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Posts Tagged ‘Augustine

The “Many” and the “All” of Romans 5

Dr. Jack Cottrell holds that the doctrine of original sin as taught since Augustine is not biblical.  He holds that people are born in a state of grace and are not guilty of Adam’s sin and thus are not born sinful.  He holds that all sinners will be judged by God but they will be judged for their own sins and not for the sin of Adam.  Even John Wesley acknowledged that none will be found guilty of Adam’s transgression but their own.

Romans 5 is a debated passage over the doctrine of original sin.  I would say that most orthodox scholars hold that Romans 5 teaches the doctrine of original sin or inherited sinfulness.  While Arminians are not as quick to say that all people inherit Adam’s sin, Arminianism does hold that all people inherit Adam’s sinfulness.  Thus Arminianism has held that people are born dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) because of Adam’s sin but people are not born guilty of Adam’s sin but merely the results of Adam’s sin.  Calvinists hold that people are born both depraved and inherit Adam’s sin and thus babies are guilty of sin at the moment of conception (they also explain the necessity of the virgin birth as such).

Dr. Cottrell’s analysis of Romans 5 is fascinating.  It is very extensive and would take many posts on this blog for me to work through it.  However, I just want to focus in on one issue here and that is the issue of Paul’s use of “many” and “all” in Romans 5.  For example, in Romans 5:12 we read:

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.

None deny that “all” here means all.  In Romans 5:15 Paul uses the phrase “many died through one man’s trespass” and none doubt that “many” here means all.  The problem is the end of Romans 5:15.  Let me quote the entire verse:

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Now if the many at the beginning means all (v. 12) then why does the many at the end of verse 15 mean anything less than all?

The Calvinist answer is that if we make the “many” here become all (as in all) then we must hold to universalism or at best we must deny limited atonement (which cannot be done).  The all in Calvinism is “all” but the “many” in their view is only the elect.  Thus Adam’s sin brings condemnation to “all” but Jesus’ work brings salvation only to the elect or the “many.”

The Arminian answer is that Christ’s sacrifice was provided for all sinners (John 3:16) but only those who place their faith in Christ will be saved.  The only way to escape judgment for your sins is to place your faith in Christ Jesus alone.  Thus the “all” of Adam’s transgression comes to all and the work of Christ has been given for all.  The “many” and the “all” are used interchangeably by Paul the Apostle here in Romans 5.

Dr. Cottrell believes that the only universalism that one can derive from Romans 5:12-21 is that Christ’s saving work on the cross cancels out the work of Adam.  Thus he holds that people are not born in a state of depravity or born sinful but rather that Paul’s point is that Romans 5 is teaching that Jesus cancels out the fall of Adam.  While death is still here with us from Adam, this too, writes Cottrell, will soon be vanquished by the power of the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 20:13-14).

He goes on to write that we now can view sin in four stages.

  1. Original Sin.  The only thing we receive from Adam’s sin now is death.  We are born in a flesh that will die.  The sin of Adam has been canceled out by the work of Christ.
  2. Original Grace.  All infants and young children are here as well as those who mentally never develop (handicapped).  While here people are in a state of salvation through the universal work of Christ until they reach an age of accountability that only God knows.
  3. Personal Sin.  This is the state people are in after reaching the age of accountability and lose the original grace into which they were born.  Those in this stage are lost because they sinned against a holy God and violated His just laws in the same way that Adam and Eve did.  Those who die here are condemned for their own sins.
  4. Personal Grace.  This is a term only for believers.  Those in Christ Jesus through faith are in a state of personal grace and are redeemed from both sin and death (John 5:24-25; 11:25-26).  Both sin and death have no power over the believer (Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).  However, this applies only to those who believe and is not based merely on past belief.  This is present active relationship with Christ (1 Peter 1:5).

Let me add here in closing that Dr. Cottrell would not label his view as Pelagian.  He would actually label it “pre-Augustinian.”  He holds that his view was held by most of the early Church Fathers before Augustine and his debates with Pelagius.  It was only after Pelagius that the Roman Catholic Church adopted the original sin view and the Western Church began to teach that people are born universally condemned for Adam’s sin.  The problem with the original sin view is that many believe that they can’t turn from their sins (since they are born sinful and this is the best they can hope to do) and thus they continue in their sins despite the preaching of the gospel to them.  Many Christians likewise hold that even if saved by the work of Christ from sin, they still must live a life of sin.  I heard a radio preacher just yesterday describing himself as a “miserable sinner” and he went on to say that this was the best he could do and hope for in this life.

