Exposing the Myth of "Original Sin"

by Jerry Shugart

Appendix #1

The following translation of Romans 5:13-14 has been the source of much confusion in the Church:

"For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come" (Ro.5:13-14; KJV).

The following interpretation of these verses comes The Daily Study Bible Series:

"The law did not come until the time of Moses. Now, if there is no law, there can be no breach of the law; that is to say, there can be no sin. Therefore, the men who lived between Adam and Moses did in fact commit sinful actions, but they could not be counted as sinners, for the law did not yet exist.

"In spite of the fact that sin could not be recokned to them, they still died. Death reigned over them, although they could not be accused of breaking a non-existent law.

Why, then, did they die? It was because they had sinned in Adam. Their involvment in his sin caused their deaths, although there was no law for them to break. That, in fact, is Paul's proof that all men did sin in Adam" (William Barclay,The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letter to the Romans; Revised Edition [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975], 81).

The problem with this explanation is the fact that it is contradicted by the Scriptures. Here we can see that the Lord spoke of the "sin" committed by those of Sodom and Gomorrah and that happened before "the law" came into existence:

"And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous" (Gen.18:20).

The fate of these ungodly men who lived in those cities bears witness to the fact that their sins were indeed imputed into their account:

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7).

John Calvin understood that sin was indeed imputed to men before "the law" came into existence, writing that "before the law iniquities were by God imputed to men is evident from the punishment of Cain, from the deluge by which the whole world was destroyed, from the fate of Sodom, and from the plagues inflicted on Pharaoh and Abimelech on account of Abraham, and also from the plagues brought on the Egyptians" (Calvin, Commentary on Romans 5:13).

"The Law" or "Law"?

The following translation of the same verses serves to begin to clear up this confusion:

"for until law sin was in the world; but sin is not put to account when there is no law; but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him to come" (Ro.5:13-14; DBY).

Here we see that there is no definite article (the) before the Greek word translated "law." How is the word "law" to be understood here? Beginning in the second chapter of this epistle Paul speaks of "law" as being in regard to the "moral law" as revealed by either "the law" of Moses or by the "conscience." Here we see a reference to the only "moral law" which was universally known between Adam and the giving of "the law" by Moses:

" For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Ro.2:14-15).

The Definite Article

Here Dr. John F. Walvoord, the second President of Dallas Theological Seminary, discusses the presence or the absence of the definite article before the Greek word translated "law":

It is obvious that there must be some meaning to the use of the article or its absence, particularly when we observe careful distinction often in the same verse of Scripture. It is the writer's contention that the article when used has some significance, and when it is not used there must be some reason for its absence He (Paul) therefore concludes in 3:20 that 'by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.' As the 'law' includes both Jews and Gentiles in this summary, it is clear that it has the general meaning of any moral law" [emphasis added] (Walvoord, "Law in the Epistle to the Romans," Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan., 1937, [Vol. 94, #373], 17,21).

Of course the only "moral law" which men were responsible for keeping in a universal sense between Adam and the giving of the law by Moses was the law written in men's heart, the same law of which the conscience bears witness.

Later in the same journal Walvoord says the same thing in regard to Romans 10:4-5: "In both instances 'nomos' occurs without the article. In the first instance, in vs. 4, it seems clear that the reference is to any moral law. The argument is that Christ is the end of all law, as far as law resulting in righteousness is concerned" [emphasis added] (Walvoord, "Law in the Book of Romans", Bibliotheca Sacra, July-Sept., 1937; [Vol.94, #375], 286).

Appendix #2

It is entirely possible that it was common knowledge within the church at Corinth that when Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that event resulted in all people having a consciousness of the law which is written in their heart. And it is entirely possible that knowledge would find its way to Rome since many in that church were Paul's converts or or associates from other parts of the empire. John Witmer writes that Paul's "numerous greetings to individuals (28 persons are named or referred to, plus several groups) reveal the impact of Paul's ministry on the establishment and the devolopment of the church at Rome. Many of the believers there were Paul's converts or associates in other parts of the empire" (John A. Witmer, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament, 436).

The following verse speaks of a person's conscience which bears witness of the "law" written in the heart:

Is there any evidence that those who first received the Roman letter would be aware that when Adam ate of the forbidden tree that set in motion events which would lead to his descendants having a conscience?

