CORE VALUES for Christians: Original Sin, by Rev. Alan J. Wollenburg

Pastor Alan Wollenburg writes a series of articles that have been published in his church newsletter. Looking for a way to introduce more of the members of his congregation and people of the community who happen across their parish newsletter on just what the Augsburg Confession is, he decided to write on the different articles of AC under the general theme: “Core Values for Christians”. Here is his articles on Article II of the Augsburg Confession.

(This article is taken from the July 2008 Newsletter of Concordia Ev. Lutheran Church of Sikeston, MO. At the end of the below article I will include the text – and introduction – of Article II of the Augsburg Confession — or, go to this link and read it yourself.)

Okay, Okay. My wife wants to know how “Original Sin” is a “core value” of Christians. Granted that sin is NOT something that we want in our lives as Christians, BUT sin is a reality with which the Christian Church and every single Christian must deal! If you think about it, if it were not for sin there would not, of course, be any need for a Savior, and the Savior would never have needed to start His Church! So, do we believe in “sin?” Absolutely. Do we like it? Absolutely NOT.

This short article is the second in a series of “core values” articles for our monthly newsletter. Each of our “core values” will be based on an article of the Augsburg Confession.” BORRRIIINNNNGGG!!!, right? Wrong! The Augsburg Confession was written with two closely-related purposes in mind: [1] to demonstrate that the “Lutherans” were not a bunch of oddballs who should be labeled as a mere sect; and [2] to define what a “Lutheran” really does believe, teach, and confess. When Emperor Charles V permitted the Augsburg Confession to be read, it legitimized Luther and others. Because of that history, it may well be said that the Augsburg Confession represents the “core values” of Lutheran Christians; hence that as the overall title of this extended series.

+ + + ARTICLE II – ORIGINAL SIN + + +

As I wrote before, this is not a “core value” which we long to have. Rather, it is a “core value” which we believe and with which we simply have to deal! Please go read Article II of the Augsburg Confession (at the end of this article or go to the above link). Then come back here. Please? Thanks! I’ll wait . . .

So . . . assuming that you have read the Article, what does it mean? The authors of the Augsburg Confession are confessing, from God’s Word, that every man, woman, and child is born with a problem. Ever since the fall (into sin) of Adam in the Garden of Eden, everyone is afflicted with sin. Sin is rebellion against God. Sin is not just something that you do but it is something which you have. It is kind of the way it is when a person has a bad cough: the cough is both something which he does and which he has. He coughs because he has a cough. In the same way, every person in the world sins because s/he has sin. We believe that. Scripture teaches it.

+ + + ORIGINAL SIN’S ORIGIN + + +

The first question which we always find ourselves asking, whether about sin or a bad cough or a cancer, is “Where did it come from?” Many people — because of the disobedience and pride which is the result of original sin — point their accusing finger at God. They want to imagine that, since God is the creator of all things, He must also have created sin. How convenient to blame God thus! Then they can also accuse God of being inconsistent and even cruel! Nice try. It doesn’t work. And it just plain is not true.

Sin comes from the devil. When God finished with His creating work, His opinion of the world which He had made (without sin!) was that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). In other words, because it was without sin, it was perfect! But sometime between the creation of the world and the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, there was a war in heaven. One of God’s perfect angels, with help from some of the other angels, decided to rebel against God and usurp their Creator (oh, the arrogance of it all). Another of the angels, Michael, fought back. Satan (the one who rebelled) was cast out of heaven. Seeing that he was defeated, he went off to make war against those who are believers in God. He sought to mess things up good. And he did.

That is how sin came into existence! Remember who tempted Adam and Eve to sin against God in their perfect Garden of Eden? Yep. The same wicked angel. He’s a great deceiver, make no mistake about it. Want some proof texts for the above? Call me. Or, get out your Luther’s Small Catechism and look up “angels” in the back and read up on it. (Or, you can access a version of the Small Catechism and then follow the link to the explanation of the Small Catechism (Question 99 and following on p. 48ff. of the pdf).

+ + + SIN IN YOU AND OTHERS! + + +

Sin now gets passed on from one generation to the next. Here is the formula: Sinful Mommy + Sinful Daddy = Sinful Baby. If that seems simplistic, then so be it. Just as children inherit their eye color, hair color, and certain other physical characteristics from their parents, they also inherit this awful thing called “Original Sin” (aka “Inherited Sin”). It is not their (your, my, our) fault that they (we) have it. But we still have it. It is because someone before us was thoughtless and careless. And remember what it produces? As a cough will produce a cough, so original sin produces sins.

