Begotten Son, an analogy might help. Suppose that on a
visit to your house, I deliberately break a precious Japanese
vase in a fit of anger. Suppose that you forgive me for this
action. Still, you cannot bring the vase back. Even if you
have it repaired, it will always be that now–restored–broken
vase. Consider a more serious example. Suppose I reveal
to another something you tell me in confidence, indeed
something that you above all want to conceal from that very
person. Suppose that you forgive me. Still, what can undo
the harm I have set in motion? Are you likely to confide
in me again? I don’t think so.
These, and many other examples you could no doubt
provide, may be taken to illustrate what might be called
seemingly “irreparable” harms. Damage is done that cannot
readily be undone. Words are spoken that cannot be with-
drawn. Evenwhere forgiveness is generous and ungrudging,
the passage of time and appropriate measures are needed
to repair the harm that lingers in the wake of certain words
and deeds, both for the wrongdoer and for others affected
by his actions. The sin of our first parents is like this.
Christian revelation teaches us that this actual sin on
the part of our first parents had inescapable consequences
for them and for their descendants, and that God—accommodating our salvation to the nature of the fault,
and thus to our human nature—mercifully willed to
take the time needed to prepare us for the coming of our
“great Redeemer.” By God’s grace, the history of salvation
coincides, we might say, with the history of the human race.
The loss of the state of original justice: consequences
of sin for Adam and Eve
In order to understand the consequences of the sin of
Adam and Eve for them, we need to understand something
of the state of original justice in which they were created.