Original "sin" - the keystone of Christian doctrine


Christian church theologians - from word one - fully understood
the criticality of positing the existence of Original Sin.

[Saul of Tarsus surely did. *There was a man who understood
Judaic theology. The finest theologian in all of Christian history.]

The CCC, on orginal ‘sin:’

point 404, at


This was a wholly new concept, introduced by St. Paul -
and is in no way akin to the Judaic concepts of the yetzers.

yetzer hatov - the inclination to do good
yetzer hara - the inclination to do that which offends God.

[size=2]The yetzer hara is not considered some kind of
"sin" which is contracted by the human infant.

This astonishing use of the word “contracted” actually
appears in the link given above. Point 404.
[Sounds more an hydrualic image - rather than a
word descriptive of the human person - or the human condition.]

There may be those who would consider
the *yetzer hara *as a kind of original sin, but in the
aggregate, the concept of original sin is not at
all accepted in Judaic thought, over the millenia.
[The *yetzer hara is more akin, I think, to the[/size]
Catholic teaching on concupiscence.]

If there is no original sin, then there is no need for
a Messiah to “save” us from same.

The Judaic concept of Messiah is wholly different
from that of Christian theology. In Judaic thought,
man is not born into the world under the burden
of any kind of “sin,” - nor is the Messiah’s role on
earth that of saving human beings from some kind
of contracted “sin,” as states Christian theology.

Metaphysically, the concept of orginal sin is
perfectly elegant. Once posit it’s existence,
and the syllogisms begin to fly. :coffeeread:

If X, then Y.

All men are born with the burden of original sin.
Oscar is a human being.
Therefore, Oscar is burdened down with OS.

Jesus came to save human beings from original sin.
Pruenella is a human being.
Jesus removes Pruenella from this deleterious condition,
and makes her “right” with God.

Now. One who accepts all that has been written - in the
Christian scriptures - must needs cleave to the notion of original sin.
But this keystone of Christian syllogistic effort
makes both an assumption and an assertion:

I assume that all in the NT is from the hand of God Himself.
I assert that original sin exists.

No original sin - no need for a Savior, a Messiah.

Once haul away this pillar of faith, and the *raison d’être *for a Savior -
to save us from this contracted “sin” - no longer exists.



There is a lot of interesting points you made, but I think there is good evidence for original sin.

The bondage in Egypt represents original sin, the wandering in the desert represents our struggle in this new free life, and the promise land is heaven.

Remember what the Jews “thought” the Messiah would look like and what the OT foreshadowed caught everyone by surprise.

p.s. we havnt seen you here for a while.


I’m not sure just where you want the discussion to go. Maybe you could clarify.

Obviously, if there was/had been no sin - original or otherwise - there would be no need for redemption. Pretty obvious tho that there is sin. We need redemption not only from original sin, but from all the personal sins we choose to commit. So, take away original sin and we still need a Redeemer.


Is that your understanding of the infallible,definitive dogma of original Sin? If so I doubt your catholicity or you just kidding to apologists here.


There is no problem with your opinion if you are not a catholic. Are you protestant?


“so, take away original sin and we still need a Redeemer.”

Actually NO if you take away original sin then there would no longer be any sin. Because the act of original sin caused all sin to enter the world.

So through adam and eve and all there decendants, sin enters the world.

Because even though we may be born anew of water and spirit in baptism we still suffer from an “inclination” to sin, hence confession and absolution.


I believe in Original Sin first and foremost because the Church teaches it. There are New Testament passages that the Church looks to as well.

That being said the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of the New Testament. The journey of the Jews from bondage in Egypt, struggle to live a holy life in the desert and hope of the Promise land are undeniably an overview and foreshadowing of salvation of God leading us out of darkness, living a holy life and hoping for Heaven. My point was that the idea that Original Sin was a purely New Testament idea fails because it overlooks how the Old Testament as a whole was a foreshadowing of the New.


I am a Catholic.

I’m not absolutely sure what part of my post you consider contrary to Catholic teaching, but I’m going to assume you think Catholic teaching is that Our Lord’s sacrifice was to atone only for the sin of Adam and not for subsequent sins committed by mankind.

Eg. CCC #601 …Citing a confession of faith that he himself had “received,” St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” In particular Jesus’ redemptive death fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant. (cf. Isa 53:7-8 and Acts 8:32-35) After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.

CCC#606 …The sacrifice of Jesus “for the sins of the whole world” … (1 Jn 2:2)

CCC #615 …By his obedience unto death … … Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.



It certainly introduced sin into the physical creation, but I don’t think the Church teaches that it caused **all **sin to enter the world. If “caused” is correct, could you give me a reference.

We really don’t know what would have happened if Adam had not sinned. The Church does teach that we would all have been born in the state of grace. But to my knowledge, there’s no teaching on whether or not we would have been confirmed in that grace in such a way that we could not, or would not, choose to sin. Doubt there ever will be since the situation does not exist and never will.

From a logical perspective, original sin is obvious. Scripture tells us that death would be the punishment if Adam disobeyed/sinned. (Gen 2:17) Since human beings incapable of personal sin (eg. newborn babies, babies still in the womb) do die, their subjection to death must be an inherited punishment for disobedience/sin. Which is what Scripture and the Church teach. (cf 1 Cor 15:21-22; Rom 5:19)



If every man’s soul is without the stain of origianl sin then we are incapable of actual sin and there is no need for a redeemer.

As a counsequence of sin of the first man, God took away from us the gift of innocence and holiness. Our nature was corrupted, our understanding darkened, our will weakened, and left us a strong inclination to evil.

