God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural
Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact
Section Two: Supernatural Anthropology
Adam Lost Original Justice by Sinning Gravely.
Original Sin Therefore Exists in All Men as a True Sin,
Proper to Each Person and Transmitted from Adam by Propagation.
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Our first parents were called to live in the friendship
of God, so that their relations with God were different than they would have
been if they had remained in the state of pure nature, merely as rational animals.
The original justice described in the previous thesis comprehended their possession
of supernatural grace and preternatural gifts, and described the condition which
God had in store for the rest of mankind. A terrestrial paradise was only
the beginning of what God
really intended for the human family, an intimacy with His divine Trinity that
exceeded the native capacity and
powers not only of men but of angels, and destined to last for eternity.
the Holy Trinity had revealed Itself to Adam in the fulness of intuitive vision from the start, this would have deprived the first
man of all power to reject
the offer of divine friendship. His response to the divine will would have been inevitable, drawn irresistibly by the love of Infinite
Goodness which he saw face to face. He would not have been able to merit his
destiny, or prove hisfidelity
by overcoming obstacles placed in his path.
possibility of a free acceptance of Gods command was a great honor given to the first man, as it was also a grave risk. Indeed wemight describe original sin
as the negative answer to the divine invitation, and its consequences affected
not only Adam but the whole human race. Yet we know the economy of salvation
did not stop there. For all its drastic results, original sin proved to be the
that occasioned the Incarnation of the Son of God and our own Redemption from
the state of sin.
There are two principal parts to the present thesis: the
fact of Adam's sin, and the existence of original sin, derived from Adam by
natural propagation. And although the Pelagian errors in the Patristic period evoked several major
original sin, the locus classicus for this thesis (as for the whole subject
of original sin) is the Council of Trent. The Reformation concepts of
sin and mans fallen nature were
so at variance with traditional Christianity that every aspect of this doctrine
had to be explored and, if necessary, defined to settle once and for all what the Church wants her faithful to believe.
As before, Adam is alone identified as the author
of original sin, though Scripture clearly shows Eve as his accomplice and, in fact, the one who
tempted her husband.
Yet because the documents confine themselves to Adam we also limit our statement
of responsibility to the first man. In the body of the thesis it will appear
why Eve's part in the fall of mankind was quite secondary, although popularly we speak of the "fall
of our first parents" and not only of Adam.
Sin in general is a deordination from the moral law," and here means
a grave sincommitted
by the first man as head of the human race. Five qualities are generally attributed to Adam's transgression.
It was seriously culpable, personal with Adam, technically original originating (originale
originans), implied total aversion from God, and conversion or turning to creatures.
We do not directly enter into examining
the precise nature of Adam's sin apart from its being an act of disobedience
of the divine will.
Implied in Adam's sin is the correlative divine precept
or law imposed upon Adam to obey. This precept was a positive command
as something distinct from the natural law; it was a strict precept in
the sense that it was morally binding and not a mere counsel; and it was gravely
obligatory, not necessarily ratione materiae but at least because imposed by God as a serious duty.
original justice which Adam lost included the whole complexus of gifts
which he received as dona naturae, namely, those
which he was to transmit to all mankind.
Consequently since infused knowledge is commonly held to have been a personal
gift to Adam, it is believed not to have been lost (at least entirely) by
the statement of the thesis we say that Adam lost" his possession of original justice. Implicitly this means "lost for himself,
since the second part of the
thesis refers to the loss of these gifts to Adam's posterity.
sin will be further
analyzed in the next thesis. For the present it is understood to possess the
following properties. It is sin as something habitual and
not actual, natural and not personal, involving a moral state
of soul and state of culpability,
implying both the reatus culpae and the macula peccati, and properly
described as original originated (originale originatum) as distinct from
the personal sin of Adam.
that original sin exists in all men means that it passed on through natural
propagation to all of Adam's descendants, with the exception of the Blessed
Virgin and, of course, Jesus Christ.
It is proper to each person not merely taken collectively but distributively,
and not only by extrinsic imputation of Adam's sin to his descendants but intrinsically, i.e., in virtue of that which makes every human being a sinner in the true sense of the term.
what each person has on his soul is a true sin, to be understood formally and
not merely in causa, for example because we all have concupiscence
to sin; nor merely in effectu, because we are all subject to the consequences of sin in suffering and death. Rather the sin
isin us proprie, because it renders man displeasing to God, and guilty with both
reatu culpae and poenae.
sin is transmitted from Adam bypropagation, namely, through generation.
