Original Sin is the sin of Adam in eating the forbidden fruit, but it also refers to doctrines concerning the results of that sin on humanity at large – in how it corrupted our race. In some Christian traditions, mankind is considered to be actually guilty of the sin of Adam itself. In Lutheran and Calvinistic traditions, and with many of the traditional Reformation Protestants, the original sin of Adam is considered to have totally corrupted the nature of all men so that at birth, humans are born as guilty sinners, evil children of the devil with a nature utterly incapable of doing any moral good. In spite of this, God somehow demands that such children of the devil be perfectly righteous in all their ways, and He sends them to everlasting torment at the end of their miserable lives on earth as a just punishment for doing what they were essentially programmed to do.
I will argue that this view, which is never expressed precisely in these terms because it sounds so outrageous, but is in fact equivalent to it, is NOT faithful to all of Scripture because it neglects a correct understanding of the spiritual world in which we find ourselves. It misunderstands the true loving nature of God the Father, of Jesus Christ and also the role of evil spirits in people's lives.
The doctrine of original sin for the Western church at least was hammered out in the 5th century and the concept that is believed by most Christians and Roman Catholics today actually comes from Augustine of Hippo, an influential bishop in North Africa. Augustine had more influence on Christianity than it will be ever possible to calculate, and I'm not at all sure that it was such a good influence. Augustine couldn't even read New Testament Greek, and yet somehow he got to be the guy who shaped western theology more than any man since the apostle Paul. Heavily influenced by Mancheism and Neo-Platonism, Augustine believed that Almighty God had presdestined the fates of all men, and Augustine was in this sense the source of many of John Calvin's understandings of the Bible. Nevertheless, Augustine was a Roman Catholic who believed in following the bishop of Rome as pope. Augustine also prayed to Mary, and believed in using military and political power to get other believers in Jesus to follow what he perceived to be the truth. You just need to research his interaction with the Donatists to understand this. Here is a pro-Augustine website that confirms this. This Augustine who recommended slaying fellow Christians is the guy we trust to guide us in theological matters of the greatest importance. The picture that Augustine creates of God, in my view, is one of a cruel puppetmaster who takes delight in creating sinners, blaming them for following their God-given nature according to a life-plan which God himself crafts in meticulous detail, just so he can take delight in torturing the vast majority of them for all eternity, calling this "justice". Its hard to rejoice in this kind of God.
Augustine believed that the act of sexual intercourse was inheritly sinful, being what he called "concupiscence", and that somehow through the sinful act of sexual intercourse, the sin nature was passed from father to child. Again, I fear that Augustine's own less than pristine background seriously influenced this view of things. I say this because it is well known that before his conversion Augustine was given to sexual immorality in an extreme measure. The association of sex with sin in his mind was probably very strong on that account. The Bible never teaches that sex within marriage is sin, but that didn't stop Augustine from making a whole doctrine out of it.
I discovered from reading the article on Original Sin in Wikipedia that the Eastern Orthodox church has a doctrine which is much closer to what I actually believe on the subject. I think it would make a good area for theological research.
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:29 "Truly this only I have found That God made man upright But they have sought out many schemes."
The Bible also teaches that Gentiles at times BY NATURE do the right things according to the moral law of God.
for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them).
By which nature is this? By a God-given nature that is wholly corrupted?
The Bible says:
"Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. "
It is very serious to promote doctrines which subtly shift the blame for our own corruption onto our Creator and not where it belongs, with us and with our ancestors, who have given place to the devil. Without intending to, I think this is what some of the followers of Augustine like the Calvinists and Lutherans have actually done – although they would deny it. They would say, "No we are 100% to blame," even though they believe it was God who subsequent to Adam's sin created us sinners and programs all the events of the Universe like clockwork. When you point out how absurd this sounds, they will tell you that it is what the Bible teaches, and we that we must not exalt human reason or logic above the Scriptures.
But is it really what the Bible teaches? Or is it only one interpretation of the Bible, which doesn't take into account all the information the Bible gives?
What I See in the Scripture about this
I've already pointed out Scriptures which teach that God made man upright, and that good things come from God the Father. To this we could add Paul's declaration in Acts 17:29
"Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."
Even heathen children are the offspring of God, not of the devil. Man is still created in the image and likeness of God even now – BUT, there are some major problems all humans face in their passage through life which they are NOT equipped to deal with in their own resources, moral or otherwise.
Men Corrupt Themselves
The Bible teaches that mankind corrupts themselves through sin.
So God looked upon the art, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (Genesis 6:5)
It did not say it was corrupt because of Adam's sin, but because all the people had corrupted their way. THEY DID IT, and THEY WERE TO BLAME FOR THEIR CORRUPT CONDITION.
And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. (Exodus 32:7)
God brought the Israelites out of Egypt (the world), through the Red Sea (water baptism), with the Cloud (the Holy Spirit) and with spiritual drink from Christ, and yet THEY, THE ISRAELITES, CORRUPTED THEMSELVES through wilful idolatry.
