Sunday, 3 December 2006
Adam didn't do it!
Are we all really bad people who deserve to fry in an eternal place of punishment; imperfect, flawed and inherently evil? That's the view of the twice-born brethren who have a very dim view of human nature indeed. The Eternal is just so downright Holy, in the impassibly, impossibly Calvinist sense, that he (oops, He) just can't wait to clean His Multiverse up by purging Creation of these disgusting, dirty, sinful beings who screwed up His master plan - us.
"I a poor miserable sinner confess unto thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have offended thee and for which I justly deserve Thy temporal and eternal punishment…" (Lutheran liturgy)
Trouble is that the myths of Genesis - Adam sinning, a perfect Edenic world corrupted by human choice - is clearly well short of the mark. Millions of years before the first humans spread abroad on the African plains, carnivorous dinosaurs preyed on their herbivorous cousins. Death was a reality from well before the first trilobite did the backstroke off Gondwanaland. The travail of agony and unfairness, blood and pain, goes back well beyond any apple eating homo sapien. Adam didn't do it.
Dennis Diehl tackles these issues in his latest column, and as usual it's well worth clicking across.
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Bad child rearing.
That--and in the case of the Radio / Worldwide Church of God--learning from the bad example of the ministry.
I have hated the Augustinian-Calvinist concept of Original Sin. I have found the Eastern Orthodox view much more humane and definately a heck of a lot less misanthropic on the human race. This website at http://www.sullivan-county.com/z/original_sin2.htm touches upon the subject.
First, let me say I appreciate the honesty and humility, and lack of arrogance of Dennis' writing style.
Also, his thinking "outside the box". I think there needs to be a lot more thinking outside the box, as long as thinking is involved in the exercise.
Please forgive the awkward flow of my writing, I am not a writer.
As I usually do, in the infrequent times I write on this web site, I will mention I still believe in the basic teachings of the Church of God.
Two teachings where I deviate from this (would be considered by many in the COG to be heresy--and both are directly related to the context of this latest writing by Dennis) are:
1. I believe Christ did NOT pre-exist. He came into existence when he was conceived in Mary's womb.
2. I tend (let me stress the word tend) to believe in universal salvation.
More about both points later.
I think Dennis knows(having been a WCG pastor for 3 decades) the Church of God (I use Church of God to include virtually all the splinters and the old WCG teachings---does not include the present WCG) has never taught the concept of original sin.(at least since I've been in the Church, 1967)
From my perspective the Church of God did not "use" the teaching we were created with human nature, that is, a heart that is predominately deceitful and desperately wicked, as the Book says, properly. It was used more as a "club" to beat us up. I think it should have been taught that,yes we were created with this mind and heart, but this is what God did, it is not our fault, it should not be something we should be ashamed of, it is simply fact, and has everything to do with the plan of God.
I do not claim to understand much about why God did this. My limited understanding leads me to believe that since humans have such an incredible potential, that is co-heirs with Christ, then God must realize what we have to struggle agaisnt to become that. That being, whatever Christ is we will be, with him always having the preeminence.
Back to my heresy--- that Christ did not pre-exist. A logical question would be, why didn't God create all of us like he did Christ?
My insight on this question?
I don't know.
I have some speculations that are probably not any more insightful than any of you could come up with. It is God's plan. It is not ours. There is really no comparison, at this point, between his thinking and ours. All we have to do is look around, look at the complexity of any one little thing he has created, and if we have 3 brain cells we must conclude that.......in my opinion.
Concerning our thinking ability, I infrequently mention a little joke I always enjoy telling...Even if God created us morally perfect, which he did not .....life would not work.......................
we are too stupid.
My second heresy, universal salvation.
It seems to me--- once God makes it abundantly clear, as only he is capable of doing, what our choices are, all of us will choose rightly.
I know there are a number of scriptures that talk about eternal death, etc. I think we tend NOT to read the Book in the context it was written. That is in the context of the plan of God, in the context of first fruits, etc.
We all know traditional Christianity has no clue about the concept of first fruits. Guess what, the Church of God probably has no clue as to what happens after the millennium.
Great white throne judgment and if you don't choose right then it's all over for you. Of course, we got that teaching directly and explicitly from God.
So, I know the feeling of what Dennis wrote about. I know how frustrating it is to listen to people who think they have all the answers.(is is a lot less than it used to be--aging tends to do that)
For the most part, I don't get frustrated much anymore. But it is still annoying.(smile)
Dennis's excellent, well-considered article shows the results of what happens to humans when they are in some way naturally "twice-born" in orientation, or, as is more likely, not naturally "twice-born" but have fallen prey to the powerful guilt-dogma of the truly "twice-born". See William James' "The Variety of Religious Experience", an overall brilliant analysis of religion from the early psychological viewpoint of the beginning of the 20th century. James argued that people tend to fall into two categories (let's hasten to add that he was really focused on the experience of Western civilization; as with his contemporary, Freud, his theories don't adequately take into account the very different perspectives found in the Eastern world): once-born and twice-born. The once-born seem naturally content with their lives, and consider that they are worthy of happiness now, and in whatever afterlife there may be. They do not feel as if they are "sinners" by virtue of being born human. They may feel guilt at specific wrongs that they do, but they do not feel that their occasional missteps define their essential nature. The twice-born seem to feel a great weight of guilt/sin on their shoulders, and anxiously seek divine remedy to somehow remove that yoke. Augustine was a prime example (although perhaps his fanatic Christian mother, Monica, was responsible for instilling in him much of his pent-up guilt). So were Calvin and Luther, to one degree or another. The twice-borns have sought to control the rest of the populace over many centuries. The Renaissance and Enlightenment served to open the way for the once-borns to be free of the oppression of twice-born guilt-dogma. Western Europe seems still to be free of the load of guilt, but many in the U.S. still willingly or just unthinkingly allow themselves to be bent down with the idea that they are worthless sinners by virtue of their being born, and that their lives are less than dung in the eyes of their Creator (which begs the question: why was the Creator so incompetent as to create beings that he loathes? Answer that, hard-core Calvinists and Augustinians!). For one of the most horrific sermons ever given by a twice-born (although he was intentionally using fear for a specific purpose, to "awaken" his audience), read "Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God", delivered in 1741 by the Congregationalist (read: Puritan) clergyman, Jonathan Edwards. It seems that Edwards was specifically yelling out dire warnings to all of the once-borns who just didn't seem to "get" how awfully sinful they were, and that they had no right to expect their Creator to feel anything but loathing for them.
"I have hated the Augustinian-Calvinist concept of Original Sin. I have found the Eastern Orthodox view much more humane and definately a heck of a lot less misanthropic on the human race."
Felix, you may find the following to be of interest:
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