God Does Not Forgive: A Rejection of the Recent Concept of Forgivable Generational Inherited Sin
By Chapter Master Gaven Lok’ri, Co-Chapter Master of the Excubitoris Chapter of the Order of the Sacred Throne.
In recent years many Amarr have developed a concept of slavery that portrays it as a contractual relationship in which sufficient punishment and toil makes up for the sins of the slave and their ancestors. In this view, the damned (or at least their descendants) can work their way back into the good graces of God. According to these new beliefs, sin is hereditary and the descendants of a sinner need to pay off that original sin of their forebears. While I have long considered this mindset a somewhat odd way of interpreting Amarr teachings, recent events have made it clear that the concept of slavery being a method for paying off generational sin is dangerous as well as misguided.
I. In the Beginning:
To understand any view of Amarr Slavery, one must start at the beginning, when all of creation was right with God. Any justification of slavery as it exists today is predicated on the truth that we currently inhabit a fallen world, one in which most of humanity actively flouts the divine will. We do not know what exactly caused humanity to break with God, but what is clear is that the world we exist in now is not the perfect place that existed before humanity broke with the divine.
We believe that the Amarr were chosen to be the heralds of a return to divine order. When the ancestors of everyone else broke with God, the followers of Gheinok did not. The light of God’s Truth in this world effectively shrunk to a tiny glimmer in the darkness, only surviving on the island that is now Dam-Torsad. With the foundation of the Empire as we know it, that light grew steadily until it reached the hundreds of systems in the Amarr Empire. This expansion brought the Chosen into contact with those whose ancestors had lost their way, creating a great dilemma for the successors of Amash-Akura.
We knew, of course, that the Amarr were chosen. But what does our having been chosen mean for those who lived outside of our pocket of rightly guided salvation? The recent view, and the one that has risen in popularity during the capsuleer era, is that the moment everyone else broke with the divine was a moment of original sin that damned their descendents. All but Amarr broke with God, and therefore all but Amarr are sinners who deserve punishment for the sins of their ancestors. The descendants of those who abandoned God need to somehow make up for their ancestor’s mistake, and as a result their long-term enslavement is justified as a way of slowly purifying their bloodline. God in this view is harsh in enforcing justice, but ultimately is forgiving.
The older view, however, is that all save Amarr were simply pushed outside of the light and guidance of God. Many, even most, of the people living in the Long Dark are indeed sinners, but they are not inheritors of some original sin. Rather they sin because they live in a world where sinning is normal. They are taught with their mother’s milk to do evil. Slavery exists as a matter of controlling those who have been corrupted by being surrounded by evil. Someone born into slavery is not guilty of the sins of their ancestors, but do have to account for their own crimes against God. When such groups of people in the dark were shown the signs of the faith, they gain a chance to either embrace the faith or to deny it. Most deny it, having been raised to be evil, but a few paragons have historically immediately understood the truth and have accepted their place in the divine Order. By this view of sin, there are lights in the darkness that can be redeemed and add the strength of their culture to Amarr while those that refuse are rightfully punished as criminals and enslaved. By this view of sin, there is no requirement that God forgives crimes.
In either case a version of Slavery is justified by the theology, but how the institution is supposed to function is very different if slavery is supposed to be salvific in its own right and is a justified punishment for ancestral sin rather than it existing as a way of controlling those who cannot otherwise function in the divine order.
II. God Does Not Forgive:
Examined uncritically, salvific slavery seems kinder. It offers a vision of a world with a forgiving God who can be appeased. It also provides a vision of the world in which the suffering of slavery is worthwhile in its own right. It creates a world in which no one is truly beyond redemption. But such a view is based on lies. It is a deception and denies the fundamental truth that God does not forgive.
If an individual is culpable for the sins of their ancestors, then no amount of punishment will ever suffice. This is a constant message of many of the most well-known revelations about God. A prime example of this message is found in the Code of Demeanor, in which “The Wrath of God is Immense. His Justice is Swift and Decisive. His Tolerance is Limited.” This is borne out throughout the divine revelations, in which God responds to seeing blasphemers and sinners by “drowning them in own blood,” among other judgements. Those who are shown the signs of faith and refuse to believe will receive “neither compassion nor mercy; Nor peace, nor solace.” Similarly, “those who turn away from his light, and reject his true word, shall be struck down by his wrath. For we are His retribution incarnate, His Angels of Vengeance.” As the scriptures also say, “The gates of paradise will open for you one time only; woe to the soul who dares to knock twice."
God does not forgive. Those who have committed offenses against God are damned, pure and simply. There is no salvation. There is no working it off. And therefore, any belief that someone inherits the Sins of their Ancestors must be wrong. In a world in which inherited sin is something that actually exists, everyone is damned except a tiny number of absolutely perfectly pedigreed True Amarr. The sin can never go away. But we know this is not true, and to say it is is to actively deny the sanctity of Tal-Romon, as well as any other sanctified people who also have ancestors who resisted the Reclaiming. To say this is clear heresy.
