Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

C.S. Lewis wrote about religious diversity in several places throughout his work. There is debate over whether he was an exclusivist or inclusivist. One work in which he discusses the problem is The Last Battle, part of the Chronicles of Narnia. The scene is in Aslan’s country (heaven). In it, Emeth, who is not from Narnia, find himself in Aslan’s country, along with all of those who have believed in and been lead by Aslan (Jesus). Emeth has worshiped Tash (false God/satan/demon). This is how he describes his meeting with Aslan in Aslan’s Country.
Our next posts will be focusing on the problem of religious diversity and presenting our own views on how Christianity handles it. Some posts will respond to this scene, others will simply write about the problem. The scene is below (Emeth is speaking):

“So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size as an elephant’s; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert.Then I fell at his feet and thought, ‘Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.’

“But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, ‘Son, thou art welcome.’

“But I said, ‘Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.’

“He answered, ‘Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.’

“Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, ‘Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?’

“The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, ‘It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child?’

“I said, ‘Lord, though knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.’

“‘Beloved,’ said the Glorious One, ‘unless they desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what the truly seek.’

“Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much, but that we should meet again, and ‘I must go further up and further in.’ Then he turned him about in a storm and flurry of gold and was gone suddenly.

“And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog-”

I’m going to take a slightly different approach than J.W. on this one. One thing I’ve been learning/thinking about while going through a Systematic Theology class at our church is that everything must be viewed through the lens of its relevance to the truth of Christianity. There are three levels of this, and they are as follows:

1)   Primary issues – essential beliefs to Christianity (e.g. Jesus is God, any issue dealing with salvation)
2)   Secondary issues – not essential to the truth of Christianity, but still very important (e.g. inerrancy of Scripture)
3)   Tertiary issues – more dogmatic things (e.g. views on the Rapture, Calvinism vs. Arminianism)

Where does original sin fall? I would consider it a primary issue, because if salvation is a primary issue, it doesn’t become an issue at all unless there is something that we need salvation from.

Now Christians generally agree that man is born inherently sinful. No arguments there. Paul further refers to original sin as “the sin of Adam.” (Romans 5:12). This of course begs the question why sin entered the world with Adam, since it was Eve that ate the fruit first. Part of me likes to think that Adam first sinned by not assuming the responsibility that God had entrusted to him by giving him Eve. He was falling down on the job; he wasn’t being the king, warrior, mentor or friend that God had called him to be (see Stu Weber’s Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart for this reference).

So Adam gave us a sin nature, it seems. J.W. appears to be on the right track here. We can’t have been given our sin nature from God, because God doesn’t have sin in His nature to give. It is something that makes man different from God; Norm Geisler calls this distinction “potentiality.” God has pure Actuality, and it is this He can give us and does give us in things like morality, love, wisdom, etc. But He cannot give what He does not have in His nature, which is sin.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we all possess a piece of Adam’s soul. But we do inherit the nature of his potentiality, and it is this that makes us sinful, and therefore finite in nature and also in understanding. It’s this sin that blocks our view of God’s Actuality, because we are separate beings from God due to this sin. We can understand what God is like, but not who He is in a perfect sense. I can dive more deeply into this in the comments section if anyone would like, but it seems to me that this would be a good stopping point for digestion and reflection.

Ultimately it all points to the need for a Savior, and thankfully our Father loves us enough to send us His Son to die once for all original sin we possess. Amen!

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The preceding post is the property of Christian Diversity (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author.

[Editor’s note: this post has been thoroughly reworked due to some invigorating discussion in the comment section. Check out the refined version here.]

Original Sin Defined

The writers of the Augsburg Confession (found in the Book of Concord) defined Original Sin as the belief that “…since the fall of Adam all human beings who are propagated according to nature are born with sin, that is, without fear of God… [we] teach that this disease or original fault is truly sin, which even now damns and brings eternal death to those who are not born again through baptism and the Holy Spirit” (BOC, 39).

One Objection

Ezekiel 18:20a states, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.”

The word used for “soul” in this passage is the Hebrew word, nephesh. This passage leads to the objection that original sin cannot be true as I have outlined it, because it involves the son inheriting the guilt of the father.

The Question of the Soul: A Metaphysic of Original Sin

Three views of the soul are prevalent in Christianity. All of them presuppose metaphysical dualism. They are:

1) Our soul is constructed just as our physical body: Our soul is a half-and-half combination of the souls of our mother and father. One problem with this view is that it seems to treat the soul as a physical object. How exactly does a non-physical entity get combined half-and-half into a new non-physical entity. It certainly isn’t impossible, however. This view is quite popular.

2)  God specially creates each soul for each person when he/she is conceived/born/etc. Alternatively, God has already created every soul for everyone who will ever live, and puts them in a body when one is needed. The main problem with this view is that it would seem that if original sin is true (in the sense I have outlined it above), then God creates sinful souls for us.

3) Our soul is from Adam. There are no new souls for mankind, rather, we all share, in some sense, Adam’s soul.

I shall focus on 3) because it is the view I am forwarding. In Genesis 2:7, we are told that God breathed the breath (nephesh) of life into Adam. I contend that this (nephesh), which is in all humanity (and has been alternatively explained as our reason, soul, life, ethical awareness, etc.) is indeed our soul. Furthermore, because this nephesh is the same as that breathed into Adam, original sin is passed on, not through the inheritance simply of our parents’ genes, but through the fact that we share one and the same nephesh with Adam.

So how does this answer the objection from Ezekiel 18:20? Initially, one may argue it seems to purge the passage of all meaning. This is not the case, however. What Ezekiel is referring to is the sin of commission. That is, it refers to a sin which requires an action. Ezekiel is telling us that the actions of the father do not condemn the actions of the son. This does not, however, preclude the original sin, through which all are condemned equally.

Source:

The Book of Concord. Augsburg Fortress. 2000.

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The preceding post is the property of Christian Diversity (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author.

The purpose of this site is outlined in our mission statement:

Christianity has been separated into divisions over denominational, cultural, and theological lines, yet the message of Christianity remains the same for all generations: Christ crucified for our sins. We at ‘Christian Diversity’ seek to demonstrate that while Christianity may be divided institutionally, we are of one mind spiritually. We affirm ‘Mere Christianity’, which is the belief that Christianity is ultimately this faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We affirm the Three Ecumenical Creeds (The Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds).

The goal of ‘Christian Diversity’ is to discuss doctrinal differences on matters not essential to the faith. We understand that the goal of total ecumenism–that is, the unity of all churches–may be out of reach, but we strive to come to the understanding that all Christians are saved, and there are no divisions among us when it comes to Christ. Thus, while we may disagree on many of the issues we discuss, we continue to strive towards a better understanding of our fellow Christians and increase unity with them. This will serve to strengthen us as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our motto comes from St. Paul, who writes in 1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.