Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation/Original Sin


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Original Sin.. Fact Or Fable?

Carol Brooks

    Part I.. God’s Skewed Sense of Justice or  Augustine’s Skewed Ideas
    Original Sin.. The Original Miscarriage of Justice
    Original Sin and Augustine
    Original Sin.. The Lynch Pin of Calvinism

    Part II... Ignored Facts
    What Is Sin?
    Adam's Sin and The Book of Genesis

    Guilty By Inheritance or Guilty by Deed?
    The Old Testament Emphasizes That We Are Held Accountable For Our Own Sins Only
    The New Testament Emphasizes That Our Eternal Destiny Is Determined Our Actions Only

    We Are Not Born Guilty ... But Become Guilty From Our "Youth".

    Part III... Adam's Legacy
    Physical or Spiritual Death?
    1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5

    Part IV... Bible Texts That Are Misused In The Attempt to Prove "Original Sin"

    The Psalms... Hebrew Poetry   Psalm: 51:5 and  Psalm: 58

    Isaiah 64:6 and Isaiah 43:27

    Romans: 2:14-15   Romans: 3:11-18   Romans: 5:12 -14   Romans: 5:18 -19

    1Corinthians 2:14-15 and  Ephesians 2:1, 2:5 / Colossians 2:13

    Part V
    What exactly was it that Adam passed down to his descendants ?


    Part I.. God’s Skewed Sense of Justice or  Augustine’s Skewed Ideas

    The entire doctrine of Original Sin is succinctly summed up in the following statement excerpted from an article entitled The Myth of Original Sin by Tom Overstreet..

      Most Christians who profess to believe in the doctrine of original sin are ignorant of exactly what its teachings really are. They are ignorant of the fact that the doctrine has not always existed. They are ignorant of the fact that it evolved, that it had its roots in a heathen philosophy, and that it was made a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century A.D. They are ignorant of the fact that it is only a theory, and that there is really not one but several differing theories that have evolved and come down to us in the church. They are also ignorant of the fact that the Bible passages used as proof-texts for this doctrine have been taken out of context and tortured into teaching a doctrine that is completely foreign to the Bible. Finally, they are ignorant of the fact that the doctrine of original sin is an evil doctrine that corrupts Christian practice, blackens the character of God, excuses sin in the sinner, contradicts the Bible, makes Jesus a sinner, harms the cause of Christ, and stumbles professing Christians into hell. And it is this ignorance of Christians concerning these facts that helps to protect and perpetuate the doctrine of original sin. [1]

    Original Sin.. The Original Miscarriage of Justice
    The term "Original Sin", which does not exist in the Bible or Jewish writings, is used in two senses ... a) Adam's sin of disobedience (commonly called The Fall) in eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and b) The moral corruption that is supposedly passed down from Adam to his descendants which causes every member of the human race to be born guilty of sin long before they commit one for themselves.

    However there is certainly no consensus of opinion on what effects the sin of Adam had on our nature and/or standing before God. The three major views on "Original Sin" are

      a) Adam's sin had no effect upon his descendants other than providing a really bad example for the rest of humankind to follow.

      b) Adam's sin has resulted in his descendants inheriting a propensity or predisposition to sin. This tendency is often referred to as a "sin nature."

      c) Adam's sin has resulted in his descendants not only having a "sin nature", but inheriting the very sin of Adam and Eve and therefore condemned to hell because of it. In other words.. we all sinned when Adam sinned or, as they like to put it, we all sinned "in Adam".

    Many Christians today, including most Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Catholics unblushingly subscribe to the third listed view, maintaining that the sin of Adam was transferred to all future generations, tainting even the unborn. Since infants carry the stain and guilt of the first sin ever committed, they have to be baptized to remove this sin and should they die before baptism they are unsanctified and forever excluded from heaven. This of course has led to the corollary doctrine and practice of Infant Baptism, which ignores the fact that there is not a single Bible verse that commands or even implies infant baptism. To say nothing of the danger that multitudes of people baptized as infants could grow up thinking they are saved and on their way to Heaven, even though they have never been born again through personal faith in Christ. [See Baptism and The New Birth]

    Proponents often refer to this doctrine as "hard to understand". Is it any wonder that not only would someone find this hard to understand, but that a logical and fair minded human being would balk at the thought that they are condemned for a crime that they themselves did not commit. That a person’s sin is an affliction over which he has absolutely no control whatsoever.

    Guilt and innocence are the warp and weft of the fabric of our justice system. Man’s fundamental concept of justice is that a person cannot be condemned and punished except for intentional, reckless or negligent wrong doing. Does it not speak volumes that we consider it a "miscarriage of justice" when an innocent person is sentenced for an illegal act he did not commit. Certain individuals and organizations rightly do everything in their power to free these people. Peter Neufeld, the co-founder of one of these organizations, aptly named The Innocence Project says [Emphasis Added]

      Thousands of innocent people are languishing in prison for crimes they didn't commit. These citizens' most basic rights to life and liberty have been quashed by an egregious failure of our criminal justice system. Innocent Project centers are the last hope, not only for the victims, but also for the very concept of justice as we know it." [2]

    Yet we are expected to believe that God Himself, whom we consistently refer to as a "loving God", would indulge in the greatest miscarriage of justice, involving billions of people, that this world has ever seen. We are expected to believe that God is less fair and less able to do right than any honest judge in the judicial system. That God Himself is less willing to consider the guilt or innocence of the individual than the organizations that work to free innocent people from jail, or even death row. That His moral sense is inferior to ours. 

    Yes, I am afraid that this doctrine is very hard to understand since it violates every single aspect that we treasure in our God, making Him a worse offender than the over zealous district attorney or the biased judge. In short it makes a hash of the justice of God which is the cornerstone of our faith. 

    A Very Unreasonable God?

