17 February 2008

How Did We Inherit Adam's Sinfulness?

by Phil Johnson

Note: I would normally make this post on Monday morning, but this afternoon I'm making an unplanned trip to London. I won't be back home till Friday, so everyone please behave for Frank and Dan. See you at the end of the week.

Meanwhile, let's take up where we left off in our discussion of human depravity:

ow did we get in this state? Scripture lays the blame at Adam's feet. Roman's 5:12 says, "Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Sin entered the world through Adam, then passed to all men. Adam's sin brought spiritual death—total depravity—upon the entire race. First Corinthians 15:22 says, "In Adam all die."

Remember, we are sinners before we ever commit one overt act of sin. We are born with the taint of sin. In fact, it is appropriate to say, as David did, that we are sinful from the moment of our conception (Ps. 51:5). Theologians refer to this as "original sin."

So how did Adam's guilt get passed on to you and me? That question gets complex, and there are several different theological opinions that have been proposed to explain it. If you want to delve into the question deeply, I recommend John Murray's book, The Imputation of Adam's Sin or Martyn Lloyd-Jones's sermons or commentary on Romans 5. One of these days, we'll take up the subject of original sin here on the blog.

In this series, however, it's not really necessary to go into great detail on the question of how sin was transmitted to us from Adam. It's enough to affirm the fact that Adam's sin condemned us. Without delving deeply into all the mysteries that surround this question, let's simply declare what God's Word has to say on the matter: "By the transgression of the one the many died" (Rom. 5:15). "The judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation" (v. 16). "By the transgression of the one, death reigned" (v. 17). "Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men" (v. 18). "Through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners" (v. 19).

Five verses in a row all state in different ways that Adam's sin corrupted the entire race. Adam, as the representative head of the human race, plunged us all into sin. Yet we cannot stand aside and point the finger of blame at him in an attempt to excuse ourselves. We inherit his guilt as well as his sinfulness. We are as blameworthy as Adam. The question of how his guilt was passed on to us is not as important as the reality that it happened. No fact in all of philosophy or religion is attested to with so much empirical evidence. All Adam's offspring—with one significant, divine Exception—all Adam's offspring have been sinners. We are born morally corrupt.

I do want to call your attention to a couple of corollaries to this doctrine. First, it suggests Adam was a historical person. Those who want to treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth destroy the doctrine of original sin. If Adam was not a historical individual, none of this makes sense. There's no reasonable explanation for how our race became sinful, unless the account of the fall in Genesis 3 is literally true. So the sinfulness of all humanity bears witness to the truth of Scripture's account of the fall.

Second, those who deny that human nature is sinful are guilty of willful ignorance. The universality of human sinfulness is irrefutable. It is self-evident. Everyone we know is sinful. There's no evidence whatsoever for the myth that people are basically and fundamentally good.
Original sin is not a minor blemish on the human soul. It corrupts every aspect of our character. Listen to these words from Romans 3, where Paul summarized the doctrine of universal depravity. These verses come after two chapters of argument showing that pagans, moral Gentiles, and even religious Jews are all hopeless sinners. In Romans 3:9-18, Paul sums up and makes the point so that no one can miss it:
We have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin [he had been proving that charge for two chapters]; as it is written, [and here he quotes a series of Old Testament verses] "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." "Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving," "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; "Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
That's exactly where we began this series, isn't it? Unbelievers are incapable of loving, fearing, trusting, or obeying God. They may fool themselves into thinking otherwise, but that only proves the wicked deceitfulness of a sin-sick heart.

That leaves us with one more question on his topic, which we'll consider next time.

Phil's signature


jeff said...

Thanks Phil. I enjoy reading your posts and the comments people have been making on this topic. I recently received John Calvins' Institutes of the Christian Religion and I have been reading what he had to say on the subject. One thing is for sure; there is more evidence to support this one basic truth than any other. But convincing people of it is another thing. God bless and have a safe trip to London.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hypothetical Q: What would have happened if Adam refused Eve's offer to eat the Forbidden Fruit that she ate?

Second Hypothetical: Adam remembered God's warning that if they were to eat fruit from the forbidden tree, they would die. Adam sees Eve eating the fruit. She does not drop down and die as Adam thought she would. So Adam thinks that it must be okay to eat because Eve didn't fall down and die right away. Adam was the first literalist!


jeff said...

As the man, isn't Adam sort of responsible for Eve? Isn't he supposed to protect her from evil influences? Anyway, Adam should have obeyed God rather than to be influenced by the disobedience of his wife. He chose her over God.

Ben Stevenson said...

It is possible to write posts and automatically publish them at a later date - see here.

Matt Waymeyer said...


Oh man, you kill me. When I make an unplanned trip on Sunday afternoon, it's to the grocery store to get milk. You, on the other hand, go to London.

Great series.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I agree that Scripture is extraordinarily clear on this truth, that we are all inheritor of Adam's sin and all the consequences thereof. And I agree that there is ample and ongoing empirical evidence to it's truth - just pick up any newspaper, etc. However, every time I teach this truth, I get questions about the "how." It's a normal response to want to know the reasons behind this, isn't it? Or perhaps that's just another testimony to the fact that this doctrine is true, and we want to argue with it and dialog more about it in order to deny and deconstruct it.

Oh and, I'm with matt: an "unplanned trip to London"? Ummm, yeah, happens to me all the time.

Stefan Ewing said...

Unfortunately for us, it's all true.

Fortunately for us, we have a Saviour through whose atoning work we can stand in the presence of the thrice holy God.

And I don't think there's any truth to the legend that the first words uttered by Adam to Eve were:

"Madam, I'm Adam."

(Read it backwards from right to left to get the joke.)

Travel safely, you globetrotting, jet-setting 21st-century evangelist!

Jerry said...

In this series, however, it's not really necessary to go into great detail on the question of how sin was transmitted to us from Adam.

Aw shucks, I was hoping for some exposition on traducianism.

DJP said...

FWIW, best exposition I ever read on Romans 5:12ff. was that by the late, great S. Lewis Johnson, in New Dimensions in New Testament Study, ed. by Longenecker and Tenney. Model of godly scholarship, that article.

Theophilus said...

I liked your emphasis on the connection with Genesis account.

Without Creation (it was good) the Fall makes not sense. Without the Fall, Redemption makes no sense. Without Redemption, there is no reason for the hope that is in us, and nothing to which we should be restored.

Quick trip to London? Yikes.

James Scott Bell said...

This always brings up the case of infants, and I do like what Dr. MacArthur has had to say on this, as well as Al Mohler, who recently wrote:

"What, then is our basis for claiming that all those who die in infancy are among the elect? First, the Bible teaches that we are to be judged on the basis of our deeds committed "in the body." (2 Corinthians 5:10) That is, we will face the judgment seat of Christ and be judged, not on the basis of original sin, but for our sins committed during our own lifetimes. Each will answer "according to what he has done,"(Ibid.) and not for the sin of Adam. The imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt explains our inability to respond to God without regeneration, but the Bible does not teach that we will answer for Adam’s sin."

