Original Blessing or Original Sin

I have just been introduced to the ideas of Matthew Fox, a former Dominican, who teaches, among other things, the concept of Original Blessing. We are all lovingly created in the image of God, as blessings in the world.

Is there room for this in the Catholic way? Don’t we all consider our children blessings? I see some of this in the church’s pro-life teaching. However, Fox is apposed to the concept of Original Sin. He says that promotes the idea that we are born as blotches on the world, in need of redemption.

As with anything, it seems to me there should be room for both concepts.

He has other ideas that are interesting. His idea of mysticism I have found to be well grounded in my experience in the church. Letting go, trusting God, and having a personal connection and guide are familiar, as anyone who has used the Serenity Prayer can tell you. I’m not sure why Fox thinks Catholicism doesn’t have this, unless it is just sour grapes.

Fox’s fixation on the Mother Godess I find baffling and unecessary, but his talk of love and passion I find intriguing. The idea that God is in everything, and everything is in God also promotes an ecological and world consciousness that is very popular. However, I still don’t understand his opposition to the church (or the church’s opposition to him), as an earth conscious humility seems OK, and a lovingly bridled passionate side, rather than a suppressed passion that is sometimes preached, does not seem out of place with my Catholic experience.

Anyone have experience with this earthy-crunchy (my wife’s words) side of spirituality?

Hi SoccerDad,

I don’t know about Mr. Fox’s teachings. The concept of original blessing makes sense because it says in the bible that we are created in his image and likeness. We are witntesses to God’s love in the world.

But as you say, this does not have to exclude original sin. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we lost God’s friendship through a sin. Baptism restores us to this friendship. It is a new blessing which has produced and keeps producing an immense amount of good in the world.

I have to admit however that the term “original sin”, introduced in Westerm Theology by St. Augustine is unfortunate. We are not born with a sin that we committed. We inherit the guilt of Adam. Just like if you inherit from your father, you have to accept his debts as well as his assets.

Eastern Theology does not use the term original sin. In the steps of St. Paul, Eastern theologians speak of our spiritual death through the sin of Adam and our spiritual resurrection through the death of the second Adam, Jesus Christ.

Verbum

[quote=soccerDad]I have just been introduced to the ideas of Matthew Fox, a former Dominican, who teaches, among other things, the concept of Original Blessing. We are all lovingly created in the image of God, as blessings in the world.

Is there room for this in the Catholic way? Don’t we all consider our children blessings? I see some of this in the church’s pro-life teaching. However, Fox is apposed to the concept of Original Sin. He says that promotes the idea that we are born as blotches on the world, in need of redemption.

As with anything, it seems to me there should be room for both concepts.

He has other ideas that are interesting. His idea of mysticism I have found to be well grounded in my experience in the church. Letting go, trusting God, and having a personal connection and guide are familiar, as anyone who has used the Serenity Prayer can tell you. I’m not sure why Fox thinks Catholicism doesn’t have this, unless it is just sour grapes.

Fox’s fixation on the Mother Godess I find baffling and unecessary, but his talk of love and passion I find intriguing. The idea that God is in everything, and everything is in God also promotes an ecological and world consciousness that is very popular. However, I still don’t understand his opposition to the church (or the church’s opposition to him), as an earth conscious humility seems OK, and a lovingly bridled passionate side, rather than a suppressed passion that is sometimes preached, does not seem out of place with my Catholic experience.

Anyone have experience with this earthy-crunchy (my wife’s words) side of spirituality?
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Run as fast and as far as you can from the teachings of Matthew Fox. The Vatican took action against him. He is an openly New Age spiritualist and even employed on his staff a practicing witch. His teachings are NOT Catholic.

[quote=soccerDad]I have just been introduced to the ideas of Matthew Fox, a former Dominican, who teaches, among other things, the concept of Original Blessing. We are all lovingly created in the image of God, as blessings in the world.

Is there room for this in the Catholic way? Don’t we all consider our children blessings? I see some of this in the church’s pro-life teaching. However, Fox is apposed to the concept of Original Sin. He says that promotes the idea that we are born as blotches on the world, in need of redemption.
[/quote]

The concept of original sin is critical. Original sin stipulates that man, through our free will and weakness, is responsible for turning away from the will of God (evil). If God and not man chose for the existence of evil in the world then how can you say God is good?

Matthew Fox is not a Christian; I suppose you could label him a heretic. He teaches “creation spirituality”, a New Age philosophy that we are all mystics, that God is really a woman, no hell, no punishment, etc… His entire concept of God and Jesus is different from ours. He is teamed with Starhawk, some sort of goddess witch. I would have nothing to do with him if I were you.

Communism is proof that humans act base-evil. If we acted base-good, communism would be absolutely wonderful, as it was in theory.

HOWEVER…

God saw what he’d created and it was good. Humans are part of creation. Therefore, humans are good.

