Monday, May 04, 2009

Inherited Sin

On the Church_Of_Christ Yahoo!Group, George K. Howsepian wrote:
George: Was Adam born totally corrupt? Was Jesus?
It might be pointed out that Adam was not born. Nor was he created with corruption within him. That corruption, as I understand things, came as a result of his disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit.

Concerning Jesus, it's well to remember that he only inherited the human cell and his mother's half of his genetic material; the father's half (presumably) came directly from God.

My own personal thoughts is that the term "sin" is used in two ways in the Bible (but only directly "defined" in one of those ways, as "lawlessness - 1 John 3:4):

1) Breaking the law: an action or inaction causing guilt. This is the definition we've all grown up with. It's a "missing of the mark" in that we haven't met the specified requirements.

2) A flaw: an imperfection. We typically do not consider this as "sin", yet, it too is a "missing of the mark", a sub-par manifestation of the designed Ideal. Paul uses the term this way in Romans 7, when he talks about sin dwelling in him, in the very members of his body.

The first type of sin is not inheritable. Each person shall bear his own guilt, and shall not inherit the guilt of his ancestors.

The second type of sin is inheritable, and we've all inherited this sin from Adam. Thus, even babies who are innocent of the first type of sin, sometimes die, because they are subject to the second type of sin.

Jesus, however, did not inherit whatever part of the cellular machinery the rest of us humans inherit from our human fathers. My guess is that this has significance in relation to the inheritance of the second type of sin. My guess is that Jesus did not inherit the second type of sin, and I know he did not commit the first type of sin. Jesus was sinless.

The rest of us humans, however, are not sinless. We are sinless in the first sense at birth, but not in the second sense.

Thus, to claim that we are "totally depraved" is to go beyond the evidence, I believe. We are not totally depraved; yet we are flawed, and that flaw eventually leads to depravity for those of us who reach the "age of accountability".

I would hesitate even to define this second sense of sin as "sin", except that it seems to me to best fit the context of Romans 7 and Romans 3:23.

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