    If you think this is bad.. hold on.. it gets worse. Because not only is God's sense of justice far less developed that our own, but He is also, at best, immensely confused or, at worst, exceedingly unreasonable... For example Acts 17:30 says

      The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:

    God here is giving a direct command to all men everywhere to repent,  warning them in the next verse that He is going to "judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained". Yet, according to the doctrine of Original Sin, men are too depraved to be capable of repentance... he will not and cannot obey even the slightest spiritual command. Yet God will condemn the sinner for not doing what he is not capable of doing through no fault of his own. 

    Several of the giants of the Old Testament were equally contrary. Moses told the people that the commandments of God were not all that hard for them to keep. Joshua instructed them to choose between good and evil. Yet these people were supposedly incapable of complying with the commands, and unable to choose good over evil, which says as much about these two men as it does about God.    

      if thou shalt obey the voice of Jehovah thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not too hard for thee, neither is it far off. [Deuteronomy 30:10-11]

      And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. [Joshua  24:15]

    Luckily this is not so. 

    Christians believe Original Sin to be a Biblical doctrine because theologians, preachers, and Sunday school teachers give it a semblance of credence by quoting certain Bible passages out of context, while totally ignoring (or forgetting to mention) those passages that clearly and completely contradict it. The fact is that the ridiculous doctrine of Original Sin did not originate with God and His Word but was first taught several hundred years after Christ and, at best, had it's roots squarely planted in the misguided minds of over zealous men or, at worst, in heathen philosophy. One thing is certain.. it did not originate in the Scriptures.

    Original Sin and Augustine:
    This well entrenched doctrine originated with some second and third century interpretations of Paul's writings, particularly the fifth chapter of Romans. However it was Augustine of Hippo who, in the fifth century (354-430), was largely responsible for transforming Paul's teachings on the Fall into the doctrine of Original Sin, teaching as he did that man is born into this world in a state of sin.

    Augustine converted to Christianity from Manichaeism, in the year 387. The Manicheans were a syncretic religious sect led by Mani, a Buddhist-influenced ascetic born in Baghdad in the 3rd century AD. At it's peak, between the third and seventh centuries, it was one of the most widespread religions in the world. How much of Manichaeism carried over into Augustine's theology is a matter of debate, however there is little question that the Manichean dualistic view of the universe, enabled a person to deny any responsibility for his sins. Later Augustine fell under the influence of Platonism which provided him with a philosophical framework.

    However the question one has to ask here (and I certainly ask it) is.... Why should we care what Augustine thought and why should it influence us a single iota one way or the other? It would take a lifetime to uncover the riches and layers of the Bible alone, yet men seem to have the time to attend to the voluminous writings of an ancient Catholic philosopher who believed in a purgatory, masses, prayers for the dead, the intercession of saints and martyrs in our favor and the innocence of Mary... In short all the superstitious baggage of the Catholic church. 

    What is wrong with us?

    Why do we need fallible men to tell us what the Word of God says? Is not the Bible translated into a language we, with some application and study, can read and understand? Or are we simply so blinded or lazy that we swallow what we have been told, not stirring ourselves to check what others say by the Scriptures.

    Although Augustine was Catholic to the core and wrong about any number of issues, his influence had disastrous and widespread consequences. John Calvin referred to Augustine as "holy man" and "holy father" , and quoted him over four hundred times in the Institutes alone. Calvin accepted Augustine’s fabrications in toto, with generations of theologians blindly following suit, teaching this fallacy to millions more. 

    The result of this unholy bias was the genesis of the five major Calvinistic doctrines which are: (1) Total Depravity (or absolute inability) (2) Unconditional Election, (3) Limited Atonement, (4) Irresistible Grace and (5) Perseverance of the Saints. All five points are so entwined that they pretty much stand, or fall, together. It is virtually impossible to accept or reject one point without doing the same with the other four. 

    Original Sin.. The Lynch Pin of Calvinism:
    Underlying all of Calvinism is the doctrine of Original Sin, which would have us believe that our fallen state renders us incapable of choosing God and, of ourselves, powerless to respond to God's offer of salvation. In the words of a Calvinistic site..  [Emphasis Added]

      The doctrine of total depravity is that as a result of the Adam's sin in the garden of Eden (the fall), every part of every human being has been corrupted by sin. ... Every part of man's being (body, soul, heart, mind, strength, emotions, intentions, will, inclinations, etc.) has been corrupted by sin. Sin's taint makes every person, and every part of every person, unacceptable before God. Sin's corruption also prevents every person from doing anything meritorious for salvation, and makes every person so hostile toward God that he cannot and will not repent of his sin or accept the gospel...  

      What total depravity does mean is that no one is innocent of sin, and that no one standing on his own merit is righteous in God's eyes (not even infants). It also emphasizes that, as a result of Adam's sin, man is born spiritually dead, having a corrupted nature which desires to sin and which hates God. Since man cannot act contrarily to his nature, man has no ability to do anything truly pleasing to God. Everything man does comes from a heart that hates God, and therefore everything man does is fundamentally unacceptable in God's sight. This is why man in his natural state can never be good enough to save himself, and can never savingly accept the gospel of his own accord. [3] 

    Since man is incapable of saying, doing, thinking or believing anything that would propel him towards salvation, God Himself must step in and elect certain individuals to salvation (Unconditional Election). Of course it naturally follows that if it is God that wills a person to be saved, there is no way that person can fall from grace or get "unsaved" (Perseverance of the Saints).  

    Without the bedrock of Original Sin, the entire edifice would crumble. So the basic question is 

    Part II... Ignored Facts

    ...What Is Sin?
    I wonder how many of those that profess to believe in Original Sin have given any thought to the fact that..

    Sin is not a substance with physical properties that, like a virus, can be transmitted from person to person.  If it were a substance that can be physically passed on, then virtue, goodness, and righteousness must also be substances that can be transmitted physically.

    Sin is a conscious, willful act performed by an individual (in word, deed, or thought) that opposes God's will... it is an immoral choice made by the sinner, that transgresses God's law. Therefore apart from the sinner who makes the choice, then commits the act, sin can not even exist.

