John Calvin on Original Sin (Part 1)
Institutes 2.1.4-7 are summarized [in the Beveridge translation] as follows:
4. In considering this latter part, two points to be considered; a. How it happened that Adam involved himself and the whole human race in this dreadful calamity. This the result not of sensual intemperance, but of infidelity (the source of other heinous sins), which led to revolt from God, from whom all true happiness must be derived. An enumeration of the other sins produced by the infidelity of the first man.
5. The second point to be considered is, b. the extent to which the contagious influence of the fall extends. It extends, i. To all the creatures, though unoffending; and, ii. To the whole posterity of Adam. Hence hereditary corruption, or original sin, and the depravation of a nature which was previously pure and good. This depravation communicated to the whole posterity of Adam, but not in the way supposed by the Pelagians and Celestians.
6. Depravation communicated not merely by imitation, but by propagation. This proved, a. From the contrast drawn between Adam and Christ [confirmation from passages of Scripture]; b. From the general declaration that we are the children of wrath.
7. Objection, that if Adam’s sin is propagated to his posterity, the soul must be derived by transmission. Answer. Another objection—viz. that children cannot derive corruption from pious parents. Answer.
NOTES [from the sections outlined above]:
4. The first sin must have been heinous indeed. The first sin can not be identified with sensuality. Augustine spoke of the first sin as originating in pride. Calvin quotes Paul in concluding that the first sin is disobedience, and considers this disobedience rooted in a disregard for the Word of God. The first sin sought to annihilate the glory of God, not trusting Him and following His commands.
5. "Original Sin" is defined as "hereditary corruption." Original Sin is "innate from the very womb," and not due to mere imitation (Calvin quotes from Psalm 51:5 and Job 14:4).
6. Calvin examines the parallel between Adam and Christ found in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. Scripture does not teach that we are saved by an imitation of Christ, but by a renewed nature brought about by the Holy Spirit. Calvin also quotes Ephesians 2:3 to demonstrate the doctrine of hereditary, natural corruption.
7. From a corrupt root, corrupt branches proceed. "Children come not by spiritual regeneration, but by carnal descent." There is a "primary and universal curse" over the whole human race. "Guilt is from nature, whereas sanctification is from supernatural grace."
Labels: Reformation Theology