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Original Sin

A strange purple-green fruit growing on a tree

“Original sin” refers to the first sins ever committed by Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6. More specifically, it refers to Adam’s sin as head of the family. It is generally agreed throughout Christianity that Adam’s sin had lasting consequences for all humanity.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Exactly what the consequences of Adam’s original sin are is a matter of dispute among different denominations.

  1. Calvinism subscribes to Federalism, believing that since Adam was head of the whole human family, all humans are both totally depraved and guilty of Adam’s original sin and are condemned to hell to pay for Adam’s sin.
  2. Others in Western Christianity typically believe that original sin corrupted human nature to total depravity but not that Adam’s descendants are guilty of his sin. In this view, men are only guilty for their own sins, but they are incapable of not choosing sin due to their fallen natures.
  3. The Eastern Orthodox Church was less influenced by Augustine. They agree that humanity bears many consequences of Adam’s sin—chiefly death—but they do not believe that Adam’s sin was imputed to all humanity nor that it intrinsically changed human nature. From an Eastern view, man is still intrinsically good but “wounded” with the sickness of sin and besieged by a fallen environment.