Monday, March 25, 2013

Robert A. Baker on Original Sin, Guilt, Sin Nature

Sin as Inheritance and Choice

Sin is presented in two aspects in the New Testament - as inheritance and as voluntary choice. The first is known as original sin - the mark of sin upon the human race (Romans 5:19). Original sin does not involve guilt (John 9:3; cf. Ezekiel 18:20). God does not condemn for personal sin the innocent babe who does not know right from wrong. Original sin means, rather, that the nature of every child born into the world is corrupted so that when he becomes old enough to know right from wrong the child will choose sin instead of righteousness (1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 7:18). Before a child is able to choose, he is not guilty before God; but when he learns to know right from wrong, because of original sin he will choose against God and become guilty before God.

The second aspect of sin has been suggested already. The whole human race has become tainted through original sin (Romans 3:9). As soon as any child reaches the age of accountability, he, by reason of that taint, chooses personally to sin (Romans 8:7-8). Then he becomes guilty of sin as a personal choice.”

-Dr. Robert A. Baker, The Baptist March in History, Convention Press, Nashville; 1958.

Dr. Baker (AD 1910-1992) served in the U.S. Secret Service, and as pastor. He was a graduate of Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Yale University. He served for many years as professor of Church History at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Further information on Inherited Guilt vs. Inherited Sin Nature see:
Born Guilty? by Dr. Adam Harwood 

Interview with Dr. Adam Harwood

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 25, AD 2013.

Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of Salvation
Other Articles in lower right margin. 


  1. Hi Joe,

    Here's the problem. If we are sinners by doing sin then we are also righteous by doing righteousness.

    And if we are righteous by doing right then we must leave the gospel of Christ's righteousness since the text that says "by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous" is wrong.

  2. David,

    You the man!!

    Simple Elder,

    "If we are sinners by doing sin then we are also righteous by doing righteousness..." So when you sin, would say you're an unsinner? Sweet heavens, of course we're sinners by "doing sin"!

    In addition, yes, there is a real sense in which we are "righteous" when we do right. Again, would you call it unrighteous to do the right thing? The Bible over and over again demands we live righteously, and presumably that does not mean we live unrighteously, does it? What you're wrongly assuming is righteous acts reduce to meritorious acts. They do not. All our righteousness is, as Isaiah colorfully put it, are as "filthy rags." No amount of righteous deeds qualitatively or quantitatively meritoriously earn God's favor of salvation. Only Christ's righteousness deserves merit.

    Even so, to suggest doing righteous deeds takes us away from the Gospel does not biblically follow. Only when one wrongly thinks righteous acts meritoriously earn saving grace is the gospel imperiled...

    1. Thank you for the favor of a reply, Peter. I love and appreciate your keen intelligence and love for truth. Have you found a church yet?

      I agree with your logic, and see how my comment would have been read that way. In my mind I was only trying to lead up to the contrary logic of Romans 5:19.

      But, dear brother, I still think that as a Realist Romans 5:19 presents you with a problem, and it is this, brother.

      You would agree that the unrighteous becomes righteous through faith in the finished work of Christ and not by the merit of good works. But are we recognized as sinners by God in the same way? Do we become sinners by faith in the finished work of Adam, and God imputes to us the recognition as sinners in His sight? No, the Realistic position is we are made sinners by deed and not by faith, but we are made righteous by faith and not by deed - thus the inconsistency with the teaching of Romans 5:12-21 where we are linked to Adam and Christ by the same act of God - "made" ("kathistemi").

      This is why the verb "kathistemi" (not "poieo")in Rom 5:19 is the Holy Spirit's choice - to show that just as Adam's many are "made" (i.e. "constituted") sinners by His act of sin, so too Christ's many are "made" (i.e. "constituted") righteous by His one act of righteousness.

      iow, Adam's many in Romans 5:19 are not "made" sinners when they sin but are constituted by God as sinners when Adam's commits his one act of transgression. That sin of Adam happened, of course, in Eden. That's when we were made sinners.

      But in Rom. 5:19b, Christ's many are not "made" righteous when they believe but by Christ's one act of obedience (the cross).

      Blessings on you and on all you love, and you too David Brumbelow,

  3. Peter,
    I was just about to say the same thing!
    Or, as we say in Texas, I was fixing to say the same thing.
    Thanks for the comment.

    Simple Elder,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I’d also recommend you get the book “Born Guilty?” by Dr. Adam Harwood, mentioned above.
    It brings out some very good information on this subject.
    Information you’d find interesting, even if you disagree.
    David R. Brumbelow


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