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Christianity & Existentialism


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#61 Ryan H.

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 12:40 PM

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., 02 April 2011 - 12:40 PM.


#62 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 02:36 PM

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.

#63 Ryan H.

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 03:32 PM

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., 02 April 2011 - 03:37 PM.


#64 Thom Wade

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 08:37 AM

[quote name='Persiflage' date='02 April 2011 - 01:16 PM' timestamp='1301764564' post='248627']
I could delete all the above mentioned Bible verses from the above post, and that wouldn't change the logical arguments.[/quote]


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

[quote][quote name='Persiflage' date='25 March 2011 - 03:59 PM' timestamp='1301083194' post='248055']

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.[/quote]

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

[quote name='Persiflage' date='02 April 2011 - 01:16 PM' timestamp='1301764564' post='248627']
[quote]Absence of current information regarding complexity in nature isn't proof of God.[/quote]
You're right there.

[quote]And can you show me a soul? I've never seen one before.[/quote]
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).[/quote]

I never claimed to be an existentialist of any kind.



[quote name='Persiflage' date='02 April 2011 - 01:16 PM' timestamp='1301764564' post='248627']
[quote name='Ryan H.' date='25 March 2011 - 03:15 PM' timestamp='1301091342' post='248063']
Having a conscience does not mean that you are suddenly inclined to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.[/quote]
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.[/quote]

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

[quote name='Persiflage' date='25 March 2011 - 01:54 PM' timestamp='1301075672' post='248041']

[quote][quote name='Nezpop' date='25 March 2011 - 05:14 PM' timestamp='1301087652' post='248060']That's an interesting list. However, none of which is somehow factual proof of God-let alone Christianity.[/quote]
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.[/quote]
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.[/quote]

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, 04 April 2011 - 08:38 AM.


#65 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 02:31 AM

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.)



#66 SDG

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 07:21 AM

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, 03 January 2014 - 07:27 AM.


#67 Attica

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 11:49 AM

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, 20 January 2014 - 12:00 PM.


#68 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 04:07 PM

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.



#69 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 04:57 PM

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?



#70 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 05:55 PM

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."



#71 Ryan H.

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 06:25 PM

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.

#72 Attica

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 06:30 PM

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, 20 January 2014 - 08:26 PM.


#73 Attica

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 06:44 PM

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, 20 January 2014 - 08:38 PM.


#74 Ryan H.

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 07:00 PM

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.

#75 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 07:02 PM

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.



#76 Attica

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 07:19 PM

Ryan H said:

 

: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."

 

 

If I recall correctly, he's a convert from Reformed to Eastern Orthodoxy.  That of course doesn't mean that he had a good understanding of reformed thought, though.

 

 


Peter T Chattaway said:

 

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

 
 
Yup.

Edited by Attica, 20 January 2014 - 08:40 PM.


#77 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 12:08 AM


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.

I like it, but it’s still the sort of thing regulated to interesting speculation.


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.

Again, Kreeft’s examples are just being used to explain the idea of final or irrevocable choices.  Mankind probably naturally rebels against this idea, but that doesn’t mean that a marriage or a conversion - or a choosing of God over self or vice versa - still doesn’t change something forever
 


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.

No.  Taking the Genesis story literally does not mean taking it literally with the same level of fanaticism of so many of the Creation Science movement.  Hugh Ross writes: “Some have interpreted this verse (Romans 5:12) as implying that there was no death of any kind before the sin of Adam, and, therefore, only a few days could possibly have transpired between the creation of the first life and the sin of Adam. However, the absence of death would pose just as much a problem for three 24-hour days as it would for three billion years.”  Moreover, all the discussions of death and man’s sin are discussing death as it pertains to mankind, not to plant or even animal 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 ... 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.

Was Genesis 2:17 talking about physical death?  If not, it had to mean a form of spiritual death - a separation from God.  Ephesians 4:18 describes this and Mark 15:33-34 refers to it.  Paul in Colossians 2:13 tells people, who are alive, that they were dead in the past.  That is not Paul talking about only death that concerns the body.  I John 5:12 is using the idea of life to mean more than merely biological life, isn’t it pretty elementary to deduce a correlative form of spiritual death?  That is, after all, just what the Church has done for two thousand years.


Romans 5:12 ... 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.

