1. Sin does not exist. This view makes some strange bedfellows: Communists, atheists, secular humanists. They would explain problems like rape and murder in different ways, but not as the result of sin dwelling in the soul. Some think it is due to economics. Some think it stems from a lack of education. Some think it is a failure to think positively.

2. Sin is something everyone has, butno one is born with. This is classical Pelagianism. According to this view, every person is born sinless, but we all “catch it” and “get infected” with it. I often ran into this when I rang doorbells 29 years ago. I tried to convince people of the doctrine of original sin, but they wouldn’t accept it. They thought sin was something we do, not something we are. Since a newborn baby is innocent of rebellious acts, it is not a sinner. Repentance, for people holding this second view, means they are not going to lie any more, or get drunk any more, or commit adultery any more. Some may accept Christ as their Savior to escape the effects of their sins. But they remind me of an absolutely clean field in Iowa—not a weed anywhere. But where is the corn?

3. We are born in sin—that is, everyperson is born as rebellious as Adam waswhen he willfully chose to disobey God. This is called “federal theology,” and traces to Saint Augustine. Each child, from his conception, is as guilty of rebellious disobedience as if he were Adam himself. This view makes no distinction between “Adam’s sin” and “original sin,” as if every newborn baby has chosen by an act of free will to disobey God. From this viewpoint, to bring a child to salvation he has to be led into a negative ...

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