Lord’s Day Three

This question is proposed:

  1. That it may be manifest that God created man without sin, and is therefore not the author of sin, or of our corruption and misery.

    1. God cannot be blamed for sin – He made us perfect.

    2. Our sinfulness is the result of willful disobedience.

  2. That we may see from what a height of dignity, to what a depth of misery we have fallen by sin, that we may thus acknowledge the mercy of God, who has deigned to extricate and deliver us from this wretchedness.

    1. Our misery is not so great that deliverance is impossible.

  3. That we may acknowledge the greatness of the benefits which we have received, and our unworthiness of being made the recipients of such favors.

  4. That we may the more earnestly desire, and seek in Christ, the recovery of that dignity and happiness which we have lost.

  5. That we may be thankful to God for this restoration.

The Day Boy and the Night Girl, George MacDonald (1882)

“Come, come, dear!” said Nycteris, “you must not go on this way. You must be a brave girl, and –”

“A girl!” shouted Photogen, and started to his feet in wrath. “If you were a man, I should kill you.”

“A man?” repeated Nycteris. “What is that? How could I be that? We are both girls — are we not?”

“No, I am not a girl,” he answered; “– although,” he added, changing his tone, and casting himself on the ground at her feet, “I have given you too good reason to call me one.”

“Oh, I see!” returned Nycteris. “No, of course! — you can’t be a girl: girls are not afraid — without reason. I understand now: it is because you are not a girl that you are so frightened.”

Photogen twisted and writhed upon the grass.

“No, it is not,” he said sulkily; “it is this horrible darkness that creeps into me, goes all through me, into the very marrow of my bones — that is what makes me behave like a girl. If only the sun would rise!”

“The sun! what is it?” cried Nycteris, now in her turn conceiving a vague fear.

Then Photogen broke into a rhapsody, in which he vainly sought to forget his.

“It is the soul, the life, the heart, the glory of the universe,” he said. “The worlds dance like motes in his beams. The heart of man is strong and brave in his light, and when it departs his courage goes from him — goes with the sun, and he becomes such as you see me now.”

“Then that is not the sun?” said Nycteris, thoughtfully, pointing up to the moon.

“That!” cried Photogen, with utter scorn. “I know nothing about that, except that it is ugly and horrible. At best it can be only the ghost of a dead sun. Yes, that is it! That is what makes it look so frightful.”

 

Why did God permit sin?

  1. to show the weakness of the creature when left to himself and not preserved in original righteousness by his Creator.

  2. That by this occasion God might display His goodness, mercy, and grace, in saving, through Christ, all them that believe; and manifest His justice and power in punishing the wicked and reprobate for their sins.

What are the effects of sin?

  1. Original sin, or the depravity of the entire nature of man, or the destruction of the image of God in man is the effect of the fall.

  2. All actual sins are the effects of original sin.

  3. All subsequent actual sins are the effects of preceding ones and an increase of them.

  4. An evil conscience and a fear of the judgment of God invariably follow the commission of sin.

  5. All the various calamities of this life together with temporal death itself are the effects of sin.

  6. Eternal death is the last and most extreme consequence of sin.

It is necessary to know what ability man possessed before the fall, and what he has since, that, having a correct knowledge of the effects of the first sin, we may be the more excited to humility, and to an earnest desire for divine grace and guidance; and also true gratitude to God. For this doctrine of the liberty of the will, brings us to a consideration, not of the ability and excellence of man, but of his weakness and misery.

What kind of liberty of will does man have?

  1. Before the fall, a mind enlightened with perfect knowledge of God, yielding entire obedience to God by its own voluntary act and inclination; and yet not so confirmed in this knowledge and obedience, but that it might fall by its own free exercise – free to choose good and evil

  2. Born of corrupt parents and unregenerated, the will acts freely but is disposed and inclined only to that which is evil and can do nothing but sin since the fall was followed by a privation of the knowledge of God and of all inclinations to obedience.

  3. Man as regenerated but not yet perfected and glorified wills to do both good and evil in part, because the mind and will are not fully and perfectly renewed in this life. There is a proneness to the good because the mind and will are renewed but a proneness to the evil because that renewal is incomplete.

  4. Man in a state of glorification will be free to choose only the good and not the evil because he is so fully established in righteousness and conformity to God under the constant governance of the Holy Spirit that it will be impossible to will anything evil.

A CATECHISM OF CREATION

An Episcopal Understanding

First Edition, Revised

June, 2005

Are the creation stories in Genesis, chapters 1 and 2, meant to convey how God originated the universe?

These majestic stories should not be understood as historical and scientific accounts of origins but as proclamations of basic theological truths about creation. “Creation” in Holy Scripture refers to and describes the relationship between God and all God’s wonderful works.

 

What evidence is there that human beings are also evolved creatures?

Fossil discoveries show that human beings and monkeys, chimpanzees, and other primates can trace their lineage to a common ancestor living seven millions years ago. We humans share almost identical DNA and key protein molecules with chimpanzees. We also are the most recent descendants of a line of hominid creatures now extinct. The earliest fossils of our human-like ancestors are about 6.7 million years old. The first modern humans appeared 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

 

Does this picture of human evolution conflict with the biblical statement that we humans are made in the image and likeness of God?

In Genesis, “image of God” is a theological notion. It refers to our ability to enter into an intimate relationship and communion with God, other human beings and the whole of creation. Theologians have interpreted it to refer also to those divine gifts of unconditional love and compassion, our intellectual and moral reasoning and imagination, our freedom, or our creativity. To think that these gifts may have been bestowed through the evolutionary process does not conflict with biblical and theological notions that God acts in creation.

 

If evolution is said to have taken billions of years, how is this consistent with the biblical six days of creation?

Early Church theologians like Basil of Caesarea (330-379 AD) and Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said that the six days should not be understood as scientific chronology. Rather, they provide a literary framework that the inspired writer used to organize and present the various elements of the creation. They express a topical not a temporal order. Most biblical scholars now recognize that the six days also perform an important symbolic function: they convey that the commandment for a Sabbath day of rest was established at the very beginning of creation.

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