and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will
ORIGINAL SIN IN SCRIPTURE
The classical text is Rom., v, 12 sqq. In the preceding part the apostle treats of justification by Jesus Christ, and to put in evidence the fact of His being the one Saviour, he contrasts with this Divine Head of mankind the human head who caused its ruin. The question of original sin, therefore, comes in only incidentally. St. Paul supposes the idea that the faithful have of it from his oral instructions, and he speaks of it to make them understand the work of Redemption. This explains the brevity of the development and the obscurity of some verses. We shall now show what, in the text, is opposed to the three Pelagian positions:
ORIGINAL SIN IN TRADITION
On account of a superficial resemblance between the doctrine of original sin and and the Manichaean theory of our nature being evil, the Pelagians accused the Catholics and St. Augustine of Manichaeism. For the accusation and its answer see "Contra duas epist. Pelag.", I, II, 4; V, 10; III, IX, 25; IV, III. In our own times this charge has been reiterated by several critics and historians of dogma who have been influenced by the fact that before his conversion St. Augustine was a Manichaean. They do not identify Manichaeism with the doctrine of original sin, but they say that St. Augustine, with the remains of his former Manichaean prejudices, created the doctrine of original sin unknown before his time. It is not true that the doctrine of original sin does not appear in the works of the pre-Augustinian Fathers. On the contrary, their testimony is found in special works on the subject. Nor can it be said, as Harnack maintains, that St. Augustine himself acknowledges the absence of this doctrine in the writings of the Fathers. St. Augustine invokes the testimony of eleven Fathers, Greek as well as Latin (Contra Jul., II, x, 33). Baseless also is the assertion that before St. Augustine this doctrine was unknown to the Jews and to the Christians; as we have already shown, it was taught by St. Paul. It is found in the fourth Book of Esdras, a work written by a Jew in the first century after Christ and widely read by the Christians. This book represents Adam as the author of the fall of the human race (vii, 48), as having transmitted to all his posterity the permanent infirmity, the malignity, the bad seed of sin (iii, 21, 22; iv, 30). Protestants themselves admit the doctrine of original sin in this book and others of the same period (see Sanday, "The International Critical Commentary: Romans", 134, 137; Hastings, "A Dictionary of the Bible", I, 841). It is therefore impossible to make St. Augustine, who is of a much later date, the inventor of original sin.That this doctrine existed in Christian tradition before St. Augustine's time is shown by the practice of the Church in the baptism of children. The Pelagians held that baptism was given to children, not to remit their sin, but to make them better, to give them supernatural life, to make them adoptive sons of God, and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven (see St. Augustine, "De peccat. meritis", I, xviii). The Catholics answered by citing the Nicene Creed, "Confiteor unum baptisma in remissiomen peccatorum". They reproached the Pelagians with introducing two baptisms, one for adults to remit sins, the other for children with no such purpose. Catholics argued, too, from the ceremonies of baptism, which suppose the child to be under the power of evil, i.e., exorcisms, abjuration of Satan made by the sponsor in the name of the child [Aug., loc. cit., xxxiv, 63; Denz., n. 140 (96)]
Article II: Of Original Sin.
Our Churches, with common consent, do teach . . . that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in
the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of
God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this
disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and
bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism
and the Holy Ghost..
(Original sin defined as a depravity of nature, deserves
punishment, but which is not from nature as created, 8-11)
8. The nature of original sin
But lest the thing itself of which we speak be unknown or doubtful, it will be proper to define original sin. (Calvin, in Conc. Trident. 1, Dec. Sess. 5.) I have no intention, however, to discuss all the definitions which different writers have adopted, but only to adduce the one which seems to me most accordant with truth. Original sin, then, may be defined a hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature, extending to all the parts of the soul, which first makes us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which in Scripture are termed works of the flesh. This corruption is repeatedly designated by Paul by the term sin, (Gal. 5: 19;) while the works which proceed from it, such as adultery, fornication, theft, hatred, murder, revellings, he terms, in the same way, the fruits of sin, though in various passages of Scripture, and even by Paul himself, they are also termed sins.
The two things, therefore, are to be distinctly observed, viz., that being thus perverted and corrupted in all the parts of our nature, we are, merely on account of such corruption, deservedly condemned by God, to whom nothing is acceptable but righteousness, innocence, and purity. This is not liability for another's fault. For when it is said, that the sin of Adam has made us obnoxious to the justice of God, the meaning is not, that we, who are in ourselves innocent and blameless, are bearing his guilt, but that since by his transgression we are all placed under the curse, he is said to have brought us under obligation. Through him, however, not only has punishment been derived, but pollution instilled, for which punishment is justly due. Hence Augustine, though he often terms it another's sin, (that he may more clearly show how it comes to us by descent,) at the same time asserts that it is each individual's own sin. And the Apostle most distinctly testifies, that "death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," (Rom. 5: 12;) that is, are involved in original sin, and polluted by its stain. Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother's womb, suffer not for another's, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt.
