Appendix D: Why original sin cannot be true

In this appendix we will examine whether the doctrine of original sin is true. We will do so by first examining the Scripture that people use for advancing a position that original sin is true. We will show why their interpretation is not valid. Then we will point out the difficulties that the doctrine of original sin raises.

One common Scripture that is used to advance original sin is Ps 51:5.

Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.

Some theologians use this verse to show that all human beings are born sinners. They say that David is teaching here that we are sinners from the moment we were conceived.

Such an interpretation is simply erroneous. Let me explain why.

Consider the following statement: "In sin Ross stole the diamonds."

Now answer the question, "Who sinned here, Ross or the diamonds?"

The answer, of course, is, ‘Ross sinned.’

Now consider the following statement: "In sin my mother conceived me."

Now answer the question, "Who sinned here, the mother or the one whom she conceived?"

The answer is, ‘The mother.’

Next, consider the following statement: "I was cheated in iniquity."

Now answer the question: "Who sinned here, I or the one who cheated me?"

The answer is, ‘the one who cheated me.’

Now consider the following statement: "I was brought forth in iniquity."

Now answer the question, "Who sinned here, I or the one who brought me forth?"

The answer is, ‘the one who brought me forth.’

Therefore, it is very clear that David is talking about his mother’s sin in Ps 51:5. It should be clear that he is not implying that he was a sinner from conception or birth.

Another verse that people use to advance the doctrine of original sin is Ps 58:3.

Ps 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth.

Some theologians use this verse to show that all human beings are sinners from the womb. They say that in this psalm David is teaching that we are sinners from the moment we were conceived.

This interpretation is also erroneous. Let me explain why.

I am sure that we all agree that we should read the whole psalm, and read it carefully before setting forth to interpret it. Then we can derive an interpretation based on the context. So let us consider the entire psalm. The author of this Psalm has two groups of people in mind – the wicked and the righteous. And he considers himself among the righteous! That is why, when talking about the wicked, the author says ‘they’ have venom (v4) and asks God to shatter ‘their’ teeth (v6) and let ‘them’ flow away (v7). Clearly, the author is not including himself in verse three. So Ps 58:3 is not speaking of original sin (unless one wants to argue that original sin is not universal but applies only to the wicked).

All that Ps 58:3 is saying is that people who end up wicked begin their wickedness early in life, and people who speak lies do so early in life too. Further, obviously ‘from birth’ is figurative because nobody speaks a language when they are born.

Secondly, there is no reason to take Ps 58 literally. Ps 58 uses a lot of figurative language. Consider Ps 58:4-5 for example. If you take Ps 58:3 literally, you should also take Ps 58:4-5 literally, which is folly. After all, people don’t have venom like the venom of a serpent, do they?

Another verse that people use to advance the doctrine of original sin is Rom 5:12.

Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned -

They say that Rom 5:12 teaches that all men are accounted as sinners because of Adam’s sin. They have different explanations for how this actually occurs. We will not go into that detail here.

However, a careful reading of Rom 5:12 does not lead to such a conclusion at all. Rom 5:12 says that sin entered the world through one man. It also says that death entered the world through that man’s sin. In other words, it is saying that Adam was the first (human) sinner and that death (the wages of sin) entered the world because of Adam’s sin.

Then it says that death spread to all men because all sinned. It does not say that death spread to all men because of that one man’s sin. So it is clear that Rom 5:12 does not teach the doctrine of original sin.

So we see that Ps 51:5, Ps 58:3 and Rom 5:12 do not teach original sin. Now let us present the difficulties that arise if one adopts the doctrine of original sin.





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