Almost a year ago, a dear friend of mine from obtained her PhD. That evening, after hearing her defend her work on Contemporary Christian Music from an ethno-musicology perspective, our pastor joined us for celebratory drinks at a restaurant which had a large gluten-free menu. Although being in her late thirties, my friend had not had an alcoholic beverage in 15 years because of the gluten found in most drinks. That night, we celebrated on a gluten-free hard cider called "Original Sin," and to this day I find it ironic that my friend obtained her faith-centered doctorate and then toasted that celebration with "sin."
This memory has been floating to the top of my mind recently as I study for my Lutheran Confessional Heritage class. This week's reading in particular speak on thow original sin manifests in our lives. As Lutherans, we believe that we are sinful both pre-and-post-baptism. It is through our faith in the promise of God through the suffering and resurrection of Jesus that we are saved. I love and trust in the notion of justification by faith, not good works. I love and trust the notion that we commit good works as an expression of that faith, but not with the expectation that our work is a ticket to salvation. What I do not love is the language "original sin." I tend to believe in the truth of creation from a non-literal perspective. I don't necessarily believe that there were two people, one Adam, one Eve, who are the so-called reasons for sin because I recognize that the very human essence of human nature is sinful. I believe that if it wasn't them, sin would have been brought into the world through someone else. This mentality only adds in my faith of the gift of Christ Jesus.
But what do we do with this original sin business if we don't believe in a literal fall? Gunther Gassman writes in the Fortress Introduction to the Lutheran Confessions, "Original sin is better named universal sin, since it explains not so much where sin came from as why all human beings in all ages without exception are opposed to God and therefore need a Savior." This is an idea of original sin that I can get on board behind!
Ultimately, I don't think it really matters who introduced original sin or how sin came to be. What is important is the fact that we are inherently sinful but loved unconditionally anyways. Almost everything we do is entrenched in sin, from how we treat others to the earthly desires we consume, like money and hard cider.
We need to embrace the fact that we are sinners, and drink in the knowledge that even in light of sin we are saved through our faith. When we accept our sin and embrace our nature, that honesty allows us to experience our faith more fully. Only in recognition of our sin can we be in deeper relationship with our God who loves us so much that he would send his only Son to reclaim our salvation through a tree shaped like a cross.