Bible Discussion Thread

  • Alan on James 2
    Augustine (354-430) first shaped the doctrine of original sin,[7][5] seeing it as based on the New Testament teaching of Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22) and the Old Testament verse of Psalms 51:5.[8][9][10][11][12] Tertullian (c. 155 - c. 240), Cyprian, Ambrose and Ambrosiaster considered that humanity shares in Adam's sin, transmitted by human generation. Augustine said that free will was weakened but not destroyed by original sin.[5] Augustine's formulation of original sin was popular among Protestant reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, who equated original sin with concupiscence (or "hurtful desire"), affirming that it persisted even after baptism and completely destroyed freedom to do good and proposed that original sin involved a loss of free will except to sin.[13]

    My question is. What did the early church (Before Agustine) believe? Clearly, they did not have Augustine's view.

    Also, are we saying Jesus was plan B?
  • Chris - in Reply on James 2
    Page 2.

    Origen (c. 244 AD):

    Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. And if it should seem necessary to do so, there may be added to the aforementioned considerations [referring to previous Scriptures cited that we all sin] the fact that in the Church, Baptism is given for the remission of sin; and according to the usage of the Church, Baptism is given even to infants. And indeed if there were nothing in infants which required a remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of Baptism would seem superfluous. (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3)

    The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.

    Cyprian of Carthage (c. 250 AD):

    If, in the case of the worst sinners and of those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from Baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin [committed no personal sin], except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old Death from his first being born. (Letters 64:5 of Cyprian and his 66 colleagues in Council to Fidus)
  • Alan - in Reply on James 2
    By the time Augustine came on the scene, Western church fathers had departed from the theology of sin of the Eastern Church, with one exception; they still held to the notion of human free will and responsibility. Augustine was quick to pounce on this awkward combination of ideas his western predecessors had left behind; namely, involuntary inherited sinfulness coupled with free choice. In 395 CE he wrote, "We have all become one lump of clay, that is, a lump of sinwe as sinners deserve nothing other than eternal damnation" (74). A few years later, in 397 CE he first "uses the epoc-making phrase, 'original sin' for the first time in the history of Christian thought" (74).
  • Chris - in Reply on James 2
    Alan, I wasn't able to receive all your comments sent under "Satisfaction Theories". You wrote about Anselm & that comment didn't finish off completely, as well as no further comment on Calvin & Aquinas. I'm not sure that I am adequately qualified to comment too deeply on anything you put forward as I haven't studied this matter to any great depth; just having a general understanding of our sin nature, God's View of our corruption, the extent of it & separation from Him, our inability to rectify matters & His involvement to adequately & eternally deal with it so that His punishment no longer bears upon us. I had simply responded to your initial question: "What did the early church (Before Augustine) believe?" I saw that as a general enquiry, hence my response, rather than a question to lead into a more in-depth analysis of the matter. However, thank you for your comments - they have been very interesting thus far.
  • Alan - in Reply on James 2
    Satisfaction Theories

    Satisfaction theories start from the idea that human sin constitutes a grave offense against God, the magnitude of which renders forgiveness and reconciliation morally impossible unless something is done either to satisfy the demands of justice or to compensate God for the wrong done to him. These theories go on to note that human beings are absolutely incapable on their own of compensating God for the wrong they have done to him, and that the only way for them to satisfy the demands of justice is to suffer death and eternal separation from God. Thus, in order to avoid this fate, they are in dire need of help. Christ, through his death (and, on some versions, through his sinless life as well) has provided that help. The different versions of the satisfaction theory are differentiated by their claims about what sort of help the work of Christ has provided. Here we'll discuss three versions: St. Anselm's debt-cancellation theory, the penal substitution theory defended by John Calvin and many others in the reformed tradition, and the penitential substitution theory, attributed to Thomas Aquinas and defended most recently by Eleonore Stump and Richard Swinburne.

    According to Anselm, our sin puts us in a kind of debt toward God. As our creator, God is entitled to our submission and obedience. By sinning, we therefore fail to give God something that we owe him. Thus, we deserve to be punished until we do give God what we owe him. Indeed, on Anselm's view, not only is it just for God to punish us
  • Chris - in Reply on James 2
    Page 1.

    Here are some excerpts from these early Church fathers. Origen & Cyprian seemed to veer off in relation to baptism & infants.

    Irenaeus (c. (late) 100 AD):

    Having become disobedient, [Eve] was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith. But this man [of whom I have been speaking] is Adam, if truth be told, the first-formed man. We, however, are all from him; and as we are from him, we have inherited his title [of sin]. Indeed, through the first Adam, we offended God by not observing His command. Through the second Adam, however, we are reconciled, and are made obedient even unto death. For we were debtors to none other except to Him, whose commandment we transgressed at the beginning. (Against Heresies 3:22:4; 3:23:2; 5:16:3)

    Tertullian (c. 200 AD)

    Finally, in every instance of vexation, contempt, and abhorrence, you pronounce the name of Satan. He it is whom we call the angel of wickedness, the author of every error, the corrupter of the whole world, through whom Man was deceived in the very beginning so that he transgressed the command of God. On account of his transgression Man was given over to death; and the whole human race, which was infected by his seed, was made the transmitter of condemnation. (The Testimony of the Soul 3:2, c. 200 AD).


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