Earlier you wrote of “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.”  Thinking about your most recent comments, I cannot figure out what you are trying to do by arguing that Paul is talking about death and not sin.  Are you trying to argue against man’s sin nature?  If you are, go ahead, by all means.  But I think you’ll find it much less confusing if you argue against the sin nature of man as opposed to trying to argue that Christianity does not teach the sin nature of man.

Christianity teaches that mankind possesses a sinful and depraved nature.  This is not a doctrine that hinges upon a single way of interpreting Romans 5:12-21.  Even by your favorite translator, Paul says sin entered the world through Adam, and death is a consequence of sin.  That death is the consequence of sin is clearly illustrated and explicitly stated in the Genesis account.  (Genesis 2:17; 3:3, 19, 22-24.)

This is repeated over and over again in Scripture.  Some examples include: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5.) “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.”  (Psalm 58:3.) “... For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one ...” (Romans 3:9-10.)  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23.)  “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”  (Galatians 3:10.)  “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point, has become accountable for al of it.”  (James 2:10.)  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves , and the truth is not in us.”  (I John 1:8.)  (See also Ecclesiastes 7:20, Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 2:1-4, Titus 1:15, I John 1:9-10.)

This is repeated over and over again in Church tradition and doctrine.  Some examples include: “Man is condemned to death for having tasted the fruit of one miserable tree, and from it proceeds sins with their penalties; and now all are perishing ...” (Tertullian.)  “... that it is only nature which can be inherited, not sin, which is the disobedience of the free and unconstrained will.” (Theodore of Mopsuestia.)  “When Adam sinned, his sin reached to all people.” (Athanasius.)  “In the first man ... there existed the whole human nature, which was to be transmitted by the woman to posterity ...” (Augustine.)  “If any one says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that, whether he sinned or not, he would have died from natural causes, and not as the wages of sin, let him be anathema.” (Council of Carthage.)  “Man’s effort and endeavour is to be united with God’s grace; man’s freedom of will is not extinct but warped and weakened.” (Synod of Arles.)  “...the sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that afterward no one can love God as he should.” (Council of Orange.)  “We are not born in the condition in which Adam was created, but as sinners in our origin.” (Servatus Lupus.)  “Through origin from the first man, sin entered into the world.  According to the Catholic faith, we are bound to hold that the first sin of the first man is transmitted to his descendants, by way of origin.” (Thomas Aquinas.)

Unlike Pelagius, the Church did not need to deny the sin nature in order to affirm free will.

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.

Then in Romans 8 he gets to the core of the matter. Romans 7:22  ... Romans 8:2  ... Romans 8:6... Romans 6: 19 ... 23 ... Throughout Paul is talking about the "law of sin and death" whereby we become distorted by the system ... If you read through Romans 5 to 8 with a better translation this becomes fairly clear ... It was death that passed through into mankind, not total depravity or a "sin nature".

If the “doctrine of Original Sin” is, at its most fundamental level, that man possesses a sin nature, then your mentor’s idea that it originated from a Latin Vulgate mistranslation in 405 A.D. cannot chronologically be true.  The idea of man’s sin nature is based on far too much besides Romans 5:12 and things written and taught before the fifth century.

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.

Hertz says: “... 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.”  Even according to your favorite translator, Paul says: “just as through one man the Sin entered into the ordered System, and through the Sin the Death also ...”  (See also Romans 3:12, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” and Romans 5:18, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

#78 Attica

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 03:39 AM

Okay.  Where to start.  First off.  I don't really see you refuting anything I've said about Romans.   You also didn't mention what I brought up about Jesus being like us in every way shape and form.  How is it possible for Jesus to be like us in every way shape and form and not have a sin nature?  If we have a sin nature and Jesus doesn't then Jesus would be different at a core level, and wouldn't be a true representation of humanity whereby his death would save us.  Think that through please.

 

Also I didn't really touch on other Biblical passages, or much on the very early church.  But I'll do that a bit now.

 

 

J.A.A. Purves had said:

 

:Was Genesis 2:17 talking about physical death? If not, it had to mean a form of spiritual death - a separation from God. 

 

 

-So you mean that Adam and Eve didn't die?  Also, if they were so separate from God, then why did God call after them when they hid, and why did God take care to cloth them. etc.  God is pursuing mankind throughout the whole Bible.

 

This might give a sense of the Eastern Orthodox understanding of this.  I'd note, that when you talk about "the Church" or "Christianity teaches", or "Christian tradition", that your often talking about the Roman/Protestant wing of Christianity.  This isn't necessarily what the Eastern Orthodox, Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian Orthodox , and Celtic Church's believe (d).  None of them bought into Augustine's understanding of "original sin", including, to various degrees, the understanding of humanity being separate form God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

:Ephesians 4:18 describes this and Mark 15:33-34 refers to it. 

