Jesus Christ has revealed the loving kindness of God and the truth about man. As infinite God, He offered to His Father a sacrifice of infinite love, in order to redeem the human race. As a man, Christ exercised pure piety and religion; He submitted Himself completely to the governance of the Almighty. He lived the life of a sinless Adam, to found the human race anew.
In other words, Jesus Christ is the unique light that shines in history, to illuminate the mysteries of human life. Because we can see in Christ the truth about God and man, we can also, by that same light, see the human race as it truly is: A creation of God, destined for glory, which fell away from goodness at the very beginning and remains trapped in a web of destruction and evil.
The Fall. Original Sin. It’s not just a “concept.” It is a historical reality. But at the same time: something so ancient and intimate, that we need to perceive Christ first, in order to even begin to understand “original sin.”
Two ideas about original sin that are not true:
1. When Adam and Eve fell, they started human sin by giving bad example. Original sin involves freely choosing to follow the bad example of the original sinner.
No. Original sin is deeper than this. Original sin has compromised us in our very nature. No one can do good without God’s help.
2. When Adam and Eve fell, they corrupted human nature so profoundly that we are no longer truly free at all. We are nothing more than a jumbled mess of appetites. Our inclination to selfishness is so profound that we cannot rightly aspire to holiness. Instead, we must hope only that God will exercise a kind of mercy that simply does not pay attention to our incurable immorality.
No. Original sin wounded our natural inclination to God, but it did not destroy it. Christ’s grace does not substitute for, or cover over, our hopelessly corrupted human nature; Christ’s grace heals our human nature. God made us to be holy as He is holy, and we can be, by the grace of Christ.