Anonymous said...

"First, it suggests Adam was a historical person. Those who want to treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth destroy the doctrine of original sin.

John Murray did not believe in a literal understanding of Genesis 1-11, yet you cite his book where he proposes and articulates a robust understanding of the doctrine of original sin.

Many, MANY other theologians do the same thing (Herman Bavinck, John Calvin, St. Augustine, John Frame, etc.).

So....how do you justify this statement in the face of so much evidence to the contrary?

donsands said...

"Yet we cannot stand aside and point the finger of blame at him in an attempt to excuse ourselves. We inherit his guilt as well as his sinfulness. We are as blameworthy as Adam."

That's not fair. Or is it?

Excellent post Phil. Thanks for the good series on such a deep Bible doctrine.
And the dialouge has been beneficial as well.

FX Turk said...


Are you saying Calvin rejected the historical person of Adam? Augustine?

I think you're mistaken. If you don't think Phil's right about the necessity of Gen 1-11 being "historical", that's one thing. If you're rejecting the fact that Adam was the first man, and hoping Calvin and Augustine will bail you out, that's another.

Which is it you're rejecting?

Johnny Broom said...

Mohler: "Each will answer 'according to what he has done,'(Ibid.) and not for the sin of Adam. The imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt explains our inability to respond to God without regeneration, but the Bible does not teach that we will answer for Adam’s sin.'"

Doesn't this ignore Romans 5 and all the "one man" and "one trespass" language?

It sounds like Paul is trying to hammer home the idea that we DO answer for Adam's sin beyond "just" an inability to respond to God.

2 Cor 5 doesn't speak of judgment of our deeds to the exclusion of judgment for our inherited sinful nature, but rather seems to reinforce Phil's point that "we cannot stand aside and point the finger of blame at [Adam] in an attempt to excuse ourselves."

If we are NOT held accountable for Adam's sin, then what point is there to the whole doctrine of original sin? (Of course, the answer to this question depends on if you believe original sin is simply an inherited tendency toward sin, like misaligned tires, or if you believe it is total corruption that in itself separates us from God. So the question might be a bit circular, but see what you can do with it!)

If we are held accountable only after a certain point in our lives, what is that point in time, and how do we know when we've passed it?

James Scott Bell said...

MacArthur writes:

"So the Lord in His wisdom didn’t identify a specific moment. God knows when each soul is accountable. God knows when real rejection has taken place; when the love of sin exists in the heart. When enmity with God is conscious and willful. God alone knows when that occurs."

Jim Crigler said...

Re: "One of these days, we'll take up the subject of original sin here on the blog."

Hopefully, it'll be after the renewed and regenerated, two years promised and patiently anticipated, much hoped for series on personal revelation, specifically with a view toward Gothard and Blackaby.

Re: "That leaves us with one more question on his topic, which we'll consider next time." Hmm ... this post could easily provide a transition to the reliability of personal revelation after a volti subito (which Spike Jones once translated as, "Turn the page, ya fathead1!").

DJP said...

Everyone's a critic.

DJP said...

Judah, again I find myself struggling to find a coherent point.

What "statement" is it that you feel Phil has to "justify ...in the face of" what "evidence to the contrary?"

Nash Equilibrium said...

Jef elucidated: One thing is for sure; there is more evidence to support this one basic truth than any other. But convincing people of it is another thing.

I think I have an idea: Use examples of people from the opposite political party of the person you are talking to. They'll have no trouble seeing inherited badness, original sin, total depravity, and all those things.

By the way, DJP, I said inherited badness, not inherited baldness. I have that to deal with, too.

Johnny Broom said...

As eloquent as that MacArthur quote might be, it evades the question of the impact of Adam's trespass. If we hold to the belief that "one trespass led to condemnation for all men" and that "by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners," then we can certainly say the Bible is clear on when each soul is held accountable--it is when we begin to exist as human beings.

The Bible does not define an age of accountability, a point that separates a time when we can get away without actively responding to or obeying God from a time when we no longer have that freedom, because such a point does not exist. God's law does not change because we get older. There is no Biblical evidence for a "Young Person's Law" that gets upgraded to a "Now that you know better" Law when we're talking about salvation.

(Sidenote: Infants aren't only held accountable for original sin; they're also guilty of actual sin--ask any parent if their newborn was worried about loving their neighbors as themselves at 3am!)

So the Lord in His wisdom didn’t identify a specific moment. God knows when each soul is accountable: from day one.
So instead of identifying a specific moment (of accountability? of being a sinner in need of a Savior? of having faith?), He sent the one man, Jesus Christ, through whom His grace overflowed to the many.

Perhaps a better question would be, "When did you start being a sinner?" Or maybe, "When did you start needing forgiveness?"

If the answer is something along the lines of "when I committed my first willful sin", then the doctrine of original sin is just so much gasbagging, and we're not in nearly as much trouble without Jesus as we might think.

If, on the other hand, the answer is "when I was conceived" (cf Psalm 51), we see just how great are the depths from which God has pulled us through Christ's death. God's grace repairs so much more than misaligned steering!

Strong Tower said...

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

I really like Mohler, listening to him right now and most every day, but...

The context of 2 Corinthians 5 is not about our salvation conditioned upon what we do, is it? Isn't the first part about the reason why we should live according to our salvation and the second part the conditions of our salvation resting upon the work of Christ and not what we do or do not do: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Mohler's position would seem to void Romans 5 and the classical orthodoxy that we indeed inherit, through genetic transmission(not DNA) Adam's guilt. Phil has wanted to avoid this discussion, but it seems unavoidable, at least in reading the thread thus far.

When Scripture speaks of Adam's transgression, it does not say that we will eventually sin, and are therefore condemned by our our guilty action, it concludes that we have already incurred guilt because we have already sinned. Simply possessing the fallen nature is an action which merits wrath.

Hershel Hobbs argued that man was not created righteous, but neutral, and becomes either good or evil upon the act of choice. Though he posits a sinful nature and tendency, his logic of the fall is followed through in most recent BFMs. He even goes so far as to say that Eve had within her from creation both tendencies to good and evil. How then the progeny of Eve retained neutrality is hard to reconcile except that they must also have retained the tendency to good. But, earlier Hobbs argues that the imago dei was destroyed in the fall.


The formulation of the SBC BFM was changed on this point from the 25 to the 63, under Hobbsian influence, evicerating the condemnation of Adam's guilt and making condemnation the result of the free-will actions of man. That scheme followed through to the 2000, which Mohler signed onto.