I rejoice that the atonement of Christ is a great work from God!  While I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer from those who hold to Cottrell’s view about why children sin, I do agree that the work of Christ is for all.  Christ shed His blood so that all can be saved.  I also agree that each person will be judged for their sins and not the sin of Adam.

Wesley preached:

Satan has stamped his own image on our heart in self-will also. “I will,” said he, before he was cast out of heaven, “I will sit upon the sides of the north;” I will do my own will and pleasure, independently on that of my Creator. The same does every man born into the world say, and that in a thousand instances; nay, and avow it too, without ever blushing upon the account, without either fear or shame. Ask the man, “Why did you do this?” He answers, “Because I had a mind to it.” What is this but, “Because it was my will;” that is, in effect, because the devil and I agreed; because Satan and I govern our actions by one and the same principle. The will of God, mean time, is not in his thoughts, is not considered in the least degree.

We sin because we want to sin!  We sin because we are children of the devil (John 8:44).  Jesus called people “evil” (Luke 11:13) and He said that out of the heart comes evil (Matthew 15:19).  However, Jesus did say that some people are good and others evil (Matthew 12:35).

In reality, we need Christ.  That is the bottom line.  All sinners need Christ.  All saints need Christ.  We need to exalt the Lord Jesus to every nation and to every sinner.  Jesus is our only hope!

Did Augustine Corrupt the Church With Gnostic Doctrine?

The following is a video done by Jesse Morrell.  Brother Morrell holds to moral government theology but his video is interesting.  I cannot say whether I agree or disagree.  I know so little of Augustine and his theology.  I am aware of some of his teachings but have not read his works nor any books on him.  I am aware that Calvin gleamed much from Augustine and I know that many Calvinists today hold that Augustine was a champion of orthodoxy in his battles with Pelagius.

Morrell argues that Augustine was wrong in his views on mankind. He argues that the early Church held to free will and that man was not born with a sinful nature.

Watch the video and judge all things by the Word of God.  The Word of God alone is the inerrant and infallible truth of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/25/2013 at 9:09 PM

Arminian Daniel Corner on Original Sin

Below is a reprint from Daniel Corner and his site, Evangelical Outreach.  Corner’s article does not reflect the views of all Arminians nor do I agree with all that he has wrote here.  Nonetheless, I do reprint his article here to add to my ongoing study of original sin at this blog.  

The Calvinistic concept of Total Depravity (original sin) is not Scriptural. Babies and little children are alive spiritually, in contrast to the false belief in original sin. All babies who die go into the presence of God and not hell, unlike what Calvinism teaches. There is an age of accountability, which is implied in Scripture, but it is not a set age.

People are not born sinners. Though it is not perfectly clear, there is a time period when a baby or very young person is protected from eternal damnation because of his own sins. Why? Because their unbelief in Jesus and rebellion would not be sin for them. If not true, then innocent babies and little children would all, with no exception, be damned to fiery torment upon their early premature death, which is unthinkable of the God of the Bible. Most importantly, here is specific Scriptural support:

Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. (Rom 7:9-11)

Every person is different regarding that age. That mysterious age would be different, based on their personal knowledge:

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17)

All young children lack knowledge about right and wrong:

But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. (Isa 7:16)

This mysterious age of accountability does exist and the Calvinistic doctrine of infant damnation for the non-elect is shown to be preposterous and out of harmony to the rest of Scriptures, just like all five points of Calvinism. The Calvinistic false concept of God could shockingly allow him to send innocent babies to be tormented in fire forever!

The inventor of the doctrine of original sin was Augustine, the Catholic and Calvinist theologian. Original sin refers to the adverse spiritual effect Adam’s disobedience had on his ancestors (the whole human race, except Mary)! That led to another false teaching labeled the immaculate conception, which refers to Mary, not Jesus, like some have been taught! Also, infant baptism is supposed to wash away original sin, according to Augustine, from whom John Calvin got his doctrines. (In other words, Augustine thought babies would be regenerated through infant baptism, which is believed in our day by Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopals and others.)

