In short, the original sin means that all human beings are sinners because Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We have inherited a fallen nature from Adam and Eve which prevents us from living pure lives. The opinions are divided about how deprived our nature is. From total depravation to only a partial deprivation, all Christian theologians except Pelagius agreed that we need the grace of God in order to be saved from eternal death. In the history of Christianity, the opinions differed. Augustine of Hippo was one of the first theologians dealing with original sin:
“In Augustine’s view (termed “Realism”), all of the humanity was really present in Adam when he sinned, and therefore all have sinned. Original sin, according to Augustine, consists of the guilt of Adam which all humans inherit. As sinners, humans are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace.”278
For John Cassian, who was another important theologian, man needs God because he isn’t able to reach salvation in his nature:
“Cassian did not accept the idea of total depravity, on which Martin Luther was to insist. He taught that human nature is fallen or depraved, but not totally. Augustine Casiday states that, at the same time, Cassian “baldly asserts that God’s grace, not human free will, is responsible for ‘everything which pertains to salvation’ – even faith.”279
All these ideas start from the book of Genesis in which Adam and Eve were disobedient to God. Those theologians maintain that there is something wrong with human nature, something which cannot be fixed by human effort alone but only by God’s intervention. This is a conception which has persisted through the Reformation:
“Martin Luther (1483–1546) asserted that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. The second article in Lutheranism’s Augsburg Confession presents its doctrine of original sin in summary form: It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.”280
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All human beings regardless of what religious faith they profess or in lack of any religious faith, are condemned to eternal hell because according to the book of Genesis all are the offspring of Adam and Eve, who disobeyed God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a matter of fact, humankind isn’t the conveyor of Adam and Eve’s sins because these are mythological, not real personages. Something would be wrong if Buddhists or Hindus would have to suffer a punishment for something in which they don’t believe and which is only a mythological narrative.
There aren’t any reasons to believe that the followers of other religions than Christianity would have to suffer any punishments from God for their beliefs as far as Adam and Eve are only legendary personages. No one inherited any sins from people who never existed on Earth as real human beings.
John Calvin also referred to the original sin:
“Original sin, therefore, seems to be a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused into all parts of the soul, which first makes us liable to God’s wrath, then also brings forth in us those works which Scripture calls “works of the flesh” (Gal 5:19). And that is properly what Paul often calls sin. The works that come forth from it – such as adulteries, fornications, thefts, hatreds, murders, carousings – he accordingly calls “fruits of sin” (Gal 5:19–21), although they are also commonly called “sins” in Scripture, and even by Paul himself.”281
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