Original Sin vs. Self Esteem, by Kari Anderson (CLCC)

(The Confessional Lutherans for Christ’s Commission is one of the many confessional groups that regularly posts on this website. Like BJS they seek to equip laymen to know and support Confessional Lutheranism. CLCC posts are archived on the Regular Columns page of this website.)

I’ve been hearing about and reading about how the doctrine of Original Sin has fallen into the realm of politically incorrect thinking these days. How dare it be insinuated that everyone is utterly wretched and sinful and sinful since conception, in fact! We live in a world where we focus on everyone’s need for self esteem. We are to concentrate on how good we are. We have to have the power of ‘positive’ thinking. Self esteem is a good thing for our life in the world, and we are also to encourage one another in our faith.

 1 Corinthians 14:3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

 1 Corinthians 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged

While we need to encourage one another, we still need to realize that we are sick and poor miserable sinners. But wait, you say “I don’t think I’m all that miserable”; but understand that the word miserable refers to anyone in need of mercy. We all desperately need Christ’s mercy-therefore we are in fact miserable. We need to be able to acknowledge the disease that is in us due to our original sin. Today even the confessions we speak in church sometimes have become watered down.  We acknowledge those sins we do and don’t do, but we can’t mention how utterly sick and sinful we have been from the time we were conceived.

 Psalm 38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

Mark 2:17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I heard recently on the White Horse Inn radio program how many people, including many of the pastors in American Evangelicalism, don’t believe in Original Sin any more. Pelagianism was a heresy that the early church had to fight against. Well, guess what? It’s back! That’s a scary thought. It reminds us there is nothing new under the sun. To think that in America today many churches have done away with the idea of Original Sin which goes against American idealism. Yet Original Sin is something that the Bible clearly teaches.  I’m sure that is why they have been able to do away with infant Baptism. That is a very sad fact. To turn a precious Gift that is given to us into a work to show they believe.

Romans 5:12 [ Death in Adam, Life in Christ ] Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Sin came into the world through one man, Adam, and salvation came to us all through the One who could redeem us, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth, died and rose again to save us from all our sins. I’m thankful we have Confession and Absolution in our church services. We need to be able to admit to others, as well as to ourselves how sick and wretched we really are. We need to cling to the cross and Christ’s awesome grace and mercy that He freely gives to us! Until and unless we can admit how sinful we truly are, we cannot completely appreciate how much we need our Savior.

So, let’s not worry about the political correctness of our day which thinks we should never be ashamed or feel any guilt. Shame and guilt can be good things, because they direct you to the cross, and the empty tomb that tells you that Jesus loves you and He did it all for you!

Kari Anderson

Confessional Lutherans for Christ’s Commission (CLCC)

December 1, 2009

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Original Sin vs. Self Esteem, by Kari Anderson (CLCC) — 10 Comments

  1. YES. I am in fact a wretch who is never the less given great value by the sacrifice for my sin by Jesus THE Christ, my Savior, brother and dearest friend. With validation like that I can stand tall and respect the value of others as well.

  2. A joy to read simple, sound reasoning from Scripture… there is not enough of this kind of teaching going around. We are going to be truly unified, through reading and pondering Scripture with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Thank you, my dear!

  3. Pelagianism is definitely back. It is alive and well in the Manhattan Declaration: “In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life. . 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.”

    1. Fallen man is not “fashioned in the very image of God.” Instead of the lost image of God, fallen man inherits “an inborn wicked disposition and inward impurity of heart, evil lust and propensity.” FC, SD, Original Sin.
    2. Fallen man does not possess “inherent rights of equal dignity and life.” Instead of dignity and life, fallen man possesses “death, eternal damnation, and also other bodily and spiritual, temporal and eternal miseries.” FC, SD, Original Sin.
    3. Religious liberty is not grounded in “the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.” Instead of freedom and dignity, fallen man is under “the tyranny and dominion of the devil, so that human nature is subject to the kingdom of the devil and has been surrendered to the power of the devil, and is held captive under his sway, who stupefies [fascinates] and leads astray many a great, learned man in the world by means of dreadful error, heresy, and other blindness, and otherwise rushes men into all sorts of crime.” FC, SD, Original Sin.

  4. I loved your post and decided to publish an article I wrote some years ago that dovetails very well with it at the Liturgy Solutions blog, Fine Tuning–– as additional reading for those interested. I hope it will not be inappropriate to provide the URL for it here. Many thanks for your thoughtful insights. Such important distinctions!

    Here’s the address: http://liturgysolutions.blogspot.com/2009/12/sinless-christianity.html

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