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Annie Oakley
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The law is the strength of original sin, whether imputed or inherent. Imputed original sin, you know, is the guilt of Adam’s first sin, which is ours by imputation: inherent original sin is the total want of original righteousness, and the corruption of the whole nature, which we have by derivation from Adam. Now, the strength of both is the law, and the strength of both remains in all that are under the law, and out of Christ; for, while men are under the law, they are members of the first Adam, in whom as their federal head, they stand guilty of the first sin, the violation of the law, or covenant of works; and from whom, as their natural root, they derive the whole depravation and corruption of their nature: for, By the offence of One, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation; and, By one man sin entered into the world, Rom. v. 12. 18. The strength then of this original guilt and corruption flows from the violated law: all that are under the law, are guilty and filthy by nature, before ever they be capable of actual sin. The most innocent-like children that are born, and come of Adam, are nothing but a generation of vipers by nature; the venom of the serpent is in them.

~ Ralph Erskine

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Greetings in Christ Jesus, Highway Forum.

I just registered at this site. Over many years of mental turmoil over the beliefs of the Reformed Church.. much resonates, and some doesn't. I have found an OPC Church that I have been attending, which I LOVE. But, the quote above reflects my reservations about Calvinism.

Erskine's statement is his quote, his words, and he's taken a liberty to proclaim his opinion that he extrapolated.

My biggest stumbling block of learning/growing has been over the doctrine of predestination. I wrestle with the conclusion that it's a mystery of grace to consider with awe. In past years I struggled with what I didn't understand "Doctrines of Men"; Now I see that the Church had to develop a myriad of doctrines as she herself defined, preserved and defended the faith through the ages. New challenges, interpretations had to be addressed. I'm a slow learner.

But getting back to Erskine and my search, I'm finding that what I'm questioning are the theological differences of Eastern Orthodox vs. Augustinian understanding of original sin. The Eastern Orthodoxy was not influenced by Augustine, keeping their understanding of what they refer to as 'ancestral sin'. At present, the Eastern Orthodox explanation of ancestral sin appears most biblical, to me. Yet, I don't plan on becoming Eastern Orthodox.

That the Reformed faith does respect and build upon the faith and witness of the Church and the Church fathers preceding her.. I don't understand with regards to the Eastern Church.

I sat through a Sunday school discussion about how Presbyterians ought present the Gospel (concerning the topic of predestination) My ears perked up. There was the consensus that an honest invitation is "Christ died for sinners, of which I am one" -- instead of "Christ died for you."

I guess I registered at this site, feeling *Provoked* by Erskine's quote, to be honest. If Erskine was the pastor, I probably wouldn't be attending. I know I'm a sinner, but the above appears to be the Gospel according to Erskine, as well as Augustine.

Jesus loved children! Erskine?

OK, anyway -- thank you for your patience and ear.

Kaylin








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1. I'm a wee bit confused from what you wrote, perhaps because there were several different items mentioned. It's difficult to respond to your reply in general because of this, at least to this old man. grin

2. IF you want to focus upon what bothers you in the Erskine quote, then that can be done here in this particular thread... OR... you can start a new thread in the Theology Forum above.

3. IF (in addition) you would like to ask some questions or make a statement concerning, e.g., Predestination, the Gospel, the love of God, Original Sin and/or any of the other items you mentioned, it would be most helpful if you started a new thread/topic probably in the Theology Forum since it seems that would be the most applicable place for those type of subjects.

Regardless, again I would like to extend a warm welcome to The Highway Discussion Board. And, I would be sorely remiss if I failed to mention that this discussion board is but a small annex to The Highway website where you will find LOTS of articles, books, pamphets, sermons, etc. on myriad subjects. There is a nice search utility on the main page as well to help you find what you are looking for.

And lastly, if you are needing help re: anything related to this discussion board, there is a dedicated forum for that too as well as the FAQ section which deals with the most popular questions.


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Hello Pilgrim,

Erskine's statement has everything to do with original sin, I am familiar with the Reformed church and RCC definition. His statement is not a doctrinal statement, that even the most innocent child is a viper by nature, with "the venom of the serpent", rather it is a statement by Erskine, nor is it the Gospel.

