"What is this that you have done?"
Throughout the church's history, Christians have largely agreed that God's good creation of humanity was marred by humanity's sinful rebellion, resulting in our separation from God and requiring divine intervention in the saving work of Christ.
But Christians have disagreed over many particular questions surrounding humanity's fall, including the extent of original sin, the nature of the fall, the question of guilt, how to interpret the narratives from Genesis, and how these questions relate to our understanding of human origins and modern science.
This Spectrum Multiview book presents five views on these questions: Augustinian-Reformed, Moderate Reformed, Wesleyan, Eastern Orthodox, and a Reconceived view. Each contributor offers both an articulation of their own view and responses to the other views in question. The result is a robust reflection on one of the most central—and controversial—tenets of the faith.
Views and Contributors:
Spectrum Multiview Books offer a range of viewpoints on contested topics within Christianity, giving contributors the opportunity to present their position and also respond to others in this dynamic publishing format.
"With some of the presentations I identified closely; with others I disagreed strongly. But this is the way a multiview book is supposed to be. Original Sin and the Fall provides a wide spectrum of positions, ranging from Reformed to Eastern Orthodox and beyond, and each of the five authors provides a strong, well-written chapter. This book serves as an excellent survey of the current debate about the doctrine of original sin."
"Original sin and original guilt—and along with them the conviction by many in the history of the church that everyone is born destined for damnation—these interconnected ideas (and others that follow) have created a hornet's nest of complexities, exegetical conclusions, and theological musings for this generation. That's all to the good; this is a topic worthy of serious thinking by as many diverse thinkers as we can get in the conference room. Stump and Meister have done us all a wonderful service by their careful selection of representative views, and the level of discussion will pave the way for civil conversations for a long time. This will be a great classroom discussion book, but don't expect to end the class on time!"
"I found this discussion fascinating as the writers probed and illuminated the mysteries of original sin and the fall from different angles. I came away with a sense that the interlocutors were talking to one another, not just saying their own piece and walking away. This is exactly how a multiview volume should work, modeling charitable yet critical discussion and moving the reader to offer a personal response."
"Usually multiple-views books help us to sort out better and worse articulations of our approaches to especially difficult theological ideas or dogmatic formulations. Every so often, however, what we find is that one truth has many viable explanations and accents that derive from and reflect the catholicity of the church's dynamic theological traditions. Our five contributors here remind us of the rich resources available within the church for understanding the human condition of sinfulness, frailty, and finitude and for empowering theological exploration and inquiry in the third millennium."
"Why do nice people do terrible things? Sherlock Holmes was on to something when he assured Watson that 'the lowest and vilest alleys of London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.' Here are five theological explanations of humanity's perennial predicament, five ways of reading the story of Adam's fall and its consequences. The responses each of the authors gives to the four others are especially helpful in identifying the key talking points as well as respective strengths and weaknesses."
"We all believe in the doctrine of original sin, but nobody really knows what it means. As originally developed, it is something of a theological relic; as currently used in popular preaching, it is a placeholder for vague notions of evil. Nobody seems to know what it means, but everybody says it is the only Christian doctrine that is empirically verifiable. It is time to blow the whistle on this ridiculous state of affairs. This volume of essays gives us exactly what we need in these circumstances. We have a clean-cut set of proposals that clear the air and provide a splendid resource for serious engagement with the doctrine of sin in the future. Written with irenic poise, we have here a set of specific, competing options that cry out for extended reflection."
Introduction, J. B. Stump and Chad Meister
Part One: Perspectives on Original Sin and the Fall
1. An Augustinian-Reformed View, Hans Madueme
2. A Moderate Reformed View, Oliver D. Crisp
3. A Wesleyan View, Joel B. Green
4. An Eastern Orthodox View, Andrew Louth
5. A Reconceived View, Tatha Wiley
Part Two: Responses
6. An Augustinian-Reformed Response, Hans Madueme
7. A Moderate Reformed Response, Oliver D. Crisp
8. A Wesleyan Response, Joel B. Green
9. A Eastern Orthodox Response, Andrew Louth
10. A Reconceived Response, Tatha Wiley
List of Contributors