Do Paul and Jesus Contradict Each Other Regarding the Doctrine of Original Sin?

Paul Tambrino, EdD, PhD

Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino


Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.

Question #35 – Do Paul and Jesus Contradict Each Other Regarding the Doctrine of Original Sin?

 

Recently there has been a flurry of books and articles raising the question, “Can Paul really be trusted?” or “What Paul really meant?” giving rise to some erroneous new perspectives on Paul.

The question in our lesson today is but one example of the  sorts of questions being levied against Paul in order to disprove the claims of Christianity.“When was the last time you heard a sermon or homily on original sin, or even sin in general, preached in your church?”

Of course views which discount or deny sin in any way shape or form will play well with many (both clergy and laity) in today’s churches.

When was the last time you heard a sermon or homily on original sin, or even sin in general, preached in your church?

Instead many in today’s pews want their ears tickled, they want to be told how good, and not how sinful they are; or that God is so forgiving He merely winks at sin.

If that is true, if there is no original sin, and “I’m ok and you’re ok,” then prey tell, what was Jesus doing up on the cross?

John tells us that…

1) And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2) And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3) Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.John 9:1-3 (KJV)

So, does this passage say that Jesus did not teach original sin? Certainly it does not.

In the context, Jesus is answering a very specific question from the Apostles, who had accepted the thinking of their day: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”“In the context, Jesus is answering a very specific question from the Apostles, who had accepted the thinking of their day”

Jesus is not even addressing original sin at all. He is addressing the common belief that if a child was born with a defect, that either the parents committed a particularly gross sin or, even the child in the womb committed a sin (such as kicking on the Sabbath day).

Jesus’ reply is that neither of these assumptions was correct. Instead, the man was born blind for a purpose, a purpose that was about to be fulfilled in His healing.

To place this reply of Jesus in contrast with Paul’s teaching in Romans 5:12-14…

12) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.Romans 5:12-14 (KJV)

…is completely without merit.

Jesus taught the same doctrine as Paul. For example…

21) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22) Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:Mark 7:21-22 (KJV)

Also, in John 6:44 (and again in verse 65) Jesus emphasized our sin nature when He said that “No man can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws (literally “drags” in the Greek) him.”

In John 8:7 Jesus challenges the accusers who were about to stone a women caught in adultery by saying, “Who among you is without sin…”“There is no question that Jesus taught that all men had to repent and there is no question that Paul said the same thing.”

Then, in John 8:42, to those who said with their lips that they “had one Father – God,” Jesus replied, “You are of your father, the devil…”

There is no question that Jesus taught that all men had to repent and there is no question that Paul said the same thing. But then why raise the question?

Evidently, the questioners’ reasoning (as well as the reasoning of those who would give rise to new perspectives on Paul) goes like this; if Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, then there must be righteous folks that Jesus did not come to call.

But since Jesus called all to repentance, this is an obvious error on questioner’s part.

He or she is missing the fact that the Pharisees did indeed claim to be righteous, and it was their vaunted self-righteousness that kept them, in Jesus’ words, blind.

This was the point of the story of the Pharisee and the publican (Lk. 18:10-14).

There are no righteous people. The only ones who can stand before God in righteousness today are those who are clothed with the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ given to them by faith.

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