Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Fall of Mankind

I'm doing a research paper on the biblical doctrine of the fall of mankind (of Adam). In the process, I've been reminded that this understanding of humanity--that we are fallen--is unique to Judeo-Christianity (or very nearly so). And yet, it seems that it should be obvious that any worldview that doesn't acknowledge moral evil and provide a reasonable account for it is inadequate. As philosopher William Hasker comments,
Surely one of the acid tests for a world view is whether it is able to provide a consistent, coherent, and acceptable account of the nature of humanity.
And if the past century has taught us anything--with its world wars and its repeated genocides--it is that there is something of depravity in human nature. (Or, if you don't want to consider the past century, simply read a newspaper or watch the evening news.) The biblical worldview does address this aspect of human nature, and the understanding that man is fallen is a central teaching of Christianity. As C.S. Lewis has it,
Christianity simply does not make sense until you have faced the [sin issue]. Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realised that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law… and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.
So, much of the Christian worldview's explanatory power resides in its accurate description of man's fundamental problem. The great news, of course, is that Christianity doesn't leave us there, but also describes the miraculous redemption of mankind planned by God and fulfilled in His eternal Son!

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