(The old version of the article, click here for the new version.)
When finishing the rest, please read Mick Wolfe’s article as a good conclusion (link below).
“Test everything. Keep what is good”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ERV)
“Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.”
– Hebrews 13:9a (NIV)
“I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.”
– Jude 1:3b (ASV)
THE THEORY OF AUGUSTINIAN ORIGINAL SIN ATTACKED
“This doctrine is a stumbling-block both to the church and the world, infinitely dishonorable to God, and an abomination alike to God and the human intellect, and should be banished from every pulpit, and from every formula of doctrine, and from the world.
It is a relic of heathen philosophy, and was foisted in among the doctrines of Christianity by Augustine, as everyone may know who will take the trouble to examine for himself.”
– Charles Finney, Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, Published by BRCCD, p. 340 (emphasis mine)
“Augustine, after studying the philosophy of Manes, the Persian philosopher, brought into the church from Manichaeism the doctrine of original sin.”
– Harry Conn forward to Sin and Holiness by Gordon C. Olson (Men for Missions) (emphasis mine)
“Augustine of Hippo is the fount of every distortion and alteration in the Church’s truth in the West”
– Christos Yannaras, The Freedom of Morality, p 151 (emphasis mine)
Sin is the transgression of the law.
– 1 John 3:4b (KJV, emphasis mine)
Phil Roberts, a believer in Augustinian original sin states that:
“Throughout history man has sought to shift the blame for his sins onto someone else’s shoulders. The ancient Babylonians spoke of man being created out of the blood of a rebel god named Kingu. Naturally such a race could not help being rebellious itself. Even before the coming of Christ the Jews were speaking of the yetser ha ra, or “evil inclination” with which all men were born. It should not be surprising, therefore, to find that people professing Christianity have behaved pretty much like all other men in this respect. In the history of “Christian theology” this tendency has manifested itself in the development of the intertwined doctrines of original sin and hereditary total depravity. The doctrine of original sin affirms that all descendants of Adam inherit both the guilt and the consequences of his sin. The doctrine of hereditary total depravity follows with the declaration that all such descendants of Adam are so completely corrupted and depraved by it that they cannot, of their own free will, do any truly good work. They cannot, of their own free will, even turn to God.”
The Orthodox Church says:
“With regard to original sin, the difference between Orthodox Christianity and the West may be outlined as follows:
Orthodoxy does not accept that “fallen human nature lost its freedom,” nor that we have inherited some form of “generic guilt;”
Source: http://www.ancientfaith.com/specials/e_quip/ancestral_sin_and_salvation (emphasis mine)
In the Orthodox Faith, the term “original sin” refers to the “first” sin of Adam and Eve. As a result of this sin, humanity bears the “consequences” of sin, the chief of which is death. Here the word “original” may be seen as synonymous with “first.” Hence, the “original sin” refers to the “first sin” in much the same way as “original chair” refers to the “first chair.”
In the West, humanity likewise bears the “consequences” of the “original sin” of Adam and Eve. However, the West also understands that humanity is likewise “guilty” of the sin of Adam and Eve. The term “Original Sin” here refers to the condition into which humanity is born, a condition in which guilt as well as consequence is involved.
In the Orthodox Christian understanding, while humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin. Adam and Eve are guilty of their willful action; we bear the consequences, chief of which is death.”
Source: http://oca.org/questions/teaching/st.-augustine-original-sin (emphasis added)
“The Eastern Church never speaks of guilt being passed from Adam and Eve to their progeny, as did Augustine and the Western Church. Instead, the position of the Eastern Church is that each person bears the guilt of his or her own sin.”
– James DeFrancisco, “Original Sin and Ancestral Sin, Comparative Doctrines”
‘The Orthodox Church prefers the term Ancestral Sin to “Original Sin”. They answer no to the above question mainly because they do not believe that anyone is born guilty of Adam’s trespass. The reason being that the doctrine of Original Sin (meaning guilt) is conspicuously absent from the theology of the early Church. The concept of Original Sin guilt was developed by Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century as a reaction against the Pelagian Heresy. This teaching that was named after Pelagius (although it is questionable if he actually propounded the heresy*) stated that the human condition was virtually unchanged by the Fall and that man can achieve salvation without the divine grace of God. Augustine reacted so strongly against this heresy that he jump off the boat on the opposite side, claiming that human nature was totally corrupted by Adam’s Original Sin (peccatum originale–a term coined by Augustine).’
Source: http://www.becomingorthodox.com/2012/12/was-jesus-christ-born-with-sin-nature (added the asterix)
* I believe there can be put forth very strong arguments in favour of the theory which states that Augustine was in fact a bigger heretic than Pelagius was (if Pelagius was in fact a heretic) and that he lied about Pelagius’ ideas. These arguments might be put forth in another document.
I stand up against the Western (Augustinian) view of original sin and hold to the eastern view on this subject.
My personal conviction is that the Bible (and more specifically 1 Corinthians 15) only means that we “inherited” the consequences of the original sin of Adam and Eve. That is: being expelled out of the garden of Eden and now being in the territory where “the devil rules this world as a god” (paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 4:4). By choosing to imitate Adam and Eve [by giving in to Satan’s deceiving tricks (Matthew 4:1) and our own sinful desires from our youth on (Genesis 8:21b, James 1:14-15)], we all sin and deserve to inherit death (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23).
“[Charles] Finney carefully distinguished between “physical” depravity and “moral” depravity. He argued that every human person is born with a depraved physical nature, but not with a depraved moral nature. To confuse the two would absolve individuals of personal responsibility for their own sins. It would also complicate the Scriptural definition of sin as “moral transgression.” In other words, if sin is simply wrongdoing, then it is not an ontological state of existence into which a person can be born. Hence Finney denied the doctrine of “original sin.”