 

 

 

Ephesians 4:18

 

-  "This, then, I am saying and attesting in the Lord: By no means are you still to be walking according as those of the nations also are walking, in the Vanity of their mind, their comprehension being darkened, being estranged from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the callousness of their hearts, who, being past feeling, in greed give themselves up with wantonness, to all uncleanness as a vocation."

 

 

It doesn't say anything about original sin in this passage.  Anywhere.  It doesn't say anything about an inherited sin nature, at all.  It says that people are estranged by God because of ignorance, and the callousness of their hearts.  This is connected to greed by which the GIVE THEMSELVES UP with wantonness.  Giving themselves up means that it came from their actions.  It was something they did, not something that they were born with, otherwise they wouldn't have be giving themselves up, in order for themselves to be estranged from God.

 

I'm not denying that people become sinners.

 

 

But on this note, I'll also throw out this text that is often used for the same argument that you are saying.  But look at it carefully.

 

Colossians 1: 21  And you, being once estranged and enemies In Comprehension, by wicked acts, yet now he reconciles...

 

 

It says that they were estranged and enemies *in comprehension*.  In other words, they throught they were.  It doesn't say that God has estranged himself from them.  Quite the opposite in fact.

 

 

As to mark 15: 33-34.  Where does that say that God has forsaken humanity, or that we are estranged from him.  It never mentions it.  Any such theology would be something added to the text from a previous belief.

 

Also.  Some Christians believe that Jesus just thought that God had, because that would be the human side of his reaction.  I'm not trying to argue whether or not this is true, but just saying that there are other interpretations.  

 

Also.  If God has separated himself from humanity, then he didn't do a very good job of it, when he came out of heaven to take on humanity and become a friend of sinners.  There's no separating or estranging there, but rather a deep association with humanity, and a deep pursuing, relational attitude towards how he engaged us.

 

 

 

 

:Paul in Colossians 2:13 tells people, who are alive, that they were dead in the past.  That is not Paul talking about only death that concerns the body.

 

 

Colossians 2:13

 

And you folks - continuously being dead ones within the results and effects of falls to the side, and in the uncircumcision of your flesh - He makes alive together: you  jointly together with him, gracing us and granting favor to us for; in all the effects of the fails and stumbling to the side......

 

 

And.  Where does this say anything about being born spiritually dead as inherited from original sin.  It actually *says* that this is *within* the results of falling to the side, and that God grants us favour in all of the failure and stumbling.  This is *entirely* talking about our actions in life.

 

It seems to my that you are putting your previously held theology onto this text.  It's not saying that, actually the opposite.  It's specifically pointing to our actions has causing the death.

 

 

 

:I John 5:12 is using the idea of life to mean more than merely biological life,

 

 

 

I had mentioned that Christ's life (being spiritual) helps with the problem of the law of sin and death.

 

 

 

:Thinking about your most recent comments, I cannot figure out what you are trying to do by arguing that Paul is talking about death and not sin.

 

 

 

I was never trying to say that Paul was talking about death and not sin.  I was specifically talking about the law of sin and death.  Being the idea that sin was related to death inherited from Adam (and our own choices), and not an inherited "sin nature."

 

 

 

:But I think you’ll find it much less confusing if you argue against the sin nature of man as opposed to trying to argue that Christianity does not teach the sin nature of man.

 

 

 

I had mentioned that much of Western Christianity does teach the sin nature of man.  I've never argued that some of Christianity doesn't teach it.  I've argued that when one looks into Romans in the original languages, and also the very early church, that the concept of a "sin nature" as you are understanding it, is not to be found.

 

 

 

:Christianity teaches that mankind possesses a sinful and depraved nature.

 

 

 

Again.  Not ALL of Christianity teaches this.  There are other traditions outside of the Catholic/Protestant branches.

 

 

 

:Even by your favorite translator, Paul says sin entered the world through Adam, and death is a consequence of sin. 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

:That death is the consequence of sin is clearly illustrated and explicitly stated in the Genesis account.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

:This is repeated over and over again in Scripture.  Some examples include: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5.)

 

 

 

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. 

