Some Thoughts on Original Sin

Original sin is the teaching that, in some capacity, humans are guilty of sin and have no choice but to sin because of our fallen nature. Having done some thinking, the term “fallen nature” or “sin nature” gives me some problems. The reason is that “nature” is synonymous with “essence.” So if we have a sin nature then our essence is fallen as well; we have no choice but to be guilty in sin from the moment of conception to our point in death. Our very essence is sinful, an affront to God.

This could work except for one point, that point being the Incarnation. We say that Jesus was fully human. Philosophically, this means that Jesus had a human essence and a divine essence (and therein is the mystery). But this is the problem – if Jesus had a human essence, but was sinless and not guilty of sin, then how did He have a human essence? It seems we are left with two choices when we choose to use the term “sin nature.” Choice 1 is that Jesus wasn’t really human, but had humanistic characteristics, but being morally perfect and untainted by sin, He ultimately did not share a human essence with us. Choice 2 is to say that Christ was guilty of sin by having a human essence, thus making Him a sinner like us. Neither choice is Biblical and both are heretical, which is why I’m having difficulty believing that we have a “sin nature.”

Of course, there’s the problem that all humans choose to sin, but Christ did not. So what can we say?

I would put forth the theory that at the point of the fall of humanity, our wills were damaged. The will would be the ability to follow through follow through on a choice, or where to direct our actions. A weak will would allow us to make wrong choices, or at least cause us to lack the ability to go through with what we believe to be right all of the time. A weak will would allow us to deprave ourselves to the point where we desire evil and act on evil. But this does not mean Christ had a weak will; it is entirely possible that His will was perfected. Let me explain:

Tim was born with a deformed leg and therefore cannot run. Johnny was born with properly functioning legs and therefore has no problem running. We can look at Tim and realize that had there not be an external agent of change (something within his genes or development within the womb) he would have grown the ability to actualize his essence. That is to say, both Tim and Johnny have the capacity to run, but an external agent prevented Tim from actualizing his capacity.

Or we can look to Heather and Sally, born in 1900. Heather was killed by a disease at the age of 3. Sally died of old age at the age of 93. In 1901, both Heather and Sally had the capacity to become adults, it was a part of their essence. By 1904, an external agent had taken away Heather’s ability to actualize her capacity for “adultness,” but regardless both Heather and Sally shared the essence of being human. Just because one was given the ability to actualize a part of her essence while the other had an external force negating such an ability does not mean that one was human while the other was not. It simply means that both held the same essence and had the same capacities, but due to certain circumstances, one was able to actualize one’s capacity while the other was not.

Thus we come to Christ. We can say that the human will for most humans (with the exception of Christ) is damaged, thus meaning we are not properly functioning. It is within our capacity as human beings to have a fully functioning will, but we are all born deformed. Through the Incarnation, Christ was the only human ever born who has the ability to actualize His will to perfection. This would mean that human beings are fallen in the sense that their wills are broken, but we still share the essence with Christ. We have the same capacity He did in this regard, but only He was able to actualize His capacity while we are unable to do so.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts and I’m certain my argument lacks clarity. I’m simply throwing this out there for discussion to see if (1) we can really accept the traditional view of original sin and (2) if the alternative offered would be a better view.


It’s not a slippery slope

Recently, Tony Jones said that he finds the “slippery slope” arguments against homosexuality as being fallacious. Just a short response on my part:

It’s not a slippery slope argument. It’s simply looking at the logic of the situation and taking the arguments used for homosexuality and applying them elsewhere. If we say that the Bible’s prohibition on homosexuality is a cultural matter of that time, then we must also say that polygamy, prostitution, pornography (lusting with the mind), bestiality, and other sexual sins are likewise products of that culture.

The few one exception would be that homosexuals consent with each other, thus bestiality, pedophilia, and rape do not quality. Even if we grant this premise, this still leaves open adultery, pornography, polygamy, and so on and so forth. This whole “monogamous relationship” that Tony elevates is irrelevant; who cares if it’s monogamous or not? Why do we reject some verses, but accept others?

So no, it’s not a slippery slope at all. It’s simply taking the arguments used for one context and applying those same arguments to other contexts.

