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Original sin, sometimes called ancestral sin,[1] is, according to a doctrine proposed in Christian theology, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man.[2] This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a "sin nature", to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt by all humans through collective guilt.[3]

Those who uphold the doctrine look to the teaching of Paul the Apostle in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 for its scriptural base,[2] and see it as perhaps implied in Old Testament passages such as Psalm 51:5 and Psalm 58:3.

Some Christians do not accept the doctrine indicated by the terms "original sin" or "ancestral sin", which are not found in the Bible.[4] The doctrine is not found in other religions, such as Judaism,[5] Hinduism[6] and Islam.[citation needed] In the theology of the Catholic Church, original sin is regarded as the general condition of sinfulness (the absence of holiness and perfect charity) into which humans are born, distinct from the actual sins that a person commits. This teaching explicitly states that original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants.[7] In other words, human beings do not bear any "original guilt" from Adam's sin.

The prevailing view also in Eastern Orthodoxy is that human beings bear no guilt for the sin of Adam. Orthodoxy prefers the term "ancestral sin",[8] which indicates that "original sin is hereditary. It did not remain only Adam and Eve's. As life passes from them to all of their descendants, so does original sin. We all of us participate in original sin because we are all descended from the same forefather, Adam."[9] An important exposition of the belief of Eastern Christians identifies original sin as physical and spiritual death, the spiritual death being the loss of "the grace of God, which quickened (the soul) with the higher and spiritual life".[10] Others see original sin also as the cause of actual sins: "a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew 7:17, NIV), although, in this view, original and actual sin may be difficult to distinguish.[11]

Michelangelo's painting of the sin of Adam and Eve (the Fall of Man)

Contents

The Fall of Man

Original sin is said to result from the Fall of Man, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit of a particular tree in the Garden of Eden. This first sin ("the original sin", as distinct from "original sin"), an action of the first humans, is traditionally understood to be the cause of "original sin", the fallen state from which humans can be saved only by God's grace.

History of the doctrine

Augustine of Hippo wrote that original sin is transmitted by concupiscence and enfeebles freedom of the will without destroying it.[2]

The Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists mostly dealt with topics other than original sin.[2] The doctrine of original sin was first developed in second-century Bishop of Lyon Irenaeus's struggle against Gnosticism.[2] The Greek Fathers emphasized the cosmic dimension of the Fall, namely that since Adam human beings are born into a fallen world, but held fast to belief that man, though fallen, is free.[2] It was in the West that precise definition of the doctrine arose.[2] Augustine of Hippo taught that original sin was both an act of foolishness (insipientia) and of pride and disobedience to God of Adam and Eve. He thought it was a most subtle job to discern what came first: self-centeredness or failure in seeing truth[12]. The sin would not have taken place, if satan hadn't sown into their senses „the root of evil” (radix Mali).[13] The sin of Adam and Eve wounded their nature, affecting human intelligence and will, as well as affections and desires, including sexual desire. The consequences of the fall were transmitted to their descendants in the form of concupiscence, which is a metaphysical term, and not a psychological one. Thomas Aquinas explained Augustine's doctrine pointing out that the libido (concupiscence), which makes the original sin pass from parents to children, is not a libido actualis, i.e. sexual lust, but libido habitualis, i.e. a wound of the whole of human nature.[14] Augustine insisted that concupiscence was not a being but bad quality, the privation of good or a wound.[15] The bishop of Hippo admitted that sexual concupiscence (libido) might have been present in the perfect human nature in the paradise, and that only later it had become disobedient to human will as a result of the first couple's disobedience to God's will in the original sin.[16] The original sin have made humanity a massa damnata[2] (mass of perdition, condemned crowd). In Augustine's view (termed "Realism"), all of humanity was really present in Adam when he sinned, and therefore all have sinned. Original sin, according to Augustine, consists of the guilt of Adam which all humans inherit. As sinners, humans are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace. Grace is irresistible, results in conversion, and leads to perseverance.[17]

In the struggle against Pelagianism, which denied the doctrine of original sin,[17] the principles of Augustine's teaching was confirmed by many councils, especially the Second Council of Orange in 529.[2] Some of the followers of Augustine identified original sin with concupiscence, but this identification was challenged by the eleventh-century Saint Anselm of Canterbury , who defined original sin as "privation of the righteousness that every man ought to possess", thus separating it from concupiscence. In the twelfth century the identification of original sin with concupiscence was supported by Peter Lombard and others, but was rejected by the leading theologians in the next century, chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas. He distinguished the supernatural gifts of Adam before the Fall from what was merely natural, and said that it was the former that were lost, privileges that enabled man to keep his inferior powers in submission to reason and directed to his supernatural end. Even after the fall, man thus kept his natural abilities of reason, will and passions. Rigorous Augustine-inspired views persisted among the Franciscans, though the most prominent Franciscan theologians, such as Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, eliminated the element of concupiscence.

Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin equated original sin with concupiscence, affirming that it persisted even after baptism and completely destroyed freedom.[2]

The Council of Trent, while not pronouncing on points disputed among Catholic theologians, condemned the teaching that in baptism the whole of what belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away, but is only cancelled or not imputed, and declared the concupiscence that remains after baptism not truly and properly "sin" in the baptized, but only to be called sin in the sense that it is of sin and inclines to sin.[18]

In 1567, soon after the close of the Council of Trent, Pope Pius V went beyond Trent by sanctioning Aquinas's distinction between nature and supernature in Adam's state before the Fall, condemned the identification of original sin with concupiscence, and approved the view that the unbaptized could have right use of will.[2]

From about the 18th century, belief about original sin has tended to become softened, but has persisted in some form as in Immanuel Kant's idea of "radical evil".[2]

Unbaptized infants

Augustine believed that the only definitive destinations of souls are heaven and hell. He concluded that unbaptized infants go to hell as a consequence of original sin.[19][20] The Latin Church Fathers who followed Augustine adopted his position, which became a point of reference for Latin theologians in the Middle Ages.[21] In the later mediaeval period, some theologians continued to hold Augustine's view, others held that unbaptized infants suffered no pain at all: unaware of being deprived of the beatific vision, they enjoyed a state of natural, not supernatural happiness. Starting around 1300, unbaptized infants were often said to inhabit the "limbo of infants".[22] The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1261 declares: "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,'[23] allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism." But the theory of Limbo, while it "never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium ... remains ... a possible theological hypothesis".[24]

Augustine's formulation of original sin was popular among Protestant reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, and also, within Roman Catholicism, in the Jansenist movement, but this movement was declared heretical by the Roman Catholic Church.[25]

Like other traditional church doctrines, original sin has been denied or reinterpreted by various modern Christian denominations (such as the Unity Church) and theologians (such as Matthew Fox). Under such different views, Augustine's example of newborn babies would suffer the temptation to sin from their nature, but would not bear any guilt because of not actually committing sins of their own.