 

Again.  Jesus was like us in EVERY way shape and form.  Are we really to believe then that Jesus was brought forth in iniquity and his mother conceived him in sin?  How then could he have been without sin in order to die for us?

 

 

The same views can be held for Psalm 58:3

 

 

 

 

:  ... For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one ...” (Romans 3:9-10.)  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23.)

 

 

 

In Romans 3: 9 - 18 Paul is quoting from the Psalms.  Thus my earlier point.  But also.  Paul is trying to get a point across about humanity and sin.  Remember, he was a Jew.  Jew's used exaggeration in their communication, to get things across, it was part of their culture.

 

Also.  Go look some of the Psalms that he's quoting from.  They are often of  the Psalmist  lamenting that nobody was seeking after God, which is usually because the Psalmist himself is seeking after God.  The Psalms are full of texts of the writers seeking after God.  But also of God interacting with them.  Meaning that the weren't fully alienated from God.

 

 

So.  Paul's lamenting the sinfulness of humanity, *nowhere* in those texts is it mentioned that this is related to an inherited "sin nature."  I've never said that humans don't sin.

 

 

As to Romans 3:23.  I'll give you this.  It does say that all have sinned.  It doesn't say that this is because of an inherited sin nature though.  And again.  I'd point out the text in Romans 5:14

 

 

 

:(Galatians 3:10.)  “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point, has become accountable for all of it.”

 

 

 

Here's the text in full.

 

 

"... for it has been and now stands written, namely that "A curse (or an adversarial prayer; imprecations) is settled upon all not constantly remaining within all the things having been and standing written within the scroll of the Law, in order to do them."

 

 

- Again.  Where does this say anything about an inherited "sin nature."  It never says this, but again, it almost says the opposite.  Being that this directly connected to our actions, "in remaining within all things" in regards to the law, in order to do them.  

 

It is entirely to do with a persons choices in regard to their actions.

 

 

 

:(James 2:10.)  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves , and the truth is not in us.” 

 

 

-  Here's the text.

 

"For you see, whoever perhaps kept the whole law, yet possibly at some point stumbled in one thing, had become held within all its aspects."

 

 

 

Notice it says possibly.  Again.  This says absolutely nothing about an inherited sin nature.  It is entirely talking about actions in our lives, in response to the law.

 

Of note.  I wasn't trying to say that the vast majority of humanity hasn't sinned, I was merely saying that it was possible, and that the Bible says that Noah was blameless before the Lord.  I should also note that I have read Eastern Orthodox people who have also said that there have been some people who have not sinned.  So its not just me saying this.

 

 

Of course this would be extremely rare, if so.

 

 

 

:“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves , and the truth is not in us.”  (I John 1:8.)

 

 

 

Again.  This says nothing about an inherited sin nature.  It is just simply talking about human sin.  As to the idea that some people haven't sinned.   I'll agree that this could likely be arguing against it.

 

But yet.  In this text, Paul is talking in regards to himself and the Christian's he is  conversing with, and people in general.  There is some wiggle room to think that he isn't necessarily talking about every single person who has ever, ever, lived.

Not much, I'll grant, but still some.

 

 

 

Also.  Ephesian 2

 

"And you folks who were continuously existing being dead ones by the results and effects of your stumbling aside, and failures to hit the mark."

 

 

Again.  It is connected to our actions, never to an inherited sin nature.

 

 

The same goes for that text in Titus.

 

 

 

 

:This is repeated over and over again in Church tradition and doctrine.  

 

 

 

Again.  Not the other traditions to the same extent as the Roman/Protestant branches.

 

 

 

:Some examples include: “Man is condemned to death for having tasted the fruit of one miserable tree, and from it proceeds sins with their penalties; and now all are perishing ...” (Tertullian.)

 

 

 

This lines up just fine with what I was saying.  Man had inherited death, and sins, in part,  come out of a connection with this death.

 

 

 

: :... that it is only nature which can be inherited, not sin, which is the disobedience of the free and unconstrained will.” (Theodore of Mopsuestia.)

 

 

 

Um... isn't that saying "inherited, not sin".  Which seems to be arguing against an inherited sin nature.  Then say that sin is the disobedience of the free and unconstrained will.  Being that their isn't influences on the will... like a sin nature.

 

This is actually arguing my view.  

 

 

 

:“When Adam sinned, his sin reached to all people.” (Athanasius.)

 

 

 

I've been saying that all people have been influenced by Adam's sin, because sin then came into the world.  This is nowhere definitively talking about an inherited sin nature. 

