Thursday, April 20

Quiz Key

As promised, here are the answers to the Quiz on Original Sin posted yesterday. If you haven't tried the quiz itself, why not click over there and see what you know before you read this? I can tell by the comments that there is at least one person who probably scored 100%. How did you do?

Questions 1-3, Multiple Choice

1. The term original sin, as traditionally defined, refers to
a. The very first disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
b. The sinful nature that all humankind is born with.
c. A cutting-edge or particularly unique expression of disobedience to God's law.
d. None of the above.
The correct answer is b. Historically, you'll find that some people include both inherited guilt and inherited corruption together as original sin, while some use the term to refer specifically to our inherited corruption (or our sinful nature), so I've included only inherited corruption in the answer, since everyone would agree on that. Except, perhaps, Robert Schuller.

As to the incorrect responses, you might think a. sounds reasonable, but the word origin as used in original sin doesn't mean "first" so much as it means "existing from our beginning". And as for c.? If you answered c., I'm really curious to know the sinful act you think hasn't been done over and over again already. No, I take that back. On second thought, I'd really rather not know.

2. The doctrine of original sin includes the principle that
a. Back in the beginning, Adam represented the whole of humankind.
b. All of humankind fell along with Adam in his first sin.
c. Adam's sin is imputed to all humankind, and everyone suffers the consequences.
d. All of the above.
The correct answer is d. The doctrine of original sin includes all those things. Those of us who hold to the doctrine of original sin may disagree as to exactly how it is that Adam represents us, but we all agree that he did represent us; and as a result of that, we all fell with him when he fell. We are born in a fallen state, since, in some way, Adam's sin was counted as our sin, and thus we suffer the consequences of Adam's fall.

3. That human beings are born with a sinful nature means that
a. All human beings are are bad as the could possibly be.
b. We become sinners only when we actually commit our first sin.
c. Even infants who die need to have Christ's death applied to them.
d. All of the above.
The correct answer is c. That we are born with a sinful nature means that even newborn babies, who have not yet actually committed sin, have a problem within their nature that needs fixing before they can be in the presence of God, who is holy. That "nature problem" can only be fixed as a result of God's merciful application of Christ's death.

As for the wrong answer? That we have a sinful nature doesn't mean we are all as bad as we could be (a.), but it does mean that in respect to God and God's standard, we all have a problem of mammoth proportions. That we have a sinful nature means exactly the opposite of answer b.: It means we are sinners before we commit our first sin, and that we are already sinners is the root of that first sin.

Questions 4-10, Identifying Quotes

4. "We deny that the human constitution is morally depraved, because it is impossible that sin should be a quality of the substance of soul or body. It is, and must be, a quality of choice or intention, and not of substance. To make sin an attribute or quality of substance is contrary to God's definition of sin.

....To represent the constitution as sinful, is to represent God, who is the author of the constitution, as the author of sin."

This quote is from Charles Finney in his Systematic Theology. As you can tell from this quote, Charles Finney denied the doctrine of original sin. He believed that we all come into this world in the same state as Adam and Eve were before the fall.

5. "...all who deny this, call it original sin, or by any other title, are but Heathens still, in the fundamental point which differences Heathenism from Christianity. They may, indeed, allow, that men have many vices; that some are born with us; and that, consequently, we are not born altogether so wise or so virtuous as we should be; there being few that will roundly affirm, "We are born with as much propensity to good as to evil, and that every man is, by nature, as virtuous and wise as Adam was at his creation." But here is the shibboleth: Is man by nature filled with all manner of evil? Is he void of all good? Is he wholly fallen? Is his soul totally corrupted? Or, to come back to the text, is "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually?" Allow this, and you are so far a Christian. Deny it, and you are but an Heathen still."

This quote is Charles Wesley's, from one of his sermons. You'll notice that he's calling anyone who doesn't believe in original sin a Heathen. Wesley saw the doctrine of original sin as one of the essential teachings of Christianity.

6. "When a descendent of Adam reaches a level of moral understanding (sometime in his youth) he becomes fully, personally accountable to God and has sin imputed to him, resulting in the peril of eternal damnation.

