Perhaps you’ve heard of the theological concept of “Original Sin.” It’s a doctrine made popular by St. Augustine that says that each of us has a sin nature handed to us through the sperm of our father going all the way back to Adam, who is believed to be the original human man and father of us all. As I was taught, this is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin. By not having an earthly father, the sin nature that all of humanity inherits would not be passed down to him.
This doctrine of original sin is where many of us begin our theology. After all, the word “original” carries within it the idea of “origin,” or the beginning.
When I was a 5 point Calvinist, my theology began with Total Depravity. This was the idea that every part of humanity is fallen and depraved by our sin nature inherited through original sin.
In each of these cases, the story begins with sin, depravity, brokenness.
While I do not want to deny the reality that each of us are broken, I also am not interested in exploring our brokenness in this post. We’ll get to that later. For now, I want to introduce an earlier idea, the idea of original wonder.
In the beginning was Community in Relationship. As Christians, we believe in the Trinitarian dance between Father, Son, and Spirit. Before there was anything, the One in Three, the Three in One inhabited and overflowed in perfect relational community.
In Genesis 1, we read a poetic rhythm of this Relational Community saying and seeing. God said, and God saw. God said, and God saw. Over and over again in perfect completion.
What did God say? God spoke order out of chaos, and beauty out of waste. What did God see? Goodness. And in our case? The goodness was very good.
But I’d like to add one thing that the text does not say. Before God said, God wondered. God did not simply say random words that just happened to pop into his head. He said what he was dreaming in his heart. The Relational Community said what was overflowing from within. In other words, God had original wonder. And God’s wonder overflowed into creativity. God envisioned, spoke, and then saw that the created vision was good and very good.
In Genesis 2, we read about creation as a narrative. In this narrative, God creates Adam prior to any shrub or plant appearing on the earth. According to this creation story, shrubs and plants had not yet appeared because there was no human created to work the ground. So God knelt in the dust, formed Adam, and breathed the breath of life into him. Now that Adam was made, God could then create a garden in which to bring the man.
This story makes a bit more clear the concept of original wonder. God imagined a world in which a man would tend to a garden. But until God created a man, there would be no garden. So God created what he imagined. A man. Then a garden. God’s wonder overflowed into creativity that would multiply through human creativity.
With Adam being created, God’s dream had begun to be experienced. Yet, it was not complete. Just like God was full of wonder, Adam began to wonder. All of the animals had partners. But for Adam, there was no partner. Adam’s noticing of the absence of a partner is a hint that he had wonder for what could be. Then God noticed. And in God’s noticing of Adam’s wonder, God further filled out his own wonder in the creation of Eve.
So yes, eventually we have to come to terms with the brokenness of Genesis 3 between the human and the divine, the human and his partner, the human and the animals, and the human and the cosmos. But deeper than our brokenness is a goodness that is actually never reversed in Genesis 3. Why? Because in our essence, we are still the overflow of God’s original wonder. And as image bearers, each of us hold within ourselves our own original seed of wonder. It may get hidden or buried by sin. But the seeds of wonder that flows from God’s wonder is still down there, waiting to be given new life.