Moreover, while original sin is false, it is never shown to be a problem in the New Testament like a grace teaching distorted into a license to sin (Jude 3,4; 2 Peter 2), the essence of eternal security. There is one whole book (plus) of the Bible written about those who change grace into a license for immorality. Please read the acid test to identify any license for immorality teacher.

The truth is, all five points of Calvinism are demonic, but some are much worse than others. The most sinister point, by far, is eternal security (once saved always saved or the perseverance of the saints). That means the Calvinistic and Catholic doctrine of original sin can not compare with the danger inherent within once saved always saved as some actually teach! Also, Christians are specifically commanded to contend against a license for immorality (Jude 3,4).

Once saved always saved is the monster heresy of our day in Bible believing circles, adversely affecting untold millions of precious eternal souls in various ways. It must be opposed by Christians and not tolerated, as is often done. The first point of Calvinism (and the related original sin) is so tiny and insignificant compared to the last point—it’s like comparing the proverbial mole hill to a mountain. Furthermore, one can preach the real gospel without opposing or even mentioning original sin, which is shown repeatedly in Acts when the gospel was preached. Moreover, a Christian is not a sinner. A Christian is a righteous person who is following Jesus (John 10:27; Heb. 5:9) and putting into practice God’s word (Luke 8:21; Mt. 7:21; etc.).

It should be clear that the Bible does not teach original sin or the related infant baptism. Baptismal regeneration is also unscriptural regardless the age. God bless you.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/18/2012 at 9:11 AM

Posted in Original Sin

Tagged with ,

Is Denying Original Sin Heretical?

I saw on a site where the blogger was taking exception with a pastor who denied original sin.  The pastor mentioned has many more theological issues than just his denial of original sin but I want to focus on that one area of theology for a moment.  My question is, “Is it heretical to reject original sin?”

The doctrine of original sin, to me, is a doctrine that lacks biblical support.  I hold to original sin if you define original sin as the fact that Adam and Eve really sinned and their sin brought sin into the world and into human existence (Romans 5:12) but I reject the teaching that says that all human beings are born guilty of Adam’s transgression.  I read just recently on a Calvinist bloggers site about his rant against abortion (which I agreed with this writer on) and how babies should not be murdered for the sins of the father or the mother.  I agree.  The baby is innocent of sin.  The baby did nothing wrong but is aborted because of the sins of the parents.  This truly is unfair.  I agree.  Why doesn’t that apply to Adam’s sin?  Why must I pay the sins of Adam when God doesn’t ask me to pay for the sins of my children or my wife or even the sins of my own father?  Why do we take the transgression of Adam and apply it to the whole of humanity when we did not sin?

The teaching, to me, was Augustine’s overreaction to Pelagius.  Pelagius denied the fall of Man in Adam and he taught that we are born sinless and that we can remain sinless.  Pelagius taught that we are fully capable of living without sin and that we do not even receive a fallen nature from Adam’s sin.  Augustine, in my estimation, overreacted to Pelagius’ errors and he taught that not only are we sinners by nature but we are sinners at birth because of original sin.  Augustine, like other Catholics after him, taught that original sin is cancelled with infant baptism.  Other Reformers would later adopt his view including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and even James Arminius.  Since Augustine most Christian scholars have adopted his view on original sin and most evangelicals today embrace the teaching.

This is what I would like to do.  First, I want to do a post that covers the biblical basis for the Augustine teaching of original sin.  I want to show what the Bible says about this from a view that embraces original sin.  I will cite both Calvinist and Arminians who hold to the teaching of original sin including Arminius.

Then I want to look at the doctrine from a critical viewpoint.  I want to use theologians and even some bloggers who reject the teaching.  I want to see if the exegesis of biblical texts will indeed uphold or reject original sin.

We must rise and fall on the foundation of the Scriptures when it comes to theological issues.  Scripture is our final authority and not the creeds of men or the teachings of Augustine or Arminius (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Even Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that his faith (and ours) is based on the authority of God in His Word.  We would do well to take all doctrines including the doctrine of original sin and apply it to the Word of God to see if it stands or falls.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/28/2012 at 10:43 AM

Posted in Original Sin

Tagged with , ,

What About Those Who Reject Total Depravity?

