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What are some thoughts on Original Sin?

Postby YHWH Gives » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:05 pm

I'm mostly looking for thoughts on this topic differing from the mainstream view. I can't understand how Adam's sin is transferred to the entire human race. I can understand how a sinful nature can, however. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: What are some thoughts on Original Sin?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:17 pm

Think of it this way. For sake of analogy, God is a kind person, and Adam and Eve were his precious dogs. Every day He cares for them, feeds them well, gives them a comfortable bed, and plays with them. They are the best of friends. One day as the dogs are out exploring the woods, they are allured by a sound and smell they sense. At the same time, the Master is calling for them to come home. After a thoughtful moment, they plunge into the woods, deeper and deeper until they are hopelessly lost. The Master grieves his loss, and every day goes out searching for them and calling for them to come home.

The dogs are now lost. The puppies they have are, by necessity, "wild." They only know the woods; they have no knowledge of the Master and know nothing about the Master's love or his home. They are born separated from the Master, lost. Their puppies also, and their puppies also. And so on. Each generation gets more "wild." It's not that the dogs are bad or evil, just separated from the Master.

Every day the Master still goes into the woods searching for His beloved dogs. Every once in a while He comes across one of the puppies, calls it to himself, and offers a home of love, food, warmth, and caring. Those puppies that respond to His invitation experience exactly that. Those that don't stay wild.

That's what original sin is: separation from the Master. It was perpetrated by the original couple, and each subsequent generation was separated from God because of their decision. At the same time, the invitation is always standing that any dog can come home. Not one is rejected, not one is excluded. If anyone stays separated from God it is their own doing.

I could also use the analogy of citizenship in a country. Let's say that someone is fed up with the USA and decides to move to, say, Germany, and they renounce their US citizenship and become German citizens. Any child they have (let's assume this for the sake of the analogy) is now born a German citizen, as are their children, etc. The children become German because of a decision of their parents, but any descendant at any time has a choice to return to the US and become an American citizen. They are separated from the land of their fathers, so to speak, but can return at any time. The invitation is always open.

That's what original sin is: being naturalized in a different country. Adam & Eve were citizens of heaven, but decided to become citizens of the own kingdom, as are all their children. At any time, though, anyone can renounce their self-orientation and once again become a citizen of the kingdom of God.
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Re: What are some thoughts on Original Sin?

Postby YHWH Gives » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:29 pm

Let's examine the dog analogy. Is being "wild" an inherently bad thing? Why so? Are the descendants of the original dogs blamed for their ancestors choice to leave their original home? Did the choice to leave their home change their nature to "wild"? If so, in what ways does the changing of their nature affect them? Did they know that ignoring their master was a bad thing?

I get that there are consequences of Adam and Eve's sin, but I'm more interested into their nature before and after the fall. Did they know it was sin? If so, then what did the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil give them? If not, how can they be blamed for their actions? Did death exist before the fall? What about our sinful nature makes us sin? Can we resist it? When we are born, do we inherit just the consequences or the blame for their sins as well? Also, in what ways is the sinful nature distinguished from the flesh (in the Pauline sense)? Where did we inherit this flesh from, and how has that changed since the pre-Fall era? It seems as though the flesh always wants to sin, in accordance with the sinful nature until our sinful nature changes into a Holy one. Did Adam and Eve's separation from God cause our nature to change, both in the flesh and in our hearts (our sinful nature would be the change of nature in our hearts)?
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Re: What are some thoughts on Original Sin?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:30 pm

> Let's examine the dog analogy. Is being "wild" an inherently bad thing?

In the story it's only a way of expressing that it is not domesticated. "Original sin" doesn't mean we're born evil, only born separated from the Master. It's "a bad thing" only in the sense that such separation is the cause of many negative and painful things. Being in the wild is much more dangerous than being in a loving home.

> Are the descendants of the original dogs blamed for their ancestors choice to leave their original home?

No, they're not. That's not the concept of original sin. According to the Bible, we are only guilty for our own sin.

> Did they know that ignoring their master was a bad thing?

Don't read too much into the story. It's an analogy, not an allegory. It's to put what I'm trying to say in understandable concepts.

Theologically, to answer your post more directly, the Bible articulates an idea of original sin but it never works out the details. In Romans 5 Adam is presented as an archetype (not an allegory or metaphor)—a representative—of humanity. We are never told how sin carries from generation to generation via biology, but perhaps it doesn't. We are sinners by nature only in the sense that we naturally turn to sin. Adam was a sinner before the fall, as well as after. We know from Genesis 3 and Romans 5 that sin entered human experience through Adam. What we learn is not how sin transfers, but that death came to all through sin (being separated from the Master, having a different citizenship). Though we all share that separation (sin nature), we are only guilty for our own sin. And the invitation is always open to all to be reconciled to God, to close the separation, and to have a new nature given to us.

