Did St. Augustine "invent" Original Sin?

In a quite openly anti-Catholic column in the German Der Spiegel, which is no surprise, well-known publisher Jakob Augstein comments on the results of the survey of Catholics by the Bishops’ Conference in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod later this year. He makes some outrageous statements, which doesn’t surprise yet angers me, which are either malicious or just ignorant. Or both.

Here are some excerpts. Afterwards, I will pose my question.

The result [of the survey] – nothing – is less surprising the fact of the survey itself …] What is the point of this? Christianity has been an anti-sexual religion for 2000 years — which hasn’t harmed the West. Where would we be without our hypocrisy?

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.” That’s what it says in Mark. It is of course meant in an entirely different way from how youths would understand it in their religion class [at school]. Nowhere is there greater discrepancy between Church teaching and real life than on the topic of sex: …] where, except Iran or the US Bible Belt, is Catholic sexual morality still in practice?

Pope Gregory I created a strict catalogue of punishments for sins of the flesh about 1400 years ago, and churchmen made sure it was observed — only by others, of course. For the longest time after the Ascension the Catholic clergy did not live by its own rules. Pope Alexander VI had Roman girls come to show them his Basilica [no, not St Peter’s Basilica] to amplify religious ecstasy. This Berlusconi of the Holy See was only a very glaring variant of classic religious bigotry: publicly preach against sex, and then still do it more or less privately.

Here now, comes the part which my question is about:

In the beginning, Christianity had less of a problem with sexual morality. In I Corinthians, Paul writes: “I would rather all people be like me” – chaste and celibate – “but”, the Apostle continues, “each has his own gift from God, some like this, others like that” [paraphrased]. There was some wiggle-room, which the Church Father Augustine closed three centuries later. He invented the idea of Original Sin, which is transmitted from human to human since Adam like an STD. A “logic of terror”, as historian of philosophy Kurt Flasch calls this doctrine, which has influenced Christianity more than most others.

Well, did St. Augustine invent Original Sin? I believe he didn’t, but I’d like some evidence the doctrine was taught before him. At least in principle.

Can you help?

St. Paul taught Original Sin.
Romans 5: 12-21
1 Corinthians 15: 21-22

Can you please provide a link to the article?

Allow me to give an answer to all the excerpts you provided from the article:

The result [of the survey] – nothing – is less surprising the fact of the survey itself …] What is the point of this? Christianity has been an anti-sexual religion for 2000 years — which hasn’t harmed the West. Where would we be without our hypocrisy?

Christianity is not anti-sexual. Christians by definition follows the teachings of Our Lord Jesus . Jesus said:

“Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”…

The Catholic Church teaches the commandments of God and God’s will for humanity. Much to the contrary to Mr. Jakob Augstein’s claim; the Catholic Church uphold the beauty and value of sex in a bright light that illuminates human dignity.

Where would we be if people obeyed God’s teaching on sex: in a more humane society for sure.

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.” That’s what it says in Mark. It is of course meant in an entirely different way from how youths would understand it in their religion class [at school]. Nowhere is there greater discrepancy between Church teaching and real life than on the topic of sex: …] where, except Iran or the US Bible Belt, is Catholic sexual morality still in practice?

Yes! Catholic sexuality is practiced in every corner of the globe where ever there are practicing Catholics.

Pope Gregory I created a strict catalogue of punishments for sins of the flesh about 1400 years ago, and churchmen made sure it was observed — only by others, of course. For the longest time after the Ascension the Catholic clergy did not live by its own rules. Pope Alexander VI had Roman girls come to show them his Basilica [no, not St Peter’s Basilica] to amplify religious ecstasy. This Berlusconi of the Holy See was only a very glaring variant of classic religious bigotry: publicly preach against sex, and then still do it more or less privately.

He the the reporter is making a preposterous claim with no justification. Of course the Catholic Church lived by it’s own rule since the time of Jesus to today. However, exactly because God respects our human dignity even the members of the clergy maintain their free will after ordination. A man is not made a mindless servant of God when he is ordained. he maintains his free will and can sin. There have been members of the clergy that have sin.

