Jay's take on original sin

This is a GAE-free zone. The GAE-specific topic is here.

Hi @MOls. I’ll come back to the specific examples of unfairness you cited, but I’d like to start with your observation that God is loving and just. Of course! And justice is nothing if not fair.

Think of the statue of the goddess with the scales in her hand and the blindfold on her eyes. Justice is blind. The Scripture says the same of God’s judgment. The Lord is not impressed with power or riches or reputation. All stand naked and ashamed before his eyes.

From this, it follows from God’s impartiality that God must judge every human being on the same basis, especially if the verdict is “heaven” or “hell,” to use the ordinary terms. (Setting aside purgatory, annihilation, and universalism.) From the first humans to the last, God shows no partiality. The same Christ who died and rose again will be seated on the throne and render the decision.

And what is the basis of his judgment? “I will judge you by your own words, wicked servant.” “I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink. I was hungry, and you gave me no bread. I was sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.” Christ does not judge according to the Law or an “objective” moral standard. He judges by our own thoughts, words, and deeds.

When were Adam and Eve condemned? When they ate the literal fruit, or when YHWH asked, “What have you done?” … And they blamed him and each other and the snake – everyone and everything but themselves. We choose evil and rationalize it against the voice of conscience. We say things in anger and defense of ego and justify it in our minds. We turn away from what we don’t want to see because it might place a moral obligation on us to do something. Who needs a conscience telling me what I should do when i have enough problems beating back the voice constantly reminding me of what I did do? No thank you!

Am I the only one on Earth who has these feelings, or are they universal? And if universal, then are Adam and Eve the only ones excluded from the universal experience of humanity? As Kierkegaard pointed out, this sets them “fantastically outside history.”

All of us are in the same boat and have been from the beginning. No one stands before the judgment seat of Christ and hears a decision based on someone else’s sin, even if that person is Adam himself. Basic fairness starts here.

More tomorrow. Stay safe!


Well the question is.How do we connect original sin with the evolution?Because clearly by quoting Adam as a person which is not quite the case what you are saying is that you believe that Adam and Eve were indeed literal.So how do you connect that to evolution?



Some things that always comes to mind when it’s on this subject are:

(1)Isaiah 7:15-16 NASB
15 He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

First regardless of what people believe about original sin one thing the Bible shows is that there is at some point in time when we can’t choose good or evil. We don’t have the mental capacity to do so. So that means we can’t choose evil.

(2) Isaiah 59:2 NASB
2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

These verses says that our sins causes a separation between us and God. If you can’t choose evil, your can’t have a sin that separates you from God. We know the sin must be of our own choosing because we are not guilty of another person’s sin.

(3) Ezekiel 18:20-22 NASB
20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. 21 “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.

It seems to say here that sin is something we choose. It even says if a man repents from his sins that he committed. These verses are repeatedly highlighting sin is something a person does themselves.

Plus anchored with the other verses about sin having always been here but until we had a law we were not accountable to it. I think it goes hand in hand with social evolution. Despite things of horror popping up it seems like overall there is a growth and ladder of societal emotional intelligence. Especially considering the fact we’ve evolved. We can see more “advanced” species showing more and more understanding. At one time our ancestors had no more understanding on good and evil then apes.

I was also thinking that there may be some literary evidence that Adam simply meant man as in mankind in the New Testament as well. Though weak, I feel i need to study it out more to understand it’s implications.

Romans 5:12-14 NASB
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

The concerns or things that stood out in those verses to me was that first it says death reigned over those who had not sinned like Adam. Adams sin was ultimately disobeying God. Until the law was wrote by Moses, it seems like there was no one divine standard being preached. We saw prophets like Noah and Abraham bring up stuff. But it seems different. Secondly is that it was not Adam who actually sinned first. It was Eve. So why does it not say through one woman and ect…

As I said I don’t fully know what the significance is of those verses, just that there is something there aThat I need to tease out more concerning sin.


