Appendix B: Original Sin

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 verse that is commonly 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.

Let us first consider Deut 24:16 and Ezek 18:20.

Deut 24:16 "Fathers shall not be put to death for {their} sons, nor shall sons be put to death for {their} fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin."

Ezek 18:20 "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."

It seems that Ezek 18 and Deut 24 refer to physical death. If that is the case then, if God is unwilling to punish, by physical death, one man for another man’s sin, how much more unwilling will He be to punish, by spiritual death, one man for another man’s sin? After all, spiritual death, being eternal, is more serious than physical death.

Further, if God is unwilling to impute one man’s sin onto another man, how much more unwilling will He be to impute one man’s sin onto all of mankind?

Charging one man’s sin onto all mankind is against God’s righteous nature! Would we punish our daughter for our son’s wrong deeds? Certainly not! Are we more righteous than God? Certainly not! Then how can we say that a perfectly righteous God would do an unrighteous act that an imperfectly righteous person, like you or I, would not do?

God does impute our sin onto His Son (and thus Himself) in accordance with His nature of Love. Would you not pay your neighbor for a window of his that your son broke? Of course, you would – because you love your son! In a far greater measure God so loved us that He imputed our sins onto His Son and paid the price for our sins.

Another verse that original sin proponents find difficult, if not impossible, to explain is Rom 7:9. Here is what Paul says.

Rom 7:9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;

Clearly, Paul is not talking about physical life and death because he was physically alive when he was writing this and he says, "I died."

Now Paul claims that he was spiritually alive at one point before he died spiritually. How could that be true if he had original sin? If he had original sin then he would have been born spiritually dead.

Next, there are several passages that indirectly indicate that the doctrine of original sin cannot be true. For example, we see that Jesus used the term ‘lost’ to describe sinners (Mt 10:6; Mt 15:24; Mt 18:11; Lk 15:4; Lk 15:24; Lk 15:32; Lk 19:10; Jn 17:12; Jn 18:9).

‘Lost’ implies that the ones lost once belonged to God. You cannot lose something that you never had.

Similarly, in Lk 15:24 and Lk 15:32 Jesus says that the prodigal son was alive again, implying that the son was alive once before.

Lk 15:24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.

Similarly, Is 53:1-12 describes men as gone astray, implying that once they were not astray.

Another difficulty for the doctrine of original sin is that its proponents need to explain why Adam’s sin was not imputed to Christ.

If the sin of Adam was imputed to all men, then it must also be imputed to Christ because He also was a man, and made like His brethren in all things. But if Christ had original sin then He could not be the spotless Lamb of God. Also, the Bible clearly teaches that Christ had no sin in Him. Therefore, original sin cannot be true. To propose original sin you have to make an exception for Christ, and the Bible does not teach anywhere that such an exception was made.

How exactly did the Holy Spirit overshadow Mary when Jesus was conceived? Did the Holy Spirit provide both, the sperm and the egg, or just the sperm? If the former, then one could say that Adam’s sin was not imputed to Christ and yet Christ was fully man. But then, one could not say that Christ was the Son of Man as He received neither sperm nor egg from man but both from God. In the gospels however, we see Christ often referring to Himself as the Son of Man. Thus, the egg must have indeed come from Mary. Therefore, if the sin of Adam was imputed to all men via inheritance (or via natural, seminal or federal headship) it must also be imputed to Christ. This is a contradiction because the Bible teaches that Christ was sinless. Therefore, the doctrine of original sin must imply that Christ was a sinner.

People try to get around this by saying that Adam’s sin is transferred via the father. However, there is no Scripture to back the idea that sin gets transferred through the father. In fact, Deut 24:16 and Ezek 18:20 explicitly point out that the father’s sin is not transferred to the children. And what’s more, several times Scripture calls Jesus a descendant of David, not a descendant of Mary, and so you can’t really excuse Jesus from original sin by saying that sins get transmitted only from the father.

Finally, from the philosophical standpoint, what would God’s motive be, in imputing Adam’s sin onto all men?

All these things lead me to believe that the doctrine of original sin must be wrong. There is a lot more detail that can be provided than has been given above but such detail is beyond the scope of this book.


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