      "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." [1 John: 3:4]

      To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. [James: 4:17]

    Yet theologians persist in the belief, more fit for a science fiction script than the Scriptures, that sin has been passed on physically from Adam to all his descendants, yet fail to tell us a) Why it is that we can only inherit sin from Adam but not from the rest of our ancestors b) Why it is that we can inherit sin but not inherit righteousness. and c) How it is that Adam's sin can come through our parents even if they are true Christians and therefore, in the words of the apostles John and Paul, have been cleansed from all sin.

      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness [1 John: 1:9]

      and being made free from sin ye became servants of righteousness [Romans: 6:18]

    If, at the moment of conception, our parents were Christians who have been cleansed from all sin, there would be no sin to inherit. If there were no sin to inherit, surely we would be born pure.  If sinners can beget sinners, saints should beget saints!

    Adam's Sin and The Book of Genesis:

    Adam.. Morally Perfect and Immortal? One should expect that when a major belief system stands or falls on a single doctrine, there should be unequivocal proof for this doctrine in the Scriptures.

    But, far from this being the case, Original Sin and the resulting depravity of man is based not on sure Scriptures but on unproven philosophic assumptions, which have been unquestionably accepted. It is assumed that Adam was created morally perfect but, due to his sin, lost perfection and became totally corrupt and alienated from God. He then passed on this despicable nature to all his descendants. The Baptist Confession of Faith says [All Emphasis Added]

      After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasoning and immortal souls, rendering them fit to live that life for Him for which they were created; - being made in the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and having the power to fulfil it;  

    However where do the Scriptures say that Adam and Eve were created either morally perfect or immortal? Much less that they had "the law of God written in their hearts"? Are we not getting carried away with much speaking.. building one invention on the shoulders of another? Or do we just like the sound of all these fancy phrases as they trip off our tongues?

    God Called Creation “Good”

    The fact that God called His creation "good" in Genesis 1:31 does not mean it was all morally perfect.  According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek lexicon, the Hebrew word translated good (which occurs over 550 times in the Old Testament) can mean goodness, beauty, gladness, fair, joy etc. It says nothing about moral perfection. The words in bold in the quotes below are a few examples of the variety of way the word is used..

      and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. [Exodus 3:8]

      And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. [Exodus 18:17]

      And Ephraim is a heifer that is taught, that loveth to tread out the grain; but I have passed over upon her fair neck: I will set a rider on Ephraim; Judah shall plow, Jacob shall break his clods. [Hosea 10:11]

      And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison-house; and he made sport before them. And they set him between the pillars:[Judges 16:25]

      And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. [1 Samuel 8:16]

    Certainly Adam and Eve were probably innocent, as is anyone who has never encountered anything evil or bad. It is also reasonable to surmise that they lost some of this innocence when they first sinned, in light of the fact that they went and hid when God came to the garden (Genesis: 3:7,8). anything beyond this is sheer speculation, upon which the entire Calvinist doctrine of salvation is based.

    God “Forgot” To Mention:
    One would think that if Adam's transgression had such a monumental effect on all future generations it would at least be mentioned in the account. Yet, nowhere in the Old Testament is it explicitly stated that Adam's sin was passed down, that man was "in Adam" in the fall. In fact, the silence in the book of Genesis is deafening. All we are told is that, in view of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Good and Evil, God did not want them to also partake of the Tree of Life, and live for ever (Genesis: 3:22), therefore He banished them from the garden (Genesis: 3:23). The man was cursed with having to work for food and the ground that was also cursed would hand him thorns and thistles (Genesis: 3:17-19). The woman was cursed with great pain in childbirth (Genesis: 3:16).

    Both these curses fade into insignificance compared to the monumental consequences of all Adam's descendants inheriting his sin and consequently not being able to respond to God, yet not a single word is breathed about this. We are to believe that God forgot to mention the most devastating consequence of all?

    Three Questions
    Besides which there are several questions that those that preach Original Sin have no answer for, nor can they explain... 

      a) It is often claimed that we sin because we are "wholly inclined" towards evil and "utterly indisposed" towards good. In other words we sin because we have inherited Adam's depravity. This may explain why we sin, but it does not explain why Adam sinned. He was, supposedly, were created righteous and obviously had the advantage of not inheriting any depravity... yet he still sinned. If Adam became depraved only after he sinned, then why did he sin before he was depraved? 

      b) The second question is why would Adam's descendants be held responsible for his first sin only, and not for his later sins? Why would we not also be held responsible for the sins of all our forefathers that came after Adam?  

      c) And thirdly, since Christ shared our human nature through His mother, why was He not considered guilty of Adam's sin?

    Oh wait! I remember! Mary is also considered free of the stain of sin, somehow having escaped inheriting Original Sin like the rest of humanity. Or at least that's what the Catholic church tells us (The Protestants have no answer as to how Jesus escaped Original Sin). Talk about having to dig into the recesses of imagination to come up with one myth to cover a major flaw in another.

    So let us bypass all other influences, imaginations and endless torrents of seven syllable words and take a look at what the Bible itself has to say which, by the way, it does in no uncertain terms.

    Guilty By Inheritance or Guilty by Deed?
    All the following passages say a person becomes guilty of sin when he himself commits or practices wrong. Conspicuous by their absence from the Bible are verses that specifically say that a person is guilty of sin because he inherited guilt from Adam and before he himself commits sin. [All Emphasis Added]

    In the next three verses sin is defined as something a person does, not something he inherits.

      Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin. John: 8:34]

      Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. [1 John: 3:4] 

      he that doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. [1 John: 3:8]

    A man is defiled by things he does ... decisions he makes in his own heart, not because of that which he inherits.

