Friday, July 22, 2005

INHERITING THE FATHER'S SIN

You know that the beginning of a journey can be just as important as its end. If you start in the wrong place, you are probably going to end up in the wrong place. Throw one wrong ingredient into the mixture and the recipe is spoiled. Biblical teaching can be corrupted in the same way.

It is often taught that sin is inherited. But is it true? Ezekiel addresses this very point when he says: "the person who sins will die." It is obvious that the prophet is speaking of spiritual death-not physical death which no one can avoid-as resulting from one's own sin(s). Though the Bible speaks the language of personal responsibility, there are mainstream teachers of the Bible who teach eternal damnation through inherited sin. Misunderstanding this will likely lead to other religious errors.

Hal Lindsey, author of the best seller Late Great Planet Earth, said something a couple of years ago that illustrates this confusion. He wrote, "Why is the virgin birth of Christ so important? Since the sin of the human race is passed down through the father, Jesus had to be born without a human father. Otherwise He would have been born with the same curse of sin upon him as the rest of mankind. Thus He would not have qualified to bear the penalty of sin for us. He had to have a human mother to have a true human nature, but as the Scripture clearly states, God Himself was the father of His human nature ("Born of a Virgin", World Net Daily, 12/27/2002, Accessed: Feb. 14, 2003). The implication is that Jesus could have had a human father if they didn't pass on inherited sin!

Without Biblical support, Lindsay said something that is profoundly wrong and he expected that everyone would accept it. He said "since the sin of the human race is passed down through the father...." Jesus' miraculous birth had absolutely nothing to do with circumventing some inherited sin thing.

Lindsey answered a very good question about "why the virgin birth?", but he gave a completely wrong answer for the necessity of it. He answers "why a virgin birth" by saying that if Joseph was his biological father He would have been born with sin. Without explanation, he makes the confident assertion that a "sin nature" is passed on, and only through the father. This false doctrine of "paternal heredity of original sin" is commonly taught by Calvinist and is how Lindsey explains a sinless Jesus.

Sin is not passed down. Anyone who knows Jesus agrees that He was without sin, but it has nothing to do with Joseph not being his biological father. This doctrine is completely unnecessary if you understand that SIN IS NOT PASSED DOWN. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20)

But doesn't the Bible teach that "death spread to all men"? In speaking of the spiritual separation from God, Paul writes that "death spreads to all men, BECAUSE ALL SINNED." Paul doesn't say sin spread to "all men" at conception. Spiritual death does not spread to all men by virtue of "paternal hereditary sin", but death spreads to all men because all men do what Adam did: they disobey God.

Lindsey digs himself into deeper error by saying, "He had to have a human mother to have a true human nature." What, Mary did and Joseph didn't have a true human nature? Does he really believe that only women have a "true human nature" and men don't! According to Lindsey, if a man and woman have a son and daughter, the sin nature and "curse of sin" are transferred through the father and not the mother. Does Lindsey believe that the sin nature is passed on only to the son and not to the daughter, including Mary? Or does he believe that the sin nature is also passed on to the daughters, but they are unable to pass it on to their offspring? Does he believe that sons inherit the sin nature while daughters retain a "true human nature?" If the doctrine of hereditary sin were true, why wouldn't Mary's father have "passed down" the sin nature to her? Catholics believe in inherited sin too, but they explain Jesus' sinless nature by teaching that Mary's own conception was miraculous ("The Immaculate Conception: In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin." Catholic Encyclopedia) and therefore they have no need of the "paternal hereditary sin" which Lindsey relies on. Both Immaculate Conception and Paternal Hereditary Sin are false, but one or the other is necessary if you believe that Jesus' sinlessness relies on first his bypassing the so-called "original sin".

The question Lindsey asks is an important one to answer: "Why was Jesus born of a virgin?" The correct answer is that He was born of a virgin so that He could "become flesh." He was "God with us" and He was "flesh and blood." Jesus came to be both the Son of Man and the Son of God: the Son of Man because his mother was a human and the Son of God because He was "the only begotten Son of God" through the Holy Spirit (Mt. 1:20 "the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.") Jesus was not born of God--instead of Joseph--to prevent His being born with sin. Jesus was born of God because God wanted to come and dwell as a man and experience everything that man experiences, 'yet without sin'' (see Philippians 2:5ff).