I am emphasizing this because as long as we think its really happening because of Adam's choice, we will be thinking at some level that these crimes of disloyalty to God are excusable because they are basically inevitable.
They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins. (Hosea 9:9)
God's just and righteous punishment comes on people because THEY DO IT, they freely choose it.
They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. (Deuteronomy 32:5).
Why Do All Men Corrupt Themselves?
The Bible teaches that "all have SINNED and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Why is it that all have sinned? The doctrine of original sin as taught by Augustine and modified slightly by others later gives an answer to this: we sin because we are sinners. We are born sinners because of Adam's sin. But I would say this is an oversimplified answer. The real answer is going to take a little more investigation and study.
I am not a follower of Charles Finney either, who taught in his "systematic theology" that sin was entirely a matter of the supreme choice of the heart being incorrect, and that there was nothing passed down from Adam to his children that predisposed men to sin. I also refuse to be labelled a Pelagian because Pelagius for all his saintly qualities had some major defects in his theology, chiefly a lack of appreciation of our desperate need for the Holy Spirit. Actually Pelagius and Celestus did the church a great disservice in their dispute with Augustine. It was their clear errors on other matters which gave Augustine the upper hand in the ecclesiastical dispute in which Augustine was the clear winner. As usual, by mixing truth with error, Satan causes some men to reject the truth on account of the error, and others to accept the error on account of the truth that is mixed with it.
What Does the Bible Teach?
The Bible teaches that something seriously changed in the environment when Adam sinned – both physically and spiritually. As the one appointed by God to rule and subdue the earth, Adam, in yielding to the devil, had ceded the crown to Satan, who became the "god of this world". The Bible clearly teaches that Satan has become the god of this world, the god of this present evil age.
"in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
A Swarm of Demons
Our world today and the people in it have been virtually overrun by an organised swarm of demonic spirits intent on our destruction.
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
There are HOSTS of wickedness in the spiritual atmosphere around us. These are demon spirits and there are more than enough of them for each and every person to de personally harrassed and tempted.
Why Do All Sin?
One reason sin is universal in mankind is because temptation is universal. We are born weak and ill-equipped to deal with the temptations to selfishness we are surrounded with. It is also quite possible that babies inherit evil spirits from their parents. It is these evil spirits which enforce the curse of the generational iniquities that run through families (see Exodus 20:4 – "For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me"). While this doesn't mean it itself that the child is somehow guilty (see Ezekiel 18, it does mean that the child is pre-disposed to sin when the opportunity presents itself later on in early childhood.
Babies need to cry and be focused on their needs to get proper attention. They soon learn certain behaviour patterns which would not be acceptable in older children, certainly not in adults. These behavior patterns are learned because they work, they result in gratification and relief for the child. In all this small chilren learn to manipulate their parents, and test the boundaries. But when they are old enough to understand that disobedience to parents is wrong, then they are old enough to sin and also old enough to be saved. At some point the child comes to be aware that he or she is doing the wrong thing, and is morally accountable before God for this. Such children need the gospel explained to them and need to be taught to call upon Jesus for salvation and forgiveness.
Are Children Born Spiritually Dead?
I'm told that Ephesians 2:3 can be interpreted in the Greek to be saying that children are "by birth" "children of wrath". But I can't reconcile this understanding of the Greek with the verse in Romans 7:9 which says as follows:
"I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died." (Romans 7:9)
What does this mean? In what sense did Paul mean to say that he was "once alive"? It would only make sense if it meant "alive spiritually", because he is saying that the commandment came, sin revived, and I "died". Clearly Paul is not saying he PHYSICALLY died in the past due to the sin. He is referring to spiritual death. The context therefore demands that we interpret Paul's comment concerning being "once alive" to spiritual life. Even though "sin" in some sense was present, it was not a sin Paul was guilty of, but rather, a power at work in his life which could be stirred up by the presence of a commandment.
If Paul was spiritually alive before he died spiritually, then either he was already born again when he died spiritually through sin, or he was spiritually alive as a child unaware of the law.
It is interesting when we compare this to what God said to Cain:
So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Sin is seen here as having a "desire", and as yet being "outside the door" so to speak. Is it possible that "sin" here and in similar passages is actually a metaphor for demon power which seeks to enter and get a grip on the soul of a person? I think this is very likely, and my experience in the deliverance ministry makes me think this is the true interpretation.
If this is the case, then what gets passed on from parents to children is "sin" in the form of inherited demons. There is no guilt attached to this "sin" until the person, weakened as they are in their natural ability to resist sin through the fall, succumb to this inner demonic urging when confronted with a commandment which doesn't suit their personal desires. Once succumbed to, the nature of the person is further corrupted and they become eventually a slave to that sin. The only salvation from this is the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's life, made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, which amongst other things cancels the claim of Satan on the life of a repentant sinner.
This article needs to be continued.