A better view of the matter is that the children of damned sinners do not in fact inherit sin, but rather inherit the worldly debt created by the damage that their ancestor’s sin created. In effect there is a distinction between a slave who is a criminal and is damned and a slave who owes a debt but is considered a faithful member of Amarr society. First generations of slaves come from those who failed God, while later generations become an entirely different type of slave than their criminal ancestors, at least until they also commit a crime themselves. The way Amarr handles this first generation of criminals is not tied up in questions of divine forgiveness, however, but rather falls under the Emperor’s Mercy.
While the Code of Demeanor and other scriptures are clear in their imagery of the implacable wrath of God towards those who sin, they are also quite clear that the Emperor is allowed to grant temporal mercy to those who have failed God. As the other half of the Code of Demeanor says, “The Mercy of our Emperor is Limitless. His Rule is Benign and Righteous. His Love is Perpetual."
One aspect of this mercy is the Reclaiming, the imperial order to bring the faith to those who are still living in their long night. As the Book of Reclaiming declares, "So the Lord sent forth the Chosen, to bring forth the light of faith And those who embrace his love Shall be saved by his grace For we are his shepherds in the darkness, His Angels of Mercy.” The chosen go forth, and they find those who, despite having lived their entire lives in unguided darkness, embrace the light of faith. The names of these cultures are well known. First, the Khanid, then the Ni’Kunni, and finally the Ammatar. The best people of each of these groups when brought into the light found that their souls were pure. They embraced the divine light and as a result their cultures survive to this day as unique cultures within the Amarr Empire. In their case, the Mercy of Amarr was saving them from a world that could have compelled them to become sinners.
But another aspect of that mercy is the decision of what to do to those who resist the Reclaiming. And this is the mercy that is Amarr Criminal Slavery. The people who Amarr had judged as criminals worthy of destruction could have been wiped out, but instead Amarr chose to enslave that generation to give their descendants a chance to make a different decision. Unlike the Khanid, the cultures that outright rejected the faith cannot be allowed to survive intact. They are clearly cultures built on sin as a foundational principle, they are cultures that see the light as evil and actively choose to hide in the dark. And they raise new generations, one after another, to believe that the good is evil and that the evil is good. Enslaving a generation of criminals against God who denied the faith and wiping out their culture allowed a future in which the descendents of Udorians or Minmatar can become proud members of the righteous community of the Amarr. They are no longer the Udorians or Minmatar of their ancestral traditions, but rather they are Amarr in every way.
If we apply a generational sin concept to this, however, it breaks down. The accumulated sin of generations of living in the dark, even for the better cultures, must have been immense. If Slavery exists to purge generational sin, then it is quite simply unfair that the Ealur are still mostly in slavery while the Khanid never were. It is unfair that the Ammatar did not have to serve as slaves for generations, while many of the Matari are still enslaved. And as God is certainly fair, the problem must be our Amarr culture. From this feeling of unfairness comes revolution.
But, since the entire idea of generational sin is nonsense this unfairness is not relevant. The reason so many are still enslaved as criminals is either that they have, generation after generation, failed to become Amarr, or that their Holders have committed a grave abuse against them and against God. The continued enslavement of these groups is also far from universally true, for the best members of each enslaved culture long ago accepted the truth and became Amarr with Heathen ancestry. The child of a criminal slave is born a debt slave, and then that debt slave or their descendants can rise through the ranks potentially attaining great heights, or they can fall back into sin and find themselves a criminal slave like their ancestor. In properly managed Holdings, only the individuals who have sinned in their own right during their lifetimes are criminal class slaves.
III: Inventing Forgivable Generational Sin:
The specific idea that sin transfers from generation to generation and that it creates a burden that can somehow be worked off is a relatively recent phenomenon that has increased in popularity during the last several centuries. The idea of salvation through toil is a powerful one and there are several reasons that it has gained popularity.
It is my belief that the original reason that this idea rose in prominence is that it gave greedy, self-centered, Sani inspired Holders an excuse to not manumit the debt slaves that were under their authority. The population of the lowest castes of slaves, by divine design, should be shrinking unless something is gravely wrong with the guidance granted by the Holder. Each generation should be seeing its best and brightest granted promotions from the lowest castes as they work off their ancestral debt and enhance the glory of Amarr. On a well managed Holding, the only remaining slaves should be those who are actively criminals and those who have outstanding debt to work off. Without new conquests, on a well managed holding, freedpeople and their descendants should far outnumber criminals and debt slaves. This is clearly not the case in large swathes of Amarr territory, and the generational sin concept is one of the tools that Holders who are tainted by Saniesque individualism use to justify treating Amarr faithful as if they are heretical criminals. They lie about God as they justify continuing to punish those who have earned no punishment in their lives.
Once the lie of a forgiving God was established as a cynical play to not have to do their job as Holders, it was then popularized by those who naively bought into the lie. Those ministering to criminal slaves bought into this salvific slavery centered theology because on its surface it offers hope to sinners. People who lack the courage to actually tell the truth how it really is, who are too kind, want to give people who are beyond salvation hope, and as a result they also lie about God and create a merciful God who does not exist. In doing so they unwittingly served the agenda of the cynical individualists who created the idea of salvific slavery in the first place.
