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Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle (New Studies in Biblical Theology)
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2000
Friends who attended the lectures from which this book was written recommended it to me, and I'm glad they did. Original sin is and, as Blocher points out, has long been a controversial part of church teaching. While we might recognise that many evil deeds take place in our world, we are often reticent to label people as sinful from birth. If we are to do that, the way in which our sinful nature might be passed on is also difficult to fathom. Blocher begins with both a philosophical and a scriptural overview of the doctrine, before focussing in on the Genesis narrative and then Romans 5, the passages which, he argues, have most to say on the subject. He then moves back out to look at evil in the world and the way that the doctrine of original sin sheds light on the human predicament. This leads into a discussion of the transmission of the sinful nature and the proper response to the recognition of it. Blocher's work is obviously scholarly, yet a surprisingly easy read despite that. His `take' on Romans 5 requires more thought on behalf of this reader, but seems both convincing and helpful. Best of all, it encourages us to look again at the doctrine of original sin, while remaining focussed on the necessity for repentance and focus upon the work of Christ in the Christian life. This is a book well worth having in the library of a thinking Christian.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2003
I read this book in conjunction with John Murray's book, The Imputation of Adam's Sin. I believe Blocher's book to be the stronger and more convincing of the two since Murray's work is older and is only designed to account for the classic Reformed position. The strength of Blocher's work lies in the fact that it attempts to discuss multiple treatments on the issue of original sin, and give the strengths and weaknesses of each side. I also believe, like Blocher, that a correct understanding of original sin is vital to a correct understanding of the human condition, our sinfulness, and our need for salvation and redemption.
The chapter I enjoyed the most was Blocher's treatment of Romans 5. He believes that there are two main schools of thought that have attempted to understand this passage. One school, that of a looser interpretation, likes to be very flexible in how it views Adam's relation to Christ's. The other school, that of a stricter interpretation, likes to view Adam's relation to Christ as extremely similar. Blocher says the school of looser interpretation is more Pelagian, while the school of strict interpretation is more Augustinian in it's mindset.
I believe that Blocher deals fairly with both sides assessing their respective strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to the school of a looser interpretation, Blocher notes that they are staunch defenders of individual responsibility for sin, and recognize the disatrous consequeces that can occur when one believes in inherited guilt(for instance Augustine's insistence that unbaptized children are damned to hell because they are born guilty). Nevertheless, their view that Paul is speaking merely of a source or fountainhead of unrighteousness in this passage just doesn't make sense since Paul seems to attribute so much to Adam's disobedience.
As for the stricter school, Blocher notes that their view is more coherent and makes better sense of the text, but is not immune from criticism. First, Paul's focus on the people from Adam to Moses is not easily accounted for under the strict view. Blocher shows how many exegetes have attempted to refute Paul by saying there was law in effect at that time, which clearly shows they believe Paul didn't know what he was talking about. Also, Blocher realizes that Scripture does set a precedent for ackowledging that an individual can suffer the consequences for another's sin and not be personally guilty of that sin. He uses the example of David in 2 Samuel 24 as an example. Individuals from the strict school assert that to suffer the consequences of one's sin without the guilt, is just as unjust as to be guilty of one's sin when one is personally not guilty. I, along with Blocher, seriously question the validity of this statement, especailly since this principle is such a regular part of our everyday experience.
Finally, I believe Blocher's chapter on Original Sin as the key to the human experience to be excellent. Without the doctrine of original sin, humanity just cannot explain the pervasive evil and wickedness that exists around us. Original sin is the key to understanding the human experience because it tells us that human beings are sinful and that they do have a tremendous tendency to commit sin. Armed with this knowledge, it is much easier to make sense of this fallen and corrupt world, much easier than it would be if we all believed that we are born naturally good and that evil tendencies take root somewhere along the line in our early existence. This book is an excellent treatment on a neglected doctrine in most churches today, and is well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2013
This book is a great theological study, but it is not for the average reader. IT has a lot of technical wordings that an average student would not be able to read without a good collegiate dictionary. The author does a lot of comparison teaching with other hermeneutical interpreters on Genesis2-3 and Romans 5. I would only recommend this particular book for the serious student of working toward their doctorate in theology. At times this author debates the interpretation of others rather than give his own interpretation of sin. It isn't an extremely long book, but it will take one's concentration to follow some of his rhetoric and thoughts.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2013
Henri Blocher takes on the most difficult topic in theology and philosophy. He is economical with words as he develops his arguments.
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