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

Christianity & Existentialism

93 posts in this topic

Attica wrote:
: I would understand Jesus being like us in every way shape and form to be that he took on the human condition.  He became a real, live, completely human being.  I do believe that he was without sin.  Yet I don't see Jesus as being the same as us in existence, as having to mean that he had the same *experience* as us.  So.  I think the point is that Jesus came into the world as a true human being, not some sort of demi-god like a pagan would have thought.

 

Right... though I'm not sure what you mean by "the human condition." There's more to being human than having a body, for example: Eastern Orthodox/Catholic/Protestant Christianity holds that Jesus had two *wills*, a human will and a divine will, and that he saved humanity partly by bringing his human will into perfect alignment with the divine will. (Admittedly, the Oriental Orthodox churches -- the Armenians and others -- disagreed on this point and held that Jesus had only *one* will, and so we had the first major schism in church history c. 500. But my understanding is that Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox theologians have been meeting and discussing this issue in recent years, and it sounds like the split was due as much to difficulties in translating ideas across language barriers as it was to anything theological.)

 

Personally, I don't see how one could hold the one-will idea, since the gospels are pretty clear that Jesus prayed "not my will but yours be done," which suggests right there that Jesus had a human will that was distinct from the divine will shared by all three persons of the Trinity. But I guess there are ways one could argue around that objection.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh.  I agree that Jesus had two wills, and I've read about those discussions, being that, in my understanding, they are coming to the conclusion that they have pretty much the same views, but there was a confusion in the expression.

 

 

By  "the human condition."  I meant that Jesus was human in any way that we are, which of course would be more than the body.  I guess for this whole business to work, Jesus' God aspect would have had to have been God, but his human aspect would have had to have been, well, human.  

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It says that sin entered into the world system.... *It doesn't say into humanity*. Death is the consequence of sin as I had mentioned when I talked about the "law of sin and death." We have inherited death, and we live in a world ful of sin. When we sin, through our choices, linked to the influences of the world, we go into the cycle of the law of sin and death ... Death, being the consequence of sin, is exactly what I've been saying. Again. The law of sin and death is what Paul is talking about. Not a sin nature that we have inherited from Adam.

I’m still honestly trying to discern exactly what is the position you are taking.

Either (a) the death of man was caused by the first sin or (B) it wasn’t. From what you’ve written, I think you agree with (a).

Either (a) sin “entered into the world system” through humanity or (B) human sin “entered into the world system” by something other than humanity. I don’t understand how anyone could argue (B). Sin is, by definition, what man does when he chooses evil instead of good, when he chooses self instead of God. You keep referring to what you call “the law of sin and death.” How is “the law of sin and death” anything different from the fact that sin causes death. If you are trying to argue that the Apostle Paul is saying that all sin is motivated by the fact that we are going to die, then I don’t see where you find that in any of the Scripture you have quoted.

Either (a) it is in our nature to sin or (B) it isn’t. If it isn’t in our nature to sin, then how do we explain the Scriptural teaching that every single one of us is a sinner? Free will to choose evil does not require that every man will choose to do evil. As I understand Christianity at its most basic level, it teaches that our nature has been corrupted by the Fall. But you are denying that our nature is corrupt? (Remember, many of the Greek words translated into English as "sin" mean "corrupted", "missing the mark", "crossing the line", etc.)

 

Are you really going to prooftext a POEM of lament. David was lamenting his sinfulness, he wasn't necessarily saying that he was literally brought forth in sin. Poems usually don't function in an ultra-literal way. The are deep extreme expressiveness, which is often exagerated ... The same views can be held for Psalm 58:3

You are right that it is very important to understand the literary form of the Psalms. But, unlike the vast majority of poetry, poetry in Scripture still assumes particular theological truths. It would be dangerous for us, personally and alone, to explain what theological truths are presumed in Scriptural poetry.