Absolutely not. Saint Augustine did not invent original sin. Please see this biblical analysis: newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm

In the beginning, Christianity had less of a problem with sexual morality. In I Corinthians, Paul writes: “I would rather all people be like me” – chaste and celibate – “but”, the Apostle continues, “each has his own gift from God, some like this, others like that” [paraphrased]. There was some wiggle-room, which the Church Father Augustine closed three centuries later. He invented the idea of Original Sin, which is transmitted from human to human since Adam like an STD. A “logic of terror”, as historian of philosophy Kurt Flasch calls this doctrine, which has influenced Christianity more than most others.

The teachings of the Church have been constant and the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. The reporter needs to either go back and read the bible and search his soul or be more sincere with the context of the data he presents.

By the hatred and propaganda tactics that Mr. Jakob Augstein employes to attack the Catholic Church, it is evident that he has his own agenda and is discontent with the Church. He is presenting facts out of context to portray the Church as wrong. He is a good writer and appears to know enough about the Church to be doing this consciously. So, his articles are just anti-catholic propaganda without substance.

Here you go, but it’s German. The above quotations are my translation.

spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/jakob-augstein-ueber-die-scheinheilige-sexualmoral-im-vatikan-a-945708.html

Again, I am not a bit surprised. The Spiegel is good at this.

Absolutely. I cannot stand his person. When he talks/writes about things, that is. It is no secret the Spiegel, I dare say, hates the Catholic Church. They don’t always show it as clearly as this article, but in almost every single report that tone is innate. Then there is the whole matter of what they report, and where they place the article.

Further evidence of their anti-Catholic bigotry is supplied by merely looking at what types of comments the vast majority of readers make on their posts. I could go on.

Yes, and I say enough said. I think the question has been answered. We certainly do not want to promote anti-catholic propaganda nor translate their work. The link should be removed as it is to a foreign language website.

Well, the link was asked for… and I don’t get why I’m not permitted to post stuff in other languages. I even provide authentic translations. For those who want to read the original, there’s Google which still gives you the general idea.

This policy on foreign language links is driving me nuts, since I can’t post anything in “Catholic News” about what’s going on here in Germany in the Church. Foreign media won’t report it, so there’s no English language. Yet, it’s news that may be of interest. :shrug:

Yes, I did ask for the link.

I think it is against the CAF rules to link to a website that is in a foreign language.

I understand. Well, one solution is to provide your own translation and post it in a forum outside of the News forum, as you did with this topic. Btw, I am glad you started this thread because it does inform of the attacks happening in a different language and people can provide a response for others to read in the internet. I don’t think we want to give the attacks promotion, however. This is not to avoid by any means a logical discussion with the reporter. The reporter is very welcome to respond. I hope he does.

I wasn’t accusing you, just to make sure. :slight_smile:

Yes, but that’s an awkward rule. :smiley:

I did provide translations on the “News” forum. But if it’s against CAF’s rules, then I can’t post it anywhere. It really should go into the News forum, since it is news. Some things are not of apologetic nature.

I think it is very important to keep up to date on such matters, which is why I appreciate your appreciation. :slight_smile:

I understand that in the News forum it is required that you provide a link to a news article. In other forums, such as this one, a link is not required and you can provide your translation.

:slight_smile:

I lived in Germany for a couple of years. I enjoy Christmas in your country very much. I like the warm, fresh milk bread that is sold in the morning and is sold out within hours. :slight_smile:

I find it bothersome, that a media venue, such as the Spiegel, can present anti-catholic propaganda in such a way as to give the impression that they are representing the view of the German people. When I lived in Germany I met many faithful, practicing Catholics. They need to put together their own media venue and express their views.

Just to share, a while back, I came upon a Holy See (in german) tld website. It is so vulgar and if you know which one I mean, you will agree that it is pass the point of being sick. I just thought what a pity, this means that people can type this domain seeking for the Holy See website and they would have to see what is on that website and the attacks against the Church. I decided to find out who owned top level domains of the Holy See. There are some that are directed to the Vatican, such as holysee.org but there are plenty out there that can get to the wrong hands. I decided to buy a top level domain that was available in a top foreign language and I will be donating it to the Vatican. Heaven forbids it gets into the wrong hands.

You’re correct that the world would be a more human place if people followed the Church’s current teaching sex. Not sure how what you quoted speaks to the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, but it certainly backs up Her teaching on marriage and divorce.

