Tag Archives: Objections

Final Objections to Original Sin and their Consequences

 

This is our final post addressing some of the more common objections brought against what is often called the Doctrine of Original Sin.

Objection #5 – The theory of evolution does not allow for an historic Adam, therefore there is no connection to a concept of original sin.

This is the appeal to science that the authors of Adam and the Genome attempt to make.  Some make the argument that Adam wasn’t an actual historical person, but it is instead simply a shorthand designation for all of mankind.  This however destroys the One to Many representation argument that Scripture develops in both Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 – Adam to many, Christ to many.  Just as Scripture states that there was a historical Jesus, so too does it state that there was a historical Adam and their relationship is clear.

Objection #6 – Real sin is only committed through an act of the will or volition.  Since we were not in the Garden with Adam, it was not our choice to sin and thereby we do not share in his guilt.

This is true, the actuality of sin is committed by an act of the will or volition, as we saw in the Ezekiel 18 objection.  However, that will has a natural bent towards sin.  It is not morally neutral and certainly not morally good.  It’s natural inclination towards sin is a direct result of the corrupting influence of Adam’s original sin in the Garden.  As was already mentioned, the case with Adam was unique in his representation of mankind.  In this respect, we were there with him.

Objection #7 – If Adam is the natural progenitor of all mankind, and Christ was born into mankind, wouldn’t this make Him guilty and polluted for being “in Adam”.

Christ is commonly understood to be the Second Adam.  By means of His divine, miraculous conception, He assumes the full human nature of mankind, but not the fallen nature of mankind, thus the importance of both the Doctrine of the Virgin Birth and the Doctrine of the Incarnation.  Additionally, we must remember the uniqueness of Christ, not merely human, but divine-human, distinguishing Himself from Adam and all other mere humans.

As to His humanity, in a sense, he was made human in a similar way as Adam, that by direct divine intervention (His divine nature is eternal and uncreated).  Adam was formed from the dust of the ground by the hand of God.  Similarly, Christ was formed, humanly speaking, by the power of the Holy Spirit and conceived in the womb of Mary.  Here too it is important to clarify that the Holy Spirit did not have intercourse with Mary, as some erroneously assert.  The purity of the conception of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit stops the corruption of human nature from passing on to Him.  Simply stop and wonder at the majesty of God and the sinlessness of Christ through His miraculous birth.

Consequences

Though the doctrine of original sin may be unpalatable to some people, it nevertheless must be wrestled with, as Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord.  We must not let go of Scripture til we have been blessed by it through a clearer understanding of this teaching.  Otherwise, there are grave consequences.

Though we have looked at the consequences for denying the resurrection as defined in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, let’s briefly expand on that for our subject of original sin.

Consequence 1 – Denying original sin denies the need for Christ’s obedience and death on the cross.  If people are born innocent, unstained by their relation to Adam, then we would do well to usher them to an isolated island ensuring their ultimate salvation apart from the corrupting influence of the world.  Christ’s death then would be for only those for whom Plan A, isolation, had failed.

Cons. 2 – Denying the relationship of Adam, his original sin, and his posterity, undercuts the necessity for Christ’s virgin birth.  Consequently, Christ would have no need to be the product of divine conception, because the corrupting influence of Adam would be non-existent.  The doctrine of original sin explains the necessity for Christ to be born of the Spirit through the vessel of Mary, apart from the seminal influence, i.e. Adam, of Joseph.

Cons. 3 – Denying the relationship of Adam to his posterity undermines the parallel relationship between Christ and His posterity.  In other words, if there is no “in Adam” then there is no “in Christ”.

Cons. 4 – Simply stated, if there is no “in Christ” then we are doomed.

Cons. 5 – Denying the relationship of all mankind “in Adam” leads to a logical conclusion of evolution and the denial of a historical Adam.  This consequence works from both directions, either starting with a denial of the historical Adam and working forward or a denial of original sin and working backwards.  In any event, the consequence is grave and one would not be surprised if the next shoe to fall is the doctrine of inerrancy.