+ + + SIN AS A POISON! + + +

This sin poisons us inside and out. God told Adam and Eve that, as a result of their sin: [1] a woman’s child-bearing would not be as easy or as pleasant as it would have been by God’s original design; [2] a man would no longer find his work to be easy and enjoyable, but that now he would have to work with weeds, AND he would even sweat; [3] husbands and wives would no longer enjoy a perfectly happy relationship all of the time; and [4] DEATH had now entered into them and into God’s perfect creation! Sin had poisoned their lives and everything in it!

This pastor often uses the example of the child born addicted to crack or some other highly addictive drug. The mother uses the drug and the child ingests the drug in utero. Then the child is born, the umbilical cord is cut, and the truth is revealed: the newborn, so seemingly cute in the newness of his/her life, is nothing less than a drug addict! The doctors and nurses, recognizing that truth, need to deal with that baby’s addiction. If they don’t, the baby will die. When they save that child’s life, they remind that child — so that s/he can live a productive life — that s/he is a drug addict. S/He must learn that about him-/herself so that the drug does not control his/her life! This sin is a poison in our lives! It causes all kinds of other trouble, and dooms us to death.

+ + + SIN’S ANTIDOTE IS . . . + + +

. . . HOLINESS! BUT . . . NOT a “holiness” which comes from you! Rather, the righteousness (“holiness”) which comes from Christ and is put upon you. God gives you the holiness earned by the absolutely perfect life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do NOT fall prey to those who think that you can somehow earn God’s favor by your goodness (as did Pelagius of old, and as do the different “holiness” groups of the present); that will cause you either to despair or — just as bad — to think that you do not really need God in your life (like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day).

GOOD NEWS! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has become God’s holiness for you! He lived under God’s Law in a way which we could not (He never sinned!). When God brings us to faith in Christ and we are baptized, the perfect holiness of Christ, like a great big coat, is put over us. When God looks at us, then, though He knows that we are sinners, He sees the big coat of Jesus’ holiness and He declares us righteous, or holy, in His sight!

The antidote for our sins and sinfulness is the Lord Jesus Christ, and His holiness. Where there is sin, Christ — Who lived perfectly, and therefore died innocently, and arose again victoriously — is everything which we need!


May God preserve us safe in the holy, true and Christian faith! Though we Lutherans do not “value” Original Sin, we do “own” that it exists, AND we own that it exists in every man, woman, and child in the world. And, because it does exist in every man, woman, and child in the world (except for our Lord Christ, obviously), we ask God to help us do what He wants us to do in order that every man, woman, and child will know and trust in the only antidote to Original Sin: Christ!

In Christ, Pastor Wollenburg


The Augsburg Confession
“Chief Articles of Faith”
Article II
Original Sin

Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam (Romans 5:12), all who are naturally born are born with sin (Psalm 51:5), that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). Our churches condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, thus obscuring the glory of Christ’s merit and benefits. Pelagians argue that a person can be justified before God by his own strengths and reason.

In Concordia The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, there is this “forward” which is intended to help first time readers of the Augsburg Confession understand the context in which it was written: “Sin is much more than thinking, saying, and doing things that are wrong. It is a terminal disease. We are all conceived and born in sin; we inherit it from our first parents, Adam and Eve. The disease of sin can be overcome, but only by one medicine: the cleansing, healing, and forgiving blood of God’s own Son. By rejecting Pelagian errors in Article II, the Augsburg Confession subtly refers to the Roman view of sin. The Roman Church taught and still teaches that concupiscence (the inborn inclination to sin) is not actually sin. By misdiagnosing our fatal illness, Rome leads people to believe they are able to cooperate with God’s grace for salvation. Lutheranism rejects all teachings that imply we are responsible for or contribute to our salvation. (See also Ap II; SA III, I; FC Ep I and SD I.)”

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He’s responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.


Comments

CORE VALUES for Christians: Original Sin, by Rev. Alan J. Wollenburg — 1 Comment

  1. I’ve been having an interesting discussion with a young man on Facebook that denies Original Sin. He just sent me the following article to prove his point to me.