Keep in mind that the hebrew word is ha-adam meaning mankind or simply “man”.Eve from the other hand her name was originally Chava meaning “mother of all living”.So we could say that Adam =mankind and eve=life.


Your assessment made me think of another paradox of concepts in the Bible:

  • Man’s free will
  • God’s sovereignty

Those ideas seem to be mutually exclusive, yet somehow they are both held to be true in the Bible


Thanks Jay, for laying out your view on Original Sin. I had the same question after reading your post as Nick:

If I have understood the views you present in your podcast: you do not see Adam and Eve as a literal, historical couple, but you read their story as being symbolic of every person’s experience. Is that right? Thus in your view, Original Sin would not point back to Adam and Eve. But all humanity has a Sin Nature, because we all share a common, universal experience of not behaving perfectly, as we should. Am I understanding that correctly?

That is true, we are all guilty and are held responsible for our own actions. I think any Reformed thinker would agree with that statement, but I think that the Reformed view would point to a historical point in time when Mankind/Humans were given moral responsibilities, and were found to fall short in their ability behave in a perfectly moral way. So people who believe in a literal first couple can easily point to that time in history. But adding in evolution makes that more challenging. How does your view on evolution solve that problem? When did Sin (or Moral Culpability) originate? Did Sin enter the entire population all at the same time, or did it spread in some way as people developed an ability for moral reasoning? Did God endow people with that sense of morality, or did morality evolve into the population? When did God start holding people responsible for their moral failings?

I think that all of these questions are relevant and central to my question that this thread was divided off from, so I’ll post them there, too, to see what other’s think:

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I’ve ended up harmonizing it in my head by considering that God knows all things. He is beyond time and limits and so he knows every choice we will make.

So he knew Judas would betray Jesus. He did not force him to betray Jesus but since he knew Judas would he was able to foretell it.

So mankind , and all things, has free will and we make our choices, but our all knowing Creator already knows the future and so if he knows someone like the pharaoh would go back on his word he may harden or soften their heart so that’s they may choose a harder choice but even then it’s still them choosing and God is able to justify the hardening of the heart because he knows the choices they will make.

It’s something we can’t actually completely understand, but I believe we can get close enough to be at peace with how it works. Or at least that’s how I feel it happens with me.

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Well surely it doesnt answer these questions but its a thought. As i said in every post in the end we do not know. We only have faith. I am a big fan of the famous “one i know that is i know nothing” .

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Yes I agree with that way of thinking about free will.

Sorry, I raised a point that got us a little off topic. However, by analogy I’d say that there are likewise some mysteries about Original Sin, so paradoxes could be contained within that concept, too:

  1. We are all responsible for our own sin
  2. At some point in time in human history, Sin entered humanity, and it became true that “all have sinned” and “there is no one righteous”

Point #2 differentiates us from the rest of creation. We do not hold a predator morally responsible for killing its prey. Nor do we say that it is immoral for an alpha male to fight with others of his species to maintain domenance

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Well from one hand Mi Krumm is right. Because if sin existed always like God thats an explanation of why Satan did rebell and God tried to protect humans from it.


I know people will be quick to dismiss this example as inadequate theology … but so much of the best of theology seems inadequate already.

If this one is inadequate, it at least embraces all the points MORE ADEQUATELY than all the other inadequate explanations:

The Chess Master Analogy

1] Chess players that are RATED Masters have a qualitative command over Chess tactics and strategies which, short of momentary lapses in concentration, ensures that they can and will defeat 100 opponents (if not HUNDREDS of opponents) all on the same day, in a single hotel conference room. [This used to be a popular demonstration, with tables of opponents lined up in long rows, and the Chess Master proceeding down the line, making move after move.]

2] Chess is an epitome of will vs will… no one is FORCED to intentionally lose.

3] Chess Masters can plan and anticipate, while in a constant engagement with their opponents employment of fluid free will - - and uniformly compel them to accept defeat. And in that process, Chess Masters find satisfaction that they have revealed yet another mystery into the stale minds of lesser players!

