This is a good way to look forward. I don’t think it’s only white children of racists who hold responsibility to improve justice, though. It’s everyone. It’s not an issue of guilt, right?
God is the ultimate Just one. He doesn’t rely on offspring (as in Ezekiel) to pay for the sins of their fathers. Practically, in the world, we do carry responsibility to care for those who hurt, but it would be odd to blame the Angles, Saxons and Jutes for invading the Celts; and the descendants of ancient Mayans or Palestinians for child sacrifice. Looking forward is a good outlook.
I posted the part above because it’s been noted that the doctrine of original sin, as preached in extreme areas (eg Jonathan Edwards; it’s been said that the original church Fathers would not have recognized the idea we have since Calvin) has been a deterrent for people for 2 centuries from believing in the faith.
I have great respect for Tim Keller and John Piper, both of whom I disagree with respectfully on this (as well as my own pastor)! They are compassionate.
My dad was a good father too. He told me that the nuns at Catholic School were old hags, don’t listen to them but learn as much as you can as you need to become educated to live a good life in this world. He held total disdain for the priests, Bishops and Pope. But he was the best “cultural Cafeteria Catholic” around . Highly respected in the Catholic Church just like my grandfather before him (who felt pretty much the same way). Best financial advice he ever gave me was never, never give one penny to any church or religion no matter how much they pleaded for money . The only thing my mom ever said to me about the Catholic Church was how could priests do marriage counseling when they have never been married.
Patrick, it sounds like you had good parents and were looking out for you. Your dad must have had a bad experience. We all fail!
I am not Catholic, but my brother’s in laws are good Italian/Sicilians from New Jersey. I have to say that some of my favorite, most caring colleagues in St Mary’s in residency were the social worker Franciscan and Dominican nuns I just saw a quote from a man who approached his priest about his doubts. The priest, who he highly respected, told him, ‘it is okay to have doubts, every thinking person has doubts, but key is to keep seeking truth and one day you will come to it, but in the meantime, do not criticize what you don’t understand or haven’t studied well and do not disrespect what others consider sacred.’
It’s so true that everyone, no matter our background, can fall. I’m glad you had a good set of parents. Catch me when I say something offensive or wrong–that’s a great “iron sharpens iron.”
It is just that science and reason do not solve the problem of injustice. They just do not. In fact, they usually just amplify injustice. Our reasoning usually becomes rationalizations. Science usually adds power to those who have abused it in the past. Science and reason cannot see nor end injustice.
I think in particular this is a challenge in an individualistic context like the united states. To solve problems like the generation after generation effect of segregation, individuals have to choose to live their lives in a way that reduces their personal safety, wealth, and comfort. More than just individuals, whole communities have to do things that will reduce what they already have to give back what was taken in prior generations. In individualistic society, with everyone merely responsible for their own actions, this is impossible to justify.
We need a solid account of how the actions of our ancestors burden us now. I am not calling for the hard demands (as MLK would put it) of government action. I am calling for the soft demands, that the government cannot compel. For us to do what is right, to undo the brokenness of our world, requires that we take hold of our sin-tainted and redeemable inheritance. It requires us to remember what happened. Remember how it shaped the world. Then to choose a different world, a better world.
That, it seems, is the sort of resources that MLK found in theology but not science. When I am talking about Original Sin @patrick, that is the coherence to which I am striving. That is the corrective of theology. God does not forget our victims. He does not forget the victims of our ancestors. We are redeemable and He forgivess, and we are invited into MLK’s Dream, a Kingdom of God dream. Even atheists see the coherence and beauty and need for this sort of call. That sort of coherence requires us some notion of sin.
Absolutely not only white people are sinners. I’ve been thinking about writing some blog’s on this whole topic. I likely will. Everyone participates in a repeated pattern. Only a few of us find ways to do better than our instincts.
Looking forward is not a good outlook if it is an excuse for avoiding the damage we’ve done. Reconciliation requires truth, and is undermined by willfully short term memories.
His “sinners in the hand’s of an angry God” is not what I am saying here. That is something else. I am arguing for an account of the world that makes sense of its insanity, revealing a hidden order.
I’d also point out that it is easy for people in power to object to talk about sin. For those that have suffered abuse of power, sin is something difficult to forget. Sin is a real thing in the world, something of great power. It is often the abuse of power, sometimes in a way that injures others for generations. Sometimes it even ends people for good, leaving the spoils to our offspring. The thing is, we cannot have reconciliation without truth. The two come together. The only way these things are fixed is when we remember, hold back from rationalizing, and decide to choose a better world.
