According to a congressman in North Carolina black protestors there in the South- in the South (in case you missed the emphasis: in the South) hate white people because white people are successful. That’s the real reason they’re angry. He’s since offered the boilerplate politico mea culpa that in the moment he said something he didn’t really mean, but we all know that it’s exactly in those moments, guard down and heart out, when we’re most likely to say what’s really on our mind.
According to police Keith Scott was carrying a gun and thus his shooting was justified because (dot, dot, dot) we all know a black man with a gun warrants suspicion.
According to social media, Terence Crutcher had his hands up and had his back to police to put his hands on his car when he was
manslaughtered murdered so, Facebook friends testify, the officer involved must be a racist.
And then the many memes:
The Donald is a fraud. Hillary is a liar. Obama is a Manchurian President. Michelle hates America. Immigrants are rapists and Republicans are racist.
A third of us want to keep all Muslims out.
Another third want to flee to Canada if that third get their way, thinking about that third how the other third think about 3/3 of Muslims.
We’re everywhere projecting motives onto other people. Drawing lines. Culling into tribes. Rallying the righteous to our side. Pretending to know, by virtue of soundbites and campaign slogans and ticker tape summations and hot am air, who is good and who is evil.
The Christian reading of Genesis 1 is that original sin is occasioned by the tempter’s inducement for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,* knowing good and evil.”
Christian interpretation typically fixes original sin onto the first clause in that last sentence: “You will be like God.” We fell then because of our desire to ascend. To be like God. To take God’s place. In essence, to not have God over us to whom we’re accountable.
But, lately, I wonder.
As any good writer knows, if you can work it, the main point should always fall last in your sentences (“knowing good evil”). And as any preacher knows, the emphasis should always be on the verbs (“knowing”).
So I wonder.
I wonder if original sin, the sin into which we’re all born, the sin which binds us in captivity and from which Jesus means to save once and for all, is our desire to appraise one another, to know good and evil, to be like God in Christ, separating who we take to be the goats from the sheep. That is, is our base sin our desire to know, like God, who is good and who is evil? Are the “All Lives Matter” memes, the “Blue Lives Matter” tweets, and “colorblind” FB rants just an updated form of picking the fruit from the tree?
I wonder because this morning my good friend Teer Hardy and I interviewed Ian McFarland, author of From Nothing, for our podcast. In it, Ian explained how the Christian belief in creation from nothing is shorthand for the confession that everything in existence owes its existence at every moment of its existence to God.
Everything. Always. Everywhere. At every moment.
Is from God.
Though he didn’t put it into original sin terms as I just did, Ian argued that creatio ex nihilo requires Christians to refrain from regarding anything in creation as nothing or no good or evil. It’s all from God. It’s all sacrament and none of it- no one– is slop or scrap.
If I’m right, then America still has a race problem and a problematic politics, but they’re no longer problems so much as they’re manifestations of original sin. And that’s good news because we (i.e. the Church) have an antidote to that disease: Jesus Christ.
He is the One by whom Adam and Eve and each of us and all that is- all that is- were created.
And through cross and resurrection all of us, good
or and evil, are in him. To separate sheep from goats on social media like is to perpetuate a problem for which God has already provided a solution.