The Doctrine of Original Sin

An Extemporaneous Sermon by James P. Cooper

The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin. (DEU 24:16)

  1. Introduction

    1. We tend to think about baptism only when we witness one. But most of us present in this church today have either been baptized, or have stood before the Lord and made the promises of baptism over a child.

      1. That in itself is a good enough reason to take up this topic. But there is the additional reason that much of traditional Christian dogma is based on a false understanding of this basic doctrine, and its falsity affects the thinking of every Christian we talk to – because we have a totally different understanding of a fundamental doctrine!

    2. Originally, baptisms and other spiritual washings, were done to represent a spiritual cleansing, a purification of the mind and spirit, a confirmation of another step taken in the process of improving one's life.

    3. Unfortunately, a thousand years after John baptized the Lord in the waters of the Jordan River, baptism took on a new meaning when the leaders of the Christian Church invented the doctrine of Original Sin.

    4. Our purpose today is to look at that doctrine, and compare it to the New Church doctrine of hereditary evil, so that we can understand just what the spiritual washing of baptism is supposed to signify and represent in our lives.

  2. The traditional Christian Doctrine

    1. Baptism is necessary to wash away sin

      1. But what sin could a baby have? "Original Sin"

        1. Jehovah created the world and put Adam and Eve into it

          1. Everything was perfect until the serpent enticed Eve, who in turn seduced Adam.

          2. Jehovah was so angry that He turned them out of the garden and turned His back on the human race forever. We are condemned by Adam’s sin.

          3. But Jesus, who was born from eternity and so witnessed all this offered to come into the world Himself, take all sin upon Himself, and die with it

  3. Common Sense

    1. The problem with that doctrine is that it doesn't make sense

      1. If the garden of Eden was so perfect, what was the serpent doing there?

      2. How could the universe and mankind continue when God turned His back?

        1. Does the universe have life in itself?

      3. If Jesus was born from eternity, why did He wait so long to step in?

        1. But most important and unjust, why would God blame me for something done by someone else?

        2. Not just blame, but punish with eternal damnation!

        3. And furthermore, if it is my fault, how is that I can get out of it when Jesus takes my (unjust) blame upon Himself?

    2. Why did the leaders of the Christian Church create and adopt such a doctrine? If everyone is condemned from birth, then their only hope is through the salvation offered by the church. Thus the church gets complete control over their natural and spiritual lives.

    3. Personal experience

      1. In the late 60's a book called Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was published. It was the story of an unprovoked attack and resulting massacre of American Indians by heavily armed cavalry troops in the 1880's.

        1. The political climate in the US, particularly with Viet Nam, caused massive guilt

          1. Many young people read that book and felt somehow dirty because of things done by their countrymen in times past, that somehow it was their fault and they were personally responsible for it, and that they should make amends for their guilt. The hells were having a lovely time! They were appropriating, or making their own, evils that had nothing to do with them. They made themselves miserable for the deeds of others.

          2. Young adults are particularly susceptible to this attack from the hells. Powerful feelings wash through them daily, they are fascinated by dark longings and forbidden fruits, and then they feel guilty for even thinking such things. At such times it is important to remember what the Lord teaches in DP 320:

            IF MAN BELIEVED, AS IS THE TRUTH, THAT ALL GOOD AND TRUTH ORIGINATE FROM THE LORD, AND ALL EVIL AND FALSITY FROM HELL, HE WOULD NOT APPROPRIATE GOOD TO HIMSELF AND ACCOUNT IT MERITORIOUS, NOR WOULD HE APPROPRIATE EVIL TO HIMSELF AND ACCOUNT HIMSELF RESPONSIBLE FOR IT.

            Those who are in the acknowledgment of these two things reflect only upon the evils in themselves and, so far as they shun them as sins and turn away from them, they cast them out from themselves to the hell from which they come.

      2. All evil comes from hell, and all good comes from heaven. And you make evil yours by doing it, and God gives you good when you strive for it, but you cannot take on yourself the good or evil of anyone else.

        1. We had nothing to do with that massacre!

        2. We are only responsible for those things that we ourselves do (or that we allow to happen that could reasonably have prevented).

  4. The teaching of the Word

    1. 1st commandment: Exodus 20:5-6:

      1. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, But showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

    2. Divine law is that each person is responsible for his own sins only

      1. DEU 24:16: "The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin."

    3. Anger to the third and fourth generation

      1. AC 8876e: In the sense of the letter, by "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons" is not meant that the sons suffer the penalty of the iniquity of their fathers, for this is contrary to the Divine (DEU 24:16); but that evil increases with the fathers, and thus is by heredity carried over into the children, and that there is a consequent successive accumulation of evil (2910, 3701,4317, 8550, 8551).

    4. Hereditary evil

      1. Acquired from parents

        1. A tendency to evil, not actual sin

      2. Removed by repentance, reformation, and regeneration

      3. Those left over when you die are removed by the Lord

        1. If your ruling love is good.

    5. Mercy to a thousand generations that love Him and keep His commandments

      1. a thousand generations = eternity in heaven

      2. to love Him = faith

      3. to keep commandments = charity

      4. Note the 'and'

  5. Conclusion

    1. Baptism must not be seen as a sign to appease an angry God.

    2. Nor to save an infant from a punishment brought on by the sin of another

      1. That would be like thinking we could wash our bodies once, and stay clean the rest of our lives.

        1. The reality is that we wash our bodies when they get dirty. If we are doing something very strenuous and messy, we wash frequently. When we are sitting quietly we don't need to wash at all.

        2. It is the same with spiritual washing. You use the truth from the Word as often as you need it. If you are in a major struggle, you must wash a lot. When things are peaceful and calm, you don't.

        3. Baptism, then, is to be a sign that as evils arise

          1. As they certainly will from our hereditary nature

        4. That we will turn to the Word for the truth to cleanse our spirit.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. AMEN.

Lesson: DEU 24:10-18, JOH 1:19-34, AR 776

1st Lesson: DEU 24:10-18

"When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. {11} "You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. {12} "And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. {13} "You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God. {14} "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. {15} "Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you. {16} "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin. {17} "You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow's garment as a pledge. {18} "But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.

2nd Lesson: John 1:19-34

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

20} He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." {21} And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." {22} Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" {23} He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said." {24} Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. {25} And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" {26} John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. {27} "It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." {28} These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. {29} The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! {30} "This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.' {31} "I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water." {32} And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. {33} "I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' {34} "And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

3rd Lesson: AR 776

I have spoken with those who ... in the beginning believed that what they had decreed were pure and holy truths, but after instruction and enlightenment then given from heaven, confessed that they did not see one truth. They especially believed that what they had sanctioned concerning Baptism and Justification were truths. But still, when they were in enlightenment, they saw, and from enlightened sight confessed, that no one has original sin from Adam, but from his own parents successively; and that this is not taken away by the imputation and application of the Lord's merit in baptism; then that the imputation and application of the Lord's merit is a human fiction, because impossible; and that faith is never infused into any suckling, because faith is of one who thinks.

Still they saw that baptism is holy and a sacrament, because it is a sign and a memorial that man can be regenerated by the Lord through truths from the Word, a sign for heaven, and a memorial for man. Also that by it a man is introduced into the church, as the sons of Israel by the crossing of the Jordan were introduced into the land of Canaan, and as the inhabitants of Jerusalem were prepared for the reception of the Lord by the baptism of John, for without that sign in heaven before the angels, the Jews could not have subsisted and lived at the coming of Jehovah, that is, the Lord, in the flesh.