Causes and consequences of the decline of the sense of sin

From the letter of Father Daniel XVI.32, of Friday, August 6, 2021

(Own translation)

Dear Friends,

The third quality of our human nature is this: we are wounded by sin.  We tend to prefer not to face this aspect.

In the middle of the last century, we witnessed a very influential movement that removed evil and sin from its view of man: the “humanistic psychology”. Discovering and living from one’s own feelings, without considering moral values, totally “customer-oriented”, was central in this. The well-known high priests of this movement were: the American psychotherapist Carl Rogers († 1987), the psychologist of the “non-directive” method Abraham Maslow († 1970) and the prophet of self-development, the Marxist Erich Fromm († 1980). Discovering the personal feelings was the highest rule for them. Sure enough, this Jewish-Zionist Masonic lobby was successful! Added to this was the famous pediatrician Benjamin Spock († 1998).  He taught mothers how to let go of their little children, because “there is nothing evil in them and “they will learn it themselves”. Does your child crawl from the chair onto the table and put his foot in the pot of soup and you have a problem with that, that’s your problem, not his. It seemed very attractive. His psychological blunder flew around the world with no less than ten million copies in the following years! At the end of his life, Dr. Spock had to admit that he had bred several generations of terrorists. But the movement of “humanistic psychology” was so popular that pastors of retreats, reflection days and chapters were replaced by expert psychologists for “counseling”: looking for your own feelings.

The result was that since the 70s of last century, in a few decades’ time the seminaries, the monasteries and the churches were more than half empty. A little more attention to the feelings might have been good then. We need a sound, intellectual account of our faith, as we find in the magnificent “Catechism of the Catholic Church”. However, we also need to light a candle at a statue of Our Lady, to kneel in silence in a cathedral and to be moved by organ playing whose sounds roll along the vault and make the entire sacred space sing. Humanistic psychology, however, with its personal emotional life, without acknowledging God, evil or sin, has ultimately produced disastrous consequences. Some propagandists of this profitable enterprise later admitted that they knew that they were working on a diabolical project (1).

Daily experience forces us to recognize that there is a disruption in society, in the world and also in ourselves. There is jealousy and violence, lies and deceit, hatred and murder. With our human mind, we understand that this is real evil. Yet it is only through revelation that we can understand what the “mystery of evil” actually means and that it is much more than socially harmful. Judeo-Christian revelation teaches us that the cause of this is sin.

The first book of Genesis makes it clear to us in chapter 3 that God has provided a glorious life for man, as a paradisiacal existence in communion with Him. Man may eat in abundance of all fruit trees, but must recognize that God is his Creator, who ultimately determines what is right and wrong. Man was created by God with reason and free will and is now invited to receive eternal life, love and happiness from Him gratefully. However, man is tempted by the cunning serpent, Satan, the devil, a fallen angel, who wants to destroy God’s plan of salvation with man. He tells the woman lies and illusions and makes her believe that if she dares to rebel against God, she will not die at all but become equal to God. The woman is tempted from the outside and from the inside. She is no longer satisfied with being created in God’s Image and Likeness, she takes over the devil’s desire to be god himself. After this, the man is seduced by the woman and he also takes over her desire. Instead of enjoying the fruit trees in abundance and living joyfully and humbly in the love of God, he too eats of the forbidden fruit and haughtily reaches for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It’s like parents who make a lovely playground for their children and say they shouldn’t open the gate so as not to get on the dangerous road, while the children are feeding mistrust and thinking that their parents want to deprive them of the pleasures of life.

The consequences of this terrible rebellion against God are enormous. The breaking of trust and friendship with God brings complete disruption: inwardly, man himself is disrupted, the mutual relationships are disturbed and the harmony with nature is broken. In the end, only the serpent (the devil) and the earth are “cursed” (Genesis 3, 14, and 17).  There is also a wonderful promise right away. Such is God’s pedagogy throughout the history of salvation. Man brings disaster upon himself by his rebellion against God, and at the same time God gives the promise of an even greater salvation. Here we call that promise the “primal or proto-Gospel”: “And I will cause hostility between you (the serpent, Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring (Hebrew: zerah = seed) and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Eve will become the mother of “all the living” (Genesis 3:20). One day a Savior will be born in the human race who will crush the head of the serpent. It is a reference to the supernatural birth of Jesus Christ from the Virgin Mary. A normal, natural, human conception occurs by the coming together of a male sperm cell with a female egg cell. Here is spoken of the seed of the woman. In the natural order, the woman has no seed, it comes from a man. The text thus already refers to the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus from Mary, received from the Holy Spirit and not from a natural conception.

Man will have to suffer the consequences of his own actions, which he has committed freely: fear, shame and helplessness, from which he cannot save himself. This “original sin” is not our personal sin, but the nature, the state in which we are all born and in which we participate. Our minds and wills have been compromised. We no longer have the clear understanding of God’s goodness, and our will is not spontaneously focused on the good. We want to elaborate on this in a subsequent consideration and try to understand what “the mystery of evil” means.

(1) COULSON William, ‘Confession d’un psychthérapeute, in Le Cep no. 14, Jan. 2001, pp. 54-69; and the psychology professor KILPATRICK William, «Du christianisme à la psychologie », in Le Cep, nr. 15, april 2001, pp. 44-55.

Ed. The articles of Le Cep cited here are extremely interessant to get a correct idea of the causes of the current malaise and contradictions in the Catholic Church. They can be read directly in French at: . One chooses the chapter: Du christianisme à la psychologie, by William Kirk Kilpatrick.

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