LBC 1689 6.2

Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

There is insight to be had from reading the Spanish translation, a kind of in-house symbolic theology. 2.1 in Spanish, for example, has God without body, members or passions, instead of body, parts or passions. It is a betrayal, however inadvertent, and rather sounds like a denial that God might be a cephalopod. This is true enough, but trivial. Now in 6.2 we have the word ‘defiled’ that is translated ‘corrupted’. If you think about it, you will see a difference.

I affirm total depravity. The question is what depravity is. I find Edward’s distinction between a natural and a moral ability useful here. Total depravity does not mean that a natural ability has been removed, it means that a moral ability has. We can do what is right, but we do not desire it. I do not deny corruption either, but comparing the translation to the original I think is better to speak about defilement of faculties because of a corruption of nature, which last is what you see in 6.3.

The human eye, for example, has been not only defiled by sin, it has also been degraded. There is a certain corruption that has crept in: some will never see, some will never see very well, all will probably have at some point or another problems with their eyesight. But it does not mean that for the most part most of us can’t use our eyes properly. It isn’t a matter, in other words, of material or formal causality, not so much a question of a damaged faculty. It is a question of what we do with eyes that can accomplish their purposes that defiles them.

The same with the human mind, if it is a faculty. The noetic effects of sin are not, for the most part, in the material (whatever that may be) or formal aspects of the faculty. It is a question of what use the faculty is employed in by the nature of which it is a faculty.

The question that suddenly arises, however, is whether the mind is a faculty at all. What exactly is it, what are its properties, etc., or is it a property of nature and not really a faculty? That is what I need to go searching. How is a faculty distinguishable from a property, if at all? To which, really, does mind belong?

What I am finding out is that that is the kind of reasoning the writers of our 16th Century confessions did. They were still attached to the old learning, thought in the pre-modern categories, and assumed as did Plato and Aquinas. One great value of the confessions is that they did not prepare for what was happening all around them, early modernity and the changes and assumptions that reflective, thinking persons now employ.


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