      And he said, That which proceedeth out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, covetings, wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, railing, pride, foolishness: all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man.  [Mark: 7:20-23]

    This verse does not say we have fallen short of the glory of God because Adam sinned, but because we have all sinned, and, like the people of Jeremiah's day will pay the price, accustomed as they (and we) are to doing evil

       for all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God; [Romans: 3:23]

      Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against Jehovah, and have not obeyed the voice of Jehovah, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as it is this day. [Jeremiah:  44:23]

      Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. [Jeremiah:  13:23]  

    How is an already totally depraved heart be darkened?

      because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.  [Romans: 1:21]

    Although the supposedly most compelling proof texts for Original Sin are dragged out of the book of Romans, it is this same book that provides most telling passages that speak against Original Sin saying, as it does, that the Gentiles not having the benefit of God's written law, can yet have sufficient ability or conscience to know right from wrong and can instinctively keep the law . How could they instinctively keep the requirements of the law if they were totally depraved?

       For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves. in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them. [Romans: 2:14-15]

    People become servants of sin because they present themselves, their own members, as servants of uncleanness. They are instructed to present themselves as servants of righteousness.

      I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. [Romans: 6:19]

    James is clear. A man becomes worthy of death when he himself responds to temptation by sinning. He is considered a sinner and a transgressor of the law only when he breaks one point of the law. 

       but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death. [James: 1:14,15] 

      For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou dost not commit adultery, but killest, thou art become a transgressor of the law. [James: 2:10,11]

    The Old Testament Emphasizes That We Are Held Accountable For Our Own Sins Only.
    Why do we consistently ignore the passages of Scripture that unambiguously tell us that no person can bear the guilt (or innocence) of another ... that every one will answer for their own sins and misdeeds. For example (Emphasis Added)

      "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." [Deuteronomy: 24:16]

      But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin." [2 Kings: 14:6]

      But he put not their children to death, but did according to that which is written in the law in the book of Moses, as Jehovah commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin. [2 Chronicles: 25:4]  

      "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:: 18:20]

       Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord Jehovah. Return ye, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. [Ezekiel: 18:30] 

       "Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways." [Ezekiel: 33:20]

      In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." [Jeremiah: : 31:29-30]

    The New Testament Emphasizes That Our Eternal Destiny Is Determined Our Actions Only
    Why do we consistently ignore the passages of Scripture that unambiguously tell us that our eternal destiny is determined by our conduct, not by inheritance. That every single person is held accountable for his own deeds and will be judged by his own actions whether they be good or bad. Tribulation and anguish will be the recompense of those that work evil and obey not the truth, honor and peace the reward of those that do good. 

      Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me,  ye that work iniquity. [Matthew: 7:21-23]

       For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds. [Matthew:16:27] 

      and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment. [John: 5:29].

      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. [2 Corinthians 5:10] 

      who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthyof death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them. [Romans: 1:32]

       who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Romans: 2:6-10]

      So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. [Romans: 14:12]

      And if ye call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to each man's work, pass the time of your sojourning in fear: [1 Peter 1:17]

       For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, And his ears unto their supplication: But the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil.  [1 Peter: 3:12]  

      to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. [Jude: 1:15] 

       And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.

      And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [Revelation: 20:12,13]  

        Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to each man according as his work is. [Revelation: 22:12]

    We Are Not Born Guilty...
    If Original Sin is true, then babies are born guilty of sin, totally depraved, destined for eternal punishment. Yet the Scriptures call children innocent, say that God made man upright and tell us that unless we become as little children we shall not enter Heaven.

    I am not sure how much more clear it can get .. God made man upright, but MAN sought out many inventions. 

       Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. [Ecclesiastes: 7:29]

    Note that the word translated into the English upright is used almost 120 times in the Old Testament and often denotes moral righteousness. See the following examples.. what is right in God's eyes can be nothing but moral righteousness. Similarly the just walking in the right ways of God can be nothing but righteous.

       and he said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his eyes, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon thee, which I have put upon the Egyptians: for I am Jehovah that healeth thee. [Exodus 15:26]

      The godly man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net. [Micah 7:2]

      Who is wise, that he may understand these things? prudent, that he may know them? for the ways of Jehovah are right, and the just shall walk in them; but transgressors shall fall therein. [Hosea 14:9]

    The king of Tyre was specifically referred to as blameless from the time he was created until he began to sin....

       "You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you." [Ezekiel: 28: 15]

    Isaiah says we have turned to do evil and, centuries later, Paul echoes the thought

      ..... "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." [Isaiah: 53:6] 

       They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is that doeth good, no, not, so much as one [Romans: 3:12]

    When the nation of Israel, lacking trust in the Lord refused to go up against the Amorites, He told them that they would never see the land but their children who had no knowledge of good and evil would..

      Moreover your little ones, that ye said should be a prey, and your children, that this day have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it. [Deuteronomy 1:39]  

    On more than one occasion the children of the Old Testament were referred to as innocent. Jesus took it a step further and not only prayed for children and blessed them, but said that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are converted (turn) and  become like little children . But if little children are totally depraved, why should we become like them?

      Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto demons, And shed innocent blood, Even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, Whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their works, And played the harlot in their doings. [Psalm: 106:37-39]

       Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, that they knew not, they and their fathers and the kings of Judah; and have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal; which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: [Jeremiah: 19:4-5]

       In that hour came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And he called to him a little child, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.  [Matthew: 18:1-3]

       But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence. [Matthew: 19:14-15]

       And they were bringing unto him little children, that he should touch them: and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was moved with indignation, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me; forbid them not: for to such belongeth the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein. And He took them in his arms, and blessed them, laying his hands upon them. [Mark: 10:13-16]  

    And would Jesus have compared Himself to one that was totally depraved?

       And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me:  [Matthew: 18:5]

    ...But Become Guilty From Our "Youth"
    There are several passages in the Old Testament that state it is from their youth that people become sinners... 

       And Jehovah smelled the sweet savor; and Jehovah said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, for that the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. [Genesis: 8:21] 

      Let us lie down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us; for we have sinned against Jehovah our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of Jehovah our God. [Jeremiah: 3:25] 

      I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice. [Jeremiah: 22:21] 

      For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only that which was evil in my sight from their youth; for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith Jehovah. [Jeremiah: 2:30]

    Isaiah does refer to a time when a child does know the difference and is able to choose. No specific age is given, presumably because the age of reason will differ from one young person to another.

