The doctrine of original sin is the notion that the nature of man changed when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden and partook of the forbidden fruit. This event is often referred to as the fall of man and because of it all mankind is said to be in a fallen state and liable to God for it.
Now the doctrine that, in consequence of the sin of another, man is brought into the world with a nature so totally depraved that he cannot possibly do anything that is right, his understanding so darkened that he cannot discern the plainest truths in the Bible, and yet that he is held responsible for the commission of sin - threatened with the pains of hell unless he does what he has no power to do, and understands what he has no ability to understand - is a doctrine which never seemed to me quite right.—
Dana, Mary, Letters addressed to Relatives and Friends p. 105
God is said to have created the first man and woman upright 1 and good 2. The Christian system improves upon that characterization and implies that Adam and Eve were created immortal beings or holy apparitions and as such were perfect in every way.
A man who, its advocates say, God created upright, free from every kind of impurity, and placed in a state of uniform happiness, with a strong natural propensity to practice of every virtue, and an equally strong aversion to every vicious and immoral principle; created in the image of God himself, and possessing an unqualified attachment to celestial purity and goodness... nevertheless, transgressed the divine law, and this solitary violation [became] temporarily and eternally fatal to the human race.—
Palmer, Elihu, Principles of nature pp. 28-29
An ingenious writer says, who were those men that lived in so much innocence? The first man who was born into the world, killed the second. When did the times of simplicity begin? And we may go back one step farther, and say, the first man that ever lived in the world, exhibited imperfection of his nature in the very act of sinning. When did the perfection and immaculate holiness of human nature begin?—
Moore, Asher, Universalism, the doctrine of the Bible p. 58
But how or by what means perfect beings [Adam and Eve] could be deceived is not easily imagined-- and surely the fact affords but sorry proof of perfection!—
Moore, Asher, Universalism, the doctrine of the Bible p. 61
The nature of the first male and female are so highly esteemed by the system that it borders on ancestor worship. If it is granted that they were born in a state of perfection, it would then become impossible for them to have disobeyed God; seeing that perfected beings cannot commit acts of imperfection, or do acts contrary to their own nature.
That first act of imperfection, known as the first or original sin, is said to to have been passed down from generation to generation through our nature. And as a consequence, every man since the first is born with a sin nature or sinful nature. How such a transference is realized without sin being a tangible substance is unclear.
Sin is no more a substance than friendliness, goodness, or virtue are substances. If sin is a substance that can be transmitted physically, then virtue also must be a substance that can be transmitted physically. And what would be the result if all this were true? Why, sinners would beget sinners, and saints, of course, would beget saints!—
The notion that sin is a substance or is anything more than a physical act, only serves to mystify rather than clear the understanding.
Sin is an act, and so it is impossible for it to be passed on physically..—
Sin is a conscious, willful act performed by an individual (in word, deed, or thought) that opposes God's will... it is an immoral choice made by the sinner, that transgresses God's law. Therefore apart from the sinner who makes the choice, then commits the act, sin can not even exist. Yet theologians persist in the belief, more fit for a science fiction script than the Scriptures, that sin has been passed on physically from Adam to all his descendants, yet fail to tell us: a\) Why it is that we can only inherit sin from Adam but not from the rest of our ancestors. b) Why it is that we can inherit sin but not inherit righteousness. c) How it is that Adam's sin can come through our parents even if they are true Christians and therefore, in the words of the apostles John and Paul, have been cleansed from all sin.— InPlainSight, Original sin, fact or fable
Even if it is granted that man is born with a sin nature and that such a nature is odious to God, it still doesn't answer the question of why he is condemned for circumstances out of his control. Man cannot choose the color of the skin he is born with much less the nature of it.
We have no choice in the matter of our birth...—
Is man to become a criminal before he has existed?—
Palmer, Elihu, Principles of nature p. 29
Rather, being born with a sin nature actually provides justification for any sins we might commit.
If we were born with a sinful nature not one sin would be against our nature but every sin would agree with and be in harmony with our nature."—
Overstreet, A. T., Over 100 texts from the Bible that show the doctrine of original sin is Unbiblical and false
In fact the murderer, the rapist, and all other sinners have a perfect and legitimate excuse for all their sins if they were born with a sinful nature.—
Moreover, the wicked would by this means be exonerated; because it would indicate the depravity which was innate in them, and not their own acquired criminality.—
Racovian Catechism p. 328
Even today it is often thought that man has a spirit, a soul, and a body; but what constitutes a spirit and a soul and how they are different is mere speculation. Such an idealistic view of the nature of man, opens the doors and the windows for the speculators to enter in. And once they enter in, they will conjure up many mystical notions which will be there long after they are gone. How a man can be born with a sin nature, and why God condemns him for being thus born, we will leave to the speculators to answer.
