Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jonthan Edwards - Growing up in sin

One of the books I'm reading at the moment is Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden. It's interesting to note that the Purtians had no notion of childhood innocence. "Children's natural selfishness, greed and disobedience were everyday reminders that the human race was corrupt, inheriting sinful natures from their first parents, Adm and Eve." (p20) A friend of ours while we were on camp recently noted how relentlessly they have had to discipline their five-year old, how easily they misbehaved. Marsden notes how self-consciously aware Edwards was as a child and youth, of his own sinfulness. I remember reading Lord of the Flies late in primary school and deeply resonating with the story of how a group of children descend into anarchy. I could see in myself and my peers, the dark potential unleashed in Lord of the Flies. Therefore it is understandable and important the Purtians internalised the doctrine of Original Sin rather than making it about some external group or force.

2 comments:

Nate said...

We were talking about this recently in a class of mine, and it was a pretty unpopular idea.

The three major views on children that were raised were:
(i) Romantic, based on an understanding of children as essentially good and innocent
(ii) Puritanical, based on this idea that children are corrupt
(iii) 'Tabula rasa' - children are a blank slate and their environmental conditioning determines everything

Most people tended to lean towards the last, which to me treats children like they aren't people at all, just animals, or machines to be controlled.

If children are really people then I think we have to recognise them as sinful, or else deny that everyone is sinful.

Luke said...

Hi Nate, Very interesting about how people think of kids as 'Tabula rasa' as opposed to 'Romantic.' Which might mean people don't like bad stuff happening to kids because it will leave a bad imprint/legacy on them.