Lindsey is way off the mark when he says, "Since the sin of the human race is passed down through the father, Jesus had to be born without a father." This is an example of one error begetting another error. One error usually creates another one. Lindsey's first error is in teaching that "sin is passed down." His second error is in teaching that a sin nature is passed down through the biological father. And his third error is in the explanation that only the woman had the "true human nature."

Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) because God wanted His Son to be human. Jesus was "the only begotten of God"-and not Joseph's biological son-- because He was part of the eternal Godhead. If both parents of Jesus were human, then Jesus would not be anything other than human. There is no such thing as an inherited sin nature that is PASSED DOWN through the Father, contrary to what Hal Lindsey says.
_________
Sin of commission and omission
Moses in the Promised Land
Repentance is Real change beyond believing only

12 comments:

  1. Well said, clearly written and reasoned. Thank you.

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  2. Hi 10,000 yds.
    Thank you.

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  3. Contrary to your assertion, Catholics do not hold that they “explain Jesus' sinless nature by teaching that Mary's own conception was miraculous.” If this were the case then Mary’s Mother, Anne would have to have been conceived without sin, and Anne’s Mother also, all the way back to our first parent’s Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were certainly created without sin. But there is no evidence for a line of sinless people. The Catholic Church does not teach that Christ’s perfect human nature is on account of Blessed Virgin Mary. (“…all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48) so I call her blessed here.)

    I agree with you, and the Catholic Church agrees with you, that “Jesus' miraculous birth had absolutely nothing to do with circumventing some inherited sin thing.”

    While I can’t directly comment on Hal Lindsey’s theology, I can comment on verses of Sacred Scripture that explain Original Sin (a.k.a. “inherited sin”, “sin passed down”).

    Original Sin is the term used to describe a reality that is found in Sacred Scripture: the sin of our first parent’s Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.

    In principle there are different types of sin described in Sacred Scripture. Original sin is distinct from personal sin, just as personal sin can be categorized as mortal and venial: “All wrong doing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal” (1 John 5:17). The gifts that Adam and Eve lost were lost, so they could not be passed down to their children, including us today. For example, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:15). Enmity was not originally between our First Parents. God put it there. He tells us so. This enmity was passed down to all their descendents: the whole human race. This “lack of enmity” was lost. We inherit this loss. It is passed down to us today in what is called historically called Original Sin. Apart from personal sins that we commit, enmity is there as we all experience.

    The reality of Original Sin (a.k.a. “inherited sin”, “sin passed down”) is presented in the book of Romans as well:

    “Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” (Romans 5:14-15). The author of Romans makes a distinction between personal sin (transgressions which we are personally culpable for) and the sin of Adam (“transgression of Adam”). “One man’s trespass” is the sin of Adam (shorthand for both Adam and Eve, just as "man" includes both men and women) and many have suffered because of it.

    “Then just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18). Condemnation for ALL, was because the sin of one man, Adam. “One man’s act of righteousness” was through Jesus Christ. The King James version states this same verse clearer: "Therefore, as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation."

    “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Have all people committed actual sins? What about an unborn baby? Jacob and Esau were unborn babies “and had done nothing either good or bad” (Romans 9:11). What about an infant below the age of reason? Of course not. Sinning requires the ability to reason and the ability to intend to sin. What about Jesus? Hebrews 4:15 indicates not, “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.”

    There are exceptions to “all”. This is clear from Sacred Scripture. It is just the way human language works. For example, “all in the town turned out for the Fourth of July parade.” Well, the elderly and sick, perhaps did not go to the parade as the text would indicate. Blessed Virgin Mary can be an exception as well. “All have sinned” does not HAVE to include her.

    By the way, just watching the nightly news is enough evidence to see the consequences of both Original Sin and personal sin!

