Friday, April 28, 2006

Articles 9, 10, & 11 (of The 39 Articles):

IX. Of Original or Birth Sin. ORIGINAL sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.

X. Of Free Will. THE condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

XI. Of the Justification of Man. WE are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

-- Summarized as follows:


Jeff Dean said...

Articles 9, 10, and 11 (translated):

Original Sin is not the result of an individual's disobeying God the way that Adam disobeyed God (and therefore a problem of wrong ACTION), but is rather in the ontological being of the person (and therefore a problem of wrong NATURE). Every person shares the same human nature, and that nature is not righteous as God intended it to be, but is rather inclined toward self-interest and the survival of the individual alone at all costs. Human nature will always resist God's right intentions, and therefore no person deserves to be cut out of God's good graces.

---> This human nature is not changed when a person becomes a Christian, but remains always with him. For some people this nature is most strongly expressed as human wisdom, for others as love of worldly things, for others sexual desire, but it remains in some form in every person. It resists God's commandments and refuses to be tamed! Those who have faith in Christ are not condemned because of this resistance to God that dwells in their very being. We confess, however, that the issue is not merely temptation that a person can resist by application of his reason or will, but rather a sinister force from within that resists God until the very last breath is drawn.

No human being will ever again posses the freedom from that sinister force to turn himself toward God. Though we may think we have, under our own power, "made a decision for Christ" or "submitted ourselves to the authority of Christ's Church", really we have made a calculated decision regarding our own survival. We've engaged in Pascal's wager and attempted to find the safest bet in our own interest! As said above, self-interest is not a rational good, but rather the very problem that estranges us from God.

Thus, if we do turn to God, it is because God has himself turned us. Unless Christ makes a decision for us, our decisions never cease to be sinful, and we are not saved.

God chooses to love us not because anything about us is loveable, but because he has promised that those who believe Christ has payed the price for their sins will not be held accountable for them. An invidual's faith in God's promise is what lays claim to the love that God has for the sinners who know themselves to be so desperately lost that only a miracle could save them.

For those of us who know the depth of our sins and wickednesses, the idea that the cross is proof of God's love for the unloveable provides the only hope we have! It confirms the blackness of our hearts (that we wish we didn't know to be true!) and assures that God has acted in our favor anyway.

All SSRIs and self-help books aside, this doctrine is the only source of positive mental health and emotional integration that weak, selfish, and failure-prone people have!

Jeff Dean said...


First paragraph: "And thereforth no person deserves to be in God's good graces."

Eric Cadin said...

jeff, in response to the statement "this human nature is NOT changed when a person becomes a Christian, but remains [as privitive] always with him" I offer a few reflections of those far more intelligent and holier than myself:

Pope St. Leo the Great: "The special note of the pascal feast is this: the Whole church rejoices in the forgiveness of sins. It rejoices in the forgiveness of those who are then reborn in holy baptism but also of those who are already numbered among God's adopted children. Initially men are made NEW by the rebirth of Baptism."

St. Andrew of Crete, bishop: "In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself"

Again, Pope St. Leo the Great: "he who is trye God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. By our nature we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning, and took to himself in order to restore it."

"Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in Christ's own nature, do not retrun by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member...Through the sacrament of Baptism you ahve become a temple of the Holy Spirit."

St. Hippolytus: "'For Christ who is God, exalted above all creation,' has taken away man's sin and has refashioned our fallen nature...God is not beggarly, and for the sake of his own glroy he has given us a share in his divinity."

St. Athanasius: "By taking our own nature and offering it in sacrifice the Word was to destroy it competely and then invest it with his own nature, and so prompt the Apostle to say, 'this corruptible body must put on incorruption; this mortal body must put on immortality.' This was not done in outward show only, as some ahve imagined. This is not so. Our Savior truly became man, and from this has followed the salvation of a man as a whole."

St. Maximus the Confessor: "here is the reason why God became a perfect man, changing nothing of human nature, except to take away sin (which was never natural anyway). His flesh was set before that voracious, gaping dragon as bait to provoke him: flesh that would be deadly for the dragon, for it would utterly destroy him by the power of the Godhead hidden within it. For human nature, however, his flesh was to be a remedy since the power of the Godhead in it would restore human nature to its original grace."

St. Augustine: "Of his own will he was born for us today, in time, so that he could lead us to his Father's eternity. God became man so that man might become God."