Like most everyone else, I have watched the news coming out of Connecticut in sickened disbelief. It just so happens that this week I have been studying and writing about the Fall. Without the biblical teaching of the Fall provided in Genesis 3, how could we begin to understand what has happened? The Bible teaches that we are not merely animals trapped in a bad world. Evil is real, as the tragic events this week at the Sandy Hook Elementary School demonstrate. We are horrified by such acts–and our horror evidences that we know things are not the way they ought to be, and that we know we are not simply amoral animals.
In his little but important book, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?, John Collins provides an extended quote from G. K. Chesterton that I think hits the mark. Chesterton explains that the doctrine of the Fall is actually a very hopeful teaching.
Here’s the passage:
“The Fall is a view of life. It is not only the only enlightening, but the only encouraging view of life. It holds, as against the only real alternative philosophies, those of the Buddhist or the Pessimist or the Promethean, that we have misused a good world, and not merely been entrapped into a bad one. It refers evil back to the wrong use of the will, and thus declares that it can eventually be righted by the right use of the will. Every other creed except that one is some form of surrender to fate. A man who holds this view of life will find it giving light on a thousand things; on which mere evolutionary ethics have not a word to say. For instance, on the colossal contrast between the completeness of man’s machines and the continued corruption of his motives; on the fact that no social progress really seems to leave self behind; . . . . on that proverb that says ‘the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,’ which is only what the theologians say of every other virtue, and is itself only a way of stating the truth of original sin; on those extremes of good and evil by which man exceeds all the animals by the measure of heaven and hell; on that sublime sense of loss that is in the very sound of all great poetry, and nowhere more than in the poetry of pagans and sceptics: ‘We look before and after, and pine for what is not’; which cries against all prigs and progressives out of the very depths and abysses of the broken heart of man, that happiness is not only a hope, but also in some strange manner a memory; and that we are all kings in exile.”
Chesterton had a way with words, didn’t he?
We weep with those who weep. Let’s pray for those in Newton who are experiencing an unimaginable grief. May God give them comfort as only He can. One day, maybe some day soon, all things will be made right and new. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Cross posted at www.theologyforthechurch.com