It takes place
at the moment of conception, when the soul isunited with
its matter, which has been properly disposed by the parents.
Propagation is generally interpreted
as paternal generation because the father is the active generative principle.
In view of their position on original justice,
the Pelagians denied that Adam lost what was really due to his human
nature. According to Luther and the Evangelical
Protestants, original justice was natural to Adam; in the theory of Baius
it was part of his nature, not indeed constitutively but certainly by a strict exigency; and for Jansenius
original justice was due to the first man because of Gods wisdom. In all these
cases, what was "lost" would be quite different from what
Catholic theology means when it says that Adam lost sanctifying grace by his
The same is true regarding integrity. For the Jansenists
concupiscence was a vigor naturae; for the classic Protestants integrity
was so natural to Adam that when he lost it man's nature became essentially
corrupt; Baius held that integrity was
due to nature.
Also immortality was not actually lost, according to the
Pelagians, because Adam
wasnever immortal. And in Baianism and Jansenism, immortality
was due ex exigentiis naturae.
In general, the principal adversaries on the
transmission of original sin from Adam to the human
race are the Pelagians, the Protestants and the Rationalists.
Pelagians admitted original originating sin in Adam, but denied
original originated sin in his posterity. They claimed that Adam merely left
his descendents a bad
example, not an inherent defect of nature which is intrinsic to man since the fall. While admitting baptism, the Pelagians refused
to explain it in terms of remission
of sin; at most it was a means to entering the Kingdom of Heaven, which they
conceived as something higher than eternal life.
Protestants in Reformation times generally admitted the existence
of original sin. Zwingli
was rather unique in calling it into question. He believed that Adam sinned,
and that he transmitted to his progeny bodily death and the concupiscence which corrupts human nature. But he would not admit that
because of Adam's sin, his
children inherited a sinful nature and therefore are born in sin properly and
formally so called. At most Zwingli conceded that original
sin in us is an inclination to evil.
with Scleiermacher in Germany, and much earlier in England, protestant theologians tended to rationalize the mystery of original
sin. The clearest expression of what is still a current liberal Protestant theory
came from Ritschl (1822-1889). In Ritschlean terms, sin ultimately consists
in the personal acts of individual men. However, humanity lives in a "kingdom
of sin" which infects the separate lives of all men. This kingdom arises from the
fact that one man's sin creates
the custom of sinning, following the laws of psychology on the creation of habits. It arises also from the stimulating and provocative
character of sin, whether by example, retaliation
or perversion of existing mores.
Rationalists deny on principle the objective reality both of Adam's
sin and consequent loss
of grace, and with emphasis the transmission of an intrinsic sinfulness
inherited from the first man by all his
Two types of Rationalism may
be distinguished. The first type considers the Genesis narrative as descriptive
of the passage of humanity or of man individually to
the status and experience of maturity. Hence the colorful story of conflict
and struggle for progress and the loss of infantile happiness. In this theory, the
concept of original sin isa myth which symbolizes progress. Through
Kantian and Neo-Kantian writers, this idea found its way into Modernism at the
turn of the century
and is still common in liberal Protestant circles.
Another theory of Rationalism sees in the Genesis story
of original sinthe symbol of what occurs in the religious life of every
human being, once he realizes his radical estrangement from God as a sinner. This individualistic notion
is favored by the "dialectical" theologians in modern Protestantism.
In the system of Paul Tillich, original
sin is symbolic of mans condition as a finite being. It is not declarative of an objective
fact and still less of a contingent situation which need not have been. "The
fall," in Tillichian language, "is a symbol of the universal predicament
of man; it does not refer to a specific event in history, but points to
the gap between what is and what ought to be. In the Genesis myth the psychological-ethical
character of the fall is elaborated, showing the free side of man's fall as an individual event.
The myth of the transcendent fall (the ontological description of the transition
from essence to existence) depicts the tragic destiny side of the fall as a
universal event. The fall involves the actualization of finite freedom within tragic destiny. It
characterizes all of existence; in this sense, creation and the fall are said to coincide"
April 1960, pg. 82.