However, that Church has not always taught what it teaches today. Thank-you mother Church for Pope Pius XI’s Casti Connubii, Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body which clearly espouse the good of human sexuality. The marital embrace is Sacramental, unitive and life giving. However, the Church has not always talk about or thought about sex this way. In fact, St. Augustine taught that sex was to be tolerate inside of wedlock and was minimally a venial sin. Over time the Church has come to a fuller understanding of our human design and thank goodness for that…

About Christmas and bread: Yes! :slight_smile: How could one not like it?

On German Catholic media: It’s all across the landscape here. Focus, SPIEGEL, Süddeutsche Zeitung, ARD, ZDF, all the big networks and papers. There’s a window that would allow them to be exposed, but the longer it takes, the more this will actually become the opinion of the people. They’re powerful. And that angers me. I do not buy the SPIEGEL, since I cannot stand their leftist propaganda. It becomes very clear in Church related matters, and politics that involve moral arguments (abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality).

There is Catholic media here, but… It’s German. If you ask me, many of the authors there will, admittedly, not be anti-Catholic and bigoted, but they will push what is termed “liberal Catholicism”. There is of course no such thing, but if one were to call it that… Anything on the above three matters of politics, plus remarried divorcees and Communion, and women priests, will trigger “progressive” reactions in many Catholic media outlets here.

I found the site, and closed it straight away.

The transmission of original sin is dogma de fide, the highest level of theological and doctrinal truth. It is an infallible statement divinely revealed. This includes the Holy Trinity, the Real Presence, and the fact that our first parents in paradise sinned grievously through transgression of the Divine probationary commandment, lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God, became subject to death and to the dominion of the Devil, in such way that Adam’s sin is transmitted to his posterity by descent and natural generation. This is all from the great book of Dr. Ludwig Ott, “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”.

You can find out more about Original Sin in the Catholic Encyclopedia (link to article) and on the Catechism (link to section).

Pelagianism was the first heresy to deny original sin. The Council of Carthage (419) condemned this heresy in Canon 110

Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the laver of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema.

For no otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, “By one man sin has come into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed upon all men in that all have sinned,” than the Catholic Church everywhere diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith (regulam fidei) even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration.

s. Augustine did not “invent” something held by the Church Universal. Besides it being taught by St. Paul, the same St. Augustine invokes the testimony of eleven Fathers, Greek as well as Latin, when speaking on the matter. That this doctrine existed in Christian tradition before St. Augustine’s time is shown by the practice of the Church in the baptism of children. The Nicene Creed indeed states: “Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum”, “I profess one baptism for the remission of sins.”. Children were baptized for the remission of sin - what sin is that, other than Original Sin, which they were remitted in Baptism?

As Catholics, you and I need no such thing as “evidence”. Our profession of faith includes: “Credo…Sancta Ecclesia Catholica”, “I believe…the Holy Catholic Church”. We believe the Church as Christians. Is that also up for questioning? :o

Why, after all, that circumcision was not due to Gentile converts was not taught before Peter brought it up to the attention of the Council of Jerusalem. But Peter did not “invent” this, since this was revealed to him by the Lord. So even if (and it is not the case!) Augustine had been the first one to articulate the concept as we know it, this would bear no burden of proof since the Church approved it and thus it was revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Quotes please? :shrug:

Let’s not forget John 3:5. :slight_smile:

[FONT=Arial]This verse is really amazing because when you read it you’re taken back to Genesis 2:27 where God instructs Adam that the day they eat of the tree of knowledge they will surely die. The death God was referring to was not only physical death but also spiritual death. The loss of sanctifying grace in the soul, which is an even worse death than the physical one we experience. Now in John 3:5, we have God in the Person of Christ say we must be baptized so we can be born again! Until we are baptized we are still spiritually dead; cut off from sanctifying grace. We are still living the consequence of our first parents. It is not until we are baptized are we said to be truly alive. Baptism restores our souls to sanctifying grace; life. Baptism would be unnecessary had there been no Original Sin.

IMHO, I believe the Jews back in the Biblical times had an idea of Original Sin when they would blame diseases or infirmities as being a punishment for a person’s sin or the sin of that person’s parents.
[/FONT]

Thank you for the references to Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body. You write “In fact,…” to imply the reference to Saint Augustine as one of many. Can you please provide the references? The teachings of the Church go back to the teachings of Our Lord Jesus. The encyclicals on sex seem to only compliment each other and do not annul each other as Pope Pius XI clearly states in Casti Connubii.