       Butter and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken.  [Isaiah 7:15-16]

    Part III... Adam's Legacy 

    Adam.. Physical or Spiritual Death?
    Ample Biblical evidence has been presented refuting the false doctrine that Adam's sin was somehow passed down to all his descendants, causing humanity to be totally depraved. As shown above, numerous Bible verses, in plain literal language, teach that sin is not inherited, but that human sinfulness commences from "youth", when the child is old enough to be able to choose between evil and good...

    However Romans 5:12 does say [Emphasis Added]

      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

    Many have come to the conclusion that Paul had to be talking about a "spiritual death" in this passage, primarily because in Genesis: 2:17, God tells Adam that in the day he eats of the forbidden fruit he will "surely die". However, as we well know, both Adam and Eve did eat of the tree, but did not physically die for quite a while, going on to have several sons. While we do not know how old Eve was when she died, Adam lived to the ripe old age of 930 [Genesis: 5:5]. Therefore, as the argument usually goes, since Adam's physical death does not occur "in the day" that he sinned, God must have been speaking of a spiritual death, or a separation from Him. The first evidence of this "spiritual death", or broken fellowship with God, is said to be when Adam and Eve "hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God" in the garden.

    However is this accurate? Did Adam die spiritually or physically? And what are we to make of the fact that Adam certainly did not die "in the day" he ate of the forbidden fruit? The problem is that most translations have Genesis: 2:17 reading [Emphasis Added] 

      but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely (or certainly) die.

    That is, most translations but one... Young's literal translation renders the verse so...

      and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it-- dying thou dost die.' [YLT]

    This throws a whole new slant on the idea that Adam was supposed to die on the day that he ate of the Tree. What the literal translation of the verse is saying is that God told Adam that if he ate of the fruit he would begin the process of physically dying, until he finally and completely died. Due to his transgression Adam began this process as an adult (we are not told how long he lived in the garden), but for the rest of mankind it starts much earlier. In a sense, given the mortal nature of humans, the process of dying starts at birth. Every moment of man's life may be considered a step towards that inevitable end .. death. 

    Noting that there is no indication in the opening chapters of Genesis that Adam was created immortal, one has to ask the all important question.... What changed in Adam and Eve's circumstances that caused them to begin the process of dying?

    The answer is relatively simple.

    In view of their sin of eating from the Tree of Good and Evil, God did not want them to also partake of  the Tree of Life, and live for ever (Genesis: 3:22), therefore He banished them from the garden (Genesis: 3:23). They were now separated from the only resource that would enable them to stave off physical death ... The Tree of Life. In fact an angel (or angels) with a flaming sword stood guard at the entrance to the garden thus ensuring that they could not get back in. The Tree of Life was henceforth denied to all humanity, and without access to this life giving resource, we too are doomed to physical death. This was Adam's Legacy.

    However, all is not lost. Every single member of the human race has hope in Christ who is life.  Salvation and the New Birth restores us to what we once lost. And whether the Tree of Life in the age to come is literal or figurative, the principal is the same in the three reference to said tree in the book of Revelation... We once more have access to everlasting life.

      He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God. [Revelation 2:7]

      in the midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve manner offruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [Revelation 22:2]

      Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and my enter in by the gates into the city. [Revelation 22:14]

    Two verses commonly quoted to show a reversal of this "Spiritual Death" are Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13 . Note that neither verse actually says "spiritual death" which has to be assumed...

       "even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved)" [Ephesians 2:5]

      And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; [Colossians 2:13]

    1 Corinthians 15
    This chapter, as a whole is primarily devoted to the topic of Christ's physical resurrection. In it Paul uses some pretty strong language, telling the church at Corinth that if Christ has not been raised, their faith is worthless. Also they are to be pitied if their hope in Him is limited to this life only, since He (Jesus) is the first fruits of "them that are asleep" (dead).

      and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep. [1 Corinthians: 15:17-20] 

    He then goes on to speak of the first two phases in the order of the physical resurrection... 1) Christ was raised 2) believers will be raised at Jesus' second coming. 

      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 (future tense) all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ's, at his coming. [1Corinthians: 15:21-23]

    There is absolutely no doubt that Paul, in these verses, is not referring to a "spiritual death", but a physical one. Physical death resulted from the man Adam's transgression, but a physical resurrection and a glorified body shall come in the future through Jesus.

    Romans 5
    The fifth chapter of Romans, perhaps the most quoted in support of Original Sin, is all about the disastrous consequences Adam's sin had on mankind, and the reversal of those consequences through Christ.

    This "physical death" interpretation fits Romans: 5:12-19 without contradicting any of the hundred other verses that clearly and simply deny that we inherited the stain of Adam's sin for which we will be judged. The condemnation spoken of in verses 16 and 18 is, quite simply, Adam's, and therefore all humanity's, separation from the Tree of Life resulting in physical death.

    Additionally this chapter itself also contains several often overlooked (or ignored) points that either throw severe doubt on inherited sin and total depravity, or flatly contradict it. But we shall return to Romans in a while.


    Part IV
    Bible Texts That Are Misused In The Attempt to Prove "Original Sin"

    There are a few verses in Scripture (few and far between) that are often referred to in an effort to prove Original Sin. However they often not exactly known for their clarity. One of the golden rules of sound Bible interpretation is to always interpret the more difficult or unclear passages by the clear ones. Yet we consistently do one of two things..

      a) Having already been taught a particular doctrine, we read into the difficult passage a meaning that will comply with what we have already come to believe, totally ignoring other passages that are uncomplicated and straightforward in their intent and/or instruction.

      b) Sharing a trait common to virtually all cults, we take a difficult passage and build an entire doctrine around it, totally ignoring those that are uncomplicated and straightforward in their intent and/or instruction.

