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 Iyar 20, 5762 - 1/5/02

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Original Sin & Total Depravity

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judíos preguntas respuestas mashiaj hamashiaj fiestas jaguim shabat shabbat rezos plegaria Dios Original Sin & Total Depravity

by Anti-missionary groups

Q: What is the Christian doctrine of "original sin"?

A: Christians believe that man is born into a sinful state that resulted from
the first sin that the first man, Adam, committed. According to the original
sin doctrine, this first sin that every man is tainted with is not one that
can be removed simply by "doing good," and only belief in Jesus as the savior
can erase this blot on every man's soul. This is why, Christians believe
Jesus was sent to the earth and sacrificed, for only through the offering of
the actual son of god can helpless man be atoned and cleansed of that
original sin (according to the Christian fundamentalist).

Q: What is the Christian doctrine of "total depravity"?

A: According to Christians, no man is capable of "saving" himself. Paul, the
man largely responsible for Christianity the way we know it today, was the
architect of this doctrine and claimed that man could not by any means raise
himself to the status of righteous according to G-d's standards. Paul argued
that since no man could refrain from sinning his entire life, mankind
required the aid of a supernatural savior to act on man's behalf and take
upon himself all of mankind's sins. Once the savior died for that purpose,
whoever believes in him and his saving act, is automatically cleansed of the
original sin and every other sin, and is considered "saved" (Although this is
the Christian viewpoint, you will later see the Tanachic evidence
contradicting this missionary suggestion).

Q: What is the Jewish view of "original sin" and "total depravity"?

A: The Jewish view of original sin is that there is none. Mankind was never
tainted by any such sin and is born in a pure state of sinlessness. This is
clearly expressed in Ecclesiastes 7.29:

"G-d made man upright, but he sought out many inventions."

As one can infer from this verse, sinning is not inherited or passed on from
man to man. Man is created sinless, but despite being created pure in body
and soul, it is he who gives in to his earthly desires and sins to G-d and
his fellow man. The Jewish view of "total depravity" is that contrary to
Christian doctrine, every man is capable of doing well enough in G-d's eyes
to warrant the title "righteous." Judaism teaches that, since G-d endowed man
with free will, it is not feasible to think that despite having such a
G-d-given trait, man is not capable of employing it to its fullest, and
obtain favor in G-d's eyes.

Q: What evidence is there that the Christian doctrines of "original sin" and
"total deparavity" are unfounded?

A: The Christian doctrines of "original sin" and "total deparavity" are
refuted by both logic and scripture. There are many points that can be made
to show why these doctrines lack the necessary support to be declared
factual, and we will now go through several of these:

1 - One of the many innate flaws of the original sin and total depravity
doctrines is the fact that throughout the Tanach and up to the time that
Jesus supposedly appeared, the world was populated by millions upon millions
of people who knew nothing of Jesus and what Christians believe to have been
his purpose on earth. How is it that mankind could have had no way of being
cleansed of sin, and be considered "righteous" before Jesus appeared, or are
we to believe that no one, before Jesus arrived, could in fact be saved? Are
all those individuals who never heard Jesus' gospel message in Hell? Are all
those who predated Jesus' time in Hell as well?

In total denial of man's inability to be righteous of his own doing, the
Tanach sets forth many cases of purity and righteousness, without mentioning
one single word as to the necessity of a savior to intercede on man's behalf.
The following are just several of many such examples:

1 Kings 9.4: "And if thou wilt walk before Me, as David thy father walked, in
integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have
commanded thee, and wilt keep My statutes and My judgments ..."

2 Kings 18.5-6: "He trusted in the Lord, the G-d of Israel so that after him
was none like him among the all the kings of Judah, nor among them that were
before them. For he cleaved to the Lord, he departed not from following Him,
but kept His commandments."

Job 1.1-8: "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that
man was perfect and upright, and one that feared G-d, and eschewed evil. And
the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is
none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth
G-d, and escheweth evil?"

In these verses, King David, King Hezekiah, and Job were all declared by G-d
to be "righteous." There were many accounts in the Tanach that point out
righteous and upright individuals, who were to be models for all of mankind.
If man was cursed by a hereditary sin, or was unable to procure piety on his
own, G-d would never have allowed anyone in the Tanach to be called
"righteous" or "upright" or "perfect."