For those of us that do not like all this conversation about sin, much of what I am echoing here is from MLK**. It is a two part message of** reconciliation. We are sinners, even subject to our ancestors sins, but we are redeemable, and God redeems us. The end vision is the integrated reality of living in a common family. To break down the walls that separate us. To heal the fractures in society.
I am more and more convinced that grappling with the sins of our ancestors is going to be required of us all. So talk of “fairness” about the brute fact that sin carries over from generation to generation misses the point. God does not want it to be this way. Still, the world is this way. If you do not like it, ignoring this reality does not absolve us. We have to remember, and choose a better way.
@Patrick, I’m sure you agree with a lot of what I am saying here. In fact, I know you care great deal about much of this. I think even atheists see the need for this type of discourse.
Yes, my parents were good parents and did look out for me and my brother. And I was a good son who looked out for them until they died. My dad didn’t have bad experience with the Catholic Church. The Church was more social than anything. Everybody was Catholic when he was growing up. My Grandfather’s experience is very typical too. He was an immigrant from Italy coming in 1906 as a 26 year old young man. The Catholic Church was a big part of life here and back in Sicily. He even went back to Italy to be married in the Catholic Church in Sicily to an arranged marriage to my grandmother age 14. (Would be considered totally immoral today). My grandfather was a highly respected member of an Italian-speaking Catholic Church he help build and grow. In the depression (1933) , with a wife and eight children, he asked the parish priest for help for food. No help was given. Fortunately, help arrived in the way of Franklin Roosevelt. Aid came from the local government (who were mostly Protestant). That is why my father was a life long Democrat and trusted government more than the Church.
Honestly @Revealed_Cosmology, one of the biggest problems with restructuring original sin is that it is just not coherent with the world I see. Certainly, it is a nice fiction to believe that we are self-made, unburdened by our ancestor’s sin. This feel like a rationalization to ignore the past. Everything points to the opposite, that the sins of one generation shape the world the pass on to the rest of us. Genealogical descent, also, is an important part of this too.
The reason I think a doctrine of original sin is important, in addition to the theological and scriptural arguments I’ve laid out, is because it makes much better sense of the world. It actually gives a starting foundation for reconciliation.
I was brought up that this country was a place of justice and tolerance. Sure we had problems but each family, could have opportunity to live a good life. Family was always first, with neighbors and friends being important but not family.
That AIG article quotes a friend of ours from The Creation Project, Hans Madume, who is thoughtful on these things.
Sin’s origin in the world must be traceable to an earlier free choice of one of God’s creatures. Otherwise, good and evil are eternal co-principles (dualism), or God is both good and evil (monism)—that is, God is the author of sin.
This gets to the other problem, that of suffering in the world. I would tend to agree with Madume here too, if we look at it from the point of view of theodicy. This came up with John Hisner too at ASA (I’ll be posting his comments in coming weeks). I’d offer, in response, a Garden theodicy. This is very closely aligned with the YEC theodicy, and yes it requires a Fall.
@deuteroKJ, we are in your realm on this thread, as it is not really about NT, but about the OT. What do you think?
@Patrick, thanks for joining us here. Am I sounding crazy in my explication?
I think that science and reason do solve the problem of injustice. Think of life just 100 years ago. Was it just that one in four children didn’t live to age 5? Was it just that one in five women would die in childbirth? How about the injustice of polio, famine, malnourishment, child labor, child brides, short life spans, wars. Sure we still have injustice and intolerance but the world is a much better place for billions of people than it was decades ago. We need to acknowledge the gains humanity has made in the past 100 years, 50 years. And we can do more.
Oh I have no doubt that the consequences of one generation’s sins are felt by the next. I just don’t know that the guilt or sin is passed along with it. I am still turning all this over as we all should in light of a two-population model and what a new understanding of early Genesis means.
This is a key passage, but the context is important. This is written in the context of exile, where children actually are suffering for the sins of the parents. The local context is important too, and this is one article that explains it:
I am not taking the view that God wants it this way. Quite the opposite. I think God wants it to work in a different way, and he succeeds in this by way of Jesus.
Yes, I shouldn’t have diverted from Heiser’s posts by saying that one. I know it’s disputed, though I have read the context discussions and so far still disagree with counterargument :). The OT actually does talk of the righteous, and this link assumes God talks of all as being unrighteous–which we can get into later, by PM if you like (or email). .
But Heiser actually has a thorough list. I would stick with him since I’m lousy at keeping to the subject.
Best wishes for your rest, Brother. Thank you for your time.