There are some who identify with Arminians who reject total depravity.  Most of those who reject total depravity would not claim to be Arminian.  For instance, F. Lagard Smith who wrote the book, Troubling Questions for Calvinists…and the Rest of Us, rejects total depravity but does not claim Arminianism either since Arminians hold to a form of total depravity much like the Calvinistic view.  Some like Dr. Jack Cottrell, author of the classical Arminian view on election in the book, Perspectives on Election, and the author of the book The Faith Once For All, rejects the Calvinistic teaching on total depravity and the Augustine view of original sin.  Most theologians from the Restoration Movement such as Douglas Jacoby or John Mark Hicks reject both Calvinism and Arminianism (as far as I know) mainly because they reject total depravity.

The question then arises, should we accept those who reject total depravity as taught by John Calvin or James Arminius?  While Arminius was not in full agreement with Calvin or total depravity (with regard to the loss of free will), Arminius did teach the traditional Augustine view that we are born depraved.  Arminius would not doubt agree that we are born sinful and that our only hope is the grace of God to move upon us for salvation.  Most Restoration teachers including Alexander Campbell, I believe, would reject such a teaching.  Dr. Jack Cottrell, for instance, teaches that we are not born “sinful” or that we are born totally depraved but rather we are born in a state of grace, saved if you will.  Because of the flesh and the world and the devil, we sin and at that point we are guilty of our own sins and thus in need of a Savior who is Christ the Lord.  In his book, The Faith Once For All, Dr. Cottrell lays out his viewpoint not just from logic but from the Scriptures themselves.  Cottrell examines all the major passages about original sin including Psalm 51:5 and Romans 5:12-21.  Dr. Cottrell believes that the Augustine view of original sin is not only illogical but unbiblical.

For me, the bottom line issue is what does the Scriptures say?  I respect what Augustine, Calvin, Arminius, Henry, or Wesley had to say about biblical passages but the main issue for the disciple of Jesus is what does the Scriptures teach.  We can learn much from great theologians in the Church even if we don’t fully agree with one another.  Yet should we draw the line in the sand and deny people salvation based on their rejection of original sin?  Jack Cottrell, for example, does teach that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  He denies that works obtain salvation or that we can obtain salvation by living sinless (since this is impossible).  What he denies is that infants are born sinners.  He believes that babies are born innocent of any transgressions of God’s Law and therefore are not judged for their sins since they have not sinned.  They are born in a state of what he calls “original grace” as Adam and Eve were in Genesis 1-2 before the Fall.  Jesus reversed the curse (Galatians 3:13-14) and now we are born innocent of sin.  After we reach an age of accountability before God and we sin, we then are held guilty for Adam’s sin.  No, says Cottrell, but for our sins are we held accountable (Ezekiel 18).

Some say that such a view is nothing more than semi-Pelagain.  Cottrell prefers “pre-Augustinian” as the correct view.  He believes that Augustine overrated to the Pelagian errors.  He believes that Calvin was nothing more than the teachings of Augustine preached anew.  In his estimation, Arminius did not move further enough from Calvin and Augustine.  He believes that Campbell did.

My point is not to really debate the issue.  I do find many of Cottrell’s views appealing.  You are free to read his books and examine them with the Scriptures but I believe that Cottrell does a good job of seeking to build his case for his rejection of original sin from the Scriptures and not from theologians who agree with him.  My point in writing this is simply to acknowledge that we must always preach Jesus as the Savior and seek to glorify Him.  Salvation is not found in Arminianism or Calvinism or any other isms but in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  Jesus is fully alive right now and He sits at the right hand of God.  We can pray to the Father because of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16) and we can be saved because of Jesus and His sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  Salvation is not found in a church or a denomination or a movement or in a creed but in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We must know Him (Philippians 3:9-11).  Jesus said that eternal life is found in knowing God personally (John 17:3).  Salvation is not found in crossing every T or dotting every I.  It is found in the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:12).  He alone is our Mediator before God (1 Timothy 2:3-6).  I am thankful that Jesus saves sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and not Baptists or Pentecostals or Arminians or any thing else.  He just saves sinners who come to Him and acknowledge that they have sinned and need His forgiveness (1 John 1:7-10).

Praise God for Jesus!

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