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Biblical authority, Creation/Evolution

Should we let go of the doctrine of original sin?

Christianity is evolving!  We need to keep up with the times, right?  We need to stay relevant in a postmodern world… right?  We need to shift towards the center on our stances and stop being so dogmatic, right? 

If you are like me, this trend is troubling.  First of all, I see no evidence from Jesus’s ministry that he was interested in appealing to popular vote.  In fact it seems that he was quite often in opposition to the accepted theology of the day.  He was so dogmatic that they put him to death!  We’re supposed to emulate him, right?  Is that what we do today?  Do we stand up for Biblical principles or force our opinions into the mix?  When Jesus was ever confronted on a religious issue, his first response was always “It is written ____”.  He quoted scripture as his rationale in all dealings.  Is that how we respond when questioned?  The Bible tells us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).  

For some of us it’s just the fact that we’ve never taken the time to think about the issues facing us today.  For others it is outright abandonment of Biblical authority.  Jesus was God himself, but knew that the final say had to come from scripture.  Do we have that same determination in EVERY area of our life?  Does the Bible guide our polical views, our social attitudes, our education preferences, and our science <gasp> … or is it just a nice story book full of good morals?  I’d argue there are lots of books full of good morals, but SOMETHING must set apart the Bible!  If I’m going to accept on faith the accounts of Jesus because “the Bible tells me so”, am I really able to use my finite human mind to decipher what I should believe or not believe in the rest of it?  Is it even safe to allow other humans or “professionals” to tell me what I can and can’t believe when it comes to Biblical history?  What does taking this stance do to my testimony, and my ability to defend the faith?

These are all important questions, but let’s focus on just one issue:  original sin.  It seems that, when read straight out, God created a beautiful “very good” creation that he put man into and gave him a choice whether to follow His directions or not.  God told man that if he ate of a particular tree he would “surely die”.  Paul echoes this in Romans 5:12 when he states: “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin”.  Jesus is obviously the answer to this problem of sin and death.  1 Corinthians 15:26 says “the last enemy to be destroyed is death”.  We all know “the wages of sin is death”.  It appears quite obvious from a Biblical perspective that death is an enemy and a result of man’s disobedience.  So… is that true? 

It appears there is quite a movement by modern Christians to do-away with an actual historical Adam and move the story into the category of metaphor or symbolism.  Why would we do this?  Well, the answer is quite simple… a single original couple (Adam/Eve) is not possible within the ranks of evolution!  See, now we have a big conundrum with the whole concept of death.  The Bible says death is the result of human sin, but according to the normally-accepted old-earth/evolutionary view death has always been a part of the creation for billions of years basically wiping out the need for a doctrine of original sin.

Now we have an issue.  Most Christians are not comfortable parting ways with the scientific consensus, but that consensus allows no room for original sin.  Without original sin death can no longer be called an “enemy”, it has to be considered a concept God used in his “very good” creation.  If we accept that, how does that affect the role of Jesus as savior?  Savior from what exactly?  Our sinfulness?  But, why should we have to answer to that if the creation was created with sinfulness already at play?  If you are a Christian who accepts evolution, I am interested in hearing your “answer” as 1 Peter asks for.  Who is to blame for sin… God as creator or man for his choice?

Personally I am a young-earth creationist.  I don’t have to do any theological gymnastics as I call it.  My answer is simple:  original sin happened exactly as described.  God created a perfect creation (as he could only do).  He did not sit back on day 7 and declare a world full of death, suffering, cancer, etc. “very good”.  He gave man a choice.  Man chose poorly.  The world has never been the same since.   But God so loved the world that He sent His son to fix the mess we made for ourselves. 

I think most Christians accept that man is to blame for sin, but don’t realize that conflicts with an evolutionary worldview.  So, the ultimate question here is: should we really be letting go of the doctrine of original sin?  People often tell me that origins issues are not a gospel issue and thus are secondary.  I call bullcrap!  I’d say it’s absolutely central to even needing a savior in the first place! 

So what does someone like me want out of this discussion?  I want to see Christians understand the inconsistency in their theology and worldview.  Do I want to drive them away from their faith?  Not at all!  I want to help them realize their faith is explainable, but it HAS to start with scripture as the number one authority that all other influences are then compared to.  If we shape our theology on what other groups tell us is or is not true (like a historical Adam), then aren’t we creating a Christianity of our own design vs. what is actually recorded?  I don’t think Christianity should be up for popular vote – even by science! 

I’ve heard it said – “the truth is still the truth even if no one believes it, and a lie is a lie even if everyone believes it”.  I don’t really want to turn this into another drawn out discussion on evolution (we can save that for another discussion), but how do we deal with this compromise on original sin?  It’s either time to take a stand or concede.  Revelation 3: 15-16 says “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” 

If you are interested in discussing young-earth creationism, please at least first read my Top 20 FAQ.

 

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Should we let go of the doctrine of original sin?

  1. You know who didn’t change with the time because they BELIEVED they were right, and still believe they are right? Jewish people. Refused to believe times changed and Jesus was God, kept believing that they are and always were right, and look where that gottem. Some things do require you to be open minded. Just because a man said something 2000 years ago doesn’t mean he wouldn’t say something different today. All you have to do is stop, take a vacation, and take a look around, and see not with your judging eye, but just as a plain…..innocent eye that sees no faults in anything, and only sense danger where danger is. God’s light can be seen in unlikely places, you just have to have the courage to look in that direction.

    Posted by Dave | November 24, 2012, 2:09 am
    • You can get your version of Jesus from anything you decide, but I’ll get mine from the scriptures, Hebrews 13:8 to be exact: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

      Posted by Tim | November 24, 2012, 3:25 am
  2. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17 KJV)

    God’s Word is truth and that settles it. It is not up for discussion. Your article is great. People do try to water it down, but it doesn’t change it. Sin is sin.

    Posted by Lee | November 25, 2012, 1:33 am

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