I am not an expert on Saint Augustine and have seen those that are defend Saint Augustine’s comments as having been taken out of context. At any rate, the writings of the Church Fathers do not constitute official Church teachings. As a matter of fact, they are not always in agreement with each other.

That said, Pope Pius XI quotes Saint Augustine in Casti Connubii.
vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html

The official teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage and sex go back to the teachings of Our Lord Jesus who entrusted the Church to its discipline and care.

“How great is the dignity of chaste wedlock, Venerable Brethren, may be judged best from this that Christ Our Lord, Son of the Eternal Father, having assumed the nature of fallen man, not only, with His loving desire of compassing the redemption of our race, ordained it in an especial manner as the principle and foundation of domestic society and therefore of all human intercourse, but also raised it to the rank of a truly and great sacrament of the New Law, restored it to the original purity of its divine institution, and accordingly entrusted all its discipline and care to His spouse the Church.” Pius XI - CASTI CONNUBII

Nice post. :thumbsup:

Nice post. :slight_smile:

This brings to mind the reference in the OT about the children suffering the sins of their parents up to fourth generation. The reality that sin and the tendency to sin is passed from generation to generation (original sin) makes sense in the light of the OT statements about the descendants suffering for the sins of their ancestors. It makes sense too in our day to day life, because in actuality if I indulge in certain evils my children witness this and are influenced. The declaration in the OT comes from God and so even if the children are not raised by their parents they will still suffer the evils of the sins of the parents. To say, the idea of original sin is not that far fetch in the OT.

This only serves to evidence to me personally what I already know, that Our Lord Jesus is the Messiah. There are truths in the OT that have been divinely revealed to the Catholic Church, such as the Trinity and serve to evidence the truth of the divinity of Our Lord Jesus. Is like when Jesus told Peter that he could answer in the way that he did because the matter had been revealed to him by God. Here I see in the OT the doctrine of original sin, but it needs to be dusted out and divinely revealed.

Exodus 20:5
The Ten Commandments
…4"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Exodus 34:7
maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation."

Deuteronomy 5:9
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

John 9:2
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Thanks for the reply. I’m traveling, but will gladly look up and provide specific quotes. I have seen the argument that Augustine’s views on sex have been taken out of context too. As one would expect, sometimes they are. However, we would be intellectually dishonest if we didn’t recognize a deep pathology inherent in some historical Church views on sex.

What I can provide now (and anyone should be able to look this up easily)is the fact that the Church’s views on sex have changed dramatically over the life of the Church…For example, the Church used to have “sex police” who “audited” sex between couples…married couple could be burned at the stake if they were caught having sex with the women on top. Sex was only for conceiving children, and for the male (and especially the female) to enjoy sex was not only deemed sinful, but could send you to hell.

Thank goodness for the development of teaching over time… Sometimes development means rescinding a false view and embracing a deeper understanding of human nature.

I agree. We do not want at all to be intellectually dishonest and so I would ask to please provide me with at least some direction to conduct a research. I understand that you are traveling and I can look up the reference if you can give me some information if only from memory of where you read about the ‘sex police’ and 'audited" sex between couples. I would not be comfortable with leaving those comments in limbo for a while without a response.

I did Google the phrases you provided but did not come up with anything, except some reference to Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy by Peter de Rosa (Corgi Books, London, 1988). Is this book what you may be referencing? I am surprised to see that the University of Colorado promotes it: colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/RelSci/SexCat.html

By your words here, you seem to be holding the view that the Church changes her teachings, is this so? I would say the Church illuminated by the Holy Spirit, comes to a deeper understanding of the teachings of Christ and manifest this as she shepherds the faithfuls to salvation.

The Catholic Church supposed historical abhorrence of sex is dated back to Augustine. I can say two things off the top of my head, one is that Augustine needs to be understood in a spiritual context and the other is that his writings need to be considered as having been written during the span of his life. Again, I am not well read on Augustine, but I do see people taking little phrases from his writings and presenting the statement out of the spiritual context that gave them root.

Peace

In his book “Against Julian,” St. Augustine answers the charge that he “invented” original sin by (1) proving it from the Scriptures and (2) proving it from the Fathers. I’ve gone through and compiled some of his quotes. There are more in the original. Another resource to look up early references to original sin is Jurgens’ book “Faith of the Early Fathers.”

