Now that Easter is over, I’ve had some time to reflect on what it all means. When I was growing up in a Christian family, I never understood all the fuss concerning Easter. Now that I am older, I understand the fuss but I don’t buy into it. All I see is the Church’s selling of salvation.
I had always been taught that Original Sin comes from the Genesis story. Well, that’s where things get fuzzy. God punished Adam and Eve but he didn’t put any such curse of Original Sin on them (see Genesis 3:16-19). Then in Genesis 8:21, God had an epiphany, “ …and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth….” So, obviously, man did not inherit sin from Adam in that he only became evil beginning in his youth. Jesus actually talks about how men should be like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven; so, again, no sin until after early childhood.
That alone should end the discussion, but I wanted to know more. Since the Genesis story was part of the Jewish Bible and Judaism does not recognize the concept of Original Sin, I wanted to know how that concept found its way into Christianity. Because Original Sin was strictly a Christian concept, I turned to the New Testament for answers. However, the answers weren’t exactly what I had expected. First of all, the disciples did not teach or write about the concept of Original Sin, or Easter either for that matter. Nevertheless, the subject of sin was a hot topic and the disciples even queried Jesus about it, “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Jesus responded by saying, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). So, even Jesus rebuked the idea of Original Sin.
The first actual mention of Original Sin in the Bible is in Romans. The thing is that Paul’s concept of Original Sin does not mean that Adam’s sin was inherited by future generations as can be plainly seen in Romans 5:14, as follows, “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come” (emphasis mine). Accordingly, noted 19th century evangelist, Charles Finney, denied the doctrine of Original Sin.
When you think about it, the concept of Original Sin is really only necessary if Jesus came to this world to save mankind. If, instead, he had only came to spread a message of hope and love, then the concept of sin wouldn’t be very important at all. So if the concept of Original Sin is incorrect, which it certainly appears to be, then the idea that Jesus came here to save us all is probably also incorrect. The truth is that Christianity needs the concept of salvation in order to make Jesus a universal savior (as opposed to the Jewish messiah that everyone was expecting and was prophesied about in the Bible).
Likewise, the concept of a Second Coming also needs to agree with the biblical account. For example, in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus discusses the End of Days with the disciples, as follows: “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus responded, in part, by saying, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30).
The disciples had asked when the end of the world would occur and Jesus answered by saying, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34). Therefore, as Albert Schweitzer said in his book The Quest of the Historical Jesus, the Second Coming was supposed to occur in the lifetime of the disciples!
In a world of false prophets, one can only wonder who speaks the truth and who does not. Clearly, the Bible and Church doctrine are not in agreement. Doctrines like Original Sin, the Trinity and salvation through Christ can all be called into question.
Early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria (in On First Principles) said that the resurrection related to the spirit, not the mortal body. He considered the concept of a resurrection to be for those that did not have eyes to see and ears to hear, meaning that the story of the resurrection of a physical body was strictly a surface story for the unenlightened. The real story could only be understood by those that were very enlightened (and had been initiated into the Mysteries).
All religions borrow concepts from other religions; the resurrection concept is no exception. For example, “The pagan belief was that the sun died on the winter solstice (December 22nd) because on that day the sun reached its lowest point in the heavens. The sun was then considered to be “dead and buried” for three days because it stayed at this lowest point on the horizon during that time. When the sun once again made its way higher in the heavens on December 25th, it was said to have been born again (resurrected)” (The Ethical Warrior, Why Are Christians Leaving the Church?). So on the spring equinox, pagans celebrated the resurrection of the sun god whose own “death and rebirth” symbolized the death and rebirth of life associated with the spring equinox. That’s the story of how the world wound up with Easter bunnies, Easter eggs and sunrise services.