The Sin of Adam, Augustine and the Modern Church

The other day I was listening to a podcast where a few different Christians were discussing the revered church father Augustine.  Honestly, I have always disliked the attitudes of Augustine towards sexuality.  This is an extreme caricature of Augustine’s attitudes, but when I read his book Confessions I got the impression that he would have made the following prayer:

Oh Lord, I freely confess my horrible, wicked and evil sin!  I was a pure and righteous man except for the wicked, evil and horrible gift of sexuality that you gave mankind!  If only you wouldn’t have given us this wicked, horrible, evil, rotten gift, I would have been completely pure and righteous like Jesus.  Unfortunately, you decided to inflict evil upon me!  Praise to your holy name!

As I read his words, I remember thinking, “Dude stop being such a wimp and man up!  The gift of sexuality is not evil.  You were the one who is responsible for corrupting a good gift given by God.  Your evil and your fault.”

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)

When I later became a Christian, Augustine’s attitude reminded me of the attitude that Adam had after he ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.  (Genesis 3:12)

Now the reason I mention this is because I believe that the sin of Adam and the sin of Augustine is alive to this very day in the Christian doctrine of original sin.  Ask any Christian why God allowed us to fall in the Garden of Eden and you will get a shrug of the shoulders.  “It is a great mystery.  We would have been loving and perfect just like Jesus Christ, but God decided for some reason to allow us to fall.  We have no idea why God inflicted this evil on us.  It must be better somehow but we don’t know how.”

To me this attitude is ridiculous.  Christians act as if being as loving and perfect as Jesus Christ is as easy as falling off a turnip truck.  Have you tried this love your neighbour as yourself command?  Have you tried to love God with all your heart soul and mind?  I have and these commands are harder than anything I have ever done before!  Why do Christians insist that loving others and God is so easy that we would have been righteous and holy like God if only He hadn’t allowed us to fall?

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.  (Romans 1:25)

It is time for the church to man up and acknowledge the Supremacy of Jesus Christ.  In contrast to the traditional Christian doctrine of original sin, the truth is that mankind is inherently evil.  That is to say,  no created being can be perfectly loving or good without divine assistance.  In the Garden of Eden, God demonstrated that human beings could not even obey the simplest possible command.  As the consequence of this failure, God placed us in a world that demonstrates our need of God’s provision, protection and forgiveness.  We were put in this world not as a punishment for Adam eating a fruit, but in order that we might see our need for divine assistance in the person of our glorious Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This understanding answers a number of fundamental questions about God’s plan.

What is the purpose of this world?

That we might accept our need for the forgiveness of God through the glorious cross of Jesus Christ and the blood he shed for us on the cross.

Why does God want us to accept our need for Christ?

That we might be empowered through the Holy Spirit indwelling us to be able to love our neighbours and God forever.

What is hell?

God has given all men the gift of eternal life.  Without divine assistance to live a life of love and joy, this freely given gift of God to all men would be hellish.  Hell is God’s gift of eternal life without God’s gift of guidance, forgiveness and love in Jesus Christ our Lord.

About Robert V

Former atheist currently living in Toronto.
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