When man reaches his state of moral accountability, and, by virtue of his personal transgression, becomes blameworthy, his only hope is a work of grace by God alone."

These quotes are from Michael Pearl's No Greater Joy Ministries doctrinal statement. (Don't know who Michael Pearl is? He's known for his parenting advice, and he is very popular in some Christian circles.) As you can see, he denies original sin: No one becomes "blameworthy" until they commit their first personal transgression, and no "work of grace" is necessary until then. So, if I understand these statements correctly, babies go to heaven by virtue of their blamelessness, not because of God's mercy.

7. "The Scriptures as I see it speak of different kinds of sin. The first kind is the corrupt, sinful nature, namely, the lust or desire of our flesh contrary to God's Law, and contrary to the original righteousness; sin which is inherited at birth by all descendants and children of corrupt, sinful Adam, and is not inaptly called original sin. Of this sin David says, Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. The Lord said unto Noah, The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. Again, Paul says, We were, by nature, children of wrath, even as others."

This quote is from Menno Simons, who was a leader of the Anabaptists way back in the 1500's. (Mennonites are named after him.) In this quote from Reply to False Accusations, 1552 (which I only have in PDF form, so no link!), he strongly affirms the doctrine of original sin, although I've read that there are other quotes from Menno Simons that would seem to deny it.

One commenter asked why I included Menno Simons in the list of quotes. I regularly attended attended Mennonite churches during two periods of my life, and I have Mennonite relatives (albeit distant), so I have an interest in Mennonite history.


8. "Some ground the idea of the eternal blessedness of the infant upon its innocence. We do no such thing; we believe that the infant fell in the first Adam, 'for in Adam all died.' All Adam's posterity, whether infant or adult, were represented by him - he stood for them all, and when he fell, he fell for them all. There was no exception made at all in the covenant of works made with Adam as to infants dying; and inasmuch as they were included in Adam, though they have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, they have original guilt. They are 'born in sin and steepen in iniquity; in sin do their mothers conceive them;' so saith David of himself, and (by inference) of the whole human race. If they be saved, we believe it is not because of any natural innocence. They enter heaven by the very same way that we do; they are received in the name of Christ."

This quote is from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled Infant Salvation. Spurgeon, of course, believed in the doctrine of original sin, and you can see that in this paragraph. He also believed that all infants who died were saved, but that they were saved, not because of their own blamelessness, but "because they were redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ."

9. "The core of original sin, then, is LOT -- Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves. Label it a 'negative self-image,' but do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness. ...[P]ositive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human inability."

This muddled bit of text is a quote from Robert Schuller in Self-Esteem: The New Reformation. In it he's denying the doctrine of original sin, even though he uses the words original sin. He's just redefined the meaning of original sin in a way that denies the doctrine of original sin as it is commonly defined. We have, according to Robert Schuller, no "core" or seed of corruption--just a lousy self image: We think we're worse than we really are.

10. "I think, it would go far towards directing us to the more clear conception and right statement of this affair, were we steadily to bear this in mind: that God, in every step of his proceeding with Adam, in relation to the covenant or constitution established with him, looked on his posterity as being one with him . And though he dealt more immediately with Adam, it yet was as the head of the whole body, and the root of the whole tree; and in his proceedings with him, he dealt with all the branches, as if they had been then existing in their root.

From which it will follow, that both guilt, or exposedness to punishment, and also depravity of heart, came upon Adam's posterity just as they came upon him, as much as if he and they had all coexisted, like a tree with many branches; allowing only for the difference necessarily resulting from the place Adam stood in, as head or root of the whole."

This is Jonathan Edwards in The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin. It is, as you can see, affirming the doctrine of original sin. As you can also see, Jonathan Edwards included both inherited guilt and inherited corruption in his definition of the term original sin.

Chris Datillo asks for quotes from the remaining three unquoted people. Well, I don't have any for Clark Pinnock, but I do have something close. I'll try to post quotes from one of Pinnock's co-authors and the other two unquoted people tomorrow.

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