24 January 2007

Original Sin: A Terminal Illness

Over on the BOC site, I jotted down some thoughts about the fact that in AC II, original sin is not merely defined as man being spiritually dead, but as man being terminally ill, a hereditary disease that infects his whole self. I was struck that this sanitive metaphor was not merely accidental in AC II, a slip of the tongue. It remains in force in the Formula, SD I. We again hear of "that horrible, dreadful hereditary sickness by which the entire human nature is corrupted." (par. 5) and we hear the corresponding language of HEALING over in paragraph 14:

"Furthermore, human nature, which is perverted and corrupted by original sin, must and can be (ta-da!) HEALED only by the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit [i.e., BAPTISM]. However, this HEALING is only begun in this life. It will not be perfect until the life to come."

Which is to say that God is in the process of healing the disease of original sin in human nature, but that this process will be ongoing until the moment of death when it will be perfected in the life of the coming world.

It should go without saying that such healing is not and can never be the BASIS for our justification. No, it is our justification in the Sacrament of Justification (Baptism) which is the BASIS for God's work of healing. But it IS a work of healing, begun now, and brought to perfection in eternal life.

How utterly of a piece with Luther is the Formula! Remember his famous: "This life is not health, but healing, not being, but becoming!"

Whenever process language shows up, Lutherans get the hives these days. The Symbols can provide some good innoculation!

1 comment:

Dizziness said...

It seems avoiding this language is a simple consequence of the inherent appeal of a dualism or gnosticism. Just as many avoid speaking of Christ taking on flesh, many refuse to think of the corruption of sin as invading not simply spirit but the whole person including their flesh.

The net result is the resurrection of the dead means little to nothing. This is a fleshy reality not simply a spiritual one. Thanks!