It is defined doctrine that Adam sinned by transgressing
a divine precept, and also defined that the sin was grave, as appears from
the terms used in the definition and from
the description of its effects (DB 788).
Most probably the divine precept was positive, but
this depends on the further question of the precise nature of Adam's sin. We may sayit
is de fide from the constant teaching of the Magisterium that Adam's sin was primarily
an act of disobedience.
Secondarily, however, other moral species of sin were also included in Adam's disobedience.
Moreover it is defined in Trent that by his sin Adam
lost the original justice he received
from God (DB 788).
The transmission of original sin and its consequences to
Adam's posterity, as a real sin inherent in every person (except Christ and
the Blessed Virgin) is solemnly
defined doctrine: in the condemnation of the Pelagians by Pope Zozimus
in 418 (DB 101-102); at the Council of Orange confirmed by Boniface II
against the Semipelagians in 529 (DB 174-175); and in great detail by
the Council of Trent in its Decree on Original Sin (DB 789-792). It is significant that centuries
before Pius IX's definition of the Immaculate Conception, the Council of Trent
made a dogmatic exception as regards the Blessed Virgin in the matter of original
sin, declaring, "it is not its intention to include in this decree, which
treats of original sin the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, mother of God"
Part One: "Adam Lost
Original Justice by Sinning Gravely."
Pope Zozimus confirmed the XVI Council of Carthage, which condemned the Pelagians, declaring "whoever saysthat Adam,
the first man, was created mortal so that, whether he sinned or not, he would have died a
bodily death, that is, he would
have departed from the body, not as a punishment for sin but by the necessity
of his nature: let him be anathema" DB 101.
II confirmed the II Council of Orange, stating that "if anyone says that
it was not the whole man, that is,both body and soul, that was changed
for the worse through the offense of Adam's sin
he is deceived by the error
of Pelagius" DB 174.
the teaching of Trent is most explicit and detailed. Both Latin and
English texts follow:
Si quis non confitetur, primum hominem Adam, cum mandatum Dei in paradiso fuisset
transgressus, statim sanctitatem et justitiam, in qua constitutus fuerat, amisisse
incurrisseque per offensam praevaricationis hujusmodi iram et indignationem Dei atque ideo mortem, quam antea illi
comminatus fuerat Deus, et cum morte captivitatem sub ejus potestate, qui mortis deinde habuit imperium, hoc est
diaboli, totumque Adam per illam praevaricationis offensam secundum corpus
et animam in deterius commutatum fuisse:
anathema sit. DB 788.
If anyone does not profess that the first man Adam immediately lost the justice
and holiness in which he was constituted when he disobeyed the command of God
in Paradise; and that, through the offense of this sin, he incurred the wrath
and indignation of God, and consequently incurred the death with which God has
previously threatened him and, together with death, bondage in the power of
him who from that time had the empire of death, that is, of the devil; and that
it was the whole Adam, both body and soul, who was changed for the worse through
the offense of this sin: let him be anathema.
are two elements to establish; that Adam sinned gravely, and that because of
his sin he lost original justice. The ambit of texts covering these elements
is Genesis 2:15-17, Genesis 3:1-24, and Romans 5; 12-19.
to the Genesis narrative, Adam (and Eve) were given an authentic precept by God. The Lord is said to have "commanded"
them not to eat of the forbidden fruit. In Hebrew the verbs amar and sivah,
corresponding to the Greek entello, indicate a strict precept. So, too, the gravity of the
threatened punishment, namely death, points
to the strictness of the command.
It was therefore a grave precept because of the gravity
of the sanction, first
as threatened and then as imposed: in being
driven out of paradise, loss of integrity,
bodily death, specific punishments in trials and difficulties. Moreover the context shows that God's purpose in giving the
precept was to test Adam's fidelity which ex hypothesi is a grave matter
or implies gravity in God's intention.