 

 

 

:“In the first man ... there existed the whole human nature, which was to be transmitted by the woman to posterity ...” (Augustine.) 

 

 

 

Augustine was the guy who changed this, because of his Manichean influences and the bad translation of the Latin Vulgate.  Which I had mentioned.  He's the last example that will work for me.

 

 

 

:“If any one says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that, whether he sinned or not, he would have died from natural causes, and not as the wages of sin, let him be anathema.” (Council of Carthage.) 

 

 

 

This council happened after Augustine's doctrine and after the bad translation of the Latin Vulgate.  So again....

 

 

 

:“Man’s effort and endeavour is to be united with God’s grace; man’s freedom of will is not extinct but warped and weakened.” (Synod of Arles.)

 

 

 

Now this council I will take note of, because it happened before Augustine's understanding of Original sin, and also before the rise of the Roman church (as we know it.)  On a side not related to this.  Why did Constantine call this council rather than a Pope?  More importantly why did Constantine call the next council of Nicea, and why were there mostly Eastern Bishops attending?  Why was Gregory of Nanzianzus voted by the Bishops to be the leader of this council, instead of having a Pope as head Bishop?  It's simple.  Because at that time there was no idea of a Pope as head of Christendom, like some hold now.

 

But anyways.  To get back on track.  I've never mentioned anything about mans freedom of will in what I've said.  I don't disagree with this.

 

But also.  Where does this say anything about an inherited sin nature, or the like.  It wasn't in early Christian thought, at least in the same way that you are expressing, which I'll get to more in a bit.

 

 

 

:  “...the sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that afterward no one can love God as he should.” (Council of Orange.)

 

 

 

Again.  Another council that happened after Augustine and the the Latin Vulgate that I had mentioned.  It is also worth noting that this was a Roman Catholic council where semi-pelagianism was condemned.

 

It wasn't a council relevant to the other churches.  Eastern Orthodoxy considers itself to be Semi-Pelagian to this day.  The Celtic Church, which was probably bigger than the Roman Catholic church at that time (500's AD), were far from this thought.  I'm not sure about the other branches of Christianity, although I do know that they rejected Augustine's understanding of "original sin."  This doctrine is only to be found in the Catholic/Protestant branch, and many Protestants are rejecting it.

 

 

 

:  (Servatus Lupus.)  “Through origin from the first man, sin entered into the world.  According to the Catholic faith, we are bound to hold that the first sin of the first man is transmitted to his descendants, by way of origin.” (Thomas Aquinas.)

 

 

 

Once again.  Roman theologians after Augustine and the Latin Vulgate errors.  This understanding wasn't/isn't to be found in the other branches of Christianity.  I also don't understand why a non-Roman Catholic would put a huge weight on Catholic theologians and councils, especially when this isn't held by the other churches.

 

 

 

:Unlike Pelagius, the Church did not need to deny the sin nature in order to affirm free will.

 

 

 

The Roman Catholic church wasn't/ isn't "the church".  It was one branch of the church, that the others felt fell into error in this regard.

 

 

 

 

:If the “doctrine of Original Sin” is, at its most fundamental level, that man possesses a sin nature, then your mentor’s idea that it originated from a Latin Vulgate mistranslation in 405 A.D. cannot chronologically be true.  The idea of man’s sin nature is based on far too much besides Romans 5:12 and things written and taught before the fifth century.

 

 

 

I've shown you the mistranslation, and I've shown you a better translation where the Augustinian understanding of original sin is not present.

 

As well.

 

 

Here are some earlier Ante-Nicene quotes.

 

 

First though.  I'll mention Tertullian, because he is often quoted as being a forerunner to Augustine in his  doctrine of "original sin."  But the interesting thing in this regard was that Augustine taught that because of "original sin" if an infant died without baptism they would be damned, because of what they inherited from Adam.   This was then later lessened to the idea of "limbo" for these infants, which was never mentioned in the Bible or the early fathers (at least that I can tell or have ever heard of), and wasn't/isn't in any of the branches of Christianity outside of the RC church.

 

But.  More to the point.  Tertullian in his writings spoke out against the idea of infant baptism as being a pagan practice making its way into the church.  Think about this..... He was then the founding father most often used as an early example of "original sin" along with the idea that if infants died before they were baptized they wouldn't make it into heaven.

 

 

That's an example of how these things got changed.

 

 

Now for some early Ante-Nicene Christian quotes.

