Summary Against Modern Thought: How Original Sin Is Transmitted

Summary Against Modern Thought: How Original Sin Is Transmitted

Previous post.

We are all born broken. Objections to this notion come next week.


1 It has been shown, then, in the points set down that what the Catholic faith preaches about the Incarnation of the Son of God is not impossible. And the next thing is to make plain the suitability of the Son of God’s assumption of human nature.

2 Now, the reason for this suitability the Apostle seems to situate in original sin, which is passed on to all men; be says: “As by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners: so also by the obedience of one many shall be made just” (Rom. 5:19). However, since the Pelagian heretics denied original sin, we must now show that men are born with original sin.

3 First, indeed, one must take up what Genesis (2:15-17) says: “The Lord God took man and put him into the paradise of pleasure, saying: Of every tree of paradise you shall eat but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. For in what day soever you shall eat of it, you shall die the death.”

But, since it was not on the very day that he ate that Adam actually died, one has to understand the words “you shall die the death” as “you will be handed over to the necessity of death.” And this would be said pointlessly if man from the institution of his nature had the necessity of dying.

One must, then, say that death and the necessity of dying is a penalty inflicted on man for sin. But a penalty is not justly inflicted except for a fault. Therefore, in every single one of those in whom one finds this penalty one must of necessity find a fault. But this penalty is found in all men, even from the very moment of birth, for since that day man is born handed over to the necessity of death.

Hence, too, some are immediately after birth, “carried from the womb to the grave” (Job 10:19). In them, therefore, there is some sin. But it is not actual sin, for children do not have the use of free will, and without this nothing is imputed to man as sin (which is clear from the things said in Book II). One must, therefore, say that sin is in them, passed on to them in their origin.

Notes Consider what he said about children (and below) and about how we die. Death entered the world via sin. Our natures were changed by sin; or, rather, by just punishment. If you like (although I take it as a metaphor), our DNA was altered by sin.

4 This is also, made clear and explicit by the Apostle’s words: “As by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death, and so death pawed upon all men, in whom all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

5 Of course, one cannot say that by one man sin entered the world by way of imitation. For, thus, sin would have reached only those who in sinning imitate the first man; and, since death entered the world by sin, death would reach only those who sin in the likeness of the first man sinning. It is to exclude this that the Apostle adds that “death reigned from Adam unto Moses even over them also who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam” (Rom. 5:14). Therefore, the understanding of the Apostle is not that sin entered the world through one man by way of imitation, but by way of origin.

6 There is more. If the Apostle were speaking of the entry of sin into the world by way of imitation, he should rather have said that sin entered the world by the devil than by one man; as is said also expressly in Wisdom (2:24-25): “By the envy of the devil death came into the world: they follow him that are of his side.”

7 David says furthermore, in a Psalm (50:7): “Behold I was conceived in iniquities and in sins did my mother conceive me “ But this cannot be understood of actual sin, since David is said to be conceived and born of a legitimate marriage. Therefore, this must be referred to original sin.

8 Moreover, Job says (14:4): “Who can make him clean that is conceived of unclean seed? Is it not You only?” One gathers clearly from this that from the uncleanness of human seed there extends an uncleanness to the man conceived of the seed. One must understand this of the uncleanness of sin, the only one for which a man is brought into judgment, for Job (14:3) had already said: “And dost You think it meet to open your eyes upon such a one, and to bring him into judgment with You.” Thus, then, there is a sin contracted by man in his very origin which is called “original.”

9 Once again; baptism and the other sacraments of the Church are remedies of a sort against sin, as will be clarified later. But baptism, according to the common custom of the Church, is given to children recently born. It would be given quite in vain unless there were sin in them. But there is no actual sin in them, for they lack the exercise of free will—without which no act is imputed to a man as a fault. Therefore, one must say that there is in them a sin transmitted on by their origin, since in the works of God and the Church there is nothing futile or in vain.

10 But one may say: Baptism is given to infants not to cleanse them from sin, but to admit them to the kingdom of God, to which there is no admission without baptism, since our Lord says: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

This objection is in vain. For no one is excluded from the kingdom of God except for some fault. The end of every rational creature is to arrive at beatitude, and this cannot be save in the kingdom of God. And this, in turn, is nothing but the ordered society of those who enjoy the divine vision, in which true beatitude consists, which is clear from the points made in Book III. But nothing fails its end except through a sin. Therefore, if children not yet baptized cannot reach the kingdom of God, one must say there is some sin in them.

11 Thus, then, according to the tradition of the Catholic faith one must hold that men are born with original sin.


  1. realkys

    Original sin is false. The thing passed is liberalism passed orally, i.e. the idea that atheists should be allowed in society. From that all sin derives.

  2. swordfishtrombone

    Therefore, one must say that there is in them a sin pissed on by their origin

    but to admit them to the kingdom of Cod, to which there is no admission without baptism

    Comedy gold.

  3. Oldavid

    Long ago I recall some ole grump saying that “those who most object to the Immaculate Conception (of Theotokos) always think themselves immaculately conceived and not liable to any error even though they change with the wind”.

    Our “realkys” claims to know that “Original Sin is false” without attempting to give us a clue as to how (he/she/it/id) knows that and/or why the hell should anyone believe he/she/it/id given that there are millions of other he/she/it/ids “out there” who might not agree with he/she/it/id’s pronouncement.

    Yair, I know, you’ll claim that “reality” is the result of a dialectical process of competition in a relentless and interminable “becoming”.

  4. Joy

    Oh my , just read first two comments.
    Many , don’t believe in “original sin” of the latin church
    Neither do I, if I ever did before.
    Extremely broadly speaking, someone had to be first.
    Of course as with lying, one sin leads to the next.
    It’s the decent thing and Christian to try to stop the spread by our own actions, not by controlling other people.
    Those who hanker after hard line, inquisitorial style ‘christian dictatoship’, medieval style, don’t believe or trust in freedom or the power of truth. No wonder they’re always angry.

  5. Oldavid

    Good one, Joyous. Your lot should be quite ecstatic that T’Googlio Monster (Poope Francis) is the apparent boss of the “religious arm” of the “Brave New World” in which the “product of Evolution” assumes the control of the Evolution process to engineer a whole “new” order. Let’s call it a “Novus Ordo Saeculorum” or a tightly controlled “New World Order”. I have it on good authority that a malicious intelligence has been working on such an “improvement” to Creation for millennia.

    From where I see it I betcha that the Poope would’ve already canonised Martin Luther if Martin didn’t have some widely published gripes about Yiddish subversion of commerce and culture.

    Anyhow, I can only imagine that a “Christian dictatorship” that promoted truth and virtue would not be very acceptable where “truth” is political convenience and “virtue” is support of the Party.

  6. Joy

    [1] One day Oldavid you will read and comprehend. Without projection.

    If [1] is comprehended, cease reading and do better next time.
    [2]. failing that, continue reading:
    Which specific part of the above reasoning is untrue or incorrect?
    The rest is projection on your part.
    The inquisition died out because it was not on the side of truth.
    Anything which is not on the side of truth will fail in time.
    So as long as you speak the truth you and I can agree. When you deviate from that and start projecting you’ve got trouble. You are indeed a great messenger shooter, a common problem.

    There is no original sin theory as pushed by the augustinian or latin church that I see as a mechanism of the state in which we are born and in which we live as human beings, God’s children or however you prefer to word it. It is a doctrinal overlay of the usual unnecessary kind. Harmless until it is used as a device, which it is.

    The argument is not about sin’s existence, or that man is not fallible but the straw man offered by so many including you, jealously, and defensively, as I see it, as though somehow, something really important is being undermined. Where in fact , to the contrary, I believe that what I’m saying is closer to the truth.
    If you think differently, it’s your job, should you choose to accept it, to show exactly why that is not so…but you never do…return => [1]

  7. Oldavid

    I’m not afraid, Joysie.
    It’s pretty much apparent that there are those who demand that they are the arbiters of of “good and evil” because they have touched the “Astral Plane” accessible by gnosis except to those deplorable and infantile Catholicky types who like to insist that th’postles must have got it right or as Gamaliel is reported to have said: “If it is a silly fancy it will fade away. But if it is of God you cannot stop it.”

    Is there some way that you can reasonably reconcile “evil”, suffering, and all that without resorting to Islam, or Hindu, or Kabbalah, or Gnosticism?

  8. Joy

    Oldavid your response has no bearing on what I said at all.
    “afraid”. who said you were afraid?
    Just weird again. You get away with this because you’re writing, it couldn’t happen in a proper conversation.
    I challenge you to one but you wouldn’t want to pay the phone bill.
    Can you respond to the point made, I am genuinely curious to see if you can actually be apprehended to answer point by point.
    On the other hand, I’m not a bit interested in defending the endless straw man arguments and dark imaginings which you present as a. matter of course.
    Trying to get through to you Oldavid, appealing to your straight forward side.

  9. Joy

    Re: “Cathlicky”
    You never did strike me as ‘Cathlicky’, Catholics don’t question evolution.
    That’s a fundamentalist stance.
    not that it matters what people think about evolution. It’s a small mechanistic point in the grand scheme of God’s existence. If never swayed me that God doesn’t exist because evolution has answered so much in natural science. Strange that so many find it does. They must be literalists with regards the bible. There are other factors which I find far more compelling one way or the other. Observing Christians and watching the misguided behaviour is a far greater detraction than the evolution = no God argument.
    God is beyond all things, which includes process of all kinds. Just as he is beyond digestion of food or the falling of an object due to gravity. If he created, then mechanism is mere detail.