Christianity and Postmodernity

This is the thesis that I wrote last semester as part of a requirement for college (the topic was required, just a thesis). Anyway, as it is quite long, I have put it in PDF format.

I hope you enjoy.

The Christian Response to Postmodernism

Response to Tony Jones on the issue of homosexuality

Recently, Tony Jones put up a question asking people to explain why homosexuality is wrong (that is, what is inherently wrong with it) without resorting to what he calls the “6 clobber verses” of Scripture. That is to say, can we show that homosexuality is wrong outside of Scripture?

I see where he is coming from – God does not do anything arbitrarily. There is always a reason behind His rules. He doesn’t just say, “Don’t do this” without there being some reason for it. So what is God’s reason for forbidding homosexuality?

I am not discussing the law or whether or not something should be legal. That is another issue entirely. Rather, I just want to approach this as an, “is it moral” issue among Christians. Thus, if one is not a Christian, this post will not offer much insight into why homosexuality is wrong, other than explain our reasoning.

The debate, when among Christians, must keep the Bible at the center

Clearly, we cannot remove God’s reason from the confines of the Bible. I would argue that outside of homosexuality being an unnatural act (from an evolutionary standpoint, it offers little to no benefit for the advancement of the species), there is very little to condemn homosexuality. But, the same would ring true for quite a few other sexual taboos. Assuming that the liberty to make a choice is part of our natural freedoms, this means all sexual acts that do not inhibit one’s ability to choose (e.g. rape, pedophilia with a young child, etc) should likewise be allowed.

The only way to avoid the above situation is to keep the conversation within some type of Biblical narrative. For example, even Tony’s question shows that he is keeping with the Biblical narrative:

“…can you please explain to me WHY a gay or lesbian person who is in a long-term, monogamous relationship would not be able to wholeheartedly follow Christ?”

Monogamy has no natural defense. In fact, it makes far more sense for promiscuity and/or polygamy to be an acceptable trait because (1) it allows people to be more in line with their natures as sexual beings and (2) increases the fitness of the species. In fact, monogamy would only be defensible from a natural standpoint depending on the situation (e.g. overpopulation).

Suffice it to say, without a natural defense of monogamy, there is not much reason to use it within a debate unless one is holding onto some facet of a Biblical narrative. Thus, if Tony (and others) is going to agree to keep the conversation within a Biblical narrative, then the same must be said for the issue of homosexuality. This does not mean I am going to bring up the 6 “clobber verses,” but rather that one cannot simply dismiss the Biblical idea of marriage; to do so would be a double standard.

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Oh Tony Jones, you’re so witty! (a rant)

Tony Jones, former figurehead of the Uppity-Middle-White-Class-Spoiled-Rotten-Brat Association Emergent Village has a recent post about the Episcopal church declaring that all members can be ordained pastors regardless of sexual orientation. What struck me was the last paragraph of his post:

But I implore them to look beyond the gay issue. The bigger issue is that they employ amedieval form of church polity strange hybrid of medieval (bishops, dioceses, sextons) and modern (legislation, amendments, committees) polities, which will inevitably fail in this postmodern, wiki-world.

What I find so interesting is that he believes the greatest issue isn’t the homosexual one, but rather that the church government isn’t modernized. Is he being serious?

I certainly hope not, because that makes little to no sense. How in the world does church government trump the issue of sexual immorality? There’s simply no escaping the fact that the Bible is very clear on homosexuality; it is a sin to participate in the act of homosexuality. So church government aside, the bigger issue would seemingly be the one that deals with sexual immorality.

But of course Tony just can’t leave it at, “We disagree on this issue.” Rather, he has to compare all opponents to homosexual marriage to Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist Pastor, infamous for protesting at funerals with his “God hates fags” signs). Tony says:

So Evangelicals have turned their gaze on a new shibboleth — gay marriage — and the correlations are clear: replace the oversized placards of aborted fetuses with Westboro Baptist’s “God Hates Fags” signs at military funerals; swap out Operation Rescue for the National Organization for Marriage; exchange James Dobson for, um, James Dobson.

So it’s not just that we strongly disagree with Tony on what is and isn’t important, it’s also that we’re hate mongers who have no compassion for homosexuals, don’t understand their struggle, and believe God hates them. What arrogance!

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