Christian doctrine

Illuminated parchment, Spain, circa AD 950-955, depicting the Fall of Man, cause of original sin.

There are wide-ranging disagreements among Christian groups as to the exact understanding of the doctrine about a state of sinfulness or absence of holiness affecting all humans, even children, with some Christian groups denying it altogether.

New Testament

The scriptural basis for the doctrine is found in two New Testament books by Paul the Apostle, Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22, in which he identifies Adam as the one man through whom death came into the world.[2] [26]

Catholicism

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all humans. Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called "original sin". As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence"). Catechism of the Catholic Church, 416-418

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that in "yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state … original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" — a state and not an act" (404). This "state of deprivation of the original holiness and justice … transmitted to the descendants of Adam along with human nature" (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 76) involves no personal responsibility or personal guilt on their part (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 405). Personal responsibility and guilt were Adam's, who because of his sin, was unable to pass on to his descendants a human nature with the holiness with which it would otherwise have been endowed, in this way implicating them in his sin.

Though Adam's sinful act is not the responsibility of his descendants, the state of human nature that has resulted from that sinful act has consequences that plague them: "Human nature, without being entirely corrupted, has been harmed in its natural powers, is subject to ignorance, suffering and the power of death, and has a tendency to sin. This tendency is called concupiscence" (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 77), but is distinct from original sin itself, since it remains even when original sin is remitted.

The Church has always held baptism to be "for the remission of sins", and, as mentioned in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 403, infants too have traditionally been baptized, though not guilty of any actual personal sin. The sin that through baptism was remitted for them could only be original sin, with which they were connected by the very fact of being a human. First comprehensive theological explanation of this practice was given by Saint Augustine of Hippo. He articulated it in reaction to Pelagianism, which insisted that humans have of themselves, without the necessary help of God's grace, the ability to lead a morally good life, and thus denied both the importance of baptism and the teaching that God is the giver of all that is good.

Also the Catholic doctrine on transmission of the original sin was first articulated thanks to Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century, to counter the claim by Pelagius that the influence of Adam on other humans was merely that of bad example (Cf.CCC 406). Adam and Eve's "human nature depraved of original holiness and justice" is "transmitted by propagation to all mankind" (CCC 404). This wounded nature come to the soul and body of the new person from his/her parents, who experience libido (or concupiscence). This passion is a consequence of the original sin, which remains in the human nature even after baptism, and is not bound to sexual dimension alone, but "it can refer to any intense form of human desire (...) It unsettles man's moral faculties and, without being itself an offence, inclines man to commit sins" (CCC 2515).[27] Augustine taught that human procreation was the way the transmission was being effected. He did not blame, however, the sexual passion itself, but the spiritual concupiscence present in human nature, soul and body, even after baptismal regeneration.[28] Christian parents transmit their wounded nature to children, because they give them birth, not the "re-birth".[29] The Church also shows that original sin is not imputing the sin of the father to the son; rather, it is simply the inheritance of a wounded nature from the father, which is an unavoidable part of reproduction.

The Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is that Mary was conceived free from original sin: "the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin."[30] The exceptional character that Catholic doctrine attributes to the conception of Mary thus depends on the reality of original sin. If, as some hold, original sin did not exist, not only she, but all humans would be conceived "immune from all stain of original sin".

Eastern Christianity

Eastern Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy which together make up Eastern Christianity, acknowledge that the introduction of ancestral sin into the human race affected the subsequent environment for mankind (see also traducianism), but never accepted Augustine of Hippo's notions of original sin and hereditary guilt.[31] The act of Adam is not the responsibility of all humanity, but the consequences of that act changed the reality of this present age of the cosmos. The Greek Fathers emphasized the metaphysical dimension of the Fall of Man, whereby Adam's descendants are born into a fallen world, but at the same time held fast to belief that, in spite of that, man remains free.[2] Instead of accepting the Lutheran interpretation of Augustine's teaching, Orthodox Churches accept the teaching of John Cassian, which rejects the doctrine of Total Depravity, by teaching that human nature is "fallen", that is, depraved, but not totally (see also semi-Pelagianism).

Mainstream Protestantism

The notion of original sin as interpreted by Augustine of Hippo was affirmed by the Protestant Reformer John Calvin. Calvin believed that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. This inherently sinful nature (the basis for the Calvinistic doctrine of "total depravity") results in a complete alienation from God and the total inability of humans to achieve reconciliation with God based on their own abilities. Not only do individuals inherit a sinful nature due to Adam's fall, but since he was the federal head and representative of the human race, all whom he represented inherit the guilt of his sin by imputation.

John Calvin defined original sin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion as follows:

Original sin, therefore, seems to be a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused into all parts of the soul, which first makes us liable to God's wrath, then also brings forth in us those works which Scripture calls "works of the flesh" (Gal 5:19). And that is properly what Paul often calls sin. The works that come forth from it--such as adulteries, fornications, thefts, hatreds, murders, carousings--he accordingly calls "fruits of sin" (Gal 5:19-21), although they are also commonly called "sins" in Scripture, and even by Paul himself.[32]

The Methodist Church, founded by John Wesley, upholds Article VII in the Articles of Religion in the Book of Discipline of the Methodist Church:

Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.[33]

Because of this conundrum, Protestants believe that God the Father sent Jesus into the world. The personhood, life, ministry, suffering, and death of Jesus, as God incarnate in human flesh, is meant to be the atonement for original sin as well as actual sins; this atonement is according to some rendered fully effective by the Resurrection of Jesus.

