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Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

Regression

This post is an examination and analysis of an article found Here, which raises once again the issue of why the world is so messed up, why we needed a Savior, and whether part of that ruination involves God putting half the human race over the other. The questions the article intends to answer are these:

  1. After all we need to know why it is that only Adam would bring sin into the world
  2. and if all of us have something “hanging” onto us from just on man
  3. , why is that?
  4. We need to know why sin didn’t come into the world through the woman.

First of all it should be noted that the term “sin nature” is not found in the Scriptures. The Biblical terms are “old man”, “old self”, “body of flesh”, “in the flesh”, “uncircumcised in heart” along with the symbol of the old nature - the foreskin of the heart.

These statements and the passages cited in support are all figures of speech, not doctrinal statements or indisputable references to the very point which is intended to be proved (which would make the argument circular from the start) . Note that in each case the context is referring to nothing more than what today we might call “our old self”, even among the lost. Likewise, the phrase “I’m a new man” is not a statement of a change of nature (which I think all would agree is being used in this article to denote an intrinsic aspect of being, e.g. human nature as opposed to fish nature or cat nature) but a change of attitude or focus. Note also the Greek words are “body” and “flesh”, and these identical words are used by Paul to describe the way Jesus rose from the dead, and no one would claim this resurrection was spiritual, because it would mean Jesus had died spiritually. The phrase “uncircumcised heart” is a Hebrew idiom, and we need to remember that the “heart” was not considered the spirit but the mind. When James tells people to “purify their hearts” (James 4:8), is he telling them to change their natures? Not at all.

God did not create mankind to be this way with sin controlling our lives. Mankind was created perfect and without sin, but a change happened when Adam chose to act in rebellion without any deception on his part that would have caused him to fall into sin and when Adam had the full knowledge of the truth… Adam and Eve were sinless during that entire time until the fall. This is in stark contrast to mankind after Adam, as all of us can hardly live one day without sin.

All agree that God created both people and angels as “good” and not sinful, or God would therefore be the author of sin, but lets start with angels. Regarding Lucifer, scripture states that at a point in time he was “the model of perfection” until “sin was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:11-15). No cause is given here for this change, but in Isaiah 14:12-14 (which we cannot say for sure was about Satan since the phrase “morning star” is not used exclusively of him), we could speculate that he became proud and wanted to be God. But again, no cause is given for the change. But did Lucifer become a different class of being as a result? Not at all; he is still of the class “angel” or “messenger”, specifically “cherub” (unless that’s a title and not a type of angel).

But has the bent of his existence changed? Certainly. But does that mean his nature, his intrinsic being, was literally altered? Not at all. We may know someone who “lives to swim” and just “belongs in the water”, but is that an aspect of being? Hardly; it’s simply the attitude and focus of their life, and such things, good or bad, can consume people. But being consumed with an activity or idea is not causing us to become different beings, yet it can so permeate our thinking that we forget there was ever anything else. So it is with Satan. But the objection will come, “Jesus said he was a liar from the beginning” (John 8:44), to which I respond, “Was he a liar when he was still the perfect anointed cherub then?” Obviously, from scripture, “the beginning” cannot refer to the entirety of Satan’s existence, for he changed at a point in time. So we are forced to the conclusion that the “beginning” Jesus speaks of is the time “sin was found” in Lucifer.

Now note in the quoted paragraph that “Adam chose to act”; nobody disagrees with that, and there was nothing in his nature as a human that caused him to act. But did he become a different being simply by his own choice? Not at all, but like Satan, the choice to defy God can consume people— if they keep choosing it. And we can’t uncritically compare angels and people in all respects either. Angels were never told not to touch something (as far as we know), nor were they offered redemption. And they require no faith since they know full well that God exists. But to rebel against God when they had been, for who knows how long, in His direct presence, would give them no excuses at all, and thus no hope. The fallen angels chose their fate with open eyes.

But what about Adam and Eve? The paragraph admits that the duration of the sinless state could have been anywhere from a day to hundreds of years, yet infers that there just had to be a long time via the phrase “entire time”. This is begging the question though; we cannot arbitrarily presume that the time was long and therefore proof that people had to have a different “nature” to explain their lack of sin. The reader is being steered toward the desired conclusion. In addition, the statement “live a day without sin” presumes that all violations of God’s standards, even by babies, are “sin”; it is undefined at this point. So the reader is led to affirm something by anecdotal evidence without even knowing precisely what they’re affirming. Such leading questions are common.