In regard to the church at Corinth Robert Yarbrough writes that "Paul's offhand mention of Adam presupposes that his Corinthian readers would have been familiar with the Genesis 1-3 narrative. It is evident, E. Schnabel writes, that in Paul's instruction of Jesus-believers in Corinth some three years previously he had taught them 'the Old Testament account of creation and the fall'" (Robert W. Yarbrough, "Adam in the New Testament," in Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin, 46)

It is entirely possible that it was common knowledge within the church at Corinth that when Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that event resulted in all people having a consciousness of the law which is written in their heart. And it is entirely possible that knowledge would find its way to Rome since many in that church were Paul's converts or or associates from other parts of the empire. John Witmer writes that Paul's "numerous greetings to individuals (28 persons are named or referred to, plus several groups) reveal the impact of Paul's ministry on the establishment and the devolopment of the church at Rome. Many of the believers there were Paul's converts or associates in other parts of the empire" (John A. Witmer, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament, 436).

Besides that, when we compare the following verses we can know that those who first received the Roman epistle had a basis for believeing that the Hebrew words translated "good" and "evil" were indeed referring to what a person knows in his heart, the law of which the consceince bears witness:

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good (tov) and evil (ra'), thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen.2:17).

"So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good (tov) and evil (ra'). For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" (1 Ki.3:9; NASB).

"Then your maidservant said, 'Please let the word of my lord the king be comforting, for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good (tov) and evil (ra') . And may the LORD your God be with you" (2 Sam.14:17; NASB).

Therefore, it would not be a giant leap for any of them to tie what is said about the "good" and "evil" associated with the forbidden tree to what Paul wrote to them here:

"...in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them" (Ro.2:15; NASB).

Appendix #3

In order to understand what Paul is saying at Titus 3:5 it is necessary to find the meaning of the Greek word loutron as used in the verse:

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing (loutron) of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).

When we look at the following verse where the same Greek word loutron is used we see that it is associated with the touching of a corpse:

"He that washeth himself after the touching of a dead body, if he touch it again, what availeth his washing (loutron)?" (Ecclesiasticus 34:25; LXX).

The reference to the touching of a dead body provides the clue which provides an understanding of the meaning of the Greek word loutron:

"Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him" (Num.19:13).

This verse is in reference to the sin-offering of the red heifer (v.2) and the water which was poured over the ashes of that sin-offering served as a purification for sin:

"And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin" (v. 9).

So we can understand that at Titus 3:5 Paul employed a "type" to illustrate his salvation experience of being born again of the Spirit.

In " type" the Jews received the benefit of purification by the water and Christians receive it by the gospel of Christ and that is exactly what Paul is referring to in the following verse:

"That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing (loutron) of water by the word" (Eph.5:26).

Christians are purified by the word of God, specifically the gospel. So we can understand that when the Lord Jesus said the following to Nicodemus he was using "water" typically, a type which refers to purification:

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jn.3:3-5).

Being "born of water and of the Spirit" is the same thing as being "born again" and Peter made it plain that happens upon believing the gospel:

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God...And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet.1:23,25).

Besides that, we do know that the gospel comes in the power of the Holy Spirit:

"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance" (1 Thess.1:5).

The Implications of the False Teaching of "Original Sin"

The Westminister Confession of Faith represents a theological consensus of international Calvinism. There we read that the "death in sin" of Adam and Eve is conveyed to all of their posterity by original generation:

"They (Adam & Eve) being the root of mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by original generation" [emphasis added] (The Westminster Confession of Faith; VI/3).

Calvinist writer Robert Shaw goes into more detail concerning how a "corrupted nature" is conveyed to all of Adam's descendants:

""We do not see how the universal corruption of mankind: can be accounted for, without admitting that they are involved in the guilt of his first transgression. It must be some sin which God punishes with the deprivation of original righteousness; and that can be no other than the first sin of Adam" [emphasis added] (Robert Shaw, The Reformed Faith: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith [Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1992]).

From this we can understand that God punishes mankind for Adam's sin and the results of that punishment is that mankind is deprived of original righteousness. The Calvinists then say that since man is deprived of original righteousness all men come out of the womb "made opposite to all good and wholly inclined to all evil":

"From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions" [emphasis added] (The Westminster Confession of Faith; VI/4).

The Calvinists teach that this so-called "universal corruption of mankind" is conveyed to all men by "ordinary generation." Only God can be responsible for the laws of procreation so if a person is born with a nature described as being "wholly inclined to all evil" then only God can be blamed for a man being evil. The Bible states in no uncertain terms that man is made by the hand of God:

"Thy hands have made me and fashioned me" (Ps.119:73).

"The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job.33:4).

"Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture" (Ps.100:3).

If the Calvinists are right then God punishes mankind for Adam's sin and then he punishes them again when they do the very things which He desgined them to do:

"...the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds...unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil:" (Ro.2:5-6,8-9).

Here is one of the verses which the Calvinists misinterpret in order to support their false teaching in regard to Original Sin:

"They that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Ro.8:8).

