▶︎ Home▶︎ About this site▶︎ Doubters and unbelievers▶︎ Frequent questions1.2.0  Big Bang1.1.1  Today we know more1.1.2  Proof of God1.2.0  Bible creation 'days'1.2.2  Amazing qualities of light1.3.0  People before Adam1.3.2  Sin not cause of death1.3.3  Bible dating method1.3.4  Scientific dating methods1.4.0  Garden of Eden1.4.2  Q&A Garden of Eden1.4.3  Original Sin / Romans 51.4.4  Spiritul death concept3.4.1  No burn in hell forever4.1.0  Hall of Tyrannus. . .
See home page for list of 23 major topics coming
Close menu
Big BangBible creation 'days'People before AdamGarden of Eden
This site is for thoughtful Christians learning how to answer the hard questions people are asking today

Who said there is original sin?

Augustine said it. Not Jesus.
PURPOSE: Helping Christians engage in intelligent conversations with doubters and unbelievers


What happens here

Confident Christian

The doctrine of original sin is a church tradition from the fourth century that says everyone is born guilty FOR ADAM'S SIN and that, without Jesus as Savior, everyone is going to burn in hell forever as punishment, even people who never heard about Adam or Jesus.

This doctrine portrays God as an unjust monster and is driving people from God and the Bible. It's so horrific that few Christians dare talk about it in full and raw form with unbelievers.

Many Christians don't believe that the Bible teaches this doctrine and that it's a contradiction to the basic gospel message of love, justice, and free will. For sixteen hundred years, there has been heated theological argument about it.

This page will help you arrive at a confident personal decision about what to believe regarding original sin.

Informed Christian

Nearly everyone in the western world knows about 'the fall.' Literature, music, art, and church tradition over the centuries have been so replete with this narrative and its consequences to humanity that most people never bother about investigating what the Bible says about it if anything.

The Bible clearly teaches that everyone has a sin nature and needs the Savior (Jesus) because of personal sin. But the doctrine of original sin adds to the Bible by saying that everyone is fully guilty at birth for Adam's sin and ruin of God's perfect creation.

This page lays out all relevant Bible verses and issues to help you recognize the differences between the Bible and tradition regarding inherited sin.

Interesting Christian

This topic is usually a contentious conversation stopper when Christians try to explain it to doubters and unbelievers without good preparation. It's essential to maintain an interesting and intelligent dialog without letting it turn into an argument.

This page equips you to discuss this topic thoroughly and confidently, based on scripture, with people who are troubled by it.


of how scripture is read to fit tradition

The doctrine of original sin was developed hundreds of years after Jesus

The doctrine of original sin – that everyone is personally guilty for Adam's sin – was conceived by theologians long after the death of Jesus, the Apostles, and all of the New Testament writers.

Jesus taught only that we are guilty of our own sins. There is no record of Jesus ever even mentioning Adam's name.

The doctrine of original sin is not named, stated or taught in the Bible.

The concept had its origin in the writings of Tertullian (160-220) and Cyprian (200-258), but it was popularized by Saint Augustine (354-430), and eventually it became part of church tradition.

Augustine believed that original sin was transmitted from generation to generation by 'concupiscence' (sexual intercourse) when people had sex and conceived a child. That was believable 1600 years ago, but with modern knowledge of DNA, we now know that the physical part of the doctrine is preposterous.

The doctrine is built upon four Bible verses

Christians talk about original sin as though it's a theme that runs throughout the Bible. Not so. It rests upon four verses pulled out of a broad context of free will and individual choice.

There are 31,102 verses in the Bible. The four verses are a very small and fragile biblical footing for such a monstrous doctrine!

Here are the four verses, with commentary in red:

'For if THE MANY died by THE TRESPASS of one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to THE MANY' (Romans 5:15).
Though not named, the man probably is Adam. The verse doesn't say guilt is passed from one person to another, but even if it did, it's clear that this is not about ALL people, but about THE MANY, which is less than ALL.
The preceding verses in the chapter (see Bible study on Romans 5) explain THE TRESPASS (generic sinful act of rejecting God) and THE MANY. With regard to Adam, THE MANY probably are his extended family which was denied access to the Tree of Life because Adam's sin caused closure of the Garden. With regard to Jesus, THE MANY are people who accept God's gracious gift of salvation. This verse does not teach universalism for either condemnation or salvation.
'Consequently, just as the result of ONE TRESPASS was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.' (Romans 5:18)
This verses props up the idea of original sin better than any other verse in the Bible, but it's a lone ranger kind of verse out of synch with the Bible's theme of free will and personal choice.
If we say that 'one trespass' (Adam's sin) was condemnation for all humans, then we have to say that 'one act of righteousness' (Jesus' death on the cross) was salvation for all humans. That's universalism, in both directions, and we know that's not what the rest of the Bible teaches.
The preceding verses in the chapter explained THE TRESPASS as being the particular kind of sin – taking God's place – that's fatal. This sin is not unique to Adam. The verse may simply be saying that, for all people, commission of this sin brings condemnation ... and that, for all people, accepting Christ's death on the cross brings justification.
 'For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.' (I Corinthians 15:21)
Traditional Christians claim that this verse says Adam's guilt is placed upon all people at birth, but most people have difficulty stretching it to that meaning. It doesn't name Adam or say that Adam's sin is the cause of death. Maybe it's not talking about guilt at all, but only about death. Resurrection is the subject of the surrounding passage. Maybe the verse just saying that all we get through a man (humanity) is death, but through Jesus we get resurrection and eternal life.
 'For as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive.' (I Corinthians 15:22)
Same comments as for the preceding verse. This doesn't appear to have anything to do with guilt passing from one person to another.

Christians talk about original sin as though it's a theme that runs throughout the Bible. Not so. It rests upon these four verses pulled out of a broad context of free will and individual choice.

Even with these verses out of context – read them again! – one has to strain to try to make them say that everyone is guilty of Adam's sin. It's a big stretch, and it's adding to scripture.

If Adam caused a horrific change in God's master plan and basic human nature, we would expect the Bible to contain more than four brief – and questionable – references to such a catstrophic event that affects the life and destiny of every person ever to live on earth. We would certainly expect Jesus and his twelve Apostles to have said something about it, but they never mentioned Adam or any such catastrophic event.

Proponents of the doctrine of original sin sometimes also cite these additional verses for support, but notice that they don't mention Adam or a catastrophic event either:

  • 'Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me' (Psalm 51:5). This verse simply says that King David was born into a sinful world and that his mother, like everyone, was a sinner.
  • 'Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies' (Psalm 58:3). This verse simply says that people have free will and a sinful nature, which become evident at a very early age (obviously not at birth because newborn babies don't spread lies).
  • 'Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath' (Ephesians 2:3). This verse simply says that everyone has a sinful nature (free will to disobey) ... the sinful nature is why we sin ... and we deserve punishment. This doesn't make a case for universal guilt for Adam's sin.

Deep study on original sin

The theologians who constructed the doctrine of original sin did not have any personal interaction with Jesus or his disciples. Hundreds of years had passed. Oral transmission was no longer consistent and trustworthy, so for truth, they studied the same verses in the Bible that we study today.

Now we can study these verses as well – even better – than they could in their day, for reasons explained at today we know more.

Proponents of the doctrine of original sin believe it because they have been told that the Bible says it in Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15.

See the Bible study here on original sin which examines these two passages in depth and shows that they don't say what most people have been told.

Original sin is an example of how scripture is often read to support tradition rather than to learn what it actually says.


hinders our mission

God's justice

Justice is a big issue throughout the world today, especially among the younger generations, and is regarded as one of the highest – perhaps the highest – of all virtues.

When doubters and unbelievers hear about original sin, most are, repulsed. To them, there is nothing more unjust than torturing people in the most horrific way imaginable – burning them in fire forever – for something they didn't do or even know about and not making known any means of salvation.

It is especially onerous to be told that God places this guilt and sentence of punishment on every infant at the moment of birth. Most people react by thinking consciously or subconsciously: I could never be attracted to a God like that!

Christians who believe in original sin usually respond simply by saying (1) God can do whatever He wants and (2) it's what the Bible says, so we have to accept it.

This study challenges that response:

(1) Of course, God can do whatever He wants. He is Creator and Sovereign of the universe. But this is not the issue here. The ISSUE IS NOT whether or not we like how God deals with sinners, but rather the ISSUE IS whether God likes how we portray Him as a monster by stretching and adding to scripture.

(2) Not all Christians believe in original sin. Apparently, Jesus didn't believe it either, or else he would have said something about it. Christians who believe it keep saying that this is what the Bible teaches (though there are only a few verses on the subject, all dubious) ... but Christians who don't believe it search the scriptures and can't find it there, not even in those few verses.