The full awareness and consent which Adam and Eve had in
sinning appears from
the gifts of grace and preternature which they possessed, and the absence of
concupiscence. It appears also from the detailed character of the narrative
given by the author of
Genesis; and is confirmed by the severe penalties which God visited on our first parents and their posterity, indicating
fulness of attention and deliberation to merit such
sets of gifts were lost by Adam and Eve, the preternatural through the loss of integrity (Genesis 3:7,10,21)
as seen in the previous thesis; of immortality
(Genesis 3:19), "for dust you are and unto dust you shall return";
for Eve (Genesis 3:16), I will make great your distress in childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth your children," and for Adam
(Genesis 3:17-19), Cursed
be the ground because of you; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your
life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall eat the
plants of the field. In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread."
The other gifts were lost through ejection from Paradise.
Genesis does not directly treat of the loss of sanctifying grace, this becomes evident from the New Testament. Adam
is repeatedly said to have lost what Christ restored; and since Christ restored
sanctifying grace, this is what Adam lost by his sin. Moreover if the posterity
of Adam is deprived of grace because of Adam's fall,
a fortiori Adam himself.
Fathers directly taught the fall of Adam and his loss of original justice as may be seen from their insistence on the manifold
guilt involved in the
sin of the first man. They also stressed the literal meaning of the Genesis
account against the aberrations of Alexandrian exegesis. While admitting the
presence of allegory and consequent spiritual sense of the narrative, they stressed
its secondary nature
and dependence on the literal meaning of the basic doctrines of
man's elevation and fall from grace.
St. Augustine's description may be taken
as typical. Speaking of the gravity of Adam's sin, he says, There was
pride in it, because man chose to be under
his own dominion rather than under the dominion of God; and sacrilege, because
he did not believe God; and murder, for he brought death upon himself;
and spiritual fornication, because the purity of the human,
mind was corrupted by the seducing
blandishments of the serpent; and theft, for man turned to his own use food
he had been forbidden to touch; and avarice, for he had a craving for
more than should have been sufficient for
him; and whatever other sin can be discovered on careful reflection to be involved in this one admitted sin Enchiridion, 45.
Part Two: Original Sin Exists In All Men As A True Sin,
Proper To Each Person And Transmitted
From Adam By Propagation.
In the same XVI Council of Carthage quoted
above, Pope Zozimus in 418 confirmed the declaration that "If anyone saysthat children are indeed baptized unto
the remission of sins, but they contract nothing of the original sin from Adam,
which isremoved by the laver of regeneration
let him be anathema"
In the famous Indiculus or Catalogue of Errors
on Grace and Free Will, in the
fifth century, we read that "All men lost their 'natural powers' and their
innocence in the sin of Adam. And no one is capable of rising from the depths
of this loss by his own free will if the grace of the merciful God does not
lift him up" DB 130.
II Council of Orange (529), confirmed by Boniface II, declared that If anyone asserts that Adam's sin was injurious only
to Adam and not to his descendants, or if he declares that it was only the death
of the body which is punishment for sin, and not the sin, the death of the soul,
that passed from one man to all the human race, he attributes an injustice to
God and contradicts the words of the Apostle, 'Through one man sin entered into
the world, and through sin death, and thus death has passed into
all men because all have sinned DB 175.
Again the most explicit documentation comes from Trent, in its definitions against
the protestant Reformers. The Tridentine teaching is based, verbatim in places, on the doctrine of the Council of Orange:
Si quis Adae praevaricationem sibi soli et non ejus propagini asserit nocuisse, acceptam a Deo sanctificationem et justitiam, quam perdidit, sibi soli et non nobis etiam perdidisse; aut inquinatum ilium per inoboedientiae peccatum mortem et poenas corporis tantum in omne genus humanum transfudisse, non autem et peccatum, quod est mors animae: anathema sit. DB789
quis hoc Adae peccatum, quod origine unum
estet propagatione, non imitatione transfusum omnibus inest
unicuique proprium, vel per humanae naturae
vires, vel per aliud remedium asserit
tolli, quam per meritum unius mediatoris Domini nostri Jesu Christi
anathema sit. DB 790
If anyone asserts that Adams sin was injurious only to Adam and not to his
descendants, and that it was for himself alone that he lost the holiness and
justice which he had received from God, and not for us also; or that after his
defilement by the sin of disobedience, he transmitted to the whole human race
only death and punishment of the body, but not sin itself which is the death
of the soul: let him be anathemas.
If anyone says that this sin of Adam, which is one by origin, and which is communicated
to all men by propagation not by imitation, and which is in all men and proper
to each, is taken away either through the powers of human nature or through
a remedy other than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ
him be anathema.
