the history of the doctrine of sin

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Periods of church history. Early Christianity - The Apostles and Expansion (33 - 100 A.D.)The Patristic Period - The Church Fathers (100-450 A.D.)The Catholic Church in the Medieval Period (450 - 1000)The Scholastics to the Renaissance (1050 - 1500 A.D.)The Reformation and Post-Reform Protest Movements (1500 - 1750 A.D.)The Enlightenment

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the history of the doctrine of sin

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1. The History of the Doctrine of Sin “Augustine and Pelagius’ Controversy”

3. The Early Fathers and movements 1. The Church was begun as an extension of Judaism. 2. By the end of the first century, Christianity is apart from it’s Jewish roots.

4. The Early Fathers and movements 3. The second century is about survival – Attacks from outside and the need to defend against the Romans, and Attacks from inside and the need to stop heresy. Converted philosophers – 1st theologies in the form of apologies which tried to present the gospel to rulers and the educated classes. Contacts with pagan thought carried the dangers of Gnosticism and speculation The teachings exercised by Irenaeus, Tertullian and Hippolytus formed the faith and influenced church structure.

5. The Early Fathers and movements 4. From the outset it faced the problem of unity and diversity 5. Scriptures was the core of the church’s beliefs but it had to face the issue of how to settle on the Canon of Scripture.

6. Writings appeared in the post-Apostolic period: Shepherd of Hermas Epistles of Barnabas and Clement Apocalypse of Peter Acts of Paul While, Hebrews, James, and Second Peter were not in Eastern Scriptures for the first three centuries. Marcion proposes a Canon of Scripture

7. What caused a scripture to be authenticated? Test of history? Were the writers Apostles who had been at the time of Jesus? Internal test? Did the book possess the character of spiritual elevation...In Other words, did it appear to have the same level of authority as the other recognized books?

8. Early Apologists - Defending Justin Martyr (writing to the emperor), Tatian (writing to the Greeks). Their main focus: the unity of God...Oneness. The Logos of Christ. The humanity of the Logos The Triad of God, not the Trinity. From the Father came the son, From the Son was subordinated the Spirit. Baptism as a washing away of Sins, necessary for forgiveness and regeneration. The Eucharist... “nourished by the body and blood of the same Jesus who was made flesh...” (Justin Martyr).

9. The Problem of Heresy Ebionitism, Early Judaistic Christianity - Jesus was merely a human on whom the Holy Spirit had descended for the first time at his baptism. From Greek Hellenism, came Platonic errors. - Gnosticism, a religious syncretism (a.k.a., post-modernism) that assimilated Greek Platonism and other mythologies (Roman) with the truths of Christianity. “Gnosis” was the higher knowledge which came from supernatural revelation and enlightenment. - Docetism, from Gnosticism it stated that Jesus only “appeared” to have a physical body. Emphasis is on Evil of the material not corrupting deity. - Monarchianism, arose in reaction to Gnostics and taught that God was one, who appeared in singular modes, but could not be a Trinity.

10. Some Characteristics of Gnosticism 1. Dualism... Spirit/Matter, Spiritual/Carnal... 2. Emanations of the Divine... 3. The creator... or demi-urge, occupies a middle position between the world of the Spirit and the World of Matter... 4. Redemption... not possible in the area of matter...not even by the demi-urge. 5. Jesus Christ, as redeemer... Christ not as sacrifice, but as teacher to “dispel ignorance and abrogate death. 6. Docetism... No incarnation is necessary, or possible, because matter is evil and the spiritual world wants no contact with the flesh. 7. Dualism of Human nature... Humans were either spiritual, or carnal.

11. Results of Gnosticism? 1. The rise of Bishops to defend the faith. 2. The attention to mysticism and ascetism 3. Some later Catholic dogma – Sexuality as sin, Marriage prohibited for Priests, Salvation through sacraments... 4. The ascendancy of the Universal rule of the church in matters of faith/dogma.