    In contrast to the weight of evidence stating that every individual will be rewarded according to his own works, there is not a single passage that clearly teaches a person will eternally condemned because of guilt he inherited from Adam. While there may be a very few Biblical passages that seem, at first glance, to promote the idea of Original Sin, they invite further study when one considers the sheer number of Scriptures that clearly say exactly the opposite

    The Psalms
    Two of the commonly cited passages come from Psalms 51 and 58.

    However why are we forgetting that the Psalms are Hebrew poetry, and that virtually all poetry is well known for its figurative language. When a writer uses literal language, he or she is simply stating the facts as they are. On the other hand, figurative language often uses dramatization or hyperbole, not meant to be taken literally but, employed to make a vivid, and therefore more lasting, impression on the mind and heart, without using complicated descriptions.

    Since figurative language often uses words or expressions that have a meaning quite different from the literal interpretation (Who in their right mind would take the phrase "cry ones heart out" literally?), it is a mistake of tragic proportions to use imaginative figures of speech from poetical literature as a foundation, or even supporting evidence, for a major doctrine.  The Psalms were never intended to be a handbook of systematic theology... They are songs, poetry set to music, often expressions of emotions, and must be read as such.

    And how do we know if the language is figurative or literal? If a literal interpretation of a verse causes it to contradict another, or several other, literal and straightforward verses, we can assume it is figurative speech, or that we simply do not have a complete grasp of what the author intended to say.

    Psalm: 51:5...
    Three translations say...

      Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me. (ASV)

      Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (KJV)

      Lo, in iniquity I have been brought forth, And in sin doth my mother conceive me. (YLT)

    (Note: This NIV's Calvinistic bent caused them to translate this verse in line with a preconceived theory... “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me”. (NIV). While the Amplified Bible adds (in brackets) an extremely prejudicial slant not found in the original text... "... was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity" (AB). However the entire Amplified Bible is not a literal translation, but a paraphrase that uses "alternate readings and amplifications to assist the reader in understanding what Scripture really says". This, in plain English, means it is the idea of the translator that has been presented to the unsuspecting reader, not the original Hebrew and Greek words).

    The argument is that David in this Psalm claims to have been born with sin (although the text itself says "in sin") and must be referring to Adam's sin which he, David, inherited.

    While it it is true that one can not be entirely sure of what David meant, there are several reasons, already shown above, that Psalm: 51:5 cannot possibly provide a basis for the doctrine of Original Sin. To reiterate... 1) Nowhere in the Old Testament is it explicitly stated that Adam's sin was passed down. 2) Numerous Bible verses, in plain, literal language teach that sin is not inherited, that human sinfulness commences from one's "youth" , that a child must reach a certain level of maturity before he is able to choose between evil and good. 3) Jesus Himself set forth little children as models for those who would aspire to enter the kingdom.

    So whatever may be the meaning of this passage, nothing forces the conclusion that a baby is born already tainted by sin. However lets take a closer look at four words in the text that are crucial to sound interpretation... "in iniquity" and "in sin." 

    In Iniquity  - I was brought forth in iniquity gives one the impression that David himself was guilty of iniquity from the time he was brought forth. However, the words translated in iniquity is the Hebrew "be aw-vone'.

       be meaning "in"

      aw-vone meaning perversity , that is, (moral) evil: fault, iniquity, mischief, punishment (of iniquity), sin.  (Strong's #5771).

    The same two words are used in Genesis: 19:15 where Lot is warned to leave Sodom lest he be consumed in the iniquity (be aw-vone) of the city" (ASV). The whole point of the story is that Lot was an innocent man who was living in a very sinful city or in the midst of iniquity . Which is probably exactly what David was saying.. He was born in the midst of iniquity.. into a very sinful world.

    In Sin - The "sin" in the passage "in sin did my mother conceive me" is all too often attributed to David, giving the impression that he was born sinful. However this is not so. Lets substitute the word sin to prove a point... 

     If the verse said..

      In drunkeness did my mother conceive me. Who would attribute drunkenness to the child?

    In the same vein no one reading ..

      In anger did my mother beat me, would attribute anger to the child.

    So why are we attributing sin to David, when it is so clear that the passage is talking about David's mother? This is by no means suggesting that David was conceived as a result of an adulterous relationship, nor that the sexual act of conception is sinful. David is simply describing the general condition of his mother and the rest of the world in general, which does not necessarily mean the child inherited this condition. 

    It is to be particularly noted that suggesting that David inherited sin from his mother takes us into very shaky ground since if depravity comes by inheritance through our mothers, then Jesus would have been a sinner whether He Himself committed anything sinful or not.

    Psalm: 51 with it's spirit of humility and repentance, is one of seven Penitential Psalms... This one reflects David's anguish resulting from his adulterous liaison with Bathsheba. if, in this Psalm, David was saying that he was a sinner by birth, it is no longer a Psalm of penitence but becomes one of excuse, there being no better one than being born "a sinner". However David's words are not those of a man making excuses, but of a man deeply repentant for having himself sinned against God.  In it David prays for deliverance from sin and laments the condition of the world into which he was born. However, there is a change in tone about midway through the Psalm: when David moves away from the language of penitence and forgiveness to the language of new creation and transformation. He admits that his very existence is defined by sin and cries out for what literally amounts to a rebirth.. 

       "Create in me a clean heart, O God. And put a new and a steadfast spirit within me".

    To see this Psalm as a proof text for Original Sin is not only misguided, but misses the whole point of the Psalm.