2 - If each and every man since Adam was born into a state of sin, then what
was the purpose of the action that G-d took in Noah's generation? Why would
G-d, knowing that man is born into sin and is totally incapable of saving
himself, decide to wipe out all of mankind, only to have man re-populate the
world afterwards, in the same sinful state he was in before the flood took

3 - Common sense dictates that if no tool that man is divinely given to
employ in order to elevate his own status in G-d's eyes, enables him to do
so, then man must have been "fooled" by some charlatan god from the outset.

Would G-d give us an entire blueprint for life and tell us that it can shield
us from all the evils of this world, while secretly concealing the fact that
nothing can save us but belief in a man who only hundreds of years later was
to arrive, preach, die, and become "holy"? Indeed such a scenario sounds out
of tune with the entire message of the Tanach!

4 - There are numerous verses in the Tanach that point out what every
knowledgable Jew knows: that the soul may error at times and be carried away
by the evil that entices it, but G-d's Torah, and man's will to eradicate
evil himself, is what restores its purity and guides it back to the path of
the just. It becomes clear after reading the following verses that it was
never necessary, and never G-d's intention, to send a savior from heaven to
propitiate man's sinful state:

- Psalms 19.8: "The Torah of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul."

- Deuteronomy 13.5: "So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee."

- Deuteronomy19.19-20: "Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have
done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And
those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more
any such evil among you."

- Deuteronomy 30.15: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and
death and evil ..."

In this verse, G-d gives us the choice (free will) of doing good and being
rewarded, or doing evil and getting punished. Of what use would such an
attribute be if it could not in reality "save" us?

- Deuteronomy 30.19: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this
day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse;
therefore choose life ..."

- Job 8.20: "Behold, G-d will not cast away a perfect man, neither will He
help the evil doers."

Thus, man can indeed do good on his own. Why would G-d have any need for such
a statement in His holy scriptures if it was impossible for any man to
achieve such perfection?

- Job 28.28: "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is
wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."

Any man who fears the Almighty and departs from evil, is to be considered
wise and understanding. Why would such a formula be openly suggested to man,
if it was unattainable no matter what man did?

- Psalms 34.13-15: "Who is the man that desireth life, and loveth days, that
he may see good therein? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from
speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."

Here, King David provides us with yet another formula that enables one to
save him/herself. He tells us how evil can be overcome and avoided altogether
without any heaven-sent savior to do the job for us.

- Psalms 34.17: "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut
off the remembrance of them from the earth."

In light of the Christian doctrines of original sin and total depravity, if
G-d would "cut off the remembrance" of every one who does evil in this world,
very soon the earth would be completely emptied of its inhabitants (heaven
forbid!). For even Christians must admit that they at times do evil. The
absurdity that results when we apply the Christian doctrines to this verse in
Psalms, and others like it, bring us to a more rational explanation of what
good and evil is all about. G-d weighs our deeds from moment to moment. We
are rewarded when G-d sees fit to do so, and are punished only after G-d has
given us enough time to repent, for He is a merciful G-d. The evil-doers in
the verse cited above are those who persist in their evil-doing and refuse to
repent over a substantial period of time. No unalterable sin or state of
depravity has anything to do with the defintion of good and bad in G-d's

- Psalms 37.8: "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any
wise to do evil."

- Psalms 37.27: "Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore."

Could G-d actually ask that of man, knowing that man could not do that? Why
would there be a promise of eternal life in the world to come, if no man
could achieve it anyway? Using an analogy, we may say that this is like
placing an unattainable carrot before a horse, and even after the long
journey, denying the horse's right to that carrot.

- Proverbs 11.19: "As righteousness tendeth to life, so he that pursueth evil
pursueth it to his own death."

Whom is King Solomon addressing in this verse? Why, if man is marked by an
original sin and total depravity, does he have the slightest hope that these
words will arouse man and enable him to change his own predetermined state of
being? And, according to the doctrine of total depravity, "he that pursueth
evil" includes all of mankind; why the need to make such a statement
altogether? Perhaps it should have been "All of mankind is evil, and pursuing
evil to its collective death."

- Proverbs 16.17: "The path of the upright is to depart from evil, he that
keepeth his way preserveth his soul."

When this was stated, there was no Jesus around to claim himself the way to
salvation. How then could King Solomon say that the path of the upright is to
depart from evil, when the Christian savior did not yet arrive to help them?
This contradiction, if taken to its preposterous conclusion, would have King
Solomon "rubbing salt in the wound!" The upright could not help themselves
until Jesus came, but were told to do so anyhow!

- Ecclesiastes 8.3: "Whoso keepeth the law shall feel no evil thing, and a
wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment."

So we can save ourselves from evil after all! Evil has no control over a man
who keeps G-d's commandments!

- Isaiah 56.2: "Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that
layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth
his hand from doing any evil."

To Christians who believe in original sin and total depravity, there could be
no blessed man before Jesus came, and even after he came! Even Christians do
evil deeds at times, and the verse above makes it clear that only he who does
not actually commit any evil deed is to be considered blessed. Judaism
however sees this matter differently. We are all in a constant state of
judgement. At any given moment, one can be blessed by G-d, or doing evil and
therefore not blessed. Everything we do is recorded by G-d in His system of
merits and demerits. More merits than demerits at any given time constitues a
"righteous" man, while more demerits than merits at any given time
constitutes an evil man. Thus, man can be blessed of his own doing (keeping
the Sabbath, refraining from doing something evil, and the such), and
punished on account of his own deeds as well.

- Isaiah 65.12: "... but did evil before Mine eyes, and did choose that
wherein I delighted not."

If original sin and total depravity were true facts of life, why would G-d
say that they "chose" to do evil? Did they have a choice? Weren't they born
into that state of evil-doing? How can you condemn a man for eating rice with
chop-sticks, when he never saw a fork in his life? And even if they did
choose to do good, would they not have been condemned to eternal damnation
anyway, in light of the original sin? Indeed what would be the purpose of
doing good altogether before Jesus came, knowing that nothing man could do
would have any effect on that irremediable stain on his soul?

- Jeremiah 36.3: "It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil
which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil
way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin."

We would like to know where original sin and total depravity fit into that
verse? Who then will deny that when man repents, G-d forgives? And where was
Jesus when G-d told Israel how they may help themselves?

- Jonah 3.8: "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry
mightily unto G-d; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from
the violence that is in their hands."

Even gentiles have no need of Jesus! Everyone is capable of self-saving with
no need of any crutch to lean on.

- Ezekiel 18.30: "Therefore I will judge you O house of Israel, everyone
according to his ways."

G-d will not count any supposed original sin against us. He will judge us
according to what we ourselves do on earth, not according to what Adam did
when he was alive.

- 2 Kings 14.6: "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor
the children be put to death for the fathers, but every man shall be put to
death for his own sin."

- 1 Samuel 2.3: "And by Him actions are weighed."

- In Numbers 23.10, the gentile prophet, Balaam, prayed to G-d "Let me die
the death of the righteous." It is interesting that he would ask such a thing
if original sin and total depravity were facts of life. Did he not know that
no man was free from original sin, and, as Paul preached, that man could not
be justified without faith in Jesus? Obviously there were righteous men that
Balaam knew of, or he at least understood that there was such a category of
"righteous men" way before J came to life.

- In Exodus 32.33, Moses prayed to G-d that he may be blotted out instead of
Israel for committing the sin of the golden calf. The response to his offer
was as follows: "And the Lord said unto Moses: Whoever hath sinned against
Me, him will I blot out of My book."

G-d gave Moses His word that only the man who sins will be punished, and no
man will be punished for the sins of another. Thus, Adam did not transmit any
sin to posterity, and Jesus could not take upon himself the sins of anyone

The list of verses in this section is by no means exhaustive, and there are
still others that show, as the ones cited above do, how the Tanach opposes th
e man-made doctrines of original sin and total deparavity. Christians may
claim many things concerning their religion, but one of those claims cannot
be that their doctrines are supported by the holy word of G-d in the Tanach.


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