Regarding the entire writ and logic of Erskine...
The Lord Jesus had many things to say about innocent children; how lest we become like one of them, one cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. I know I am pulling out one statement, but at least that statement is from the Savior himself.

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Originally Posted by Kaylin
Hello Pilgrim,

Erskine's statement has everything to do with original sin, I am familiar with the Reformed church and RCC definition. His statement is not a doctrinal statement, that even the most innocent child is a viper by nature, with "the venom of the serpent", rather it is a statement by Erskine, nor is it the Gospel.

Regarding the entire writ and logic of Erskine...
The Lord Jesus had many things to say about innocent children; how lest we become like one of them, one cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. I know I am pulling out one statement, but at least that statement is from the Savior himself.
Okay, now I have a better idea of what bothers you with Erskine's statement. Of course, as you are most likely aware, Jonathan Edwards held the same view as did the vast majority of Reformers and Puritans who came after them. In fact, all the major Reformed Confessions affirm the same.

I am therefore correct that you disagree with the historic Reformed view on Original Sin, i.e., as a consequence of Adam's sin, he being the federal head and appointed representative of the entire human race, ALL were thus judged by God and justly punished by (1) having Adam's guilt imputed to them and (2) inheriting the corruption of nature? Therefore, at conception ALL are under condemnation being dead in trespasses and sins and have no ability, desire, nor hope of escaping eternal damnation lest God in His infinitely love and mercy bestow grace upon them by regenerating their spiritually dead souls giving them a heart of flesh that yearns after God?

Soooo, let me respond by asking you a question in regard to what you wrote:

Originally Posted by Kaylin
The Lord Jesus had many things to say about innocent children;
Could you please point me to any place in God's inspired written Word where any child is said to be "innocent", i.e., not under the just judgment of God and thus His wrath?

Oh, and I am compelled to ask you if you think that what Jesus is recorded as saying in the Gospels takes precedence over all other Scripture... sorta like one of those "red letter editions"? For you did write:
Originally Posted by Kaylin
I know I am pulling out one statement, but at least that statement is from the Savior himself.


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Yes Pilgrim, you understand me. I just want to say that I expect we could both quote each other, bible verses, doctrines; each of us justifying our case, to no end.

To save us time, I admit that I am being led away from the Reformed and Catholic definition of original sin. But the thing is, I love the OPC church I'm going to... and Erskine's is not the message I'm hearing. Perhaps it's a case of emphasis. No, one cannot take one scripture verse and see the whole picture, but I would never put an Erskine on my wall.

Last Sunday the pastor spoke of the "Mercy Seat"... speaking of God's Mercy, not wrath.

I'm not a universalist, but indeed I'm leaning to what I understand is a more scriptural and logical understanding of original sin; and that would be more in keeping with Eastern Orthodoxy. I don't know of the influence/lack of influence of the Eastern Orthodox church upon the Reformers, but speaking to the belief that the Holy Spirit has been active throughout Church history, including the Eastern church, long before Augustine, held a different concept of original sin.

You are probably well informed of the Eastern interpretation of "ancestral sin". My conviction, to date, is that the Eastern Orthodox understanding of original/ancestral sin is more logical than the Reformed position.

I'm not looking to argue/debate. Thank you for listening.

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Originally Posted by Kaylin
Yes Pilgrim, you understand me. I just want to say that I expect we could both quote each other, bible verses, doctrines; each of us justifying our case, to no end.
Perhaps... but I do hold that Scripture is the sole and final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Thus, I am confident that sound exegesis can defend the biblical doctrine of Original Sin vs. what the Roman State Church and Greek/Russian Orthodox denominations believe. grin

