testimony, but not about the corrosive effect of sin on our ability to recognize truth.

Ok, granted. Sin has corrupted our understanding of truth and spiritual things. But isn't Romans 1:19-20 and 2:14-15 referring, not to Adam & Eve before the fall, but to fallen man? I understand that this gets into the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity. But so far, I've never read Kierkegaard discuss Calvin's view of total depravity, and there seems to be a difference between arguing that we can't know anything for sure without faith and arguing that we can't know truth about God because of sin. Tell me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, Romans is saying there is still truth we can know even as sinners.

I'm still working on trying to better understand these things. From talking with Reformed friends, I don't get the idea that Calvinist theology teaches we can't know things for sure. But I do get the idea that Christian Existentialism teaches that we can't know things for sure. If a majority of modern churches are now ignoring and discounting rational argument for the truths of Christianity, and, when challenged and asked questions by people who actually think, they tell them they just need to have faith, that's far closer to Existentialism than Reformed doctrine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eternal power and divine nature do consist of a number of different things. So in order for God's nature to be shown to be divine, you are going to have to go into specifics.

I'm wary of being any more specific than Paul is. Perhaps a more rigorous scholar of this text would have more detailed thoughts. But speaking purely as an armchair scholar who just took a quick look at the Greek, I'm not sure the term "divine" signifies anything in this point other than God's existence as a supreme being in broad terms.

Ok, granted. Sin has corrupted our understanding of truth and spiritual things. But isn't Romans 1:19-20 and 2:14-15 referring, not to Adam & Eve before the fall, but to fallen man?

Indeed it is. But aren't we, in this discussions of "existentialist" Christianity, primarily concerned with the present experience of truth, and not the nebulous world of pre-Fall human experience, something we can hardly grasp at, much less comprehend? Sure, our discussion thus far has somewhat rotated around the narrative of the Fall, but I'm not sure that's the best starting point here.

I understand that this gets into the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity.

Well, it can. But more generally, it just gets into the doctrine of sin, period, whether it's a formulation of it that is Total Depravity or not.

But so far, I've never read Kierkegaard discuss Calvin's view of total depravity, and there seems to be a difference between arguing that we can't know anything for sure without faith and arguing that we can't know truth about God because of sin.

Well, the Reformed tradition is far broader than just Calvin, so you'll run into trouble if you use him as the guiding lamp for all things Reformed. And Kierkegaard was Lutheran, and understanding Kierkegaard's thought as an outgrowth of his Lutheran thought is a fairly worthwhile endeavor. There are a lot of assumptions lying behind his thought.

Tell me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, Romans is saying there is still truth we can know even as sinners.

I would say more rightly that Romans 1 is somewhat ambiguous on this question, depending on what you mean by the term "know." Not all kinds of knowing are the same. It would seem to me that what Paul speaks of in this passage is that there are things so deeply imbedded in human nature, which carries the imago Dei, that even if they go unrecognized, forgotten, or denied by an individual that they nevertheless witness against our violation of the proper order.

From talking with Reformed friends, I don't get the idea that Calvinist theology teaches we can't know things for sure.

Which Calvinist theology? Some, more extreme formulations have been very pessimistic about what we can truly know, at least about ourselves. But most Reformed theology is not so pessimistic about the question of knowledge because, in its best versions, it has a strong view of the revelation of the Holy Spirit as the revealer of truth and sustainer of the world. But, in general, Reformed theology tends to be more pessimistic about the ability of the unaided, fallen individual to grasp truth.

If a majority of modern churches are now ignoring and discounting rational argument for the truths of Christianity, and, when challenged and asked questions by people who actually think, they tell them they just need to have faith, that's far closer to Existentialism than Reformed doctrine.

I can't think of any headlining existentialists who would give such a simple, trite, insufficient answer to such challenges. And, I think it's questionable as to whether a majority of modern churches are now ignoring and discounting rational argument. After all, there are many kinds of rational argument, and you seem to lament the absence of a certain kind.

Edited by Ryan H.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could delete all the above mentioned Bible verses from the above post, and that wouldn't change the logical arguments.

Something can have a logical argument without be "true".

Well, it's not every religious leader who just outright tells everyone that he happens to be God, can forgive your sins, and save you.

