procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

the myth of the fall

i've been thinking this week through the question of the theological consequences of denying an historical fall. one thing that has been growing on me today is the question of where the idea of the Edenic sinless perfectionism comes from. i'm sure everyone's seen the first two boxes of 2WTL (click on the link if you are unaware), the first one being the one where everything's perfect, sort of like the island the Phantom puts all his animals, after he's taught them to be piscetarians (is that what people who eat no meat except for fish call themselves?).

now the whole point of showing that everything was tops was to explain
  1. why life isn't always tops now, despite a good God, and
  2. to give a picture of what we're looking forward to.
however, on 2/, despite the line in the otherwise great Rob Smith song 'Worthy of All Praise' back to the garden, we don't really want to go back to the garden, but look forward to the new creation. so now i'm trying to work out the importance of 1/ - why do we need to say there was something perfect that humanity "fell" from?

it sort of smacks of platonism, and i have this vibe that it promotes a dualistic view of things. so can we read the account of "the Fall" in Genesis 3:1-13 differently? not that it doesn't depict perhaps the first direct transgression of God's law, but is it such a great "fall" as all that? where does our eschatology fit with a fall?

and yes, this is linked to my previous post!

[apologies for my absence. exegetical to hebrew to greek to doctrine has made for a busy period of time.]

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Anonymous stephenmac said...

not sure how helpful it is, but I remember one of the lecturers saying that "perfection" needn't be static, but can be a dynamic concept, that allows for something to be "more" perfect.

8:07 pm  
Anonymous Mark Earngey said...

hey, bro - doesn't Romans 5:12 speak about a specific 'man'? Ie, an historical Adam who fell?

11:57 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

SM: yeah i think i might've heard that also. but the idea of 'goodness' isn't the same as 'sinless perfection'

ME: Rom 5.12 speaks of one man's sin affecting all in the same way as Christ's death reconciled all. but what of the state pre-Adam?

and the focus in Rom 5 isn't on the fall so much as the reconciliation, and the picture we see in Rom 5, not to mention Col 1 and Eph 1 is surely heaps bigger than just fixing up what went wrong.

so where do we get the picture of a pre-fall sinless perfectionism from, and a fall from said state? (and, as a follow up, do the Platonic ideas make more sense of the idea of a 'Fall' than the biblical data?)

1:07 am  
Blogger mark said...

Hey dude, cheers for the reply. Obviously you can tell that I'm way out of my depth on this one! :)

When you write, "ME, Rom 5.12 speaks of one man's sin affecting all in the same way..." doesn't that contradict that there was no historical Adam?

I'm not so sure about the Pre-Fall state, except to say that there's a lot of poetry going on there in Genesis!

6:45 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

my point is just that as soon as humans could sin, they did. so that first person who could sin, did. and we see that having its flow-on effects, as we are born into that state of sin.

i don't feel you need to insist on a specific guy called adam to say that all are similarly afflicted by sin.

and again, what is Paul's point? to say that anyone who is in Adam's taxonomy (ie human) is sinful. and that is the situation into which Christ enters - where all are sinful and need a saviour.

7:43 pm  
Blogger mark said...

ah I see... yeah I'm sure that's Paul's point eh...

do you reckon in that case though, that we could give the name Adam to the first man who sinned?

sorry to be so naive and annoying! like I said, I don't know all the complexities, but I'm just trying to see if there's a problem with calling the first man who sinned Adam! silly question perhaps, but I'm just wondering :)

9:06 pm  
Blogger byron smith said...

Even the garden has an eschatology. Thus, the fall was not a fall from a final state, but the failure to complete the task(s) with which humanity had been entrusted. So no need for any kind of claim to Edenic perfection. Goodness, yes. Perfection, no. The idea of a perfect creation seems to have the same theological basis as Leibniz's claim that this is the best of all possible worlds - i.e. that God is perfect and so all his works have to be perfect. But I don't see why that follows. Creation is the creation of that which is not-God, so why does it have to "divine" in its perfection?

10:19 pm  

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