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The Origin of Naughty and Nice

March 27, 2013

Alex_Grey-Adam_and_EveThis is an ongoing series where I’m putting my heretical spin on the statement of beliefs of a fairly typical and actually hip conservative church.  This is the type of church I spent most of my life in—both as a member and in a variety of ministerial roles including pastor.  Today we take a look at the origin of the species and the concept of original sin.

From the Church:

We believe that man and woman were directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Though originally free from sin, mankind fell and rebelled, resulting in death, both spiritual and physical. All the offspring of Adam and Eve are then born sinful and morally wicked in nature, actions, and will, unable to wake themselves to spiritual life and to do good without God’s spiritual intervention.”

First, I’ll note that I looked for an Adam and Eve photo/painting to use in this post, and when I Googled for an image almost all of them featured a fairly modern white couple, albeit in different stages of nudity.  I actually don’t believe people evolved from monkeys (there really is no “missing link” to corroborate this), however the Alex Grey art here is way cool.

“We believe that man and woman were directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness.”   I appreciate that the church here acknowledges that both male and female were made in God’s image.  My impression of most of the conservative church, and indeed most of the history shown in the Bible is that women were an afterthought, and not particularly God-like in image.  If woman is also made in God’s image, have you ever seen a Judeo-Christian painting of God as a woman?  I rest my case (however check this out).    It is extremely important to me that both men and women be seen as being in the image and equally from and within the breath of God.  A ton of bad theology arises from believing that women are less than men.

“Though originally free from sin, mankind fell and rebelled, resulting in death, both spiritual and physical. All the offspring of Adam and Eve are then born sinful and morally wicked in nature, actions, and will, unable to wake themselves to spiritual life and to do good without God’s spiritual intervention.”   This jumps smack dab into the concept of “original sin”—the idea that we are all born dirty and in need of a blood sacrifice to redeem us.   In the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, God pronounced them, along with all creation as “good.”  In Genesis 5 it states that God blessed Adam and Eve.  So, one thing we know is that God created us in “original blessing” not sin. Yes, the party line picks up with the apple story, where God is alleged to send all people ever to eternal torment unless they’ve said the sinner’s prayer in some denominational way.  If I told my child not to eat something, and she did so, I might indeed punish her or at least be fussy, however eternal torment seems quite excessive.  The church even believes that Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, deserves not just eternal torment for Adam and Eve, but for all their children and even their children’s children times infinity.

This is where I impose my guiding light on interpretation of the Bible:  If a preacher/teacher talks about God behaving like an asshole, then the theology is probably off.  Moreover if what the Bible actually says shows God as being an asshole, then it’s not true.   I do believe that God is a God of grace and justice, so I get that there should be repercussions for bad behavior, however the punishment must be reasonable or THAT AIN’T JUSTICE, and it sure ain’t God.

What about the line from the church that says all people are unable to do good without God’s spiritual intervention?   Seriously, did they mean to say that?  Non-Christian folks do amazing awesome good things all the time—more often than not.  Actually, this does make sense in that God did intervene, way back when, at the time God blessed humankind and created us all to be Good.  It is when we connect with our truest nature of original blessing that goodness occurs.

It’s remarkable to me that most of the church seems content to assume that God could only be appeased by the vengeance of death—the blood sacrifice of animals and the occasional human in the Old Testament and the death of God as Jesus in the New Testament.  The folks who believe this are also repulsed by the thought of blood sacrifice by the Incas and other primitive cultures.  They might need to think this through a bit.  The problem of course is that most people’s theology is based on grace given as a result of blood sacrifice rather than the more reasonable idea that God’s love and grace was so intense that God did whatever it took to demonstrate passion and solidarity with humankind.  We will deal much more with atonement later—it certainly deserves it’s own post.

One last thing, I’ve done counseling with hundreds of people.  My experience is that the core belief that we are “born sinful and morally wicked in nature, actions, and will”  almost always leaves people fucked up.   It’s a lie.  The goal of God and the true teaching of Jesus is for us awaken to the Truth that we are good, we are blessed, and the very essence of God dwells richly within us. 

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