Certainly was not the first or last to do so, though.

Absence of current information regarding complexity in nature isn't proof of God.

You're right there.

And can you show me a soul? I've never seen one before.

And come on now, I've had other discussions with you before, I know you can do better than make arguments like that (not a very existentialist argument either, it's more of an extreme hyper-rationalist argument).

I never claimed to be an existentialist of any kind.

Having a conscience does not mean that you are suddenly inclined to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Agreed, but don't you see? All a seeker needs to do is pick up one little truth at a time. The existence of right and wrong is one truth that must be accepted in order to become a Christian in the first place, and it's a truth that many deny accepting. Having a conscience (and therefore soon recognizing yourself as a sinner) makes one more inclined to believe Christianity than someone who has somehow managed to rid himself of his conscience.

This sounds more like an argument that people are prone to superstition.

That's an interesting list. However, none of which is somehow factual proof of God-let alone Christianity.

Yeah, all of them can be substantially challenged, and to believe that they automatically point to God, you kind of have to look at them already believing in God to begin with.

I guess the problem with your viewpoint here is that many of these arguments have been explained to us by men who did not believe in God to begin with.

But after they chose to believe. And just because some thing(s) was convincing to, say, C.S. Lewis and resulted in his conversion doesn't make it a proof. Certainly no more than an atheist converting to Islam proves Islam true. The problem I see with the argument you are presenting is that you seem to equate "it was enough to be convincing to some people" with "It is an undeniable truth and fact."

Edited by Nezpop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it's strange to come back to this thread after two years. Looking over it briefly I can't help cringing a little at some of my woefully inadequate attempts to articulate things here. I always appreciate and enjoy how other A&F'ers are often quick to notice, question and criticize poor articulation. Meanwhile, while reading A Preface to Paradise Lost by C.S. Lewis, I couldn't help but be reminded of this thread, in particular -

Standard interpretation:
God's prohibition was a moral test for man. Death was not intrinsic to the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man could have eaten ten pieces of the fruit, or a hundred, and there would have been no harm in it, so long as God had okayed the act first. Knowledge had nothing to do with it. [God as heavy-handed, "yank and crank," Koehler-style dog trainer - teaching man that obedience is the be-all and end-all.]

Shestov's interpretation:
God's prohibition was no test. Death was intrinsic to the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The moment man ate one piece of fruit, the knowledge he thereby gained made him mortal. Knowledge had everything to do with it. [God as, in effect, spreader of poison - He warned man not to eat the poison, didn't He?]

Lewis writes on this, in his discussion of the view of the Fall of the church, St. Augustine and Milton:
pgs. 65-66:

... The Fall consisted in Disobedience.  All idea of a magic apple has fallen out of sight.  The apple was 'not bad nor harmful except insofar as it was forbidden' and the only point of forbidding it was to instil obedience, 'which virtue in a rational creature (the emphasis is on creature; that which though rational, is merely a creature, not self-existent being) is, as it were, the mother and guardian of all virtues' (De Civ. Dei, XIV, 12).  This is exactly the Miltonic view.  The idea that the apple has any intrinsic importance is put into the mouths of bad characters ... Satan assumes that knowledge is magically contained in the apple and will pass to the eater whether those who have forbidden the eating wish or no (IX, 721 et seq.).  Good characters speak quite differently.  For them the apple is 'sole pledge of his obedience' (III, 95), the 'sign of our obedience' (IV, 428), the subject of a single and just command (V, 551) ... The view that if the apple has no intrinsic magic then the breach of the prohibition becomes a small matter ... is expressed only by Satan ... 'Why,' he asks, 'was this forbid?  Why but to keep ye low and ignorant, His worshippers?' (IX, 703).  This is the direct appeal to the finite creature's desire to be 'on its own, esse in semet ipso ...

pgs. 66-68:

... Since the Fall consisted in man's Disobedience to his superior, it was punished by man's loss of Authority over his inferiors; that is chiefly over his passions and his physical organism (De Civ. Dei, XIV, 15).  Man has called for anarchy: God lets him have it.  Thus in Milton God says that man's powers are 'lapsed,' 'forfeit,' and 'enthralled' (P.L., III, 176).  In Book IX we are told that after the Fall understanding ceased to rule and the will did not listen to understanding, both being subjected to usurping appetite (IX, 1127 et seq.).  When Reason is disobeyed 'upstart Passions catch the government' (XII, 88) ... We need not ask 'What is the Apple?'  It is an apple.  It is not an allegory.  It is an apple, just as Desdemona's handkerchief is a handkerchief.  Everything hangs on it, but in itself it is of no importance.  We can also dismiss that question which has so much agitated some great critics.  'What is the Fall?'  The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience - doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride - from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.  This is what St. Augustine thinks and what (to the best of my knowledge) the Church has always taught; this Milton states in the very first line of the first Book, this all his characters reiterate and vary from every possible point of view throughout the poem as if it were the subject of a fugue.  Eve's arguments in favour of eating the Apple are, in themselves, reasonable enough; the answer to them consists simply in the reminder 'You mustn't.  You were told not to.'  'The great moral which reigns in Milton,' said Addison, 'is the most universal and most useful that can be imagined, that Obedience to the will of God makes men happy and that Disobedience makes them miserable.' ...

I am still learning, the more I read of him, to deeply respect  and value C.S. Lewis's knowledge and theology.  His ability to clearly articulate basic and fundamental Christian teaching is tremendous.  While I don't always agree with him, I have already found a few times where I disagreed with him only because I wasn't educated in church history & theology to the extent that he was.  While it is certainly trendy in Christian circles to cite or quote Lewis endlessly these days, I'm also finding that many who cite him haven't actually read him - or if they have, they only read part of his most popular top ten books, ignoring the other sixty or so.

 

I'm also finding that I have less and less an objection to the "standard" or "traditional" Christian view of the Fall.  It doesn't bother me that the forbidden fruit may have been arbitrarily selected.  The point seems to have been to clearly establish the choice that man, by his nature as a conscious and free creature, possessed in his relation to God.  For that matter, it may rightly be said that the fruit was not forbidden because the fruit was somehow intrinsically powerful belonging to "the tree of knowledge of good and evil" but that, by the mere act of forbidding it, it became "the tree of knowledge of good and evil."  (And I think this remains the case regardless of whether one reads the opening of Genesis literally or allegorically.  Whether the story is historical or allegorical, the point of the story is not some power or knowledge that God places in the fruit.  For that matter, it seems as if it could have been a "lake of knowledge of good and evil" or a "mountain of knowledge of good and evil" and served the same purpose.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I don't quite follow either the "standard interpretation" or the alternative described above, that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was intrinsically harmful to man. I don't think God's command was arbitrary or a mere test, but I also don't think that God created a tree that was simply bad for man.

 

Rather, I tend to suspect the prohibition was a temporary one, addressed to the man and the woman in a state of childlike Edenic innocence before they had fully come into their own, i.e., before they had eaten from the other tree in the center of the garden, the tree of life.

 

The connection between Adam and Eve's innocence of their nudity and the similar innocence of children has been much observed, and some commentators have observed that Adam and Eve seem never to eat from the tree of life which, God notes in Genesis 3, would have made them live forever in their new shamed condition.

 

It's contrary to the traditional interpretation, but I see nothing in Genesis 1–3 that compels me to posit that Adam and Eve were created immortal; I think it's perfectly possible to suppose that immortality was a gift that, like the forbidden fruit, was available to them, but of which they did not avail themselves at the right time. 

 

My speculative reading is thus that if Adam and Eve had passed the test (I see it as a test, but not an arbitrary one), and had come to enjoy the fruit of the tree of life without having disobediently eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would then have been permitted to eat of this tree also, and it would have done them no harm. 

Edited by SDG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SDG said:

 

:It's contrary to the traditional interpretation, but I see nothing in Genesis 1–3 that compels me to posit that Adam and Eve were created immortal; I think it's perfectly possible to suppose that immortality was a gift that, like the forbidden fruit, was available to them, but of which they did not avail themselves at the right time. 

 

 

Actually this isn't contrary to the Jewish interpretation.  Or what the Celtic Christians believe(d).

 

 

 

Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, in his commentary on the Pentateuch and Haftorahs, on the topic of the "fall of man" writes:  “Strange and somber doctrines have been built on this chapter of the Garden of Eden, such as the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. . . . Judaism rejects these doctrines. Man was mortal from the first, and death did not enter the world through the transgression of Eve. . . . There is no loss in the God-likeness of man, nor of man's ability to do right in the eyes of God; and no such loss has been transmitted to his latest descendants”.   