Source: http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/original.html (emphasis mine, added the words between brackets)
“For the fact that when he [Adam] had sinned and become mortal, those who were of him should be so also, is nothing unlikely. But how would it follow that from his disobedience another would become a sinner?”
– John Chrysostom, “Homily X.” Homilies on Romans, Romans 5:19
I believe that Augustinian original sin has clearly gnostic roots. Gnostics believed that humans were (= the flesh was) made sinful (hence humans being sinful beings from birth) by an evil lower god (and that the human spirit was made by the higher good god and was therefore good). (See also ‘Against The “Hidden Will” of The Father Concerning Predestination‘)
“[Charles] Finney believed that the idea of original sin inherited by the whole human race from Adam involves a wrong concept of what sin is. Sin is a choice, not a substance. It is moral, not physical or metaphysical. It is a choice that we are responsible for, individually and personally. It is not an accident or misfortune that happened to us, but a crime that we commit and are accountable for.”
Source: J.W. Jepson, It All Adds Up To Love, chapter 10, Don’t Blame it All On Adam
“It is impossible for moral character to be passed from one generation to the next. Sin does not exist until one actually sins. Read Ezekiel chapter 18. This chapter teaches that sin cannot be inherited or transmitted from your parent or ancestors. Each person alone is responsible for his own free moral choices. When does a person become a sinner? When a young person has enough knowledge to make a free moral choice and then knowingly and deliberately chooses his own way over God’s, he sins.”
– Steve Grochow, The Requirements for Sin and Holiness, p3
“For that one man should be punished on account of another does not seem to be much in accordance with reason.”
– John Chrysostom, “Homily X.” Homilies on Romans, verse 15
Being called a heretic for neglecting such a gnostic doctrine, is not a problem to me. I wear that name with pride for standing up for what I believe to be the truth! 🙂
“Valla emphasized the importance of language. According to him the decline of civilization in the dark ages was due to the decay of the Greek and Latin languages. Hence, it was only though the study of classical literature that the glories of ancient Greece and Rome could be recaptured. Valla also wrote a treatise on the Latin Vulgate, comparing it with certain Greek New Testament manuscripts which he had in his possession. Erasmus, who from his youth had been an admirer of Valla, found a manuscript of Valla’s treatise in 1504 and had it printed the following year. In this work, Valla favored the Greek New Testament over the Vulgate. The Latin text often differed from the Greek, he reported. Also, there were omissions and additions in the Latin translation, and the Greek wording was generally better than that of the Latin.”
Source: Hills, The King James Version Defended, p. 196.
‘In this passage [Romans 5:12] there is a major issue of translation. The last four Greek words were translated in Latin as in quo omnes peccaverunt (“in whom [i.e., in Adam] all men have sinned”), and this translation was used in the West to justify the guilt inherited from Adam and spread to his descendants. But such a meaning cannot be drawn from the original Greek’.
Source: John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, page 144
Notice that Jacobus Arminius, founder of the Arminians, made exactly the same mistake, when he wrote:
“[original sin] is common to the entire race and to all their posterity, who, at the time when this sin was committed, were in their loins, and who have since descended from them by the natural mode of propagation, according to the primitive benediction: For in Adam “all have sinned.”
Source: Jacobus Arminius, Works, 2:156
A more expanded explanation is given by Peter Enns:
‘Romans 5:12, translated properly (as in the NRSV and other translations), says: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—“
The “one man” is, of course, Adam. And Paul seems to be saying, quite clearly in fact, that death spread because all have sinned. Now what that means exactly needs some clarification, but that isn’t the issue here. The issue is that Augustine, working from a poor Latin translation of Romans 5:12, has “in him” where the Greek has “because.”
You can see the problem. Augustine’s reading is that death spread to all because all sinned in him [in Adam]. In other words, death spread to humanity because all humanity was somehow “present” in Adam’s act of disobedience.
This bad reading of Romans 5:12, rooted in a bad Latin translation of the Greek, has led to the notion that all humans are culpable (guilty) with Adam for what Adam did—all humanity sinned in him.
Augustine’s reading is what many Christians believe Paul actually said, and which is why Augustine’s notion of “original sin” is defended with such uncompromising vehemence as the “biblical” teaching. But neither Romans nor Genesis or the Old Testament supports the idea.’
Below is a big part of a post from Jesse Morrell. I do not agree with him on soteriological views (views on salvation), but he showed himself to be as friendly as always, by giving me permission to copy this big part of his blog (and book) on my website.
“The problem was that Augustine did not read Greek but read a Latin version of the New Testament translated by Jerome, who mistranslated Romans 5:12. The KJV properly translates this verse as, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Many other English translations also properly translate this as “because all have sinned.” However, Augustine read Jerome’s Latin mistranslation which, instead of saying “for that all have sinned,” said, “in whom all sinned.” However, in the Greek “epi ho” never means “in whom.” This philosophical error was not corrected in the church for 1200 years, as the Latin Vulgate reigned supreme in Europe. It wasn’t until Erasmus that “epi ho” was properly translated to be “on who all have sinned” which is the proper idiomatic meaning. “Epi” means “on” or “upon” and “ho” means “who,” so “epi ho” properly means “on who.” So Paul was saying in Romans 5:12 that death came into the world through Adam and it passed upon all men who have sinned. Augustine’s supposed scriptural support for mankind existing and sinning in Adam was therefore greatly mistaken.”
