Original sin and our own tendency to sin

I’ve often seen this question posed as a defense of original sin:

Wouldn’t we all have sinned just as Adam did in the garden? Doesn’t that make it justified for God to impute Adam’s guilt to us?

On the surface, this sounds like a great argument, and it’s powerful — because we are so in tune with our own sin. It only takes me a moment to consider my sinful ways, and how easily I give in to sin, and I quickly respond in the affirmative: I absolutely would have sinned if I were there in the garden instead of Adam.

What we would have done in Adam’s place is irrelevant.

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Original Sin and Psalm 51

Proponents of original sin really like to use this psalm to support the contention that all humanity is sinful (that is: full of sin, guilty) from birth.  The key verse is verse 5:

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, 
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51.5

Proponents of original sin take this psalm to be a commentary on the nature of mankind. For example, Calvin says of this verse that David acknowledges that even within the womb “his nature was entirely depraved” and he “was absolutely destitute of all spiritual good.” (You can read Calvin’s commentary on the entire psalm here.) Indeed, Calvin taught elsewhere that all infants (including David) are “odious and abominable to God” by virtue of their inborn sinful nature.

Is that what David is saying? Is David teaching on the sinful nature of mankind in this psalm? My contention is this: although David could be making this point, it’s far more likely that he is instead using poetic language to reflect on his own sinful state.

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What happens to the innocents?

As I’ve been researching the history of the doctrine of original sin, I’ve been pondering the eternal destiny of persons whom I’m calling “the innocents.” By innocent, I mean any person who does not have the capacity to understand and accept or reject the gospel. This includes those who died as infants, those who were aborted, and those who are born without sufficient mentally ability through a defect or damage.

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Was Adam immortal before the fall?

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about Adam recently, and one idea which I’ve read is that Adam was physically immortal prior to the fall. This idea has been around a long time, at least since the dispute between Augustine and Pelagius in the fifth century.

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