Now one important point of clarification is that the idea of what constitutes slavery is a far more nuanced one in Amarr than it is in the rhetoric of many of those who will read this. I believe that many foreigners probably think of slaves as anyone who is not paid for their work and who is not allowed freedom of movement or choice of employment. The problem with this description is that it describes many different social classes within Amarr. When Gallente wish to vilify our social structure, they take images of the most punitive classes of slaves while acting as if those describe the whole. They do not. There are many classes of slaves within Amarr, and most of them should be living in good material conditions unless a holding is extremely poorly managed.
One of the single most important distinctions in types of slaves is the difference between Enslaved Criminal Heretics and Enslaved Debtors. A heretical criminal slave has no rights at all, their very continued existence is a massive act of mercy. Nothing can save them, for they have sinned against God. Debt slaves are very different. They have some basic protections and rights in any well-run holding and they are not inherently sinners. Many of these slaves are the descendants of criminals, but rather than working off their ancestors’ sin they are working off the temporal debt incurred. The sin was their ancestor’s alone, it died with them, but the social debt that was incurred alongside that sin is inheritable and needs to be worked off for a family to work their way up the social structure of Amarr.
Amarr is a society of divinely inspired order, so while most of the people in it are not placed in a position where they have a choice in what they do or where they go, they are still members of the Amarr Faith in Good Standing. Criminal Slaves are different, someone who dies as a criminal slave is someone who is utterly damned to eternal judgement and punishment. In places where the system is not being corrupted, the criminal slaves are those who are beyond salvation, who saw the message of God and actively rejected it.
It is obvious why a Holder corrupted by greed might lie to their subjects and try to convince them that they are in fact criminal slaves rather than debt slaves. Criminal slaves will never work off their debt, they are eternally damned, and God does not forgive. So, if a Holder can convince their slaves that they are criminal, they can create an environment in which they are never obligated to manumit their slaves. Such a Holder lies about God and tells subjects who are in fact Good and Faithful Amarr that they actually deserve damnation. Such a Holder should join the likes of the Holder who lied to evade Jamyl’s emancipation decree in becoming a criminal slave themselves.
IV: On Offering Undeserved Temporal Mercy to Sinners:
We have recently seen the consequences for these wrong ideas about salvation with the development of the Kernherite heresy. A core element of this broken faith is a belief that Amarr is obligated to treat different sinners fairly and equally. If generational sin must be worked off through long service, this suggests that the level of punishment that apostasy justifies is truly immense. If this is the case, it is an utter betrayal of the Amarr system for an Apostate to be brought back into the system without being punished with the generations upon generations of slavery that their actions rightfully earned.
But that worldview is based on a lie about God. It is based on the idea that God forgives anyone for anything. It’s based on the idea that forgiveness can be earned. And that view is wrong.
Rather, the pardoning of an apostate is both temporal and falls under the category of Imperial Mercy. Anyone who commits a true sin dies damned, nothing will ever erase their vast sin against God. But this is a divine matter, when it comes to temporal matters the Emperor has vastly more leeway. The sin against God justifies temporal punishment, but it does not require it. The Emperor has infinite powers of mercy, and she can exercise that power as a God given right. She cannot offer divine forgiveness, no one can do that, but she can choose not to punish temporally. There are many reasons to do this, but one of the biggest would be if allowing a sinner to escape punishment in the short term (in the long term they will always still receive divine punishment) would save the eternal souls of many others who might also have become damned. This is not a betrayal of those who have worked off temporal debt, their accomplishment in doing so is undiminished, but rather it is an act of mercy designed to prevent a great evil.
This fragility of faith that Kernherites demonstrate is what has brought me to write such an essay on this matter. Before their rebellion I saw the ideas of generational sin and transactional salvific slavery as being odd, but mostly benign, heterodoxies. After seeing the fall of Kernher, I now see them as fundamentally dangerous beliefs that run counter to the continuation of the divine order of Amarr.
A belief in generational sin that is based on the lie that God forgives undercuts divine order in two primary ways. First, it creates vast despair. It tells good and faithful lower-class Amarr that they are inherently sinners, even though they are of a higher class of slavery than the criminal classes who are damned. Rather than being taught to be proud of their service to the divine order, they were taught to view themselves as evil and their service as forced. Propagating such hopelessness is a grave crime that directly challenges the divine order of things. Second, it increases the stakes for the level of punishment that any sin requires. It creates false standards for what level of punishment is just, standards that are not usable in our broken world, and standards that when they are not lived up to cause people to lose faith.
These failings are not the fault of lower class Amarr raised by these lies alone. They are first and foremost the fault of those who teach lies about God. These false teachings about a God that forgives need to end, and those responsible for continuing to propagate them need to be reigned in before they manage to do any more damage to Holy Amarr.