Lutheranism

Martin Luther agreed with John Calvin that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. The second article in Lutheranism's Augsburg Confession presents its doctrine of original sin in summary form:

It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit. Rejected in this connection are the Pelagians and others who deny that original sin is sin, for they hold that natural man is made righteous by his own powers, thus disparaging the sufferings and merit of Christ.[34]

Luther, however, also agreed with the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (that Mary was conceived free from original sin) by saying:

[Mary] is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her.[35]

The New Church (Emanuel Swedenborg)

The New Church interprets the first 11 chapters of Genesis in a symbolic manner, and does not view Adam as an individual person but instead sees Adam as a symbolic representation of the "Most Ancient Church", which had a more direct contact with heaven than all the successive churches that succeeded it. So although there is no "Original Sin" derived from an individual man named Adam, there is hereditary evil derived from parents. Swedenborg stated: "But as to hereditary evil, the case is this. Everyone who commits actual sin thereby induces on himself a nature, and the evil from it is implanted in his children, and becomes hereditary. It thus descends from every parent, from the father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and their ancestors in succession, and is thus multiplied and augmented in each descending posterity, remaining with each person, and being increased in each by his actual sins, and never being dissipated so as to become harmless except in those who are being regenerated by the Lord. Every attentive observer may see evidence of this truth in the fact that the evil inclinations of parents remain visibly in their children, so that one family, and even an entire race, may be thereby distinguished from every other." [36]

Hereditary evil can not be completely abolished, but it can tempered when someone reforms his own life. "There are evils in man which must be dispersed while he is being regenerated, that is, which must be loosened and attempered by goods; for no actual and hereditary evil in man can be so dispersed as to be abolished. It still remains implanted; and can only be so far loosened and attempered by goods from the Lord that it does not injure, and does not appear, which is an arcanum hitherto unknown. Actual evils are those which are loosened and attempered, and not hereditary evils; which also is a thing unknown." [37] "It is to be observed that in the other life no one undergoes any punishment and torture on account of his hereditary evil, but only on account of the actual evils which he himself has committed." [38]

Seventh-day Adventism

One authoritative Adventist position is outlined by reference to publicly available theological positions available on the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s official website on theological doctrine, the Biblical Research Institute.[39] One such article commenting on original sin can be found here.

Clarifications and rejection of the doctrine of original sin.

Eastern Orthodoxy

The Orthodox Church in America makes clear the distinction between "fallen nature" and "fallen man" and this is affirmed in the early teaching of the Church whose role it is to act as the catalyst that leads to true or inner redemption. Every human person born on this earth bears the image of God undistorted within themselves.[40] Furthermore, they explicitly deny that we inherit guilt from anyone, maintaining that instead we inherit our fallen nature. In this they differ from the Augustinian position common in the West that each person is actually inherits Adam's guilt. "The West... understands that humanity is... 'guilty' of the sin of Adam and Eve.... In the Orthodox Christian understanding, while humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin. Adam and Eve are guilty of their willful action; we bear the consequences, chief of which is death."[41]

In our Tradition there is no such thing as fallen nature. There are fallen persons, but not fallen nature. The implication of this truth is that we have no excuses for our sins. Do Not Resent, Do Not React, Keep Inner Stillness, 2-3

Restoration Movement

Most Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement Churches, such as the Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, and the Disciples of Christ, reject the notion of original sin, believing only in the sins for which men and women are personally responsible. Such churches do not object to the idea that Adam and Eve brought sin into the world by introducing disobedience. Disobedience influenced further generations in much the same way other ideas spread, thus making sin likely in any individual above "The Age of Accountability."

In the Old Testament, in the Book of Ezekiel, God's people are rebuked for suggesting that the children would die/suffer for their father's sins:

The word of the Lord came to me: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: 'The parents eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.
—Ezek. 18:1-4, TNIV

The Lord then gives examples of a good father with a bad son, of a good son with a bad father, etc. and states:

"Yet you ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
—Ezek. 18:19-20, TNIV

God concludes: "house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to your own ways … Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit" (Ezek. 18:30-31, TNIV).

Some Restoration movement churches and individuals believe that Adam's sin made us depraved (that is, with a tendency towards sin) without making us guilty of Adam's sin. Some also believe that man is predisposed towards sin, but though every person sins, they are not guilty on account of any sin nature. Most, however, simply believe that Adam and Eve sinned as a result of their making a wrong free-will choice when they were tempted by the serpent and as a result brought "the knowledge of good and evil" upon themselves and all people after them, and that although man still retains his free-will it is this "knowledge of good and evil" that makes it difficult for him to live without committing sin. In keeping with the point contained in the passage of Ezekiel cited above, the sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden belongs to them alone.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons, or LDS more specifically) do not believe in the concept of original sin as it is generally used in Christianity. The early blessing of God to Adam and Eve to "multiply and replenish" (Gen 1:28) is connected to the later command of God to Adam and Eve to not partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). Therefore these two aspects of the creation account are taught as to be obligatory yet apparently contradictory commands of God. The disobedience of Eve and Adam, therefore, becomes not quite the cause for humanity's perpetual ancestral or original sin condition (were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ), per se, but a "fall forward." The Fall was a separation from living communion with God, yet was a necessary transgression intended by God so that humankind may come to be and experience joy:

22. And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. 23. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. 24. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. 25. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. [The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:22-25]

10. And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. 11. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. [The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:10-11]

Furthermore, Latter-day Saints believe that everyone will be punished for their own individual sins and not for any transgression of Adam or Eve.[42] Neither do Mormons believe that children come into the world with any guilt because Jesus Christ atoned for any "original guilt," and the sins of parents cannot be answered upon the heads of their children. Moses 6:53 in the Pearl of Great Price reads:

And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden. 54 Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.

Mormons also hold that little children are incapable of committing sin and, as such, have no need of baptism until age eight when they can begin to learn to discern right from wrong and are thus capable of sin and can be held accountable. Moroni 8:8-9 in the Book of Mormon reads

8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me. 9 And after this manner did the Holy Ghost Manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.

Little children who die before reaching the age of accountability (even though they are unbaptized) are automatic heirs of salvation and are saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Furthermore those who die "without the law" are under no condemnation nor accountability:

22. For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing— 23. But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works. 24. Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law. [The Book of Mormon, Moroni 8:22-24]

It is interpreted that those who are incapable of understanding right from wrong, such as mentally handicapped persons, are also saved under the atonement of Jesus Christ without baptism. Any adults who die without a knowledge of God's commands (Law) do need baptism, which they can receive in the spiritual realm by accepting the Latter-day Saint vicarious practice of Baptism for the Dead.

