A good friend of mine asked me to weigh in on a matter that he is having to rigorously defend in his doctoral program...the concept of original sin. Here's what I wrote back to him. I thought you might enjoy it too.
Some thoughts from my experience....
My general approach is to go back beyond the challenging idea of original sin and talk about the bigger issue behind it. How do we resolve the problem of an absolutely good and all powerful God co-existing with a world in which there is undeniable evil? Once we can settle that both of these are firm realities, then we can deduce that evil is more evil and a bigger problem than we prefer to imagine. Something has gone terribly wrong with God's good and beloved creation. Evil is, and has always been, bloody...literally. Why should it surprise us that it was necessarily mitigated by the blood of God? If original sin does not seem "fair", it is outdone by the "unfairness" of the suffering and death of Jesus that paved the way for us to be saved as a free gift that cost the Father and Son so much. Talk about unfair!!
From there, I tend to focus on a more personal front. Am I willing to see that I also have contributed to the evil in the world, when left to myself? It's not just other people "out there" who are culpable. Why have I chosen to sin...am I not prone by a fallen nature to stray from what is just and true? Lewis said something like, "We many not be able to explain fully the mystery of evil, but we all must face its fact." And I must face the fact of it within my own heart and life experience! This, the Scripture makes clear, requires a personal revelation from the Holy Spirit called "conviction".
With this more personal focus, I hear about God humbling Himself to take on and suffer the penalty for my imperfection...laying His life down for me through Jesus...and my offense of not knowing the depths of "why" and the dynamics of "how" things have gone so wrong with God's good creation melt away in grateful relief. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of God that I can see as easily as I see the problem of evil and know it to also be a great mystery. Then I hear the promise of receiving a "heart transplant" in Christ so that I become prone toward justice and truth and I find it a deal that is hard to refuse. So I am willing to bear the "stigma" of believing in original sin...that human genetics...undoubtedly powerful stuff...are universally infected by an alien force called sin. That is takes a personal revelation from the Holy Spirit to accept this makes sense to me.
However, there is something more original than sin! It is the image of God stamped upon us by creation. This foundation is the basis for the value that God places on us from before birth. Psalm 139 reveals this truth. Through the appearing of Jesus, the soul finds its worth! The mystery of it all humbles our curious minds and reduces us to worship and gratitude (our proper position) and wonderfully fuels our ongoing worship of God and service of loving God and our neighbor.
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.