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  1. #1
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    Sin Nature - the phlogiston of Christian Theology?

    Scientists once thought there was a physical substance called phlogiston that was released when things burned. It was interesting stuff because it had no color, odor, taste, or weight. In other words, it was undetectable. They speculated that the ash was the essence of wood after the phlogiston escaped. Then they discovered that combustion is a chemical process, and discarded the false notion of phlogiston as not corresponding to anything in the real world.

    Likewise, scientists once thought there was a physical substance called the ether that was required to carry light waves. They could not conceive how light could travel through a vacuum. They thought that all waves, like sound waves in the air or waves in the water, needed a medium to undulate. The Michelson-Morley experiment showed that it, like the phlogiston before it, was undetectable. Apparently, scientists had had enough with "undetectable substances", and so they discarded the false notion of the ether too.

    In both of these cases, science advanced by recognizing that the physical substances postulated in their theories did not correspond to anything in the real world. Attempts to formulate theories based on such false notions of reality were doomed to failure.

    The same is true for the Christian understanding of the world that God created.

    I think the idea of the "sin nature" is the theological equivalent of phlogiston and ether.

    It does not correspond to anything in the real world addressed in Scripture.

    It seems that theologians have confused the very real and biblical teaching about the flesh with a theological construct called the "sin nature." Most of them speak as if it is some sort of physical contagion transmitted to the next generation only by the father, an idea they use to "explain" why Christ had to be born of a virgin.

    Clarification of this issue brings a lot of light to our study of the Bible. For example, most people have been taught that we sin "because we have a sin nature." But that immediately raises the question of why Adam and Eve sinned, since they were created without a "sin nature." Once the "sin nature" is exposed as a false notion, we can easily see the elegant solution to this ancient conundrum. Adam and Eve were created as fleshly creatures, just like you and me. And what does the flesh do when it is not subject to the guidance of God's Spirit?

    IT SINS.

    It can't help it. How could it? It doesn't know what the mind of the Spirit is! How can it know the will of God? All it knows is its own desires and lusts. The flesh by itself can not please God. It is like a horse without a rider, run wild.

    But remember, the flesh is not sinful by nature. True, it is very weak, and prone to sin, but we know it can not be intrinsically sinful because the Word (Christ) became flesh and dwelt amongst us, yet without sin. And again, we have proof from Genesis that the flesh is not intrinsically sinful. Adam and Eve were created as fleshly creatures, but had no sin until they disobeyed God.

    So how did Adam and Eve sin without having a sin nature?

    Simple! They were fleshly creatures, and the story makes it abundantly clear they were not in conscious communion with God when they sinned! And so, they acted as fleshly creatures not guided by God, and sinned. (Note how this relates to the challenges of our daily walk!) This is further confirmed by the description of what led up to their sin:

    Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat

    Sounds like a very fleshly temptation! Compare this with the classic sin passage:

    1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (make one wise?), is not of the Father, but is of the world.

    So there it is. That's the basic idea I was hoping to share in this post. I think it leads to a magnificent harmony between Scripture and Reality that actually makes sense. And it is extremely satisfying to have a full understanding of Scripture without a mystical undetectable substance that has no "color, odor, taste, or weight."

    There is much more to say on this matter, but I will wait for a response to what has been written. I am curious if these ideas make sense to other folks, and if not, why not.

    I look forward to your comments.

    RAM

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    So how did Adam and Eve sin without having a sin nature?
    wasn't Adam created with both good inclination and evil inclination?

    expressed in the double "yud" with which "vayitzer" in Genesis 2:7 is written?

    וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים; וַיְהִי הָאָדָם, לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה. Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

    the one "yud" standing for "yetzer hatov" and the second "yud" standing for "yetzer hara"?