The trap that is easily set and fallen into is the "that's not fair" doctrine. Romans 9 sets the record straight, though, against the complainer who would argue against God's sovereignty in making men to be what they are. As David correctly affirms, we are sinful at the point of conception and duly guilty of sin not through a conscious act of our own, for conception is not ours but another's.

There is no way to disconnect the inherited guiltiness from our parents according to the flesh all the way back to Adam. As the Scripture concludes, we were in him, have sinned and incurred the guilt by that association.

The proposal was made: "What if Adam had refused the temptation of Eve...however...Scripture concludes that the two were one flesh. And, if Adam was the first type of Christ, then it may be that Eve's sin fell to Adam before he in real-time sinned. This would also fit the type of the transmission of sin, not by action, but by shared nature.

Just a proposal.

Mike Riccardi said...

When Scripture speaks of Adam's transgression, it does not say that we will eventually sin, and are therefore condemned by our our guilty action, it concludes that we have already incurred guilt because we have already sinned.


vetpath said...

"Second, those who deny that human nature is sinful are guilty of willful ignorance. The universality of human sinfulness is irrefutable. It is self-evident. Everyone we know is sinful"

- I object to this kind of reasoning. If I looked out my office window and saw someone mug someone at gunpoint, should I assume that everyone is going to mug someone? What if I looked out the window and saw someone stop to help another person with a flat tire? Should I assume that everyone does that as well?

The point is this: Don't generalize to make your point. If you want to make a point of everyones sinfulness use a proof that accounts for everyone.

If you take the stance that everyone is sinful from birth but prove it by showing how people act in a negative way to other people, you have to account for all the good acts people do as well as account for the fact that some people are killers/adulterers/thieves etc, while others have not done those things. And you have to prove that everyone began sinning from the moment they left the womb, which would be hard to do.

This is the fallacy of statistics, just because you observe a bahavior in a sub-group of the population does't necessarily make it apply to the entire population. And then to prove they began sinning at birth is impossible.

S.J. Walker said...


I reject it too. And for that, I must repent.

S.J. Walker said...
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S.J. Walker said...

As far as sinners being able to "do good", that has already been discussed, and there is much Scripture to cite in reference to that. The point is Bi0dr0ne, that while most everyone is able to perform a "good thing", (stopping a mugging, not mugging, saving someone from a burning building etc.) does not make them Good. It has no merit in regard to their nature. It may not be in someone's nature to kill and rape and steal, but is in everyone's nature to reject truth, like I indicated in my last comment. If we are not born with a nature, a natural propensity to sin(big or small), then we would all be born believers.

We are all not born believers. There is only one other alternative, and no matter how "good" some who take that alternative may be, they are by nature children of wrath.

"good" is only Good, if it is God.

Make sense?

vetpath said...


I do agree that even an evil person can do good things, and that this doesn't make him a good person. But neither do his evil acts make him a bad person either.

I think you would point me to Adams sin at this point and remind me that people are sinful becasue of their nature which is derived from Adam.

But that is peripheral to the idea that people can choose to do good or bad things.

As said before evil people can do good, and good people (even christians) can sin and do evil.

Its a question of perspective. Is a person defined by his nature or by his life?

I think the Bible teaches that life and doctrine are both equally important.

So what significance is the idea of where our sin comes from? If it comes from Adam and we're born into it we are still sinners. If it comes from imitating our parents or just deciding to do whatever feels best to us, it is still sin.

I think the Bible calls attention more to out acts of sinfulness than to the origin of the sin.

And if the origin of the sin is inherited from Adam, and taken away in Christ, why do people still sin?

Stefan Ewing said...
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Stefan Ewing said...

Technically speaking, it may be logically fallacious to assume that based on a handful of examples, that all people are born "bad to the bone."

Nevertheless, it is a reasonable extrapolation. Self-examination will reveal that we may think of ourselves as being "basically good," or that our "good deeds" outweigh our "bad deeds"; but such confidence will not survive conviction by the Holy Spirit, and it does not hold up against the uniform testimony of Scripture.

S.J. Walker said...


Yes, Adam's sin explains why I am born with it. Just like the picture of Great Grandpa sitting in his chair with his leg cocked over the arm in the same unique way I do--when I never met the man--points to my heredity.

But I will also point out that committing even one "bad" act DOES make me a bad person. Just look at Adam. He committed one "bad" act and as a result, all of humanity was damned by his action.

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10

S.J. Walker said...

"Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." Romans 5:14

I really don't see how this is rejected. Unless, one does not believe that the Bible trumps everything.

Anonymous said...

Cent: Yes, I am suggesting that Calvin did not read Genesis 1-11 as history. Rather, he saw it as oral myth that was passed down to Moses. He does not argue that it is scientifically accurate, rather he states, "He who would learn astronomy and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere."

Augustine warned against taking the six days of Genesis literally. Writing in The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Augustine argued that the days of creation were not successive, ordinary days -- the sun, after all, according to Genesis, was not created until the fourth "day" -- and had nothing to do with time. Rather, Augustine argued, God "made all things together, disposing them in an order based not on intervals of time but on causal connections."

Dan: The "statement" that Phil needs to justify is the "statement" that I "quoted." This is based on the evidence of many theologians who did not take Genesis 1-11 to be historical (rather, they saw it as theological) yet are still staunch defenders of original sin passed through Adam.

That is both clear and coherent. And it is what I wrote in my first comment.

DJP said...

Phil said "Adam was a historical person. Those who want to treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth destroy the doctrine of original sin."

You're telling us that you think that John Murray, Bavinck, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and John Frame "treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth" rather than as history?

Strong Tower said...


Statistical fallacies have two things in common, they are false, and they are falsifiable by external testimony.

The sun rises every day. I have not witnessed the rising of the sunrise from the beginning of time, and I have missed often its arising during my life, and though I did not see it this morning, since it was up when I arose, I am sure that it did rise, for no one has ever seen a day when the sun did not arise. Phil said: "Everyone we know is sinful." The falsification of that cannot be that one is just observed as doing good once, but that they must also be established as never having ever done, nor will do anything evil. So a single observation would be a statistical error. Like the sunrise, it never fails with or without observation and though I did not see it rise today, it is the same falacy error if I say that by that one observation of good behavior, it has never been otherwise. What we have from Scripture, from the testimony of others, our own observations is as Phil said, not one of us knows anyone who is not sinful. Though some may be observed doing good we have reasonable expectation that tomorrow the sun will rise upon their sin.

Statistical fallacy then would seem to only come into play when there is no second or third party testimony available to the contrary. But, in this case we have as Phil said the testimony of "no one knows anyone who has not sinned," and we have the testimony of Scripture which also confirms it, for all have sinned, and if any one says he is without sin he is a liar.

Beside, I think the type of fallacy that you are speaking of is an inductive fallacy known as an unrepresentative sample, or it might be a category fallacy of composition. But, in those cases, our sample is quite large and we only have one category, people.

