Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sin: Hereditary disease or poison?

In the latest news from the Vatican, the Catholic Church has updated its thou-shalt-not list. Church officials aren't creating new sins, of course, only drawing attention to some of the newer ways that humanity wanders from the divine will, including pollution, genetic manipulation, drug abuse and economic social injustice.

Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti said, "If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a weight, a resonance, that's especially social, rather than individual."

Social sin? Yikes! It's a lot more comfortable to think of sin on the individual level, especially if you think of it as breaking a specific set of rules. Then it's easy to point to someone like, say, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, and label him a sinner and yourself as righteous. It gets more dicey if, as Jesus taught, attitudes are just as bad as actions: being angry at someone is no better than killing him. Sin is missing the mark, straying from the right path, leaving the way of love.

But if sin is greater than an individual act or attitude -- if it extends to the acts and attitudes of the community at large -- then it is truly impossible to escape. We are born into sin.

And that is what I think is the real meaning of "original sin": We are born into a broken world that values power over love. That world cuts and scars us, enslaves and corrupts us. It is not that we carry some sort of hereditary disease called sin, but that we are poisoned by exposure to it.

This is not ultra-orthodox Christian doctrine, as I'm sure some readers will be happy to point out.

What do you make of sin, individual or social?

21 comments:

Iztok said...

I find "social injustice" very interesting coming from Catholic Church considering it's legacy during feudal age.

pornstudent said...

If we are sinners because we are born into a sinful society, would a child given by his parents at birth to a family of chimps be without sin? Or, is the whole world, including chimpanzee societies and schools of fish, ruled by sin? If the whole world is bad, then why bother preserving any of it?

Jane's meaning of "original sin" is more useful and caring than the hereditary one; but, I want to love the world as it is, including the things I'd like to change. For me, to think any aspect of the world as sinful is to love it less.

D.J. said...

Jane,

As you predicted, I have to disagree, not because what you're saying isn't "ultra-orthodox Christian doctrine," but because it just isn't supported by Scripture. You are simply taking an idea present and fleshed out in Scripture (original sin) and redefining it to suit your own ideas and tastes. I believe that we must hold fast to the truths given to us by God through Scripture, or in essense we end up setting ourselves up as the final arbiters of truth - and thus we get the pluralism that so dominates western thought. If we're going to define original sin as something external to humanity rather than internal, I have to agree that pornstudent makes a very good point in his post.

As to your final question, I would answer both. Sin does have social aspects, but at day's end, what is a society but a collection of individuals? Each is responsible for his or her own sin.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

Let me see if I can help clear up what original sin is. It is not a "blot" on our souls. It is a state of being, a condition.

From the CCC, 405 -- "Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called "concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle."

Original sin is a condition we are born into, not a personal sin we inherit. It is, by the Fall of Adam and Eve, the condition of being born outside the original holiness and justice God imparted upon mankind.

Baptism returns us to a state/condition of holiness and justice -- one we freely choose to walk away from when he sin thereafter. But this story still has a good ending -- the Sacrament of Reconciliation once again returns us to a condition of original holiness and justice each and every time we avail ourselves of it!

D.J. said...

Danbo59 said...
"Baptism returns us to a state/condition of holiness and justice -- one we freely choose to walk away from when he sin thereafter. But this story still has a good ending -- the Sacrament of Reconciliation once again returns us to a condition of original holiness and justice each and every time we avail ourselves of it!"

I'm curious to know how you back these ideas Scripturally.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

DJ said, "I'm curious to know how you back these ideas Scripturally."

I am sure you are.

If the "ideas" you refer to regard the "definition of original sin," it has its basis in both Scripture (Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:22) and in Sacred Tradition (much of it discerned at the Council of Trent (1546)). As you (a believer in Martin Luther's invention of Sola Scriptura) do not recognize Sacred Tradition there is no point in trying to make my case to you, DJ.

D.J. said...

Actually my question was more about how you justify your ideas on baptism (that it negates original sin) and the sacrament of reconciliation and its effects. You are right - I do not believe that tradition as defined by the Catholic Church is infallible and authoritative - but I do believe that Scripture is. Do these ideas have a basis in Scripture or are they drawn from tradition only?

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

Let it go, DJ. I'm not getting drawn into that. It is pointless for to debate with anyone whose idea of spreading the "Good News" includes telling others who is and who isn't damned to Hades.

D.J. said...

Danbo59 said...
"It is pointless for to debate with anyone whose idea of spreading the "Good News" includes telling others who is and who isn't damned to Hades."

Care to give an example of me doing that?

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

Dj,

In your opinion, can the Dalai Lama die a Buddhist and enter the kingdom of heaven?