But I didn’t come up with using the Psalms in this way. Paul did. In fact, he is basing his teaching at the beginning of Romans 3 on Psalms 51 (and he even quotes Psalm 51:4 in Romans 3:4). We can say that David’s references to his own sin nature is not intended merely metaphorically because Paul treats David’s statements as statements that are true universally for all of man. Paul also uses David’s poetry to teach specifically on the sin nature of man in Romans 3:10-12 (quoting Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3), Romans 3:13 (quoting Psalm 5:9), Romans 3:14 (quoting Psalm10:7) and Romans 3:18 (quoting Psalm 36:1). This doesn’t even begin to mention the number of other times Paul teaches other doctrines and quotes language from the Psalms where David is stating truths about either God or himself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, if Jesus had no propensity to sin, it cannot be accurate to state that he was truly tempted in the same ways all other people are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thom Wade wrote:
: Of course, if Jesus had no propensity to sin, it cannot be accurate to state that he was truly tempted in the same ways all other people are.

 

I dunno. I kind of think of it as Jesus being healthier than the rest of us are, and being exposed to the same viruses without getting sick, if that makes sense. And then, ideally, he shared (or shares) some of his health with us, through the sacraments and other things.

 

Yeah, it's not a perfect metaphor. But that's why it's a metaphor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thom Wade wrote:

: Of course, if Jesus had no propensity to sin, it cannot be accurate to state that he was truly tempted in the same ways all other people are.

 

I dunno. I kind of think of it as Jesus being healthier than the rest of us are, and being exposed to the same viruses without getting sick, if that makes sense. And then, ideally, he shared (or shares) some of his health with us, through the sacraments and other things.

 

Yeah, it's not a perfect metaphor. But that's why it's a metaphor.

The phrase in Hebrews reads "kata panta kath homoioteta" which means "according to every respect" or "according to likeness."

Lewis describes the Incarnation this way:

"The result of this was that you now had one man who really was what all men were intended to be: one man in whom the created life, derived from his Mother, allowed itself to be completely and perfectly turned into the begotten life. The natural human creature in Him was taken up fully into the divine Son. Thus in one instance humanity had, so to speak, arrived: has passed into the life of Christ. And because the whole difficulty for us is that the natural life has to be, in a sense, "killed," He chose an earthly career which involved the killing of His human desires at every turn - poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered at and manhandled by the Police, and execution by torture. And then, after being thus killed - killed every day in a sense - the human creature in Him, because it was united to the divine Son, came to life again. The Man in Christ rose again: not only the God. That is the whole point."

So to say He was "tempted like we are" does not require that He share a corrupt human nature. Sometimes temptation can take the form of good, rather than evil, desires. It could even be reasonably argued that the temptations that He faced (because his desires were not weak, misdirected, or twisted like ours often are) were stronger and more powerful than any temptations we have ever experienced. In another sense, while his temptations would share "a likeness" to ours, they would share an even greater "likeness" to Adam's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A. Purves said:

 

:But I didn’t come up with using the Psalms in this way. Paul did. In fact, he is basing his teaching at the beginning of Romans 3 on Psalms 51 (and he even quotes Psalm 51:4 in Romans 3:4). We can say that David’s references to his own sin nature is not intended merely metaphorically because Paul treats David’s statements as statements that are true universally for all of man. Paul also uses David’s poetry to teach specifically on the sin nature of man in Romans 3:10-12 (quoting Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3), Romans 3:13 (quoting Psalm 5:9), Romans 3:14 (quoting Psalm10:7) and Romans 3:18 (quoting Psalm 36:1). This doesn’t even begin to mention the number of other times Paul teaches other doctrines and quotes language from the Psalms where David is stating truths about either God or himself.

 

 

-

 

I agree that Paul quoted from, and found value in the Psalms.  I think we can also likely agree that there were some viewpoints and texts in the Psalms that would be considered wrong from a New Testament perspective.

 

 

Again.  I think that Paul was on about a general lament for the sinfulness of humanity.  It is worth noting, that in his quote of Psalm 51 in Romans, he never mentions any idea of the person being born with sin from their mothers womb.