The difference between the ability to live a sinless life for perhaps as long as a hundred years or more and not being able to live sinless for a day is the result of the significant effect of what we call the sin nature or the old man who is now a part of the core of our being because we were all “in” Adam when he fell.  There is something in us that has been tainted by the fall. 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NASB)– For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Note that once again a long period of time is presumed (baseless assertion), and then our personal experiences are presented in contrast (anecdotal evidence). But the paragraph goes on to draw a conclusion which doesn’t even follow (non sequitur) from such flawed premises: it must be due to “sin nature” or the “old man”, the latter of which we already examined and found to be a figure of speech. Here is the flawed argument in the form of a syllogism:

  1. Adam and Eve could refrain from sinning for “hundreds of years” before the first sin
  2. We can’t live a single day without “sinning”
  3. So there must be an acquired “sin nature” that explains the difference

From this phantom “fact” it is then decided that this sin nature is “now a part of the core of our being”, but not one scripture can be cited that even implies this, and no effort is made here to give any supporting evidence; it is simply asserted as fact. Again, this is a case of presuming the conclusion one is supposed to be proving (begging the question).

Then it is asserted that we were “in Adam when he fell”, citing 1 Cor. 15:22. But is that what the verse says? Not at all; it says that in Adam we all die. What kind of death was this? Look at the context there: v. 21 says that this death was the same as the death and resurrection of Jesus, but who ever says this was spiritual? No, that would be a blasphemous lie. Jesus died physically and rose in a new physical and immortal body. This is supported in the verses following, where the question about the type of body (not spirit!) we’ll have is answered. I cannot fathom how anyone could read the remainder of that passage and understand that Paul is talking about anything but the body.

The article then turns to Romans 5:14-19 to support the claim of spiritual death, but what does it actually say? I’ve covered this passage before (here, here, etc.) so I’ll just briefly summarize here. The legal terms of “justification”, “condemnation”, and “righteous” cannot be interchanged with “death” and “life” unless the context clearly indicates metaphorical usage. But this context is not clear; the meaning of the terms is the point under debate. And as I stated in the links, contradictions arise if we refuse to acknowledge that Paul is talking about two different angles and drawing both likenesses and contrasts.

Many are rightly criticized for using disputed passages as proof-texts, and this case is a good example of one. It only “clearly” says what one presumes beforehand that it must mean. And while no one denies that a separation between people and God was erected by the first sin, this cannot be stretched into something more than a change of relationship, let alone a change of being which is conspicuous by its absence in the very spot in scripture it allegedly happened. Not one word in the cited passage in Romans says that ALL were condemned or that ANY died spiritually, and one’s inferences cannot be deemed “what the Bible says”, especially when the inferences are disputed.

There are several common errors that come from the teaching about the effect of Adam’s sin on the world.  The first common error has caused many to reject the teaching of Adam’s sin having any effect on us.  That error that has been taught by many is the doctrine that Adam’s offspring are charged by God with Adam’s sin. The Bible lays this error to rest by stating that the son will not bear the punishment for the father’s sin.

No one disputes that Adam’s sin had an effect on all his offspring; we have already seen that all of us are mortal because Adam and Eve became mortal. We also know from Gen. 3 that because of Adam alone, the earth itself was cursed, though obviously the earth cannot be charged with sin. We also should note that since Satan would later offer the cities of the world to Jesus (Mt. 4:9), they had to have been his to give, and in 2 Cor. 4:4 and 1 Peter 5:8 we see that Satan actively works to incite us to sin, just as he did to Eve in the garden of Eden. So put free will agents with dying bodies into a cursed world with an unseen but relentless adversary, and you get universally-evident sin. This isn’t about a spiritual mutation but sentient beings in a very bad environment. And when we remember that Adam sinned in a perfect environment, our own sin is practically guaranteed.