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    Post Sin nature posted by RAM

    Gen 2:9 (12) And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    Gen 3:6 (10) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

    In the beginning, God created, and pronounced it 'good'. Gen 2:9 (12) is in agreement with that - pleasant to the sight and good for food. It is the 'desire chet, mem, dalet/52) to be wise (shin/kaf/lamed/350 (with yud/360) (pride) that exposed the unbelief of truth.

    If it was 'fleshly temptation' would not the man have been just as guilty?

    1Ti 2:14 (70/ayin) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

    Would deception (nun, shin, alef/351), rather than temptation, be key?

    Jesus, the Son (52) of God - was not deceived, was truth in flesh, and exposed unbelief.

    John 16:8 (67/19th prime) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 (68) of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
    Last edited by shalag; 06-07-2007 at 01:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    wasn't Adam created with both good inclination and evil inclination?

    expressed in the double "yud" with which "vayitzer" in Genesis 2:7 is written?

    וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים; וַיְהִי הָאָדָם, לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה. Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

    the one "yud" standing for "yetzer hatov" and the second "yud" standing for "yetzer hara"?
    Yes, the Jews have a tradition that says we are created with a "good inclination" (yetzer hatov) and an "evil inclination" (yetzer hara). Here is a description from hebrew4christians.com (which btw is an excellent source to learn the Hebrew letters, including their symbolic meanings):

    Quote Originally Posted by Herbew4christians
    The yetzer hara represents the inner impulse or tendency within the human heart to gravitate toward selfish gratification (the word yetzer first appears in Genesis 6:5 where the wickedness of man is described as “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”). The yetzer hatov, on the other hand, represents the inner impulse to do good.
    Now the question is - does the Bible teach that we were created with two competing wills - one for good and one for bad - or is that teaching only found in the Jewish tradition?

    Now if the Bible does teach it, how does it relate to the traditional Christian teaching about the "sin nature" which was acquired after the fall, not built in at creation?

    Furthermore, we need to ask: Does the Bible teach that we were originally created as "divided souls"? I don't think so. Did God create us as "double minded" creatures with two competing wills. or as a unity, in the image of God? This also makes me think of James 1:7 "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." Did God create us to be "unstable"?

    RAM

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    Quote Originally Posted by shalag View Post
    Gen 2:9 (12) And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    Gen 3:6 (10) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

    In the beginning, God created, and pronounced it 'good'. Gen 2:9 (12) is in agreement with that - pleasant to the sight and good for food. It is the 'desire chet, mem, dalet/52) to be wise (shin/kaf/lamed/350 (with yud/360) (pride) that exposed the unbelief of truth.

    If it was 'fleshly temptation' would not the man have been just as guilty?

    1Ti 2:14 (70/ayin) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

    Would deception (nun, shin, alef/351), rather than temptation, be key?

    Jesus, the Son (52) of God - was not deceived, was truth in flesh, and exposed unbelief.

    John 16:8 (67/19th prime) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 (68) of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
    Good points shalag.

    In thinking this through, I knew we needed to ground it in unbelief, since that is the root of sin (whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom 14:23). That's why the idea of "competing internal wills" - like the classic image of a devil on each shoulder fighting to win the person over - does not seem to correspond to reality. It seems like another "phlogiston" theory to me. Like we start with a struggle between the flesh and the spirit (which the Bible teaches) and add to it the idea of an "evil will" that "likes" the flesh and a "good will" that "likes" the spirit. Why add those "things" - why not keep it simple?

    So what is it about the flesh that causes it to sin? Is it that fact that the flesh knows nothing of the Spirit, and faith(fulness) is of the Spirit? That seems to be aiming in the right direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by shalag View Post
    If it was 'fleshly temptation' would not the man have been just as guilty?
    Absolutely. My point was to show that the root of sin was found not in a "sin nature" but in the flesh itself. But its not because the flesh is innately evil, but because the flesh not rule by the human spirit ruled by the Spirit of God can not please God because it does not know the will of God and so will sin. But this is not to say it is sinning because of "ignorance." It may well know the explicit commnands of God like "do not covet" but by its nature, it will covet anyway.

