Wikipedia (Original Sin)
“Original sin is, according to a doctrine in Christian theology, humanity’s state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. While the Old Testament and the New, which frequently speak of the sinfulness of humans, do not contain the terms “original sin” or “ancestral sin”, the doctrine expressed by these terms is claimed to be based on the teaching of Paul the Apostle in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22. Some see the doctrine as implied in Old Testament passages such as Psalm 51:5 and Psalm 58:3. A doctrine of original sin, however, is not found in Jewish theology; original sin is also rejected by the post-Christian Abrahamic religions, Islam and the Bahá’í Faith.”
Lutheran Version (from Wikipedia)
“It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit. Rejected in this connection are the Pelagians and others who deny that original sin is sin, for they hold that natural man is made righteous by his own powers, thus disparaging the sufferings and merit of Christ.”
Recently I have been having a blog face-off on this issue – original sin – and what it means. I personally do not buy into the idea as the Lutherans propose it – I also struggle believing it is true for a variety of reasons:
(a) The term is never used anywhere in the bible – it is a doctrine based on some scriptures in the bible – and it is not accepted by Judaism as a formal tenet of Torah, Writings, and Prophets (so scratch those as actual proof texts).
(b) Paul alludes to this idea – but within him this is not clear cut. He believes in the idea of dealing with one’s sinful nature and becoming a ‘new person’. Even if Paul saw this state as true – he makes no excuses for dealing with it as if it can be dealt with.
(c) The gospels do not have Jesus teaching on the subject – and that’s a fairly big one to overlook if you ask me. However, Jesus does not deny we need to deal with our sin either – he gets specific on what sins to deal with (ex: self righteousness, greed, lust, anger, etc). Jesus seems to be pointing to the fact we can deal with these things and overcome the passions within them.
(d) Kids are a problem. Kids would be born into sin, by no choice of their own, and if they passed on without being ‘saved’ – then they go to hell. Is that really fair? They were by nature sinners and could do nothing about it – this includes the aborted (who would of been made in iniquity anyways). I find that a troubling theological idea – when kids seem so innocent to me.
I have troubles with accepting an idea like this because it is not that great of an idea – it provides an excuse for sin and takes the sole responsibility for our actions off of us – onto Adam. ‘Well I was born this way – my inclinations are towards evil – God knows this’…then we say the prayer and ‘poof’ – sin is forgiven (not gone mind you because we are sinful by nature).
For me the answer is also found in Paul…the supposed proponent of this idea. Paul talks about things like ‘dying to the sinful nature’ and becoming a ‘new person’ – and this is a choice of the person following the teachings. Paul uses some strong metaphors (or allegory) concerning the strength of sin and renewing who we are (he even mentions renewing your mind). The way to deal with sin is to take your actions seriously and change the things you did that hurt other people – become a new person. I am not going to speculate about God’s spirit in this process – since I don’t know how God’s spirit works (even Jesus says its like the wind – blows where it will).
The core of the process is to accept your faults, admit them, then repent and become responsible for your actions and change the way you did things. I see this in the gospels as a way of dealing with your sinful nature – which can mean something like the nature of immorality we have built up in us and become use to – we need to change that decision process and start a ‘new’ one.
What do you think?