Buck said...

Judah, may I suggest that it's entirely possible to read Gen 1-11 as history and not subscribe to a literal 24/6 creation account?

I could be wrong -- my wife and my conscience constantly remind me of that possibility -- but I don't think that any of the theologians you mention believe man's inherent sinfulness is inherited from a myth, theological construct or literary framework.

Neither the Calvin nor Augustine quote say otherwise.


James Scott Bell said...

Fortunately, Jesus told us that without moral understanding, there is no guilt for sin (John 9:41)

God exempts children from punishment because they "do not yet know good from bad." (Deut. 1:39)

We are not held guilty for the sins of our fathers (Ezek. 18:20)

FX Turk said...


Yeah, OK -- so you're saying that Adam was not a person in history? Because it seems to me several things are true:

-- Both Augustine and Calvin affirmed the person of Adam as the source of the sin problem. If you'd like to duel texts, I have mine if you have yours.

-- The Augustinian reading of Genesis is an interesting one in and of itself -- because Augustine does not want to allegorize Genesis: he wants to comprehend it, and in that he comprehends that both the man and the woman in the account are really people whoi actually did this stuff.

Before I type another word, let's be clear about a couple of things: I can speak for Dan and Phil in confessing that we would, in short form, endorse a strickly-historical reading of Genesis in which creation happens in 6 morning/evening days because that reading has a lot of the rest of Scripture hanging on it.

But that said, it's a completely-phony dicotomy to demand that some account is either "allegorical" or "historical". What if the writer of Genesis is giving us a phenomenological description of creation -- for example, one in which God the Father, who is wholly Spirit, can "say" the phrase (in any language) "let there be light"? Does that mean the account has no historical value -- or does it mean that we have the heavy responsibility, which Augustine actually outlines, to both receive the words of Scripture and understand the theological and soteriological sufficiency of those words?

The funny thing about your objection here, Judah, is that you want to accept the critical/linguistic challenges Calvin and Augustine outline (I can't speak to the others as I have not read them well enough to comment) and abandon the factual accuracy both these men assign to the person of Adam and the person of Eve.

I think the far more challenging attribute of the approaches both these men take to Gen 1-11 is that it is itself willing to accept a certain amount of discontinuity -- but not any more or less than the apparent discontinuity of, for example, a young earth view of Genesis. The problem you want to underscore is the apparent scientific problems of YEC; the problem for the Augustinian reading of Genesis is that, from the standpoint of hermeneutics, it creates a system which requires us to deconstruct the rest of Scripture much farther than even Augustine himself was willing to go.

Stefan Ewing said...
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Stefan Ewing said...

Centuri0n's comment notwithstanding, the question of whether Adam and Eve were real, historical people in time and space—through whom sin came into the world—does not stand or fall on the length of the seven days in Genesis 1:1 to 2:4.

I write this as someone who used to think that everything from Genesis 1 to 50 (forget 1 to 11) was pure, unadulterated myth. (That God can extend His grace and mercy even to an atheist such as I was is a miracle.)

vetpath said...

Strong Tower,

I do agree that the rising of the sun is provable as you stated, but I think the question of sin falls into a different category.

Unlike the rising of the sun where can be many witnesses to one action, and many witnesses to the consequesnce of that action (like sunlight) there cannot be that many witnesses to a single persons actions. At least not to every persons actions.

I have talked with many people who claim they have never violated their conscience, and who claim they have never sinned. I did not believe them, becasue as you said it is reasonable to assume they have sinned. But unless they are willing to read the Bible with me or let me interrogate them I will never be able to prove it.

But that is an academic point. I really don't disagree with the assumption that all have sinned. Thats what the Bible says and I have enough experience with the Bible to believe what it says without proof of every claim. The claim of the resurrection is enough to prove every other claim the Bible makes.

I did bring up the question of why must we extrapolate the origin of our sinful acts? At some level its curiosity, or our nature to want to know things (just like Eve). But the idea that the Bible unequivocally proclaims the origin of our sin to be Adam is a stretch. Why? Because it cannot be rationalized with every Biblical account of people who sin or do good. Romans also states that Abraham was made righteous because of his faith. And he proved his faith by what he did. Actions, either right or wrong are the Biblical measuring stick for righteousness. Acts produced by faith were deemed righteous by God in the case of Abraham. And in the same way Jesus' act of sacrifice allows us all to become righteous through faith. And that faith must produce action in our lives.

As far as the origin of sin, its not as central as our faith to defining our relationship to God.

Strong Tower said...

JD said- Jesus told us that without moral understanding, there is no guilt for sin...

Which is exactly backwards from what Jesus really said: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains." Their confession was that they did have moral understanding, and for claiming to have moral understanding they were condemned. The reality was because they had no moral understanding to understand that they did not understand. It would have been the truth had they said they did not understand the difference between good and evil, for their thoughts were continuously evil, John 8:44.

"'For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.'

"So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel. And the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.” When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands."

And this Moses spoke to those so called children who knew not good nor evil. The fact is the statement about them not knowing good and evil, was not that they were not condemned in Adam. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the immediate context of the rebellion. And the children were not part of that particular incident. To confirm though that the sinfulness that they would in the future be held accountable for was already in their hearts both Moses and Joshua call them as witnesses against themselves that they are a hardhearted bunch of children, rebellious, who will sin because of their sinfulness. Far from being exhoneration because of lacking moral accountability due to age, it is condemnation because just being who they are, they are condemned, regardless of age.

"Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

The first of these out of Ezekial is a "mocking" jesture by God. Before someone jumps down my throat, just how is it that a person can create within them a new heart, or a new Spirit? The fact that God has made them as they are comes through loud and clear. What man was there who could ever have kept all the things listed here. It is the same case as with Moses and Joshua, all souls are the Lords, he knows what is in the hearts he made them. Could they then be saved by the mere actions of men? Let them depart from iniquity, if they can. The problem is they cannot. They will not die for the sin of another, but the sin into which they were born from which they cannot extricate themselves unless the second passage of Ezekial happens. And, then it is not because they do righteousness on their own, but God prophesies that they will be made to walk in his statutes by his Spirit. Again, far from being a passage that says that we are individually responsible for the conditions of condemnation, the opposite is the case. It establishes that it is not within the command of man to call into existence good or evil, to create for himself a good heart, or a bad one. He cannot make himself good, and he did not make himself bad. That came through the act of another. Man's nature is a creation of God, not of the creature. It is evidence of rebellion to say that we can by human action change creation. It is only God who is God, who calls things that are not as though they were, who says: And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Anonymous said...

