There are a few things that people aren’t comfortable with nowadays in terms of Christian doctrine. One of them is the Fall or original sin.
I guess there are a few reasons why people don’t like the thought of original sin. One of them is that people like to think they’re good. Another reason is that it seems to offer no hope. We have no chance of doing the right thing if we are fallen human beings. Or perhaps another reason is that we like to tell everyone they’re okay nowadays. Self-help books of full of the kind of pep talk that is designed to make people feel good about themselves. Even Bon Jovi has a line saying ‘Remember that you’re perfect, God makes no mistakes.’ We love to feel good about ourselves nowadays. The only time guilt is allowed is when it’s going to make you go out and buy something. Guilt about germs, yes! Guilt about moral choices, definitely not.
Yet removing the doctrine of original sin may make us feel better about ourselves, but I think it leads to a far more despairing view of the world. If there is no original sin, if there was no fall, then that means this world is exactly the way God intended it to be. We’re all just acting according to God’s plans.
I don’t know about you, but if this world is exactly the way God intended it to be, then something is seriously wrong. We hurt people. We think way too much of ourselves. We look after our own self-interests. We either cause or allow injustice and oppression. We destroy the earth that God has given us. We have turned our back on God, each other and the world we live in.
And I sincerely hope that this is not the way God planned it!
Sometimes when I see something particularly depressing on the news or someone tells me a story about the hurt they have gone through, I think this isn’t the way life is meant to be. And of course, this isn’t the way life was meant to be. God planned a better world. But because he loves us, he gave us free will and we have used that free will to reject God’s plans. We have gone our own way, and the mess we see in the world is a result.
Yet the Fall also offers hope. But although it says human beings are born sinful, the bible always tells us that Christ has died to redeem us. Furthermore, even in the mess we see, the mess we have created, God is present. And He is continuously at work, bringing about his purposes. We may have gone against God’s plans, but God has a new plan - and therefore, a new hope.
If there was no Fall, then it would appear that this world is as good as it gets. If we’re not sinful, then what hope do we really have? But because there was a Fall and there is sin, there is also redemption. And Christ offers hope to a sinful, fallen world.
|Original Sin by Michiel Coxie, ca. 1550|