    Because all have Sinned!
    The Doctrine of Original Sin can only be proven by Conjecture. NOTHING in Scripture states exclusively that the Nature of man was corrupted in Adam and then handed down to his posterity. The false teachers like to use Romans 5:12 to Suggest that Sin was handed down to all men. BUT the Passage merely states that Death spread to all men, Because ALL SINNED! Placing the responsibility of the sin directly where it was intended to be placed. On the free will choice of man to CHOOSE to Sin and take the similar path of Adam in rebellion.
    When the Translators of Scripture in 1611 ran across passages like Ephesians 2:3, they found the Perfect opportunity to add support to their notion of original sin. Because if they could convince the English speaking world that this passage really did read: ‘We were all BY NATURE children of Wrath’ no one could then refute Augustine’s magnificent doctrine. However they forgot to alter Romans 2:14 where it states that the Gentiles ‘BY NATURE’ DO the things contained in the Law. Naturally the question would arise then that IF the Nature of man is evil and corrupted by sin, WHY can the Gentiles use that SAME Nature to DO what is Right?
    Had they not had an axe to grind on the Original sin issue, perhaps they would have clarified the passage and pointed out the Greek intent of the word. That is Merely means ‘By long Practice, something learned, that becomes a habit, second natured!’ NOT something imbedded into man’s flesh or Inherited from Adam, but learned from his fathers by Tradition. (1Pet1:18) Thus the Original Sin argument stands on a VERY dubious foundation. Especially in the fact that the origins of the teaching can be traced directly to fourth Century Rome, and Augustine. Before that NO ONE Suggested that man was incapable of a Right Choice because his Nature was corrupt. It was his own responsibility to Repent, Turn from sins and Seek God.
    However there remains some Difficult questions to address if man is Indeed NOT Born a Sinner, as the early Christians strongly affirmed. (and we resound agree!) What then Causes him to Sin? WHY is it nearly impossible to find a Good, Honest person you can trust? And WHY are people so unwilling to submit to God and accept His Truth?
    First understand that Some exceptions have and do exist in the world. The False teachers would deny such a thing without question, but Scripture makes it perfectly clear. John the Baptist parents were declared Righteous and Just in God’s Site, Blameless, in Luke1:6. HOW Could they have been Right before God Prior to the coming of Jesus and under the Jewish law if they had been born Sinners, Corrupted, incapable of following God? IMPOSSIBLE!
    Same with Noah and Enoch, Genesis 5:24, 6:8-9. Scripture declares them PERFECT in their generation. HOW? Conjecture would say they were somehow brought to Salvation through God’s Grace and redeemed from their sins. BUT in all honesty, WHAT SINS? The Bible doesn’t say. We MUST therefore conclude that Certain people throughout history have been exceptions to Romans3:23. Mary and Joseph would have to be included among them also. Could Jesus have been Born to a Corrupted, vile sinner, depraved from Birth? None of the theories add up unless you Reject the false notion of original sin.
    Another consideration that must be addressed is the sin issue itself. Once a person has willfully chosen to sin the penalty is automatically Death. (The wages of sin is death, Rom6:23) Returning to obedience will NOT Atone for the Past Disobedience. That Requires an Atoning Sacrifice. So the fact that a person can and does DO the Right thing by choice is by NO MEANS saying that he can Save himself form his past sins by Obeying God and doing the right thing. He is perfectly capable of Doing it! BUT he Requires God’s Mercy to restore him to a right standing. Without that he remains a condemned sinner.
    The Great problem in convincing men that they are born sinners, corrupted and vile unable to choose God is that once they embrace such a notion the likelihood of them Genuinely Repenting of their sins is almost completely out of the question. They will spend their entire lives wallowing in their sins THINKING that God has extended them mercy in Christ because of their ‘Sinful’ Condition of which they had no control over because they were born with it. NOW the Responsibility rests solely on God to Change their desires, make them WANT to Obey and tolerate their continued rebellion to His Truth. The Process can extend over a lifetime and no one can impugn their behavior along the way. They are merely sinners Saved by Grace and it’s up to God to bring them through to the end.
    Before we process to the meat of the issue, let’s answer some simple questions for clarification. Can a person committing adultery on their spouse, STOP that relationship, break all ties with the other person and come and seek mercy from their scorn mate? OF Course they can! It happens all the time without God being a part of the mix in any way whatsoever. What does it Prove?