Sir Robert Anderson writes, "This verse is used to support the dogma that, because of the Fall, man's nature is so utterly depraved that he is incapable of leading a moral and upright life. As the Westminster Divines express it, 'We are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good.' This theology obviously impugns the righteousness of God in punishing men for their sins. In fact, it represents Him as a tyrant who punishes the lame for limping and the blind for losing their way" (Anderson, Misundersood Texts of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1991], 75).

Objections Answered

I will now answer verses that are often quoted in an effort to teach the idea of "Original Sin."

In Adam All Die

" For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor.15:22).

When we look at the context we can that the "death" and "life" in view is in regard to "physical" death and life because here Paul is speaking about the resuurection of the body:

"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor.15:22).

In what way was Adam responsible for bringing "physical" death to mankind? Both he and Eve were created with mortal bodies and as long as they continued to eat of the Tree of Life they would not die physcially. But once they were expelled from the Garden of Eden no one was able to partake of that Tree which was designed to keep their mortal bodies alive:

"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen.3:22-24).

Since then it has been man's destiny to die physically:

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb.9:27).

The "Nature" of Infants

Those who promote the idea of Original Sin say that the following verse proves that all people come out of the womb in a state that can be described as "children of wrath":

"Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph.2:3).

There is nothing in this verse that even hints that the word "nature" is used in regard to what a man is at birth. Instead, the "context" demonstrates that the "nature" spoken of is a result on one's own sins:

"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph.2:2-3).

If an infant can be described as having the nature of a "child of wrath" then why would the Lord Jesus say the following in regard to little children?:

"Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'" (Mt.19:13-14; NIV).

Are we to believe that the Lord believed that infants are "children of wrath" but yet He would say that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these"? Of course not!

At another place we see the Lord Jesus speaking about children and here the same truth can be seen:

"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt.18:1-4).

If the idea of Original Sin is correct then we must throw our reason to the wind and imagine that the Lord Jesus was teaching that unless we become "children of wrath" we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven! That is patently ridiculous and common sense dictates that the Lord Jesus did not believe that infants come into this world under the just wrath and curse of God.

We can also see that children are also described as being "an heritage of the Lord":

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward" (Ps.127:3).

If infants can be described as "children of wrath" then why would the following verse speak of a baby being "wonderfully made"?:

"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well" (Ps.139:13-14).

In Sin Did My Mother Conceive Me

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me (Ps.51:5).

First of all, David does not state that the guilt of Adam's sin was imputed to him. Instead, when we examine what is said we can understand that David was deeply troubled for his sins and wicked behavior and convicted of his guilt:

"For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps.51:3-5).

Here we see that David was acknowledging total responsibly for his actions and he was not placing the blame upon Adam or anyone else. He expressed his repentance in an extreme manner, using figurative language to express the idea that he had been sinful ever since he could remember.

After all, not everything that is said in Pasams 51 can be understood literally. Let us look at what else is said in the same Psalm:

"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice" (Ps.51:5-8).

If all of these verses are to be taken literally then verse seven can be evidence that men are cleansed from their sins "with hyssop." Verse eight can also be taken in a literal sense to teach that broken bones rejoice!

Also, if we take the following verse literally then we must believe that men will some day return to their mother's womb:

"And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job.1:21).

The Wicked are Estranged From the Womb

"The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies(Ps.58:3).

First of all, these words say nothing about anyone bearing the guilt of Adam's sin. Obviously figurative language is being employed because infants do not "go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." Infants cannot even speak as soon as they are born.

Examining the Protestant Interpretation of Romans 5:12-21

Let us look at the following passage again:

"For this cause, even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (for until law sin was in the world; but sin is not put to account when there is no law" (Ro.5:13; DBY).

Here the Greek word gar is translated "for" and one of the meanings of that word is "it adduces the Cause or gives the Reason of a preceding statement or opinion" (John Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 109).

From this we can understand that what Paul wrote at verse thirteen explains or gives the reason for what he wrote at verse twelve. In other words, verse thirteen gives the reason why Adam was responsible for bringing death to all men. However, the proponents of Original Sin fail to understand that Paul was giving the reason why Adam was responsible for bringing death to all who sin at verse 13. Instead, they think that verse 13 begins a parenthesis in Paul's discourse which continues through verse 17. John Murray wrote the following concerning this imagined parenthesis:

"It is scarcely necessary to argue the fact that verse 12 is an unfinished comparison...It is not difficult to discover the reason why the comparison introduced in verse 12 has been broken off. The development of Paul's thought required a parenthesis after the concluding clause of verse 12. This parenthesis begains at verse 13 and continues through verse 17...it is quite apparent that Paul does not return to the type of syntax which had been begun in verse 12, but had been broken off, until we arrive at verse 18." [emphasis added] (John Murray, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, 7-8).

