One of the most common beliefs in the church today is that people are born sinners. It started with Augustine, and John Calvin really helped to advance that theory. You can see it today in the TULIP acronym under “Total Depravity.”
The problem? That belief is completely, utterly wrong.
Let’s think about this. We know that Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is one of the key verses advocates of this doctrine (known as original sin) use. And at face value, then yes, everyone who has ever lived has sinned. What they are doing, however is taking the verse out of context. Jesus is part of all, is He not? And He did not sin (Hebrews 4: 15). “But He doesn’t count!” my opponent says. “He was God!”
I’m not saying He wasn’t. But He was also fully man. Therefore, my opponent’s argument is severely weakened.
Another reason I cannot believe in original sin is this:
The Psalmist said God formed him in his mother’s womb (Ps. 139: 13). And since there is nothing that makes him special from any other man, it can be reasonably concluded that all people are created by God—this miracle begins at conception. (I’m not going to go into abortion here.) So if people are born sinners, what other choice do we have than to say that God created us sinners? But God cannot have anything to do with sin, so that poses a problem. Also, Genesis says we were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26). God does not sin. He can be tempted (Deut. 6:16), but He cannot sin, as it goes against His nature. The original sin advocate is therefore forced to accept these two beliefs: “God created man in His image” and “Man is born a sinner.” These are contradictory. For if man is created in God’s image, and man is created a sinner, then God is a sinner. As stated, this is unbiblical. The more correct belief is this: “Man is born with the capacity to be tempted, and it is man’s choice whether or not he will sin.”
The doctrine of original sin also makes God a tyrant. If people are born sinners, and they are naturally inclined to sin, what right does God have to condemn them for the way He created them? He has none. So advocates of original sin have to come up with a way to decorate their cruel God with acts of love, saying that God, in His sovereignty, can act however He wishes. Which is true, but as God is also just, and condemnation of one who cannot help his actions is unjust, that claim falls flat.
Original sin advocates also say that Adam was some sort of figurehead for the entire human race, and since he sinned, we are all condemned as sinners because of that. What does the Bible say, though? Ezekiel 18: 20 says, “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” In other words, we are all responsible for our own sin. Adam’s sin was Adam’s sin, not his descendants’. What Adam did, however, was open up the way for all to be tempted.
Before I go, I will include this last argument. If all are born sinners, then what of the babies who are stillborn, aborted, or die in infancy? The original sin advocate has no choice but to say that these must go to hell. They’re dishonest enough to come up with an excuse (age of accountability), but it’s a contradiction. Sinners, if they are not redeemed, must go to hell. The original sin position must include infants in this.
But infants do not sin. Those who have no knowledge of right or wrong cannot sin. They must be taught right and wrong, and before that time, they are innocent. It is when they are able to make a moral choice (“This is right and I will do it” or “This is wrong but I will do it”) that they are held accountable.
I cannot accept the doctrine of original sin. My sense of justice that God gave me recoils at such a thought.