Next comes the other point, viz., that this perversity in us never ceases, but constantly produces new fruits, in other words, those works of the flesh which we formerly described; just as a lighted furnace sends forth sparks and flames, or a fountain without ceasing pours out water. Hence, those who have defined original sin as the want of the original righteousness which we ought to have had, though they substantially comprehend the whole case, do not significantly enough express its power and energy. For our nature is not only utterly devoid of goodness, but so prolific in all kinds of evil, that it can never be idle. Those who term it concupiscence use a word not very inappropriate, provided it were added, (this, however, many will by no means concede,) that everything which is in man, from the intellect to the will, from the soul even to the flesh, is defiled and pervaded with this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that the whole man is in himself nothing else than concupiscence.
If one but examines this entire chapter of The Institutes, one finds as before that there is absolutely no reference to the Word of the Lord in justifying this doctrine. He appeals one time and one time only to the Words of the Lord (John 3:6), and in doing so produces an unjustiable interpretation.
I. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.
III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.
IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
V. This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of
the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, does in its own
nature, bring guilt upon the
sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the
law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual,
temporal, and eternal.
Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.
We note, as in all other
cases, that there is no reference to the Word of Jesus in establishing
this statement: Through the temptation
of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his
original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an
environment inclined toward sin. The sole reference from the gospels,
Matthew 16:26, is the Great Principle and
makes no reference to original
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians
do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every
man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby
man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own
nature inclined to evil, and that continually.
Summary of This Brief
This is not a complete compilation by any means, but is composed of statements from major Protestant and Catholic sources. The doctrine is not universal in Christendom. For example, the Orthodox Faith intrepets original sin as specified as the No. 1 meaning from the Catholic Encyclopedia. You find this above, and it is simply the sin that Adam committed. The above statements are from some of the major bodies of Christendom and their influence is pervasive throughout the world..
II. From The Testimony of Jesus
Please be reminded of two things from the above survey. First, by carefully examining these sources we have discovered that there is no reference to Jesus or his teaching as a basis for this doctrine. Second, keep in mind, as I have already asked, that the authorities cited above depend heavily on what they call "Christian Tradition." This is of major significance, as I will later show.
So we ask
the question, "Did Jesus teach or say anything pertinent to this
doctrine?" We do not expect him to have used the term "original
sin" because it was first coined by later theologians. Neither
did Paul use the term, yet his Epistle to the
Romans contains the basic text of those theologians who want to extract
original sin from the scriptures. It is reasonable, therefore, to
look for this doctrine in the teaching of Jesus as in Paul. We should
also put it on record that, in establishing his doctrine, neither did
Paul make any appeal to the teaching of Jesus. But any unbiased
person should look to Jesus first, should he not? Jesus is the
foundation of the gospel, the first teacher of Truth from God the
Father, and the Master of all disciples. Paul was The
The Evangelist clearly stated that Jesus
knew what was in man, and
sin as defined above is surely defined as in the man. The
have gone to Jesus first to discern the correct teaching as to what is
in man, whether or not there be in him the inherited taint of sin,
rendering him utterly depraved.
say considerable that is pertinent to this doctrine, but he teaches
absolutely nothing that suggests the doctrine of original
sin. Rather, his statements, to which we resort below, absolutely
rule out any consideration
of this perverse doctrine. This is, of course, the sufficient
reason why none of the church theologians throughout two thousand years
of theological obfuscations, beginning with
have sought to base their doctrine on the Lord's Word. We list
here, then, some of the pertinent utterances of Jesus. To get the
full impact of his teaching, it is helpful to list the parallel
utterances from the synoptic gospels in parallel columns.
1. Those utterances that speak specifically of children and infants.
begin with the children because of the supposed source of original sin
as inherited. Here is a statement from Calvin, repeated from
If this is true, than we should find some
hint of it in Jesus -- but here is what we find instead, presented in
columns from the synoptic gospels:
On the Children and Infants
 A that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them,
 and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
 Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;
 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
 See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.
 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people;
 but Jesus said,
Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven
 And they came to Caper'na-um; and when he was in the house he asked them, What were you discussing on the way?
 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.
 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.
 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms,
he said to them,
 Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.
 And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.
 But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side,
 and said to them,
Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.
 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
 But Jesus called them to him, saying,
Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
is it remotely possible for anyone to hear Jesus on the children,
acknowledge his authority and yet believe in the doctrine of oringinal
sin? Look at this again:
 Hear then the parable of the sower.
 When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path.
 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
 As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
 And he said to them, Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
 The sower sows the word.
 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them.
 And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
 and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
 And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word,
 but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
 But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.
 Now the parable is this:
The seed is the word of God.
 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved.
 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy;but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
 And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.