Note to My Readers: from mid-June to mid-August (6/18 - 8/20), I will be taking a summer break from posting new articles for my Thursday and Friday slots. This will only affect my Thursday series on the global growth of Christianity, and my Friday series, the "Theological Bestiary" of birds, both of which will resume in late August. During the summer, I'll be dusting off some of my best essays from the first few years of this blog (a decade ago), as well as my verse play "Thus Ends the World," and re-posting them in the Thursday and Friday slots. All other weekdays will continue to feature new material throughout the summer.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

95 Theses, #22-25: The Effects of Sin and the Fall

To see the introduction and disclaimers for my 95 Theses, first go to: 95-Theses-Introduction
Prerequisites: Theses #15-16, #17-19 and #20-21 


(Painting: "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden," by Thomas Cole, 1828, oil on canvas)

22.) The Effects of Sin - Human Nature - First, it affected the entire human community, which shares one common human nature. As a result of our spiritual ancestors choosing sin rather than God, human nature fell out of the more direct fellowship with God which enabled us to receive grace from him. Without that grace-which-enables-relationship-with-God, human nature becomes hardwired with an automatic predilection toward sin—in and of ourselves, we are not capable of the same freedom of choice Godwards as might have been possible for the very first humans. Thus, all humans sin.

23.)  The Effects of Sin - Death - Second, because human nature itself now became “sinful,” any further relationship with God was ruled out (except by participation in Christ, either before his coming—as with Israel—or after it). Without this, humanity lost the hope of everlasting life and suffered “death”—not only physical death, which was part of the nature of the material universe, and which itself constituted an obstacle to everlasting relationship with God, but also spiritual death—the loss of the participation in God’s grace, in which human nature becomes truly alive.

24.) The Effects of Sin: Bondage to Satan - Third, it placed us more directly under the power of Satan and the demons. As powerful spirit-beings who have oriented themselves away from God, they use their power to influence creation toward their own orientation. Sin, since it breaks our relationship with God, leaves us open to other influences than those of grace, and Satan takes advantage of this openness. Thus, when we chose to rebel against God, we in effect placed ourselves under the flag of the enemy’s camp. Satan’s kingdom, though, does not recruit humans to be governors or even soldiers; it only makes us slaves. 

25.) Effects of the Fall - As such, because of the Fall, humanity was in need of three things: healing of our nature from the disease of sin, deliverance from death, and freedom from the power of Satan. There is an added dimension, though, following from the fact that we are not only a unity (human nature) but a discrete plurality (individuals) at the same time. Since we all sin not merely by sharing in sinful human nature, but in individual acts, in an individual sense we are also in need of something that cleanses and rectifies our discrete sin-acts, not just the sinful deformity of human nature as a whole. It is perhaps worthless to speculate what would have happened if Adam and Eve—and all subsequent humans—had freely chosen to follow God. God in his foreknowledge and sovereignty knew what was to come, and so it was always God’s plan to join himself with humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. The incarnation was not a backup plan, it was the plan of God. In this sense, we can say with the early church fathers, “O happy Fall!” For because of the Fall, and, more precisely, because of the redemption from the Fall that we have in Christ, we are able to enter even more fully into the participation of the divine nature than even Adam and Eve ever could have dreamed.

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