Christ sacrifice redeemed us first from original sin and then our personal sins. But without original sin, like Jesus and the virgin mother, men would not be capable of sinning, thus no need of redemption.


As noted in my response to as-a-child, I’m not aware of any doctrinal teaching concerning whether we would have been incapable of sinning had Adam not sinned. If the Church does have such a teaching, could you please give a reference.

I thought I had read it somewhere as theological speculation, but was not able to find it in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, which is where I thought I might have come across it.



It is basic in our catechism. Those were the essential elements of the dogma of original sin.

Had our first parents remained faithful, we would have inherited the chiefs blessings intended for our first parents: a constant state of happiness in this life and everlasting life in the next.

Our first parents and there children were not to remain in earthly paradise forever but after the allotted probation on earth, be taken body and soul into Heaven without being obliged to die as in the case of the virgin mother.


That sounds familiar to me too; but I can’t find it in the CCC or Fundamentals. I’ll keep looking.

Our OP has not been back. From his post, I gathered that he thought we believed Jesus’ sacrifice was required only to atone for original sin. Eg:

If there is no original sin, then there is no need for
a Messiah to “save” us from same.

Jesus came to save human beings from original sin.
Pruenella is a human being.
Jesus removes Pruenella from this deleterious condition,
and makes her “right” with God.

Hence my posts which addressed the teaching that all sin requires atonement. And, hypothetically, if there was no original sin by Adam, but his descendents sinned, then they would need redeeming - and it’s pretty obvious Adam’s descendents have sinned.



Have you not read in CCC that before the fall, our first parents were in the state of innocence and holiness? How can they or their descendants sin in such fullness of grace and perfection? Did you not bother to ask why Mary is sinless? Because she was immaculately conceived without original sin. And it is this sin that weakens our will, darkens our soul, and inclines us to do evil. Had our first parents passed the test, like Mary we would not be capable of sinning and forever be blessed.


The Church teaches that Adam and Eve, or at least Adam, did have sanctifying grace (that’s what original innocence and holiness means). .

From Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:
Adam received sanctifying grace not merely for himself, but for all his posterity. (Sent. certa.)

The Council of Trent teaches that Adam lost sanctity and justice (= sanctifying grace) not merely for himself, but also for us (D 789). It follows from this, that he received these not only for himself but also for us his descendants.

So Adam did have the fullness of grace. But that did not take away his capability of sinning; and he did sin. We also are filled with sanctifying grace at Baptism, and yet we choose to sin.


neither original sin or the fall of man is mentioned in Genesis. Did Jesus discuss original sin at all?


I don’t believe that original sin is the keystone of Christian doctrine. I am not denying it. I am not even saying its not an important doctrine. But the keystone (if there is one) of Christian doctrine is that God loves us so much that He sent Christ to save us, and that He asks that we love Him and love one another.

I agree that Paul was a great theologian and all over the original sin thing. I am not certain that all the ECFs were, but I could be wrong. And certainly there have been Christian theologians that have questioned the doctrine. Its important, but not critical to the Faith.

If there is no original sin, then there is no need for
a Messiah to “save” us from same. …

No original sin - no need for a Savior, a Messiah

Once haul away this pillar of faith, and the

*raison d’être *for a Savior -
to save us from this contracted “sin” - no longer exists.

Here is where the argument breaks down. I agree that the Christian idea of a Messiah is very different from the Jewish one. But why assume that without original sin we would not need saving? Again, I am not saying that I don’t believe in original sin, but its not the keystone.

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean by keystone. If you mean that if you remove original sin from the doctrine, the whole construct would have to change, I agree. But the very concept of salvation does not depend on it. If you mean that to be a good Christian you have to understand and accept original sin, then I really disagree. To be a good Christian you have to understand that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to save us, and that God asks us to love Him and to love one another.


Hi Valke2,

Gen 2:1 …in the day that you eat of it, you shall die. (Literally, “die” is in the verse twice. Douay translates it “die the death”.) Adam disobeys, committing the original sin. That is the seed of teaching on original sin. It’s there, but undeveloped, so to speak. Death enters human history. (Wisdom 2:23-24)

Jesus doesn’t discuss it using the expression “original” sin. But the concept of our souls being supernaturally dead can be deduced from some of His teachings. Eg. Bread of Life discourse in John 6 - "…unless you eat…you have no life in you.: (Obviously Jesus not talking about physical life since those present were physically alive!).

Could you tell us what Jewish teaching is regarding the consequences of the first (original) sin, committed by Adam?
Eg. Is it the cause of human death entering into history?
If so, what is the theology concerning its being passed on to all humans, even those who do not personally sin?
Any teaching regarding spiritual as well as physical death?



I’ll try. I think we can both agree that the story of the Garden of Eden answers the question as to why there is evil in the world. It makes it clear that evil is a human product.

I know that it is common to associate the fall of man with bringing death into the world. But if I can step outside the story for a second and view other creation stories that were written prior to Genises, I come up with a different conclusion. In Genesis the two trees mentioned are the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. In all other creation stories that we know of, there was no Tree of Knowledge, and the emphasis was always on the Tree of Life and immortality. Prior to the Garden of Eden story, the concern was focused on immortality. In cheating death. The Eden story shifts that concern to a Tree that, it can be argued, provides man with the ability to better imitate God. Of course you can’t achieve true godliness by defying God’s will (this is the essence of the serpent’s lie).

In short, I view the Garden of eden story as explaining our freedom to act morally and the huge responsibility to do so. Freedom and responsiblity necessitate a need for discipline, and Adam, Eve and the Serpent get it.

Evil is on us. It is not inherent in the creation of the universe. That is what I get from the story. We got the freedom to choose, as Matsiyahu says. :slight_smile:


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