Matthew Fox: Original Blessing

Matthew Fox is a Roman Catholic priest, formerly a Dominican, who has developed what he calls a Creation Centered Spirituality. This book, Original Blessing, outlines these ideas. I am finding it a very rich read and have decided to post small excerpts on this blog as a pointer to the parts I find the most important.

The book’s title, Original Blessing, stands in opposition to the notion of Original Sin which begins with Augustine in the 5th century and is entrenched as official policy by the Council of Trent. Fox points out that the notion of Original Sin is not biblical. One proof of this is that Jews have no notion of Original Sin. They understand the Genesis story differently

Fox here quotes Timothy Ware, who in a book about Orthodox Christianity [The Orthodox Church, 1963] says that Original Sin is not a sin as we undertand that word. Ware thinks that this doctrine has slid into a notion of Original Guilt:

Most orthodox theologians reject the idea of original guilt… Men automatically inherit Adam’s corruption and mortality, but not his guilt; they are only guilty insofar as by their own free will they imitate Adam.

Fox then references the early church father Saint Iranaeus who said: God became human in order that humans might become God – not so that original sin might be wiped away. The fall is not basic to his theology.

I recently had a look at the cathecism of the Roman Catholic Church on this matter and it was quite an interesting read (no really). The fall is referred to as the sin of our first parents – no attempt is made to unpick this metaphor, which was disappointing. Before this, a state prevailed which is described as a state of Original Wholeness and Original Justice. I quite liked that part.

Fox has one more comment on original sin, looking at the consequences of this doctrine:

Throughout Christian history the conviction that man’s birthright is sin has encouraged an unrealistic acceptance of remediable social evils, or even a callouness about human suffering. It helps to explain the easy acceptance of slavery and serfdom, and a record of religious atrocity unmatched by any opther religion
– Professor Herbert J Muller

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~ by scalambra on March 20, 2012.

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