This base-good has been corrupted by original sin, so we often act like we’re base-evil, even though we’re not.

Conscience is a reminder that we are base-good, and that guilty feeling means “you just did something against your true nature. you know that, right?”

Thanks folks, I think I am agreeing with you. The more I read of Fox’s thoughts, however attractive, the more I detect a certain bitterness with regard to the church and it’s treatment of him. He tends to blame the church for the lack of personal spirituality and ecological responsibility he sees. He has embraced eastern mysticism and western paganism and tried to rationalize their merger with Christianity.

Why is it that those who cry for a world view and a merging of faiths cannot see the answer? The answer is not to merge all faiths into a New Age Spirituality. The answer is to open and accept the true Catholic Church, and bring your expression and sprituality into it. He cries out that everyone should accept his way, and the world will be one. (new John Lennon?) It is the cry of every new religion. I don’t recall that Jesus ever had that expectation. There will always be those in the church, and those out of it.

Now my task is to return this book “Original Blessing” to my friend without offending him. I will tell him it had some interesting ideas, and leave it at that.

Maybe lend him a copy of a book of your own - something like,“Inside the New Age Nightmare” :wink:

I think you might find it profitable to point out to your friend that Fox makes some good points but sets up his position against traditional teaching when he doesn’t need to.

Catholicism has always taught that human beings are created in God’s image and retain much that is good even in their fallen condition. Original sin does not contradict this.

Catholicism has traditionally taught that God is present in everything and that everything exists because it participates in God. But that doesn’t mean that modern neo-paganism is compatible with Christianity (as Fox seems to believe). And so on, and so forth.

Edwin

Having read Fox’s “Coming of the Cosmic Christ”, I would put little stock in anything he offers. He espouses many things that are in opposition to both Catholicism and Protestantism.

run don’t walk away from any books, teachings, seminars, tapes by Matthew Fox or his organization, he is no longer a Catholic priest but runs a new age center someplace (probably california) and his teaching is completely foreign to Catholic spirituality.

Coming from the Episcopal church, I am familiar with Fox’s stuff and even bought one of his books. He truly fell off the rails and I think is the very essence of relativism. He lulls readers into this warm fuzzy let’s get along logic and then you look up and you are lost in the wilderness. Don’t go there.
Blessings.

Original Sin is a Dogma, so no, you cant get away from it, although you can safely get away from some dubious explanations of it (the idea that we are offensive to God for instance).
Original Blessing? Yes, we are a creation of God, and even before we are justified, God calls us to communion with him. We are worthy at least of being convenant partners with God.(pokes Karl Barth in the chest as he makes point).

But original sin is something lacking, not something additional. At the heart of it is a lack of right relation with God, which is why we need justification! Justification comes at baptism (in ordinary means)

But we know we are inclined to sin, each of us. The history of the 20th century should show us how many people we can kill to prove how good and right we are, so I dont see how Fox explains concupiscence…!??

Maybe you can enlighten me on his theory

I’ve read several of Fox’s writings myself, including on the Dominican theologian and mystic, Meister Eckhart.

Fox is somewhat controversial because he was expelled from the Dominicans and apparently censured over some of his theology. Generally, his earlier works are in my view reasonably Orthodox, though later he seemed to grow very angry and bitter towards the Church and particularly towards Cardinal Ratzinger (who is now of course the Pope) and says some quite irrational things about him.

Fox in my view is right to call creation an original blessing, in the sense God made everything (humans included) good. Original sin though is in my view an important doctrine, and even in the Eastern Church Fathers, who tended to have a more cosmic view of both the creation and the incarnation than was the case in the West, the fall still had catastrophic consequences. Mathew Fox is right in my view in so far as creation and blessing need to be emphasized, but I disagree strongly with his view we need to abolish the idea of original sin completely.

Human evil is very real and Augustine’s psychological account and how it relates to sex is actually very astute and in my view correct, so fall-redemption theology and tradition is correct. But the danger with this tradition is when it becomes so emphasized it obscures the life of divinising grace and santification which we receive from being baptised and taking part in the sacraments, as well as the importance of experiencing joy and happiness at our salvation and intimacy with God. Sometimes if the understanding of sin becomes too morbid and legalised we fall into scruples and despair which are very dangerous sins which obscure both the wonderful grace God gave when he made us in the wombs of our mothers to be born and then to grow into humans who then by even more wonderful grace take part in the divine life and nature through baptism and the sacraments. Also the cosmic role of the Word is sometimes forgotten (though this has been recovered a lot by studies in Patristics by people like Balthasar, Bouyer and Lubac) which is as important as the historical Jesus and his works.

Fox can be profitable reading, so long as his material is taken with a critical mind. As for Eckhart, in my view the studies of Bernard McGinn are more accurate from a scholarly perspective (and they don’t downgrade the great Master in any way).

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