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  4. Pazdziernik,

    According to Catholic encyclopedias, they believe that Mary's conception was immaculate or free from stain. The stain according to them is original sin. They believe that all humans are born with or inherit a sin nature. In the case of Mary, original sin was never passed on to her. God stepped in before the sin could be joined to her soul. She lived from the time of her conception an a sinless being. This is necessary to a Catholic so that Jesus, having been conceieved by the Holy Spirit, not be corrupted by a hereditary original sin. While Catholics do not assert that Mary's conception was miraculous in the sense that it did not involve a human father and mother, they do assert it was miraculous in that she did not inherit sin.

    I am sure that discpipler will respond, and I cannot speak for him. But, his original post is quite clear and convincing in its proof that any teaching on original sin is false.

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  5. God is God He can do what he wants. Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from all sin (Original and personal) by the grace of God and redeemed through the merits of Christ from the first moment of her conception. In my previous reply I showed Scriptural evidence for the reality that is called Original Sin. All men and women inherit Original Sin as a rule. But there are exceptions as Scripture itself indicates.

    “This is necessary to a Catholic so that Jesus, having been conceieved by the Holy Spirit, not be corrupted by a hereditary original sin” is not Catholic teaching. Jesus could have been born of a sinful woman but He was not. If you found this in a “Catholic encyclopedia” I will check it out for myself. Please give the citation.

    A virgin birth is pretty miraculous in the natural order of things. In the supernatural order, birth without sin is miraculous as well. Jesus’ birth without sin did not REQUIRE Mary to have been free from OS. I pointed this out in my previous post. God can work miracles. God is God He can do what he wants.

    “While Catholics do not assert that Mary's conception was miraculous in the sense that it did not involve a human father and mother, they do assert it was miraculous in that she did not inherit sin.” True. I posted previously principally about Original Sin and where it is found in the Bible. To properly understand Mary’s Immaculate Conception one first has to understand the reality of Original Sin as presented in the Bible.

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  6. Thanks for commenting on the article.

    I'm not sure of your background, but the Catholic Encyclopedia clearly says that Mary was spared original sin by a singular act of grace, and thus would have nothing to say about Mary's mother, or any other person. And because Catholics believe in inherited sin (reference the practice of sprinkling infants to save them from eternal damnation), they believe this act of grace was necessary to ensure that Jesus be without the blemish of original sin.

    You are not likely to be convinced on this subject, but the only sin that the Bible speaks of is personal sin. The Bible shows that sin can be committed two ways: the sins of ommission and the sins of commission (Jas. 4:17, Col. 3:25). These sins of ommission are committed easily enough by simply doing nothing when action is called for.

    The sins of commission are committed by doing what you should not (Rom. 1:29-31; Gal. 5:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:2.

    Concerning the original parents and the "original sin" they committed, there are two issues at hand.
    First, the fallout from Adam's sin is not spiritual separation from God. And that is because sin is not inherited. The fallout or consequence to Adam's sin includes pain and physical death (Genesis 3:16-19). The second issue of concern is how spiritual death spreads each man and woman. The answer is simple: spiritual death occurs only when we sin as Adam sinned.

    The evidence you give for there being original sin is sketchy and given to interpretation.

    1 John 5:7 does not show what you suggest. "The sin that is not mortal" is still committed by the individual and not something with which you are born. What makes a sin "unto death" and the other not has to do with the the spirit of the individual committing the sin. If the person is repentant, it is forgiven and not unto death; but if the sin is not repented of, then it remains unforgiven and is unto death.

    What "gifts" did Adam and Eve lose in their original sin? The Gospel and God's scheme of redemption created the "enmity" which you speak of. Of course, there are physical consequences to sin? But there is no evidence beyond that they were any different from us today. They were full-grown, they knew right and wrong, and they chose to disobey God. This is what man does today and is exactly how men become spiritually lost and separated from God.

    The Romans discussion on Adam's sin is enlightening only if we understand that he is discussing the result of following Adam and Jesus Christ. As Paul says, "death
    spread to all men because all sinned", and not because Adam sinned. Paul's point is that when we follow Adam into sin, there is death. When we follow Christ into righteousness, there is life. The "condemnation for all" is not directly passed on to all men, but only when each sins and falls short of His glory.