Cent: My point has not been the historical Adam. It has been on Phil's statement that "Those who want to treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth destroy the doctrine of original sin." I never said anything about Adam. My point has been that people can, and have, read Genesis 1-11 as 'symbolism' and/or 'myth' and have still been able to affirm the doctrine of original sin. Again, I did not say anything about the historicity of Adam. You did.

it's a completely-phony dicotomy to demand that some account is either "allegorical" or "historical"

I agree with this. This is why Phil's statement seemed so odd to me. Why can someone now view Genesis 1-11 as 'symbolism' or 'myth' that is, in its essence or root historical? This is what it seems those theologians I have named are doing. They are not reading it as literal, one-to-one history, but they aren't denying the basic historicity of it either.

Dan: You're telling us that you think that John Murray, Bavinck, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and John Frame "treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth" rather than as history?

Now you're getting it!

Anonymous said...

It boggles my mind how many Christians do not understand this basic concept: we are sinful. Grace is not grace it all if we are not.

There is some speculation that the reason God created the Tree of Life was to reward the first couple for obedience, or to somehow bring Eve back if she had sinned but not Adam. Just speculation.


FX Turk said...


Your literary categories are being misapplied.

"myth" means "a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence". I admit it -can- mean "traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon", which can also be called "legend"; however, this doesn't work out very well in describing Genesis 1-11 either specifically because of the theologically-necessary people Noah, Cain, Abel, and most importantly Adam and Eve.

In Augustine's view, as I remember his argument in "The literal interpretation of Genesis", Genesis is not a "symbollic" treatment of creation, either: it is intended to speak to the matter with the intention of revealing something about the universe which cannot be perceived by human observation but at the same time does not deny the results of human observation. I think it is called the "framework interpretation" of Genesis (thx, wikipedia), and at any rate Augustine ascribes this passage of Scripture to be extremely difficult to interpret is it has consequences on the rest of Scripture which must be reconciled to it.

Your loose categories here in trying to wag a finger at Phil here doesn't do you views any good. You can certainly find people who will take a liberal approach to Scripture. That doesn't make the traditional Baptist view of Scripture inconsistent: it makes it one among others which holds it own pretty well.

James Scott Bell said...

Further from MacArthur:

"Another interesting thing that occurs numerous times in the Old Testament, is that children (including those who die) are referred to as “innocent.” The Hebrew word that is used for “innocent” is used numerous times in the Old Testament to refer to “not being guilty” — literally, “being taken to court and found ‘not guilty.’” In fact, the OT refers to the babies that were passed through the fire to Moloch [false god] as the “innocents,” so I believe that God, prior to the “age of accountability” treats them as “innocent.” It doesn’t mean that they are not fallen; it doesn’t mean that they are not sinful — it does mean that God mercifully treats them as “innocent” in spite of that, and He has to exercise grace to do that, just as He exercises grace to save those who believe. "

DJP said...

Judah — prove it.

Preson said...

Much of our historical research today tells us that
the creation account in Genesis was actually "borrowed" ( I guess you would say) from much early Mesopotamian accounts. If you recall, they had a nine day creation account with (whereas the OT account has 6 days, day 3 having 2 events and day 6 also having 2 events), and the point of the six day creation was to emphasize the justice of the Lord through the Sabbath - the rest of every creature under a loving God.
They also had very similar stories including a snake stealing a plant of life and replacing it with a a plant of the knowledge of good and evil. All of these accounts are dated FAR before our OT account.
The point of the creation account is not to tell us "how we got here" (which the author/compiler knew very little about), but rather to explain "what we are doing here" (which the author knew everything about).
I didn't really think that people still took it as a literal scientific way of thinking.

DJP said...

So you think that the historical narration of ex nihilo, fiat creation by one infinite-personal God in a seven-day span, with morally/spiritually-defining declarations, doesn't say anything about "how we got here"? One wonders what you think is lacking.

Further, in this case, the "how" is critical for understanding both the "what" and the "why."

Your final statement is also mistaken; there is every reason to believe that the prophets, apostles, and Lord Jesus Himself took the narrative as real-time history.

James Scott Bell said...

Preson, what makes you think Genesis "borrowed" from some pagan accounts? It was the pagan accounts that bastardized the facts -- facts which antedated civilization.

Genesis "set the record straight."

Strong Tower said...


Yeah, the emotional appeal is made by many in the reformed camp. Boettner does a good job of laying out such arguments. We fall prey to the same sappy love song of the flesh that others do, as Waldron says:(Scriptural)" ...considerations as these, while not fitted to satisfy carnal curiousity, are fitted to calm the aching heart of the bereaved, but submissive child of God." It just feels right that God saves some because there is some redeeming virtue in them. The problem is, there is scant inferred support for any such notion, and no direct support at all, in Scripture. The 1689 simply states that it is the elect infants and I simply understand that God is just and what his disposition of the "innocents" is is good no matter what.

We will run into a quandry, however, if we follow the line of reasoning that there is an age of accountability when eternal destiny is a matter of choice. If we assume that all infants, and not just the elect infants will be saved before the age of accountability, then abortion and infanticide would seemly be a mercy justified. It could be argued that it is not murder technically, since by doing so one is actually insuring life. We would effectively become anti-choice for the infants and children in a real justifiable prochoice sense as the guardians of their eternal destiny. It would only make practical sense, being what was best for the child, that they should not live long enough to screw up.

S.J. Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.J. Walker said...


I have a simple question. If you do not believe the Bible, think it a copy, a foolish rendition perhaps. Why call yourself Christian? Why come here?

It's like telling everyone you love and enjoy football when you actually love cricket. The point being you can't have it both ways.

Strong Tower said...


You mean borrowed from like accounts written down by Shem and his descendants?

S.J. Walker said...

The fact is preson, until you repent of the belief that the Bible is man-made and therefore mediocre at best, you have nothing to argue. You have no base of reference that is from above.

If you believe the Truth, that the Bible is from above, then you can argue the finer points from a base of reference. But until then, we speak completely different languages.

Wyatt Roberts said...


I appreciate your article. However, I'm still trying to reconcile the doctrine of original sin/sin nature in light of my 13-year-old nephew, who is, as I mentioned in another post, severely retarded, cannot feed himself or even speak. I suppose one could say he is an "exception to the rule," except that a rule with exceptions would cease to be a rule.

I'm sure you know in Romans 3:10-18, Paul is quoting from Psalms 14:

Psa 14:1 Fools say to themselves, "There is no God."
They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.
(2) The LORD looks down from heaven at the human race, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God. (3) Everyone rejects God; they are all morally corrupt. None of them does what is right, not even one! (4) All those who behave wickedly do not understand —those who devour my people as if they were eating bread, and do not call out to the LORD. (5) They are absolutely terrified, for God defends the godly. (6) You want to humiliate the oppressed, even though the LORD is their shelter.
(7) I wish the deliverance of Israel would come from Zion! When the LORD restores the well-being of his people, may Jacob rejoice, may Israel be happy!