 

Instead he says this.

 

"So that You should be justified with Your words, and You will overcome within the situation or time for You to be repeatedly judged and decided about."  (Ps. 51: 3 + 6)

 

 

There's nothing about a "sin nature" here.  Then when He goes on the quotes later on he quotes this.

 

 

"According as it has been written and stands written that

 

"There is not a just man, not even one!

 

"The one understanding does not exist."

 

"All bend out of the regular line, And at the same time they are made useless;  there is no one habitually doing useful kindness, there is not as much as one".

 

"Their throat is an opened grace; by their tongues they were consistently baiting for entapment"

 

"venom of asps is under their lips"

 

"Whose mouth constantly is crammed full of a wishful curse and of bitterness"

 

"Their feet are swift to pour out blood"

 

"The results of crushing and misery are in their paths"

 

"And the road of peace they do not experience.

 

"There is no fear of or respect for God before their eyes".

 

-

 

 

Yet.  Here's the thing.  All of these speak of the sinfulness of mankind, and I'm fine with the idea that all humans have sinned.  That point isn't a big deal to me.  There have historically been Christians who have said that some don't sin, but really, I've never met these people, and if its true then it is extremely, extremely rare, so it's not a biggie to me that we all have sinned.

 

But.  Nowhere here does it once say that we have inherited a sin nature, or that all of mankind sinning is a result of this.  It isn't there.

 

So.  In this regard, I think its worth pointing out, that Paul could have quoted that Psalm piece that you had mentioned, and that this would have been a good quote to support any argument of an inherent "sin nature" (if he so believed), but he actually doesn't use that particular quote.  Instead he uses quotes that in no way point to any true concept of an inherent sin nature.  There is no true evidence here that he was teaching this.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A Purves said:

 

:Either (a) sin “entered into the world system” through humanity or ( human sin “entered into the world system” by something other than humanity. I don’t understand how anyone could argue (. Sin is, by definition, what man does when he chooses evil instead of good, when he chooses self instead of God. You keep referring to what you call “the law of sin and death.” How is “the law of sin and death” anything different from the fact that sin causes death. If you are trying to argue that the Apostle Paul is saying that all sin is motivated by the fact that we are going to die, then I don’t see where you find that in any of the Scripture you have quoted.

 

 

I would align with (a).  

 

The law of sin and death is in no way different from the fact that sin causes death.

 

I'm saying that the apostle Paul links sin to death.  That the law of sin and death, is connected to sin.  I'm not saying that we are motived to sin because we are going to die, in a complete sense.  I am saying that part of the reasons we sin is because of the Law of Sin and death which I had explained how this would function, but also the fear of death is also an aspect.

 

It's like a drug addiction.  The heroin causes death to the body, but the person also then craves life, and the heroin gives the illusion of life (or something like it) so the person goes to this heroin for his fix.... but this leads to more death, with the need for more life.

 

But what are drugs... The are a false life.  A lie.  The same as pre-marital sex... etc. etc.  They are human attempts to find "life" in places other than God, but they lead to "death", whereby we have more craving for life.

 

It's a vicious circle like an addiction.  That's the problem of sin.

 

 

:As I understand Christianity at its most basic level, it teaches that our nature has been corrupted by the Fall. But you are denying that our nature is corrupt? (Remember, many of the Greek words translated into English as "sin" mean "corrupted", "missing the mark", "crossing the line", etc.)

 

 

I'm saying that any curse against Adam and Eve from the fall is only those mentioned in the text.  Being cursed to work, curse in childbearing....  But is not a curse in the sense that we are somehow different than them in the sense that we have a sin nature.  Arguably we are different in the fact that we have death when they didn't, but again, that's arguable, as I've mentioned.

 

I agree that sin corrupts... but its OUR sin that corrupts us, not something that we have inherited.  When I think about this.  If God has a problem with sin, why would he create a world where the consequences of Adam's sin, is that his offspring would have an inclination towards sin that Adam didn't, as a core aspect of who they are.