    But that's just the flesh ... the SIN comes in when the whole person - the living soul (nephesh chiah = body + spirit, Gen 2:7) ignores God and choose to align itself with the desires of the flesh.

    I knew this would take a little while to "flesh out" (I'm gonna have to make a smilie for a "bad pun groan").

    One question: Why did you write the "1Ti 2:14 (70/ayin)"? I understand of course that 70 is the value of ayin, I was just wondering why you chose to put it there? Is it because the verse speaks of the fall in Genesis 3, and that story is saturated with ayin KeyWords (eyes/ayini opened, arum/naked, etc)?

    RAM

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    My point was to show that the root of sin was found not in a "sin nature" but in the flesh itself.
    what then about Genesis 6:6?

    וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוָה, כִּי-עָשָׂה אֶת-הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ; וַיִּתְעַצֵּב, אֶל-לִבּוֹ
    And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.

    commentary says: it repented the Lord that he had made Adam with an evil inclination = sin nature.

    "vayinachem" = and it repented Him
    you might also translate "and He found comfort in" -

    verb "nacham" can have both meanings.

    from this name "Menachem" , Comforter, name of the Messiah.

    it is about the mystery of creation

    God intended it that way.

    if Adam wouldn't have sinned it wouldn't have been good at all.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    what then about Genesis 6:6?

    וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוָה, כִּי-עָשָׂה אֶת-הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ; וַיִּתְעַצֵּב, אֶל-לִבּוֹ
    And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.

    commentary says: it repented the Lord that he had made Adam with an evil inclination = sin nature.

    "vayinachem" = and it repented Him
    you might also translate "and He found comfort in" -

    verb "nacham" can have both meanings.

    from this name "Menachem" , Comforter, name of the Messiah.

    it is about the mystery of creation

    God intended it that way.

    if Adam wouldn't have sinned it wouldn't have been good at all.
    Yes, it touches the mystery of creation, and that's why its so very interesting! And significant, since its ramifications run through the whole body of Scripture.

    But we are still turning around the same pole. It seems like you believe in the tradition that God created Adam with a "sin nature" = "yetzer hara". So before we go further, I need an answer to the question I asked earlier - does the Bible teach that we were created with a dual nature? Or does that idea come only from Jewish tradition?

    I agree that "God intended it that way". But that's not question. The question is the origin of sin. Did God have to create Adam with a "sin nature" to enable him to sin, or did he only need to create him as a fleshly creature, and then leave him alone for a while? Note also that the idea of begin created with a sin nature contradicts the Christian tradition that Adam and Eve acquired a sin nature only after the first sin.

    That's the fundamental point of my opening post: I discarded the unneeded metaphysical construct called a "sin nature" and found that I could understand everything in the Bible much more clearly. Of course, I could have missed something essential. That's what I'm hoping to find out in this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post

    - does the Bible teach that we were created with a dual nature?
    Paul does so,

    1Corinthians 15:44
    It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.


    Or does that idea come only from Jewish tradition?
    Bible isJewish tradition.

    cf Rashi on Genesis 2:7,
    http://www.chabad.org/library/articl...showrashi=true
    formed[וַיִּיצֶר, with two “yuds,” hints at] two creations, a creation for this world and a creation for the [time of the] resurrection of the dead, but in connection with the animals, which do not stand in judgment, two“yuds” are not written in [the word וַיִּצֶר describing their creation. — [from Tan. Tazria 1]

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    Note also that the idea of begin created with a sin nature contradicts the Christian tradition that Adam and Eve acquired a sin nature only after the first sin.
    source?

