This month we continue our journey through the Augsburg Confession by highlighting its second article, “Of Original Sin.”
Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost. They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.
The doctrine of Original Sin rose from the theological debate between Pelagius and Augustine. Pelagius, a British monk, posited an ethical form of Christianity which boiled sin down to an intellectual phenomenon, meaning that righteousness/salvation could be attained by simply having the knowledge of God’s laws and then obeying them. His logic was that if God created humanity, then he knows humanity. If God knows humans and what they are capable of, he would not command something that they could not do, because that would be cruel. Thus, he concluded that God’s commands can be kept by humans once they simply have the knowledge of them. One could say his theology was like a “just say no” campaign against Sin instead of drugs.
Augustine, however, saw sin as a far more challenging enigma. To him, sin could not be whisked away by just saying no to it. Perhaps St. Paul’s words in Romans 7 influenced his thinking: For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. In this brief selection, we see St. Paul strongly desiring to say no to sin but keeps finding himself saying yes. This idea prompted Augustine to cast sin not as a knowledge problem, but as a will problem. Augustine argued that Adam and Eve’s original transgression cultivated a systemic rebellion against God resulting in spiritual paralysis. That is, the inability to move towards God and garner his favor by one’s own efforts or merit. God’s commands, then, are not meant to order us into holy living so that we can save ourselves; they are meant to reveal our failure to overcome sin so that we can humbly surrender attempts at self-justification and submit to the One who can and does save us, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Original Sin means that God gets the verbs when it comes to salvation. It means that you and I do not have to engage in an endless and hopeless quest to earn God’s favor. “If you are do not seek to complete a job that has already been done but remember instead Jesus’ last words from the cross: “It is finished.” The job is done! Next month, we turn the page to Article III, Concerning the Son of God.
Pastor Mark Metze
2 Romans 7:15
3 The second article plays a critical role in the Augsburg Confession in that it is a prerequisite to the chief Lutheran doctrine of Justification (Article IV). In short, Justification is the answer to Original Sin. If humans are inept and helpless in dealing with sin, then salvation must come from another source. That source, as Justification teaches, is God through the person of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ and his merits that “justifies” humanity to stand before the holy God (Ephesians 2:8).
is a creative way to ready and study God's Word by creating notes and drawings to accompany Scripture verses. This group meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30. I have also included a picture of the Bible Journaling Group.