Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Augustine on Original Sin


Augustine is universally considered to be the most important theologian to Latin (Western) Christianity after the canon of Scripture was completed. One theological contribution made by Augustine was the defense of the doctrine of Original Sin against the Pelagian heresy. Therefore, it was very disappointing to me to realize how unhelpful Augustine's work "On Original Sin" is for someone wishing to explore this topic from a biblical perspective.

Over half of the work is devoted to proving that Pelagius denied Original Sin and that Coelestius was a Pelagian. These were important matters for the Church in Augustine's time, and the proof that Augustine offers against these heretics is certainly of interest to historians, but the discussion is of little use to someone wishing to know what the Bible teaches concerning Original Sin.

Pelagius apparently taught that people before Christ could be saved from God's wrath against sin based on their own good works without reference to Christ, and Augustine does an excellent job in refuting this heresy, also demonstrating that all people since Adam are sinners in need of redemption.

Augustine assumes Original Sin, based on the tradition of the Church, but he also assumes baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. [I've done some study into the historical development of these doctrines, and it seems the Church held to Original Sin from the beginning, based on the teaching of Scripture, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration arose as the early theologians made inappropriate inferences about what the Bible teaches concerning baptism, and thus the practice of infant baptism was finally adopted out of a concern that children- that they might die under the guilt of Original Sin, and thus be damned. The widespread practice of infant baptism was still new in the time of Augustine (Augustine himself was not baptised until he was an adult believer, though his mother was a devout Christian, and their is evidence that some of his contemporaries also were baptised as adult believers), but the practice became virtually universal in a very short time.]

In writing on Original Sin, Augustine does make an argument that if one were to claim it unjust of God to count anyone guilty due to the sin of Adam, one must also consider it unjust of God to count anyone righteous due to the work of Christ.

Augustine cites Romans 5:12, Job 14:4-5, and Psalm 51:5 as proof texts for Original Sin, but he offers no exegesis of these passages.

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