The doctrine of original sin is typically credited to Augustine of Hippo (334-430), but he credits Irenaeus of Lyon, Bishop of Lyon (130-202). It’s a belief widely held between both Catholic and Protestant Christian religions. While the doctrine of original sin has taken many shapes over the centuries, it fundamentally declares that all sin is inherited from Adam, and in its truest form, all humans since Adam bear the guilt of his “original sin.”
Protestant reformers Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564) adopted and carried the idea even further. They considered that the guilt of original sin completely overwhelmed an individual’s free will to choose not to sin. In the Westminster Larger Catechism it is stated as, “All mankind…sinned in him [Adam], and fell with him in that first transgression… The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin.” (Questions 25 and 26)
How might Scripture support the doctrine of original sin and its basic tenant of guilt for sin passed down from Adam to all of mankind?
How Scripture answers "Is original sin taught in the Bible?"
Original sin is not taught anywhere in the Bible. In fact, many passages making clear that an individual is responsible for their own sinfulness2,3,6,7,10,13. Furthermore, God speaks to the innocence of children10,11 which Jesus also confirms with His teaching8.
There are some passages1,4,5,9 used in an attempt to justify original sin. However, in each case, they instead perfectly harmonious with the rest of Scripture2,3,6,7,8,10,11,12,13 and never teaches that the guilt of Adam’s sin is passed down to all mankind:
- David1 is lamenting the guilt he feels as a result of his own sin.
- Paul in 1 Corinthians4 is drawing a physical comparison between Adam and Christ – Adam the first to physically die and Jesus the first to physically rise.
- Paul in Romans5 is stating that Adam was the fist to sin and thus brought spiritual death into the world. That same thought is continued in Ephesians9 – that they are in sin and spiritually dead before putting on Christ.
All of these are actually making similar points regarding our sinful world1,4,9, the consequence of spiritual death that sin brings4,5,9, and that “in Christ”4,9 we can conquer death. They1,4,5,9 testify that Scripture interprets Scripture!
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