Hamartiology

The Greater Sin: Are There Degrees of Sin? (Part 4)

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The Unpardonable Sin Today?

In light of these and other passages, it seems difficult to deny that there is such a thing as an “unpardonable sin” or what Jesus calls, “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” But the possibility of such a sin raises many difficult questions, especially for pastors. Was the unpardonable sin unique to the first century? Or is it still possible for someone to commit this sin today? If so, how shall we counsel the struggling soul who believes he has commit­ted this sin and can no longer be forgiven? Can we know whether someone has committed this sin? If so, should we pray for their salvation or refrain from doing so?

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The Greater Sin: Are There Degrees of Sin? (Part 3)

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There is an unpardonable sin.

Jesus’ greatest critics were the scribes and the Pharisees. As we have seen above, they were religious men who possessed much biblical knowledge but who refused to submit to God’s will. On one occasion, they actually accuse Jesus of per­forming miracles by the power of the devil rather than by the power of God. Jesus’ response is tremendously sobering:

Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blas­phemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation (Mark 3:28-29).

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The Greater Sin: Are There Degrees of Sin? (Part 2)

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Why does God treat some sin more seriously than other sin? The answer to that question depends upon at least two factors: the degree of light the sinner possesses, and the degree of intention involved in the sin. Let’s consider each of these in turn.

1. The degree of one’s guilt is relative to the degree of one’s knowledge of truth.

In Luke 12:47-48, Jesus teaches this principle by way of an illustration:

And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare him­self or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

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The Greater Sin: Are There Degrees of Sin? (Part 1)

Are there degrees of sin? The simple answer to that question is “yes.” Jesus himself acknowledged degrees of sin when He said to Pilate, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). In light of Christ’s words, we must acknowledge degrees of sin. However, we must also beware of drawing unbiblical conclusions from this truth.

In the article below, I want to examine the Bible’s teaching on degrees of sin. We will note that the Scriptures treat all human sin as serious. Nevertheless, some sins are more serious than others. Moreover, we will give some space to consider the most egregious sin, namely, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Before we launch into our study, though, I would like to describe and refute the Roman Catholic distinction between “mortal” and “venial” sins.1

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Jacob Arminius and the Doctrine of Original Sin, Part 6

By John A. Aloisi. Reproduced from DBSJ 21 (2016) with permission. This installment continues Consideration of Original Sin and the Justice of God and concludes. Read the series.

The Providence of God

The providence of God] may be defined the solicitous, everywhere powerful, and continued [intuitus] inspection and oversight of God, according to which he exercises a general care over the whole world, and over each of the creatures and their actions and passions, in a manner that is befitting himself, and suitable for his creatures, for their benefit.106

So Arminius defined the providence of God. Perhaps especially important is the fact that he spoke about God’s providence as “everywhere powerful” but did not indicate that God’s providence is actually all-powerful. He also referred to God’s providence being exercised in a manner that is “suitable for his creatures.” This statement seems to point out the direction that Arminius’s understanding of providence will take. In this brief definition, Arminius’s picture of God’s providence seems to be shaped by the creation rather than the will of the Creator.

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Jacob Arminius and the Doctrine of Original Sin, Part 5

By John A. Aloisi. Reproduced from DBSJ 21 (2016) with permission. This installment continues the study of Original Sin Itself, and follows a look at the defitions of Original Sin held by Augustine and Aquinus. Read the series.

The Relationship of Original Sin to “Actual Sin”

Arminius placed great emphasis on the “event” of sin. In his view, sin consists in action.82 It is an event much more than it is a state or condition. Arminius therefore drew a sharp distinction between original sin and “actual sins” which people commit at a specific point in time.83 Actual sin is “that sin which man commits, through the corruption of his nature, from the time when he knows how to use reason.”84 People are born with original sin, but they commit actual sins when they choose to transgress God’s law.

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Jacob Arminius and the Doctrine of Original Sin, Part 4

By John A. Aloisi. Reproduced from DBSJ 21 (2016) with permission. This installment continues the study of Original Sin Itself, and follows a look at the defitions of Original Sin held by Augustine and Aquinus. Read the series.

Calvin’s Definition of Original Sin

John Calvin (1509–1564) unquestionably stands as one of the brightest figures in the Protestant Reformation. In March 1536, Calvin’s famed Institutes of the Christian Religion was published, and its appearance set a high standard for future Reformed theologians to follow.

It has been demonstrated that Arminius owned a copy of Calvin’s Institutes, and his esteem for Calvin is well known.62 In May 1607, Arminius wrote to his friend Burgomaster Sebastian Egbertsz, praising Calvin’s commentaries and indicating his respect for the Institutes:

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Jacob Arminius and the Doctrine of Original Sin, Part 3

From DBSJ 21 (2016). Republished with permission. By John A. Aloisi. Read the series

Original Sin Itself

Adam’s first sin was a point of no return for the entire human race. Ever since that initial act of rebellion, all mankind has been born with the taint of original sin.33

The Transmission of Original Sin

Arminius said very little about the transmission of original sin from one generation to the next. The effects of Adam’s sin rest upon all his descendants because they were in his loins, but Arminius did not speculate about how original sin is actually transmitted. He wrote, “The discussion, whether original sin be propagated by the soul or by the body, appears to us to be useless; and therefore the other, whether or not the soul be through traduction, seems also scarcely to be necessary to this matter.”34 Although he did not propose a theory about how original sin is transmitted, Arminius did teach that it has been passed on to all mankind.35

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