I just received a piece of chain email that attempts to describe the human condition of sin, the atonement made for that sin through Christ, and the salvation of mankind. Unfortunately, it does an extremely poor job and propagates some very untrue doctrine.
First, there is a horrendous description of original sin. It claims that there is a “malfunctions in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.” This is such a backward view of original sin, the idea that all human beings somehow receive their sin from Adam and Eve. It’s as if their mistakes have filtered their way through thousands of generations into us. This is some lame and flaccid theology, but a good way to blame our mistakes and sins on Adam and Eve, instead of taking responsibility ourselves. And please remember, it’s not Adam who had this original righteousness and then somehow fell away, only Christ Jesus himself has this original sinless state.
Second, it calls sin “sub-sequential Internal Non-Mortality.” Come on now. Even the catechism in our Prayer Book says that sin is turning away from God. It’s breaking relationship with God. This definition is just another lame way to pass the buck for our sins.
Third, it claims that you can repair this sin by prayer and repentance. This is dangerously closely to Pelagian. Please remember that only through the grace of God can we ever hope to have the great benefit of salvation.
Fourth, this email theology calls the Bible the “Believers’ Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” I don’t know where to even begin with this. The Bible is not a manual, it is the witness and testimony to Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word. The Bible is not a literal document, strict biblicism only leads to blind un-thinking. In fact, the idea of the Bible as a manual only diminishes its authority. Instead, we must see the Bible as the witness to the salvation of mankind. It is full of power, only because it points to the Incarnate One.
Lastly, it says that nobody with sin will ever enter the kingdom of heaveh because this would lead to the “contamination of that facility.” Well, following that line of though, nobody will ever enter the kingdom of God, because as St. Paul so rightly says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So this is my conclusion, please read the Bible and read actual theology for yourself. This is the great blessing of the Protestant Reformation, that we can pick up a Bible and read it in our own language. And then, read your Book of Common Prayer. Trust me, these two magnificent works are far better and life-giving than any sappy email theology.