Summary

The concept of union with Adam, as a result of our birth, places all men under condemnation and God’s wrath, worthy of eternal punishment.  Likewise, it explains our need for a Savior and  the necessity of Christ’s virgin birth, thereby establishing Him alone as sinless and apart from the original sin of Adam, i.e. outside Adam’s seminal line and federal headship.  Additionally, original sin magnifies God’s grace.  Truly Christ is our only hope and the only name under heaven by which man may be saved.

In the context of 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul brings union with Adam and original sin into his argument of Christ’s resurrection and it’s benefits for the specific purpose of introducing the concept of death, namely that all men die as a result of being in Adam.  The reason for this is to assert the supremacy of Christ over death and the glorious resurrection for all those who are in Him.  But that is a subject we’ll take up yet another future post.

Objections to Original Sin – Innocent Babies and That’s Not Fair

 

In the last few posts, we’ve continued working through a series on 1 Corinthians 15, which I find to be one of the more challenging chapters in Scripture, and have arrived at the passages on the Doctrine of Original Sin.  We’ve since turned our attention towards common objections of this foundational teaching from Scripture, beginning first with the Objection of Eve. Here we’ll explore two more objections that are frequently brought up, What about innocent babies and That’s Not Fair.

Objection #2 – Doesn’t this concept of original sin condemn all mankind, even “innocent” babies?

Answer – The doctrine of original sin does condemn all mankind, even babies.  Scripture knows no such thing as the doctrine of accountability, which loosely states that children reach an “age of accountability” around 12-13 years of age (which similarly is the age for the Jewish Bar mitzvah).  Additionally, Scripture knows nothing of a state of innocence  based on age.

If this teaching were true, and if original sin was not inherited even by babies, then there wouldn’t be any death among those under a certain age.  In other words, the Scriptural teaching “in Adam all die” would be wrong, and it’s not.  Death touches us all, even those in the womb, and it is the direct product of original sin upon the world in which we live.  The wages of sin is death and we must all pay, regardless of age.

As a side note, the effects of original sin, namely guilt and pollution, applied to “innocent babies” does not necessarily mean that should infants or young children die that they are automatically condemned to hell.  We must allow room in our thinking for the truth that the Judge of all the earth will do what’s right.  Admittedly, this is a difficult subject deserving of its own post, but in the meantime, I would lean towards agreeing with Charles Spurgeon’s understanding of infants who die, which you can read for yourself here: Infant Salvation

Objection 3 – Isn’t it unfair that God would punish us as a result of another person’s sin?

Answer – This is perhaps the strongest emotional argument against the doctrine of original sin, particularly in light of objection 2.  However, calling God’s own character, namely His holy justice, into question is a wrong starting point.  We must be like Job and place our hands over our mouths and confess that not a day has gone by that we have not sinned on our own.

If the argument of fairness is allowed to stand, then it must also be allowed that it is unfair for Christ to have the sin of those who would believe imputed to Himself and likewise suffer the punishment that they deserved.  Additionally, it would be “unfair” that Christ’s righteousness should be imputed to all those “in Him” who did nothing to earn that.  This objection of equity cannot consistently stand, despite its emotion appeal.

The “That’s not fair” card was played repeatedly in the Old Testament, particularly in Ezekiel 18 which we will look at next time. Instead of stomping our feet and screaming that’s not fair, ought we not to be petitioning the Lord for Mercy.  Assuredly we do not want fairness.  Thankfully, both justice and mercy kiss at the cross of Jesus Christ.