12. Biblical Theology took form In Asia Minor, Irenaeus (d. 200) and his pupil Hyppolytus... In Alexandria, Clement (d. 216) and Origen (d. 254) In North Africa, Tertullian (d. 225) and Cyprian (d. 258)

13. Irenaeus Irenaeus was bishop at Lyons in Southern Gaul when he died, but grew up under Polycarp in Asia Minor, who learned from the Apostle John. The chief fame of Irenaeus rests on his Against Heresies, refused to allow for a Gnostic interpretation of salvation.... He taught a biblical history as the saving plan of God. His overall view on human nature and sin was to describe humans as freely willing their disobedience to God. He said that the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was not the direct result of God, but was the incidental result of Pharaoh’s own heart. He applied that in the same way to the justice of God in terms of those who rejected the Gospel.

14. Alexandrians – Clement & Origen Origen strongly affirms the freedom of the will. He promotes God’s restricting his divine will in order to give total liberty to the idea of the human will to choose God. He is opposed to the Gnostic concepts of fatalism. He states that humans are sinful because they elect evil, with no constraint from within or without. He is an early foe of any form of predestination. Clement uses the language of atonement and conquest of evil with respect to Christ, but his main emphasis is on Christ as teacher. Clement strongly affirms the freedom of the will and the need for man to co-operate with God by accepting salvation. He apparently conceives of the possibility of repentance even after death.

15. Latin Theology - Tertullian Tertullian was a presbyter in Carthage Trained as a Stoic, he was a leading apologist against Gnoticism and other Dualistic tendencies. He opposed Clement and Origen for being speculative, and rejected incorporating any Greek Philosophers and their teachings as having or bearing witness to the truth.

16. Tertullian’s Theology “realism”. Reality of nature and the visible world, the reliability of the senses, the significance of the material and the immaterial. The divine was in the creation, and bore witness of God’s existence. His concepts of salvation and human nature emphasized the freedom of the will, along with the universality of original sin. On freedom of will, humans could choose between good and evil.

17. The East and It’s Emphases The East did not take the lead in discussing the problem of sin and the place of grace Their dominant interest remained in the area of Christology and the Trinity. Where the east did develop interest it was mainly as a voice of opposition to some trends in dealing with doctrine of mankind: 1. Stoicism – reduced free will to a minimum by teaching that mankind’s lot is by fate. 2. Gnosticism – taught that mankind is by nature either spiritual, physical or carnally minded, doomed to a life of sin, and excluded from regeneration... except through a process of higher knowledge (ethical, moral, and disciplinary). 3. Manichaeism – dualistic it said mankind was the product of the devil, evil from the beginning.

18. Alexandria and it’s emphasis Origen, the church in the East used allegorization as a method of biblical interpretation. He was a voice for free will. He was part of a larger body of “Greek Fathers” who argued for a restricted view of depravity. In other words, they felt that the affects of the Fall were limited: > Satan has dominion in the realm of evil, sin, rebellion against God’s law. > The affect of sin is mortality is a common end. It is what we share in Adam’s sin. > There is reality of temptation to evil, but human beings have the ability to either express virtue, or sin...they have personal freedom > We are renewed in our souls by the work of divine grace and the cooperation of our free will.

19. Greek Fathers These fathers maintained mankind’s freedom - an avoidance of making sin hereditary - and accountability. WHY? They understood grace as redemption through Christ, and with it liberation from the old life, and saw that as possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. So convinced that the HS power made ethical and moral things possible, they discounted the idea of any sin as a basis for having power in influencing our character.

20. The result: Many accepted the notion that mankind’s will had been weakened by the Fall, and that the assistance of grace was needed. So, freedom and grace stand side by side in producing acts of goodness.... In other words, mankind’s free will begins and grace follows in a supplementary manner... Faith then becomes mankind’s work.

21. The Western Emphasis When it came to Salvation and human nature the Western Church (also called the Latin Church) was much more interested in addressing the issues of human freedom, and how they related to issues of sin and grace. The main difference between East and West ended up being largely the issue of “latent nature”. Tertullian (in countering the Gnostic challenge) sought to develop a strong emphasis on man’s free will from the view of grace. God is the offended judge and human beings are the offenders, and thus debtors... the way to do this was self-humiliation, asceticism, and even martyrdom. It was this understanding of latent sin that led early teachers to defend infant baptism on the ground that the child is sinful and needs regeneration.

22. Augustine – Principle of Grace Donatism: Who Should be considered in the church? He argued for freedom through the Gospel – Christianity was a matter of spirit rather than law, something inside people rather than outside. Most important, the church had room within itself for sinners as well as saints The visible church contained the visible Christians, sins and all; the invisible church, whose true home lay in heaven, held only those who were redeemed.