    First that man is perfectly capable of making the right choice and Doing the right thing! Second that STOPPING the Adultery is NO Assurance of Mercy being extended. That is tentative on the Clearing of the Wrong Doing and the Re-establishment of TRUST PROVEN By Deeds. Thus the Process of Sorrow, Conviction and Fear WORKING together to Purge the Heart of this evil.
    HOW THEN IS IT ANY DIFFERENT WITH GOD? WHY is HE obligated to Forgive and Restore you while you are still Carrying around a Key to the other person’s apartment? It Doesn’t make Sense. Unless some Phony Preacher has you convinced you were BORN a sinner and can’t help what you are doing and God will forgive you anyway if you just CONFESS to Him your ‘Sinfulness!’ (Hogwash!)
    Apply this to any sin of addiction or lust of the flesh. Can you Stop getting Drunk, smoking dope, pigging out, lusting after things, lying, cheating, stealing, ect? Granted some addictions may not be easy to break, given the chemical nature of them, but it’s NOT Impossible. People DO IT all the time. They Clean up their act, return to sobriety and function as normal members of society. (all without God’s help!)
    So unless you have already been brain-washed by the Preachers on this issue logic would have to dictate the obvious conclusion. People CAN and DO Change to the better! It DOESN’T Mean they are SAVING Themselves in doing so, BUT it DOES Mean they are FREE to Choose and capable of STOPPING Sin.
    That is the Premise from Which GOD Works with man in the Redemption Process! He Calls ALL men EVERYWHERE to REPENT and Depart from their Wrong Doing, Cast aside all their filthiness and overflow of wickedness and RECEIVE with Meekness His Implanted Word that is able to SAVE
    Their souls!
    He Didn’t Say, ‘Admit you’re a sinner and I’ll cut you some slack!’ NO! He said, ‘PROVE Your Repentance by your DEEDS and you may find the Mercy to Seek!’
    But the question remains, WHY are people so prone to sin? What happened to make them so self destructive? Sin entered the world through Adam and Death through sin. It Spread to all men, Because ALL SINNED! (Rom5:12) With a few minor exceptions, Able, Enoch, Noah, others, all men followed Adam’s example of disobedience and Chose Death in their sins. As the Scriptures so clearly indicate, the deceitfulness of sin hardens the heart and corrupts the mind, (Heb12:15-17) and brings people to destruction and ruin in their rebellion. (as happened in the Great Flood, Gen6)
    If EVERY Person born from Adam was Corrupted and vile by Nature, as the false teachers claim, HOW did Able Choose to DO the Right thing and WHY was his Brother Cain told by God, that ‘Sin lays at the door, it’s desire is for you, but you should RULE OVER it!’ Gen4:7. This is the PERFECT Example of our Premise. One brother Choose the Right path and obtained WITNESS of God that he was Righteous! The other, Cain, CHOOSE to Commit Murder and was cast out as a sinner!
    The Simple answer is: Why do people sin? BECAUSE they WANT TO! You are Born into a Dark, wicked world where the Light of Truth is concealed and suppressed. Raised in an environment of selfish, self-centered influence, surrounded by others who want nothing to do with God. Taught to make your way in the world by aggression and deceit because you cannot trust your fellow man and given over to unbridled lust of the flesh to indulge yourself in whatever suits your fancy. WHAT Possible Chance do you have of NOT Choosing to sin!?
    But to Blame that Choice on some mysterious Nature of sin you inherited from Adam is preposterous.
    You are at fault. You sin because you Enjoy it. You KEEP Sinning because the preachers are giving you the Perfect EXCUSE to wallow and still make it to heaven when you die! It’s absolute foolishness and is going to Cost you Everything in the end. To attribute your sin to some inbred nature you were born with is tantamount to Blaming God for allowing such a thing to happen in the fist place! That is the reason why so many in the world view Christianity with such disdain.
    The Preachers have invented the perfect system to excuse sin and the churches are overrun with hypocrisy. Our Society is in the depths of moral decay, BUT NO ONE Wants to deal with the real issue of Personal Responsibility to God. They would rather believe a LIE and follow the multitude down the Wide Road to Destruction. If people were being called to Real Repentance toward God, as in the time of Acts, hearts would be Purged and made Pure from Sin and Christ would be honored by the witness of His Saints.
    Another Question that requires explanation is: ‘What Happened when Adam Sinned?’ What Changed?
    Simply the Bible says: ‘he died’ Gen2:17. But he Did Not die Physically as we all know, until some time much later in the future. Therefore this Cannot be speaking of the cessation of physical life. That would have happened nonetheless because God created all things to produce after its own kind including man. WHY then would Adam be Immortal, as some teach, until he sinned, if he had to pro-create to fill the earth.
