A Theology for the Social Gospel

By Walter Rauschenbusch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE FALL OF MAN

WE are familiar with the teachings of traditional theology on the first entrance of sin into the life of the race: the state of innocence of our first parents; the part played by Satan in tempting them; the motives and experiences of the fall; the apostasy of the entire race through the disobedience of its head; the transmission of depravity and death to all; the imputation of Adam's guilt to all his descendants; the ruin of the divine plan for humanity by the perversity of sin.

The motives of theology in elaborating so fully an event so remote were partly philosophical and partly religious.

The philosophical motive was the desire for a coherent explanation of our universe and its present baffling mixture of good and evil. The story of the fall, as interpreted by theology, furnished an outline for a philosophical history of the race. It was the first act in a great racial tragedy which was to end with the final judgment. The fact that a mind like Milton's took the fall as the theme for a great epic, and that his poem was accepted as a poetic treatment of the highest realities, shows how the doctrine of the fall dominated common thought.

The religious motive in elaborating the doctrine of the fall was the desire to bring all men under conviction of

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