Friday, January 03, 2003

Concerning Original Sin:

In Melanchthon's consideration of sin, from which he later turned away, is the definition that sin is fundamentally unbelief. And this unbelief not only is not the lack of faith of the individual, but it is the defining character of the common life of humanity. It is very dangerous to start to describe sin or the fruit of sin in terms of how it appears, in terms of its phenonema. Such attempts, however painstaking, run the risk of allowing us to define sin, and to continue the dominance of one group, class, nation, or race over the others. Sin may lurk behind all sorts of injustices but this article argues that sin is unbelief at its core. Just as God's righteousness is formed by Christ's cross, so is the unrighteousness rejected by that cross.

The sin-community into which we are born then is not a state where one attribute or part of the human being or humanity has failed or that there is a spiritual capacity that is weakened, light eyesight dimmed. Unbelief in the Confession's eyes is not a broken heart that needs to be fixed up or a longing that needs to be redirected. This is very strongly stressed in the Confession. The "Pelagians and others" are those late medieval Franciscans whose phrase "do what is in you" and "God does not require of any person more than that person can do" are singers who have not lost a voice in the choir of the world today. Sin is not a failing on our parts that we can remedy through our own attempts. As we will see in the article on Free Will in the Confession, there is no help for us in us.

As the later articles on Justification and The Office of Ministry state, "to obtain such a faith [i.e., justifying faith] God has ordained the office of preaching." Preachers have an important job here, not because they are the one's who get to point the finger at other people's dirty laundry or rile up the troops, but because they are the ones who are charged with the task of announcing the forgiveness of sin.

I am aware that my assignment is only to comment on Article II, but it is hard to do so when the article on sin already points to the forgiveness of that sin.

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