Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week

original sin
The sinful state and condition in which all human beings are born, which includes both imputed guilt (the guilt of Adam’s sin counted as their own) and inherited corruption (a disposition toward sin).

  • From scripture:

    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— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    15 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. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    18 Therefore, as one  trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21 ESV)

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)
  • From The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 18:

    Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
    A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

  • From Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware:
    Because Adam was the first man, and all the rest of us, throughout all of history, have come from Adam, then God saw all of the rest of us connected to Adam and his sin. So, when Adam sinned, all of us who come from Adam would receive sin in our own inner lives (our natures). We  are born into this world, then, with sinful natures that trace back to the sin of Adam. And when Adam sinned, all of us who come from Adam also received God’s judgment of death, the punishment for sin that God gave to Adam and all who come from Adam. Adam’s sin, then is our sin. Adam’s sinful nature results in our having sinful natures. And Adam’s guilt and condemnation carry over to our being guilty and deserving death.
  • From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem: 

    When we first confront the idea that we have been counted guilty because of Adam’s sin, our tendency is to protest because it seems unfair. We did not actually decide to sin, did we? Then how can we be counted guilty? Is it just for God to act this way?

    In response, three things may be said: (1) Everyone who protests that this is unfair has also voluntarily committed many actual sins for which God also holds us guilty. These will constitute the  primary basis of our judgment on the last day…. (2) Moreover, some have argued, “If any one of us were in Adam’s place, we also would have sinned as he did, and our subsequent rebellion against God demonstrates that.” ….

    (3) The most persuasive answer to the objection is to point out that if we think it is unfair for us to be represented by Adam, then we should also think it is unfair for us to be represented by Christ and to have his righteousness imputed to us by God. For the procedure that God used was just the same, and that is exactly Paul’s point in Romans 5: 12-21….

Learn more:

  1. R. C. Sproul: Adam’s Fall and Mine
  2. Jonathan Edwards: The Great Doctrine of Original Sin Defended
  3. Curt Daniel: Original Sin (mp3)
  4. S. Lewis Johnson: The Imputation of Adam’s Sin to His Posterity (mp3 and more)
  5. Tom Hicks: Problems with Denying Imputed Guilt
  6. Here at this blog: Quiz on Original Sin

Related terms:

Filed under Anthropology 

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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Reader Comments (3)

OOOooo. I was going to recommend the Jonathan Edwards but you beat me to it. (Sproul article is good, too!)

February 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkim from hiraeth

I really like how you are including excerpts from the Bruce Ware book. I just got it recently, and I'm hoping to get to it soon.

February 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim in ON

I'm hoping to get to it soon

I think you'll like it and find it very useful for the teaching you do.

February 3, 2010 | Registered Commenterrebecca

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