— 100 A.D. - 200 A.D. —

St. Irenaeus - “Men cannot be saved in any other way from the ancient wound of the Serpent except by believing in Him who according to the likeness of sinful flesh was lifted up from the earth on the tree of testimony and drew all things to Himself and gave life to the dead." (Against Heresies Book 4 Chapter 2 Paragraph 8)

And: “Just as the human race was bound to death by a virgin it is released through a virgin, the obedience of a virgin evenly counterbalancing the disobedience of a virgin. For the sin of the first-formed was wiped out by the chastisement of the First-born, the wisdom of the Serpent was conquered by the simplicity of the dove, and we were released from the chains by which we were bound to death.” (Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 19)

— 200 A.D. - 300 A.D. —

St. Cyprian - “[Since] nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace, how much rather ought we to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins—that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another.” (Letter 58, To Fidus)

— 300 A.D. - 400 A.D. —

St. Hilary of Poiters - “[David] does not think he lives in this life, for he had said: ‘Behold I have been conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me.’ He knows that he was born of sinful origin and under the law of sin.” (Exposition of Psalm 118)

St. Ambrose of Milan - “Before we are born we are stained by contagion, and before seeing the light we receive the injury of our very origin, we are conceived in iniquity. [Scripture] does not say whether that of our parents or our own. [But] in sins his mother gives birth to each one. Nor does [Scripture] state here whether the mother gives birth in her own sins or whether there are already some sins in the one being born. But, consider whether both are not to be understood. The conception is not without iniquity, since the parents are not without sin, and if not even a child of one day is without sin, so much more are those days of the maternal conception not without sin. Thus, we are conceived in the sin of our parents and are born in their iniquities. But birth itself also has its own contagions, and the nature itself has not merely one contagion.” (Defense of the Prophet David 11)

St. Gregory Nazianzen (Eastern Father) - “Let the word of Christ persuade you of this, also, as He says that no one can enter into the kingdom of heaven unless he is born again of water and the Spirit. Through Him the stains of the first birth are cleansed away, through which we are conceived in iniquity and in sins have our mothers brought us forth.” (Oratio in natalem Christi.)

St. Basil of Caesarea (Eastern Father) - “Fasting was established in paradise by law. For Adam received the first commandment: ‘From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you must not eat.’ But, ‘you must not eat’ means fasting, and the beginning of the Law. If Eve had fasted from the tree, we should not need [forgiveness]. For it is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. We have fallen ill through sin; we are healed by penance. But penance without fasting is vain. The accursed earth shall bring forth thorns and thistles for thee. Are you not ordained for sorrow and not for delights? … Because we did not fast we fell from paradise. Let us fast, therefore, that we may return to it.’ ” (Sermon 1)

Augustine comments: “[H]ear that we should not need this fast if man had not transgressed the law of fasting in the happiness of paradise, and [do not] deny that other men are born subject to the sin of those men. [H]ear what he adds: ‘Nor it is not the healthy who need a physician,’ and [do not] deny that we have lost by the sin of those men the health in which we were created. [T]he sentence pronounced against the first man… ‘The earth shall bring forth thorns and thistles for thee,’ applies to us also, [therefore do not] deny that they are subject to the sin whom you perceive to be subject to the same sentence.”

St. John Chrysostom (Eastern Father) - “When Adam sinned that great sin, and condemned all the human race in common, he paid the penalties in grief.” (Letter to Olympia) And: “Christ wept because mortality had transgressed to the point that, cast out from eternity, it loved the world of the dead. Christ wept because the Devil made mortal those who could have been immortal.” (Homily on the Resurrection of Lazarus) And: “It is clear that it is not the sin which comes from transgression of the law, but that sin which comes from the disobedience of Adam, which has defiled all.”

Augustine says: “We have fourteen other Eastern bishops Eulogius, John, Ammonianus, Porphyry, Eutonius, Porphyry, Fidus, Zoninus, Zoboennus, Nymphidius, Chromatius, Jovinus, Eleutherius, Clematius whom we have found together in one place and can introduce into this assembly, the very ones who sat as judges over Pelagius.” He says this because they “condemned those who say that the sin of Adam harmed him alone and not the human race; and that new-born infants are in that state in which Adam was before he sinned; and that infants even if they are not baptized have eternal life.”

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