Article II: Original Sin
This is a complicate one. When the opponents of the Augsburg Confession responded to what was laid out, they denied a couple of really important things about this teaching – first of all the definition of it. Just what is it that we have had handed to us from Adam and Eve? How does this work out for us???
In our corporate confession each Sunday morning we say the following words from pg. 56 in the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW):
“We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed: by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will, and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy Name. Amen.”
The way this works out for us as Lutheran Christians is that we acknowledge a “terminal illness” that comes to us, even as infants. Yes, infants. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, in section II, paragraph 2 (designated “AP II 2”) states that “ . . . since the fall of Adam all . . . who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all . . . are full of evil lusts and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable to have true fear of God or true faith in God.”
That’s pretty comprehensive.
But it’s nothing new. King David wrote many of the psalms, and one of his most famous is Psalm 51. In part it reads: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5, KJV) Paul agrees, and paraphrases Ecclesiastes 7:20 in his letter to the Christians in Rome: “”As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one . . . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Rom 3:10, 23, KJV).
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also affirms that sin extends beyond the actual deed of the sin, but that the heart is sinful apart from the deed: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mat 5:27-28) Isaiah also speaks to this: “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” (Isa. 64:6 NKJV)
There’s a reason why God places these words before us, and why so often. It is so that we do not depend on ourselves for any part of our salvation, but look only to Christ, who gives us all things. This was one of the primary reasons for the Reformation – the consolation and care of souls. But we’ll get into that in a couple of months when we talk about Article IV: Justification.
Next month: Article III. Christ