    Psalm: 58
    Taking Psalm 58 as a proof text for Original Sin is more absurd yet. It reads

      The wicked are estranged from the womb: They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.  Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: They arelike the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, Which hearkeneth not to the voice of charmers, Charming never so wisely. Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: Break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Jehovah. [Psalm: 58:3-6]

    Many readers believe that this Psalm teaches that infants go astray, or sin, from the moment of birth. But if this is to be taken literally then Psalm 22 is to be taken literally as well, when David says he trusted in God from his birth. He was "cast" on God and supported by God from the womb. [All Emphasis Added]

       For thou art He bringing me forth from the womb, Causing me to trust, On the breasts of my mother. On Thee I have been cast from the womb, From the belly of my mother Thou art my God. [Psalm 22:9-10]

      By Thee I have been supported from the womb, From my mother's bowels Thou dost cut me out, In Thee is my praise continually. [Psalm 71:6]

    However, as explained above, poetry often uses dramatization or hyperbole, not meant to be taken literally but, employed to make a vivid and lasting impression on the mind and heart. The Psalms were never intended to be a handbook of systematic theology... They are songs, poetry set to music, and must be read as such. The sheer absurdity of trying to press what is obviously dramatic hyperbole into a literal meaning cannot be over stressed.

    Besides which, if one were to take the language of Psalm 58 literally we are faced with more than one impossibility and/or absurdity. For example

      Verse 3 has the infant "speaking" lies as soon as it is born, which is not possible. This is similar to the situation found in the book of Job where it is stated that Job cared for widows from his mother's womb (Job 31:18). Yet the passage from Job is acknowledged to be figurative while the passage from this Psalm: is said to be literal.

      Verse 6: Is it "estranged" infants or young lions that are said to have "teeth" at the time of birth and must have their teeth broken. Or should we employ a modicum of commonsense and acknowledge that the Psalmist is simply and eloquently comparing the wicked with dangerous lions.

      Verse4: Similarly, since these little ones who are "speaking lies" are compared to poisonous snakes, perhaps we should strongly consider killing them so their venom is not deadly to others. If you start out with ridiculous notions, you will definitely wind up with some.

    Besides which, How could John the Baptist be "estranged from God from his mother's womb" when the angel who announced his birth said, "he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb" [Luke 1:15]. Also, note that Luke 1:41 tells us that he literally leaped for joy when Mary, the mother of our Lord, greeted Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist when both were pregnant. These facts cannot be reconciled with a literal interpretation of Psalm: 51:5 and 58:3-6. 

    Also note, that if taken literally, this Psalm indicates that the child goes astray from birth while, if taken literally, Psalm: 51:5 indicates that the child is a sinner from the moment of his conception. However, the fact is that the sinner goes astray rather than being born astray . This indicates personal culpability, and is in line with numerous other verses (in unambiguous prose) like the one found in the book of Isaiah... 

      "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

    Isaiah 64:6

       For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

    This verse has to be one of the most commonly misquoted, misapplied passages in Christianity, and has long been used as a "proof-text' for two totally distinct yet equally unfounded beliefs. Calvinists use it to establish the idea that everything the natural man does is wicked... even good deeds. This helps to set up the dogma of "total inability," the engine which drives their entire theory of salvation. On the other hand, the Evangelical uses the same verse to show that good works, obedience, virtue are all useless. This sets the stage for the doctrine of "accepting Christ" through a once-for-all act of faith and casts an unfavorable slant on the whole Biblical requirement of Holiness.

    What very few do is read or study the verse  in context. If we were to take the time and energy necessary to do so, we would find a completely different picture than the skewed ones that have so often been painted for us. [See Filthy Rags]

    Isaiah 43:27
    Again this verse is appealed to based on one's idea of who first father may refer to

      Thy first father sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me.

    It is supposed by some Calvinists that Adam is being spoken about here. However the objections to this are many and very significant. 

    a) While Adam was the father of the whole human race, the Jews never particularly considered him the father of their nation and never referred to him as such. It was Abraham that they considered the father of their nations and to whom they gave this title. For example

      and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. [Matthew: 3:9]

      They answered and said unto him, Our father is Abraham. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. [John: 8:39]

      Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him, and made him many. [Isaiah 51:2]

    However Abraham is everywhere spoken of as a man who was eminently devoted to God. Besides which it is impossible to believe that God would give Adam's transgression as a reason the Jewish temple and capital were destroyed and the people taken prisoner by a hostile nation... all of which is the very essence of the chapter. 

      The word 'first' here does not refer to time, but to rank; not to the ancestor of the people, but the one having appropriately the title of father, who had the priority also in rank. The Septuagint renders it, Hoi pateres humou protoi. It refers therefore, probably, to the character of the presiding officers in religion, and means that the priests, supreme in rank, and whose example was so important, had sinned; that there was irreligion at the very foundation of influence and authority; and that therefore it was necessary to bring these heavy judgments on the nation. No one acquainted with the history of the Jewish people in the times immediately preceding the captivity, can doubt that this was the character of the high priesthood (Barnes)

    The Book of Romans

    Romans: 2:14-15
    Several passages in Romans, particularly from the fifth chapter, are taken as proof texts for Original Sin and the total depravity of man. However, in this effort, the compelling implications of Romans: 2:14-15 are usually ignored. The passage in question says...  

       "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves. in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing  them;"

    These verses have to be some of the most telling that speak against Original Sin saying, as they do, that although the Gentiles do not have the benefit of God's written law, they can yet have sufficient ability or conscience to know right from wrong, and can instinctively keep the law. How can anyone instinctively keep the requirements of the law if they are totally depraved? 

    Romans: 3:11-18
    is often quoted to bolster the claims of universal depravity that no one ever seeks after God. Paul says

       There is that none that understandeth, There is that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is that doeth good, no, not, so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.

    However if one examines the source of Paul's quotes a very different picture emerges. The Psalms in question did not show that no righteous person had ever lived but, on the contrary, often spoke of God's protection and favor towards the virtuous people of that day.

    What then could Paul have possibly meant? How could he possibly say that it is of no profit for men to live righteously, when innumerable verses spoke of God's protection and favor towards the righteous. Why did he present one side of the coin and ignore the verses that speak of God's support and favor for those who feared Him? [See None That Seeketh

    Romans: 5:12 -14
    The critical words have been emphasized.

