Posted: Apr 30, 2017 9:27 pm
by proudfootz
Though it wasn't technically part of the OP, I got interested in the 'Original Sin' concept that came up on the first page of this thread.

Having just done a little bit of Googling, the material I've come up with seems to indicate that not only was the concept of 'Original Sin' not part of the OT or part of the Jewish interpretation of their own scripture, but it also seems to be largely absent from the writings included in the 'New Testament'.

All early church fathers[i], except St. Augustine, never taught a doctrine of ”Original Sin”, but always maintained that mankind has a “liability to sin”, which is known as the Ancestral Sin (Προπατορικό αμάρτημα). The doctrine of an ‘Ancestral Sin’ says that after Adam’s fall, human nature became liable to sinning. In other words, humans inherited not Adam’s sin itself, but his sinful nature. According to the fathers teachings, this what St. Paul means by saying “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”[ii]

The doctrine of ” Original Sin” was created in the Western Church, first suggested by St. Augustine[iii], and later systematized and dogmatized by Anselm in the Latin Church. Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin was born from his attempt to fight the heresy of Pelagianism. Pelagius, the British monk, opposed the idea that the divine gift of grace was necessary to perform the will of God. Pelagius believed that if we are responsible for obeying the commandments of God, then we must all also have the ability to do so without divine aid. He went on to deny the doctrine of Ancestral Sin, arguing that the consequences of Adam’s sin are not passed on to the rest of mankind. Adam’s sin affected Adam alone, and thus infants at birth are in the same state as Adam was before the Fall. Augustine took a the different view of the Fall in opposition to Pelagius, arguing that mankind is utterly sinful and incapable of any good.

This dispute between Augustine and Pelagius did not reach the East.

This persuades me that the doctrine or dogma of 'Original Sin' was a later development in what we know as christianity and not a fundamental or necessary part of what it 'means' to be a christian. If christians got along for a few hundred years without 'Original Sin', it wouldn't seem to be a very 'core' belief.