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Musings from Mountains and Valleys (V0L. 2)

Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved

-G.K. Chesterton

Years ago, I was talking with a therapist friend of mine comparing notes about our under-achieving sons. He stated, “I don’t believe in potential. His teachers keep telling me how much potential he has, and I respond by saying all I see are D’s. So, before he fails, let’s deal with reality first and then maybe we can get to potential.” I think this rings true for the debate about original sin. Regardless of whether humanity is potentially basically good or not, the reality is that all of humanity has sinned and fallen short of what God intended for us. The Genesis tragedy of pride, envy, and scapegoating is repeated in every generation and in each human story.

Incurvatus in se is an Augustinian idea that Luther expands that sees humanity’s chief problem as “being bent inward” as opposed to loving God and our neighbor. This “bentness” is why often even our best efforts go awry and that “pure” motives are so elusive. It also the primary reason we have trouble ordering our loves. Too often we do not desire enough the good for others and ourselves and love inordinately things that ultimately do not last or fulfill.

But God does not give up on us. Paradise may be lost, but God is constantly offering the possibility of a new beginning. Even at humanity’s worst moments, there are the Divine seeds of hope and redemption planted in hearts and in history. There is a love more “original” than any trespass we commit or is committed against us and a restoration far greater than what is lost. And this good news is not about us reaching our potential, but rather about finding our home in God.


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