 

 

:If it isn’t in our nature to sin, then how do we explain the Scriptural teaching that every single one of us is a sinner?

 

 

Because we live in a sin filled world that is influencing us.  Some of that sin (false life) looks like a lot of fun man.   wink.png

 

Also, we can't forget that there a demons working to try and get us to fail and fall.  

 

 

 

 

Again.  I'll quote what Basil the great says on this.  I think he's in line with much early orthodox Christian thought.  He was certainly well regarded and respected.

 

 

 

 

In the book entitled "On the Human condition - page 73" the Christian father, St. Basil the Great, says:

 

"Read the account of the material worlds creation and you will find there, "all things are good, and very good (Gen 1: 21.)  Accordingly evil was not created together with good.  But neither was the intelligible creation having come to be from the fashioner, mixed with wickedness when brought into being.  For if bodily things did not have evil co-created in themselves, how could the intelligble things, bearing such purity and holiness, have a common subsistence with evil?.........

......And likewise God created the Soul but not sin.  Rather, the soul is made evil through a perversion of what is according to nature.  But what is the good set before the soul?  It was attentiveness to God and union with him through love.  Once the soul has fallen away from this, it is made evil by various and manifold weaknesses.  But for what reason is it entirely capable of receiving evil?  Because of the impulse of free choice, especially befitting a rational creature.  For having been freed from all necessity, and receiving self determined life from the creator, because it came into being according to the image of God, it understands the Good and knows his joy and possesses authority and power, abiding in the contemplation of the beautiful and the enjoyment of spiritual things, guarding carefully in itself the life according to nature.  Yet it also has the authority to turn away from the beautiful at any time.  And this happened to it when it received a satiety of blessed delights and was as it were weighed down by a kind of sleepiness and sank down from things above, being mixed with the flesh through the disgraceful enjoyment of pleasures............ But why did we not have sinlessness in our structure one may ask, so that the will to sin would not exist in us?  Because indeed it is not when your household slaves are in bonds that you consider them well disposed, but when you see them willingly fulfill your wishes.  Accordingly, God does not love what is constrained but what is accomplished out of virtue.  And virtue comes into being out of free choice and not out of constraint.........

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the Bohoeffer quote  : -- " But Christ bore in himself the whole burden of the flesh, under the curse"

 

 

See.  This is what I'm getting at.  The Bible doesn't refer to "the Curse" as referring to this type of thing in Genesis.  It isn't there, and I don't think its in Paul.  That is my concern, being that this core difference is going to (and has) screw up other key doctrines.  Not least of which is the idea that God is mad at us (being humanity in general) in ways that the text doesn't say. 

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes.  There is undeniably a set of curses.

 

Maybe, I'm misunderstanding Bonhoeffer.  I'm fine with what you had just said Ryan.  

 

 

I guess what I find problematic is an understanding that because of "the Curse" God looks down in a state of basically being perpetually mad at us, and then that the only way he can appease that anger is to punish Christ in our stead.  That Jesus then bore this curse in this sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thom Wade said:

 

:Of course, if Jesus had no propensity to sin, it cannot be accurate to state that he was truly tempted in the same ways all other people are.

 

 

I was just reading back through this thread and caught this.  Yes.  This is another point that I had failed to mention.  If we have an inherited sin nature and Jesus doesn't, then it would be impossible for Jesus to be tempted as we are.  We would obviously be more inclined to fall for the temptation and therefore the temptation wouldn't be equal or the same.  Anyway, one slices it, including other thought mentioned, the temptation would be different.  

 

 

J.A.A. Purves said:  

 

:In another sense, while his temptations would share "a likeness" to ours, they would share an even greater "likeness" to Adam's. 

 

 

But these types of texts are never connected to Adam.  Always to us.  Jesus is only connected to Adam in the sense that he's the second Adam.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a very imperfect analogy to try and get across what I'm attempting to say.

