Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4E

A stunning change occurred between Augustine and Anselm.  The Stoic and Platonic model of the (immaterial) soul falling into the (material) body by way of (spiritual – fateful) descent had been forgotten.  Now, the potential for human action consists of faculties, powers and capacities that are “of nature”.

Yet, the Stoic and Platonic model remained – like an apparition – in fantasy, legend and ideal.  St. Thomas felt its presence through both Augustine and Aristotle.  He proposed a narrative theme of humans coming from and returning to God.

At the same time, St. Thomas used Aristotle to further Anselm’s model.  Consider human purposes or “ends”.  Human faculties “of nature” are designed to achieve finite ends.  Human faculties “of spirit” are designed to achieve transcendent ends.  Our daily struggles are in-between, situating our faculties “of nature” and being contextualized by our faculties “of spirit”.  Without supernatural gifts, we can never properly achieve transcendent ends.  We fall into sin, where finite ends are substituted for infinite ends.

The Fall of Adam and Eve corresponds to a withdrawal of supernatural gifts – “sanctifying grace” – and the sacrifice of Jesus corresponds to a re-establishment of a proper relation between God and humans.

The divine presence was not lost with the Fall.  Sanctifying grace – the ability to order our spiritual faculties to proper transcendent ends – was lost.