it’s not about the apple

We read some Luther for my Christian Ethics class today, and it ended up being one of the most enlightening sessions to date – for me, anyway.

In his exegesis of Genesis 3:1-3, Luther points out that the chief temptation was “to listen to another Word, and so to depart from the one which God had previously spoken.” The tree upon which that red delicious grew was meant to be the original place of worship, where humanity was to be reminded of who we are before God. God had spoken a clear Word to Adam, and trouble occurs when Eve begins to engage in a discussion of doubt in regards to that Word. It’s not, then, the eating of the apple that is sinful, but rather a failure to trust in the Word of God.

In terms of Christian ethics, we keep coming back to the reality that it’s not about establishing a system of command / compliance, but being in tune with the living and speaking Word. The ‘good life’ cannot be plotted or determined in advance. For Luther, there is indeed no need to systematize our ethics because we have been justified by Christ; there is no process of earning or working towards that justification. All of our works are made good in Christ, whose constant Word continually shapes who we are.

It’s not about the apple. We are meant to trust that what God has spoken is true. Luther shifts the focus from the apple command [believed to be a command meant to be followed in order to remain in right standing with God] to the Word of God has been and continues to be spoken to those who have been justified by Christ apart from anything they do or fail to do. Our responsibility is simply to worship, to trust and to obey. That’s why we come to the tree.

It’s not about the apple.

  1. November 30th, 2009

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