4] This is the closest model we have to the sovereignty of God WITH human free will.

Why is there an objection?

It would seem the biggest reason for an objection is that it means God’s theology is “universalist”.
Yep. Right. God’s theology is “universalist”. I think God shrugs his shoulders philosophically if a human gets upset by that notion.


In my readings in the Eastern Orthodox traditions, what humans frequently consider SIN is the part of God’s teachings to humanity to guide them to what is holy.

And in that process, God also requires humanity to EXPERIENCE these aspects personally… to understand the guilt of sin.

There are LOTS of people in the Western sphere of Christianity who would divorce this kind of thing completely from the mind of God. I understand WHY they want to keep sin out of the realm of God’s mind … but it doesn’t seem to fit human psychology (or the evolution of human psychology) very well.

The hebrew word of sin is khata. Meaning to fail a particular goal. In the sense a spiritual goal.What i understand from your post is youre saying that God created sin so that he could teach us what is holy?

Plus im half orthodox half protestant if somebody wants to put me in a denomination. I ve never heard of that particular teaching. However in other orthodox teachings if i remember correctly sin is personal. Like every person is born with his sins not the sins of his “ancestors”


You almost had it right.

I am saying that God created what some human observors want to CALL SIN… in order to teach us what is Holy.

Maybe if God wanted to, he could have made human perception just a little better … so that the distinction between what is REAL SIN TO GOD is easier to differentiate from what humans think LOOKS like sin.

Or maybe, ultimately, there really isn’t any sin at all to God.

In the realm of metaphysics, you place your money, and make your wager.

But I think the most obvious logical bet is Universalism, and a loving heart.


Yep… I more or less go along with that except the specific way you have worded it.

“every person is born with his sins” doesn’t seem to capture the Eastern Orthodox view.

Every person is born with a sinful nature… and various people and denominational communities have different answers for when the sinful nature yields its first SIN - - in any specific person.

But Orthodox saints and monastic writers agreed: being guilty of performing a sin is an inevitable expression of our innate sinful nature.

Are you a Universalist then; i dont quite understanted the post sorry. So in the end you say that maybe theres no sin to God at all? Kinda confused

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I happen to be a Universalist. But I am not serious about the idea that there is no sin at all.

There seems to be SOMETHING that everyone would agree is sin.

But I think there are somethings HUMANS call sin, that is really just God teaching us through tough love.

Ahh well not entirely sure there.I mean teaching us with love what is sin sure since Jesus said to the woman go and sin no more.But im kinda intrigued by what you said cause in my mind i try to connect the sin teachable with love with the sin teachable by punnishment and death in the OT


Certainly the Greeks DO believe Satan has something to do with SIN (see text below). But this article doesn’t address the definition problems for what is undoubtedly sin, and what just looks like it is sin.

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

The Eastern Orthodox version of original sin is the view that sin originates with the Devil, “for the devil sins from the beginning (1 John iii. 8)”.[81] They acknowledge that the introduction of ancestral sin[82][ better source needed ] into the human race affected the subsequent environment for humanity (see also traducianism). However, they never accepted Augustine of Hippo’s notions of original sin and hereditary guilt.[83][ better source needed ]

Orthodox Churches accept the teachings of John Cassian, as do Catholic Churches eastern and western,[52] in rejecting the doctrine of total depravity, by teaching that human nature is “fallen”, that is, depraved, but not totally. Augustine Casiday states that Cassian “baldly asserts that God’s grace, not human free will, is responsible for ‘everything which pertains to salvation’ – even faith”.[53] Cassian points out that people still have moral freedom and one has the option to choose to follow God. Colm Luibhéid says that, according to Cassian, there are cases where the soul makes the first little turn,[54] while Augustine Casiday says that, in Cassian’s view, any sparks of goodwill that may exist, not directly caused by God, are totally inadequate and only direct divine intervention ensures spiritual progress.[55] and Lauren Pristas says that “for Cassian, salvation is, from beginning to end, the effect of God’s grace”.[56]