Extraterrestrial beings and original sin

In an interview entitled "Aliens Are My Brother", granted to L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Father Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, stated: "In my opinion this possibility (of life on other planets) exists"; "intelligent beings, created by God may exist in outer space" and "some aliens could even be free from original sin" concluding "there could be (other beings) who remained in full friendship with their creator".[43] And on 5 March 2009, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, another astronomer working at the Vatican Observatory, told the BBC, in relation to the search for Earth-like worlds about to be embarked upon by the Kepler Space telescope, that "we Jesuits are actively involved in the search for Earth-like planets. The idea that there could be other intelligent creatures made by God in a relationship with God is not contrary to traditional Judeo-Christian thought. The Bible has many references to, or descriptions of, non-human intelligent beings; after all, that's what angels are. Our cousins on other planets may even have their own salvation story – including other examples of the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity. We are open to whatever the Universe has for us."[44]

With regard to the attribution to "the Vatican" of similar statements by individuals working for the Holy See, official spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, also a Jesuit, published on 21 February 2009 a declaration that they must not be mistaken for statements of the Holy See— they are only statements of this individual Jesuit priest.[45]

See also

References

  1. ^ The term "ancestral sin" is also used, as in Greek προπατορικὴ ἁμαρτία (e.g. Πόλεμος και φτώχεια - η ορθόδοξη άποψη, Η νηστεία της Σαρακοστής, Πώς στράφηκε ο Λούθηρος κατά του Μοναχισμού - του Γεωργίου Φλωρόφσκυ) or προπατορικὸ ἁμάρτημα (e.g. Απαντήσεις σε ερωτήματα δογματικά - Ανδρέα Θεοδώρου, εκδ. Αποστολικής Διακονίας, 1997, σελ. 156-161, Θεοτόκος και προπατορικό αμάρτημα)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article Original Sin
  3. ^ Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5. 
  4. ^ The same applies to terms such as "Trinity" used to express other Christian doctrines.
  5. ^ Judaism's Rejection Of Original Sin
  6. ^ What is the Hindu view of sin?
  7. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 405
  8. ^ While the traditional term in Latin is "peccatum originale", with reference to the "origin" of the human race, the traditional term in Greek is "προπατορική αμαρτία" (or "προπατορικό αμάρτημα", more rarely "προγονική αμαρτία"), with reference to the "ancestor" of the human race). This is the term used also by Roman Catholics when speaking or writing in Greek.
  9. ^ Metropolis Basic Teachings of the Orthodox Faithby Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios of Toronto (Canada): Original Sin and Its Consequences
  10. ^ Catechism of St. Philaret, questions 166, 167, 168
  11. ^ Johann Gerhard, Loci theologici, 5.17, quoted by Henri Blocher, Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 19.
  12. ^ Augustine wrote to Julian of Eclanum: Sed si disputatione subtilissima et elimatissima opus est, ut sciamus utrum primos homines insipientia superbos, an insipientes superbia fecerit. (Contra Julianum, V, 4.18; PL 44, 795)
  13. ^ Nisi radicem mali humanus tunc reciperet sensus („Contra Julianum”, I, 9.42; PL 44, 670)
  14. ^ Libido quae transmittit peccatum originale in prolem, non est libido actualis, quia dato quod virtute divina concederetur alicui quod nullam inordinatam libidinem in actu generationis sentiret, adhuc transmitteret in prolem originale peccatum. Sed libido illa est intelligenda habitualiter, secundum quod appetitus sensitivus non continetur sub ratione vinculo originalis iustitiae. Et talis libido in omnibus est aequalis (STh Iª-IIae q. 82 a. 4 ad 3).
  15. ^ Non substantialiter manere concupiscentiam, sicut corpus aliquod aut spiritum; sed esse affectionem quamdam malae qualitatis, sicut est languor. (De nuptiis et concupiscentia, I, 25. 28; PL 44, 430; cf. Contra Julianum, VI, 18.53; PL 44, 854; ibid. VI, 19.58; PL 44, 857; ibid., II, 10.33; PL 44, 697; Contra Secundinum Manichaeum, 15; PL 42, 590.
  16. ^ Augustine wrote to Julian of Eclanum: Quis enim negat futurum fuisse concubitum, etiamsi peccatum non praecessisset? Sed futurus fuerat, sicut aliis membris, ita etiam genitalibus voluntate motis, non libidine concitatis; aut certe etiam ipsa libidine – ut non vos de illa nimium contristemus – non qualis nunc est, sed ad nutum voluntarium serviente (Contra Julianum, IV. 11. 57; PL 44, 766). See also his late work: Contra secundam Iuliani responsionem imperfectum opus, II, 42; PL 45,1160; ibid. II, 45; PL 45,1161; ibid., VI, 22; PL 45, 1550-1551. Cf.Schmitt, É. (1983). Le mariage chrétien dans l'oeuvre de Saint Augustin. Une théologie baptismale de la vie conjugale. Études Augustiniennes. Paris. pp. 104. 
  17. ^ a b Justo L. Gonzalez (1970-1975). A History of Christian Thought: Volume 2 (From Augustine to the eve of the Reformation). Abingdon Press. 
  18. ^ Decree 5 concerning original sin
  19. ^ "Infernum", literally "underworld," later identified as limbo.
  20. ^ "Limbo: Past Catholic statements on the fate of unbaptized infants, etc. who have died"[1]
  21. ^ Study by International Theological Commission (19 January 2007), The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized, 19-21
  22. ^ Study by International Theological Commission (19 January 2007), The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized, 22-25
  23. ^ Mark 10:14; cf. 1 Tim 2:4
  24. ^ Study by International Theological Commission (19 January 2007), The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized, secondary preliminary paragraph; cf. paragraph 41.
  25. ^ "Jansenius and Jansenism" in The Catholic Encyclopedia
  26. ^ Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. —Romans 5:12-14, ESV "Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." —Rom. 5:18-21, ESV
  27. ^ Cf. Council of Trent, DS 1515.
  28. ^ Sexual desire is, according to bishop of Hippo, only one - though the strongest - of many physical realisations of that spiritual libido: Cum igitur sint multarum libidines rerum, tamen, cum libido dicitur neque cuius rei libido sit additur, non fere assolet animo occurrere nisi illa, qua obscenae partes corporis excitantur. Haec autem sibi non solum totum corpus nec solum extrinsecus, verum etiam intrinsecus vindicat totumque commovet hominem animi simul affectu cum carnis appetitu coniuncto atque permixto, ut ea voluptas sequatur, qua maior in corporis voluptatibus nulla est; ita ut momento ipso temporis, quo ad eius pervenitur extremum, paene omnis acies et quasi vigilia cogitationis obruatur. (De civitate Dei, XIV, 16; CCL 48, 438-439 [1-10]). See also: Schmitt, É. (1983). Le mariage chrétien dans l'oeuvre de Saint Augustin. Une théologie baptismale de la vie conjugale. Études Augustiniennes. Paris. pp. 97. . See also Augustine's: De continentia, 8.21; PL 40, 363; Contra Iulianum VI, 19.60; PL 44, 859; ibid. IV, 14.65, z.2, s. 62; PL 44, 770; De Trinitate, XII, 9. 14; CCL 50, 368 [verse: IX 1-8]; De Genesi contra Manicheos, II, 9.12, s. 60 ; CSEL 91, 133 [v.31-35]).
  29. ^ Regeneratus quippe non regenerat filios carnis, sed generat; ac per hoc in eos non quod regeneratus, sed quod generatus est, trajicit. (De gratia Christi et de peccato originali, II, 40.45; CSEL 42, 202[23-25]; PL 44, 407.
  30. ^ Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854) quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 491 [2]
  31. ^ stmaryorthodoxchurch.org
  32. ^ John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, II.1.8, LCC, 2 vols., trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 251 (page 217 of CCEL edition). Cf. Institutes of the Christian Religion at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  33. ^ The United Methodist Church: The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church - Article V—Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation
  34. ^ Theodore G. Tappert, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 29.
  35. ^ Luther's Works, American edition, vol. 43, p. 40, ed. H. Lehmann, Fortress, 1968
  36. ^ Swedenborg, Emanuel. Arcana Coelestia, 1758. Trans. by John F. Potts, 1906, n. 313.
  37. ^ Ibid., n. 719.
  38. ^ Ibid., n. 966.
  39. ^ adventistbiblicalresearch.org
  40. ^ Glory to God for all things [3]./
  41. ^ Fr. John Matusiak, http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=4&SID=3
  42. ^ Articles of Faith, article #2
  43. ^ Reuters MSNBC Catholic News AgencyBBC
  44. ^ Is there anybody out there? Retrieved 3 March 2009]
  45. ^ Declaration by the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Reverend Father Federico Lombardi, S.J. Retrieved 22 February 2009]