 
 

:My speculative reading is thus that if Adam and Eve had passed the test (I see it as a test, but not an arbitrary one), and had come to enjoy the fruit of the tree of life without having disobediently eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would then have been permitted to eat of this tree also, and it would have done them no harm. 

 
 
I've considered this reading as well.  My thoughts were more along the lines of a choice.  They had the opportunity to eat from the tree of life and thus have this.  But instead they followed the temptation and acted in disobedience and their mortal state then continued.  When one looks into some of the very early Christian thought there is the idea that because of this sin was now in the world and that their being allowed to die was an act of mercy by God, in that they wouldn't live forever in a world with the problem of sin.  Yet now, they also had a problem of now having the knowledge of good and evil and knowing the difference, yet in a world filled with sin, whereby there were influences to further act upon their understanding.
 
But then.  Later in Genesis 6:9, it says that Noah is blameless before the Lord.  
 
-
 
Oh.  And I'd also question the idea that Adam and Eve were perfect (that is, if one was to take this all literally), because if they were perfect, then how would they fall to the temptation.  Also, how could Eden be a perfect paradise if there is a serpent (traditionally the devil) there tempting people?
 
I much prefer the idea that they were immature, which can be found in traditions outside of the West.  I believe that this is found in Eastern Orthodoxy.
Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My speculative reading is thus that if Adam and Eve had passed the test (I see it as a test, but not an arbitrary one), and had come to enjoy the fruit of the tree of life without having disobediently eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would then have been permitted to eat of this tree also, and it would have done them no harm.

I have grown convinced that it is very important to distinguish our "speculative" readings from actual Christian doctrine. So many conclusions are drawn about the story of the Fall that are, when it comes down to it, drawn from speculation rather than from what is certain. I don't think we are forbidden from speculation past the point of doctrine, but, to keep myself intellectually honest, I try to ensure that I know when I am speculating as distinguished from actually espousing what Christian does really teach.

The idea that the prohibition on the tree was a test does not necessarily contradict the idea that the prohibition wasn't necessarily permanent. It could have been a test (that could, after a given time, be passed or failed) and it could have been that the plan would have allowed Adam & Eve to use to tree (or to understand the meaning of evil) at a future time. By using the word "arbitrary" I only mean the physical detail that it happened to be a tree. There is nothing we know that demands that it had to be tree. There is theology we know that demands that it had to be a choice.

I don't know if Adam & Eve being immortal can be deduced merely from the confines of Genesis 1-3. But the fact that they were immortal is, I think, included in what Christianity (taking Scripture and church tradition as a whole) does teach. Christianity does teach that death, even if only in the spiritual sense, is a consequence of sin/evil. The Christian idea of the soul necessarily implies immortality in at least one sense. This one subject can easily trail off into complicated discussions on the nature of consciousness and being, but those discussions do exist and they are very rich in first principles.

 

Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, in his commentary on the Pentateuch and Haftorahs, on the topic of the "fall of man" writes:  “Strange and somber doctrines have been built on this chapter of the Garden of Eden, such as the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. . . . Judaism rejects these doctrines. Man was mortal from the first, and death did not enter the world through the transgression of Eve. . . . There is no loss in the God-likeness of man, nor of man's ability to do right in the eyes of God; and no such loss has been transmitted to his latest descendants”.

If we're talking about Judaic interpretation, there doesn't seem be any traditional agreement on Original Sin within Judaism, so Hertz is only espousing one viewpoint that is not the dominant one. Some of what Hertz says flatly contradicts the Apostle Paul. It is true that the idea of immortality, as traditionally understood in Christianity, is not explicitly taught by Judaism. The closest they get to it is in the idea of the Resurrection, but that alone doesn't necessarily imply immortality of the soul. I think almost any decent church history book will admit that the Christian understanding of immortality of the soul was adopted from Greek philosophy more than from Judaism.

 

When one looks into some of the very early Christian thought there is the idea that because of this sin was now in the world and that their being allowed to die was an act of mercy by God, in that they wouldn't live forever in a world with the problem of sin.  Yet now, they also had a problem of now having the knowledge of good and evil and knowing the difference, yet in a world filled with sin, whereby there were influences to further act upon their understanding.

