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Summary: Many today accept the doctrine of "Original Sin" or "Total Hereditary Depravity" as basic truth; yet, it is not supported by the Bible nor was it taught in the early Church.

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The doctrine of "Original Sin" basically states that Adam’s guilt has been passed down to each member of the human race. Thus, we are born condemned sinners. We are separated from God and His grace from birth. We are born spiritually dead. Only the blood of Christ can remove the stain and guilt of Adam’s original sin from our souls. The basics of this doctrine is also known, by Protestant supporters, as "Total Hereditary Depravity", which signifies that we inherit total depravity from Adam.

Theological historians affirm that the roots of this doctrine started in the Third Century. However, it was Augustine of Hippo who fully established it as an official position of the Catholic church. Most of the Protestant reformers retained the doctrine and John Calvin even expanded on it.

Basically, the doctrine was invented to justify the practice of infant baptism. The early Church fully understood that baptism was for the remission of sins. Rational thinkers also had to admit that babies and little children cannot discern the difference between righteousness and evil, let alone be guilty of rebellion against God (personal sin). Therefore, they formulated the idea that all people, upon natural conception, inherit Adam’s corrupt state and its spiritual consequences. Since babies are born corrupt and spiritually dead, they were valid candidates for baptism. Thus, a man-made tradition was validated or justified by a man-made doctrine.

We wish to look to Scripture for guidance on this matter:

1.THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT PHYSICAL DEATH WAS THE UNIVERSAL PUNISHMENT UPON MANKIND FROM THE SIN OF ADAM.

When one examines the statement of God to Adam regarding the punishment to be granted upon his posterity on account of his sin, it was exclusively physical punishment - Adam and his posterity would experience physical death (Genesis 3:17-20). Adam and his posterity would be unable to live in Paradise in which was the Tree of (eternal) Life.

Adam and Eve both personally died spiritually - were immediately separated from God’s fellowship - on account of their own sins. However, nowhere in the text is there indication that such separation would automatically extend to their posterity.

We can note, in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, that the death that came to all Mankind from Adam’s sin is physical death. The blessing of the resurrection to eternal life is the direct overturning of this curse of physical death.

2.THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT SPIRITUAL CONDEMNATION AND DEATH ARE NOT BASED ON ADAM’S SIN BUT ONE’S OWN SIN.

Supporters of the doctrine of "Original Sin" and "Total Hereditary Depravity" believe that Ephesians 2:3 teaches that by our very nature - being the posterity of Adam - we are "children of wrath"; that is, in such a spiritual state where we are the worthy objects of God’s condemnation and judgment.

However, the word translated "nature" is not always to be interpreted as meaning our inborn essence or our intrinsic being. It can also be interpreted as ’belonging to a class based upon tradition or custom or common general practice.’


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