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Original sin is, according to Christian tradition, the general condition of sinfulness into which human beings are born.

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  • Has any one ever clearly understood the celebrated story at the beginning of the Bible - of God's mortal terror of science? . . . No one, in fact, has understood it. This priest-book par excellence opens, as is fitting, with the great inner difficulty of the priest: he faces only one great danger; ergo, "God" faces only one great danger. The old God, wholly "spirit," wholly the high-priest, wholly perfect, is promenading his garden: he is bored and trying to kill time. Against boredom even gods struggle in vain. What does he do? He creates man - man is entertaining. . . But then he notices that man is also bored. God's pity for the only form of distress that invades all paradises knows no bounds: so he forthwith creates other animals. God's first mistake: to man these other animals were not entertaining - he sought dominion over them; he did not want to be an "animal" himself. So God created woman. In the act he brought boredom to an end - and also many other things! Woman was the second mistake of God. "Woman, at bottom, is a serpent, Heva" - every priest knows that; "from woman comes every evil in the world" - every priest knows that, too. Ergo, she is also to blame for science. . . It was through woman that man learned to taste of the tree of knowledge. What happened? The old God was seized by mortal terror. Man himself had been his greatest blunder; he had created a rival to himself; science makes men godlike - it is all up with priests and gods when man becomes scientific! Moral: science is the forbidden per se; it alone is forbidden. Science is the first of sins, the germ of all sins, the original sin. This is all there is of morality. "Thou shalt not know" - the rest follows from that.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, 'The Antichrist' §48 (H.L. Mencken trans.)
  • What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge — he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil — he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor — he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire — he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy — all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man's fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was — that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love — he was not man.
    • Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged," Part III, Chapter VII: "This Is John Galt Speaking"

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Contents

MEANING

Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.

From the earliest times the latter sense of the word was more common, as may be seen by St. Augustine's statement: "the deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin" (De nupt. et concup., II, xxvi, 43). It is the hereditary stain that is dealt with here. As to the sin of Adam we have not to examine the circumstances in which it was committed nor make the exegesis of Genesis Chapter 3.

PRINCIPAL ADVERSARIES

Theodorus of Mopsuestia opened this controversy by denying that the sin of Adam was the origin of death. (See the "Excerpta Theodori", by Marius Mercator; cf. Smith, "A Dictionary of Christian Biography", IV, 942.) Celestius, a friend of Pelagius, was the first in the West to hold these propositions, borrowed from Theodorus: "Adam was to die in every hypothesis, whether he sinned or did not sin. His sin injured himself only and not the human race" (Mercator, "Liber Subnotationem", preface). This, the first position held by the Pelagians, was also the first point condemned at Carthage (Denzinger, "Enchiridion", no 101-old no. 65). Against this fundamental error Catholics cited especially Rom., v, 12, where Adam is shown as transmitting death with sin. After some time the Pelagians admitted the transmission of death -- this being more easily understood as we see that parents transmit to their children hereditary diseases- but they still violently attacked the transmission of sin (St. Augustine, "Contra duas epist. Pelag.", IV, iv, 6). And when St. Paul speaks of the transmission of sin they understood by this the transmission of death. This was their second position, condemned by the Council of Orange [Denz., n. 175 (145)], and again later on with the first by the Council of Trent [Sess. V, can. ii; Denz., n. 789 (671)]. To take the word sin to mean death was an evident falsification of the text, so the Pelagians soon abandoned the interpretation and admitted that Adam caused sin in us. They did not, however, understand by sin the hereditary stain contracted at our birth, but the sin that adults commit in imitation of Adam. This was their third position, to which is opposed the definition of Trent that sin is transmitted to all by generation (propagatione), not by imitation [Denz., n. 790 (672)]. Moreover, in the following canon are cited the words of the Council of Carthage, in which there is question of a sin contracted by generation and effaced by generation [Denz., n. 102 (66)]. The leaders of the Reformation admitted the dogma of original sin, but at present there are many Protestants imbued with Socinian doctrines whose theory is a revival of Pelagianism.