If their being allowed to die was an act of mercy by God after human sin, then it couldn't have been the intent for man without sin. The traditional explication of Original Sin does not insist that man, after the Fall, cannot help choosing to sin. (That is an interpretation posited later by Augustine and many of the Reformers.)

 

But then.  Later in Genesis 6:9, it says that Noah is blameless before the Lord.

There are many Old Testament characters who are considered "blameless" or "justified" in God's eyes. If Christianity is true, this doesn't mean they were without sin. It does mean that God considers them in a particular way because of their faith.

 

Oh.  And I'd also question the idea that Adam and Eve were perfect (that is, if one was to take this all literally), because if they were perfect, then how would they fall to the temptation.

This is a common objection, but it misunderstands the nature of the idea of Adam & Eve's perfection. Theologically, the point is that Adam & Eve are conscious, rational and free beings. If they couldn't have fallen, then they wouldn't have possessed free will. In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis writes: "I think the most significant way of stating the real freedom of man is to say that if there are other rational species than man, existing in some other part of the actual universe, then it is not necessary to suppose that they also have fallen." In Eden, they are physically perfect and morally perfect. To be a morally perfect rational being implies possessing free will. (I admit there are Determinists and Calvinists who would disagree).

 

Also, how could Eden be a perfect paradise if there is a serpent (traditionally the devil) there tempting people?

Christianity teaches that evil is not self-existent. It can only take what is good or perfect and then twist and pervert it. In the story of the Fall, the Devil is an invading force. He is not a part of Paradise. And, by the time he enters the garden, he is not the perfect being that he was originally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A. Purves wrote:
: I think almost any decent church history book will admit that the Christian understanding of immortality of the soul was adopted from Greek philosophy more than from Judaism.

 

Oh, I dunno, you do get Hebrew stories like the one where Saul gets the witch of Endor to summon the ghost of the prophet Samuel.

 

: To be a morally perfect rational being implies possessing free will.

 

So in other words, once we're in Heaven, we'll still be capable of falling over again? Or will we cease to be morally perfect and/or rational?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A. Purves wrote:

: I think almost any decent church history book will admit that the Christian understanding of immortality of the soul was adopted from Greek philosophy more than from Judaism.

 

Oh, I dunno, you do get Hebrew stories like the one where Saul gets the witch of Endor to summon the ghost of the prophet Samuel.

It's an interesting subject. For instance, today we wouldn't instinctually think that the ideas of resurrection and immortality were distinct. But the idea of the immortality of the soul posits that there is a sense in which the soul will never die or ever become nonexistent. The history of Judaic teaching progresses over time, and their conception of the afterlife moves from a shady sort of existence in Sheol (which included souls waiting for judgment, which was not going to be something they would all survive) to something more consistent with the Hellenic view. The appearance of Samuel's ghost isn't inconsistent with the Judaic understanding of Sheol, but it doesn't confirm the more Hellenic ideas of immortality. (It is also interesting to note that the Pharisees believed in resurrection (the re-uniting of body & spirit) without believing in the Hellenic idea of immortality, while the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection of the body but did believe in immortality.

 

: To be a morally perfect rational being implies possessing free will.

 

So in other words, once we're in Heaven, we'll still be capable of falling over again? Or will we cease to be morally perfect and/or rational?

Neither. This is a reasonable objection though, at least enough of one for someone like Aquinas to spend some time addressing it. The problem is answered by the idea of the ability to freely make some choices that are eternal. Are there some choices that are final? Even if there is not necessarily a clear way of defining at what particular moment in one's life such a final choice is made, that does not contradict the ability to make one. Or, in other words, the concept of free will does not exclude the ability (or freedom) to make irrevocable decisions.