If the Bible compels a belief that God tortures the innocent, we would have to accept it. However, that belief comes almost entirely from human tradition, not from the clear teaching of scripture, which is the point of this study.

At least once in a lifetime, every Christian should carefully study this important theological issue personally, not believing or disbelieving based on what one's church tradition says, but based instead on what the Bible says as understood from personal study.

Christian mission

Our mission from Jesus is to 'go and make disciples of all nations' (Matthew 28:18), but statistics show that the church (body of believers) is now failing miserably in America.

The church is contentious and squabbling over unessential points of doctrine while losing disciples at an alarming rate. The generational gap is huge and growing.

This site shows the many ways that Christians are making the Bible say things it doesn't really say, with the result that the Bible is losing credibility and Christians are being marginalized for blindly believing whatever they're told.

Christians should be talking to family, friends, associates, and neighbors enthusiastically about the things Jesus spoke about. Instead, church add-on doctrines have put us in positions impossible to defend.

Without good answers, most Christians get pummeled in spiritual conversations, so most keep quiet. Sadly, most Christians are unable to articulate the gospel in a way that ordinary people can understand or desire.

The purpose of this site is to broaden understanding of scripture to the point that a Christian becomes willing – especially in conversations with unbelievers – to explain spiritual topics with informed interpretations that are not turn-offs and conversation stoppers ... for example, to explain that not all Christians believe in the doctrine of original sin and that a person does not have to embrace it to become a Christian.


WIKIPEDIA describes original sin as people understand it today
'Original sin is the Christian doctrine that humans inherit a tainted nature and a proclivity to sin through the fact of birth. Theologians have characterized this condition in many ways, seeing it as ranging from somthing as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a sin nature, to total depravity or automatic guilt of all humans through collective guilt.'
'The doctrine of original sin began to emerge in the 3rd century but only became fully formed with the writings of Augustine of Hippo (354–430), who was the first author to use the phrase original sin.'
'The Catholic Church declares that baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin.'
'Today, 52% of American evangelicals accept the doctrine of original sin.'
– Wikipedia, Original sin
People who believe it

Here are the three points typically expressed by people who believe in the doctrine of original sin:

  • POINT 1 - Everyone inherits the guilt for Adam's sin. From the moment of birth, God holds everyone personally guilty for Adam's sin regardless of time, place, circumstance, or knowledge.
  • POINT 2 - Sin is the cause of death. Adam's sin is the cause of all death on earth; before Adam's sin, the earth was a perfect paradise, and nothing died.
  • POINT 3 - Unbelievers burn in hell forever. Adam's sin will cause everyone to burn in hell forever as punishment – except those who accept Jesus as Savior – even people who never even heard of Adam or Jesus.

Some Christians believe only one or two of these three points, and some (below) don't believe any of them.

People who don't believe it

Here's a response to the above three points from people who don't believe in the doctrine of original sin:

  • COUNTER-POINT 1 - Everyone is guilty only for his/her own sin. Nowhere does the Bible teach that one person is guilty for the sin of another, except a questionable interpretation of a few verses from the Apostle Paul (examined in this study). Jesus and the Twelve Apostles never mentioned Adam or taught original sin.
  • COUNTER-POINT 2 - There was death on earth long before Adam sinned. Bible genealogy says Adam lived about 4000 B.C. We now have ample evidence that there was death on earth long before Adam existed. Coal, oil, limestone, dinosaurs, archaeological finds, and scientific dating are examples of the evidence. Therefore, Adam's sin cannot be the cause of death. Death is not a design flaw in God's plan but rather a divine intent for everything He created to die eventually, with one exception: Eternal life offered through Jesus Christ.
  • COUNTER-POINT 3 - Unbelievers burn in hell, but not forever. Romans 5 is used as the biblical justification for burning in hell forever, but as shown in this study, that passage says nothing at all about hell, and nowhere does the Bible say that people will burn in hell FOREVER. On the contrary, Jesus said that in hell, people will eventually die ('burned up' ... 'destroyed' ... 'consumed' ... 'perish' ... translation of Jesus' words).

This Part A examines the above points and PART B is a verse-by-verse study of scripture.


The topic of original sin is discussed on this site in two parts.
PART A: Overview with key verses and commentary, or
PART B: Intensive verse-by-verse Bible study of Romans 5 and I Corthinthians 15
This is some text inside of a div block.
 Original sin – Part A (overview)


Topics of interest

Helping Christians engage in intelligent and coherent conversations with doubters and unbelievers