Original sin if there is no historical Adam

And they’re all extremely old, dated stories predicated on misunderstanding of earliest Christian stories which misunderstood themselves and earlier Jewish misunderstandings. Even Jesus as very God in human form misunderstood. Or He wasn’t fully human.

So Jesus wasn’t fully human? Or He sinned in everything He did?

Regarding the position of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox on original sin, they differ from the Western Church in that humankind did not inherit the guilt of Adam & Eve’s sin, humankind did inherit the propensity to sin. We are not “blank slates”.

Coptic Church
The Bible clearly teaches that our original parents, Adam and Eve, fell in sin. Subsequently, every human being has been born with a sinful and corrupt nature. If the Bible didn’t explicitly teach this, we would have to deduce it rationally from the bare fact of the universality of sin.

Ethiopian Orthodox

Humans born as mortals, seek redemption since birth for they inherited debit from the first mankind Adam.

Syrian Orthodox

Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin. Only those two are guilty of that sin. We all who are descendants of Adam and Eve only inherit the consequence of that sin; not the guilt.

To be more clear; let us look at the following example:

Think of a married man who goes and commits adultery with a prostitute who has HIV. He also contracts HIV. Then he comes home and has relations with his wife. His wife conceives and a son is born with HIV. Only the man who committed adultery is guilty of that sin; the son is not guilty. Even though the son is not guilty of the sin of the father, the son still suffers the consequence of the sin of the father.

It is this corrupted nature (disease) and being a slave forever to death and Hades that the descendants of Adam inherited from Adam; just like the child in the above example inherited HIV infection from his father.

Eastern Orthodox
Concerning the original—or “first”—sin, that commited by Adam and Eve, Orthodoxy believes that, while everyone bears the consequences of the first sin, the foremost of which is death, only Adam and Eve are guilty of that sin.

(Do We Have Free Will? » Saint John the Evangelist Orthodox Church)

“… free will is our ability to choose between good and evil, between righteousness and sin.We acknowledge the limitations of human nature itself on free will, physical and spiritual. In every choice we risk falling into sin without the Grace of God to guide us. And sin limits our choices, drawing us away from God.”


Well researched! That is helpful, and illustrates for me some of the understandings that didn’t know. I think that there’s some controversy about Augustine’s interpretation based on a Latin, rather than a Greek, translation. Here’s one article.

Was There a “Fall” or Did Augustine Really Screw Everything Up? (peteenns.com)

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Yeah, that’s all just as bad as Augustine’s take which even if he’d never existed is easily read in to the NT. Because it’s there. The message, even from Jesus, that we are inextricably, intrinsically, perichoretically, inseparably evil. Which is just a hyperbolic, extreme metaphor for the evolved human condition. The good news is multiple. We can start again any and every time we ‘fall’, even though there will always be consequences in this little life, there is no need to be overwhelmed by shame, God fully understands our frame and will fix it all in the transcendent. We need to walk wounded and naked together and hold each other up. All He’s got is us now.

He was fully human. He simply did not share the fallen component of everyone else’s nature.

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What’s that?

Interesting thought. Could he be fully human if he did not share the tendency to sin yet he overcame it? Perhaps being fallen is our bent to sin, not being intrinsically sinful, and Christ being human shared that. Otherwise, his overcoming temptation would be meaningless.


Little ones are prone to wander from the straight and narrow, just as we all are. I just think the term “depravity” is a bit much.


Indeed, they tend to follow whatever random idea that pops into their head. That is natural and normal. It is how we learn… if we survive, that is! That is why I object to the notion that every mistake is a sin… how can that be when it is part of how we learn? Learning is good – it is life. No. Sin is something different – opposite to both life and learning. It is bad habits that get in the way of both, refusing to learn from our mistakes. We see excellent examples of these in Genesis, such as when Adam and Eve blamed everything and everyone but themselves for their error. And then there was Cain, who instead of learning from his brother’s success, chose to simply remove the brother that was making him look bad.

