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Challenging the Christian View of Original Sin

The following is an objection from the web site “The Society for Biblical Illumination.”   It is supported by atheists in San Diego California.

If you are a real Christian, you have to believe the Adam & Eve myth. Without it, you have no original sin. With no original sin, you have no reason for Jesus to die. It is a good thing people compartmentalize so they can believe in two conflicting things at the same time.

 If Jesus died for our sins, why is there still sin? What exactly is sin? If God in omnipotent, why did he have to have his own son killed?

 My answer to this challenge will be short and to the point.  Books have been written on original sin and why Jesus had to die on the cross.

They begin by asserting the existence of Adam and Eve was a myth.  To be fair these sentences come after a series of verses from the creation accounts in Genesis one and two.  They believe these to be contradictory and thus they conclude Adam and Eve were mythological figures.   My first point is even if these accounts are contradictory (I don’t believe they are) it doesn’t lead to the inference Adam and Eve were mythological.  The web site makes no effort to prove their conclusion.

They are correct when they say Christians have to believe Adam and Eve were historical and the first humans God created.  Without Adam and Eve there is no original sin.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  Death here refers to both physical and spiritual death.  This verse taught because of Adam’s rebellion against God sin entered the world and spread to everyone. We are all descendants of Adam and as such we are born with original sin.  Spiritual death means we are all under the condemnation of God and upon physical death will be separated from God for all eternity.

They are also right when they say without original sin there would have been no reason for Jesus to die on the cross.  Just before verse 12 Paul wrote in Romans 5:8-10, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”  Every human born into this world is born into sin.  God becoming a man in Jesus was to bring reconciliation between God and man.  Paul said God demonstrates His great love for us for while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  He died on the cross to save us from the wrath or punishment of God.  This is the heart of the good news, the Gospel.

Next they accuse us of compartmentalizing our beliefs.  They think this story of Adam and Eve is too farfetched.   We have to exercise blind faith to believe this.  Are they right?  Do we have to throw away our minds?

The Biblical account teaches God created the first humans to have a special relationship with Him.  Adam walked with God in the garden.  However, given one commandment Adam broke it and in doing so he had to be judged by a holy and perfect God.  The punishment was separation from God for all eternity.

The Bible teaches in Genesis 1 each animal reproduces after its own kind and passes down traits to its offspring.  Adam and Eve passed down sin to all human offspring and to restore relationship with God sin had to be paid for.  Either we pay the penalty for our moral wrongs after we die or Jesus pays for them.  That is the Christian message.  There is nothing contradictory in this Biblical account and thus it can be reasonably believed.

The truth is original sin explains why no child is born neutral, without sin.  Every parent knows you don’t have to teach your kid to be selfish; he acts that way almost immediately.  From a purely pragmatic standpoint we see the results of sin each day when we read the news or hear it on television.  If we are honest we can admit we do immoral things all the time.  Deep down inside we know original sin exists.

In addition it seems even science has traced all humanity to one mother.  This fits perfectly with the Christian worldview.   A Christian doesn’t have to compartmentalize his or her beliefs.  In fits the world we experience daily and it is not contradictory.

Finally, I’ll address the questions they asked.

  1. If Jesus died for our sins, why is there still sin?  Jesus paid the penalty for sins for those who believe.  The Bible doesn’t teach He eradicated the existence of sin.  God gave mankind free will and it is our bad choices the Bible calls sin.  In God’s plan He will eventually deal with sin.  Upon the second coming of Christ, God will eradicate sin and create a new heaven and a new earth.  Until that time there will be sin and people will continue to reject the God of the universe.
  2. What exactly is sin?  Rebellion against God.  God has set-up a moral universe to reflect His character and we have chosen to break his moral laws.  The Bible teaches we are born in sin (Rom. 5:12).  We sin against God every day in multiple ways.  Sin can be doing things we shouldn’t be doing, thinking things we shouldn’t be thinking, not doing good things for those in need and not loving and honoring God as we should.  Jesus summed up the greatest commandments when He said in Matthew 22:37-40 “And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  If we are honest we break these commandments daily.
  3. If God in omnipotent, why did he have to have his own son killed?  Yes God is all powerful but this is not a problem with His power.  God chose to provide an opportunity for free will choices for all humanity.  True free will has to include choices to either do good or evil.  We have chosen poorly and turned out backs on Him.  God’s perfect system of justice required each law broken by us to incur a punishment, similar to our justice system.  That punishment is eternal separation from God for all eternity.  We read Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  The Bible says all humans are under condemnation for sin.  Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  What we earn from sin is spiritual death; eternal separation from God.  God owed us no solution to this problem and we all deserve hell.  However, because of His great love for us Christ died for us.  Jesus is the great God-man.  As God He could pay the penalty for our sin and as a man he could die on a cross.  The penalty for sin has been paid.  However, it is only applied to those who place their trust in Jesus Christ.  Without Jesus you are still in your sins and will receive the just punishment for your moral wrongs.

Can we trust the Biblical account?  I posted a 14 part series entitled “Is God the Author of the Bible.”  In this series I established how the Bible demonstrates it is a supernatural book from God.  If God was the ultimate author it doesn’t take much to believe the Genesis account of creation and that Adam and Eve were historical people.

Believing in a historical Adam and Eve does not cause a Christian to compartmentalize and throw away his or her intellect.  We have solid reasons to trust the Biblical account.

The evil we see daily throughout the world supports the existence of original sin. Only through belief in Jesus can anyone receive the forgiveness made available by the God of the universe.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright June 6, 2013, 7:10 am

    Steve;
    Where and when was the Garden of Eden located?
    Tom

  • Steve June 7, 2013, 5:52 pm

    Tom,
    The exact location is unknown. However, two modern day rivers are mentioned near the garden; the Tigris and the Euphrates. That means somewhere in N. Syria, N. Iraq, N. Iran, or S. Turkey.

    The Bible doesn’t give us a date for the first humans (Adam & Eve). Some say 6000-10000 years ago, others 50,000, and some 100,000 years ago. The word Day (Hebrew YOM) could mean 12 hrs., 24 hrs., or an extended period of time. The Bible doesn’t give the when information you are looking for.

    Steve

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