As Peter Kreeft explains, ultimately, "it is freedom to be determined by final causes (purposes) rather than efficient causes (things and events that already exist and act upon us) ... This explains a paradox frequently met in earthly experience: that at the moment of freest choice it feels most like destiny, and at the moment of most destined choice it feels freest. Caesar's crossing the Rubicon, choosing someone to marry, a conversion decision - these all feel both more free and more destined than ordinary choices. C. S. Lewis' explanation of this principle is that it is all of us that chooses; nothing is left over. Therefore there is nothing in us that opposes the choice; it is certain; it is wholly determined. But it is also wholly free because it is wholly self-determined. The whole self chooses, the divided will is healed."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By using the word "arbitrary" I only mean the physical detail that it happened to be a tree. There is nothing we know that demands that it had to be tree.

Unless you buy into the notion that the tree is echoed in the cross itself, and thus that the key "turning points" of human history--as it is understood by Christianity--are anchored in the same essential symbol.

To be a morally perfect rational being implies possessing free will. (I admit there are Determinists and Calvinists who would disagree).

There aren't many Calvinists who would challenge the idea that Adam and Eve had free will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A Purves said:

 

 

:The traditional explication of Original Sin does not insist that man, after the Fall, cannot help choosing to sin. (That is an interpretation posited later by Augustine and many of the Reformers.)

 

Agreed.

 

 

:Some of what Hertz says flatly contradicts the Apostle Paul.

 

 

Ah.  But I don't think it does.  I think your right in noticing the later thinking posited by Augustine and the reformers (who often took it a step further). but I'd suggest that in the West (at least) we are so influenced by this thinking that we're not reading what Paul is REALLY saying.

 


 From one of my mentors.

 

 

The doctrine of  Original Sin was based on a poor translation of the Greek into the Latin  Vulgate by Augustine’s colleague, Jerome.  That passage is Romans 5:12, which says “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned”.  The Latin Vulgate renders this passage differently as “because of Adam in whom all have sinned” – the Latin, “in quo omnes peccaverunt”, is a poor translation of the Greek, ‘eph' O pantes emarton’ which actually says because all men have sinned. 

 

 

Here's how my favorite Bible translation (Jonathan Mitchell Bible) translates Romans 5: 12. 

 

"Because of this, just as through one man the Sin entered into the ordered System, and through the Sin The Death also, in this way The Death thus also passed in all directions (or; into the midst of humanity) upon which situation and condition , all sinned."

 

But then, later he says something interesting in verse14 - "But nonetheless The Death reigned from Adam as far as and as long as moses (=law) even upon those not sinning.......

 

 

So.  Paul isn't talking about sin or a sin nature entering into humanity, rather he is talking about *death* passing into the midst of humanity.  He says that because of the fall the sin entered into the system and because of this the death. It says nothing about whether or not Adam and Eve would have had death pre-fall.  It just says that death passed into humanity, it could have very well been passed on from Adam and Eve who were mortal.
 
He then says that all sinned because of this death condition.  But in light of verse 14 that doesn't necessarily mean that all mankind sinned, period.  It could just as easily be saying that all whom sin, it is related to the condition of death.
 
 
If you read through this section where Paul is talking about sin, it is always connected to *death* and to the body, not spiritual.  Then in Romans 8 he gets to the core of the matter.  
 
Romans 7:22  - For I am gratified with the law of God as to the man within, yet I am observing a different law in my members, warring with the law of my mind, and leading me into captivity to the law of Sin, which is in my members.  What will rescue me out of this Body of death?  Grace.
 
 
Romans 8:2  ... for the Spirit's law of life, in Christ Jesus frees you from the Law of Sin and Death, f
 
Romans 8:6... For the disposition of the flesh is death, yet the disposition of the spirit is life and peace....
 
 
 
 
So then.  Here's a translation of Romans 6: 19
 
"I am speaking humanly recause of the weakness or sickness of your flesh (= your human condition; or; = the self that has been distorted by the system.)  
 
23 - For you see the subsistence pay of the Sin is *death*, but God's grace -effect is life which is proper to, pertains to and is connected to the Age (aeonian life; life of and for the ages) within Christ Jesu, our owner.
 
 
 
 
So.  Throughout Paul is talking about the "law of sin and death" whereby we become distorted by the system.
 
We've inherited the problem of death and live in a sinful world.  When we sin, it brings on death.  Thus the law of sin and death, not an inherited sin problem.  If you read through Romans 5 to 8 with a better translation this becomes fairly clear.
 
