PDF copy of the doctrinal statement: THE6120 Doctrinal Summary – Hamartiology
FAL2011: DOCTRINAL SUMMARY
Leonard O Goenaga
I. On the Origin of Sin
Out of nothing, God creates the universe and all of its inhabitants. Upon his final day of creative activity, God crowned His creation by creating the first historical humans in His very image (Gen 1-2; Rom 5:12; 1 Tm 2:14). With such a jewel upon the crown of creation, God deemed it very good. However, the great deceiver Satan, already fallen sometime before man’s creation, decided to deceive this first pair of humans through the guise of a talking serpent (Rev 12:9). Adam was created to obey and enjoy God, while subjecting the earth and its creaturely inhabitants to his rule and work. With the serpent’s seductions, Adam’s wife Eve willingly fell to the temptation to reverse her cosmic role, and in eating of a tree forbidden by God, sought the idolatrous act of being her own God (Gen 3:1-5). Adam rejected his guardian position over Eve, allowing her to seek her own façade divinity, and disorder and depravity entered into existence, seen chiefly in the reversal of the serpent over man, and man over God. The result of this Fall ended in Adam and Eve experiencing a nakedness and shame (Gen 3:7), in a distortion of proper relationships evidenced in their attempts to hide (Gen 3:8-19), in the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:22), and in the death God promised upon the act of rebellion (Gen 3:22-24). However, this death was not simply physical, but related more to their standing after their fall: outside the garden, and thus outside communion with God. Man’s sin led to a spiritual death that separated Him from his initial intended purpose: to worship God and enjoy Him forever. However, even within this origin of man’s Fall, God’s grace is on display in the protoevangelium promise of a seed of Eve who will crush the head of the serpent and reverse man’s fallen state back into the Garden (Gen 3:15).
II. On the Nature of Sin
Sin itself becomes something beyond simple actions (“sin[s]”), and instead roots itself within the very nature of humanity. It involves missing God’s standards, twisting and disfiguring them, and rebelling against them (Gen 4:7; Matt 1:21; Ps 32:5; 1 Cor 6:9; Is 1:2; Rom 5:14). All sin is committed against God (Ps 51:1-4). With Adam and Eve’s rebellious act of disobeying and rebeiling against God, disorder and chaos entered into creation. The dominion roles are ironically reversed with Eve’s attempt to place herself at God’s level. This act of idolatrous worship is the essence of sin, which is a factual condition of our human tendency to replicate Eve and aim wrongly directed worship at anything or anyone other than God. Various prohibitions are offered through the Old Testament against acts of idolatry, from the incident at the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:4-9), to Decalogue’s first commandment (Ex 20:3; Duet 5:7). The prophets continued these warning, declaring idolatry as a chief example of folly (Ps 115:4-8; Isa 40:18-20; Jer 10:1-5). The New Testament also confirms the centrality idolatry has in propagating sins, with Paul noting idol worship as a sign of judgment (Rom 1:22-25), and Jesus affirming in the Golden Rule the centrality and primacy of rightly directing worship to the one true God (Mk 12:30).
III. On The Consequences of Sin
The consequences of man’s self-worship and cosmic rebellion are evident in Adam and Eve’s exile from the perfection and communion in the garden. From the moments after the Fall, there seems to be a rupture in various relationships. The consequences of sin are seen throughout three primary relationships. The relationship between man and God is ruptured by sin, leading to God’s holy disposition against sin in the form of wrath against the sinner (Ps 5:5; Prov 6:16-18; Zech 8:17), to an enmity between a Holy God and a polluted humanity (Gen 3:7; Gen 3:22-24), to an attainment of subjective and objective guilt on the part of the sinner (Ezek 18:20), to the resulting necessity of punishment (Heb 12:10-11), and essentially to this punishment in the form a physical, spiritual, and eternal death (Gen 3:19; 1 Cor 15:55-56; Eph 2:1-3; Rev 20:14-15). In addition, our relationships with one another are ruptured, leading to alienation, disharmony, envy, and progressive social corruption (Gal 5:19-21; Mk 15:10). Even our understanding of the self is contaminated by sin, leading to bondage, self-centeredness, and self-delusion (Rom 6:17; James 3:16; Jer 17:9).
IV. On the Imputation of Sin
Scripture affirms that this epidemic of sin is universal. The witness of the Old Testament confirms the universality of sin, beginning with the first sin committed by Adam and Eve leading to cancerous attachment of sin to human nature (Gen 3:4-6). Various Old Testament passages affirm man’s sinfulness from his youth, as well as existing no one who isn’t under sin’s sickness (Gen 8:21; Ps 143:2; 1 Kings 8:46). The New Testament continues to affirm the universality of sin, with Paul writing clearly on sin’s universal presence within every human (Rom 1:8-3:20; Eph 2:1-10). Sin has contaminated all aspects of human nature, and although everyone is not as bad as they could be, all aspects of their humanity have been affected by this fallen state (Eph 2:1-3). Mankind both inherits this sinful nature through the natural headship of Adam, as well as through the willful sinful actions stemming from this individual’s nature (Rom 5:12-19). Although it has been noted that sin has its imputation within Adam’s natural headship of humanity, and that this epidemic is universal, the question of the salvation of infants naturally arises. Clearly, Christ’ substitutionary atonement is necessary for sinful man in order to be rightly reconciled to God. It is also noted in scripture that infants are in a state of sin in need of regeneration (Job 14:14; Rom 5:14). However, various passages note a relative innocence among infants (Deut 1:39; Jon 4:11; Rom 9:11). In addition, David speaks of going to his deceased child, as well as Jesus holding children up as an example of innocent (2 Sam 12:23; Mt 18:5-6).