The classic text from Scripture is St. Paul's letter to
the Romans 5; 12-21. It
enjoys the privilege of being constantly used by the Church in teaching
the doctrine of original sin, since the Pelalgian
crisis to the Council of Trent. As a matter of record, Trent
explicitly rejected the interpretation of
Erasmus who denied that the idea
of original sin is contained in the fifth chapter of Romans.
In the previous chapters of the epistle, Paul showed that all men exist under sin
and must await redemption through faith in Jesus Christ. In the fifth chapter he treats of the meaning and greatness of our redemption,
drawing a parallel
between the history of our fall through Adam and the history of our salvation
through Christ. He therefore deals with original sin in obliquo, while
speaking of the presence
of original sin in the world.
unanimous interpretation of the Church recognizes that St. Paul is here teaching the doctrine of original sin inthis sense;
through Adam's disobedience the
entire human race was placed into the state of enmity with God, from which condition
it isredeemed by the merits of Jesus Christ.
interpreters do not fully agree on how exactly the above teaching may be proved from St. Paul. The main bone of contention
refers to the words underlined in verse 12: Wherefore as by one man
sin entered into this world, and by sin
death; so also death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned."
This is the Douay version,
corresponding to the Vulgate in quo omnes peccaverunt, and the
Greek eph' hōpantes hēmarton."
The New Confraternity version translates the passage,
"because all have sinned."
One interpretation of St. Paul, following in the tradition
of the Latin Fathers and commonly found in theological manuals argues that the Apostle
in context issaying that from the sin of Adam all men are constituted sinners, because
all are subject to
physical death. Or put formally; Death is the penalty of sin; but all must die, including those
who have not sinned personally; therefore all are constituted sinners from the sin of Adam, even
before they commit personal sins which
St. Paul presupposes that death is the punishment for sin
from the narrative in Genesis, to which he alludes in the first words
of the pericope, "Therefore as through
one man sin entered into the world and through sin death."
Apostle shows that all are liable to death from the fact that men were sinners even before the Mosaic Law.There was sin,
he says,against the law of nature
during the period between Adam and Moses, but the sins committed before the
were not imputed as a cause of death, when the condition was not expressed.
Yet all, even infants, underwent death. It must be then
because all mankind shared in some way in the sin
writers who follow this interpretation do not, however, take the expression in quo omnes peccaverunt as referring explicitly to Adam. They rather understand
the words causally quia omnes peccaverunt.
interpretation, said to approximate the line of the Greek Fathers, begins with
the premise that through Adam there has entered into the world death sensu
totali, namely, as a state of enmity with God which carries with it as consequence
physical death without hope of bodily resurrection.
death passes into all men by reason of the fact, since the condition is verified
that all have sinned through personal sins. Death has always reigned over the sons of Adam,
who could never avoid personal sins: either before the Mosaic Law or after. They could not avoid them before Moses because
no positive law had yet been given; nor after Moses because though the Law gave
knowledge of sins it did not give the power
to avoid them. Only Christ gives His sons the grace to conquer
sin and therefore avoid death in
sense explained by St.
A caution to be observed in this second interpretation is to make sure that the personal
sins committed by Adams descendants
be made to depend upon Adam and not upon his bad example (which would be
Pelagianism); and also that all men are already liable to death by their very nature
(derived from Adam), even before having committed any personal sins.
After the Pelagian conflict (and occasioned by it), the
fact of original sin and its transmission are perfectly clear in the Patristic
literature. St. Augustine was the great clarifier. But even before Augustine,
the tradition is solid
in itsessential elements. Thus children before the age of reason
were baptized unto
the remission of sins; certainly not personal sins. And the ceremonies of baptism were directed to
delivering the children from the slavery of the devil.
An implicit argument may be found in the cautious and surreptitious
way the Pelagians
sought to propagate their doctrine against original sin: using ambiguous language,
circumlocutions, obscure and double-meaning words, in order to deceive the people.
They were conscious that Christians in general believed in original
Also once the Pelagian heresy came on the scene, the disturbance
it caused and reaction it aroused indicated that a cardinal principle of the
Christian faith was being attacked.