Source: https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/on-original-sin-sinful-nature-and-romans-chapter-five-jesse-morrell/ (For secondary sources, see his webpage)
THE “MISTAKE” MIGHT HAVE BEEN ON PURPOSE
DEBUNKING THE THEORY OF AUGUSTINIAN ORIGINAL SIN PARTIALLY
If you can read Dutch, please read the following link, because it makes things very clear:
La Vista Church of Christ claims:
‘The idea of the “original sin” of Adam being passed on to all mankind is based on several different Scripture passages: “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned … Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a figure of Him that was to come … So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous” (Romans 5:12,14,18,19). Notice that Romans 5:12 states that all became sinners because “all sinned” — not because Adam made them guilty of his sin. He brought sin into the world, and that is the way all become sinners.’
The apostle Paul writes on this subject again, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive … So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (I Corinthians 15:21,22,45). To claim that Adam’s sin makes one a sinner, without any volition or action on his or her part, would (according to the passage above) make everyone saved in Christ without any volition or action on his or her part. That is, of course, ridiculous, as we shall show.
God declared to Israel, “Yet say ye, Wherefore doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? when the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all My statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:19,20). In other words, each shall answer to God for his own actions, not for his father’s nor for Adam’s. This is affirmed repeatedly in the Bible.
“So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). Notice that again, carefully. Each of us will be judged by “the things done in the body,” in our own body, not Adam’s body or our father’s body. We “shall give account of ourselves” to God, not give account for Adam or our parents.
There is no such thing as “inherited sin.” Sin is defined as “transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). What your parents did, or what Adam did, cannot make you a sinner, any more than they can make you a saint. It may influence you in that direction, but each person becomes a sinner or a saint by his own choices and actions. Sin is an act of disobedience to the Will of God, and each one sins when he or she makes the choice to disobey God. But it is his or her choice, not that of Adam or parents or others.’
This has already been confirmed in the video of Jesse Morrell:
Jesse Morrell writes:
Henry C. Sheldon said, “The theory of immediate imputation supposes Adam to have stood by divine appointment as the federal head of the race, their representative, so that his act was to be viewed not merely as his own but as the act of the race. The representative sinned; and therefore the race in its entirety was counted guilty. What is this but the apotheosis of legal artifice? The same God whose penetrating glance burns away every artifice, with which a man may enwrap himself, and reaches at once to the naked reality, is represented as swathing His judgment with a gigantic artifice, in that He holds countless millions guilty of a trespass which He knows was committed before their personal existence, and which they could no more prevent than they could hinder the fiat of creation. If this is justice, then justice is a word of unknown meaning.”
When the Bible says “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23; 5:12), this statement is not without qualification. This description is obviously limited to those who are capable of sinning or who are moral agents. It is self-evident that those who are not capable of sinning cannot be included in “all have sinned.” Those who don’t yet exist, those who don’t know right from wrong yet, and those who haven’t yet made any moral choices, are outside of the qualifying boundaries of the description of the “all” that have “sinned.”
The “all” that have “sinned” are those who have reached the age of accountability. The Bible explicitly says that infants in the womb haven’t yet sinned (Rom. 9:11). But the Bible say’s man’s heart is evil from their youth (Gen. 8:21; Jer. 22:21; 32:30). It doesn’t say that men are evil before they are born or before the age of accountability. The Hebrew word “youth” means “young people,” “childhood,” “juvenility,” and “early life.” So when it says men are evil from their youth, it does not mean evil from their birth but evil from a young age, particularly the age of accountability, which is a state when moral principle is developed in the mind.
onsider these logical and scriptural syllogisms:
Major premise: The reason that men are “without excuse” for their actions is because they have moral knowledge (Rom. 1:20).
Minor premise: Infants are ignorant or without moral knowledge (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16).
Conclusion: Therefore, infants are not “without excuse” but actually have an excuse for their actions.
Major premise: The wrath of God is against men because they “hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18).
Minor premise: Infants are ignorant of the truth and are without moral knowledge (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16).
Conclusion: Therefore, the wrath of God is not against infants.
Major premise: Those who are under “condemnation” are those to whom the “light is come” and have “loved darkness rather than light” (Jn. 3:19).
Minor premise: Infants cannot choose falsehood over truth because they are ignorant of the truth and are without moral knowledge (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16).
Conclusion: Therefore, infants are not under condemnation.
Source: https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/on-original-sin-sinful-nature-and-romans-chapter-five-jesse-morrell/ (For secondary sources, see his webpage)
SOME MORE DEBUNKING:
The “Churches of Christ” claims:
“As far as I can find, no trace of the doctrine is found in the early church before the 3rd century, when it appears to be picked up from pagan philosophy. Augustine studies it and it is made dogma in the Roman church in the 5th century. No trace is found in Christ’s teachings, by the apostles or in the practice of the NT church. When the doctrine appeared it introduced a number of changes/additions to Roman doctrines: Enfant baptism (if a child is guilty of sin it must be cleansed): baptismal regeneration of an unbelieving baby!! The Immaculate Conception of Mary, and later her Assumption, etc.etc. Once started, the door is wide open.
The Bible Premise: The individual is accountable only for his own sins. No one is guilty of someone else’s transgression! One must be old enough to violate God’s principles to be guilty of sin. This is impossible for a new born! Read the following:
Jeremiah 31:29,30; Ezekiel 18:20,21 God will render to each man according to his own deeds! Romans 2:6; 14:12.
SCRIPTURE IS PLAIN: Everyone must be accountable only for his own sins.
However, we can suffer the consequences ( but not the guilt) of other’s sins: Example; An evil, drunken man may bring terrible suffering on his wife and family, without them being guilty! ALL QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE DOCTRINE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY must be studied only in light of this basic truth: ‘I alone am responsible for my transgressions of God’s law: the law of Christ, the law of love!!’
