The article states: "Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as thePelagians do vainly talk) but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature, inclined to evil, and that continually."
Scriptural reference: Genesis 8:21; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 3:10-12, 5:12, 18, 19; and Ephesians 2:1-3.
This article was first formulated by the council of the Established Church of England in 1553. It was formed from the Augsburg Confession and an article drawn up in 1538 by a joint committee of Anglicans and Lutherans.
We must consider three definite facts stated in the article:1. Original sin
Under this head we would look at four different points that require clarification.(a) The phrase "original sin"
(a) Original sin: The phrase appears nowhere in Scripture but is a phrase coined by Augustine who makes use of it in his writings to explain a certain condition of fallen man.
(b) The Pelagian heresy: Pelagius was a British monk who had settled in Rome. He differed with Augustines statement: "Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt." This seemed to Pelagius to exalt the Divine at the expense of the human in the work of salvation. Pelagius claimed (1) that Adam was created mortal, and would have died even if he had not sinned; (2) that sin injured Adam alone, and not the whole human race; (3) that infants at their birth are in the same condition in which Adam was before the fall; (4) that unbaptized infants as well as others would obtain eternal life; (5) that mankind neither died through Adams death or transgression, nor would rise again through Christs resurrection; (6) that the law had the same effect as the gospel in leading men to the kingdom of heaven; (7) that even before Christ came that there had been sinless men.
Of course every one of these statements is a denial of the truth as revealed in Holy Scripture.
How would Pelagius explain the universal depravity of man? How would he account for sin found everywhere in every one? His answer was that it had resulted from a universal following of Adams example. He declared that Adams fall had no effect on the nature of his descendants. Adam had simply set an example and all had followed.
The article refutes Pelagius and appeals to the teaching of Paul in Romans 5:12-15, to prove the falsity of Pelagian teaching. Paul teaches that Adams sin had a far reaching eftect upon mankind and that through it inherited a tendency to sin.
(c) Original righteousness: What was it from which man is "very far gone."Gathered from the Scriptures it was partly natural and partly supernatural in that certain graces in addition to free will were required for its exercise. Adam could not have had lust, the direct inclination to evil which is now the incentive to sin in our nature for he was made "in the image of God" and was "very good." On the other hand as he was in a state of trial, there must have been something in him which sin could take hold of-a starting point for temptation. To protect him from yielding, it is thought that he, Adam, must have had, by his created disposition, a pleasure in goodness, and that pleasure naturally preserved him in obedience without the need of express effort. This natural pleasure in goodness, which is practically equivalent to an implanted virtuous character, is what has been called "original righteousness." It has a supernatural bias towards good, so that before the fall his natural tendency was to do good. The first sin reversed that bias and gave man a natural bias towards evil.
(d) The effect of the Fail: The Scriptures and the early church fathers taught that the Fall involved something more than only the withdrawal of the supernatural gifts and left man with a corrupt nature, a direct bias towards evil. Augustine declared that the will itself was disabled at the fall; and not only certain impulses to it withdrawn. The Lutherans and the Calvinists maintained that our entire human nature was entirely or totally depraved and that man was inclined only to evil. They maintained that the image of God was wholly obliterated and man is not better than the evil spirits.
This article does not go as far as the Lutherans and Calvinists. The Anglicans and Wesley, also, believed that although the
bias of man is to do evil, yet there is that which can and will react to good under certain conditions, such as the love of God
expressed on Calvary, which under the impact of the Holy Spirit can renew a desire in the will to do good, seek after
righteousness and by a miracle of grace begin the restoration of that former image in the likeness of God. II Corinthians
3:18 and Romans 8:29.
B. Baptism and Original Sin
There is nothing in baptism that would forgive sin, but it is an acknowledgment of a work of grace in the human heart by
the Holy Spirit, by which we are spiritually regenerated, indwelt by the Spirit, made Children of an made heirs of the riches
of His eternal grace. Baptism is an outward witness to the acceptance of His inworking and indwelling grace in love
expressed at Calvary.
C. The character or concupiscence or lust