ORIGINAL SIN IN SCRIPTURE

The classical text is Rom 5:12ff. In the preceding part the apostle treats of justification by Jesus Christ, and to put in evidence the fact of His being the one Saviour, he contrasts with this Divine Head of mankind the human head who caused its ruin. The question of original sin, therefore, comes in only incidentally. St. Paul supposes the idea that the faithful have of it from his oral instructions, and he speaks of it to make them understand the work of Redemption. This explains the brevity of the development and the obscurity of some verses. We shall now show what, in the text, is opposed to the three Pelagian positions:

  • The sin of Adam has injured the human race at least in the sense that it has introduced death -- "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men". Here there is question of physical death. first, the literal meaning of the word ought to be presumed unless there be some reason to the contrary. Second, there is an allusion in this verse to a passage in the Book of Wisdom in which, as may be seen from the context, there is question of physical death. Wis., ii, 24: "But by the envy of the devil death came into the world". Cf. Gen., ii, 17; iii, 3, 19; and another parallel passage in St. Paul himself, I Cor., xv, 21: "For by a man came death and by a man the resurrection of the dead". Here there can be question only of physical death, since it is opposed to corporal resurrection, which is the subject of the whole chapter.
  • Adam by his fault transmitted to us not only death but also sin, "for as by the disobedience of one man many [i.e., all men] were made sinners" (Rom., v, 19). How then could the Pelagians, and at a later period Zwingli, say that St. Paul speaks only of the transmission of physical death? If according to them we must read death where the Apostle wrote sin, we should also read that the disobedience of Adam has made us mortal where the Apostle writes that it has made us sinners. But the word sinner has never meant mortal, nor has sin ever meant death. Also in verse 12, which corresponds to verse 19, we see that by one man two things have been brought on all men, sin and death, the one being the consequence of the other and therefore not identical with it.
  • Since Adam transmits death to his children by way of generation when he begets them mortal, it is by generation also that he transmits to them sin, for the Apostle presents these two effects as produced at the same time and by the same causality. The explanation of the Pelagians differs from that of St. Paul. According to them the child who receives mortality at his birth receives sin from Adam only at a later period when he knows the sin of the first man and is inclined to imitate it. The causality of Adam as regards mortality would, therefore, be completely different from his causality as regards sin. Moreover, this supposed influence of the bad example of Adam is almost chimerical; even the faithful when they sin do not sin on account of Adam's bad example, a fortiori infidels who are completely ignorant of the history of the first man. And yet all men are, by the influence of Adam, sinners and condemned (Rom., v, 18, 19). The influence of Adam cannot, therefore, be the influence of his bad example which we imitate (Augustine, "Contra julian.", VI, xxiv, 75).

On this account, several recent Protestants have thus modified the Pelagian explanation: "Even without being aware of it all men imitate Adam inasmuch as they merit death as the punishment of their own sins just as Adam merited it as the punishment for his sin." This is going farther and farther from the text of St. Paul. Adam would be no more than the term of a comparison, he would no longer have any influence or causality as regards original sin or death. Moreover, the Apostle did not affirm that all men, in imitation of Adam, are mortal on account of their actual sins; since children who die before coming to the use of reason have never committed such sins; but he expressly affirms the contrary in the fourteenth verse: "But death reigned", not only over those who imitated Adam, but "even over them also who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam." Adam's sin, therefore, is the sole cause of death for the entire human race. Moreover, we can discern no natural connexion between any sin and death. In order that a determined sin entail death there is need of a positive law, but before the Law of Moses there was no positive law of God appointing death as a punishment except the law given to Adam (Gen., ii, 17). It is, therefore, his disobedience only that could have merited and brought it into the world (Rom., v, 13, 14). These Protestant writers lay much stress on the last words of the twelfth verse. We know that several of the Latin Fathers understood the words "in whom all have sinned", to mean, all have sinned in Adam. This interpretation would be an extra proof of the thesis of original sin, but it is not necessary. Modern exegesis, as well as the Greek Fathers, prefer to translate "and so death passed upon all men because all have sinned". We accept this second translation which shows us death as an effect of sin. But of what sin? "The personal sins of each one", answer our adversaries, "this is the natural sense of the words `all have sinned.'" It would be the natural sense if the context was not absolutely opposed to it. The words "all have sinned" of the twelfth verse, which are obscure on account of their brevity, are thus developed in the nineteenth verse: "for as by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners." There is no question here of personal sins, differing in species and number, committed by each one during his life, but of one first sin which was enough to transmit equally to all men a state of sin and the title of sinners. Similarly in the twelfth verse the words "all have sinned" must mean, "all have participated in the sin of Adam", "all have contracted its stain". This interpretation too removes the seeming contradiction between the twelfth verse, "all have sinned", and the fourteenth, "who have not sinned", for in the former there is question of original sin, in the latter of personal sin. Those who say that in both cases there is question of personal sin are unable to reconcile these two verses.

ORIGINAL SIN IN TRADITION

On account of a superficial resemblance between the doctrine of original sin and and the Manichaean theory of our nature being evil, the Pelagians accused the Catholics and St. Augustine of Manichaeism. For the accusation and its answer see "Contra duas epist. Pelag.", I, II, 4; V, 10; III, IX, 25; IV, III. In our own times this charge has been reiterated by several critics and historians of dogma who have been influenced by the fact that before his conversion St. Augustine was a Manichaean. They do not identify Manichaeism with the doctrine of original sin, but they say that St. Augustine, with the remains of his former Manichaean prejudices, created the doctrine of original sin unknown before his time. It is not true that the doctrine of original sin does not appear in the works of the pre-Augustinian Fathers. On the contrary, their testimony is found in special works on the subject. Nor can it be said, as Harnack maintains, that St. Augustine himself acknowledges the absence of this doctrine in the writings of the Fathers. St. Augustine invokes the testimony of eleven Fathers, Greek as well as Latin (Contra Jul., II, x, 33). Baseless also is the assertion that before St. Augustine this doctrine was unknown to the Jews and to the Christians; as we have already shown, it was taught by St. Paul. It is found in the fourth Book of Esdras, a work written by a Jew in the first century after Christ and widely read by the Christians. This book represents Adam as the author of the fall of the human race (vii, 48), as having transmitted to all his posterity the permanent infirmity, the malignity, the bad seed of sin (iii, 21, 22; iv, 30). Protestants themselves admit the doctrine of original sin in this book and others of the same period (see Sanday, "The International Critical Commentary: Romans", 134, 137; Hastings, "A Dictionary of the Bible", I, 841). It is therefore impossible to make St. Augustine, who is of a much later date, the inventor of original sin.