When a parenthesis is mistakenly inserted beginning at verse 13 then Paul's explanation as to how Adam was responsible for bringing spiritual death to people is overlooked. Therefore, it is not surprising that Blocher says that even though Paul's explanation about this should be expected in this passage it is not to be found:

"It is rather strange that the core idea, or the hinge of the apostle's purpoted logic - that Adam communicated the sinful bent to his posterity - should not be expressed at all in the passage. It 'might' be explicit; undoubtedly, Paul did share the opinion; yet how surprising that he should not include something here, of all places, to make it clear!" [emphasis added] (Henri Blocher, Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle, 66).

Blocher continues, writing that "the crux, or the nut too hard to crack, is found in verses 13-14, Paul's digression in support of his statement at the end of verse 12. For those whose interpretative strategy concentrates on the fact that all people sin, the apostle's emphasis on the case of those who did 'not' sin after the likeness of Adam's transgression is somewhat puzzling. Why does Paul make this detour into the pre-Mosaic period?" [emphasis added] (Ibid., 68).

Blocher says that what Paul writes beginning at verse 13 is a "digression" and he also characterizes the digression as "the nut too hard to crack." He also says that what is written at verse 14 is "puzzling." Later he calls Original Sin a "riddle" and a "mystery" because he has no answer to exactly how Adam caused spiritual death to come into all of his descendants:"Has the riddle become less opaque? My thesis offers no magic formula. It makes no claim to master mystery, or to dissect Adam's causality, or to understand the mechanisms of our solidarity with him" [emphasis added] (Ibid.130).

According to Blaise Pascal the idea of Original Sin is a "mystery, the most incomprehensible of all":

"Without doubt nothing is more shocking to our reason than to say that the sin of the first man has implicated in its guilt [men and women] so far from the original sin that they seem incapable of sharing it. The flow of guilt does not seem merely impossible to us, but indeed most unjust....Certainly nothing jolts us more rudely than this doctrine, and yet, but for this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we remain incomprehensible to ourselves" [emphasis added] (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, trans. A. J. Krailsheimer [New York: Penguin, 1966], 65).

According to these people the reason why Adam caused death for all of his descendants is not openly revealed and that is why they call the idea of Original Sin a "riddle" and a "mystery." In reality, it is what Paul wrote at Romans 5:12-21 that is a riddle and mystery to them. And it remains a riddle or mystery to them because they fail to realize that Paul did indeed give the cause why Adam's sin brought death to all those who sin personally and that reason is because Adam was responsible for bringing "law" to his descendants.

Meredith Kline, professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in California in Escondido, says that the insertion of a parenthesis results in an "exegetical puzzle":

"My immediate interest here is the intriguing exegetical puzzle posed by this parenthesis...As I see it, the customary interpretations of Rom 5:13-14, irrespective of theological perspective, are alike in one respect: their failure to account satisfactorily for the particular segment of history Paul selects to make his point" [emphasis added] (Meredith Kline, Gospel Until the Law Romans 5:13-14;http://www.meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/gospel-until-the-law-romans-5-13-14/).

By putting verse 13 into a parenthesis the truth of what is said in that parenthesis is lost to those who teach the myth of Original Sin, as witnessed by Kline's statement about a "failure to account satisfactorily for the particular segment of history Paul selects to make his point."

Douglas Moo fails to see the truth revealed by Paul that Adam's sin brought law to all men and therefore all men die spiritually when they sin against that law written in their heart. Therefore, he says that Paul says nothing "explicitly" about how Adam's sin resulted in the death of those who sin personally:

"Paul says nothing explicitly about 'how' the sin of one man, Adam, has resulted in death for everyone; nor has he made clear the connection between Adam's sin (v. 12a) and the sin of all people (v. 12d)." (Douglas J. Moo, Fallen:A Theology of Sin, 122).

Moo continues by saying that we shouldn't force any resolution that Paul never made:

"Paul in verse 12 asserts that all people die because of their own account; and in verses 18-19 he claims they die because of Adam's sin. Paul does not resolve these two perspectives; and we do wrong to try to force a resolution that Paul himself never made" [emphasis added] (Ibid., 123).

With this in mind Moo does offer a theory which he thinks answers the question as to how Adam's sin resulted in death. But first let us look at the passage with the imagined parenthesis removed:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned...Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Ro.5:12,18-19).

Moo says that "if we are to read verse 12d in light of verses 18-19, 'all sinned' must be given some kind of 'corporate' meaning: 'sinning' not as voluntary acts of sin in 'one's own person,' but sinning 'in and with' Adam....The point is rather that the sin attributed to the 'all' is to be understood, in the light of verses 12a-c and 15-19, as a sin that in some manner is identical to the sin committed by Adam. Paul can therefore say both 'all die because all sin' and 'all die because Adam sinned' with no hint of conflict, because the sin of Adam 'is' the sin of all. All people, therefore, stand condemned 'in Adam,' guilty by reason of the sin committed 'in him.' This interpretation is defended by a great number of exegetes and theologians" [emphasis added] (Douglas J. Moo, Fallen: A Theology of Sin, 124).

