ON HUMAN NATURE AND ORIGINAL SIN

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Clearly, for those who believe in the existence of an eternal soul, the whole human psyche cannot be contained within the physical brain which along with other mortal remains is finally buried or incinerated, for what is eternal and spiritual within man returns to God in whose image he was made, “The dust will return to the earth as it was and the spirit will return to God WHO GAVE IT” (Eccles12:7NKJV). Of course that is not the end of the story, which is resurrection, but in the interim Scripture makes clear that the disembodied spirit is conscious, sensual and retains a memory: “REMEMBER that in your lifetime you (the rich man) received good things and likewise Lazarus evil things, so now he is comforted and you are tormented” (Lk16:25)

All this needs to be kept in mind when seeking to make sense of Romans 7:14-21 and the nature of “original sin”. What I have come to understand is this: The eternal soul is not derived from human sperm but individually created by God – pure yet pliant (liable to corruption). Planted within the procreated intellectual vessel Paul describes as “the body of this death”, its concupiscent instincts are in contention with the conscience-directed soul/spirit. Paul’s “body of THIS death” refers to the condition (“death”) the man the apostle was depicting was CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING: not his mortality or future damnation but his inability by nature consistently to practice what his God-given spirit nobly aspires to, succumbing too often to the concupiscent instincts of his bodily members processed through the brain:… unless, that is, he is enabled by gospel grace and the Holy Spirit not only to aspire to what is good but TO PRACTICE IT even whilst inhabiting mortal flesh, in Paul’s language – possessing his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (1Thes4:4).

This may be some way from the teaching of Augustine (the Fall resulting in “death of the soul” and an inability to do or even desire anything good), later reinforced by the medieval Reformers’ doctrine of “total depravity”, but it is what I have been shown (by the Spirit I believe) and fits in with the rest of the synopsis concerning broader providence and the nature of the age to come set out in the seven chapters of “Fellowship of the Secret”

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