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Key Passages:

Genesis 3:1-24, 4:1-26
Romans 3:9-20; 7:14-8:5

Coaxed by a lying serpent, first Eve and then Adam disobey God. As readers of the story we have barely comprehended the curses directed by God against all three of them when the narrative suddenly descends to the murder of Abel and the cry of Abelís shed blood from the ground.

“All have sinned.” Writers of both the Old and New Testaments point to the universal domination of sin. The Fall, a monstrous moral fault line, separates us all from an unrecoverable past. Not one of us stands on the moral high ground above the flood plain of sinfulness. Yet we are often in a state of denial. Psychiatrists like Karl Menninger and Scott Peck sound an alarm over the decline of belief in “sin.” The culture at large has dismissed the idea of a coming judgment in which we are each to give an account to our Creator.

Key Questions:

  1. The serpent in Genesis 3 offered Adam and Eve the opportunity to be like God. Is there anything wrong with wanting to be like God, to be godlike, especially if humanity was created in the image of God, after Godís likeness? And if we are or become children of God, then should there not be some likeness? Can we carve out some distinctions between what is admirable and what is treacherous in this desire to be like God?
  2. What are the consequences from the loss of a moral standard? Can a society survive without a sense of sin and a capacity for moral shame?
  3. How is evil transmitted from generation to generation? Genetically? Socially?
  4. If babies are not born as sinners why does everyone end up being a sinner?
  5. Are human beings basically good or basically evil? If basically evil, how do we account for the goodness that crops up in the most unpromising settings? If basically good, how do we account for the unspeakable evil that is committed by human beings? Or is this whole line of questioning wrong because people differ or because good and evil exist together.
  6. In Romans 7:19 Paul says, “The good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not wantñthat is what I do?” Is Paul speaking of his own experience or in a merely hypothetical way? If referring to his own experience, was it before or after he became a follower of Jesus?

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