Adam’s Transgression

Theologians have long contended that all mankind is guilty of Adam’s sin. This doctrine is generally entitled, “Original Sin”. One religious group defines original sin as, “a consequence of [Adam’s] first sin , the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.” Western religious thinkers from Augustine forward have regarded this a fundamental Christian doctrine. However, the Bible raises several significant objections worth our consideration. Ezekiel was called to prophetic office during Israel’s Babylonian captivity (606-536 B.C.). Among his many prophetic duties, Ezekiel corrected erroneous doctrines. Ezekiel 18:2 records a relevant example, ” ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ ” The context betrays this proverb’s meaning: the captive Israelites deemed their Babylonian incarceration (“the children’s teeth are set on edge”) a consequence of their forefather’s iniquities (“The fathers have eaten sour grapes”). This generation judged themselves guiltless and their captivity an inherited taint. Such a notion contradicts other statements regarding the captivity (e.g. Isaiah 65:6-7, “Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will repay– Even repay into their bosom– (7) Your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together,”) The Lord soundly refutes this doctrine; verse 20 concisely summarizes His judgment:

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

God’s judgment unequivocally refutes an, “hereditary stain of iniquity”. God’s position is this:  He accounts the individual either guilty or righteous, not their posterity.

Accepting, “original sin” forces a reexamination of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The Synod of Dordt convened in 1618-1619 to codify, “Calvinism”: a system of Christian belief based largely on the theology of a French reformer named John Calvin (1509-1564). John Calvin, like Martin Luther, Thomas Aquinas, and Augustine of Hippo, believed in, “original sin”. In the Third and Fourth Head, Article 2, the Synod of Dordt states, “Hence all the posterity of Adam, Christ only excepted, have derived corruption from their original parent…”. The Synod of Dordt cites the presence of original sin, yet they excuse Jesus from this hereditary taint. Christ’s exception is necessary in light of scriptures which contend His innocence (Hebrews 4:15) and descent from Adam (Luke 3:23-38) However, creating such an exception constrains, “original sin’s” adherents to accept the following logic:

If all Adam’s descendants inherited his sin. And if Jesus was Adam’s descendant according to the flesh. Then Jesus DID NOT inherit the sin of Adam!!!???

Applying simple logic yields the illogical conclusion which, “original sin” claims. If, “original sin” is true, how can Christ descend from Adam yet not inherit His forefather’s guilty taint? This simple flaw exposes one of, “original sin’s” theological weaknesses.

Scripture has long upheld childhood innocence as a Christian quality. Luke 18:15-17 records an instance where the Jewish public brought their infants to receive Jesus’s blessing. The disciples rebuked the public, but Jesus corrected their refusal with these words:

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

Jesus extols the infants’ virtuous innocence as a quality indicative of discipleship. In a parallel account Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Christ exalts the virtues of infancy and childhood. Furthermore, He says such qualities are necessary to enter God’s kingdom. Proponents of, “original sin” teach that the infants blessed and acclaimed by Jesus were marred by Adam’s taint. If, “original sin” were true, why did Jesus choose children as an example of Christian disposition? Why would Jesus laud the blemished character of children as requisite for eternal life? Once again, we find a reasonable objection to the doctrine of, “original sin”.

God accounts the individual either guilty or righteous. Their guilt or righteousness does not fall on the heads of their children, grandchildren, and so on. God soundly refutes this notion through Ezekiel’s preaching. We see a further conflict between Christ’s nature and, “original sin’s” tenets. Furthermore, Jesus’s cites the virtues of infancy and childhood as requisite for discipleship and eternal life. At the least, these scriptural objections should give us great pause when considering, “original sin’s” validity.

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  1. Chris V.
    September 30, 2010

    Good examples are cited here. Ezekiel 18 is especially powerful in that the prophet informs us frankly. We are not held accountable for the sins of others.

  2. October 1, 2010

    @Chris V. Indeed. We can see Ezekiel 18 exemplified in the successive reigns of 4 Judean kings: Azariah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. Righteous, unrighteous, righteous, unrighteous yet repented late in life (2 Chron. 33). They were all judged on their own merit, not on their fathers’.

  3. September 25, 2014

    ARE INFANTS, THE UNBORN, AND YOUNG CHILDREN SINNERS? BY STEVE FINNELLAre infants, unborn children, and young children sinners? Of course they are not sinners. To believe that you would have to believe the false doctrine of original sin. There is no Biblical evidence that men are now nor were they ever guilty of Adam’s sin. Men die physically because of Adam’s sin. Men die spiritually because the the sins they themselves commit.

    Romans 9:11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil……(NKJV)

    The unborn cannot commit evil.

    Deuteronomy 1:34-39 ……39 ‘Moreover your little ones and your children, who you will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. (NKJV)

    The Lord does not punish children for the sins of their fathers nor for the sin of Adam.

    Isaiah 7:14-16 …Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16. “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.(NKJV)

    Even Jesus had an age of accountability. Jesus had to reach an age where He knew right from wrong before He could be charged with committing sin. Infants, the unborn, and small children have to reach a certain age before they can be guilty of sin. Jesus was not guilty of Adam’s sin nor did He Himself commit sin.

    The doctrine of original sin and infant baptism is a man-made tradition.

    Matthew 18: 2-3 …”Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter into the the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)

    Certainly Jesus was not saying you have to be guilty of original sin like these children to enter into heaven. Little children are not guilty of Adam’s sin nor any other kind of sin.

    Hebrews 2:10-17….17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (NKJV)

    In order to believe the false doctrine of original sin you would have to believe that Jesus was guilty of Adam’s sin and therefore a sinner from birth. Jesus had to made like us in every respect.

    Jesus was born like us all. NOT GUILTY OF ADAM’S SIN NOR ANY OTHER SIN.

    Men are only guilty of the sins they themselves commit at the point when they can distinguish good from evil. Yes, there is an age of accountability.

    You can believe the false doctrine of original sin and of children sinners that is written in man-made creed books or you can believe God’s word as recorded in the Bible.


  4. Craig H
    September 26, 2014

    @Steve Finnell Original sin is a false doctrine and you make some good points. It seems to me that many mistake the idea of original sin with the reality of inevitable sin. While it is clear to me that there is not original sin and children are born pure and sinless, it is also clear to me that it is inevitable that we will sin. That is why we need Jesus. He saves us from the impending doom of being lost in darkness and sin.
    Sin is well defined by James: James 4:17 (NIV) 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. Therefore, when a person gets to the point where they know the spiritual good that they ought to know and when they truly know that they are responsible for their relationship with Christ and His Father, they need to address that sinful state by obedience to the Gospel through baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

    I appreciate your pointing out the waywardness of the idea of original sin because it brings up the question: do we subtly comply with this teaching without knowing it? I have a personal struggle seeing very young (in age) Christians being baptized. I rarely comment on a specific event because it is good to see the focus on Christ, but the trend really worries me. I struggle with supporting the baptism of a person that had several years before puberty that I truly believe will be judged innocent by a loving God.

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