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.
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.’
If one looks at the entire context of the passage, it is clear that we should interpret "by nature" as meaning ’by common general practice". For, Paul makes clear upon what basis we are the "children of wrath". It is based upon the fact that we are first, says verse 2, "children of disobedience". Being "children of disobedience" results in our being "children of wrath".
Furthermore, Verse 1 and the first clause of verse 2, makes it very clear as to why we are spiritually dead. Paul says, "And you were dead in your [not Adam’s] trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked."
The Bible is full of passages which teach that one’s spiritual death is the consequence of one’s own sins rather than by any others’ sins.
Isaiah 59:2, "But your [not Adam’s] iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your [not Adam’s] sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear."
Ezekiel 18:4-5, "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die. But if a man is righteous, and practices justice and righteousness.... verse 9...."if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully - he is righteous and will surely live, declares the Lord God."
Thus, whether one’s soul lives or dies is determined by one’s own conduct, not Adam’s.
Let’s read Verse 20: "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."
3.SCRIPTURE TEACH THAT EACH PERSON IS BORN PURE AND INNOCENT AND REMAINS SO THROUGHOUT EARLY CHILDHOOD.