Yet while this paragraph argues that we did not inherit Adam’s sin, note that it contradicts the earlier paragraph citing Rom. 5 as Adam being the cause of our collective guilt. If we did not inherit Adam’s sin, how did we inherit his guilt? If, as the referenced passage in Ezekiel states, we do not share in the punishment of someone else, then how can we be held guilty? Is it possible for anyone to be charged with guilt over an intrinsic quality without bearing the punishment for that guilt? And if we all agree that we suffer the results of Adam’s sin, then we are indeed suffering the punishment. Such arguments are both illogical and contradictory.

The other error is the thinking that God made Adam just like us as far as our ability to sin. Mankind is not just able to sin, but we have been made slaves to sin with the propensity to sin as if it is just a part of our created nature. Watch a young child and see how naturally they learn how to lie without anyone ever teaching them this sin. But Adam was not this way. He was created able to sin when tempted but he was also created able not to sin.  He was created with sin having no hold on him. He could turn his back on sin as easily as shooing a fly off of his shoulder because that was his nature as a perfect sinless man. The only way that Adam or Eve could sin would be through deception or through willful rebellion. There was no other way possible as sin did not live in Adam or Eve.

Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, but what exactly that means is highly debatable. In this particular case it is agreed that this entails at the very least the ability to choose freely, as the article admits that Adam had no nature or environmental explanation for his sin. But to assign all subsequent sins to a “sin nature” that gives us a “propensity to sin” is special pleading. We have already seen that if people can sin in a perfect environment, a corrupt environment surely and exponentially increases the odds of sinning.

The appeal to anectodal evidence for the “sinful” acts of young children again presumes that “sin” is merely and universally breaking God’s commands regardless of the capacity of the person to comprehend them. Yet in Isaiah 7:16 we are told by God that a child takes time to develop the ability to know good from evil. Gen. 8:21, Ps. 51, etc. speak of people being evil from childhood, but poetic hyperbole is not doctrine or fact. Children are not raised by parents merely to provide for physical needs, but also to take responsibilty for any laws they may break in ignorance. This is hardly an evil, mystical propensity at work, but once again just a sentient being, and a developing one, in a mortal body and a corrupt world. Babies don’t throw tantrums because they are rebelling against God! Yet it is rebellion that Adam alone is charged with, and Paul speaks of those who “did not sin as did Adam” (Rom. 5:14). Certainly, as already discussed, someone who knowingly sins and keeps at it will find sinning easier and easier, but stopping harder and harder. Yet this is not the work of a mystical force at all.

Adam was in this same place. When Adam chose to rebel against God’s one law in an act of rebellion, he fell from his place of perfection into the life of a habitual sinner. And it is Adam’s rebellion that we inherit. Adam’s rebellion tainted his very being at the moment that he reached out and touched the fruit and ate…

Scripture never says or implies that we “inherit Adam’s rebellion”, and again this contradicts the earlier claim that we do not inherit Adam’s “sin”. In other words:

  1. We inherit Adam’s rebellion
  2. Adam’s rebellion is sin
  3. So we inherit Adam’s sin

This is in direct opposition and contradiction to the earlier statement citing Ezekiel 18. So to avoid this the paragraph goes on to redefine rebellion from “sin” to a “tainted being”, and this tainting is defined as an irresistible propensity to sin instead of actual sin. Yet again, no scripture even hints at such a monumental event, and no amount of inference can put such words in God’s mouth.

Eve was not charged with bringing sin into the world because she did not sin in rebellion against God. Eve was deceived into disobeying God’s command and so although she sinned, she did not sin in the way of satan the first rebellious one. It is impossible for Eve to bring the nature of rebellion to her seed because she never sinned in rebellion.

Never? How does anyone know, because it just had to be so? Again, there is agreement that Eve did not rebel in the garden; she was deceived. But remember what God said would happen when they ate the fruit? They would die. We have seen that this means they became mortal, and no one claims Eve escaped this consequence. So in fact both of them sinned equally in eating the fruit, and thus both became mortal. Proof of this is their reaction: “their eyes were opened” and they hid from God (Gen. 3:7-8). The relationship between them and God was marred immediately, and they were now mortal; scriptural backing for that is in Rom. 5:12. The Greek grammar tells us that the sin we commit is proof that we all die (see this article). And when did God ever say that if Adam or Eve ate the fruit there would be additional penalties?

