Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Original Sin: A Cultural History by Alan Jacobs (Chapter 4)

In chapter 4 of Original Sin, Alan Jacobs looks at The Feast of All Souls and it's significance to belief in original sin.

All Souls Day is on November 2, the day after All Saints Day. While All Saints Day celebrates the saints' intercession on behalf of the church militant, All Souls Day celebrates the church's intercession for the souls in Purgatory.

Jacobs notes how these two holidays are two sides of the same coin. On the first day, the church recognizes it's weakness and its need for intercession. On the second day, it recognizes its power and responsibility to pray for those who have gone before. Both days point to the same truth--we are all in this together, and judgment awaits both the high and the low.

Jacobs then goes to show how original sin is the great equalizer. It is usually the aristocracy that is appalled at the doctrine--they don't want to see themselves as just as deprived as the masses. Jacobs illustrates this point with a quote from the Duchess of Buckingham, commenting on the preaching of George Whitefield:

"I thank Your Ladyship for the information concerning the Methodist [sic] preachers . . . [but] the doctrines are most repulsive and strongly tinctured with the impertinence and disrespect towards their Superiors, in perpetually endeavoring to level all ranks and do away with all distinctions. It is monstrous to be told you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth. This is highly offensive and insulting; and I cannot but wonder if your ladyship should relish any sentiment so much at variance with high rank and good breeding."

Is original sin the great equalizer?

Why are the powerful powerful? Why are the "wretches" wretched? What would Pelagius say? Augustine?

1 comment:

Mario Persona said...

Yes, sin is an equalizer. As in a network when a virus breaks in, we are all connected and contaminated by one and the same virus: sin.