PROBLEM: Psalm 51:5 ‘David is conceived in sin’. Remember this deals with the spiritual condition of David’s parent, not David himself. We do not know what that problem was, but we do know that the son does not bear the guilt of the parent! That is a truth we must not forget and must consider in seeking an answer to the problem! I think it may be related to the OT notion of ceremonial uncleanness. Deut.23:2,3 reminds us that certain people could not enter the Lord’s assembly for either 4 or 10 generations. One was a Moabite, and Ruth was a Moabite and is in the lineage of David as well as Rahab the non-Jewish prostitute who saved the spies. PERHAPS this explains the spiritual condition of David’s mother, but I really don’t know. I do know that the child does not bear the parent’s guilt!
JESUS accepted children. He said we had to become as children to enter His Kingdom!
If children were born in sin, Jesus would have taught it and given examples of what had to be done to prepare them to enter His kingdom! He accepted and blessed them! NO, a new born is not guilty of anyone’s sins.”
Source: http://www.churches-of-christ.net/tracts/job020u.htm (Read also appendix A!)
A far more worked out version in Dutch:
(Please help me find the English one, since it makes everything clear in a relatively short message.)
ADVANCED INFORMATION: (You can skip to the conclusion if you like, but you can learn a lot from this)
“For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous.” Romans 5:19
- Our nature and birth are not mentioned throughout the entire chapter of Romans five. How then can this chapter be exegetically used to teach that we are born with a sinful nature? This it plainly does not teach.
- If we are going to apply the first section of the passage unconditionally and universally, we must also apply the second section of the passage unconditionally and universally, since the language for both is the same. In a parallelism, Adam and Christ are compared and contrasted
- If the first section means mankind is universally and unconditionally condemned in Adam then the second section would mean that mankind is universally and unconditionally justified through Jesus.b. This verse cannot mean that all men have the imputed sinfulness of Adam because then it would be saying that all men have the imputed righteousness of Christ.
- This verse cannot mean that all mankind existed and sinned in Adam or else it would be saying that all mankind existed and obeyed in Christ.
- Nor can this verse be saying that all men inherit a sinful nature from Adam because then it would be saying that all men inherit a righteous nature from Christ.
- If “many were made sinners” means that we are born sinful without any choice of our own, then “many were made righteous” would mean that we were born righteous without any choice of our own. The language is identical for both and the same group of people is referenced.
- Paul does not explain how Adam is the occasion of our sin, but simply states that he is. He doesn’t explain “why” or “how” but only “that.” He gives a fact, not an explanation. Many try to add their own explanation by interposing their personal theories of “federal headship,” “imputation,” “seminal identity,” or “sinful nature,” when Paul does not explicitly teach any of these theories.
a. Charles Finney said, “The Bible once, and only once, incidentally intimates that Adam’s first sin has in some way been the occasion, not the necessary physical cause, of all the sins of men. Rom. v. 12-19. It neither says nor intimates anything in relation to the manner in which Adam’s sin has occasioned this result. It only incidentally recognizes the fact, and then leaves it, just as if the quo modo was too obvious to need explanation. In other parts of the Bible we are informed how we are to account for the existence of sin among men. For example, James i. 15, “When lust (‘desire’, epithumia) has conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” Here sin is represented, not as the desire itself, but as consisting in the consent of the will to gratify the desire. James says again, that a man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lusts, (epithumia “desires”) and enticed. That is, his lusts, or the impulses of his sensibility, are his tempters. When he or his will is overcome of these, he sins.”
- Albert Barnes said, “By one man’s disobedience. By means of the sin of Adam. This affirms simply the fact that such a result followed from the sin of Adam. The word by (dia) is used in the Scriptures as it is in all books and in all languages. It may denote the efficient cause; the instrumental cause; the principal cause; the meritorious cause; or the chief occasion by which a thing occurred. (See Schleusner.) It does not express one mode, and one only, in which a thing is done; but that one thing is the result of another… There is not the slightest intimation that it was by imputation. The whole scope of the argument is, moreover, against this; for the object of the apostle is not to show that they were charged with the sin of another, but that they were in fact sinners themselves. If it means that they were condemned for his act, without any concurrence of their own will, then the correspondent part will be true, that all are constituted righteous in the same way; and thus the doctrine of universal salvation will be inevitable. But as none are constituted righteous who do not voluntarily avail themselves of the provisions of mercy, so it follows that those who are condemned, are not condemned for the sin of another without their own concurrence, nor unless they personally deserve it.“Sinners. Transgressors; those who deserve to be punished. It does not mean those who are condemned for the sin of another; but those who are violators of the law of God. All who are condemned are sinners. They are not innocent persons condemned for the crime of another. Men may be involved in the consequences of the sins of others without being to blame. The consequences of the crimes of a murderer, a drunkard, a pirate, may pass over from them, and affect thousands, and whelm them in ruin. But this does not prove that they are blameworthy. In the divine administration none are regarded as guilty who are not guilty; none are condemned who do not deserve to be condemned. All who sink to hell are sinners.”
