Saturday, January 17, 2009

Plantinga - Chapter 3: The Fall

The fall. We all know about the fall and I have probably read more books on the subject this year alone than I will ever read on the topic again in my life. But it seems that every book I read I get a different opinion that helps me dig deeper in my own learning and comprehension.

Plantinga states that evil is the main human problem. He goes on to describe what evil is and why it contributes so perfectly to the fall. "The human problem [of evil] is not just ignorance; it's also stubborn pride." How true this is in our society today. Pride is an issue that seems to be growing by the minute. We live in a 'me' society where everything is about making a name for ourselves. We become so big headed that we forget to look outside of ourselves to see the people in need around us. Evil doesn't always come in a tragedy. It's in the simplest of things like pride that we all suffer from on a daily basis.

Plantinga ties the 'evil' back to the concept of original sin, or "that the corruption and guilt of our first parents have run right down the generations, tainting us all." From this statement I understand that we are inherently evil. I do not believe that to be true. I believe everyone is born good. Evil is a choice. By saying that evil is passed down from generation to generation and that it is unavoidable simply gives us an excuse to be evil. We cannot excuse our actions. We must take responsibility for our actions and prevent the 'evil' from spreading to future generations.

Corruption. Something that stood out to me while reading was the section about idolatry. Plantinga says that "idolatry is also the act of putting fame alongside God and trying to serve them both." I had never thought about idolatry in this sense. I always thought of idolatry as the worship of idols and idols only. And when I say idols, I mean gold statues. I never fully realized that idols can be anything that we place above God. I have never intentionally put anything before God but now I can see that even things like friends and family can be idols and have been in my life.

Plantinga relates corruption to spiritual AIDS. This caught my attention. No one sets out to get AIDS but many contract it by meddling in sexual impurities. So are we all infected with spiritual AIDS? Is there hope for any of us to remain pure? I'm afraid not because put very plainly we are all sinners and we are all corrupted by the world we live in - the culture around us forms our character whether we like it or not.

So who is to blame? I think we are the only ones to blame. We are responsible for the way we are. It is not God or even Satan that destroys us by corruption. It lies within us. Plantinga states that "the evil one seduces only those who are in the market for seduction. Satan deceives only the already self-deceived." We cannot blame Satan for our sins. We are sinful and our weaknesses make Satan stronger - but only because we are already self-deceived.

Another point that Plantinga makes is this: "People often take pride not only in their accomplishments but also in their intelligence, good looks, good breeding, and good coordination, as if they had gifted themselves with these things!" I laughed upon first reading this statement until I realized the severity of the truth behind it. Like I said, we live in a 'me' society but the fact of the matter is that we are nothing without Christ so who are we to boast and brag about our accomplishments when they are not ours to brag about?

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