 

 

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.........

 

 

 

 

 

In 303 lacantius said.

 

Nobody can be born vicious.  Instead if we make a bad use of the affections, they become vices.  If we use them well, they become virtues.  The Son clothed himself with flesh so that the desires of the flesh being subdued, he might teach us that to sin was not the result of necessity, but of man's purpose and will.

 

 

In and around 225 Origen wrote: 

 

"Certain men who hold different opinions (i.e. heretics) misuse these passages.  They essentially destroy free will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation (choosing salvation).

 

"This is also clearly defined in the teaching of the church (the church at large not just Origen), that every rational soul is possessed of free will and volition and that it has a struggle to maintain against the devil."

 

"There is no rational creature that is not capable of both good and evil"

 

 

 

In and around 180 A.D.  Irenaeus wrote:

 

"Therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness.... because it is in our power to do so".

 

"This expression.... sets forth the ancient law of human liberty.  For God made man free from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the commandments of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God.  For there is no coercion with God".

 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds"... And "Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?".......all such passages demonstrate the independent will of man".

 

 

-

 

 

 

Here is a excerpt from the above mentioned book "A dictionary of early Christian beliefs".

 

 

In the following lengthy discussion of free will, Origen counters the arguments being made by certain Gnostics, who said that humans have a ruined nature because of being created by the inferior DemiUrge.  These Gnostics taught that, as a result of these ruined natures, salvation was purely a matter of grace and election by the father of Jesus.

 

 

 

-

 

There are of course more. 


Edited by Attica, 21 January 2014 - 01:10 PM.


#79 Attica

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 03:48 AM

I'd also note again, that your understanding isn't in Eastern Orthodoxy.

 

 

In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, Adam and Eve committed a sin, the original sin. The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that no one is guilty for the actual sin they committed but rather everyone inherits the consequences of this act; the foremost of this is physical death in this world. This is the reason why the original fathers of the Church over the centuries have preferred the term ancestral sin. The consequences and penalties of this ancestral act are transferred by means of natural heredity to the entire human race. Since every human is a descendant of Adam then 'no one is free from the implications of this sin' (which is human death) and that the only way to be freed from this is through baptism. While mortality is certainly a result of the Fall, along with this also what is termed "concupiscence" in the writings of St Augustine of Hippo -- this is the "evil impulse" of Judaism, and in Orthodoxy, we might say this is our "disordered passion." It isn't only that we are born in death, or in a state of distance from God, but also that we are born with disordered passion within us. Orthodoxy would not describe the human state as one of "total depravity" 

 

 

The closest they come to "sin nature" is the idea of disordered passion.  Which is a different thing than what you are attributing to what Paul said, at least as how I see it.  Again.  Paul was talking about the law of sin and death.  

 

 

 

J.A.A. Purves had said:

 

 

: Even according to your favorite translator, Paul says: “just as through one man the Sin entered into the ordered System, and through the Sin the Death also ...”  (See also Romans 3:12, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” and Romans 5:18,

 

 

 

I've already touched on these.

 

 

 

:“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” 

 

 

 

It says that this *led* to the condemnation for all men.  Again.  There's no mention of "sin nature" or anything of the like.  Leading to condemnation for all men could just as easily mean causing all mean to inherit death, whereby they lived in a world full of sin, and then acted upon these.  Just as I have been saying, and aligning with what Paul has mentioned earlier in Romans 5 and as well, with his discussion of the law of sin and death, which is later in the book.

 

 

Oh..  And another thing.  Please look at that text carefully and consider what else it is saying.    wink.png


Edited by Attica, 21 January 2014 - 11:40 PM.


#80 Attica

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 04:01 AM

Also.  A little blurb from the Ethiopian church.

 

 

 

The Apostolic Creed which is in use in the Church of Ethiopia has three sections bearing on our discussion in the present context. The first of them insists that “all creatures of God are good and there is nothing to be rejected, and the spirit, the life of the body, is pure and holy in all.” The entire natural realm has been made pure and holy by God and all that is for man’s regular use. The second passage affirms that “marriage is pure, and childbirth is undefiled, because God created Adam and Eve to multiply.”

 

 

 

And as well what the remnant of the Celtic Church has to say.

 

 

http://www.aislingco...ifferences.html

 

 

 

I'll try and find quotes from the Syrian Orthodox and Coptic churches on this subject.


Edited by Attica, 21 January 2014 - 11:44 PM.