- Albert Barnes said, “I add, that one principal reason why so much difficulty has been felt here, has been an unwillingness to stop where the apostle does. Men have desired to advance farther, and penetrate the mysteries which the Spirit of inspiration has not disclosed. Where Paul states a simple fact, men often advance a theory. The fact may be clear and plain; their theory is obscure, involved, mysterious, or absurd. By degrees they learn to unite the fact and the theory:–they regard their explanation as the only possible one; and as the fact in question has the authority of divine revelation, so they insensibly come to regard their theory in the same light; and he that calls in question their speculation about the cause, or the mode, is set down as heretical, and as denying the doctrine of the apostle. A melancholy instance of this we have in the account which the apostle gives (ch. v.) about the effect of the sin of Adam. The simple fact is stated that that sin was followed by the sin and ruin of all his posterity. Yet he offers no explanation of the fact. He leaves it as indubitable; and as not demanding an explanation in his argument–perhaps as not admitting it. This is the whole of his doctrine on that subject. Yet men have not been satisfied with that. They have sought for a theory to account for it. And many suppose they have found it in the doctrine that the sin of Adam is imputed, or set over by an arbitrary arrangement to beings otherwise innocent, and that they are held to be responsible for a deed committed by a man thousands of years before they were born. This is the theory; and men insensibly forget that it is mere theory, and they blend that and the fact which the apostle states together; and deem the denial of the one, heresy as much as the denial of the other, i.e. they make it as impious to call in question their philosophy, as to doubt the facts stated on the authority of the apostle Paul.3. Moses Stuart said, “We were constituted sinners means, that Adam was, in some sense or other, the cause or occasion of his posterity becoming sinners. But whether this was through a degradation of their nature physically propagated down from father to son; or whether it was (as Chrysostom, Ecumenius, Pelagius, Erasmus, and others have with little probability maintained), only by virtue of the example which he set, or whether it was in some other way, is not determined by the language of the text. (…)“But after all, the modus operandi is not declared by the apostle. He does not say, whether the operation of Adam’s sin is on our physical or mental constitution; or whether it has influenced merely on the condition in which we are placed, as being expelled from paradise and surrounded by peculiar temptations; nor whether it is example merely of Adam which we copy…”· The Calvinistic interpretation of this passage, that all the children of Adam are automatically and unconditionally damned under the wrath of God for the sin of their father, which occurred without their knowledge and without their consent, because Adam was their representative (Federal Headship), is a view which is contrary to the natural sense of justice God has constituted us with and contrary to the explicit justice of God as taught in the scriptures (Deut. 24:16, 2 Kng. 14:6, 2 Chron. 25:4, Eze. 18:2-4, Eze. 18:19-20, Jer. 17:10; 31:29-30; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:5-6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 11:15; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:11-12; Rev. 22:12). To represent God as imputing guilt to the innocent is to represent God as arbitrary and unjust.
- The Augustinian view that Adam’s sin is imputed to us because it is rightfully ours, because our souls were in his loins when he sinned (Seminal Identity), would logically make us guilty, not only of Adam’s sin, but of all the sins of all our ancestors. It would mean that we were participants in the repentance, conversion, and salvation of any of our ancestors, since we would have existed in their loins as well. We would be punishable, not only for existing in Adam’s loins during his disobedience, but also praiseworthy for existing in Noah’s loins during his obedience. This too would be contrary to the natural sense of justice that God has constituted us with and contrary to the explicit justice of God as revealed in the scriptures (Deut. 24:16, 2 Kng. 14:6, 2 Chron. 25:4, Eze. 18:2-4, Eze. 18:19-20, Jer. 17:10; 31:29-30; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:5-6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 11:15; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:11-12; Rev. 22:12).
- The Augustinian view also says that Adam’s sin corrupted human nature and made it sinful, specifically through lusts and sexual desires. And therefore all are born sinners because they are born through sex and with a sinful nature and are in need of infant baptism to wash away the guilt of original sin and regenerate their natures. But if two parents were baptized and had the guilt of original sin washed away and their natures regenerated, how could they transmit guilt and corruption to their subsequent offspring? They would have no guilt or corruption to pass on. If we can inherit a sinful nature from Adam because of Adam’s single sin, it would stand to reason that we can inherit a righteous nature from our parent if our parent obeyed God once. The latter is only as absurd as the former. If regeneration were constitutional instead of moral, relating to our nature and not our will, then if two unregenerate parents transmit a sinful nature to their posterity, it stands to reason that two regenerate parents would transmit a regenerate nature to their posterity. And as Noah was a righteous man, he must have been regenerate. And since all mankind descend from him, all mankind would not inherit a sinful nature from Adam but would inherit a righteous nature from Noah. That is, if regeneration were constitutional or if moral character was hereditary.
- Pelagius said, “If baptism washes away that ancient sin, those who have been born of two baptized parents should not have this sin, for they could not have passed on to their children what they themselves in no wise possessed.”
- If either the doctrine of Federal Headship or the doctrine of Seminal Identity were true, God’s declaration would be not only meaningless but false when He said, “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father” (Eze. 18:20). Any interpretation of any passage which makes the Bible contradict itself cannot possibly be a true interpretation because it violates the exegetical law of non-contradiction.
- The context of Paul’s statement shows us that he does not mean that we are damned for Adam’s personal sin, and it shows us that he does not mean to deny that we are damned for our own personal sin.a. Paul said, “…death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). The reason that Paul assigned for their death was because they personally sinned.
- This must be talking about spiritual death since infants at times physically die and they haven’t yet had the chance or opportunity to sin.
- Paul went on to say, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” (Rom. 5:14). In the time between “Adam to Moses,” there were no Ten Commandments, and therefore there could be no “transgression.” Paul said “for where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15).
- Nevertheless, those in that time were sinning against their own conscience and the light of nature, as Paul said, “For until the law sin was in the world” (Rom. 5:13). There was sin in the world even before the law came through Moses, but there was no transgression before the law because men sinned against their own conscience and did not transgress any commandments. “Transgression” implies a direct commandment, which did not exist between Adam and Moses
- Therefore, they did not sin “after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” or in the same way and manner that Adam did, since Adam violated a direct commandment but they only the law of human nature.
- Paul made a very clear distinction between their sin and Adam’s sin. He said “all have sinned” even though it was not similar or like “Adam’s transgression.”
