Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Battling Sin, Living in Hope

"Original sin" means different things, depending on who you listen to. I'm a Catholic, so my take on it isn't what quite a few Americans believe. I'll get back to ideas like 'God doesn't make junk' after plugging another person's blog.

I ran into this today:
"Is Christianity an Oppressive Imposition of Rules?"
John Janaro, Never Give Up (July 23, 2012)

" Too many people (even Catholics) think that the essence of Christianity consists in a series of moral demands, most of which are impossible to keep, and which therefore result in making us feel guilty and making our lives gloomy. People even tend to think of doctrine not so much as the expression of God's revelation as the 'stuff that we are required to believe even though it doesn't make any sense.'

"An external, oppressive imposition of rules. No wonder so many people abandon Christianity.

"But this is not the Gospel...."
I recommend reading the rest of that post. Mr. Janaro 'gets it.' Christianity - Catholicism, anyway - is about hope. Also faith and charity.

'Oh Woe, All Ye Faithful?'

I've explained why I became a Catholic. When I got around to studying what the Church actually said, not the stuff I read in magazines, I discovered an outfit with a faith that makes sense. I had been taking a hard look at major religions, including Christianity, because much of what I'd been hearing was silly: at best.

The "Christianity" I heard on the radio was often a weird mixture of numerology, fortune-telling, and Bible trivia: mixed with hatred of commies, rock music, and anything learned since about 1800. Those folks seemed dedicated to "...making us feel guilty and making our lives gloomy...."

'Happy Time Gospel:' Not a New Notion

At another end of the emotional spectrum from those grim disciples of malignant virtue, there's the lot I'll call the 'happy time gospel glee club.' The 'prosperity gospel' is one iteration of this approach to faith: and a mistake. (January 27, 2009)

In a way, I sympathize with folks who want to believe that:
  • Nobody goes to Hell
  • Everybody has a future of eternal groovyness
  • God
    • Doles out happiness
    • Is a sort of benevolent and senile grandfather
That's not the way things are, but it feels a lot better than the 'you're damned if you disagree with me' theology I've heard elsewhere. I've written about Hell and hope before:

'Do-It-Yourself Virtue:' An Old Idea

The idea that people don't need the grace of God, that we can be 'really good people' and get into Heaven on our own, isn't new:
"the theological doctrine put forward by Pelagius which denied original sin and affirmed the ability of humans to be righteous; condemned as heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431"
(Princeton's WordNet)
The Church said Pleagius was wrong. But the Church didn't say that God had made a race of utterly vile creatures, either. 'God doesn't make junk,' and I've been over that before.

'God is Unnecessary;' 'Virtue is Impossible;' and Getting a Grip

If you think the following outline doesn't entirely capture the nuances of Pelagianism and the 'doom disciples:' I agree entirely. All I'm trying to do is sketch out the general outline of these beliefs:
  • Pelagius
    • People can lead a morally good life
      • By using our free will
      • Without God's help
    • Adam's sin was a 'bad example'
      • Nothing more
  • Early Protestant reformers
    • Said the sin inherited by each of us
      • Is the tendency to evil
        • (Concupiscentia)
      • Insurmountable
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 406)

Born With a Wounded Nature; Battling Sin: And Hope

What the Catholic Church teaches is 'none of the above.' (Catechism, 386-412) This outline doesn't capture every detail, either:

Each one of us:
  • Has a wounded nature
    (Catechism, 407)
  • Experiences the consequences of sin
    (Catechism, 408)
  • Battles evil
    (Catechism, 409)
  • Has not been abandoned by God
    (Catechism, 410)
About two thousand years back, Jesus won the war against sin. (Catechism, 411)

So, why didn't God override Adam's free will, or wave a magic wand and make everything better after that serpent incident? That's another topic, for another time.

Related posts:


Anonymous said...


* People can lead a morally good life
o By using our free will
o Without God's help

The thing is, Pelagius didn't say that. He denied the need to be zapped by some mythical Augustinian 'grace' in the present before you could live morally. But he didn't deny (but rather affirmed) that the reason why we can live a good moral life is because God gave us the ability to do so. The difference between Pelagius and Augustine was one of timing. When did God enable us to obey his commands? Pelagius says, in the beginning. Augustine says, you've got to pray for enabling first, and Augustine's famous prayer says: "Command whatever you want, THEN give me grace to do it." Pelagius says that's ridiculous, God already gave you the ability to do it long ago or else he wouldn't have commanded it. Its all about timing.

Brian Gill said...


As I said, the effort wasn't to capture nuances.

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.