Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Misuse of 'Original Sin'

In the modern consciousness, the idea of 'original sin' gets misused in all sorts of ways. One of the prominent misuses is that our less theologically-informed peers think of original sin as the original sin that set us all on our road to misery. Here is an example of such a misuse. It's from Bill Carter's fascinating book The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy, which I have been reading and greatly enjoying.
Rob Burnett, still an executive in charge...never stopped being a true believer. For him NBC's selection of Leno over Letterman could be linked to the concept of original sin: NBC picked Jay over Dave and had never really overcome picking the apple from the wrong tree.
Of course, original sin is not an act, but a condition. Now, Bill Carter doesn't care, ultimately, whether he misused the concept. The point is, contemporary man rejects original sin for a lot of reasons - among which is that they don't really know what it is. This is not going to improve, however, so it is just one more way in which we as Christians must explain ourselves along the way and never assume that unbelievers actually know what we're talking about when we use words like 'original sin' or 'savior' or any other host of words that we take for granted in the church context. It also means, of course, that since the culture misuses it, you can almost guarantee that there are people in the church who don't understand it, either.

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