To be sure we imitate the sins we see others do, starting from Eve following Adam’s example in blaming others. But this imitation is another natural part of the way we learn. So I refute this notion that we have some nature to sin… sounds like a bogus excuse to me. Is the deck stacked against us? Yes. But only because of the environment we live in with bad examples all around us to imitate. Our greatest triumphs are generally coming to the realization of how one (more if we are lucky) habit is bad and fighting against it. But for every one we fight against there are a hundred more we follow blindly.

It not just the word but the explanation of it that sin poisons everything we do and we are not capable of any good whatsoever. We are not incapable of good. We are just incapable of saving ourselves – that is all. Both the word “depravity” and its explanation are too much and not just in the case of children.

Yes. Adam and Eve before the fall were completely human. Jesus was the second Adam, and thus without sin and with a relationship with the Father which gave Him a different example to learn from. Yes Jesus had to learn, it is part of that “growing in stature” bit and very much a part of what it means to be fully human. There is no tendency to sin. Temptation? Yes. Jesus overcame the temptation to sin. We know that. And we know how – by following the guidance of His Father.

“State” is a good word for it. I refute the word “nature,” but agree with the word “state.” We are in a fallen state and Jesus like Adam before the fall was not in such a state. But “fallen nature?” I don’t believe in any such thing. And that state consists of a broken relationship with the Father, who has withdrawn from our lives because with our bad habits of blaming everything but ourselves, it is too easy for His presence in our lives to do more harm than good.

Though this is one of the changes brought by the coming of Jesus. Not only is there the restored inheritance from God in Jesus untainted by the habits of sin. But He also provided a way to have a close relationship with God without doing more harm that good. In the cross there is a gut understanding that the problem is not in God but in ourselves.

I mean that even little children can sin: lying, cheating, stealing, hitting, bullying.

Yes and they can become bad habits really fast.

But they don’t start that way… obviously. You cannot misuse a power to do something before you even have any power to do anything.

Regarding the human nature of Jesus, the first general council of Nicaea in 325 AD was convened to address that very topic. The conclusion was that Jesus is fully God and fully man, but without sin. Those relying on rational logic find this contradictory and makes no sense. I believe that the bishops who convened in that council would all heartily agree and say Amen!

It took them nearly 300 years to come to the conclusion that it is beyond our understanding. We accept the oxymoron on faith. As the apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” c

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

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It makes sense to me though. 100% God and 100% man, indeed! I think they are compatible because God is all about an absence of limitations in what He can do. So God can be whoever and whatever He chooses. It is only our humanity that implies limitations – so why cannot God choose those limitations if that is what He desires. The bizarre thing is the attempt of theologians to rip such power and choices away from God to confine God to their made up definitions and lists of the things God cannot do. With prohibitions including so many of the things that any human being can do, it is no wonder they find themselves mired in contradictions over this agreement of the council of Nicea!

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The human nature of Christ is theologically correct as he emptied himself to live as a human being and in doing so lived without sin. This provided a way for the salvation of humanity (as Paul states, I live in Christ although I die because of sin). Christ showed (and in doing this made the penalty of the Law subject to Himself) that by faith in God and filled with the Holy Spirit, life is lived without sin.

I think people may get confused in their discussions of Christ as fully human and also fully the Son of God. Understanding this doctrine would help us understand why the Love of God is displayed by sending His Son for our salvation.

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As we all probably have noted, there are a variety of interpretations about original sin. As well told by Woodcutter, most agree that we have a tendency to slip from the right way. Most (all?) of us are selfish and for some reason, we want to decide our acts and fate, rather than trust God. We want to be the ruler of our own life and thereby push God from His place - that is rebellion.

What is perhaps more crucial is what is the consequence of original sin to us. If a newly born child dies, is he condemned because of the original sin? As many others, I would say that the child is not guilty and therefore not condemned. The practical consequence of this interpretation is that we don’t need to put so much emphasis on what A&E did. Historical or not, our fate is not determined by their actions.

So, using a different approach, I end up to the same conclusion as Woodcutter.
Or did I understand the conclusion of the first post correctly?

Ezekiel 18: 19-20
“A son will not suffer the punishment for the father’s guilt …”


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