MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 27

Deadly Legacy: Alan Jacobs on Original Sin

Literary critic and C. S. Lewis biographer Alan Jacobs has enriched our understanding of Christian faith and its consequences with his thoughtful Original Sin: A Cultural History (2008). The book looks at beliefs about human waywardness and its sources through much of Western history, and how those beliefs have affected literature, politics, music, education, and other spheres of human culture. In this Conversation, Jacobs explains how belief in original sin (in its Augustinian form) offers resources for comfort and community. 60 minutes.

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    Alan Jacobs: “I was writing an article on Rousseau . . . and I was interested in his philosophical novel Émile . . .”
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    “ . . . there are really five views that you have to hold in order to believe in original sin in the traditional sense . . .”
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    “ . . . There is a kind of a pre-Christian moral scheme which persists well into the history of Christendom . . .”
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    “ . . . the definitive experience of the 16th and 17th centuries is the religious wars . . .”
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    “ . . . Pelagius is someone who is particularly skeptical of the idea that we are children of God . . .”
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    “ . . . on All Souls’ Day, the point is to remember that it is our obligation to intercede for others . . .”
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    “ . . . the move from Augustinian Christianity to a kind of pseudo-scientific secularism enforces distinctions that keep people in lower places. . .”
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    “ . . . it’s not Augustine who is continually harping on the terrors of damnation, it’s Pelagius . . .”
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    “ . . . the Muslim conception of morality is kind of a 51-49 thing . . .”
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    “ . . . very few of the Framers were Augustinians, and yet they acted as though they were . . .”
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    Closing