Confessions: No One Is Clean Of Sin In Your Eyes | pt.2


This was an age, then, Master, through which I don’t remember living… so I shrink from placing this age in the same category as this conscious life of mine that I live in the world… But if I was conceived in wrongdoing and in her sins my mother nourished me in her womb, then where—I beg you to tell me, my God and my Master— where and when was I your slave innocent? Well then, let me leave aside that time: What, after all, does it have to do with me now, since I can’t recollect any trace of it?—Saint Augustine, Confessions 1.12


Augustine continues to wrestle with original sin, only now concerning guilt. Are we guilty for the sins we do not remember committing? Are we exonerated from our sins because they were not done in our conscious life? Moreover, do we share in the guilt of our parents? What do the sins of a mother have to do with their child? What do the crimes of another have to do with their children? They are two unique individuals who have made and will make decisions for themselves. Is the child then not free of the parent’s guilt? That would be reasonable.


The answer intuitively seems to be no. No, we are not guilty of what we have done unconsciously. And no, we are not guilty for the sins of our parents. But Augustine does not seem convinced. But Augustine’s resolution is still to be spelled out. Let us keep reading.

Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.

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