23. Church deals with Sin & Salvation? Sacraments operate as means of grace...and convey that grace, “ex opere operato” = “by virtue of the act itself”. The power and the validity of the sacrament rests in Christ - the priest who administers the sacrament is only an instrument of the grace of Christ.

24. Pelagius British monk of much ability and learning in early Celtic Christianity. He saw sin basically as an outward act transgressing the law and regarded man as free to sin or desist from sin.

25. The issues: Does mankind come into harmony with God by making the right use of natural ability to choose between good and evil? Or, does this harmony come about through an influence of divine grace upon the will so that a person moves in the direction of good, via God, apart from any good within?

26. Pelagius’ Formal Freedom mankind had the ability to choose the right. HOW could he say that? Because God had given mankind the law so mankind must be able to fulfill it. There is nothing in man that compels him to sin. The “goodness of nature” has enabled even pagans to develop the highest virtues. It is even possible for humans to lead a sinless life. Sin is not a condition of human nature, but rather an inclination, or a tendency of the will.

27. Pelagius’ Formal Freedom There is no original sin passed down from parents. The soul is not traced back to Adam, only the flesh. Physical death was not the consequence of sin, but the natural result of human organism. Spiritual death in the meantime was passed through Adam to his children....such is the result of guilt.

28. Pelagius’ Formal Freedom Sin is universal...(as in human beings bent towards sensuality, temptation, and fall into sin...) So sin is universal in that it is against the original goodness of creation. Grace then corresponds to the teachings on human nature and free will. Grace is not the divine influence in humans, but merely the enlightenment of reason, so that humans can see the will of God, and then through their own powers can choose and act accordingly. In other words, Grace is merely an assistance. In the work of Grace, God merely facilitates the right action of human will.

29. Augustine’s teachings Sin ought not to be considered in positive terms, but negatively, as a privation of the good. Augustine came to the conviction that humans, in their natural condition, were incapable of any positive cooperation with divine grace for conversion, and the kindling of faith was solely the work of God. This was based on his own experience - his inability to change his own will – salvation was a gift from God.

30. A brief outline of how Augustine viewed sin and grace: 1. In human creation there was no sinfulness. The will had mastery over the carnal impulses, and there was no suffering, or death; but God’s help was not to prevent the free exercise of the human will. 2. The fall of Adam and Eve was a great sin. Brought on by Pride, it was based on human desire to be it’s own master and refused to obey God. 3. Turning from God, the human turned to himself...thus Adam became a sinner with a sinful will. 4. The mind became carnal and was turned to things low, changeable, mutable, uncertain. 5. Adam’s sin was the sin of the whole human race. (Rom. 5:12) We were all in Adam (seminal), so sin is the common act of mankind in its collective existence. Yet, we sin willingly... 6. Therefore, Guilt is imputed to the whole human race because of this willfulness. Children included...hence the necessity for baptizing children.

31. Augustine - the essence of sin as concupiscence Appealing to the witness of Scripture, Augustine maintained that sin incapacitates man from doing the good, and because we are born as sinners we lack the power to do the good. Yet because we willfully choose the bad over the good, we must be held accountable for our sin. Augustine gave the illustration of a man who by abstaining from food necessary for health so weakened himself that he could no longer eat. Though still a human being, created to maintain his health by eating, he was no longer able to do so. Similarly, by the historical event of the fall, all humanity has become incapable of that movement toward God—the very life for which it was created.

32. Augustine - the essence of sin as concupiscence Pelagius held that one could raise oneself by one’s own efforts toward God, and therefore grace is the reward for human virtue. Augustine countered that man is helpless to do the good until grace falls upon him, and when grace is thus given he is irresistibly moved toward God and the good. When grace changes the inclinations of the heart, the will freely chooses spiritual good. “Man is converted not because he wills the spiritual; rather he wills the spiritual because he is converted”.

33. Augustine’s grace consequences God gives the gift of perseverance. It keeps a person in a state of grace from which individual acts will naturally come. Why do not all who are called yield to grace? He answered that with a doctrine of predestination. Some humans have been predestined to salvation from eternity. The number is fixed and unchangeable. To the elect, God gives the grace of perseverance. They may stumble and fall, but will not ever be lost. To the charge that God chooses some and leaves the others, the only answer is “I so will” and every knee will bow still. God would be just if he punished all!