 
 

We see here that the problem with mankind's flesh is not that it is evil or depraved but that it is dead and dying.  It was death that passed through into mankind, not total depravity or a "sin nature".   The human race is born as " lepers" as such.  Our flesh is born in the state of "death" similar to the disease of leprosy (mentioned often in the Bible), and like in leprosy the flesh becomes more and more corrupted.  We cleanse our leprous flesh first through Baptism, then through life giving things such as the Eucharist (communion), things of the spirit, and of course God's creation.

 

 

So now the human puts himself into a "vicious circle".  Through death and pride of life he sins.  But sin causes death.  So now he goes to more sins trying to find life.  Which of course leads to addiction.  Our flesh is craving life but sin causes more death. causing our flesh to crave more life.  Therefore we have scriptures from which some Christians teach that the flesh is "evil or sinful".  yet I believe this concept comes from the Gnostic influences on Christianity .

 

 

 

Romans 7:14  Yet I am fleshly having been disposed of under sin.  For what I am effecting I know not, for not what I will, this I am putting into practice, but what I am hating, this I am doing....Yet now no longer I who am effecting it, but sin making it's home in me.

 

14:18 For I am aware that good is not making it's home in me (that is my flesh), for to will is lying beside me, yet to be effecting the ideal is not.  For it is not the good that I will that I am doing, but the evil that I am not willing, this I am putting into practice.  Now if what I am not willing this I am doing, it is not longer I who am effecting it, but Sin which is making it's home in me.

 

 

Note the highlighted text that says that Sin is making it's home in him.  If he had an inherited sin nature wouldn't sin already be at home in him, if so why would sin **need** to make it's home in him.

 

 

 

This scripture does not say that the flesh is not good.  But that good is not making it's home in the flesh.  These are different things...... Evil is making it's home in the flesh because it has become addicted, through it's craving of life.  As mentioned earlier this addiction causes more death which causes more craving of life.  Which causes the person to seek after more evil in order to try and find life.. which causes Evil to make it's "home in the flesh".

 

 

But, of course Jesus gives the solution.... Life. We cleanse our leprous flesh and give life first through Baptism, then through life giving things such as the Eucharist (communion), things of the spirit, and of course God's creation.

 
-
 
In 180 Irenaeus wrote.

 

By means of our first parents, we were all brought into bondage by being made subject to death.

 

For death came upon those who had eaten.  Along with the fruit, they fell under the power of death, because they ate in disobedience.  And disobedience to God entails death.  For that reason they came under the penalty of death.  Thus in the day that they ate, in the same day they died.  For they became deaths debtors.

 

-

 

In Genesis 8:21 after the flood God says “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth”. Notice it says man is evil not from birth, but from his youth. Man is not born with sin in him, but becomes sinful from living in a sinful world.

 

-

 

Ezekiel 18:4: “The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die”.

 

Ezekiel 18:20 speaks more directly to the point: “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself”. 

 

And Deuteronomy 24:16 says “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin”.

 

 

These passages seems to speak directly against inherited or ancestral sin. 

 

-

 

The following is taken from the book "Reconsidering Tulip" by Alexander J. Renault.

 

The crux of the matter is this: if Christ did not have a human nature, then He cannot save us. If Christ was fully human, but not fully God, then He cannot bring us up to God. If He is fully God but not fully human, then He cannot come completely down to us and bridge the gap between us and God. The first several ecumenical councils of the Church all dealt wit this issue.

 

It is generally agreed among the Reformed that Christ was fully God and fully human. Unfortunately, the implications of this are not always understood by the Reformed. For if Christ is fully human, then He must have a human soul, a human will, a human mind - in short a human nature. He was without sin. This tells us that sin is not an integral part of human nature, and that one is still human apart from sin. Otherwise, wither 1) Christ was just as sinful as we are, or else 2) Christ wasn't fully human and can't really save us. Heb 2: 11, 17..... This Hebrews passage is especially significant regarding Christ's human nature. It says that "in all things" He had to be made human. And yet He was without sin. This would suggest that "sin nature" is in fact foreign to true human nature. (page 12)

 

 

-

 

 

In Philippians 2:7, Jesus is described as "being born in the likeness of men" [en homoiomati anthropon genomenos]". He was conceived in human form, and became like man. This "likeness" was real and not merely apparent. Christ was in fact conceived as a historically unique, unambiguously human being. He was in fact delivered to death, the curse of sinful men (cf Gal 3:13), although he himself was sinless (cf Heb 4:15)

 

 
The men that Jesus came in the form of, in this context was US not Adam (although he is the second Adam of course.)  But Jesus was obviously without a sin nature or inherited sin, so then in order for him to be fully like us in every way, and us to be fully like Jesus in every way, we can't have inherited sin, or a sin nature either.
 