Granted, I don't have the exegetical expertise you or Dan have, but it sure doesn't sound to me that David is trying to establish a theological doctrinal point about universal sinfulness, but is specifically deriding unbelievers/athiests and/or pagans.

It seems to me that it is one thing to say, as Paul does, that "Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin," which I readily accept as to be a general and true statement. It is another thing, I think, to say that "every single person who has ever lived is a sinner," a statement to which you and I would both be obliged to include at least one, if not more than one, exception.

Preson said...

djp: seven day span? The word that our modern interpretaion "day" derived from didn't even mean "day". It meant an unspecified period of time. It would be dishonest of us to simply state that we know what that specific word (yom) means, when we can't be certain.
Also, I completely agree with the genesis account... we were created to be in perfect intimate relationship with a perfect God, but our lust for searching for happiness led us to taste of the knowledge of good and evil. The garden/tree/serpent (not specified to be lucifer btw) all are metaphors. Sort of like when the scriptures talk about the sun rising (language we still use today). That's why when Gallileo proposed his theories, he was labeled a heretic by the church (despite irrefutable scientific evidence).
The story doesn't change morally or spiritually. Nothing is lacking. Is it really too far fetched to believe that the word was created in a significantly longer period of time, with all of the evidence around us that we have of his handywork?

Johnny D:
There is just too much archeological evidence otherwise. In the same way that Paul pointed out truth at Mars Hill, I don't find it hard to believe that some of our stories weren't relevant to their day, even to the point of using them and pointing out truth, and directing it towards the Lord.

Don't go all taking everything out of context. The fact is that a majority of evangelical universities in the states teach Theistic evolution. While I don't necessarily hold to those views, I just wanted to point out that interpretation is always the biggest divider. I call myself a Christian, because I believe in the saving gospel of Jesus. And I hate...HATE football.
btw... I don't believe the bible is man made, We speak the same language, just from two different parts of educational background and denomination, and understanding of historic narratives. While we would differ allot on early OT writings, we probably wouldn't be that far off on NT theology.

No, not shem. Ancient Neolithic mesopatamian texts are what I'm talking about.

Wyatt Roberts said...


I think Judah may be referring to these kinds of statements by Augustine:

"It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation." (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1:19–20 [A.D. 408]).

Preson said...

sorry for all the typos, it's very hard to type on an IPhone. Steve Jobbes lied.

farmboy said...

preson suggests that "The point of the creation account is not to tell us 'how we got here' (which the author/compiler knew very little about)..."

Actually, the ultimate Author/Compiler, i.e. the Holy Spirit, knew everything about how we got here. He was there when the triune God created out of nothing. He participated in the creative effort. In Genesis 1:2 "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (ESV)

preson suggests that "Much of our historical research today tells us that
the creation account in Genesis was actually 'borrowed' ( I guess you would say) from much early Mesopotamian accounts."

What of the research that suggests the borrowing went the other way? Compare the harmonious creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2 with the competing pagan accounts. Which account stands out from the rest? The harmonious accounts contained in Genesis 1 and 2 have an order, structure and logic about them that one cannot find in the competing pagan accounts. From the very beginning of God revealing Himself through both general and special revelation, He has stood out as the one, true God, different from all the competing pagan gods. Similarly, from the very beginning, God's called out people have stood out as different from the pagan people groups that surrounded them.

farmboy said...

preson critiques as follows: "djp: seven day span? The word that our modern interpretaion 'day' derived from didn't even mean 'day'. It meant an unspecified period of time. It would be dishonest of us to simply state that we know what that specific word (yom) means, when we can't be certain."

This critique would be on much firmer ground if the word "yom" appeared by itself in Genesis 1. However, the word "yom" is part of an idiom as follows: "And there was evening and there was morning, the first/second/third/fourth/fifth/sixth day." When interpreting Genesis 1, one has to make sense of "yom" within the context of this idiom.

There's nothing, God speaks, an instant later there's something. Given this Divine process of creating out of nothing, a day after Adam was created, how old was he? Chronologically, he was one day old. Biologically, he was a mature male. From this perspective, based on the evidence, Adam was, say, 20 years old. Same goes for the mountains, a day after the mountains were created, how old were they? Chronologically, they were one day old. Geologically, they were mature mountains. From this perspective, based on the evidence, they were thousands of years old. By creating out of nothing, God created mature things that were, at the same time, young. No, it's not difficult to believe in six, 24-hour days. Without the idiom in Genesis 1, the hard part would be believing that the days were as long as 24 hours. Unless God talked really, really slow, it wouldn't take anywhere near 24 hours to speak each days list of created items into being.

The Author of special revelation is also the Author of general revelation. Thus, the evidence from special revelation is perfectly consistent with the evidence from general revelation. When there appears to be a conflict between evidence from these two sources, when push-comes-to-shove, I'm going with special revelation over general revelation. There have been too many significant revisions in humanity's understanding of general revelation, to give the evidence from general revelation primacy.

Mike Riccardi said...

I always thought the notion that the Bible doesn't speak as to how everything was created was just nuts.

In the beginning (time) God (force) created (energy) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. ... For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. -- Psalm 33:6, 9

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.

Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them"; and it was so.

Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so.

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so.

And obviously someone can say that Genesis 1-11 isn't historical and there's original sin. Anyone can say anything. The point that Phil was making is that that's inconsistent. Paul used Adam's actual historical personhood to demonstrate the reality of original sin. If one denies that Adam was really there, he cuts the legs off of Paul's argument that all of humanity is sinful because of something that an actual Adam actually did, in Romans 5:12-21.

We won't be honoring to God by being good stewards of His truth (2Tim 1:14), cutting a straight course through it (2Tim 2:15) as long as our PhDs, MDivs, and academic egos blind us from seeing the face of God in Christ.

S.J. Walker said...


"While we would differ allot on early OT writings, we probably wouldn't be that far off on NT theology."

That is where you slide something by. But there is no difference. The OT point ahead to Christ, the NT gives us Christ in the flesh. We differ on more than you might think sir.

Phil Johnson said...


The issue of how dying infants (and people with severe mental disabilities) can be saved is actually a separate question from the doctrine of original sin. It's my conviction that infants (as well as people with severely limited mental capacity) are saved simply and only because God is gracious; certainly not because they themselves are sinless. They are not "exceptions" to the doctrine of original sin; they are reminders that the only hope of salvation for anyone is divine grace, not human ability.

The doctrine of original sin is too vital to set aside just because we don't like its ramifications. However, its necessary ramifications do not include the belief that babies or severely disabled people are automatically doomed to hell. In fact, I think there's a tincture of Arminianism in that assumption, because it assumes that if someone is incapable of doing something to save himself, he cannot be saved at all.

That's an abbreviated answer to your question, not an attempt to open a discussion about infants who die in this thread. Someday, I'll post on that subject. Let's save the larger discussion of that topic for then.