    Personal responsibility and choice are gifts from God which are not because of Adam's sin. When Adam was placed in the garden, he had free will and made the choice to disobey. This is how men become lost today.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Catholic doctrine does in fact require that Mary be conceived without the stain of original sin to allow for the incarnate Son to be without it.

    From Wikipedia, "The Roman Catholic Church believes the dogma is supported by scripture and by the writings of many of the Church Fathers, either directly or indirectly, and often calls Mary the Blessed Virgin (Luke 1:48). Roman Catholic theology maintains that since Jesus became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, she needed to be completely free of sin to bear the Son of God, and that Mary is "redeemed 'by the grace of Christ' but in a more perfect manner than other human beings" (Ott, Fund., Bk 3, Pt. 3, Ch. 2, §3.1.e)."

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  9. Thanks for the citation from Wikipedia:

    The Roman Catholic Church believes the dogma is supported by scripture and by the writings of many of the Church Fathers either directly or indirectly, and often calls Mary the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1;48). Roman Catholic theology maintains that since Jesus became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, she needed to be completely free of sin to bear the Son of God, and that Mary is "redeemed 'by the grace of Christ’ but in a more perfect manner than other human beings" (Ott, Fund., Bk 3, Pt. 3, Ch. 2, §3.1.e).

    It cites Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott. Ott is a sound and reliable Catholic theologian.

    This citation is in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997):

    To become the Mother of the Savior, Mary, “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role” (Lumen Gentium, 56). The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace” (Luke 1:28). In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.” (CCC 490)

    On the contrary both “1000 yds” and “discipler” wrote:

    1000yds wrote:
    "According to Catholic encyclopedias, they believe that Mary's conception was immaculate or free from stain. The stain according to them is original sin. They believe that all humans are born with or inherit a sin nature. In the case of Mary, original sin was never passed on to her. God stepped in before the sin could be joined to her soul. She lived from the time of her conception an a sinless being. This is necessary to a Catholic so that Jesus, having been conceieved by the Holy Spirit, not be corrupted by a hereditary original sin. While Catholics do not assert that Mary's conception was miraculous in the sense that it did not involve a human father and mother, they do assert it was miraculous in that she did not inherit sin."

    Discipler wrote:
    "I'm not sure of your background, but the Catholic Encyclopedia clearly says that Mary was spared original sin by a singular act of grace, and thus would have nothing to say about Mary's mother, or any other person. And because Catholics believe in inherited sin (reference the practice of sprinkling infants to save them from eternal damnation), they believe this act of grace was necessary to ensure that Jesus be without the blemish of original sin. "

    Ott writes of Virgin Mary being free of sin so as being necessary in order to “bear the Son of God.” The Catechism writes of Virgin Mary being “wholly borne by God’s grace” as a necessity in order “to give the free assent of her faith” to her vocation. “Bearing the Son of God” is not limited to material dimensions.

    In your source, Wikipedia, Ott did not write anything about Virgin Mary being free from sin in order that Jesus may also be free from sin.

    Perhaps you either came to this conclusion on your own or you did not read and understand carefully enough your source material.


    Also,
    Contrary to discipler’s assertion “And because Catholics believe in inherited sin (reference the practice of sprinkling infants to save them from eternal damnation),…” the Catholic Church in no way teaches that children who have not been baptized (“sprinkling infants”) are destined for eternal damnation. Children who have died without baptism are entrusted to the mercy of God who is all just.

    The Catechism puts it very nicely:
    With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God’s mercy and to pray for their salvation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1283)

    I am just a simple Catholic. I do not like to see the Catholic Faith misrepresented. It’s not fair. I’m sure that you wouldn’t like to see your teachings misrepresented either.

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  10. Pazdziernik wrote:

    "In your source, Wikipedia, Ott did not write anything about Virgin Mary being free from sin in order that Jesus may also be free from sin."

    On the contrary, though the exact wording is not there, it is necessarily implied that for the Son to become "incarnate" (flesh) without the blemish of original sin, that Mary had to be without original sin--which Catholics and others hold to be passed on under normal circumstances. And according to the Catholic Encyclopedia reference which I gave earlier, by "reason" alone it would be "incongruous" for the flesh from which the flesh of the Son came to have ever been slave to Satan; that is, it would not be fitting for Jesus' flesh to have come from sinful flesh. Why? Because, original sin is believed by many to be passed on from parent to child.