Rationalists who saddle Augustine with creating the doctrine
of original sin are
indulging in pure speculations with all the facts against them. St. Augustine taught many things, and the
Church did not follow him in everything; why in the doctrine of original sin? Historically we know
the Donatists were bitter enemies of Augustine. If he had "invented" the doctrine, they would
have been the first to oppose it, at least on personal grounds. Yet the Donatists
professed to believe in Adam's fall and man's inheritance of Adam's sinful nature. In
his polemic writings,
Augustine felt he was standing on the solid rock of tradition. He spoke (in one passage) of all the
"saintly and learned priests who professed this Catholic doctrine; Ireneus, Cyprian, Reticius,
Olympius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory (of Nysaa),
Innocent, John (Chrysostom), to whom I add Jerome."
The Ante-pelagian Fathers regularly appealed to St. Paul's
letter to the Romans, but they did not rest their case there. Other passages
from the Old and New Testaments were also invoked. In other words, belief in the doctrine
of original sin
was recognized as part of the deposit of faith, even independent of the exegesis of St. Paul.
How Could Adam Sin? A practical question arises
about the cause of Adams sin once we reflect that he was highly gifted, naturally
and by grace, and possessed the privilege of integrity. With his appetitive
faculties under control, and his mind specially enlightened, how was sin possible?
The answer is ultimately a mystery. But theologians, following St. Thomas, argue
to the inner tension in Adam between nature and grace as laying the basis for
his sin. Elevated to the supernatural order, and gifted with
faith in things yet unseen, Adam was obliged to submit his mind to the word of God and strive
to conform to the higher demands laid upon him by grace. But his nature drew him inwards,
From this double polarity came the possibility of turning
away from God in rebellion against His will by turning to himself in consummate pride. When the
tempter assured Eve
that God knows that when you eat (of the forbidden tree), your eyes will be opened and you will be
like God, knowing good and evil," he was appealing to the basic urge in human nature
in its state of probation - the desire to independence, not only of other creatures but even of God.
Man Fallen and Redeemed.
While treating of original sin and of man's fallen lot, we should always keep in mind that the human race did
not remain in the condition
produced by Adam's sin. The obedience of Christ has restored the damage done by the disobedience of Adam. From the moment in Genesis
when the Lord promised a Redeemer, the grace of Christ began its effective work
in the world, reconciling a
fallen humanity with God. Even before the Church came into being, there were
internal graces in the hearts and minds of men, leading them
(though with greater difficulty) to free themselves
from original sin.
is certainly true that death, concupiscence and other evils brought into human
life by Adam's sin are the common experience of mankind. They represent an abnormal condition that would not have been had our first
parents remained faithful
to God. But among Christians they should not be looked upon primarily as penalties for sin, which they are, but as means given us
to grow in the likeness of Christ, in union with Him, in increase of merit through
the acceptance of pain out of love for God and for His greater glory through
our greater sanctity.
too seldom associated, the doctrines of original sin and necessity of baptism are closely related; and in fact the Church's
insistence on infant baptism
points up as little else can how truly sinful is even a new-born infant because of its inherited fallen nature. Without baptism
the child will not enter the
beatific vision if it dies before the age of reason. Moreover the ceremonies
of baptism, if explained to the faithful, are a running
commentary on the evil from
which the child is being delivered. The exorcisms show that the new born is
under the dominion of the devil; the prayers and rites for deliverance indicate
that although no
personal sins were committed, yet a mysterious condemnation rests upon
the infant by reason of its entrance into the human family.
the Church's missionary zeal and all her evangelism to the non-Christian (and
non-Catholic) world stands this doctrine of original sin. Knowing on faith that mankind needs the grace of Christ to rise
above its fallen condition, her
sacraments - notably baptism, penance and the Eucharist - are carried to the
ends of the earth, on the conviction that these are the
means instituted by Christ for bringing a sinful people
back to their Creator.
Original Sin and the Need to Work. It is often said that work is a penalty for original sin. Thus we read in Genesis that when
Adam was driven out of paradise he was told that from then
on he would earn his bread with the sweat of his brow, that the ground would
be cursed because of him, that it would bring thorns and thistles to him in
return for his efforts on the soil.
of the Church use these ideas to accuse Christianity of demeaning the status
of labor, which other ideologies like Marxism are restoring to its deserved
respectability as a joyous enterprise. Hence the importance of clarifying the
relation between labor and the doctrine of original sin.
