The Origin Of Original Sin

It is written:

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Children are a perfect example of what Christians should strive to become, since they are sinless and “of the kingdom of Heaven.” Nevertheless, many in our religious world today teach that children are conceived and born as sinners. This teaching (often referred to as “original sin” and “total hereditary depravity”) are usually standard teachings of most Catholic and Protestant denominations. However, the Bible thoroughly opposes this teaching.

How then did this doctrine originate?

Gareth Reese provides an excellent study on the origin and development of the doctrine known as “original sin.”

“In Special Study # 3, it has been shown that no doctrine of an hereditary sinful nature is found in Judaism until late in the first century A.D. It was not something taught in the Old Testament Scriptures, but was likely something imported into Judaism from Greek philosophy, which posited that while spirit is good, matter (including a man’s body) is evil….Now it is almost universally admitted that just as there was no doctrine of inborn evil in Judaism till late, so there was no doctrine of inborn evil in the early church-neither during the apostolic times nor the sub-apostolic….It seems that it was not until the church’s controversy with Gnosticism that one begins to read in early Christian writers about any real emphasis on the original state of man and on the consequences of the Fall….This historical sketch of the doctrine of original sin has revealed several important conclusions: the doctrine as formulated by Augustine and taught by Calvin is more the result of philosophy than of deductions from Scripture; many churchmen through the years have rejected the idea of inherited depravity from Adam by Adam’s posterity; what in one generation is intended only as a defense of orthodoxy becomes crystallized as dogma in the next.” (Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On Paul’s Epistle To The Romans, 231-241; Moberly, Missouri; Scripture Exposition Books)

Children are not born as sinners (Ezekiel 18:20; 28:15; Romans 7:9). However, whenever a person chooses to violate God’s Law, he dies spiritually (Romans 6:23; Isaiah 59:1-2). Only through the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on the third day is salvation made possible (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Why not become a Christian today (Acts 2:37-47)? Or, if you are an erring Christian, why not return to the Lord today (1 John 1:9; James 5:16)?

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