Clearly, what happened after their eyes were opened was in addition to the sin of eating the fruit. THIS is where we see a difference between Adam and Eve regarding their respective legacies. As the article goes on to state, Eve was shown mercy because she was deceived, and she was not told (as Adam and the serpent would be), “Because you have done this…”. She certainly sinned willfully by eating the fruit, since the serpent did not force it into her hand or mouth, but when confronted by God she did not rebel against Him by blaming either Him or Adam for her sin. She did “pass blame” to the serpent, but the serpent was guilty as charged. THAT is the key difference. In contrast, Adam blamed God and Eve while completely ignoring the serpent, and it is for this defiance of God that Adam was punished beyond mortality for eating the fruit.

If we remove the effect of the first Adam, what will we miss from God’s typology that has been provided by the last Adam? The universality of the last Adam is connected to the first Adam and even more since Christ is able to remove not just the sin of one man, but the transgressions of the many (Romans 5:16). The passage is an extremely important apologetic passage for the universality of Christ’s sacrifice, but if we remove the connection between the sin of the one man having an effect on all to bring them to be sinners, how will we use Paul’s connection to Christ having universal importance and effect?

Here we see the corner into which insistence upon a “sin nature” has painted it. It has been presumed that the typology Paul is using must be a comparison of “natures”, when as we’ve already seen, the comparisons are primarily of contrasts, of how unlike the two “types” are: “But the gift is NOT like the trespass…”. The only similarity is the “one to many/many to one”, and even that is an opposite. And we’ve also seen that the passage is about both literal, physical death and legal relationships, meaning that just as Adam brought mortality, a cursed earth, and our being held for ransom (Mt. 20:28, Mk. 10:45, 1 Tim. 2:6, Heb. 9:15), Jesus cleared us of all charges and offers us, by faith, a new and immortal body as well as a restored relationship with God as His adopted children. So “sin nature” is not at all required to keep Paul’s typology.

The next paragraph further illustrates the untenable position the “sin nature” view is pushed into.

It is important that Eve did not take on a sin nature of rebellion for it was her seed alone that would be without inherited sin in order for the Messiah to be born sinless and without the natural inclination to sin as a slave to sin.  Eve was not taken from Adam after he sinned and thus Eve was the only woman who did not have Adam’s old man nature. She was the only one that the Messiah could come through her own lineage. If Eve sinned in rebellion there would be no one left for the Messiah to come through.

Because of the “sin nature” theory, it must follow that Jesus escape this “tainting” somehow. One view is that His mother was made sinless, but this merely moves the line in the sand. Another is that at the moment of conception Mary’s “seed” was mystically cleansed of “tainting”, but this also begs the question since scripture never even hints at such a thing. But both views, as well as this third one, arise from the presumption that a human father is the cause of “sin nature” being passed to all people.

In this particular view the problem is allegedly solved by inventing a sinless line from Eve through every woman, somehow independent of Adam. How was this accomplished? The following paragraphs first argue that only Adam was driven out, and I concur. But other details therein are derived from the flawed argument of “sin nature” and failure to grasp where the differences lie between the aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sins. But after that I expected to see an explanation of the mechanism by which this “pure seed” would be passed down through the generations to Mary, yet the case abruptly ends without it. How exactly was this pure seed transmitted though every woman had a human father, including Mary? Nothing is offered to explain; it simply is left to the reader’s imagination.

I have seen elsewhere that the only way around this “little” oversight is that a woman’s eggs are sinless. But here again we have a “fact” pulled from thin air, and this one doesn’t even have tradition on its side. In addition, all these arguments imply that all men must be hopelessly forced to want to sin, while women (I must presume) only have half that bent. ;-) But such a theory is just like the popular one that says all women inherit Eve’s deceivability, as well as Adam’s rebellion. It all winds up in a tangled mess of contradictions, presumptions, and fanciful illusions, not scriptural teachings.

Do you see the regressive “nature” of the whole argument? This is how great error is started and perpetuated. People begin with the goal they wish to prove, jump to wild conclusions from very dubious interpretations, and then declare their arguments airtight. They run in circles in an effor to tie up all the loose ends that just don’t fit, and the result is something like a contraption right out of Rube Goldberg. As Christians we need to go back to sound reasoning and the basics of reading comprehension before presuming to establish teachings that can impact the soul.

Posted 2010-03-26 under salvation, behavior, Bible text, Christian living, women, debate, original sin, Adam, Eve, egalitarian