Originally Posted by Kaylin
To save us time, I admit that I am being led away from the Reformed and Catholic definition of original sin. But the thing is, I love the OPC church I'm going to... and Erskine's is not the message I'm hearing. Perhaps it's a case of emphasis. No, one cannot take one scripture verse and see the whole picture, but I would never put an Erskine on my wall.
I'm not at all surprised you aren't hearing anything even remotely close to what Ralph Erksine preached, even in the OPC. I am very familiar with the OPC and even studied at WTS (Philly), albeit years ago when even then the seeds of destruction had already been sown. It is a very sad situation to see a once solidly biblical denomination die. But this really isn't unusual. When I began my trek at WTS, R.C. Sproul, Sr. gave the commencement address and stated that no Protestant seminary had ever lasted more than 50 years before it started going 'downhill'. That year WTS was celebrating its "Jubilee Year" (50th anniversary) from its founding in 1929. Sproul was correct.... [Linked Image]

Originally Posted by Kaylin
I'm not a universalist, but indeed I'm leaning to what I understand is a more scriptural and logical understanding of original sin; and that would be more in keeping with Eastern Orthodoxy. I don't know of the influence/lack of influence of the Eastern Orthodox church upon the Reformers, but speaking to the belief that the Holy Spirit has been active throughout Church history, including the Eastern church, long before Augustine, held a different concept of original sin.
Can I also assume that you are also leaning toward the other doctrines of Eastern Orthodoxy which rest on their doctrine of "Ancestral Sin", e.g., a total denial of vicarious, substitutionary penal atonement? And, that no one is born under God's judgment until they actually commit sin? And that justification is not a one-time declaration of God upon a sinner at the moment that true saving faith rests upon Christ but rather a life-long journey of doing good, etc.?? scratchchin

Originally Posted by Kaylin
You are probably well informed of the Eastern interpretation of "ancestral sin". My conviction, to date, is that the Eastern Orthodox understanding of original/ancestral sin is more logical than the Reformed position.
I'll certainly grant you that "Ancestral Sin" may seem more 'logical' to you, but for me I can find no biblical support for it whatsoever and that is what is most salient.

Originally Posted by Kaylin
I'm not looking to argue/debate. Thank you for listening.
1. I am not looking to debate either for I think in this case it would not be productive given what you have said of yourself in this matter.

2. There is no charge for my listening. giggle

3. I'm just curious if you have ever read John Murray's book, The Imputation of Adam's Sin? I would highly recommend that you do if you haven't. The late professor's grasp of the Bible's teachings and the use of sound logic is extraordinary. It's unfortunate that there are few, if any men teaching today who are of the same caliber and godliness. The same could be said of the late Dr. John Gerstner. He is another man of God who was mightily gifted in the Scriptures as well given a life that was an expression of true godliness.


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Hi again, Pilgrim. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Please tell me what denomination you are, and can you expand your comment about the OPC? Is it precisely because I didn't hear something akin to Erksine?

The pastor of the church I attend (as recurring visitor) is an adjunct professor of Systematic Theology at WTS, Philadelphia. And I don't mean to imply that TULIP doesn't impact his sermons.

I haven't studied the other doctrines of the Eastern Orthodox faith. I don't see myself feeling 'at home' in an Orthodox church, although I was raised Catholic, and my father was raised Eastern Orthodox.

Obviously, there would be implications to my tULIP if I don't hold to Reformed belief in Total Depravity. I haven't worked it all out.

To date: Like Orthodoxy, I believe babies are innocent, and that people are sinners because they actually sin. Orthodoxy teaches that it is death that is handed down from Adam, not guilt from Adam's sin. They believe mankind's fallen state is predisposed to sin, but it is not Adam's sin they are guilty of, but their own. I believe it is a mystery of grace and God's will that He calls, calls to repentance, leads, regenerates and preserves his sheep to saving faith. I believe Christ's death and resurrection is payment for the sins of those who believe in Him. I believe it is faith in Christ that saves, but He expects us to become "as little children" and be born again, spiritually as believers and grow in knowledge and love. I don't think good works save, but I believe fruits are a sign of the Christian walk.

Thanks for the mention of the authors. Perhaps I'll come across more insight for Reformed position.
Also, I do believe in Sola Sciptura, and believe the Eastern Orthodoxy is supported via scripture. It is just that, there already exists a plethora of support articles/commentaries from that camp, and at this point, neither of us are going to be doing anything but "responding to".

Thanks for listening for free, and allowing me to share what we have in common and what we don't.

-Peace to you in Jesus Christ


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