If the sin of Adam is the sin of all people and all people sinned when Adam sinned then why did Paul write the following about Jacob and Esau?:

"And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil" (Ro.9:10-11).

If Moo is right then even before these men were born they had already sinned because when Adam sinned all people sinned with him. Paul evidently didn't believe that when Adam sinned then both Jacob and Esau sinned.

John Murray's theory is similiar to Moo's because he writes that "when Paul says 'all sinned' (vs.12) and when he speaks of the one trespass of the one man (vss. 15-19) he must be referring to the same fact or event, that the one event or fact can be expressed in terms of both singularity and universality. If this confronts us, how are we to explain it? How can Paul say that 'all sinned' and then that one sinned and refer to the same fact?... The only solution is that there must be some kind of solidarity existing between the 'one' and the 'all' with the same result that the sin contemplated can be regarded at the same time and with equal relevance as the sin of the 'one' or as the sin of 'all'" [emphasis added] (John Murray, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, 21).

What follows is how Murray explains the "solidarity" between the "one" and the "all":

"What is the nature of the union that existed between Adam and posterity? On any biblically oriented view of Adam, it will be granted that from Adam proceeded by way of natural generation all the other members of the human race, that Adam was the natural father of all mankind. It might appear to be an adequate answer to our question to say that the union between Adam and posterity is biological and genealogical and that no more is required to explain the facts. This is to say that Adam was the 'natural root' of mankind. Levi was in the loins of his father Abraham when the latter paid tithes to Melchizedek, and thus it can be said that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek (Heb. 7:9,10). In like manner all were in the loins of Adam when he sinned, so it can be said that they sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression" (Ibid., 23).

John MacArthur offers a similiar theory when he writes the following:

"In other words, although Melchizedek lived many years before Levi, the father of the priestly tribe, was born, along with all other descendants of Abraham, Levi, by being in the seed of Abraham's loins, shared in the tithe paid to the ancient king. In the same way, although with enormously greater consequences, the sin of Adam was passed on to all of his descendants. When he sinned in the Garden of Eden, he sinned not only as 'a' man but as 'man.' When he and his wife, who were one flesh (Gen.2:24), sinned against God, all of their descendants--that is, the entire human race in their loins--would share in that sin and the alienation from God and subjection to death that were its consequences" [emphasis added] (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary; Romans 1-8 [Chicago: Moody Publishers 1991], 294).

Here the argument of both MacArthur and Murray rests entirely on the idea that we can take literally what is said about Levi paying tithes "in Abraham." According to their argument, since it can be said that Levi actually paid tithes "in Abraham" when he was in his loins then it can also be true that all on mankind actually sinned when Adam sinned because all were in his loins when he sinned. But can what is said about Levi be understood in a "literal" sense? In order to answer this question let us look at the verse again while paying particular attention to the part in "bold":

"And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him" (Heb.7:9-10).

Now let us read the comments of Albert Barnes on this verse:

"And as I may so say - So to speak...For numerous examples in the classic writers of this expression, see Wetstein in loc. It is used precisely as it is with us when we say "so to speak," or 'if I may be allowed the expression.' It is employed when what is said is not strictly and literally true, but when it amounts to the same thing, or when about the same idea is conveyed. 'It is a 'softening down' of an expression which a writer supposes his readers may deem too strong, or which may have the appearance of excess or severity. It amounts to an indirect apology for employing an unusual or unexpected assertion or phrase.' 'Prof. Stuart.' Here Paul could not mean that Levi had actually paid tithes in Abraham - for he had not then an existence; or that Abraham was his representative - for there had been no appointment of Abraham to act in that capacity by Levi; or that the act of Abraham was imputed or reckoned to Levi, for that was not true, and would not have been pertinent to the case if it were so" [emphasis added] (Albert Barnes, Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Epistle to the Hebrews [New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855], 159).

Of course what the author said at Hebrews 7:9-10 cannot be taklen literally. That is why he used the opening words "And as I may so say." According to A. R. Fausset that phrase can only be understood in a figurative sense: "as I may so say-to preclude what he is about to say being taken in the mere literal sense" [emphasis added] (Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871).

