This morning I’ll be preaching the sermon you’ve helped me develop. You’ll find a link to the full text below.
I received several helpful ideas from you. Some of these shaped this sermon very directly. Other ideas were stimulating, but did not seem to fit with the direction the sermon was taking for me. Regardless, I’m so very grateful for your comments.
I did want to share one particular thought about the Garden story that some of you touched on, and that one of my friends clarified for me – that some read this story as actually about an “awakening” rather than a “fall.” Earlier in the week I sent an early draft of the sermon to my friend Milton, the Bible “expert.” (See note below)
In the email exchanges that followed, I asked Milt if any of the church fathers read this as an awakening story. Here’s a portion of his response:
Yeah. The earliest reading of the garden story was not as a fall at all. Iranaeus read it as though the original couple were children in the garden. Their disobedience was therefore naïve and caused them to grow up, as it were. Thanks to Augustine (and the eventual state legitimization of Xianity), the church began to read the story as a “fall.” Quite a switch. So, there’s a serious difference between an Iranaean theodicy and an Augustinian one. John Hick, I think, has an interesting article on this. Pagel’s book, Adam and Eve and the Serpent, explains this garden reading more thoroughly.
I’m offering this to you for two reasons: 1) I thought you might find it interesting, and 2) I think this is a good example of how complex the development of our Christian “tradition” can be. Religious education rarely includes an overview of the many competing points of view that make up our interpretive tradition. Hence, many people simply assume that the understandings of scripture they were taught as children are the only true interps.
But I digress… the sermon can be found at: Do You Really Want a Choice?
Note: Milton is one of those amazing guys who reads about 42 ancient languages, earned a D.Phil from Oxford, teaches in a religion department, AND is an expert piano technician. As Milton’s wife, Karen, likes to say, “My husband is brilliant in numerous ways… none of which earn any money.”