- If Paul meant to argue that all men sinned in Adam and are consequently damned for the sin of Adam, he would not have said that the reason all die is because all have personally sinned, even though their personal sin is different and distinct from the sin of Adam. If we sinned in Adam, then his sin is not distinct or different from our own. If we sinned in Adam, then we did sin after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. If Paul meant to say that we sinned in Adam, Paul would have been arguing for the opposite of what he intended to prove by making a distinction between our sin and Adam’s sin
- Moses Stuart said, “That a+martiva here means something different from original sin, or imputed sin, seems to be clear from the reference which the apostle tacitly makes to a law of nature that had been transgressed. A revealed law there was not for men in general, antecedently to the time of Moses; yet men were sinners. How? By sinning against the law ‘written on their hearts’ (ii. 15); and sinning in despite of the penalty of death, i. 32. But if such was their sin, it was actual sin, not merely imputed guilt… Augustine, Pres. Edwards, and many others, maintain a real physical unity of Adam with all his posterity; and hence they derive to all his posterity a participation in his sin. But if his sin be theirs in any proper sense, i.e., be really theirs by such a unity as is asserted; or even if it be theirs by mere imputation without this; then how it is that the sin of the a!nomoi is (as Paul asserts) NOT like that of Adam? How can it be unlike it, when it is the very same; either the very same in reality (as Augustine and his followers hold), or the very same putatively, as others suppose?”
- John Calvin said, “Even over them, etc. Though this passage is commonly understood of infants, who being guilty of no actual sin, die through original sin, I yet prefer to regard it as referring to all those who sinned without the law; for this verse is to be connected with the preceding clause, which says, that those who were without the law did not impute sin to themselves. Hence they sinned not after the similitude of Adam’s transgression; for they had not, like him, the will of God made known to them by a certain oracle: for the Lord had forbidden Adam to touch the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but to them he had given no command besides the testimony of conscience.”
- Pelagius said, “Death reigned not only over those who, like Adam, transgressed a commandment – such as the sons of Noah, who were ordered not to eat the life in the blood, and the sons of Abraham, for whom circumcision was enjoined but also over those who, lacking the commandment, showed contempt for the law of nature.”
- Alfred T. Overstreet said, “Paul spoke in Romans 5:14 of ‘them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.’ Paul referred here to those who had sinned before the giving of the law and so had not sinned against a positive precept as Adam had, but only against the law of conscience and reason. Paul said they were sinners, but the fact that he said they had ‘not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression’ shows that Paul did not consider the sin of Adam to be their sin.”
- When Paul said by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, he was saying that Adam is the occasion, not cause, of our choice to be sinners. Adam’s disobedience contributed to our choice to be sinners.
- Paul does not specifically explain how Adam contributed to our choice to sin, but it could be that by Adam’s disobedience of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam provided all mankind with the opportunity of choosing to be sinners themselves, since moral knowledge of good and evil has been given to all mankind as a result of his disobedience.
- c. The result of one man’s disobedience of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was that many were made sinners in that men have chosen to be sinners or have chosen to do what they knew was wrong. “And the Lord God said, behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22). “Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, we see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:41). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17).
- Adam provided the opportunity for our damnation by opening the eyes of mankind to good and evil, but our damnation requires our own choice to do what we know to be wrong.
- When Paul said that through Christ many are made righteous, that does not mean that all men are unconditionally made right with God, but that Christ has given us the occasion of salvation and many are made righteous through that occasion.
- By Christ’s obedience of hanging on the tree, Christ has provided all mankind with the opportunity of choosing to be saved. This is because the remission of sin has been offered to all men upon condition of their repentance and faith, and because it is the knowledge of the gospel which draws us and influences us to repentance. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). “…the gospel of Christ… it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). “…without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).
- Christ provided the opportunity and influence for our salvation, but our salvation still requires our own choice. Just as damnation has not unconditionally come upon all but depends upon our choice to sin, so also salvation has not unconditionally come upon all but depends upon our choice to be converted.
- The parallelism and contrast expressed by Paul, in this case, would be clear. Adam’s disobedience consisted in eating from the tree. Christ’s obedience consisted in hanging on the tree. Adam’s disobedience resulted in the knowledge of good and evil, which gives us the opportunity to be sinners. Christ’s obedience resulted in the knowledge of the gospel, which gives us the opportunity to be made righteous. Condemnation comes upon those who choose to disobey the knowledge of good and evil. Justification comes upon those who choose to obey the knowledge of the gospel.
- The word “made” used in these passages is not referring to a constitutional change of our nature, but referring to a conditional position which requires the consent of the will. Being a sinner is conditional upon choosing to sin. Likewise, being justified is conditional upon choosing to repent and believe. No man is damned without first his choice to sin and no man is justified without first his choice to repent. Man’s damnation and man’s justification both require man’s free will choice.
- To be made a sinner by Adam’s transgression, one does not need to inherit sin itself, or a nature that will necessitate sinful choices, as the exposure to temptation as a result of Adam’s sin can be the means of becoming a sinner as a result of Adam’s disobedience.a. Charles Finney said, “His sin in many ways exposes his posterity to aggravated temptation. Not only the physical constitution of all men, but all the influences under which they first form their moral character, are widely different from what they would have been, if sin had never been introduced.”· The phrases, “made sinners” and “made righteous” does not itself imply when this occurs. It is not to be assumed that all men were made sinners when Adam sinned, as they did not yet then exist. Rather, the Bible says that men are sinners “from their youth” (Gen. 8:21; Jer. 22:21; 32:30), or starting at the age of accountability when they become moral agents and choose to sin. Likewise, it is not to be assumed that men were made righteous when Jesus Christ died, as most believers did not yet then exist. Rather, we become righteous at conversion when we choose to put our faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
- The idea that moral character can exist without the choice of the will is an absurdity and presupposes a Gnostic moral philosophy. Any interpretation that makes a man sinful or a sinner independent of his choice must be false and unscriptural, as the Bible has repeatedly condemned and contradicted Gnostic moral philosophy. Moral character and consequently moral depravity is always voluntary. To be made a “sinner” can mean nothing more than becoming a person who chooses to sin, to become a person who freely chooses to do what is known to be wrong. Otherwise the word “sinner” is void of all real meaning and would fail to actually describe a moral state or express any moral quality.