On another subject, why do we have a sudden influx of atheist trolls commenting here? What's that about?

To all:

Please don't egg anyone on whose only point in commenting here seems to be putting on a sideshow. If a person's comments and/or profile suggest he's here only to disrupt things for sport, ignore him or her. See rule 5.

Theophilus said...

I don't see why people can have a problem with Adam as federal head, with us as heirs of his sin, if by exactly the same transaction, Jesus *Last Adam* is the federal head by whom we are heirs to righteousness.

We agree to Christ as Federal Head, without complaint, why buck against Adam? Oh, right. Fallen nature.

As to our being evil:

Jesus said "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts..."

John: If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

What sin that can be named (murder, rape, genocide, wearing white after Labor day, etc) can be greater than rejecting God?

We need no OTHER manifestation of our evil beyond our ingratitude to Him. All other expressions of our wickedness are redundant.

If this thread is still active when I get my Systematic Theology book handy (Reymond), there was a great explanation on how gen 11 and 12 are naturally linked in a judgement / redemption pattern evident throughout genesis. Creating an artificial break between 11 and 12 (if I remember the explanation) disrupts this pattern.

Ah, one of you will problably handle it.

FX Turk said...

Well, you know, I can ignore Wyatt because he first ignored me. Or something like that.

That said, preson, your view about the Hebrew word "yom" (or "yowm", as it says in Strong's) is sort of exploded in its dual use by Gen 1:5, and by the fact that the "yowm"s in Gen 1 are all concluded by "evening and morning". Can "yowm" mean "some period of time not specifically measured"? Sure -- it's used that way in Gen 5:4, where the plural form indicates the span of a life, or Gen 19:37 where it indicates the present as "this very day". But it is always used to indicate a span of one usual day when it is contexted with details like "evening" and "morning".

I would concede a couple of things, however, in talking about Gen 1-3. The first is that the passage is not about a scientific description of events -- it doesn't attempt to be the first naturalistic cosmology by any means. But in that, it forms the basis for non-naturalistic scientific endeavors -- by demanding that the world is knowable because it was formed by a creator, who had an intention in bringing it forth.

The second thing I would also concede is that these chapters must, in some way, be theological in nature above and beyond any phenomenology the text represents. But in that, we cannot merely brush aside the things described as being somehow irrelevant or immaterial to what the text tells us. For example, the point that Genesis 1-3 is formed in such a way that it points to the sabbath is a brilliant insight -- but it is an insight which is unsustainable unless the events occur in actual days and not in theoretical days or unspecified periods of time.

And that said, in spite of those concessions, the strongest case for reading Genesis 1 as it comes is that we have the problem of hermeneutics to deal with -- that is, how do we read the rest of Genesis, and the rest of the Bible, if we must somehow romanticize the creation account so that it doesn't intrude on our alleged grasp of science? Every marker we would use to make Genesis into a sort of once-upon-a-time tale is in evidence in other places of the Bible which we would never want to extract from its place in history as actual events.

DJP said...

Sorry, only time for a rushed response:

Your depiction of yom as if it were some gleep or bloop with no specific referent is simply incorrect. There is no occurrence of yom with a number that is certainly other than a 24-hour day period. Further, Exodus 20:8-11 — penned by the same author — pretty well settles it. Unless you have an axe to grind.

Further, there is no evidence whatever that any apostle or prophet, or our Lord, treated that narrative as merely metaphorical. And if metaphorical, metaphorical of what events? Why not relate the events?

That approach doesn't come from the text.

Sorry, gotta run.

James Scott Bell said...
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James Scott Bell said...

Preson, you're committing a classic logical fallacy. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. You may be familiar with it, but if not look it up on Wiki or someplace like that.

"There is just too much archeological evidence otherwise."

There is not one datum of such "evidence" that does not fall victim to the above fallacy. Your argument is based on a faulty premise, that chronology proves causality.

James Scott Bell said...

I was with you Phil, until this:

"In fact, I think there's a tincture of Arminianism in that assumption, because it assumes that if someone is incapable of doing something to save himself, he cannot be saved at all."

That's a throway by you, of course, so I'll throwaway this: that's completely baseless.

If you'd like to make it the subject of a post later, great. I'll leave off till then.

The rest of your post, aces. I look forward to more on the infant question, as I take the Mohler line: they are, in fact, innocent.

Strong Tower said...

Preson said- Ancient Neolithic mesopatamian texts are what I'm talking about.

Yeah, the descendants of Shem. It only makes sense that there would be similar stories and perversions of the original. Doesn't it? Or, does it matter that the Scripture records that Mesopotamia was settled by Shemites?

Solameanie said...

Phil: tincture of Arminianism

Hmm. I see another TeamPyro graphic coming, sort of like the old brown bottles of tincture of Benzoin one used to get from the pharmacist.

Strong Tower said...

Phil said- "So how did Adam's guilt get passed on to you and me?"

But so far, we have discussed for the most part "original sin" which Phil said would be a subject for latter.

Original sin, meaning sin derived from our origin, is not a biblical phrase (Augustine coined it), but it is one that brings into fruitful focus the reality of sin in our spiritual system. The assertion of original sin means not that sin belongs to human nature as God made it (God made mankind upright, Eccles. 7:29), nor that sin is involved in the processes of reproduction and birth (the uncleanness connected with menstruation, semen, and childbirth in Leviticus 12 and 15 was typical and ceremonial only, not moral and real), but that (a) sinfulness marks everyone from birth, and is there in the form of a motivationally twisted heart, prior to any actual sins; (b) this inner sinfulness is the root and source of all actual sins; (c) it derives to us in a real though mysterious way from Adam, our first representative before God. The assertion of original sin makes the point that we are not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners, born with a nature enslaved to sin. J.I. Packer

In commencing the investigation of the doctrine of original sin, we naturally start from one distinct and unambiguous statement of Scripture; and we know of no one at once so plain and full as the affirmation of St Paul, that man is by nature a child of wrath. The doctrine of a guilty nature in man is taught either by implication, or by an explicit detail, in other passages in Paul's Epistles, in the Psalms of David, in the Epistles of John, in the Prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and in the teachings of Christ; but perhaps no single text of Scripture enounces the doctrine so briefly and comprehensively as this. It makes specific mention of the two principal characteristics of human sinfulness, (l) its depth, and, by implication, its universality; and (2) its guilt. After all that may be said upon this boundless subject, in its various relations to man, to the universe, and to God, the whole substance of the doctrine may be crowded into a very narrow compass. When we have said that man is by nature a child of wrath, when we have said, that sin is a nature, and that this nature is guilt, we have said in substance all that can be said. The most exhaustive investigation of the subject will not reveal any feature or element that is not contained by implication in this brief statement. WGT Shed

The difference between these two inextricably intertwined ideas really needs to be defined. This is an ongoing discussion of total depravity, which would include orignal sin, but not necessarily imputation. Original is a term which does not refer to Adam, where imputation necessarily does. Original refers to the individual, that is, in his original state, that is at the point of his origin, namely conception, though many will say birth the consideration is the same.