    And concerning the Catholic teaching on infant baptism: "entrusting" the child to the mercy of God is not the same as saying the child is eternally safe. The salvation of anyone's soul is possible only by the mercy of God. That God is merciful is not the issue. A sinless child does not require mercy, but a child who is burdened with original sin and has not been baptized, must require God's mercy? Again, by holding that children are born with original sin and by holding to the practice of sprinkling for the remission of that sin, it necessarily implies a lost state for unsprinkled infants.

    I thank you for the discussion and I assure you that I am responding the best I know how to this important subject of inherited sin. I don't think that we are going to convince the other to change, so let's leave it at that. It is my belief that truth is best discovered when our beliefs can be freely discussed. I am not interested in being right, but only that God be right. I do wish you well.
    - Discipler

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  11. The following comments, posted pazdziernik, are appropriate to this discussion. He said...

    Discipler, just wondering about your thoughts on this: After remission of sins through baptism concupiscence or disordered desires remain. From your perspective is this sin itself? Or is it a “defect” that may lead to future sins? I’m sure that you agree that sin is a constant danger even for the baptized?

    “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10)

    This point was a major controversy at the time of the Protestant Reformation. Lutherans at that time taught that these disordered desires had the character of sin. The Catholic Church has always taught that these disordered desires “has never been understood to be called sin in the sense that it is truly and properly sin in those born again, but in the sense that it is from sin and inclines to sin” (Council of Trent, Decree on Original Sin).

    It is a nuance that can help bring either peace or anxiety to a soul. Baptism certainly brings peace to a soul but these darn "sinful desires" remain.

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  12. Dear Sir,
    By quoting 1 John 1 to support your position, do you think that I believe Christians do not sin? I think I have been pretty clear that by faith in Christ, a person is made sinless by the grace of God. John implies that the Christian stills sins, because he says the blood of Christ covers the one who is walking in the light. In other words, the one walking in the light needs continued cleansing from His blood. People who love God and want to do His will, still sin like when someone aims to hit a target but they miss the mark. The desire is to do right, but they miss the mark (they sin): this is a sin not leading to death because the person is repentant and God is faithful and just to forgive him. But the person who isn't trying to hit the target (i.e. walk with God), doesn't even come close and the lack of faith makes the sin "unto death" (1 John 5:16).

    I agree, a misunderstanding on this subject, can be the difference between having peace or anxiety in the soul. The 1 John passage is comforting to the Christian because the person of faith, who is walking with God, is never going to reach a point that he never does wrong, but by faith in God, through the blood of Christ, he is justified and made to be as if he never sinned. It is comforting to know that God forgives completely those who keep walking with Him.

    As you said, I agree that sin is a danger even for the Christian. But, in regard to your question: "After remission of sins through baptism concupiscence or disordered desires remain. From your perspective is this sin itself? Or is it a “defect” that may lead to future sins?"

    I believe that Scripture is clear that a person who is baptized may still have a desire to sin, but it has to do the failure of the individual to "set his mind on the things of the Spirit". If "disordered desires" remain, it indicates a failure to commit, but it's not a "defect". In Acts 8, when Simon the Sorcerer had the inordinate desire to have what the Apostles had, Peter told him to repent and pray. If it was a "defect", the Apostles would not expect repentance from a "defect". James writes that "...each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust..." Simon continued to lust, and lust brings sin and death. "When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." The spiritual death James refers to happens not at the time of temptation. But when the sin is entertained, in the mind or in the body, then it becomes sin and brings death. The Bible says that temptation is common to all men, but in each instance, God provides the way of escape so that sin is avoided. Faith turns away from the temptation.

    The Bible says that Jesus was tempted in all ways, yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). Without having sin or a "sin nature", Jesus fully sympathizes with what it means to be human. If his nature was different from man's, how could he sympathize as a perfect High Priest? At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (Matthew 4:1). He avoided the temptation to sin by entrusting Himself to God and His Word. In the way that Satan sought to ruin the Son of God by getting Him to sin, he also tempts each man.

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