A.Suarez's Treatment on a Pope's Formulation for Original Sin's Transmission!

Many thanks for this appraisal!

I think that my explanation does NOT run in any of the theological problems inherent to the Genealogical Adam and Eve.

So, I would be interested to know which particular theological problem you are referring to.

If there was an existing population of humans/homo sapiens and this specially created couple had descendants who mixed with this population, you still have to explain how the fall/original sin affects everyone. It seems to me you would still be getting into questions of who interbreeds with who. And if not, why the specially created couple in the first place? What does it buy you (other than concordism) that a pair of humans chosen out of an existing population doesn’t get you? If you accept evolutionary history, death and violent propensities already exist in the animal kingdom and in human social groups pre-Fall.

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Thanks Christy for these comments, which allow me to show that my explanation does not run in the theological problems of @Swamidass Genealogical Adam and Eve (GAE).

According to my explanation God provided that human beings in the image of God and ordered to the gift of eternal life NEVER lived together with Homo sapiens creatures that were not in the image of God and ordered to the gift of eternal life. Accordingly, I state:

Any Homo sapiens creature, who came to live together with the descendants of the “specially created couple” (A&E), by this very fact became a human being specially created in the image of God the same way as A&E were.

The reason is that God wanted to fill the earth with humans that live loving and respecting each other and ordered to the gift of eternal life. To this aim family life and education was crucial. A family where the father (descendant of A&E) would be ordered to go to heaven and the mother (non-descendant from A&E) would NOT (as GAE assumes), would not be fitting to the task of educating the children (genealogical descendants of A&E) “to work as stewards and ambassadors in God’s kingdom, promoting his justice and peace on earth”, and ordered to eternal life. Such a family would really be a strange family!

I would like to stress that:
If in GAE one assumes that both parents are always ordered to the gift of eternal life, GAE becomes equivalent to my explanation, at the end of the day.

(Notice also that I prefer to assume that A&E was “a specially created little population” rather than “a single couple”, but this is not relevant for this discussion so far).

As I have discussed in other posts, the passage of Genesis 6:2-4 referring to the “sons of God” supports my statement above.

As regarding “how the fall/original sin affects everyone”, my explanation runs as follows:

God desired “the harmonious flourishing of humankind” and endowed A&E (whether “single couple” or “couple of couples” it doesn’t matter) with special original grace to totally master the inherited evolutionary selfish urges, so that at the very beginning A&E were completely free of sinful propensities (“concupiscence”).

After their first sinful choice A&E lost this special original grace, and as a result the inherited evolutionary urges became sinful propensities within their hearts. Nonetheless God in his mercy decided to give A&E opportunity to repent and allowed them to remain on earth (instead of throwing them to hell).

Thus, for the sake of redeeming all sinners, the earth was destined by God to be inhabited by people sharing sinful propensities and in need of redemption, according to Romans 11:32 “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

In conclusion: The fall/original sin affects everyone coming into existence after the first human sinful choice by A&E, even if he/she is NOT a genealogical descendant of A&E.

For sure, death and violent propensities did already exist before the Fall. However, by definition, they could neither be sinful nor a consequence of the Fall, as the creatures affected by such deficiencies were not ordered by God to the gift of eternal life, and therefore to live loving and respecting each other in transforming relationship with God; in particular, such creatures were not morally accountable for killing each other, the same way as lions and chimps are not accountable today.

By God’s declaration in Genesis 9:4,5-6, after the fall and at the end of the flood, all Homo sapiens became humankind in the image of God. Since this moment each Homo sapiens creature on earth is called to the gift of eternal life, and deserves the status and dignity of being in the image of God, although without the special original grace A&E had at their creation, and therefore submitted to sinful propensities (concupiscence).

I summary, I think that my explanation above:

  • Fits well to revelation.
  • Cannot be disproven by science.
  • And does not run into the theological problems of @Swamidass’ GAE.

I would be thankful to know any further objection you may have in this respect.

God could very well have made the whole population of Homo sapiens (several millions by the end of the Neolithic) in the image of God at once, ordering each of them to love God and the others, and making each human being accountable for the life of another human being.

However, God in his omniscience, took account of the possibility that humans sin and the sinners disregard that God let them on earth to give them opportunity to repent and reach salvation, to the extreme of living as if God were obliged to accept their sinful ways. God foresaw that humankind could become corrupt and full of violence, and a big remedial would be needed to correct this wicked mentality and avoid “hell on earth”. The flood stands for this remedial. Although sin is a liability, the focus of God’s attention and divine plan is not sin but love: God wants to preserve that people can be redeemed.

This is the message Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter convey in the context of their teaching about the End Times, and this also what you suggest about the meaning of the flood:

Nonetheless, to avoid killing millions of people, God preferred to make a “first-version of accountable humans” reduced to a little population (i.e.: He transformed only a segment of Homo sapiens into “accountable image bearers”). This primeval population increased in number, possibly to several hundreds of thousands, who chose in fact the path of corruption and violence (Genesis 6: 5-12), and was deleted by the flood (Noah and his family excepted).

At the end of the flood God definitely re-create the humankind by making all Homo sapiens (up to possibly 14 millions) into a population of human beings accountable to God: “From each human being I [God] will demand an accounting for the life of another human being […] for in the image of God has God made mankind.” (Genesis 9:5-6).

By proclaiming this universal prohibition of homicide in Genesis 9:5-6 God highlights again that “God loves humans” and wants that humans love and respect each other. From this moment till today ALL peoples on earth share in the dignity of being in the image of God.

I hope the preceding clarifications show that, like you, I think that “the point of the narrative is to teach theology”.

Nonetheless I also think that the narrative of the flood is historical and describes a global catastrophe that destroyed all human beings living at this moment (Noah and his family excepted), where by human beings I mean humans who God had made in the image of God and morally accountable for their deeds.