The argument used by the proponents of the theory of Original Sin that all people sin in Adam and with Adam falls completely apart when we realize that what is said at Hebrews 7:9-10 cannot be taken literally. There is absolutely no Scriptual evidence to support their view on this point. Therefore, it is impossible that all of Adam's descendants actually sinned when Adam sinned and Adam's sin is the sin of mankind. That being true, why should anyone believe that the guilt Adam's sin belongs to all people? Thomas Schreiner writes the following about Adam's guilt belonging to all of his descendants:

"Paul unequivocally says here that all people without exception are condemned before God because of the one transgression of Adam. If they are condemned before God because of Adam's sin, then they are guilty for Adam's sin. They can hardly be condemned for Adam's sin if they are not guilty for the sin he committed." [emphasis added] (Thomas R. Schreiner, Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin, 285).

In the LORD's eyes a man is "guilty" when he sins:

"Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty" (Num.5:6).

The word "guilt" is defined as "fact or state of having committed an offense or crime; grave culpability, as for some conscious violation of moral or penal law" (The American College Dictionary).

The concept of "culpability" is essential in determining a person's guilt. The word "culpable" means "deserving blame or censure; blameworthy" (Ibid.). A person is not "guilty" unless he is "culpable" or "deserving blame" of a violation of a moral law. The word "blame" means "to lay the responsibility of (a fault, error, etc.) on a person" (Ibid.).

Since no one is responsible for Adam's sin except Adam then it is obvious that no one besides Adam is guilty of that sin.

People Corrupt Themselves

In his study on "Original Sin in Reformed Theology" Donald Macleod writes that "we sinned in Adam, lost our original integrity in the moment of his fall, and inherit from him a nature from him that is wholly corrupt" (Donald Macleod, "Original Sin in Reformed Theology," in Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin," 129).

The verb "corrupt" means "to alter from the original or correct form or version...to change from good to bad in morals" (Merriam- Webster's Collegiate Dictionary).

Certainly Adam corrupted himself when he sinned because his original state was that of being "very good" (Gen.1:31). However, it is obvious that Adam's corruption was not inherited by his descendants because the Scriptures reveal that people corrupt themselves:

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves" (Ex.32:7).

If Macleod is correct that all people inherit from Adam a nature which is "wholly corrupt" then how is it possible that anyone can corrupt themselves? It isn't possible and because in order for anyone to "corrupt themselves" that person must be changed from a state described a "good" unto a state which can no longer be described as good. That can only mean that every person emerges from the womb with a nature which only can be described as "good."

With all of these facts in view it becomes clear that the "Natural Headship" view discussed by John Witmer in the following passage is in error:

"The natural headship view...recognizes that the entire human race was seminally and 'physically' in Adam, the first man. As a result God considered as participating in the act of sin which Adam committed and as receiving the penalty he received. Even adherents of the federal headship view must admit that Adam is the natural of the human race physically; the issue is the relationship spiritually. Biblical evidence supports the natural headship of Adam. When presenting the superiority of Melchizedek's priesthood to Aaron's, the author of Hebrews argued that Levi, the head of the priestly tribe, 'who collects the 10th, paid the 10th through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor' (Heb. 7:9-10)" [emphasis added] (John A. Witmer, " Romans," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck [Colorado Springs:ChariotVictor Publishing, 1983], 458).

Next, we will examine the "federal headship" theory offered by some theologians in the Protestant community:

"The federal headship view considers Adam, the first man, as the 'representative' of the human race that generated from him. As the representative of all humans, Adam's act of sin was considered by God to be the act of all people and his penalty of death was judically made the penalty of everybody." (Ibid.)

Will the LORD impute one person's act of sin and its penalty to another person? Let us look at the following passage to try to find the answer to that question:

"The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?" (Ezek.18:1-2).

Charles Dyer wrote that "God asked Ezekiel about a proverb being circulated. This proverb--The Fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge--must have been well known in Israel because Jeremiah also quoted it (cf. Jer. 31:29-30). the proverb's point was that children were suffering because of their parents' sins...So these people were blaming God for punishing them unjustly (cf. Ezek. 18:25). God saw that this proverb had to be refuted...Blaming others for their misfortunes, the people were denying their own guilt. This was wrong because every individual is personally responsible to God...Those who are guilty will receive their own deserved punishment" (Charles H. Dyer, "Ezekiel," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Old Testament, 1260).

Later we read the LORD's conclusion about this matter:

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son" (Ezek.18:20).

There are many places in the Bible where this truth is revealed:

"The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deut.24:16).

"But he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, where the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin" (2 Chron.25:4).

Despite this evidence that the son will not bear the iniquity of the father those who promote the theory of Original Sin teach that the LORD did that very thing when He imputed the guilt of Adam's sin to all of his offspring. According to their Federal Headship theory Adam's sin was considered by the LORD to be the sin of all of his offspring.