 

Lets say that there was a gang of one armed bandits (I know... bear with me.)  All of the people in this gang had tattoos, and the only possible way to be part of this gang was to have tattoos as this was a core part of the gang.  Nobody outside of the gang had ever not had tattoos.  But then someone comes along and decides that they are part of the gang, and the excuse that they use is that they are *more* of a gangster than the others, even though they can never have a tattoo.  According to the fundamental rules... this person could never ever truly be part of the gang.

 

But lets say that a fundamental aspect of being in the gang was to also have one arm.  Only people with one arm could be in the gang.  People in the gang were tested according to how much weight they could lift with the one arm.

But.  Along comes a man with two arms, that was then healthier than the one arm people in the gang.  People then say that he's part of the gang, even though he is different on a fundamental criteria to be in the gang.  But yet, because he is different in this fundamental criteria (and thus it is impossible for him to truly be part of the gang) he is able to pass the test of lifting the weights easier than the others, because he doesn't have the same burden of having one arm.

 

Then.  The people in the gang are told that they can compare themselves to him and relate to him, even though there was was fundamental difference in this person when he went through the test, and even though he can't have ever truly been part of the gang because he didn't have what truly was required to be the same as them.

 

 

You see. Part of that text is that Jesus had similar trials and temptations as us, in order that we can relate to him, and in order that we can say that God has been human and that therefore it can be proved that God *understands* what it is to be human.

 

But, both of these things would fall apart if Jesus was different from us in this core way, which according to many is a huge influence on all of life.  We wouldn't truly be able to relate to Christ's humanity and God would have never truly become like ours.  According to many peoples views of a sin nature and "depravity" it wouldn't be a small difference.  It would be a hugely significant difference.  Actually according to many, it would be a difference as big as a deserving to go to eternal hell difference.  

 

How can humanity relate to Jesus as being a fellow human being in temptations and trials with that big of a difference between him and us?  Or even somewhat lesser of a difference?

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thought, as to the question of how could we all sin and fall into temptation without having a sin nature.  Adam and Eve fell for temptation and sinned, and the story has them living a place without any sin around them, and a heck of a lot less temptation than we would find here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A. Purves wrote:
: It could even be reasonably argued that the temptations that He faced (because his desires were not weak, misdirected, or twisted like ours often are) were stronger and more powerful than any temptations we have ever experienced.

 

Oh, I like this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.A.A. Purves wrote:

: It could even be reasonably argued that the temptations that He faced (because his desires were not weak, misdirected, or twisted like ours often are) were stronger and more powerful than any temptations we have ever experienced.

 

Oh, I like this.

 

 

Buuuttt.  They would still be fundamentally different..... No?   I mean if he was fundamentally different in the core of his being.   smile.png

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Attica wrote:

: I mean if he was fundamentally different in the core of his being.

 

Well, that depends on what you mean by "the core of his being", I guess.

 

Christ is one *person* with two *natures* -- two *wills*, even. So does "the core of his being" refer to his singular personhood, or to one of his two natures?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was referring to the core of his humanity being different from us.

 

But really, wouldn't his two natures have to be essentially the same in a certain regard?  I mean, one couldn't be good and the other not... etc.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll throw this little tidbit I just read into the discussion.  To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if its true myself.

 

 

 

Genesis 1: 3-4 "And God said "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good". Saint John the Beloved spoke of this light as "the light of life" or 'the light that enlightens everyone coming into this world'. John 1:9

 

If all contains the very life (essence) of God, then the Augustinian concept and subsequent teachings of 'Original (or inherited) Sin' is rather flawed. It's like saying God himself is sinful. 

 

 

But this links to part of the problem.  If we have a sin nature it would essentially mean that God was creating something with evil in it and bringing it into the world.  Or at least something corrupt.

 

I suppose one could say that mankind creates mankind, but then we would all probably agree that God is involved with at least some part of the creating, even if its just placing the soul within.

Edited by Attica

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