This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.
I’ve included a brief argument for original guilt below. It’s a rough summary of a paper presented by Thomas Schreiner at the National ETS Conference in Milwaukee, WI in 2012 titled “Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12-19,” which is also the title of a chapter by Schreiner in an upcoming book coming out in August 2014 titled Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives.
Through Adam, sin and death entered the world. Genesis 3 doesn’t say all mankind are sinners, but the narrative does communicate this reality because the Garden of Eden is far behind. The wages of sin is death. Thus, death is the result of sin. All die because all sinned. Individuals die because of individual sin, but sin and condemnation came through Adam. According to Romans 5:13-14 humans enter the world with Adam’s imputed guilt. Humans did not sin in the likeness of Adam, but humans are sinners due to dying in Adam. Those who died in the flood and at the tower of Babel died for their own sin even though they lived before the law was given. Those who died from Adam to Moses died for their sins. Those who live without the law will perish without the law (Rom. 2:12). Sinners perish because they violate the law written on their hearts (God’s moral norms). Schreiner proposes that death spread to all because all sinned. Sin and death entered the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12; but they’re condemned for Adam’s sin and their own sins). How can Paul say that sin is not reckoned in Rom. 2:13? Paul must be understood in light of verse 14. Sin must be there (Rom. 5:13) because death reigned like a king (Rom. 5:14). Paul means to separate Adam’s sin from those who sinned apart from special revelation.
Terrance Tiessen interacted with Schreiner’s paper. Here is an excerpt of Tiessen’s interaction:
Tom finds the first part of the verse clear: “through one man sin entered the world and death through sin.” Through Adam’s sin, both sin and death were introduced into the kosmos, which refers specifically to human beings, and this death had both physical and spiritual aspects, though they did not occur at the same moment. Although the narrator “doesn’t explicitly say that all human beings shared in Adam’s sin,” such a reading is supported by the narrative, “for paradise has certainly been left far behind beginning with chapter 4.” Since Adam all human beings “have entered the world as sinners and spiritually dead.”
Most scholars have argued that Paul breaks off his comparison in mid-sentence and does not pick it up again until 5:18, because he uses kai houtôs rather than houtôs kai, but Tom thinks we should not press the word order. Consequently, he sees the comparison completed in the latter part of 5:12. That leads to this paraphrase of the verse: “since sin and death entered the world through one man, so also death spread to all people since all sinned.” Thus, the evil powers of sin and death “rule over all people by virtue of Adam’s sin.”
Evidence of the difficulty of interpreting the last part of 5:12 is seen in the fact that Tom has changed his own mind about it since writing his Romans commentary. The change, however, “does not affect the truth that Adam is the covenant head of all human beings,” who enter the world condemned and dead because of Adam’s sin. In his commentary, Tom had argued thateph hô is a result clause, giving the translation: “and so death spread to all people, and on the basis of this death all sinned” (Romans, 273-77). In other words, all people sin individually because they enter the world spiritually dead, and they express that death by their sin.
Tom still considers this a possible reading, which fits theologically with what Rom 5:12-19 teaches. So his theological reading of the text has not changed, but he has now moved away from that rendering of eph hô for two reasons.
- though it is theologically true that spiritual death leads to sin (cf. Eph 2:1-3), Paul emphasizes that sin leads to death, in Rom 5 and 6 (cf. 5:13-14, 15, 17; 6:23). It is most plausible, therefore, “that 5:12cd teaches that death spread to all because all sinned.”
- although eph hô can designate result, in the three other occasions when Paul uses the phrase (2 Cor 5:4; Phil 3:12; 4:10), a causal sense seems preferable. Given that “Paul regularly argues in Romans 5 and 6 that sin begets death, context supports the interpretation, “and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (5:12).
A causal reading would fit well with a Pelagian understanding, since individuals are said to die because they sin, but Pelagianism ignores Paul’s repeated stress on Adam’s role as the originator of both sin and condemnation for all. Charles Cranfield also followed a causal reading, but he understood Paul to be saying that “human beings sin because they inherited a corrupt nature from Adam” (Romans 1-8, 278-79). Cranfield erred, however, because “sinned (hêmarton) does not mean ‘become corrupted’ in one’s nature. It refers to the act of sinning, and hence Cranfield strays from the wording of the text. (Read the rest of Tiessen’s article here.) HT: Hereiblog
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary affirms the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and the Articles of Religious Belief. Consider the sections in bold from the Articles of Religious Belief. Since all NOBTS professors must sign the Articles of Religious Belief, they all confess the doctrine of original guilt:
Article III – Satan and Sinful Man.
We believe that man was created innocent, but that being tempted by Satan, he sinned, and thereafter all men have been born in sin, and are by nature children of wrath. The original tempter was Satan, the personal devil, who with his angels has been since carrying on his work of iniquity among the nations of the earth. The essence of sin is non-conformity to the will of God, and its end is eternal separation from God.
Article IV – Christ, God’s Way of Atonement.
We believe that a way has been provided whereby men born in sin may be reconciled to God. That Way is Jesus Christ, whose death atoned for our sin, and through union with Him we become partakers of His merits, and escape the condemnation of God’s holy law. The atonement becomes personally effective through the foreordination and the grace of God, and the free choice and faith of man.
Article V – Christ, the Only Savior From Sin, Without Whom Men Are Condemned.
We believe that apart from Jesus Christ there is no salvation. He is the only and all-sufficient Savior of sinners, irrespective of natural talents, family connection, or national distinction. All men are under condemnation through personal sin, and escape from condemnation comes only to those who hear and accept the gospel. The heathen, then, are under condemnation just as well as those who hear and reject the gospel, for they are sinners by both nature and practice. The pressing and inviolable obligation rests upon every church and individual to present the gospel to all men, that to all men may come the means of eternal life. Unless we proclaim the gospel we shall suffer loss, not only in this life, but in the day when we render to God the account of our stewardship.
Article VII – Final Resurrection of All Men.
We believe in the final resurrection of all men, both the just and the unjust; and that those who here believe unto salvation shall be raised to everlasting life, while those who here disbelieve shall be raised to everlasting condemnation.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary confess the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and the Abstract of Principles. Consider section “VI. The Fall of Man” from the Abstract of Principles. Since all SBTS and SEBTS professors must sign the Abstract of Principles, they all confess the doctrine of original guilt:
VI. The Fall of Man
God originally created Man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.
I think the confessions from these three schools are very clear concerning the doctrine of original guilt. In Adam, all die. Praise God that Christ is the resurrection and the life!