       "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. For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 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" 

    Notice that verse 12 says "Death passed upon all men for that all have sinned." It does not say, "Death passed upon all men for that Adam sinned." It was through one man that sin entered the world, but death passed to all men because each and every man sinned himself.

    Romans 5:12 was a crucial verse in the development of the doctrine of Original Sin.

    Augustine spoke Latin, not Greek, and therefore relied on a Latin Translation. Although the Vulgate was translated by Jerome during Augustine's lifetime, it is not certain whether Augustine based his theology on the it or the earlier, less than accurate, Latin Translations. However in the case of Romans 5:12, it seems that the Vulgate was very similar to the other Latin Translations, saying

      "By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for in him all men sinned."

    This is a far from an accurate translation of the Greek, and all modern translations agree that an accurate translation is “because all men sinned”

    Romans 12 then goes on to say that death reigned even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression. This deals a fatal blow to the whole Original Sin theory, since proponents believe that all Adam's descendants sinned "in him". Yet Paul is clearly saying that some did not sin after the fashion of Adam. In other words sin existed in the world in the period between Adam and Moses. However since the law was not yet given, men did not sin by breaking an explicit law as Adam did, but sinned against their own conscience. Is this possible? Certainly according to Romans: 2:14-15 which says...  

       "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves. in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing  them;"

    In other words, the Gentiles not having the benefit of God's written law, can yet have sufficient ability or conscience to know right from wrong and can instinctively keep the law. As asked before, how can anyone instinctively keep the requirements of the law if they are totally depraved? 

    Romans: 5:18 -19
    presents us with an insurmountable problem. The verses read [All Emphasis Added]

      "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."

    In this letter Paul seems to imply that all people are condemned because of Adam's sin. However if we could just put preconceived ideas and denominational bias aside for just a moment and read only what the text is saying (not what someone else thinks it means), we will find that if this passage teaches universal inherited depravity, it also supports universal salvation. Bear with me for a moment... 

    If Adam's sin automatically causes all mankind to receive condemnation for something they did not do or had any choice in, then Christ's dying on the cross also automatically causes all mankind to be saved regardless of whether they choose to be or not.

    So if these passages are not teaching universal salvation, they cannot be teaching universal depravity.

    In reality neither is being taught. Paul is simply saying that physical death was introduced into the world by Adam, just as physical life was brought into the world by Christ, who is life.

    Note once more the words of the prophet Ezekiel:

      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: 18:20]

    1Corinthians 2:14-15

      1Corinthians 2:14-15 Now the natural (Gk. Psuchikos) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.

    Certainly the word “natural” here stands opposed to “spiritual”, but those who believe in Original Sin and/or Calvinism allow their theological presuppositions to drive their interpretation of this verse, insisting that when Paul uses the words natural man he is referring to man in his state of total depravity, applying to every person who is born into this world.  However the term can very easily be understood to describe those …

      “who are governed and influenced by the natural instincts; the animal passions and desires, in opposition to those who are influenced by the Spirit of God. It refers to unregenerate people; but it has also not merely the idea of their being unregenerate, but that of their being influenced by the animal passions or desires. The word “sensual” would correctly express the idea”. [Barnes]

    Although the word is scantily used in the New Testament, the few times it is used certainly bears out this interpretation. James, in the first quote below, contrasts the qualities of the wise man endowed from above with those whose life and character are out of harmony with the Lord. In the second quote Jude warning the believers about certain deceitful men who had crept into the church, pretending to be religious teachers but who were actually ungodly… denying the Lord (V.4), In speaking of these men Jude makes no distinction between sensual and those that walk after their own lusts.

      Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual (Gk. Psuchikos), devilish. [James 3:13-15]

      But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; That they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. These are they who make separations, sensual (Gk. Psuchikos), having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, [Jude 1:17-20]

    Psuchikos is also used by Paul in 1 Corinthians in the context of the physical resurrection of the body. It is certain that Paul can not be saying that the body which is sown a natural body is referring to man in his state of total depravity, since he is obviously speaking to, and about, believers. Adam, the first man became a living soul when he had breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). It is from him that we have our bodily existence, but it is from Jesus that we derive our immortal existence.

      So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural (Gk. Psuchikos) body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. [1 Corinthians 15:42-45]

    Ephesians 2:1, 2:5 and Colossians 2:13
    It is assumed that the following verses are speaking of spiritual death.

      And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; [Colossians 2:13]

      And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins [Ephesians 2:1]

      even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved) [Ephesians 2:5]

    That man is born spiritually dead and therefore cannot respond to the gospel.  However the problem with this theory is that the Greek word nekros translated dead, is used some 130 other times in the New Testament. Except for a couple of instances where it is used metaphorically as in the following quote…

      Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, [Hebrews 6:1]

    ... The word is always used to describe a literal physical death, often that of Jesus Himself.

      because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: [Romans 10:9]

      But God raised him from the dead: and he was seen for many days of them that came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses unto the people. [Acts 13:30-31]

    In other words… all Paul was saying is that the unregenerate are 'as good as dead’.


    Part V

    However we are not quite done. While there no question that guilt can not be imputed to one who has not committed the crime, one very interesting question remains. Is there ANY possibility that Adam's sin did something that affected his descendants besides causing them to be ever separated from the Tree of Life and therefore doomed to physically die?

    Is there something that caused man to no longer be "in His image"? ...A something that has to be put right before a person can be considered once more a "son of God", eligible for the Kingdom of Heaven.  

    Since we can not ignore is that Paul does make a direct connection between the sin of Adam and the fallen condition of the entire race. In Romans 5 Paul seems to be saying that something happened to all humanity because of Adam’s sin. That the entire race was affected—not by sinning themselves, but rather through the sin of Adam. The question has to be asked

    What exactly was it that Adam passed down to his descendants ?


    End Notes
    [1]  A. T. Overstreet. Are Men Born Sinners? The Myth of Original Sin.

    [2] National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

    [3] Ra McLaughlin. An Overview and Defense of the Reformed Doctrines of Salvation.


    Index To Articles on Original Sin