Phil wanted to speak of transmission, or, imputation of sin or guilt- but as is the case with the quotes above, the two are difficult to separate. Thus far the only stream of this thread that has approached that is the discussion of derivation by associated history. But, that was the subject.

In the quotes above the answer to how guilt is transmitted is necessarily tied to the origin, or the depraved nature. Guilt is in possessing the nature. It is who we are, guilty. The question then must become: how does the nature come to us, or, how is it that we have original sin? Further then is, that if it is not guilt for Adam's act, for that action was his own, but our possession of a sinful nature made in the image of his which incurs guilt resulting in condemnation, then isn't the transmission of the nature really the question? And, how is it that we acquire a sinful nature? It was because of what Adam did, true, but how it is that we are conceived with a sinful nature and the guilt that clings to it is another action taken, not by Adam, for nature is not physical, but spiritual, and death was the sentence for Adam's rebellion decreed and imposed by God. It was not the act of rebellion that cursed him, but God for the act of rebellion. Then finally, where does the fallen nature derive its substance?

To this end the Mohler and MacArthur snippets are inadequate. For, it is the mere possessing of the fallen nature, not a willful act but an act nontheless, that incurs guilt. We are then forced to look to a discription of sin as it was original in Satan. Again, the word orgin refers to its primal existence in the individual. Of Lucifer it was said, "until the day that sin was found..." The word found means to arise from within, in short it was his nature. Of Judas is is said that he was a devil from the beginning. In the event of Achan, it was not the innocents that had done anything wrong yet were put to death, but merely the presence of sin in the camp. Also, with David, his counting of the people cost the lives of those who were innocent of the act. It was again, the presence of evil in the heart of Israel's king that incurred guilt and the condemnation of it.

What is common about the introduction of sin in each case is that it was put there by a foreign agent. The question of how the nature is transmitted is not a question of Adamic headship. That only answers the why. Transmission is not a good word for it, either. Inheritance is a better word, yet it still leaves us with how it is that the why of the bequeather was carried out.

This is running us toward an end that we really do not want to discuss, and that is, how does the individual nature come into existence? For the ancients it was left at the doorstep of mystery because they found it impossible that God would be the creator of it and God remain good.

When we say that we inherit Adam's sinfulness, it is not his, but ours which is a likeness of his. Jesus put it this way, you are of your father the devil. And we know why we are, but the how still is shrouded. There is no physicality to nature (it is not in your genes), so there is no lineage of transmission in the physical. There is no continuum of soul from one person to another, there is no cosmic Gaia. Each man's soul is created independently of our father Adam. Then we are forced to this consideration, that sin is found in us from our origin, and that orign is not of us.

kangaroodort said...

Sorry, could let this one go.

Djp wrote:

Your depiction of yom as if it were some gleep or bloop with no specific referent is simply incorrect. There is no occurrence of yom with a number that is certainly other than a 24-hour day period.

"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day [yom] that the Lord made earth and heaven." Gen. 2:4

Unless I misunderstood your above point, I guess we can then conclude that the entire creation event took place in a 24 hour time span. Interesting.

Mike Riccardi said...

You misunderstood. There's no numerical referent in Gen 2:4.

Stefan Ewing said...

Farmboy, Cent, Dan:

Thanks for pointing out that which is so obvious, that I completely overlooked it: "yom" in Genesis 1 = "evening + morning." Duh. I've been seduced by the day-age hypothesis—well, it was a way for this materialistic evolutionist to "ease into" creationism without too much mental shock.

Between your comments and Mike's, the synthesis (yuck - Hegelian dialectics) seems to be that "yom" can mean a period other than 24 hours, unless there is a specific time referent (e.g., "evening + morning"), in which case the only logical conclusion is that it denotes a 24-hour period.

Unless each evening and each morning was, say, a million years long.... (Ducks, runs, and hides.)


As someone who studied just enough Physics to get a headache from all the equations, I appreciated this summary, albeit interchanging "force" and "energy":

In the beginning (time) God (energy) created (force) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).

Being incorporeal, could we not say that God is pure energy with no mass? And creation would be an act of force....

Mike Riccardi said...

If it makes ya feel better, Stefan, sure. The phrase is borrowed from MacArthur, so I have no stock in defending it either way. He puts it that way, and actually says "action" instead of energy because he's responding specifically to Herbert Spencer's idea.

I guess I'm thinking that the force that acts upon something is the cause for an effect. Energy is that by which the force acts.

Stefan Ewing said...

Uh oh, I'm going up against Johnny Mac! I like my gloss, but I'd have to work through the physics equations, because if God were pure energy and no mass, Einstein's most famous equation (E = mc^2) would work out to zero (assuming it's correct).

Ah, the folly of overanalysis....

DJP said...

Kangaroodordt — the response is in the words you evidently copied, but did not read.

Mike Riccardi — thanks for actually reading before commenting. Way to a writer's heart.

kangaroodort said...


Kangaroodordt — the response is in the words you evidently copied, but did not read.

I did admit that I may have misunderstood you Dan. However, I am having a hard time seeing where the misunderstanding lies. I have read and re-read them; so for the sake of my stupidity could you please explain how I misunderstood your comments?


Mike Riccardi said...


I know I'm not Dan, but I share his position so I hope I'm qualified to resopnd. He was saying that yom with a numerical qualifier always refers to a specific 24-hour period. There is no numerical referent in Gen 2:4. I suppose you were thinking "the" marks it numerically, but that's not the case. Illustration: What number comes after "the"?

Throughout the creation account, Moses keeps on saying, "and there was evening, and there was morning, the first day... the second day... the third day, etc." The "first, second, third" are all numerical qualifiers before yom. Every time yom has one of these, it refers to a 24-hour period.

"The," though it may be inflected for number (I'm not sure if it is or not), is not a numerical qualifier. Again, what number comes after "the"?

Hope that was helpful. Excuse me again for not being Dan and responding anyway.

kangaroodort said...


Thanks for the clarification. If that is what djp meant then I have certainly misunderstood him. I thought that he was saying that yom was never used without specific reference to a 24 hour solar day. I do think his comments were somewhat ambiguous on that point so I must say that I think his response was uncalled for, and most unhelpful. I appreicate your explanation and gracious tone.

God Bless,

DJP said...

Mike's right, again, roo. It's in that part you quoted, "There is no occurrence of yom with a number that is certainly other than a 24-hour day period."

Not every occurrence of yom. Every occurrence of yom with a[n ordinal or cardial] number.