The Natural Headship Theory and Romans 5:12d

John Murray offers an explanation of the Natural Headship theory, writing that "human nature in its unindividualized unity existed in its entirety in Adam, that, when Adam sinned, not only did he sin but also the common nature which existed in its unity in him, and that, since each person who comes into the world is an individualization of this one human nature, each person as an 'individualized portion' of that common nature is both culpable and punishable for that sin committed by that unity. This unity commits the first sin...This sin is imputed to the unity that committed it, inheres in the unity, and is propagated out of the unity. Consequently, all the particulars regarding sin that apply to the unity or common nature apply equally and strictly to each individualized portion of it" [emphasis added] (John Murray, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, 24-25).

Douglas Moo expresses the same thought as Murray:

"If we are to read verse 12d in light of verses 18-19, 'all sinned' must be given some kind of 'corporate' meaning: 'sinning' not as voluntary acts of sin in 'one's own person,' but sinning 'in and with' Adam....The point is rather that the sin attributed to the 'all' is to be understood, in the light of verses 12a-c and 15-19, as a sin that in some manner is identical to the sin committed by Adam. Paul can therefore say both 'all die because all sin' and 'all die because Adam sinned' with no hint of conflict, because the sin of Adam 'is' the sin of all. All people, therefore, stand condemned 'in Adam,' guilty by reason of the sin committed 'in him.' This interpretation is defended by a great number of exegetes and theologians" [emphasis added] (Douglas J. Moo, Fallen: A Theology of Sin, 124).

Murray also writes that "when Paul says 'all sinned' (vs.12) and when he speaks of the one trespass of the one man (vss. 15-19) he must be referring to the same fact or event, that the one event or fact can be expressed in terms of both singularity and universality. If this confronts us, how are we to explain it? How can Paul say that 'all sinned' and then that one sinned and refer to the same fact?... The only solution is that there must be some kind of solidarity existing between the 'one' and the 'all' with the same result that the sin contemplated can be regarded at the same time and with equal relevance as the sin of the 'one' or as the sin of 'all'" [emphasis added] (John Murray,Ibid., 21).

In other words, Murray is saying that the two parts in "bold" in the following passage are speaking of the same exact event:

"For this cause, even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Ro.5:12: DBY).

According to Murray the sin of Adam's posterity spoken of at verse 12 is the same sin committed by Adam. However, in verse 13 Paul writes that the sins of Adam's posterity was not in the likeness of Adam's sin: "death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression":

"For this cause, even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: for until law sin was in the world; but sin is not put to account when there is no law; but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression" (Ro.5:12-15; DBY).

Here is how Murray tries to defend his idea: "Verse 12 tells us the reason why death passed passed on to all men. It is that 'all sinned.' But verse 14 tells us that death reigned over those who did not sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression. The reign of death in verse 14 must have the same import as the passing on of death in verse 12. Hence Paul is saying that death passed on to and reigned over those who had not personally and voluntarily transgress as Adam did, and therefore the 'all sinned' of verse 12 cannot refer to individual personal transgression." [emphasis added] (John Murray, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, 20-21).

Murray is saying that the "death" mentioned in "bold" the following passage was not due to any of those people's personal sins:

"For this cause, even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. For until law sin was in the world; but sin is not put to account when there is no law; but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him to come" (Ro.5:13-14).

Schreiner correctly points out Murray's error, writing that "the judgment of the flood and at Babel indicates that Murray's interpretation of Romans 5:12-14 is flawed. Those who lived in the era between Adam and Moses were accountable for their sin, so that they were condemned because they violated God's moral norms. Their sin was counted against them and thus they were judged. Paul himself teaches the same truth in 2:12, when he claims that 'all those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law'...What Paul claims here fits with the judgments inflicted on the flood generation and at Babel.Gentiles did not have the Mosaic law, but they were judged for violating the unwritten law--the law inscribed on their hearts. Romans 2:12 is of paramount importance, for it prevents us from adopting a mistaken view of 5:12-14" (Thomas R. Schreiner, Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin, 279-80).

Conclusion

The Barna Research Group did a Survey of Christians in 2002 and this is what the found about their belief in the theory of Original Sin:

"In yet another break from biblical teaching, three-quarters of adults (74%) agree that, 'when people are born they are neither good nor evil - they make a choice between the two as they mature.' In other words, the concept of original sin is rejected by most Americans in favor of a rational choice approach to human nature. At least seven out of ten members of every demographic segment examined accepts the notion of choice over that of original sin. Unexpectedly, the survey data reveal that a slight majority of evangelicals (52%) also buy this notion" [emphasis added] (Barna Research Group, Americans Draw Theological Beliefs From Different Points of View, October 8, 2002; https://www.barna.com/research /americans-draw-theological-beliefs-from-diverse-points-of-view/).

It is not difficult to understand why most American Christians reject the theory. John Stuart Mill wrote that "the rational attitude of a thinking mind towards the supernatural, whether in natural or in revealed religion, is that of scepticism" (John Stuart Mill, Essays on Ethics, Religion, and Society [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969], 482).

