Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Beef With Original Sin...

I suppose you're right, Citizen of the World. By being willing to discuss my faith, I open myself up to attack. It's not fair, really, because the beliefs of my brother and sister are by definition not open to attack. They believe their ideas are completely inspired by God and infallible, which means they are perfect and I'm wrong from the start. I guess I still want some vindication. I want some respect and acknowledgment from my siblings, which I'll probably never get. I should just accept it and move on. Still, it's a very hard thing to do.

Another tough thing for me to do is accept as "infallible" and "God inspired" the idea of original sin. To accept that we are broken and flawed spirits from birth never settled well with me. It creates and air of self-loathing and blind faith. Besides that, it's deceptive. The answer to happiness isn't just "Jesus!" I tried for years to learn to accept the idea that I was broken and I just needed Jesus to be happy, but it never worked. I prayed, I read, I tried, but I was never satisfied with Christ's forgiveness alone. I needed something else.

Anyway, I decided to go to church on Sunday with my sister and brother-in-law because they rant and rave about it all the time. There are some really cool things about it. They do lots of volunteer stuff, lots of philanthropy, etc., which I totally buy into. It's awesome. The sermon, however, was very difficult for me to bear. I wanted to scream. Instead, I took notes.

It was a sermon based on Paul's letter to the Romans about why we need Jesus. The preacher spent a lot of time talking about original sin, the need for Jesus's sacrifice, salvation coming from faith alone (sola fide), and your typical evangelical stuff that I don't really agree with. But because I was taking time to write notes, I actually got something besides intuition to defend myself against this doctrine.

Think about this: We wouldn't need the metaphysics of Christ's death on the cross if we didn't have the doctrine of original sin. Christ's death on the cross would still be significant and possibly necessary in some ways (like Paul Tillich points out), but it wouldn't be necessary for our eternal salvation if we didn't believe the story of Adam and Eve to be literally true.

The preacher used the exact phrase, "Only if Adam represents you on the garden can Christ represent you on the cross." This is an analogical induction that supports the idea that original sin makes it necessary for Jesus to die for us. Another way of phrasing the statement is that unless you accept the idea that we are by nature flawed, Christ's sacrifice is meaningless. Further, this idea points out that we are broken and without Jesus, we cannot be good. We are eternally lacking.

This argument is really not very solid at all. What about Buddhist monks? What about atheists who stand on the picket lines facing guns to fight selflessly for human rights? What about Jewish rabbis who exemplify virtue? If it's impossible to be good without Jesus, how do these things exist? How do we explain the 75% of the world that doesn't believe in Jesus, yet good things happen? It's silly to argue this exact evangelical position.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

It's beyond silly, it's nonsensical. But I don't bother arguing with fundamentalists. I don't accept the core premise of God as a necessary belief, so the rest of it becomes moot - Adam in the Garden? I'm not going to argue about a creation myth. The forgiveness of Jesus? This has no meaning for me since I only see him as one of the great (and human) teachers, like the Buddha. I flat do not accept the idea that morality, compassion, and so on are only possible for theists, so why would I accept that you need to be Christian, let alone a particular breed of Christian.

Don't get me wrong, I used to argue with great passion. And I will discuss it with people if they choose and it isn't going to degenerate into a shouting match. But mostly, I just go about my business and ignore those who feel they have the single path to Truth. Any path that leads you to be a better and more loving person is fine by me. But love includes tolerance.