Essay A Statement on Original Sin

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A Statement on Original Sin

First articulated by Augustine (A.D. 354–430), the doctrine of original sin holds that all of Adam’s descendants inherit the guilt of Adam’s sin and thus incur the punishment for Adam’s sin. Inheriting Adam’s guilt at birth, then, presumes one guilty before God at birth and destined for hell. This is the basis for the Catholic need for infant baptism, for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (that Mary herself was uniquely conceived free of Adam’s guilt), and for the belief that salvation is only available through connection with the Church via baptism. Moreover, the belief that God holds Adam’s descendants personally accountable for Adam’s sin calls into question the importance of our own free will as it relates to our moral accountability to God. That is, if God holds us accountable for the sin Adam committed, then the exercise of our own free will must, in God’s sight, be of little or no consequence. This leads to the Augustinian belief in predestination — that who is saved and who is lost is determined entirely by God’s sovereign election, and...

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