The term 'original sin' does not appear anywhere in the Bible. It is a doctrine conceived by theologians long after the death of Jesus, the Apostles and all New Testament writers.
The doctrine had its origin in the writings of Tertullian (160-220) and Cyprian (200-258). It was popularized by Augustine (354-430), Luther (1483-1546) and Calvin (1509-1564).
The people who conceived and taught the doctrine of original sin did not have any personal interaction with Jesus or his disciples. Hundreds of years had passed, and oral transmission was no longer consistent and trustworthy, so for truth they studied the manuscripts we now call the New Testament.
Those theologians didn't have any advantage over us today. In fact, we have advantages over them for discovering truth.
Consider Staint Augustine, for example, the person most responsible for giving impetus to the doctrine of original sin (see 1.1.2). He lived 1,500 years ago. He had no complete Bible or scholarly study books – it was a thousand years before the printing press! His language was Latin. He could read only a smattering of Greek, so he read scriptures from hand-written fragments of a Latin translation of the original Greek called the Vulgate, translated by Saint Jerome in the late fourth century.
Now consider us, today. We have the benefit of 1,500 years of collection and study of thousands of Greek manuscripts, compiled into almost every form imaginable ... the Greek-English interlinear versions from the best linguists ... scholarly translations into dozens of English versions (and over a thousand other languages) which can be compared side-by-side ... and tens of thousands of books and commentaries.
Today anyone can be better equipped to study scripture than Saint Augustine, who was able to study only parts of the Vulgate. And now all the documentation we need is instantly available without charge via the Internet!
For nearly eighteen hundred years there have been arguments over the doctrine of original sin.
Generally speaking, what people believe about it – if they even think about it all – is determined by what they have been taught through centuries of church tradition. There is enormous pressure on church leaders to conform to tradition and, until now, little or no reason for deviation.
Now, however, churches in the West are declining and some old traditions are falling under scrutiny of common sense and renewed investigation. People today are smarter and asking more penetrating questions.
Many church doctrines have been used to scare people into compliance in times past, but that doesn't work well anymore. A deep study of scripture reveals that the root of Christianity is love and good news, not fear and condemnation.
It is time to restudy and rethink some questionable doctrines to see what the Bible actually says and to have courage for challenging destructive traditions not firmly grounded in scripture.
The purpose of this study is to go all the way back to the original New Testament manuscripts – the same thing that theologians do – and learn first-hand, objectively, what the Bible teaches (or doesn't teach) about original sin.
As usually understood, there are three points to the doctrine of original sin; i.e., three concepts consolidated into one doctrine:
Christians become inoculated to the horror of this unjust doctrine, which is repelling people from, rather than attracting people to, the love of God.
The Bible study in Part C shows that the doctrine of original sin is not firmly grounded in scripture: