The doctrine of original sin is one of the most damaging lies ever inflicted on the human race. Developed by Tertullian and popularized by Augustine, original sin says we all inherited Adam’s fallen nature.
You were born spiritually dead and rebellious at heart. From the moment you drew your first breath, you were inclined towards sin, utterly depraved, and hostile towards God.
What is original sin?
This is how John Calvin (1509–1564) defined original sin:
Original sin may be defined a hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature, extending to all the parts of the soul, which first makes us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which in Scripture are termed works of the flesh.
The key word is hereditary. Original sin says you inherited a rebellious streak from your forefather Adam. Adam was a rebel which makes you a rebel. Before you were born, you were inclined to sin and disobey God. You were born bad to the bone and bound for hell.
“Men are born vicious,” said Calvin, as a result of the sin that Adam inflicted on upon his descendants.
The Lutherans agreed saying that all men, “from their mother’s womb, are full of evil desire and inclination, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God.”
Like you, I grew up believing I was a natural born sinner inclined to rebel. It was obvious, wasn’t it? Just look at how I struggled with sin.
But around the time my children were born I began to question this teaching. “Is this little treasure really a hell-born brat?!”
After more than 15 years of studying this, I have come to the conviction that original sin is a manmade and thoroughly unbiblical teaching.
(If you’re interested in how I got here, check out my new ebook entitled Original Sin: What Does the Bible Really Say? This 12-chapter book is available now on Patreon.)
To clarify, the issue is not whether people are depraved, corrupt, and defiled, but whether we are born that way. Were we born corrupt or did we become corrupt? Did we enter the world sinning and rebelling against God, or did we go astray along the way?
Those who preach original sin swing for the hereditary answer. Our sinful nature is essentially a sin gene, an inherited disposition towards sin, and we are all born with it.
There is no question that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and there is no doubt that Adam’s transgression had consequences that affect all of us (see Romans 5). My issue is with Augustine’s suggestion that after the Fall humanity was essentially remade or rewired to sin.
Scriptures used to support original sin include Gen. 5:3, 8:1, Ps. 51:5, 58:3, Jer. 17:9, Mark 7:23, Rom. 3:10–12, 5:12, 19, 7:18, and Eph. 2:1 and 3. I address these scriptures in my new book, but today I want to look at some other scriptures.
Scriptures refuting original sin
Original sin says you were shaped by sin in your mother’s womb. You were born defective and rebellious on account of Adam’s bad genes.
The Bible paints a different picture. Many wonderful scriptures show that you were handmade by God. Here’s a taste:
Your hands shaped me and made me. (Job 10:8).
You have been my God from my mother’s womb. (Ps. 22:10)
Your hands made me and formed me… (Ps. 119:73)
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and he who formed you from the womb… (Is. 44:24)
God made you. He shaped you, fashioned you, and knitted you together, and he did a great job:
I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well. (Ps. 139:14)
Augustinian tradition says you are defective and broken, but the Scriptures declare you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are a one of a kind special.
Where does the sin gene figure in this? It doesn’t. Adam’s sin affected the ground and everything that comes out of the ground, and this is why death is experienced in our physical bodies.
But your body is merely a home or earthsuit that you wear and which will one day be upgraded. The real you – your spirit and your mental faculties – comes from God (Job 32:8).
For you formed my inward parts. You wove me in my mother’s womb. (Ps. 139:13)
Your outward parts may be aging and broken, but your inward parts are first-rate because God doesn’t do shoddy work. You are not a mistake because God doesn’t make mistakes.
“If original sin is not true, why is the world such a mess?” This verse explains it:
Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. (Ecc. 7:29, NKJV)
God did a good job making humanity, but we ran after evil schemes and corrupted ourselves. We are not born corrupt but we become corrupted by the deceitful desires of the old self (Eph. 4:22), the pollutions of this world (2 Pet. 2:7, 20), and tradition and religion (1 Pet. 1:18–19). Behind all these sources of corruption we see the influence of the devil (see Eph. 2:1–2).
Original sin is one of those doctrines that sounds biblical but isn’t. It combines words and phrases from the Bible in ways that contradict the Bible.
The key differences between this manmade doctrine and what the scriptures actually say are summarized in the Table below (click on the pic for a bigger version).
Original sin has been around so long it’s hard to imagine an alternative, but the Bible has been around longer and the picture it paints is clear as day.
If you would like to learn more about my new ebook on Original Sin and see the table of contents, check out this article on Patreon.