All people have a conscience which reveals what is right and wrong in the LORD's eyes and it serves as a moral compass. All people know instinctively that a person cannot be judged guilty for someone else's sin or that anyone can be held responsible for another person's sin.

Even those who actually defend the theory of Original Sin admit that it defies human reason, as witnessed by the following words of Thomas Schreiner:

"The doctrine of original sin is not irrational, but it is an offense to human reason" [emphasis added] (Thomas R.Schreiner, Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin", 287).

Blaise Paschal, another advocate of the theory, says the following:

"Original sin is folly in the eyes of men, but it is put forward as such. You should therefore not reproach me for the unreasonable nature of this doctrine, because I put it forward as being unreasonable. But this folly is wiser than all men's wisdom, it is wiser than men. For without it, what are we to say man is? His whole state depends on this imperceptible point. How could he have become aware of it through his reason seeing that it is something contrary to reason, and that his reason far from discovering it by its own methods draws away when faced with it?" [emphasis added] (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, [New York: Penguin, 1966], 695/445).

Why should anyone have to throw their reason to the wind in order to accept this theory because, according to Paul, truth comes from reasoning out of the Scriptures?:

"And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures" (Acts 17:2).

Since most Christians reject the theory which is taught as fact in most churches then imagine what the unsaved think of it. The theory is met with an even greater degree of scepticism with them. The Holy Spirit says: "To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness" (Heb.3:7-8).

Charles Finney said the following in regard to that:

"Men harden their hearts by indulging erroneous views of God and his government" (Charles Finney, Harden Not Your Heart, Sermon Delivered on March 27, 1861; https://www.gospeltruth.net/1861OE/610327_harden_not_heart.htm).

There can be no doubt that throughout history there has been thousands upon thousands of people who were honesty seeking the truth of God but rejected Christianity based on the false teaching of Original Sin. They are lost forever and more will also be lost in the future unless the theory is repudiated by Christians.

And what about the Jews who haven't believed in the Lord Jesus? The teaching of Original Sin in Christendom is used by the Jews to denigrate Christianity. Rabbi Tovia Singer says that "the Christian doctrine of original sin is profoundly hostile to the central teachings of the Jewish Scriptures. The Torah loudly condemns the alien teaching that man is unable to freely choose good over evil, life over death...As the last Book of the Pentateuch draws to a close, Moses admonishes his young nation not to question their capacity to remain faithful to the mitzvoth of the Torah:

"...if you will hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law; if you turn unto the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul; for this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you neither is it too far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea that you should say: 'Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it that we may do it?' The word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. (Deuteronomy 30:10-14)" (Tovia Singer, Does Judaism Believe in Original Sin?, Outreach Judaism; https://outreachjudaism.org/original-sin/)

Rabbi Singer is correct that the Old Testament reveals that people have the ability to keep the LORD's commandments despite the fact that the theory of Original Sin denies that truth. According to the theory a corrupted nature is conveyed to all people and therefore all are made opposite to all good and wholly inclined to all evil:

"From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions" (The Westminster Confession of Faith; Chapter VI/4; http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/).

According to this theory all people emerge from the womb wholly inclined to all evil and then they are punished for doing the very thing which the LORD designed them to do:

"...the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds...unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil:" (Ro.2:5-6,8-9).

Sir Robert Anderson writes, "As the Westminster Divines express it, 'We are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good.' This theology obviously impugns the righteousness of God in punishing men for their sins. In fact, it represents Him as a tyrant who punishes the lame for limping and the blind for losing their way" (Sir Robert Anderson, Misundersood Texts of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1991], 75).

Those who teach Original Sin understand that the thought expressed by Anderson poses a great problem for them so they developed another theory called "Traducianism," a theory which is explained by Matt Slick in the following way:

"Traducianism is the teaching that the immaterial human soul is transmitted through the natural act of procreation and is generated along with the material human body. Therefore, as the human body is generated from the life of the parents, so is the soul. This position teaches that the human soul in each individual is not generated by God's active hand at each conception but is rather a continued generation from Adam who was the only soul directly made by God (Eve being taken from Adam)" [emphasis added] (Matt Slick, Traducianism, Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry).

According to this theory "the human soul in each individual is not generated by God's active hand at each conception" but that it is a continued generation which began with Adam and Eve. But when we examine this theory by the light of the Scriptures it becomes obvious that people are indeed the work of the hand of the LORD:

"Thy hands have made me and fashioned me" (Ps.119:73).

"The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job.33:4).

"Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture" (Ps.100:3).

"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand" (Isa.64:4).

According to the theory of Original Sin the LORD is a Mad Potter because He creates some of His vessels for the express purpose of destroying them.

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