Eastern Orthodoxy accepts the doctrine of ancestral sin
[aka: Ancestral Sin is the closest to Evolutionary Sin!]:
"Original sin is hereditary. It did not remain only Adam and Eve’s. As life passes from them to all of their descendants, so does original sin."[84] “As from an infected source there naturally flows an infected stream, so from a father infected with sin, and consequently mortal, there naturally proceeds a posterity infected like him with sin, and like him mortal.”[85]

The Orthodox Church in America makes clear the distinction between “fallen nature” and “fallen man” and this is affirmed in the early teaching of the Church whose role it is to act as the catalyst that leads to true or inner redemption. Every human person born on this earth bears the image of God undistorted within themselves.[86] In the Orthodox Christian understanding, they explicitly deny that humanity inherited guilt from anyone. Rather, they maintain that we inherit our fallen nature. While humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin. Adam and Eve are guilty of their willful action; we bear the consequences, chief of which is death."[87]

The view of the Eastern Orthodox Church varies on whether Mary is free of all actual sin or concupiscence. Some Patristic sources imply that she was cleansed from sin at the Annunciation, while the liturgical references are unanimous that she is all-holy from the time of her conception.[88][89]

I enjoy the discussion in this section on Irenaeus below!
Augustine thought Irenaeus put too much of sin’s fault on God:

Irenaeus’ use of Paul’s Epistles[edit]

Many aspects of Irenaeus’ presentation of salvation history depend on Paul’s Epistles.
Irenaeus’ conception of salvation relies heavily on the understanding found in Paul’s letters. Irenaeus first brings up the theme of victory over sin and evil that is afforded by Jesus’s death. God’s intervention has saved humanity from the Fall of Adam and the wickedness of Satan.[65] Human nature has become joined with God’s in the person of Jesus, thus allowing human nature to have victory over sin.[66] Paul writes on the same theme, that Christ has come so that a new order is formed, and being under the Law, is being under the sin of Adam Rom. 6:14, Gal. 5:18.

Reconciliation is also a theme of Paul’s that Irenaeus stresses in his teachings on Salvation. Irenaeus believes Jesus coming in flesh and blood sanctified humanity so that it might again reflect the perfection associated with the likeness of the Divine. This perfection leads to a new life, in the lineage of God, which is forever striving for eternal life and unity with the Father.[67][68] This is a carryover from Paul, who attributes this reconciliation to the actions of Christ: “For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” 1 Cor. 15:21–22.

A third theme in both Paul’s and Irenaeus’s conceptions of salvation is the sacrifice of Christ being necessary for the new life given to humanity in the triumph over evil. It is in this obedient sacrifice that Jesus is victor and reconciler, thus erasing the marks that Adam left on human nature. To argue against the Gnostics on this point, Irenaeus uses Colossians Col. 2:13–4 in showing that the debt which came by a tree has been paid for us in another tree. Furthermore, the first chapter of Ephesians is picked up in Irenaeus’s discussion of the topic when he asserts, “By His own blood He redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, ‘In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins.’”[69]

Irenaeus does not simply parrot back the message of Paul in his understanding of salvation. One of the major changes that Irenaeus makes is when the Parousia will occur. Paul states that he believes that it was going to happen soon, probably in his own lifetime 1 Thess. 4:15 1 Cor. 15:51–52. However, the end times does not happen immediately and Christians begin to worry and have doubts about the faith. For Irenaeus, sin is seen as haste, just as Adam and Eve quickly ate from the tree of knowledge as they pleased. On the other hand, redemption restored to humanity through the Christ’s submission to God’s will. Thus, the salvation of man will also be restored to the original trajectory controlled by God forfeited in humanity’s sinful in haste.[70] This rather slower version of salvation is not something that Irenaeus received from Paul, but was a necessary construct given the delay of the second coming of Jesus.

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