This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Is Original Sin a Biblical Doctrine?

QUESTION: Are the phrases "original sin," "birth sin," "inbred sin" found in the Bible?

ANSWER: No. But a doctrine may be in the Bible while the term invented by men to express it is not scriptural, such as Trinity, sacrament, eucharist. Atonement is not found in the Revised New Testament. Theologians, feeling the need of a term to express racial bent or inclination towards sin inherited from Adam and Eve, called it original sin, using the term "sin" in an improper sense, because "sin properly so called," says J. Wesley, "is the willful transgression of a known law of God." Hence Arminians, whenever they use any one of these three phrases, are obligated to disclaim the elements of volition and guilt, which constitute the essence of sin. Much perplexity and many theological discussions would have been avoided if a different term had been invented to denote the racial trend towards sin. Paul used the terms "flesh" and "carnal" in 1 Cor. 3:1-3, and Gal. 5:17 in describing Christians in whom there was still lingering the proclivity to sin. But this word has about a half dozen meanings, mostly good, so that its use to denote badness is very confusing. Hence many speakers and writers decline to use the term so equivocal. The phrase "sin which dwelleth in me," occurs in Rom. 7:17 as descriptive, not of a regenerated person, but of a convicted moralist, personated by Paul, a character striving to realize his ideal of righteousness without faith in Jesus Christ. If real sin dwells in a man, he is not born of God, but is a child of the devil, according to 1 John 3:9, 10.

Steele's Answers pp. 75, 76.