Religion & Integrity

Indicative content

A. Luther as person and Protestant
B. The Scientist and the Believer
C. Conscience
D. Martyrs
E. Integrity and Humility

Back to Project Themes>>

A substantial contribution to this topic has been proposed by David Efird (York)

Original Sin as Self-Deception

A person who has integrity is neither self-deceived nor self-divided. She tries to see herself for who she is and isn’t at war with herself. Unfortunately, however, we humans are both self-deceived and self-divided, at least according to some of the great medieval philosophers. The root of our self-deception and our self-division, they argue, lie in original sin. Original sin is the propensity of human beings to commit acts of moral evil, a propensity for which God is not responsible. The effects of this condition extend both to our intellect and our will, with the result that we are both deceived and divided, not recognizing who we are and willing our own and others’ evil. Since we are responsible for these effects, we are both self-deceived and self-divided, and so not people of integrity. However, through the grace of God, we can become people of integrity, if we surrender to God, allowing God to work faith in us, thereby allowing us to see ourselves aright, for only through faith can we have understanding, and recreating our will so that it is oriented to the good rather than evil; subsequently, God strengthens us so that we may become ever more integrated, intellectually and volitionally, until we achieve union with him in the after-life. This then is the medieval story of our fall, justification, and sanctification, understood as a story of integrity lost and integrity re-gained.

This sub-section would explore this story, gleaning from it lessons that are applicable even apart from its theological commitments, such as the nature of psychological fragmentation and its re-integration.

Suggested readings

-Augustine, The Punishment and Forgiveness of Sins and the Baptism of Little Ones; On the Free Choice of the Will
-Anselm, Why God Became Man; On the Virgin Conception and Original Sin
-Aquinas, Summa Theologica (relevant sections)