To begin with,
work was not introduced into the world by original sin,but the fatigue
which comes from work. In the first narrative of creation, God makes man to His image and places him over all the works of His
hands, "to fill the earth and subdue it." In the second narrative of creation,
it issaid the earth was still dry because "the Lord God had sent no rain
on the earth and there was no man to till the
soil; but a mist rose from the earth and watered all the surface of the ground.
Then the Lord God formed man." The Garden of Eden was planted by God, but God gave it to man "to till it and keep it,"
and to this end also placed the animals under his dominion.
view of this, it is clear that even before he sinned man was chosen by God as
His collaborator, in order to perfect what the Lord had brought into being.
God changed chaos into the cosmos, to make it habitable
for man, who in turn was to apply
himself to continuing the work of the Creator and make the world ever more suitable
as a dwelling place.
sin came on the scene, man lost hisquiet dominion over the animals and
the forces of nature, and as a further consequence began
to sense fatigue as a type
of suffering. But even though the demands of labor now became trying, work itself
never lost its pristine nature of collaboration with the creative agency of
and again, Scripture mentions the duty of man to labor. "Six days you may labor and do all your work," was ordered by the
Law of Moses given on Sinai. (Exodus 20:9). The Psalms recall
the happiness of the man who is nourished by the work of his hands (Psalm 127:2), and praise the
works of the Lord, while describing man as going forth when the sun first rises
and remaining at his labor until the end of day (Psalm 103:23). The proverbs are
eloquent in denouncing the sluggard who
refuses to work, which find an echo in the New Testament, as in the words of
St. Paul to the Thessalonians. "We worked night and
day," he told them, "in labor and toil, so that we might not be a
burden to any of you
that we might make ourselves an example for you to imitate us. For indeed when
we were with you we used to charge you: if any man will not work, neither let
him eat" (II Thessalonians 3:9-11). Thus both the duty to labor and the native reluctance
to work because of the effort it demands,
are made clear.
labor which Scripture so much recommends is not only manual. Ecclesiasticus praises
the work of artisans and also of the doctor, of the learned scribe, and much more of those who apply themselves to studying
the laws of the Most High (Ecclesiasticus
38:1-8, 24; 39). Christ was reputed to be a carpenter and the son of a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). Yet when He
spoke of His work, He always referred to
His preaching the Gospel, and to the works of Redemption committed to Him by
His Father (John 9:4; 17:4). His Apostles, who were
sent to complete His work, are cooperators
with God (I Corinthians 3:9), and perform labors which are so real that
they deserve a just salary (I Timothy 5:18).
Howsoever conceived, therefore, labor in all its forms appears
in revelation as
correspondence to a divine vocation. Only the aspect of fatigue in labor is
a result of sin. Yet even this fatigue, since the Redemption, has been
ennobled by becoming
a means of sharing in the cross of Christ. Thus we can better appreciate the
statement of the late Pius XII, that for
Christians work is one of the most important
means of sanctification, and one of the most effective ways of becoming united to God and meriting
an eternal reward (Allocution of April 25, 1950).
- What is the meaning of original justice, which Adam lost?
- Define sin in general, and describe in detail the qualities of the sin of Adam.
- How does original sin originans differ from original sin originatum? Explain.
- What does it mean that original sin in us is a true sin, proper to each person?
- Explain the terms when we say that Adam's sin is transmitted to his progeny by propagation.
- Show how the Pelagians, the Protestants, Jansenists and Rationalists are against the present thesis on Adam's fall and the transmission of original sin.
- Give the dogmatic notes for the various parts of the thesis.
- How do we prove from Trent that Adam sinned grievously and that he transmitted his sin to all mankind?
- Show from Scripture, in Genesis, that Adam sinned and lost original justice.
- Outline the proof from Romans for the transmission of original sin from Adam to the human race.
- Summarize the Patristic evidence for the fact of original sin in Adam, and its transfusion to Adam's posterity.
- How was it possible for Adam to sin, since he was so gifted by God?
- Comment on the significance of considering man as not only fallen but redeemed. What difference does it make in practice to stress the one or the other?
- What is the Theology of Work," in relation to original sin?
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