That is the doctrine of original sin laid bare, and that is where it always leads. That is where it always leads. Not to our wholeness and well-being. Not to our growth and maturity. Not to an increase in love. It leads only to self-hate, to seeing sin in every thing and every one, including four-year-old children who just wanted to play basketball with their little friends.
How can that not have a profound effect on us? I tell you, it is nothing short of spiritual molestation.
Gulley’s take is not new. John Wesley knew it well. He’d heard it preached and advocated in his day. Wesley described views very similar to Gulley’s in his sermon “Original Sin.”
Gulley – like many others – seems to equate the doctrine of original sin with cruelty. Telling a person – or telling yourself – that something fundamental in humanity is broken and sick is interpreted as being mean. Telling someone that the gap between a creature and the Creator cannot be bridged by earnest effort and better education programs is compared to child molestation.
The rhetoric is nice, if the traditional church has been wrong for 2,000 years. If the Scriptural references to sin and forgiveness are just a minor note in the symphony of salvation, then perhaps Gulley and his fellow interpreters are correct. But I do not hear the music the same way Gulley does. When I look at the world, I certainly see ample evidence of sin rooted deep in human beings and human society. And I see the glorious transformation that can happen in the life of a sinner like me.
I don’t like being called a spiritual molester, but I cannot square Gulley’s reading of Scripture with the Bible or with the life of faith as I have seen it.