Original sin, part 3: What really happened in Eden?

On many movie DVD’s, there is an option to watch the film with a running commentary from the director and the actors. I often feel like we’re watching the “with commentary” version of the film whenever we read the story of Eden in Genesis 2-3, because the actual words of the text are usually drowned out by the background noise of the Reformers reading Augustine reading Paul reading Genesis. For Eden’s commentators, the focus is entirely upon Adam and Eve’s disobedience of God. Every other detail is mostly superfluous. When I read the story, however, I see the accent falling in a very different place, because Adam and Eve “die” when their eyes are opened to their nakedness (Genesis 3:7). Continue reading

Original sin, part two: 1 Corinthians 15:22 and Ephesians 2:3

I put aside my original sin blog series idea for a while, but I’m preaching on baptism this weekend so I figured it would be worthwhile to go back to it. I did a post a month ago on Romans 5, the most extensive discourse which names Adam’s trespass as our problem. I raised a lot of questions about the mainstream interpretive presumptions about it. So this is part 2 where I will look at 1 Corinthians 15:22 and Ephesians 2:3. Part 3 will be the Garden of Eden itself (which I should have opened with) and part 4 will look at the theological investments behind this doctrine (since it’s my contention that original sin is not a self-evident conclusion from pure Biblical exegesis but a creation of systematic theology whose necessity by the way I don’t necessarily dispute). Continue reading

Original sin, part one: Romans 5:12-21

Original sin. There are few Christian doctrines that cause more scandal for people living today. How could God be angry at humanity for something a guy named Adam did a long time ago? Is that what original sin is about? Does Adam have to be a historical figure for original sin to “work”? A certain kind of Christian seems to take pleasure in this scandal because it provides an opportunity to demonstrate a certain kind of piety that says, “Well, He’s God and therefore He’s just, so maybe you’re not really a Christian if you find this disagreeable.”  Well I decided I wanted to take a look at original sin’s scriptural proof-texts and then consider the concerns motivating three major Christian theologians who developed and tweaked original sin’s doctrine  — Augustine, Aquinas, and John Cassian — to see if something has been lost in translation over the centuries. I’m dividing this up into several parts. Originally, I was going to deal with all of the proof-texts in part one, but I’ve found a whole lot to talk about in Romans 5:12-21 by itself, so here goes. Continue reading