I. Original Sin

Originally published at: https://concordia.confident.faith/formula-of-concord-epitome/article-i/





STATUS CONTROVERSIAE.



The Principal Question in This Controversy.



1 Whether original sin is properly and without any distinction man’s corrupt nature, substance, and essence, or at any rate the principal and best part of his essence [substance], namely, the rational soul itself in its highest state and powers; or whether, even after the Fall, there is a distinction between man’s substance, nature, essence, body, soul, and original sin, so that the nature [itself] is one thing, and original sin, which inheres in the corrupt nature and corrupts the nature, another.



Affirmative Theses.

The Pure Doctrine, Faith, and Confession according to the Aforesaid Standard and Summary Declaration.



2 1. We believe, teach, and confess that there is a distinction between man’s nature, not only as he was originally created by God pure and holy and without sin, but also as we have it [that nature] now after the Fall, namely, between the nature [itself], which even after the Fall is and remains a creature of God, and original sin, and that this distinction is as great as the distinction between a work of God and a work of the devil.



3 2. We believe, teach, and confess also that this distinction should be maintained with the greatest care, because this doctrine, that no distinction is to be made between our corrupt human nature and original sin, conflicts with the chief articles of our Christian faith concerning creation, redemption, sanctification, and the resurrection of our body, and cannot coexist therewith.



4 For God created not only the body and soul of Adam and Eve before the Fall, but also our bodies and souls after the Fall, notwithstanding that they are corrupt, which God also still acknowledges as His work, as it is written Job 10:8: Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about. Deut. 32:18; Is. 45:9ff; 54:5; 64:8; Acts 17:28; Job 10:8; Ps. 100:3; 139:14; Eccl. 12:1.



5 Moreover, the Son of God has assumed this human nature, however, without sin, and therefore not a foreign, but our own flesh, into the unity of His person, and according to it is become our true Brother. Heb. 2:14: Forasmuch, then, as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same. Again, 16; 4:15: He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, yet without sin.



6 In like manner Christ has also redeemed it as His work, sanctifies it as His work, raises it from the dead, and gloriously adorns it as His work. But original sin He has not created, assumed, redeemed, sanctified; nor will He raise it, will neither adorn nor save it in the elect, but in the [blessed] resurrection it will be entirely destroyed.



7 Hence the distinction between the corrupt nature and the corruption which infects the nature and by which the nature became corrupt, can easily be discerned.



8 3. But, on the other hand, we believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a slight, but so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy or uncorrupt has remained in man’s body or soul, in his inner or outward powers, but, as the Church sings:


Through Adam’s fall is all corrupt,
Nature and essence human.




9 This damage is unspeakable, and cannot be discerned by reason, but only from God’s Word.



10 And [we affirm] that no one but God alone can separate from one another the nature and this corruption of the nature, which will fully come to pass through death, in the [blessed] resurrection, where our nature which we now bear will rise and live eternally without original sin and separated and sundered from it, as it is written Job 19:26: I shall be compassed again with this my skin, and in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold.



Negative Theses.

Rejection of the False Opposite Dogmas.



11 1. Therefore we reject and condemn the teaching that original sin is only a reatus or debt on account of what has been committed by another [diverted to us] without any corruption of our nature.



12 2. Also, that evil lusts are not sin, but con-created, essential properties of the nature, or, as though the above-mentioned defect and damage were not truly sin, because of which man without Christ [not ingrafted into Christ] would be a child of wrath.



13 3. We likewise reject the Pelagian error, by which it is alleged that man’s nature even after the Fall is incorrupt, and especially with respect to spiritual things has remained entirely good and pure in naturalibus, i. e., in its natural powers.



14 4. Also, that original sin is only a slight, insignificant spot on the outside, dashed upon the nature, or a blemish that has been blown upon it, beneath which [nevertheless] the nature has retained its good powers even in spiritual things.



15 5. Also, that original sin is only an external impediment to the good spiritual powers, and not a despoliation or want of the same, as when a magnet is smeared with garlic-juice, its natural power is not thereby removed, but only impeded; or that this stain can be easily wiped away like a spot from the face or pigment from the wall.



16 6. Also, that in man the human nature and essence are not entirely corrupt, but that man still has something good in him, even in spiritual things, namely, capacity, skill, aptness, or ability in spiritual things to begin, to work, or to help working for something [good].



17 7. On the other hand, we also reject the false dogma of the Manicheans, when it is taught that original sin, as something essential and self-subsisting, has been infused by Satan into the nature, and intermingled with it, as poison and wine are mixed.



18 8. Also, that not the natural man, but something else and extraneous to man, sins, on account of which not the nature, but only original sin in the nature, is accused.



19 9. We reject and condemn also as a Manichean error the doctrine that original sin is properly and without any distinction the substance, nature, and essence itself of the corrupt man, so that a distinction between the corrupt nature, as such, after the Fall and original sin should not even be conceived of, nor that they could be distinguished from one another [even] in thought.



20 10. Now, this original sin is called by Dr. Luther nature-sin, person-sin, essential sin, not because the nature, person, or essence of man is, without any distinction, itself original sin, but in order to indicate by such words the distinction between original sin, which inheres in human nature, and other sins, which are called actual sins.



21 11. For original sin is not a sin which is committed, but it inheres in the nature, substance, and essence of man, so that, though no wicked thought ever should arise in the heart of corrupt man, no idle word were spoken, no wicked deed were done, yet the nature is nevertheless corrupted through original sin, which is born in us by reason of the sinful seed, and is a fountainhead of all other actual sins, as wicked thoughts, words, and works, as it is written Matt. 15:19: Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. Also Gen. 6:5; 8:21: The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.



22 12. Thus there is also to be noted well the diverse signification of the word nature, whereby the Manicheans cover their error and lead astray many simple men. For sometimes it means the essence [the very substance] of man, as when it is said: God created human nature. But at other times it means the disposition and the vicious quality [disposition, condition, defect, or vice] of a thing, which inheres in the nature or essence, as when it is said: The nature of the serpent is to bite, and the nature and disposition of man is to sin, and is sin; here the word nature does not mean the substance of man, but something that inheres in the nature or substance.



23 13. But as to the Latin terms substantia and accidens, because they are not words of Holy Scripture, and besides unknown to the ordinary man, they should not be used in sermons before ordinary, uninstructed people, but simple people should be spared them.



24 But in the schools, among the learned, these words are rightly retained in disputations concerning original sin, because they are well known and used without any misunderstanding, to distinguish exactly between the essence of a thing and what attaches to it in an accidental way.



25 For the distinction between God’s work and that of the devil is thereby designated in the clearest way, because the devil can create no substance, but can only, in an accidental way, by the providence of God [God permitting], corrupt the substance created by God.