- Gordon. C. Olson said, “We must remark upon the celebrated passage in Ro. 5:12-19, which is often referred to as establishing the dogma of the literal imputation of Adam’s guilt to all his posterity. The discussion of this passage in this connection has gone on for a millennium and a half. Everyone who believes the Bible affirms the first part of verse 12 as historical: “By one man sin entered into the world.” (…) It has been affirmed by many that Adam acted for the whole human race, either as an appointed federal head or as an organic head, and therefore the last part of verse 12 ought to be rendered, “in whom all have sinned.” The organic concept considers the whole human race as pre-existing mysteriously in Adam. Upon this theory, Adam’s guilt is our guilt and is the basis for universal condemnation. However, the text only affirms that “death passed upon all men in as much as all have sinned.” There is no proof that Adam is involved in this last statement. It is most interesting to note that the same verb and tense appear in 3:23, where we read: “For all have sinned, and come short (or are coming short) of the glory of God.” Also, in 3:12 we have the same tense: “All did turn aside from (the right way).” It appears that these verses declare the tragic fact that all mankind, without exception, have followed Adam’s example in rebelling against God, with the sad consequence of spiritual death or eternal separation from God. This is what Isaiah had declared so long ago in the words: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (53:6).
“In understanding Ro. 5:12-19, we must distinguish between “occasion” and “cause.” By occasion we mean an opportunity or “a condition of affairs that brings something about; …especially, the immediate inciting circumstances as distinguished from the real or fundamental cause.” By cause we mean that event or force which actually produces the results or the effect without any further action. Cause is therefore the reason for the action, occasion the opportunity or circumstances. This passage speaks of two individuals who did something to or for the human race – Adam and the Lord Jesus. We have a direct parallelism drawn, extending to the same group of mankind, or, most evidently, to the whole of mankind. The article “the” inserted before “many” in verses 15 and 19, adds emphasis and affirms that the same group is referred to in both cases. In verse 18 we have “all men” appearing in each parallelism. By what linguistic authority could we say that the terms, “the many” and “all men,” when appearing on the Adamic side of the parallelism refer to the whole of mankind, while the same terms appearing on the Christ side refer only to those who are actually saved?
“Since, obviously, the terms, “the many” and “all men,” appearing on each side of the parallelism, refer to the same mass of mankind, we are entitled to say that if Adam was the cause of the downfall and condemnation of all, then Christ is the cause of the salvation of “all men unto the justification of life.” If free will and moral agency is eliminated on one side, it is also eliminated on the other. But if we view the two great leaders of the human race as providing occasions or circumstances for moral action, each to the whole mass of mankind without exception, (…) the passage, then, describes the occasion of sin and the occasion of salvation as being co-extensive, committing to each moral being the cause and the responsibility for his own response to these influences. In this view, the passage becomes a blessed revelation of the glories of our Lord and Saviour, unencumbered by perplexity…
“We are considerably relieved, therefore, to find the lack of Biblical evidence for the dogma, that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to all his posterity, and to conclude that “the Judge of all the earth” will hold each moral being accountable only for his own sins. [See “righteousness”] While the sin of Adam and its consequences provide a strong occasion, nevertheless each moral being is the cause or author of his own guilt.” (emphasis and link “[See righteousness]” added)
Source: https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/on-original-sin-sinful-nature-and-romans-chapter-five-jesse-morrell/ (For secondary sources, see his webpage)
“If this doctrine is true, God did not tell man the true penalty, neither the truth, nor the whole truth, nor a hundredth part of the truth. To have told the whole truth, according to this hypothesis, He should have said, ‘Because ye have done this, cursed be that moral nature which I have given you. Henceforth such is the change I make in your natures: that ye shall be, and your offspring, infinitely odious and hateful in my sight. The moment their souls shall go forth from my hand…if they are suffered to live, such shall be the diseased constitution of their moral natures: that they shall have no freedom to do one single good action, but everything they do shall be sin….“
Source: George W. Burnap, Lectures on the Doctrines of Christianity (Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe and Co.), 1848, pp. 131-132.
CONCLUSION: WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
(Remember: more important, than what the majority or tradition says)
“What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die….Yet say ye, Why? Doeth not the son bear the iniquity of the fathers? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him”
– Ezekiel 18:2-6, 19-20
This verse might have to do with the religious superstition of the Jewish people:
“Even before the coming of Christ the Jews were speaking of the yetser ha ra, or “evil inclination” with which all men were born. It should not be surprising, therefore, to find that people professing Christianity have behaved pretty much like all other men in this respect. In the history of “Christian theology” this tendency has manifested itself in the development of the intertwined doctrines of original sin and hereditary total depravity.”
Source: Phil Roberts, http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives/volume31/GOT031001.html
‘[John] Wesley, in the early part of his life, had embraced the Augustinian theology, for he says: “By the sin of the first Adam we all became children of wrath.” Again: “We were all born with a sinful, devilish nature.” But in subsequent years he appears to have entirely changed his theological position, for he says, in his later writings: “Nothing is sin, strictly speaking, but a voluntary transgression of a known law of God.”’
Source: The Origin of Sin and Its Characteristics, summary digest taken from The Origin of Sin And Its Relations to God And The Universe by E. W. Cook.
