Felix Culpa (and the chapter we skipped...)

Felix Culpa (and the chapter we skipped...) cover for post

Why does God allow sin and evil?


Felix Culpa is a Latin phrase used by Christians since the 4th century. Felix meaning "happy," "lucky," or "blessed" and culpa, meaning "fault" or “fall".

So we could call it “fortunate fall” or “blessed fault.” 

As a theological concept, felix culpa is a way of understanding the Fall as having positive outcomes, such as the redemption of mankind through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

This idea was introduced by the great Italian theologian Ambrose (339-397) and then popularized by the great African Theologian Augustine (354-430). 

Felix culpa is a way of explaining

how God let’s evil remain (for now)

but uses and directs it toward

his ultimately good purposes.


Genesis 38 (the chapter we skipped on Sunday) tells us in sexually graphic detail how felix culpa (fortunate fall, blessed fault) works in history.

One of the twelve sons of Jacob was named Judah. Judah was not a good man:

  • He was the greedy one who initiated selling Joseph into slavery (37:26-27),
  • He separated from his brothers and lived and took wives among the Canaanites (38:1-5)
  • He gave his son a pagan wife as well (38:6)

He was also fond of seeing prostitutes, so fond of it that when his widowed daughter-in-law needed to get pregnant to preserve the “messianic family line” (a misguided act of faith), she disguised herself as a prostitute, covered her face and went “out to the corner” where the women of the night did their business.

Judah saw her, hired her and gave her pledge of a forthcoming payment (which would be a young goat) by giving her his one-of-a-kind staff, signet ring and cord of some type.

Well….they did what prostitutes did with "Johns” and Tamar became pregnant without Judah knowing. Now look at what happens next.....


“About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.”

Genesis 38:24-26


Tamar was righteous because of her faith in God’s deliverance that would come through the Messiah.

Tamar was immoral in the way she went about it.

Lying, sexual immorality, adultery and prostitution is not the normal pathway to faith and salvation.

But God is taking small amounts of

human faith and double crossing

evil by using evil human choices

to bring salvation and

forgiveness to the world.



“When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.”

Genesis 38:27-30


Notice the name PEREZ!

Now watch this:

In the introduction to the Gospel of Matthew, we have the family line of Jesus Christ that includes many of our characters from Genesis…


Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron.

Matthew 1:2-3

Then we have 12 verses of generations of this family line.

Then this…


and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

Matthew 1:16


In other words, the sin of Judah and the sin and faith of Tamar were used by God to bring Jesus to the world! 


Felix Culpa!


God is not absent.

He sees, he knows, he is working all things together for the good of those who love him.

He’s doing the same thing with your sins, failures, deceptions and bits of faith. His good purposes cannot be thwarted. 

Isn’t this the story of the cross?


Human sin + God’s grace = Salvation

So take heart, whatever has happened to you, whatever you have done, whatever they did, whatever you are going through, God can bring beauty from ashes.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Harvey