Just Heard Something…

I was at a noon lecture today and was at the periphery of a conversation which occurred prior to the lecture. A woman who describes herself as Christian comes from another culture where there is a belief that is handed down through the generations. This belief is that there is a certain clan of people who sold their souls to the devil “a million” (her words) years ago in order to avoid slavery. People from other clans will even today not allow their children to marry into this particular clan because the belief is that this particular clan is still held subject to that act of “a million” years ago. She spoke this with the tone and body language which said to me that she finds it hard to believe that these various clans would still think that they are bound by something which seems a bit crazy and which happened “a million” years ago . She finished by stating her dismay that people think they would be bound by something “that they didn’t even do.” At this moment, a light sort of clicked on for me as I thought that it looks like Christianity finds itself believing just about the same thing. A man and a woman listened to a talking snake and ate an apple because of it. Therefore, every single man and woman for all times, even though they had nothing to do with that initial event, is bound by it and in need of redemption even though they played no part in the original deal. Seems a bit crazy and certainly happened a long time ago and a whole ton of folks believe that we are all bound by it. Looks the same to me.  So if it doesn’t make sense in one story why do we insist that it does make sense in the other story?

In case people are wondering about the password protected post that precedes this one…it’s mainly a log of  my thoughts on various things for the last 6 months or more. Not well organized. Not all that coherent. Not really something for a lot of people to digest and much of it is kind of just honest crazy stuff and questions that I wonder about. If I don’t write them down I find I will forget them. So it’s mostly an organizational thing for me alone. I might give out the password on occasion to someone here and there when I am looking for an opinion, but it will mostly be just for me. So don’t be offended or hurt. It’s just stuff that I wanted to log for myself.

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10 responses to “Just Heard Something…

  1. My understanding is that the scriptural account of the original sin explains the admission of and entry into human nature of the principle that is a corruption of humanity from God’s original intent. It was a choice to be self-sufficient and reject or deny depedence, and thereby a relationship, with the Creator. We were created in love and for love. We need love and we want love and we want to live love. But Scripture states that love comes from God. So we lack the ability to carry out our best desires and intentions. Lacking love, a great deal develops from that that is problematic in human life.

    But out guilt before God is due to our own personal sins rather than those of Adam and Eve.

  2. To Reinhold Niebuhr, the myth of the Fall expresses or discloses this situation of ourselves and of all other humans: in each the fault of all, in all the fault of each. Thus this story is “true” but not “literally true.” as it’s not an actual historical event. it discloses, but it does not explain, our situation.

    i’m on board with this after much struggling to understand the doctrine of the fall. i denied it, i hated it, but after 3 years of seminary, i’ve lived it. you think if anyone could get it right and live in community, it’d be seminarians. that’s not the case, we’re just as bad as everyone else and subject to the same faults.

  3. I can go along with the Genesis account being an explanation that explains how corruption entered humanity. But it is an explanation that was meant for the Jewish community thousands of years ago. Christianity today seems to largely take it as a literal story that describes “The Fall” from which all of humanity is then deemed depraved and in need of saving which is what’s to be expected when Christianity’s view of atonement is largely substitutionary. But if instead I look at God having made us in his image, a big part of which has to be consciousness which also means free will, no story about a man eating an apple after he was deceived by a talking snake is needed to see that the choice to rebel is automatically built in to free will. No deception, no Satan, no hell is necessary. The cross then becomes God loving his creation enough to want to be a healing force within it.

    One question, if God loved Adam so much, why didn’t he prepare him for what was ahead. All he said was don’t do this thing. He did no explaining or mentoring or relating. It sure seems like God could have loved Adam a bit more.

