A Note to My Readers -
I've decided to remove my Sunday posts from the weekly cycle. Although I hope they've been of benefit to some of you, they are necessarily secondary to my regular work of sermon preparation each week. I've found that having that extra post to write simply added to the burden of my work. For those readers who would still like access to my weekly work in Scriptural exposition, I would ask them to access the podcasts of my sermons (available through a link in the sidebar), since that remains the primary form of my Bible teaching each week.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

95 Theses, #20-21: Human Nature and the Fall

To see the introduction and disclaimers for my 95 Theses, first go to: 95-Theses-Introduction

Prerequisites: Theses #15-16 and #17-19 
                                                                ("The Fall," Michelangelo, 1509-1510, fresco in the Sistine Chapel)

20.) The Mystical Unity of Human Nature - Though in Western culture we often picture ourselves as atomized individuals, human beings are in fact deeply connected with one another in ways that affect their spiritual nature and status. To use C. S. Lewis’ analogy: from an outside, timeless perspective, humanity probably looks less like a series of atomized individuals and more like a great, spreading tree, intimately interconnected. Or, to use an analogy from contemporary physics: although we treat the fundamental building-blocks of our world as “particles,” they actually behave just as much like interconnected waves—in the same way, humans, though we might seem disconnected with each other, share in one “human nature” which mystically connects us all. (This one of the core idea of much patristic thought on human nature). Because of this connection, all human beings, regardless of developmental or mental ability, share in the spiritual nature of the human race and will be raised up to eternal life because of what Christ has done in redeeming human nature. From the very first human beings who were brought by divine creation across that threshold into a qualitatively different sort of “mind” than other created things, all human beings have shared in the identity, privileges, and problems of human nature.

21.) The Fall - Following from that premise, we can now address the classical Christian doctrine of “the Fall.” Christian tradition takes this term to refer to the effects of humanity’s choice to orient itself toward itself rather than toward God. When the first humans came into existence, capable of maintaining relationship with God, mind to mind and spirit to spirit, they chose, as Satan also had, to make themselves the kings of their own lives rather than to follow God. Irenaeus suggests that humanity was created in a state of moral infancy, and God’s intention was for them to grow into ever greater knowledge of Him through relationship with him. Humans chose not to pursue this course, and in disobeying God, they sinned. But this sin should be thought of more in Irenaeus’ terms than in our later Western theological tradition—it was not so much a fall from moral innocence into culpability as it was a missing of the mark, a failure to fulfill our telos as human beings and pursue the road of learning love. (More discussion on why this particular tack, rather than a primary view of sin as legal crime against God, has been taken, will be forthcoming in Theses #57-58.)

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