No where in the scriptures does it explicitly lay out the doctrine of original sin. Rather, it was the works of the early church Fathers who generally inferred it from a couple of verses found in Romans. The creation story in Genesis also lacks any mention of the nature of man being changed as a result of Adam's disobedience.
The notion of what constitutes the nature of man often been mystified, primarily during the times when mankind knew very little about the human body. Most people who contend that mankind has a sinful nature do not have a concrete idea of what that actually means.
The word nature in the Bible, when it refers to our birth, never refers to a sinful nature. This is shown in Rom. 2:14, which says: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law...” Now the word nature in this text does refer to the nature we receive at birth. But it is evident that the word nature used here is not a sinful nature. For how would a sinful nature ever cause us to “do by nature the things contained in the law”? A sinful nature would not cause us to do the things contained in the law a sinful nature would only cause us to commit sin!—
In other words, the nature a man has is based on what he does and not the state in which he was born. When it is said that a man has a “kind-hearted nature”, it doesn't mean that he was born with kindness in his heart, but rather that he acts in a manner that is kind toward others. Any kind of sinful nature that a man could have would be based on his actions of sin. Once such a man stopped sinning, it would not be proper to say that he still had a sinful nature. Similarly in the scriptures, the term divine nature is used to describe those men who did the works of the divine.
One of the five points of Calvinism is the total depravity of man; that man is so fully consumed with his sinful nature that he cannot even help himself.
According to Calvinism, they cannot help themselves. They cannot repent and turn to God, as the Scriptures command “all men, everywhere,” to do. What a mockery does this system make of the precious invitations which the gospel gives to “every creature!” If they are “utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all that is spiritually good,” how can God entreat, aye, command them to become so? It is a bitter mockery to press the claims of the gospel upon those who are so utterly helpless.—
Dana, Mary, Letters addressed to Relatives and Friends p. 110
In order to justify the rite of infant baptism, Calvin even admits that infants are born with this whorish nature.
Calvin says, that “even infants bring their damnation with them from their mother's womb; for, although they have not yet produced the fruits of their iniquity, they have the seed of it enclosed within them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed of sin, so that it cannot be otherwise than odious and abominable to God.”—
Dana, Mary, Letters addressed to Relatives and Friends p. 112, Institutes of the Christian Religion John Calvin p. 483
The belief that mankind is totally depraved is essentially the belief in the invalidity of all men. A defeated view of humanity is propagated in every pulpit once a week with the hope that if the hearers come back next week, and the week after, ad infinitium, their nature will be changed over time and by that fact they will be saved; in other words the priests have the solution to the problem they originally created - how marvelous! The notion that the first man was endowed with a mysterious nature, that mysteriously absorbed the stain of sin and passed it on to future generations, suggests that his nature was never stain resistant or perfect in the first place.
Christianity has taught [man] two awful and destructive lessons; first, that he is incapacitated for the performance of moral actions; and secondly, in case he should perform them, they would add no merit or superior excellence to his character; that his best righteousness is like filthy rags which God would treat with marked abhorrence.—
Palmer, Elihu, Principles of nature Gb. p. 116
In psychology original sin is essentially the life position of, “I'm - Not OK, You're - Not OK, and They're - Not OK”.
This is the pessimistic position of cynics or of those who believe in predestination and original sin.\ “We are none of us any good anywhere.”—
Berne, Eric, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? p. 91
It is clear all throughout the book of Ecclesiastes that the writer suffers from the very same depressive life position. And it culminates in the verse,
Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.—
Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV
1. Ecclesiastes 7:29 ↩
2. Genesis 1:31 ↩
Men are not “born short of the glory of God.” They “sin and come short of the glory of God.”—
Overstreet, A. T., Are Men Born Sinners Chapter 2
The relentless and inconsistent commands, the confusing signals and the confounding messages from the Patriarch give rise to a primordial guilt complex. This leads to the “You're-OK, I'm-not-OK” syndrome, especially vis-a-vis the Parent. The concept of original sin must have arisen from the guilt complexes originating from the harangues we received in our childhood. Neither baptism nor any other initiation cermony can really mitigate this guilt complexes born of the contrary and often confusing messages, and the thundering 'No!'s we faced in our infancy and childhood.—
William, Xavier, World Religions pp. 12-13
That man stands in the same relative condition with his Maker he ever did stand, since man existed, and that it is his greatest consolation to think so. Let him believe this, and he will live more consistent and morally, than by any other system.—
Paine, Thomas, The age of reason p. 24
Moral impurity assumes a new shape, and becomes transferable through successive generations. Though none of this man's descendants could possibly be partakers of this original criminality, they are, nevertheless, implicated in the consequences and effects of his primary apostasy.—
Palmer, Elihu, Principles of nature p. 29