Notice that catastrophic floods capable of killing hundreds of thousands are common, as @mitchellmckain has fittingly stated in a previous post:

In summary:

I respect your belief that the flood narrative “does not teach history” and “does not describe a literal global catastrophe”, but I dare also to ask in this respect:

Do you agree that my explanation above fits well with revelation and is not discarded by science?

Yes, it sounds like a workable model for people who want specific correlations between doctrines and history.

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Thanks Christy for this evaluation!

In my view, having “a workable model” that accounts for correlation between revelation and history, is an important achievement of this thread.

I would like now to come to the question of how the fall/original sin affects everyone.

As stated, my explanation is as follows:

As said, in this explanation A&E could refer to a little population (option I prefer) rather than a single couple. In either case, my explanation does not run into the theological problems of assuming genealogical descent from a single couple (GAE).

Now, according to you:

I have the strong feeling that yours and mine explanation may be equivalent at the end of the day. So I would be very thankful if you could explain more in detail what you mean by “humanity in corporate terms”.

I am on vacation with my extended family this week and have a work retreat next week, but I will try to remember to come back and respond when I have more time.

I warmly wish you and your family very happy vacation days!

I feel your idea of “humanity in corporate” can help to elucidate the notion of “relational damage” that is at the origin of this thread, and @mitchellmckain seems to endorse to some extent as well:

So I hope you may find time to respond before the “5 days after the last replay” holding for this thread!

After the first human sin children are born lacking the original grace God bestowed to the first image bearers (“Adam and Eve”). Therefore, the selfish mechanisms inherited through evolution become in the children’s hearts sinful propensities and, in this sense, @Klax is right when he claims:

In baptism we receive the grace of Jesus Christ, which is like a seed of righteousness.

If we don’t fight against the sinful propensities, then these “will grow up like thorns and chock the plant”; we will sin and develop “self-destructive habits”:

If we work to nurture this seed, at the end of our earthly life we will completely master the sinful propensities, and reach a “state of righteousness” even higher than that “Adam and Eve” had when they were created. Then we will really be “childlike before God” and “beloved children of God”, as you very well point out.

I would be thankful to know whether I am interpreting you correctly.

So far, the discussion in this thread has brought about a “workable model” of the flood accounting for correlation between revelation and history.

Before this thread may become closed, it would be nice if we could still work out a similar model regarding the transmission of original sin.

I think this could be done on the basis of the following noteworthy statements by @Christy, @mitchellmckain, @MOls, @Kathryn_Applegate, and @GJDS:

@Kathryn_Applegate’s Essay: Why I Think Adam was a Real Person in History:

“They sensed that God was withholding something from them, and they rejected his right to do so. This was the first sin, the first transgression of the law of God. This first or “original” sin brought death in the form of alienation and eternal separation from God. Brokenness, guilt, shame, isolation, and death—all of these we inherit from Adam as our representative (or as theologians would say, our “federal head”). Adam’s sin became our sin.”

These statements could be unified to the following explanation:

God desired “the harmonious flourishing of humankind” and endowed A&E (whether “single couple” or “couple of couples” it is not crucial) with special original grace to totally master the inherited evolutionary selfish urges, so that at the very beginning A&E were completely free of sinful propensities (“concupiscence”). “Human beings were created to do good and sin is a contamination and corruption of that.”

After their first sinful choice A&E lost this special original grace, and as a result the inherited evolutionary urges became sinful propensities within their hearts. Nonetheless God in his mercy decided to give A&E opportunity to repent and allowed them to remain on earth (instead of throwing them to hell).

Thus, for the sake of redeeming all sinners, the earth was destined by God to be inhabited by people sharing sinful propensities and in need of redemption, according to Romans 11:32: “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” Since the Fall, all of humanity is now in the same “state” such that no one person can claim to be better than another. Thus, by holding to the doctrine of Original Sin, we are setting up the idea of equality between all people. The original sin is an event with negative consequences for all of mankind.

In this sense, the fall/original sin affects everyone coming into existence after the first human sinful choice by A&E, even if he/she is NOT a genealogical descendant of A&E: After the first sin in history, the propensity to err and sin is present in human beings, including children. Nonetheless, children are not guilty of sin as far as they do not consciously choose to act following the sinful propensities (anger, jealousy, envy, hate…). In particular, children dying without baptism are NOT condemned to hell. The original sin has effects on humanity in corporate: The individual is affected by it because he/she is a human being coming into existence after the first human sin, and not because he/she has freely and consciously transgressed God’s law.

All humans are bound by God’s love and mercy into “humankind in the image of God”. One cannot define humanity without reference to God’s mercy; it is God’s mercy which constitutes “humanity in corporate” and makes that all human persons are related to each other. To the end that, for the sake of redemption, God is led in his mercy to deprive of original holiness and justice all human persons coming into existence after the first sin. In this sense any sin would have provoked the “state of original sin”, if it had been the first human sin.

I would like to ask the readers of this thread to appraise this “unified explanation” and specify the points where you may deviate from it. In my opinion this would be quite useful and stimulating for all of us.

No worries. If you somehow miss the five day window, all you would have to do is message me and I could open it again with my magic moderator buttons. :slight_smile:

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There is another side to Original Sin that you likely need to add to your synthesis: namely that sin would not exist if God had not set a standard by which people should live. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree, God also gave the Law, and God Himself sets the standard for what is good

Also, there is an aspect to humanity in that we are capable of knowing what is good and what is evil. At some point God enabled people to have a sense of morality. God would have only held humans accountable for sin after people had received the ability to differentiate right from wrong

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This event of Original Sin, or the time of first sinful choice, would also correspond to the point in human history when humanity was first capable of knowing what a sinful choice was

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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