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.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Denial of Original Guilt: Benefits, Problems, and a Call for Exposition

In responding to charges of semi-Pelagianism regarding A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation, Rick Patrick-- one of the signers of the document-- focused on Article Two of the document. Article Two says, in part:

We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin.


We deny that Adam’s sin... rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.

Rick Patrick stressed that the document does not deny original sin, but "what is being denied here is more properly understood as original guilt" [emphasis added]. Laying aside the question of whether a denial of "original guilt" is sufficient to merit the charge of semi-Pelagianism, I would like to point out that this denial of "original guilt"-- without a denial original sin-- is what I've attempted to explore in my theoretical proposal in my personal inquiry regarding original sin.

My theoretical proposal was stated as follows:

IT IS PROPOSED THAT just as the elect person is not counted as righteous on the basis of Christ's righteous work until he or she actually believes in Jesus Christ as Lord, that the unbeliever is not condemned on the basis of Adam's unrighteous deed until he or she acts in accordance with this unbelief through a personal sin against God. IN OTHER WORDS, that as personal faith in Christ is the means through which the righteousness of Christ is appropriated, in a similar way, personal sin is the means through which the condemnation of Adam is appropriated.

Benefits of Denying Original Guilt

The benefits of denying original guilt are [at least] twofold: first, a denial of original guilt aids in dealing with some 'problem passages' for original sin, such as: "everyone will die for his own iniquity" (Jer 31:30) and "the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father" (Eze 18:20); second, a denial of original guilt solves some theological problems, such as how infants-- incapable of personal faith-- can yet be saved if they die.

Problems With Denying Original Guilt

At the time of my theoretical proposal, I noted a possible objection, namely:

Does the truth of Ephesians 2:3- that we are, by nature, under wrath- suggest that no personal act of sin is necessary, but that each individual is under God's wrath from the moment of conception due to Original Sin?

The more I have meditated upon this objection, the more I have seen how serious it is in relation to the question at hand. Especially when one considers the death of infants. Death is seen in Scripture as a judicial sentence against sin. If infants do not share in original guilt, then why do they ever die?

Call for Exposition

Those who signed A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation-- those within Southern Baptist life who have gone on record firmly asserting a denial of original guilt-- MUST do MORE than assert this denial as a "traditional Southern Baptist understanding." They MUST show Southern Baptists HOW Scripture teaches original sin and how this sin is uniquely divorced from guilt. They MUST show how Ephesians 2:3-- teaching that we "were by nature the children of wrath, even as others"-- does not teach original guilt, if possible.



Blogger Randy White said...

Great post. I think you have centered this well. Let me give an attempt at Ephesians 2:3 from the position that we do not inherit Adam's guilt, only Adam's nature.

First, the text does say we are children of wrath "by nature." Thus, born with Adam's nature to sin, we are doomed. However, the key is in the subject of the verb. The subject is the ones "indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind", and these "were by nature children of wrath." Since the subject is given in a verb form, it becomes obscured a bit. The verb form of the subject is a present active participle, so it describes the subject as he is at the time in which he was a child of wrath.

I think the idea of original guilt brings some big problems to our faith, and necessarily leads to the creation of a Calvinist system of thought to explain the problems away. I think Original Guilt is the Achilles heal of the system.

3:01 PM  

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