Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Our false sense of ourselves.

Theological error is at the root of all other errors of the Modern Age. The idea that man’s most fundamental nature is that of a homo economicus, a rational agent whose chief end is material possession, is the common basis of both economic liberalism or capitalism and socialism. At its heart it is a denial of the classical and Christian idea that man has a spiritual as well as a physical nature and that the spiritual ought to rule the animal nature. The idea that most or all of human suffering can be eliminated by reorganizing society economically, socially, and politically is rooted in the ancient heresy of Pelagianism for it is a denial of the fact that since the Fall, human nature itself has been afflicted with the flaw of Original Sin, which is the true source of all human suffering, an affliction for which there is no economic, social, or political cure.[1]
Deluded mankind made pride the keystone of the modern age. Skepticism respecting savior government would go a long way to restoring sanity to the world but few exercise it. Tragedy chastens people in a way that reason cannot but, until it strikes, men still think they are bulletproof and willingly listen to deceivers. Antibiotics and other wonders of science and technology fuel the perception of infinitely capable mankind. And deception wins out. So long as that is the case, Western man is mostly in the grip of insane delusion. Exactly how did Bruce Jenner think his first date was going to go after things got interesting on the couch?

Even in the 18th century, Samuel Johnson understood man’s limitations:

How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!
Not being a man of faith the idea of original sin seems flawed on its face, as it is a plain injustice to afflict subsequent generations with the sins of the ancestors. HowEVerrrr, it captures well some part of life that is beyond our control or understanding and is as good an explanation as any for why some things just can't come together. It’s impossible to understand how the filth who murdered Shannon Christian and Christopher Newsome in Nashville could have such savagery in their souls. But, they did and we’ll never understand that evil or extirpate it from such two-legged brutes.

We can only understand that it is there and prepare to inflict savage punishments that eliminate such people from society in one way or another. It not necessary to understand them, only to understand that they chose of their own free will to transgress the boundaries of decent society. Unlike ourselves, people in medieval England understood the concept of outlawry. Transgress the norms and the protection of the law is removed from you. It's quite different to enlightened modern Americans -- if someone else transgresses, the protection of the law is removed from the victim. Good luck with that bulletproof self defense argument.

I always say, when you want theological enlightenment this is your go-to blog!

[1] "Assorted Reflections." By Gerry T. Neal, Throne, Altar, and Liberty, 9/17/18.


Francis W. Porretto said...

-- Not being a man of faith the idea of original sin seems flawed on its face, as it is a plain injustice to afflict subsequent generations with the sins of the ancestors. --

Well, being a man of faith, it is my solemn responsibility to inform you that you are absolutely correct. A just God would do no such thing, and Christianity generally has made peace with this. The concept of Original Sin has undergone considerable re-evaluation in recent years. That makes sense in light of the realization – which took one hell of a long time for Scriptural scholars to reach – that the account of the Fall in Genesis must necessarily be allegorical. The signs are all present.

In some measure, the “original concept of Original Sin” is an inheritance from Christianity’s Judaic birthplace. Jesus of Nazareth traveled and ministered among the Jews of First-Century Judea, which gave rise to two contending groups: those who embraced and followed Him, and those who opposed Him to the point of fanaticism. But both those groups arose among the Jews. All Twelve Apostles were originally Jews. Paul of Tarsus, who rose to prominence both as an evangelist and as a source of doctrine, was a Pharisee before his “road to Damascus” epiphany. In consequence, Christianity has been dragging some Judaic legacies along with it that it should have known better than to embrace. Original Sin, in my estimation and that of many other Christians, is one of them.

Col. B. Bunny said...

Thanks. I have been unaware of any mutterings about OS. I always assumed it to be bedrock doctrine.

"Human cussedness" or "human fallibility" seem like superior concepts free of the stigma of "sin" inherited from A&E. I agree that the Fall is allegorical but it imperfectly captures the idea of fallibility with that admixture of blame.

More useful to harp on man's innate weaknesses (sloth, pride, blogging, etc.) and, in particular, the danger of thinking that you can know stuff (good and evil). People can relate to that and the approach of AA seems to be effective in getting alcoholics to admit that they're helpless in the face of their primary defect.