We inherited death.... and Jesus died.
 
 
Some Protestants try and get around this problem by saying that Jesus was born of a virgin and the sin nature is passed down through the male, so he passed by the sin nature.  But then again, if this was a core aspect of humanity and Jesus didn't have it, then he wouldn't have been like us at a core level.
 
 
 
 

 

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A Purves said:  

 

:If we're talking about Judaic interpretation, there doesn't seem be any traditional agreement on Original Sin within Judaism, so Hertz is only espousing one viewpoint that is not the dominant one. 

 

 

I'm not sure which views would be more dominant in Judaism.

 

 

:This is a common objection, but it misunderstands the nature of the idea of Adam & Eve's perfection. Theologically, the point is that Adam & Eve are conscious, rational and free beings.

 

 

Possibly, not sure.  Another thought.  If one was to take the Genesis story literally, then there would have been plants in Eden.  But a plant only grows when the seed dies.  So death would have had to be in the system.  Unless of course plants didn't act the same then, which there is no indication of.

 

 

:Christianity teaches that evil is not self-existent. It can only take what is good or perfect and then twist and pervert it.

 

 

Agreed.

 

 

:In the story of the Fall, the Devil is an invading force. He is not a part of Paradise. 

 

 

Possibly.  We don't know when the devil fell, near as I can tell.  Another thing.  This text says the serpent, not the Devil.  It has been traditionally understood as being the devil, but its important to note that this isn't actually what the text says.

 

 

: In Eden, they are physically perfect and morally perfect.

 

 

Again.  If they were morally perfect, then why did they fall for the temptation?

 

-

-

 

Also.  I want to note again.  That in Romans the problem of *death* is always connected with the body, or the Sarx (flesh), it is not mentioned as a spiritual condition, at least as I can see.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The following is taken from the book "Reconsidering Tulip" by Alexander J. Renault.

The crux of the matter is this: if Christ did not have a human nature, then He cannot save us. If Christ was fully human, but not fully God, then He cannot bring us up to God. If He is fully God but not fully human, then He cannot come completely down to us and bridge the gap between us and God. The first several ecumenical councils of the Church all dealt wit this issue.

It is generally agreed among the Reformed that Christ was fully God and fully human. Unfortunately, the implications of this are not always understood by the Reformed. For if Christ is fully human, then He must have a human soul, a human will, a human mind - in short a human nature. He was without sin. This tells us that sin is not an integral part of human nature, and that one is still human apart from sin. Otherwise, wither 1) Christ was just as sinful as we are, or else 2) Christ wasn't fully human and can't really save us. Heb 2: 11, 17..... This Hebrews passage is especially significant regarding Christ's human nature. It says that "in all things" He had to be made human. And yet He was without sin. This would suggest that "sin nature" is in fact foreign to true human nature. (page 12)

I no longer self-identify as Reformed, but Renault's argument here is fairly dismal. He seems to have no sense of how Reformed theology understands the notion of being "fully human."

Reformed theology understands "full humanity" to be something that only Adam and Eve (pre-Fall) and Jesus shared. Our corrupted nature, in Reformed terms, is not "full humanity" but a lesser, fallen form of it, so Reformed theology would hold that Christ is much *more* human than we are, rather than less, for his lack of sin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter Kreeft wrote:

: Caesar's crossing the Rubicon, choosing someone to marry, a conversion decision - these all feel both more free and more destined than ordinary choices.

 

Well, I can't speak to Caesar's situation, but married couples get divorced, and converts experience deconversion, all the time. So I'm not sure this really answers the question the way it was intended to.

 

Attica wrote:
: If one was to take the Genesis story literally, then there would have been plants in Eden.  But a plant only grows when the seed dies.  So death would have had to be in the system.

 

Well, just the fact that Adam and Eve could *eat* the plants suggests that death was present in Eden on some level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0