D.J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.J. said...

Danbo59 said...
"In your opinion, can the Dalai Lama die a Buddhist and enter the kingdom of heaven?"

We've had this discussion before. I believe that Scripture clearly says no, thus that is what I believe. Does that fact make me unfit to discuss or debate with? Have I been going around this blog telling people that they're going to hell?

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danbo59 said...

dj said, "I believe that Scripture clearly says no, thus that is what I believe. Does that fact make me unfit to discuss or debate with? Have I been going around this blog telling people that they're going to hell?"

I think you just did.

My Scripture tells me this --

The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." -- Mk 10:24-27

If a "rich" man -- whom the disciples took to mean most people (we are all "rich" in ways other than money) -- can be saved because 'All things are possible for God' then so can the Dalai Lama.

D.J. said...

Danbo59 said…
“I think you just did.”

Wow.

Person A: You’ve been going around telling everyone that fire trucks are red.

Person B: No I haven’t.

Person A: What color are fire trucks?

Person B: Red.

Person A: I told you so.

“My Scripture tells me this --

The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." -- Mk 10:24-27

If a "rich" man -- whom the disciples took to mean most people (we are all "rich" in ways other than money) -- can be saved because 'All things are possible for God' then so can the Dalai Lama.”

All things are possible with God, yes. However, God has stated explicitly that he will not do certain things. For example, Scripture also says,

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Here, we are told some individuals who will not enter the kingdom of God. Would you say that a thief or a swindler will inherit the kingdom of God? After all, all things are possible with God, right? Mark 10:27 is not meant to be a trump card that overrules any other statement God makes about who he is or how he will act. Christ was stressing the fact that salvation by human means alone is impossible – but what is impossible for man is possible for God – through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ. However, Scripture further clarifies who will receive that salvation – those who put their faith in Christ.

I believe I originally asked you to explain an aspect of your post on the original topic of original sin. You said that I was unfit to discuss or debate with because of my views on the exclusivity of the gospel. You don’t have to agree with my belief, but I find that attitude of dismissal to be unwarranted. I think my record on this blog validates the fact that I have been civil and very open to intelligent discussion.

Soli Deo Gloria

BlueRooster12 said...

Sin started in the Garden of Eden, Eve was deceived by Satan but none the less sinned. Adam listened to Eve but by his own choice elected to Sin against his Father. No one was forced to make a decision it was of each persons own free will.

Sin is personal; sin is hereditary because our father Adam chose to give our inheritance of dominion (authority) over to the Father of Lies. The world is in decay just as man is because of this one decision of Adam.

What is sin? The Word is the only place you will find what sin is. If you don’t believe in the Word then you don’t believe in sin and you will make your own justifiable list of what sin is to you. You will more then likely list what some sins are and the majority will be what your morals dictate.

The Word is true and some people will not put their trust in the Word and that is okay for YHWH knows who He has made and for what purposes He has made them. Some people will never put their faith in Y’shua and have that fellowship with Him that others do. Being obedient to Y’shua and walking in His Righteousness is a much better life then to walk the wide path that many walk on.

To be set free from sin is an every day fellowship with Y’shua if not we could ask for salvation, receive our salvation and then continue to be the un-set apart people of this world.

Danbo59 said...

dj said, "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Now which of these is the Dalai Lama, again?

Danbo59 said...

dj, you keep using that Bible of yours as a weapon against your fellow man -- I'll use it as a weapon against Satan. Thanks!

D.J. said...

danbo59 said...
"Now which of these is the Dalai Lama, again?"

I think it's more than clear to anyone who read my post that I was making an illustrative parallel to your argument - not applying that passage to the Dalai Lama.

danbo said...
"dj, you keep using that Bible of yours as a weapon against your fellow man"

And out comes the straw man - rational discussion stands no chance! :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Gamecock said...

Every man chooses to be his own God, including those that were placed in Eden. Of course, a society populated by imperfect individuals can't be made to produce utopia via social constructs. Christ came to make it possible for individuals to choose to be molded into heavenly creatures, ie to be sons of God and inherit eternal life.

rod said...

Jane makes a good point, that we are born into a fallen and broken world, which tries its best to corrupt us. Yet I believe we also start life with a bit of in-born rebellion. I'm starting to see that develop in my baby grandson, and I'm sure anyone who has watched a child grow up has seen the same. At the right age, every child takes it into his/her head to do things their own way.

We don't normally shed that tendancy as we mature, and as adults, we choose our way instead of God's way, and He calls that "sin".

So then, sin springs from our own rebellious, independent spirits, given a considerable boost by the corrupted world around us.