Origins of Original Sin

Original Sin is the idea that all of humanity sinned and became guilty when Adam sinned.

This teaching was around in some form since Irenaeus in the 2nd century while he battled with Gnostics. Although, at the same time, other theologian types disagreed with him, maintaining that humanity was free and not inherently guilty.

Augustine came along and really formalized the doctrine of Original Sin. Augustine was tainted with philosophy in much of his theology. Original Sin is a prime example.

He believed that man was born as a guilty sinner and all were present in Adam when Adam sinned, thus all are born guilty. Augustine had pretty weird views of sex, original sin is passed on by sexual reproduction, thus sex was viewed as not a good thing.

A later guy, Rainier Sacchoni, took these ideas and said that marriage was “a mortal sin. . . as severely punished by God as adultery or incest.” Even sex within marriage was viewed as evil because of its link with passing on Original Sin.

These early dabblings in the doctrine of Original Sin were later grabbed onto by Luther and Calvin and formed into our modern understanding of Original Sin. Calvin went further, making Original Sin the reason we are totally depraved, unable to respond to the goodness of God on our own.

Thus, the modern notion of Original Sin, says that we are guilty of Adam’s sin and are so guilty and tainted with his sin that we are unable to do good at all, or even see good, or be attracted to good.

All this seems quite silly to me and smacks more of Gnosticism than biblical theology.

Adam’s sin certainly did impact the world. Because of the first sin, death was brought into existence and all future people were born into a fallen world. We are born with the natural inclination to sin.

However, I see absolutely no biblical proof at all, whatsoever, that we are guilty of Adam’s sin. Any time someone is judged for a sin in the Bible, it’s for a sin they actually committed. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

If you end up in hell some day, it won’t be because of Adam’s sin; it’ll be because of your sin.

Adam’s sin produced a fallen world. If you are alive, you are part of the fallen world. Things are no longer “good” as God originally created them to be.

Little babies are born as little selfish sacks of sin. They do not need to be taught to be sinful. They do creepy things naturally.

In my opinion, that is what Original Sin is: we are tainted with sin and have a natural inclination toward it. I by no means believe Original Sin means I am guilty for what Adam did, nor do I believe this makes me so sinful I am incapable of responding to the goodness of God.

More tomorrow, Lord willing.

6 thoughts on “Origins of Original Sin”

  1. the modern notion of Original Sin, says that we are guilty of Adam’s sin and are so guilty and tainted with his sin that we are unable to do good at all, or even see good, or be attracted to good.

    With the above idea and the clichéd excuse that “the Devil made me do it” – we REALLY don’t like the idea of personal responsibility and accountability do we?
    Very good article Jeff.

  2. No we don’t! It is my opinion that about 68% of Christian doctrine is an effort to get us out of personal responsibility.

  3. I agree.

    And far too much “bible” teaching seems centred on explaining why the bible doesn’t really mean what it is clearly saying.

  4. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says we will die, it does not say we re guilty of Adam’s sin. I am not denying that we are tainted by Adam’s sin, we are part of a fallen world due to Adam’s sin, but I am not guilty of Adam’s sin.

    Romans 5 is the main passage. I will address it in the next few days concerning the issue of Substitutionary Atonement.

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