  10. Oldavid

    Joyous, just think about it for a few minutes.
    You seem to be assuming that the Apostles and their disciples had no clue about what Jesus told them to “go and teach all nations” until a few upstarts with very little connection to the Apostolic Tradition came along about 1500 years later and assumed out of nowhere the “authority” to “teach” what it was and what it all meant.

    The Synagogue opposed Christianity from the get-go and it has never ceased trying to “adapt” or destroy Christianity to the Synagogue’s ambitions. Yair, I know that the Judaeo-Islamic notion is that “Allah” or “Jehova” is a fickle demiurge who doesn’t need to be consistent because (he/it) can/does what he/it likes anywhere, anytime.

    It’s a bit amusing that you seem to think that a curmudgeonly nobody like me from the antipodes should be a focus of your attention.

    The “Scofield Bible” may very well encourage the disciples of the Synagogue but can you really think that some dissolute egomaniac from around 1900 came to tell us all what a Judaised Bible translation 500 years old means?

    Look, old girl, if you’re looking for friends by attacking me you go right ahead. Fishy Foghorn is already on your side. He seems to be pushing the notion that a fickle demiurge is the only materialistic alternative to Nothing turning itself into Everything by random, accidental, “occurrences”.

    Ah well! y’ silly ole bag. I’ll look at your gripes for a while yet. After that you can be just a noise of a foghorn.

  11. swordfishtrombone


    You never did strike me as ‘Cathlicky’, Catholics don’t question evolution.

    Most Catholics who comment on here are completely indistinguishable from MAGA Evangelicals to me. Pro-Trump? Check. Antivaxx? Check. Anti evolution? Check. Stop The Steal? Check. Homophobic? Check. The only way to tell them apart is that Catholics are more intellectually snobbish (for no good reason). I propose a new term: ‘Cathvangelical’.

  12. Joy

    A fair observation although being pro Trump myself I see him through a different prism than the madder, elements on the right.

    The point is that Trump does no identify entirely with all of those groups, they are the loudest ones at the rallies. For example, Trump is pro free speech which would mean all kinds of speech including that spoken by those with whom the fundamentalists would disagree and start venting. So where Trump is to some degree appealing to the far right for political as well as genuine reasons, so the far right sticks to Trump as a vehicle. When some train more to their liking turns up the’d dump Trump’s train. Trump just looks the closest thing to their hard line world view. Trump is also definitely misquoted and misrepresented as a matter of policy. Not that I’m trying to persuade you about him. I understand why you don’t approve. I’ve gone from disliking Trump strongly, just because of his manner, when he was on Telly, *apprentice? Dad always watched it. Also on seeing him with Sasha baron coin. To thinking that he’s just the right thing for America and the world. He calls a spade a spade, behaves like a man in the non pretentious sense. Yes, he says random things but then I know a lot of people who do the same thing and they mean nothing deeper by it. Trump is not (obviously) furtive or fork tongued. He knows his way around the quagmire of big business as it operates in the US. Seems to me he chose a noble path when he decided to put America’s interests first. Similar to the arguments posed by our own UKIP /Brexit party.

    Re Catholics,
    I agree that they as a group are some of the most proud without good reason grow pif individuals and I’ve said so before, was called vile for it.
    One speaks as one finds. It’s the “one true Fatih” business that gets them excited. They think it means the building of the church rather than the invisible church which exists in the spirit. When they argue from that position of jealously guarding God, it seems they are in error. It puts a stumbling block in the way of people discovering the help and comfort that faith in God can bring. Have a couple of examples of lovely catholics though and so they’re not all the same. (obviously)

  13. Joy

    It’s a bit amusing that you seem to think that a curmudgeonly nobody like me from the antipodes should be a focus of your attention.
    Your’e not, but as a professed Christian you do have a role in representing Christ’s example to us. So far, you have failed as always to do anything but show how old, tired and angry you are.
    I have done nothing but respond in kind to your remarks. Maybe you learned nothing in the playground?

    I’n not old by the way, depends what you call old. It does seem to be a matter of constant reference with you though. Maybe you’re frightened of something, perhaps you’re too lazy to read and comprehend and think being Australian gives you an excuse?
    I have Aussie relatives, many many Aussie colleagues as well. None like you though.
    You are hateful, seemingly without a cause. I was trying to understand what that cause might be?
    Best thing to do is to look for where you can agree and step through the thinking to discover what’s going wonkey. You skip all stages and go right to accusations, projections and invective.
    Why? When you don’t know the mind of the person you’re responding to? Why are you so sure of yourself?

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