That this doctrine existed in Christian tradition before St. Augustine's time is shown by the practice of the Church in the baptism of children. The Pelagians held that baptism was given to children, not to remit their sin, but to make them better, to give them supernatural life, to make them adoptive sons of God, and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven (see St. Augustine, "De peccat. meritis", I, xviii). The Catholics answered by citing the Nicene Creed, "Confiteor unum baptisma in remissiomen peccatorum". They reproached the Pelagians with introducing two baptisms, one for adults to remit sins, the other for children with no such purpose. Catholics argued, too, from the ceremonies of baptism, which suppose the child to be under the power of evil, i.e., exorcisms, abjuration of Satan made by the sponsor in the name of the child [Aug., loc. cit., xxxiv, 63; Denz., n. 140 (96)].

ORIGINAL SIN IN FACE OF THE OBJECTIONS FROM REASON

We do not pretend to prove the existence of original sin by arguments from reason only. St. Thomas makes use of a philosophical proof which proves the existence rather of some kind of decadence than of sin, and he considers his proof as probable only, satis probabiliter probari potest (Contra Gent., IV, lii). Many Protestants and Jansenists and some Catholics hold the doctrine of original sin to be necessary in philosophy, and the only means of solving the problem of the existence of evil. This is exaggerated and impossible to prove. It suffices to show that human reason has no serious objection against this doctrine which is founded on Revelation. The objections of Rationalists usually spring from a false concept of our dogma. They attack either the transmission of a sin or the idea of an injury inflicted on his race by the first man, of a decadence of the human race. Here we shall answer only the second category of objections, the others will be considered under a later head (VII).

(1) The law of progress is opposed to the hypothesis of a decadence. Yes, if the progress was necessarily continuous, but history proves the contrary. The line representing progress has its ups and downs, there are periods of decadence and of retrogression, and such was the period, Revelation tells us, that followed the first sin. The human race, however, began to rise again little by little, for neither intelligence nor free will had been destroyed by original sin and, consequently, there still remained the possibility of material progress, whilst in the spiritual order God did not abandon man, to whom He had promised redemption. This theory of decadence has no connexion with our Revelation. The Bible, on the contrary, shows us even spiritual progress in the people it treats of; the vocation of Abraham, the law of Moses, the mission of the Prophets, the coming of the Messias, a revelation which becomes clearer and clearer, ending in the Gospel, its diffusion amongst all nations, its fruits of holiness, and the progress of the Church.

(2) It is unjust, says another objection, that from the sin of one man should result the decadence of the whole human race. This would have weight if we took this decadence in the same sense that Luther took it, i.e. human reason incapable of understanding even moral truths, free will destroyed, the very substance of man changed into evil. But according to Catholic theology man has not lost his natural faculties: by the sin of Adam he has been deprived only of the Divine gifts to which his nature had no strict right, the complete mastery of his passions, exemption from death, sanctifying grace, the vision of God in the next life. The Creator, whose gifts were not due to the human race, had the right to bestow them on such conditions as He wished and to make their conservation depend on the fidelity of the head of the family. A prince can confer a hereditary dignity on condition that the recipient remains loyal, and that, in case of his rebelling, this dignity shall be taken from him and, in consequence, from his descendants. It is not, however, intelligible that the prince, on account of a fault committed by a father, should order the hands and feet of all the descendants of the guilty man to be cut off immediately after their birth. This comparison represents the doctrine of Luther which we in no way defend. The doctrine of the Church supposes no sensible or afflictive punishment in the next world for children who die with nothing but original sin on their souls, but only the privation of the sight of God [Denz., n. 1526 (1389)].

NATURE OF ORIGINAL SIN

This is a difficult point and many systems have been invented to explain it: it will suffice to give the theological explanation now commonly received. Original sin is the privation of sanctifying grace in consequence of the sin of Adam. This solution, which is that of St. Thomas, goes back to St. Anselm and even to the traditions of the early Church, as we see by the declaration of the Second Council of Orange (A.D. 529): one man has transmitted to the whole human race not only the death of the body, which is the punishment of sin, but even sin itself, which is the death of the soul [Denz., n. 175 (145)]. As death is the privation of the principle of life, the death of the soul is the privation of sanctifying grace which according to all theologians is the principle of supernatural life. Therefore, if original sin is "the death of the soul", it is the privation of sanctifying grace.

The Council of Trent, although it did not make this solution obligatory by a definition, regarded it with favour and authorized its use (cf. Pallavicini, "Istoria del Concilio di Trento", vii-ix). Original sin is described not only as the death of the soul (Sess. V, can. ii), but as a "privation of justice that each child contracts at its conception" (Sess. VI, cap. iii). But the Council calls "justice" what we call sanctifying grace (Sess. VI), and as each child should have had personally his own justice so now after the fall he suffers his own privation of justice. We may add an argument based on the principle of St. Augustine already cited, "the deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin". This principle is developed by St. Anselm: "the sin of Adam was one thing but the sin of children at their birth is quite another, the former was the cause, the latter is the effect" (De conceptu virginali, xxvi). In a child original sin is distinct from the fault of Adam, it is one of its effects. But which of these effects is it? We shall examine the several effects of Adam's fault and reject those which cannot be original sin:

  • Death and Suffering.- These are purely physical evils and cannot be called sin. Moreover St. Paul, and after him the councils, regarded death and original sin as two distinct things transmitted by Adam.
  • Concupiscence.- This rebellion of the lower appetite transmitted to us by Adam is an occasion of sin and in that sense comes nearer to moral evil. However, the occasion of a fault is not necessarily a fault, and whilst original sin is effaced by baptism concupiscence still remains in the person baptized; therefore original sin and concupiscence cannot be one and the same thing, as was held by the early Protestants (see Council of Trent, Sess. V, can. v).
  • The absence of sanctifying grace in the new-born child is also an effect of the first sin, for Adam, having received holiness and justice from God, lost it not only for himself but also for us (loc. cit., can. ii). If he has lost it for us we were to have received it from him at our birth with the other prerogatives of our race. Therefore the absence of sanctifying grace in a child is a real privation, it is the want of something that should have been in him according to the Divine plan. If this favour is not merely something physical but is something in the moral order, if it is holiness, its privation may be called a sin. But sanctifying grace is holiness and is so called by the Council of Trent, because holiness consists in union with God, and grace unites us intimately with God. Moral goodness consists in this that our action is according to the moral law, but grace is a deification, as the Fathers say, a perfect conformity with God who is the first rule of all morality. (See GRACE.) Sanctifying grace therefore enters into the moral order, not as an act that passes but as a permanent tendency which exists even when the subject who possesses it does not act; it is a turning towards God, conversio ad Deum. Consequently the privation of this grace, even without any other act, would be a stain, a moral deformity, a turning away from God, aversio a Deo, and this character is not found in any other effect of the fault of Adam. This privation, therefore, is the hereditary stain.

HOW VOLUNTARY

"There can be no sin that is not voluntary, the learned and the ignorant admit this evident truth", writes St. Augustine (De vera relig., xiv, 27). The Church has condemned the opposite solution given by Baius [prop. xlvi, xlvii, in Denz., n. 1046 (926)]. Original sin is not an act but, as already explained, a state, a permanent privation, and this can be voluntary indirectly- just as a drunken man is deprived of his reason and incapable of using his liberty, yet it is by his free fault that he is in this state and hence his drunkenness, his privation of reason is voluntary and can be imputed to him. But how can original sin be even indirectly voluntary for a child that has never used its personal free will? Certain Protestants hold that a child on coming to the use of reason will consent to its original sin; but in reality no one ever thought of giving this consent. Besides, even before the use of reason, sin is already in the soul, according to the data of Tradition regarding the baptism of children and the sin contracted by generation. Some theosophists and spiritists admit the pre-existence of souls that have sinned in a former life which they now forget; but apart from the absurdity of this metempsychosis, it contradicts the doctrine of original sin, it substitutes a number of particular sins for the one sin of a common father transmitting sin and death to all (cf. Rom., v, 12 sqq.). The whole Christian religion, says St. Augustine, may be summed up in the intervention of two men, the one to ruin us, the other to save us (De pecc. orig., xxiv). The right solution is to be sought in the free will of Adam in his sin, and this free will was ours: "we were all in Adam", says St. Ambrose, cited by St. Augustine (Opus imperf., IV, civ). St. Basil attributes to us the act of the first man: "Because we did not fast (when Adam ate the forbidden fruit) we have been turned out of the garden of Paradise" (Hom. i de jejun., iv). Earlier still is the testimony of St. Irenaeus; "In the person of the first Adam we offend God, disobeying His precept" (Haeres., V, xvi, 3).

St. Thomas thus explains this moral unity of our will with the will of Adam. "An individual can be considered either as an individual or as part of a whole, a member of a society.....Considered in the second way an act can be his although he has not done it himself, nor has it been done by his free will but by the rest of the society or by its head, the nation being considered as doing what the prince does. For a society is considered as a single man of whom the individuals are the different members (St. Paul, I Cor., xii). Thus the multitude of men who receive their human nature from Adam is to be considered as a single community or rather as a single body....If the man, whose privation of original justice is due to Adam, is considered as a private person, this privation is not his `fault', for a fault is essentially voluntary. If, however, we consider him as a member of the family of Adam, as if all men were only one man, then his privation partakes of the nature of sin on account of its voluntary origin, which is the actual sin of Adam" (De Malo, iv, 1). It is this law of solidarity, admitted by common sentiment, which attributes to children a part of the shame resulting from the father's crime. It is not a personal crime, objected the Pelagians. "No", answered St. Augustine, " but it is paternal crime" (Op. imperf., I, cxlviii). Being a distinct person I am not strictly responsible for the crime of another, the act is not mine. Yet, as a member of the human family, I am supposed to have acted with its head who represented it with regard to the conservation or the loss of grace. I am, therefore, responsible for my privation of grace, taking responsibility in the largest sense of the word. This, however, is enough to make the state of privation of grace in a certain degree voluntary, and, therefore, "without absurdity it may be said to be voluntary" (St. Augustine, "Retract.", I, xiii).

Thus the principal difficulties of non-believers against the transmission of sin are answered. "Free will is essentially incommunicable." Physically, yes; morally, no; the will of the father being considered as that of his children. "It is unjust to make us responsible for an act committed before our birth." Strictly responsible, yes; responsible in a wide sense of the word, no; the crime of a father brands his yet unborn children with shame, and entails upon them a share of his own responsibility. "Your dogma makes us strictly responsible for the fault of Adam." That is a misconception of our doctrine. Our dogma does not attribute to the children of Adam any properly so-called responsibility for the act of their father, nor do we say that original sin is voluntary in the strict sense of the word. It is true that, considered as "a moral deformity", "a separation from God", as "the death of the soul", original sin is a real sin which deprives the soul of sanctifying grace. It has the same claim to be a sin as has habitual sin, which is the state in which an adult is placed by a grave and personal fault, the "stain" which St. Thomas defines as "the privation of grace" (Adam, exaggerate this participation. They exaggerate the idea of voluntary in original sin, thinking that it is the only way to explain how it is a sin properly so-called. Their opinion, differing from that of St. Thomas, gave rise to uncalled-for and insoluble difficulties. At present it is altogether abandoned.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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Simple English

The Original Sin refers generally to the Christian belief the universal nature of sin. Original sin is considered to be the result of the story of Adam and Eve in the religious book called The Bible. In that story (Genesis 3, they broke God's only command (not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) when the snake persuaded Eve that eating that fruit would make her and Adam like God. After this, they were removed from the Garden of Eden. Then Genesis tells the story of how their oldest son Cain killed his brother Abel. Based mostly on this and many other stories and passages in the Bible and Saint Paul's statement in Romans 5:12 (Sin entered the world because one man sinned. And death came because of sin. Everyone sinned, so death came to all people.--NIrV) Christians traditionally believe that no human is without sin.

More specifically the term "Original Sin" refers to the sin a person has not because of any specific act they have done personally but because of they are born into the human race. This was first explained fully by Saint Augustine in his writings against the Pelagians. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not believe in this specific doctrine of Original Sin.








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