I will let the Bible conclude:
“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made men upright;
but they have sought out many inventions.”
– Ecclesiastes 7:29 (KJV, emphasis mine)
“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until iniquity and guilt were found in you.”
– Ezekiel 28:15 (AMP, emphasis mine)
Ps. Please read what Jesus Christ Himself seem to say about all this:
‘As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind.
His followers asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused this man to be born blind—his own sin or his parents’ sin?”
Jesus answered, “It is not this man’s sin or his parents’ sin that made him blind. This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him.’
– John 9:1-3 (NCV)
After Jesus healed the formally blind man, the Jews who held on to their human traditions replied:
‘“You were born full of sin! Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out.’
– John 9:34 (NCV, emphasis added)
As Gennadios Scholarios said:
“They (the Latins) [believe] in Augustine and Jerome”
– Gennadios Scholarios
Sadly enough, my conclusion is that this is true for both the Roman-Catholic and, to a far bigger degree, most Protestant churches.
A GOOD SUMMARY CONTAINING OUR VIEW BY JIMMY MICKELS IS AVAILABLE HERE.
APPENDIX 1: Concerning Psalm 51:5:
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
My mother: subject
A common comparison can be made: “By beatings, did my mother raise me.”
Q: Who is the person carrying out the beatings/conceiving another one in sin?
A: The mother
Conclusion: If speaking of guilt here, the mother would be guilty. NOT the innocent baby.
Leonard Ravenhill put it well:
Source: my youtube channel. Click on the video for the original source.
‘Consider other verses in the poetic literature that describe a very different side of human nature. This same King David, again addressing God, writes: “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God” (Psa. 22:9,10; cf. 71:5,6). Similarly, the godly Job proclaims that he has taken care of orphans and widows “from my birth” (Job 31:17,18). These verses are rightly understood as poetic exaggerations. No one cites them to prove a doctrine of “original holiness” or “original righteousness.” Why, then, should Psalm 51:5 and 58:3 be cited to prove “original sin”?’
Source: Mark M. Mattison, “Original Sin?”,
Read also “What About David’s Mother?” by Wm. P. Murray, Jr and ‘King David said “In sin did my MOTHER conceive me”, but it’s no support for a sinful nature Ps. 51:5‘ by Annika Björk for thorough explanations of the history of David’s mother.
https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/276-original-sin-and-a-misapplied-passage for an imperfect but helpful explanation on that verse.)
APPENDIX 2: Another video by Jesse Morrell, that will show you what sort of a heretic Augustine was:
Source: Jesse Morrell, bibletheology, “Is Sex A Sin?” (Youtube)
Augustine might have adopted the idea that a desire for sex is sinful from 2 Baruch 56:6, which states that “For when he transgressed, untimely death came into being, mourning was mentioned, affliction was prepared, illness was created, labor accomplished, pride began to come into existence, the realm of death began to ask to be renewed with blood, the conception of children came about, the passion of the parents was produced, the loftiness of men was humiliated, and goodness vanished.” We know that this is an anti-Scriptural doctrine, as God said BEFORE the fall: “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). He said the same AFTER the fall “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:6, KJV). Directly after this God said again: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:7, KJV).
This means that Augustine and the apocryphal writings where wrong.
God Is always right and does not contradict Himself in His word.
APPENDIX 3: Sermon by Winkie Pratney explaining the difference between physical and moral death and debunking proof texts used to teach Augustinian Original Sin:
To repeat the same:
“Physical depravity is hereditary (Gen. 1:21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 38-39; Heb. 2:14) but moral depravity is not hereditary (Deut. 24:16; 2 Kng. 14:6; 2 Chron. 25:4; Eze. 18:2-4, 19-20; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6, 8-9; 9:11; 2 Cor. 5:10; 11:15; Jas. 4:17; Rev. 22:12). Moral depravity is developed by moral choices.”
– Jesse Morrell, Homosexuals are not born that way, (Sin is a Perversion of Human Nature), III. Homosexuality is not in accordance with Human Nature (3.)
APPENDIX 4: Is Our Flesh Sinful? Do We Have A Sinful Nature From Birth?:
APPENDIX 5: To check out my personal view on why people sin, click here:
(We should not dogmatically give the answer, if the Bible does not give us the answer to such questions. Especially not by using (Manichaean) myths such as Augustinian Original Sin.)
APPENDIX 6: SIN IS NOT NATURAL:
APPENDIX 7: ADDITIONAL MEME:
Source: crosstheology (can be freely used, if including my alias)
(…) means that a part of a quote has been shortened, for practical or other reasons. No quotes have been taken out of context (feel free to mail me if you disagree).
Quoting certain churches, pages or persons does not mean I do agree with them on every point of their theology!
Cover picture from genius
Picture Charles Finney taken from wikimedia
Picture Harry Conn unknown source
Picture Christos Yannaras taken from wikimedia
Picture Pelagius taken from refiningfireradio
Picture Phil Roberts taken from biblicalstudies
Picture John Chrysostom taken from integratedcatholiclife
Picture Gennadios Scholarios taken from wikimedia
Picture Edward Hills taken from textus-receptus
Picture John Meyendorff taken from svots
Picture Jesse Morrell taken from “Did Augustine Corrupt the Church(…)?” (youtube)
Picture Henry Sheldon taken from bu
Picture Albert Barnes taken from preteristarchive
Picture Moses Stuart taken from covenanter
Picture John Calvin taken from calvinquotes
Picture Pelagius taken from refiningfireradio
Picture Alfred Overstreet taken from gospeltruth
Picture Gordon Olson taken from fromthepulpit
Picture George Burnap taken from maryland
Picture Mark M. Mattison taken from Linkedin
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture passages
are taken from the King James Version,
public domain of the British Crown.