34. Semi-Pelagianism The church in both West and East repudiated basic Pelagian beliefs, but did not accept everything in the Augustinian system. There arose after this a series of Semi- Pelagian conflicts. A monk from Gaul (France) John Cassianus protested against Augustine’s predestination doctrine.

35. Synod at Orange Predestination of humans to perdition was rejected...nothing else about predestination was heard. Irresistable Grace was not accepted either. Grace was declared to be the basis for all responses of human kind to all movements of God. God foreknows all things, both good and evil. He does not cause. He wills and foreordains only that which is good. When the regenerated fall, it is not because they were not called, but because of their own perverted will. When mankind perseveres, it is to be attributed to the Grace of God alone.

36. Two main ways of looking at God’s work in relation to Human Salvation: monergism – the idea and belief that human agency is passive and God’s agency is all-determining in history and in salvation. synergism – the idea and belief that God’s agency and human agency cooperate in some way to produce both history and salvation.

37. The Medieval Scholastics Rediscovery of Aristotle and Power of Reason Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas A period of Church Institutionalism in relation to Salvation With this: Purgatory, Indulgences, transubstantiation, and Politicalization of the church

38. Reformers and the Augustinian Doctrines on Sin: Luther powerfully reaffirmed the Pauline and Augustinian doctrine of the bondage of the will against Erasmus, Luther saw man as totally bound to the powers of darkness— sin, death, and the devil. Calvin argued that sin ought not merely to be conceived of as a privation of good but as a total corruption of man’s being desire itself is sin which defiles every part of man’s nature, but the root of this corruption is not merely self-love but disobedience inspired by pride.

39. Federal Headship Luther and Calvin understood original sin not as an external constraint but as the internal necessity which is rooted in human nature Calvin speaks of ‘a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature’ (Institutes, II.i.8), he relates original sin not so much to heredity as to an ordinance of God, a judgment of God passed on all mankind whereby Adam’s sin is imputed to all in the same manner as Christ’s righteousness is now imputed to all believers. This notion was subsequently developed by Beza and in the Westminster Confession - Adam is recognized not merely as the natural head of the human race but also as its federal representative (federalism); all are born corrupt because they are representatively incorporate in the sin and guilt of Adam. A representative incorporation that is the root of each person’s inherent disposition to sin - a person is not a sinner because he sins, he sins because he is a sinner.

40. Pietism While accepting Lutheran teaching, emphasized the necessity of the inner work of the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit and Holiness

41. Enlightenment Rejection of Scriptures as a definition for human nature. A scientific/reasoned based approach to faith An exaltation of human nature

42. Modern Reappraisals of Sin. In the nineteenth century, theologians under the new world consciousness associated with the Enlightenment and romanticism began to reinterpret sin. For Friedrich Schleiermacher, sin is not so much the revolt of man against God as the dominance of the lower nature within us. It is the resistance of our lower nature to the universal God_consciousness, which needs to be realized and cultivated in every human soul. Sin is basically a minus sign, the inertia of nature that arrests the growth of God_consciousness. Schleiermacher even saw sin in a positive light, maintaining that evil has been ordained in corporate human life as a gateway to the good. Sin has occurred as a preparation for grace rather than grace occurring to repair the damage of sin. Schleiermacher did acknowledge a corporate dimension to sin.

43. Modern Reappraisals of Sin. Albrecht Ritschl, in the same century, understood sin as the product of selfishness and ignorance. He did not see the human race in bondage to the power of sin, but instead believed that people could be effectively challenged to live ethical, heroic lives. His focus was on actual or concrete sins, not on man's being in sin. He even allowed for the possibility of sinless lives, though he did not deny the necessity of divine grace for attaining the ethical ideal. or Ritschl, religion is fundamentally the experience of moral freedom, a freedom that enables man to be victorious over the world. At the same time, he acknowledged the presence of radical evil, though as in the case of Kant, this did not significantly alter his vision of a new social order characterized by the mastery of spirit over nature. He also tried to do justice to the collective nature of evil but this was never quite convincing.

44. The 20th Century Reinhold Neibuhr Karl Barth Emil Brunner

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