For my new sermon series, I’m reading Edmund Clowney’s book The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament. In it, he speculates briefly about the way in which human history would have unfolded if the Fall hadn’t happened. I know, I know… It’s strictly hypothetical, but still…
We do not know in what way God would have owned His image in man through Christ if Adam and Eve had not disobeyed. Surely Adam as an obedient son would have been brought to know the beloved Son. But we do know that human sin did not frustrate God’s plan. Indeed, God’s triumph through Christ over sin is so glorious that we are driven to conclude that apart from sin, such incredible love and mercy in the heart of God could never have been displayed. We can almost sympathize with Augustine, who cried out, “Felix culpa!“ (Fortunate transgression!).
Is it better that humanity sinned so that greater depths of God’s love, mercy, and compassion could be revealed? I don’t have a counterargument for Augustine. Perhaps I would respond this way: The Fall wasn’t good in and of itself. But God transformed it, as he does so many other bad things, into something good for us.
1. Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013), 37-8.