Oh, good ol' Augustine...
In my St. Augustine's Theological Development class we have been focusing on his writings on the first books of Genesis (and believe me, there is A LOT of his writing that falls under this category... I suspect Augustine was slightly OCD, hence my fascination and relation to him). Most recently, we have read large excerpts from Literal Meaning of Genesis. In the eleventh book of this work, he wrestles with the existence of sin, human free will, God's goodness, etc. I am very fascinated by his answer to the question
Question: If God foreknew that Adam and Eve would fall into self-love and would sin, why didn't he stop it?
This is my extremely complex paraphrase of his answer: The only way God could have stopped them from sinning would be to have created them without the ability to choose. Although it would be better to create humans without the ability to choose (thus making them always living good and sinlessly) than it would be to create them with the ability to choose (giving them the option to choose sin over the good, to turn away from God), humanity's having the ability to choose and to sin means that they have the ability to love God (something that is programmed to do something the same way every time cannot love... can a computer love?), and THAT--the ability to love--is an even greater good than being unable to sin. Plus, the redemption brought about by humanity's sin is an even greater good than the first sin and all the subsequent sins are bad. The good that arises from redemption comes from the sin's being punished (since justice is good) and from the whole scheme of salvation brought about by Jesus Christ's death and resurrection (which itself was a greater good than all the sins of the world in history were bad... otherwise, his death could not save ANYONE from any single sin).
My thoughts: I love this explanation. It may be because it is pretty similar to the explanation with which I was raised. It's pretty baptist. There ARE problems with it, because it could potentially be ascribing to God the origin of sin. It doesn't answer Plus it also might be saying that sin+good is better than just plain ol' good.
In the end, it would be presumptious to assume that we humans could ever know for sure why God allowed sin to enter his good creation in the first place (Can we even know why he created anything AT ALL?) But at least Augustine settles some of the human frustration in the matter.
Posted on Wed, November 19, 2008
by Hannah Decker filed under