Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 6F

Peet Schooenberg S.J. wrote “Original Sin and Man’s Situation” in the 1960s.

As he saw it, in a nutshell, sin is the guilt resulting from the decision to do evil.  This decision was conditioned by one’s situatedness in a disordered world.  The world is in fellowship with sin.  This corresponds to the condition of Original SinME.

(Here comes the caveat: Wiley warns: In order to get to the meat of the nut, rather than what is here presented as “in the shell”, you have to read the author himself.  So Schooenberg is on the list for a future blog.)

Schooenberg’s formulation does not address the nature of the transition that made our disordered world possible.  It corresponds to the claim by medieval theologians that Original Sin was a “sin of nature”.  As such, the Fall is existential.  It is part of the individual’s environment.  The person accommodates.  But is she doomed?

The Fall offers the possibility of Redemption.  At root is a refusal to love.  At root is an absence of an interior life of faith and love of God.  But such a root, when planted in the soil of Christian community, the community of the redeemed, has the capacity to sprout in a most surprising way.  The water of baptism enters into the soil.  Through the soil, sanctifying grace enters a root that, if left alone, would grow into “refusal and absence (Marx’s word for it: “alienation”)”.  With the waters of sanctifying grace, the root begins to grow into “what it refuses to do and what it lacks”.

In many ways, Schoonenberg’s ideas mirror Rienhart’s:

For Reinhart: “Will to power”(anxiety(egoism))

For Schoonenberg: “Sanctifying grace”(baptism(growing out of refusal to love and absence of an interior life of faith and love of God)

With “baptism” paired against “existential anxiety”, charges of Pelagianism seem unfounded.  The gap cannot be bridged by personal well-intended regimens.

Promises of a New Age of Self-Improvement are merely fashions of the “will to power”.