Another Dogma Falls

Is Original Sin in Scripture? by Herbert Haag (Sheed & Ward, 1969, 127 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by Philip E. Hughes, professor of historical theology, Conwell School of Theology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

If original sin is not in Scripture then the Church has been making a lot of fuss about nothing for a very long time. Dr. Herbert Haag, however, who is professor of Old Testament in the University of Tubingen and also president of the Catholic Bible Association of Germany, has come to the conclusion that this doctrine is not to be found in the Bible. And thereby he brings himself under the Tridentine anathema! But apparently the cursings of the Council of Trent are no longer operative, or if they are, they are no longer feared (this book is published without the customary nihil obstat and imprimatur), though the recent Second Vatican Council held in Rome was supposed to endorse and complete what was begun at Trent. Over this issue Haag parts company with his fellow Roman Catholics Karl Rahner, who maintains the theological certainty of monogenism (the descent of all mankind from a single original couple), and Leo Scheffczyk, who holds that the historicity of redemption stands or falls with the historicity of Adam and of original sin. Haag, in fact, frankly declares that for many in the Roman church today “previously held ‘dogmas’ have ceased to be dogmas, to the great dismay of those who believe in the immutability of dogmas,” and that what is taking place is “not merely interpretation but correction of previous teaching.”

Reformed theology has been in agreement with the official teaching of Roman Catholicism that the sin of Adam had evil consequences for all his posterity (see Rom. 5:12 and 1 Cor. 15:22), ...

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