An Objection to Total Inability: Joshua 24:15

 

As we have been examining the doctrine of total inability, or simply stated man’s inability in his natural state to choose God, or otherwise determine his own salvation, we have looked at several common objections.  First with Matthew 11:28-30, then Deuteronomy 30:19 and now with perhaps the most familiar verse of the objections, Joshua 24:15 the majority of which we hear summarized as, “choose this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”   Just as we saw with the previous objections, there is more here for us to understand in context than simply a coffee mug or T-shirt passage divorced from its larger meaning in Scripture.  The entirety of verses 14 and 15 are below:

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

As with the previous objections, we would be well served to look at this passage in it’s larger context, but there is a clue in verse 15 that weakens the Arminian usage of this verse as a passage defending man’s free will against God’s sovereignty.  Before examining that clue, allow me to again point out that man’s will is not free in the sense that it is so often used, but is instead corrupted by sin such that his desires would never lead him to choose God of his own volition.  He is not simply stuck neutral with regard to his desires and is waiting for the slightest push to get him rolling in the direction of God.  He is under the power and dominion of sin. God, in His sovereignty changes man’s desires by giving him a new heart thereby regenerating the will, severing the bondage to sin, and setting man’s desires now toward God.  Man then chooses to submit Himself to God through repentance and faith in Christ.

With that in mind, look again at Joshua 24:14-15, “14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua says “now therefore” to show that what he is about to state is linked to what he has previously said, that occurs in verses 1-13 and in general, it is a summary of all that God has done for Israel extending to them redemption from Egypt and showing them kindness for years, despite the stiff-necked ways of their hearts.  Here in verse 14, we see that Israel is again tending towards idolatry, “Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.”  So they are already in a state of idolatry before Joshua says anything about choosing.  Next, he states, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord.”  This is key because Joshua is here shining a light on the spiritual condition of the Israelite hearts, as though what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right.  The clear distorting nature of sin.

Then we come to the famous choice, “choose this day whom you will serve.”  Following Joshua’s sermon, he has just told the people to put away the idolatry of their fathers; he has framed the choice by saying if you think it’s evil to serve the Lord, then choose.  Choose what?  God vs. Not God?  That is the common understanding of the passage, that Joshua has laid before them the choice to leave their idolatry and choose to serve God.  But that is NOT what the passage says.  The choice that is laid before the people is to choose whom they will serve, “whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.”  The choice is not between God and Not God, but between “Idol #1 and Idol #2”, i.e. Not God vs. Not God.  How then could this verse even begin to be championed as a defense for man’s free will to choose God out of his own free-will, apart from any divine enablement, when the choice that is laid before the people is between their various idolatries.  Joshua is the one, because he is a God-fearing, regenerate believer, who declares, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.  That should always be the declaration of the believer in Christ, regardless of the idolatrous decisions that others, even self-professed believers, might make.

Continuing on in the passage:

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

By way of the reminder of what Joshua had just spoken, the people now seem convinced that they will abandon their idolatry, not choosing between their idols but deciding to serve the Lord.  Now notice Joshua’s response.

19 But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”

What would cause Joshua to say that they were unable to serve the Lord?  Simply put, this was a declaration stating that he knew the people were unable out of their own moral fortitude to serve the Lord.  He offers them a stark warning of their decision, lest out of haste they have decided to serve the Lord out of insincerity.

21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord. 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.

As we conclude, verse 31 of this chapter tells us that the people actually did serve the Lord for the remainder of Joshua’s days.  However, immediately after his death, we read of apostasy and idolatry again on behalf of Israel, Judges 2:1-6.

The doctrine of total inability rightly stated does not deny man’s ability to make choices.  It does not deny that man is free, in the sense that his choices are his own.  However, it does assert that man is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).  That he is a slave to sin (Romans 6:16, 20), following after the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).  And that by living “in the passions of [the] flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind” (Eph. 2:3) those desires and affections are never, indeed cannot, be set on God apart from the divine enablement of His Spirit to remove the heart of stone with all of its evil, sinful, and worldly desires, and give man a heart of flesh with new desires to submit to God, love Him, and obey Him.  There is simply no other way.  Salvation is of the Lord and it is all a work of grace.  For that we should be ever thankful and worship our Great God.

Soli Deo Gloria