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    May 1st, 2012 @ 11:05 am by Kevin

    While working on Hellbound?, I’ve become fascinated by the account of the Fall of humankind and the subsequent story of the first murder in Genesis. Both of these stories have loads to tell us about two of the prime motivations of human behavior–fear of death and mimetic desire–and how violence became the logos or organizing principle of human civilization. This sets the stage for the eventual introduction of a new logos, Jesus Christ, who will build his kingdom not on violence but on self-giving love. But to do so, he must first defeat death in order to set us free from bondage to fear, which is the greatest barrier to love. As the writer of Hebrews says,

    Since the children have flesh and blood,he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. — Hebrews 2:14-15

    The writings of Ernest Becker and Rene Girard have been particularly helpful in guiding my thinking on this topic. But recently I came across a fascinating series of articles by Rabbi David Fohrman that takes an in-depth look at the world’s first murder, how it ties in with the Fall and its implications for the rest of humanity. The articles are excerpted from Fohrman’s book The Beast That Crouches at the Door, which is a reference to God’s warning to Cain in Genesis 4:7:

    If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door.

    I highly recommend this series to anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of this narrative, because if we’re going to discuss sin, death and hell, I think it’s important to go back and study the primal sin, its consequences and God’s reaction to it. Because if we go wrong there, the rest of our thinking will only compound our initial error. And that, it seems to me, would merely be reenacting the same sort of behavior that created all of our problems in the first place.

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