    That's the fundamental point of my opening post: I discarded the unneeded metaphysical construct called a "sin nature" and found that I could understand everything in the Bible much more clearly. Of course, I could have missed something essential. That's what I'm hoping to find out in this thread.
    maybe the original sin is like denying that you have a sin nature ...

    there is nothing wrong about having a sin nature.

    without the evil inclination even no hen would lay anymore an egg...
    Last edited by sylvius; 06-07-2007 at 10:15 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    - does the Bible teach that we were created with a dual nature?
    Paul does so,

    1Corinthians 15:44
    It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.
    That quote says nothing about being created with a sin nature. It actually supports my point, we were created first as a natural = fleshly creature. The battle is between the flesh and the spirit (Gal 5:17) not an imaginary "sin nature" and the spirit.

    This seems to be a persistent confusion. You seem to be assuming that the flesh = the sin nature. I'm saying there is no need to invent the idea of "sin nature." You can understand everything much more clearly by not introducing that idea in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    Bible isJewish tradition.
    There is definitely "Jewish tradition" in the Bible, but there is a lot of Jewish tradition that is wrong and definitely unbiblical. For example, Jewish tradition denies Jesus is the Messiah! So it is wrong to simply identify the Bible as "Jewish Tradition."


    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    cf Rashi on Genesis 2:7,
    http://www.chabad.org/library/articl...showrashi=true
    formed[וַיִּיצֶר, with two “yuds,” hints at] two creations, a creation for this world and a creation for the [time of the] resurrection of the dead, but in connection with the animals, which do not stand in judgment, two“yuds” are not written in [the word וַיִּצֶר describing their creation. — [from Tan. Tazria 1]
    That's fine ... but how do we know Rashi is correct? Can you support his assertion with the Bible? Or since Rashi is quoting an earlier tradition, how do we know that tradition is correct? Obviously, we can't just believe all Jewish tradition! Even if we wanted to, we couldn't because it not a logically coherent body of knowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    Note also that the idea of begin created with a sin nature contradicts the Christian tradition that Adam and Eve acquired a sin nature only after the first sin.
    source?
    Glad you asked! Here's one of ten thousand, from the Puritan's Mind website:

    Quote Originally Posted by A Puritans Mind
    Before the Fall in the garden, Adam was without sin, but had the potential to sin if he chose to do so. Since he chose to sin, he fell from the gracious state he was in and entered into a sinful state. Once the pot is broken it can never be unbroken; it will always have cracks no matter how much glue you use. What exactly did we inherit in this sin nature? Genesis 6:5 says, "And the Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth and every intent and thought of his heart was only evil continually." The heart is the spiritual center of man's being. It is the place where mind, emotions, and spirit all reside in a collective whole--it is the heart of man. The sinful heart is only evil, and anyone who has one of these hearts is evil. Not just that they do evil things, but they are inherently evil. Being "evil" means that they have inherited Adam's sin. In God's eyes that means they are imperfect. Being imperfect is evil.
    As far as I know, the idea that Adam was without sin or a sin nature before the fall is universal amongst those who believe in the sin nature (which seems to be almost everybody). The ideas I put in red are important to understand when discussing this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    maybe the original sin is like denying that you have a sin nature ...
    Maybe the original sin was the invention of the idea of a sin nature!

    (two can play at that game )

    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    there is nothing wrong about having a sin nature.
    You must be using a non-standard definition of sin nature. According to most theologians, the sin nature = totally evil as stated in the quote above.

    Quote Originally Posted by sylvius View Post
    without the evil inclination even no hen would lay anymore an egg...
    You don't need an "evil inclination" to sin. You need only be a fleshly creature not in subjugation to the Spirit of God. That was the point of my opening post.

    It seems like we have a persistent confusion here. I assert the "evil inclination" and the "sin nature" are inventions, fabrications, fantasies that don't correspond to anything in the real world.

    The flesh does not need an "evil inclination" or "sin nature" in order to sin.

    RAM

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    Before the Fall in the garden, Adam was without sin, but had the potential to sin if he chose to do so.
    potential to sin = evil inclination

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