> Did they know it was sin?

Yes. Sin can be defined in many ways, but several of them are disobedience, defiance, and rebellion. Adam and Eve understood that God had instructed them not to eat from the tree and what the consequences would be if they did (Gn. 3.2-3).

> If so, then what did the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil give them?

"The knowledge of good and evil" in the ancient world was an expression for the ability to decide (Gn. 24.50; 31.24, 29; Dt. 1.39; 1 Ki. 3.9; 22.18). What is forbidden to them is the power to decide for themselves what is in their best interests and what is not, in other words, grabbing God's prerogatives for themselves, making themselves the center of order and wisdom instead of God.

By eating the fruit, he made a statement that he wanted to be a god unto himself. He chose to make himself the source of his own wisdom.

> Did death exist before the fall?

Yes. If plants could serve as food, plants died. Since death was in the system, there is no reason to draw a false line and say that insects and animals did not. Through sin came the inevitability of death for people. Because of sin people lost access to the tree of life and become fully susceptible to death. The tree of life, therefore, represents a pre-Fall indication of God’s grace.

One of the most important insights I can give you is that the claim that is often made is that it is unfair for the whole human race to have to experience pain, suffering and death because of someone else's sin. The Bible says Adam was created mortal ("made from dust", and with pain and suffering—after all, "good" does not mean "perfect" but rather functioning in order), and he was given the hope for life through the tree and (more importantly) through relationship with God in his presence. This means that Adam did not bring death, pain and suffering to immortal humanity—he simply failed to acquire life for them (forfeited access to the tree of life; the need for the tree of life indicated their mortality). What Adam failed to do, Christ did. Look at 1 Cor. 15:21-22: "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Verse 21 is not discussing the ontology of death or resurrection; only the human agency for both. Verse 22 indicates that we all die the same as Adam did and we will be made alive as Christ was. Neither of these makes a clear claim that Adam brought death to us all. Romans 5:12 is more complicated since it comments on how sin and death came into the world (therefore addressing an ontological question), as well as how it came to all people. But based on the context and direction of this chapter in the flow of Romans, Paul is not discussing the pre-fall world, but how death and sin came into the post-fall world that we are part of (since he is talking about our need for salvation).

> Also, in what ways is the sinful nature distinguished from the flesh (in the Pauline sense)?

Sometimes Paul uses "flesh" to speak of our biological bodies and sometimes to speak of that part of us that is separated from God.
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Re: What are some thoughts on Original Sin?

Postby YHWH Gives » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:11 am

Very helpful reply. A few more questions :

> We are sinners by nature only in the sense that we naturally turn to sin.

We naturally turn to sin because of our sinful nature, which you say is our "separation from God." Could someone live a sinless life even in this separation from God? Why do born-again Christians still sin if they're reunited with God again? Is there still a "flesh" present in born-again believers?

Also, why is it that our separation from God fosters the development of sin? Is it the world around us that entices us and leads us to indulge in sin? Or is it true that only our connection with God in the first place kept our hearts from turning corrupt? In short, what about our sinful nature makes us sin?
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Re: What are some thoughts on Original Sin?

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jul 21, 2018 2:56 am

> Could someone live a sinless life even in this separation from God?

None of us can live a sinless life (1 John 1.8). We are all sinners (Rom. 3.10-18, 23).

> Why do born-again Christians still sin if they're reunited with God again?

When God saves us from sin, he gives us a legal standing before God, and He forgives our sins, but He doesn't just BLAMMO make us perfect people. We have to learn how to follow God, learn how to not give in to sin, learn how to be like Jesus. Though we are legally justified as "righteous", behaviorally we have to learn how to be righteous.

> Is there still a "flesh" present in born-again believers?

Yes. Romans 7.7-25 is an explanation of it.

> Also, why is it that our separation from God fosters the development of sin?

Because our separation from God means we are living to please ourselves, and that's always a recipe for problems. We just don't have the means, the wisdom, the insights, or the willpower to pull it off.

> Is it the world around us that entices us and leads us to indulge in sin?

The world can make it worse, but the real problem is inside of us (James 1.13-15).

> In short, what about our sinful nature makes us sin?

We are not naturally oriented toward God. We are naturally human with all its foibles and weaknesses, shortcomings, limitations, and tendency to screw things up.


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