  4. Douglas and Karmen Lewis

    Luke. I like your explanation here. It “discloses but does not explain our situation.” I’ve been trying to figure a way to say it, and that’s the best I’ve heard. The story was written by ancient Jews as an explanation for ancient Jews. It’s not likely literal. It seems to me that our philosophical understanding of free will in this day and age is a better way of looking at the problem. Free will, which has to be a major part of God making us in God’s image, demands that there be a choice of the extremes. No Satan or devil or hell or deception by a talking snake is necessary. If that is not there, then we are just robots. If that is not there in “heaven,” then we are just robots in heaven, and I the idea of being a robot who sings worships songs to God all day because he has no freedom to choose does not seem like heaven to me.

  5. For me the choice to rebel is possible in free will, but I hesitate at the phrase, “built in.” The possibility is built in, but not the inevitability. So if it is entirely an issue of free will, why don’t some choose not to rebel? The evidence seems to be, and the Scriptural perspective is, that we all do rebel, down to the last “man.” The conclusion is reached that something is wrong with human nature. I, too, see God’s love and grace as the healing of our soul and spirit.

  6. societyvs

    The Adam ‘fall’ is quite the ‘story’…but I think that’s all it is…a ‘story’ we relate to and learn from.

    I always read the story as ‘we are Adam/Eve’. Creation occured a long time ago, but not really, not for us. I am only 35 years old and I was created some 35 years ago and in birthed into this world. Like Adam, I was to also gain the knowledge and good and evil in due time.

    Creation is constantly occuring, a new child is born into a foreign world to them. They learn about is as they go and are taught by parents. A nee generations of Adam will come to this planet and make it a better place for humanity – or worse – depending on how they use their knowledge about good and evil.

    In some senses, we all fall and rise in our own current placements on this planet. If anything has been passed down from the beginning it is the ability to birth and be born into similar sets of circumstances (that do change era to era – but the human ability to perceive does not).

  7. Just to add a thought. Even though a story is ancient and written to ancient people, it may still contain timeless truth.

  8. Great post. I love meeting people like this. They are so refreshing to me. I also love kids and crazy people because they always surprise you with new thoughts and new ways to look at life. I always appreciate your honest estimation of christianity. I take the bible as a passionate book, written by men under the inspiration of God. There are going to be some mishaps of the pen when it’s in the hands of men caught in their own culture/life/moment in time. But passionate, none-the-less, which is what makes it so glorious and so full of God. Seems to me that God is up there half of the time with the words, “jesus, they take themselves too seriously.” In my opinion, it’s not about perfect accuracy. I feel for those whose struggle to keep the words perfectly accurate because there are a lot of confusing things when it’s looked at that from that harsh incandescent unforgiving light. No one wants to look into that mirror under that light, not even God. Life with God has more meaning that crossing all t’s and dotting all i’s. God shows us over and over again that he doesn’t care so much about perfection or accuracy or all that other nonsense bullshit that we think matters. It’s about feeling the passion and understanding what God wants. It’s about loving regardless of being loved. It’s about experiencing fulfilling caring and rewarding kindness in a culture that is afraid to touch each other. It’s about doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with him. (copyright micah)

  9. societyvs

    “The evidence seems to be, and the Scriptural perspective is, that we all do rebel, down to the last “man.”” (Larry)

    I agree, we all make mistakes – but this is part of the norm and resultant from being born a child into a whole wide world we have basically no paradigm to immediately bounce it off of. I think mistakes are par for the course.

    But no, no one will be perfect – thats impossible (because of the whole limited human perspective thing). So in that sense, I agree, we all make mistakes (whether we learn from them or not is the better question).

    But are we born to ‘sin’? I think we are born into a world that affords us that knowledge of good and evil and what we learn is really the measure of what we will become. At a certain age we become responsible adults and make those choices on our own (at this point we find our mistakes are solely our own and no one else is to blame).

  10. This is true. I don’t doubt that there are timeless truths not only in this ancient scripture but also others. The problem though understanding which part of it contains that truth. Too often we just jump to the easy way out, take it literally. But that often looses a great deal of the ancient truth that is there. A very wise person told me that he doesn’t doubt that there is something such as absolute truth but that he is certain that none of us knows exactly what it is. Truth approached with a taste of humility.

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