(1) Trace a central theme through the biblical narrative and the tradition of the early Church.
- Sin (How have we seen human beings reject God and/or fall short of God’s expectations? What is God’s response?)
As you read the Bible, you can see many instances of sin and God’s reactions to them. As we work our way through the Old and New Testaments, God’s responses to sin become less and less severe. In Genesis 3, we see Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden tree of knowledge, and God punishes them by making the earth less fertile, causing childbirth to be painful, and banishing them from the Garden of Eden. Later, in Genesis 6-8, God sees wickedness in the world and decides to flood the entire earth for 150 days in order to kill every human other Noah and his immediate family. Clearly, Genesis shows a very angry image of God.
As we continue past the Pentateuch and into the Book of Judges, God becomes less extreme in his punishment of sin. Throughout Judges, we see Israel collectively forget about God, followed by God letting the enemies of Israel conquer them. This is still a massive blow to Israel, but unlike the two Genesis sins it allows the sinners to repent, which they do. Upon the Israelite repentance, God sends a “judge,” or military leader, to lead the Israelites back to freedom and faith, which they keep for a short time and then lose again.
As we exit the Old Testament, God continues to grow less violent with his punishments by sending prophets to try to build up the Israelites faith again. In the New Testament, God finally decides to send his only son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for all of humanities sins by dying on the cross. In doing this, God shows that he is done with punishing our sins and opens the door for the sacrament of Confession for everybody who lives afterward. This is incredibly far from the banishment and human extermination that we were shown when first introduced to God in Genesis, and I think that this shows more of an evolution of the thinking of Theologians than of God. As time went on, those who wrote and edited the book of the Old Testament realized God’s love, and then God displayed it fully with the crucifixion of his son.