    So What does this Death indicate but a separation from God! When Adam sinned he lost his spiritual connection to God.
    If infants are born dead in their sins, as the false teachers claim, why would Paul say in Romans 7:9,
    ‘I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came sin revived and I died.’
    AND the Bible CLEARLY States in numerous passages that Children are born innocent with no knowledge of right or wrong. (Rom9:11, Ecc7:29, Duet1:39) Christ Himself likened them to the Kingdom of God!
    (Matt18:24, 19:14) HOW could they be Depraved Sinners condemned to hell? Foolishness! Every Person is Born into the World with the LIGHT of God in them, John1:9. The Conscience and the ability to know and do right or wrong is in every person. We are born neutral into a darkened world.
    When we grow to maturity and sin our Flesh Desires are in Control of our minds.. We become a SLAVE to Sin. (Rom6:16-18) Freedom from this bondage can only be achieved by putting to death his passions and desires in Christ (through the process of Repentance and godly sorrow for sin) and being Re-Born as a New Man in Christ Jesus, AWAKE to the Spirit, lead into all Truth. (2Cor7:10-11, Gal5:24)
    Infant Baptism, Election and pre-destination just don’t add up when you take an honest look at the Truth. It was all invented to Support the Original Sin Lie and Some Preachers STILL insist that non-elect infants who die in infancy go to hell! Others will assert they are saved by some kind of Universal or Prevenient Grace extended to them. But NONE will agree with God that they are Born Innocent and unaffected by sin, Until they grow to maturity and Choose to SIN!
    What Changed? Basically the Need for Atonement to Restore man’s Spiritual Connection back to God.
    God Provided the Atoning Sacrifice, Gen3:15, 21, and man did the Repenting. Thus the Nature of Redemption, which Requires a Clearing of the Wrong Doing as well as a RETURN to Obedience. God Did Not COVER our sins or overlook the wrong doing. He Provided a means by which man could be Forgiven and Restored on the CONDITION of Repentance and Faith, BOTH PROVEN By Deeds!
    Adam and Eve sinned because they Knew they could. The effect they had on mankind is representation. They SET the Standard of Rebellion. NOTHING was Transferred to their offspring. ‘The Son Shall Not bear the guilt of the father. The Soul who sins SHALL DIE!’ Ezk18:19-20. Man follows their Example and nothing more. He is not involuntarily made a sinner by his connection to Adam, no more than he is involuntarily made Righteousness in Christ! (Rom5:18-19) BOTH Happen by CHOICE!
    The Fallacy of Original Sin has brought the entire church to ruin. Untold multitudes sit in these systems of religion today blinded to their spiritual bankruptcy, believing they are being told the Truth! The Lie is passed down through the generations and never questioned or challenged. As though Moses himself brought it down from the Mountain etched in Stone. YET the Jews NEVER Taught it, Past or Present! Neither did the early Christians, the Disciples of the Apostles! ALL the Prophets railed against it. Jesus NEVER mentioned it. NOTHING in the Bible Supports it!
    However against the Great Could of Witness stands, Augustine of Rome! Who Claimed that he ALONE Knew the mind of Paul when Romans Chapter five was penned and gave us the Doctrine of Original Sin.
    BUT it was Paul Who Preached a Repentance that Resulted in a Clearing of Wrong Doing and Purity of Heart! (2Cor7:10-11) Paul who said that Faith WORKED by Love, WALKED and PERFORMED Deeds of Faith! (Gal5:4, Rom4:19-22) Paul who said you Could OBEY From YOUR HEART and Be a Salve to WHO you OBEY! Rom6:15-17) It Was Paul who gave us the Purpose of the Commandment, 1Tim1:5, and doctrine which is according to godliness. (1Tim6:3)
    If Faith Upholds and Establishes the Law, Rom3:31 and WALKS in the Righteous Requirements of the Law, Rom8:4, HOW Could man be Declared Righteous while he is Still Un-Righteous? (as all the Preachers insist!) HOW Could he be Double-minded and Divided in Heart, Serving Two Masters and Still be in Right Standing with God? Jesus Himself Said that these things are impossible. ‘If the light in you is Darkness, how GREAT is that Darkness!’ (Matt6:23)
    BUT ALL the Preachers make Excuses for them! WHY? BECAUSE they Believe a LIE!!! Bottom Line, all the fancy talk and high sounding words removed…..They Embrace Satan’s Masterpiece of False Doctrine! They have Fashioned themselves as ‘Christians’ (2Tim3:5) and Appear to everyone as Harmless lambs, but they Speak for the Dragon and Bow to an Image created in the likeness of their sinful Flesh.

    I basically told him that his view of the Law was to lite and gave him a copy of Luther’s 1st commandment from his large catechism. Plus the first 3 verses he used to prove his point did just the opposite. It proved their was original sin. I’m also going to ask him to go and sell everything he owns and give it all the the poor like Jesus told the rich young ruler to.

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