I have often been critical of the doctrine of original sin. The chief problem with this doctrine is that it makes the whole concept of sin and redemption a closed loop or a rigged game. The second real problem with the doctrine is that while St. Paul is often quoted to support it the doctrine does not get its’ full expression until the time of St. Augustine of Hippo.
My second look today has to do with taking the doctrine of original sin into another theory of atonement. Original sin (which is attested to by every major western denomination) fits the Christus Victor concept of the atonement quite well without the closed loop of sin and redemption theory.
The earliest theory of atonement holds that Christ defeated the work of sin and the devil and delivered all righteous people from the death of sin. St. Matthew records a strange story that shows the saints who died before the time of Christ leaving their graves after his resurrection. Sometimes called “the harrowing of Hell” this atonement is also called “Christ Victorious”
Perhaps I should get to the most important word here. Atonement means the bringing together of persons. In this case it is the reconciliation of God and human beings. Original sin as a doctrine stays the same when we understand that it means that human beings are sinners (due to choices from free-will and the determination of being raised among other humans). Like the sin/redemption substitutionary theory (which is accurate and true as well) original sin fits into christus victor by being what Jesus fights against while preserving the value of free-will.
So I have changed my mind and am adopting again the orthodox doctrine of original sin and coming back into line with our Protestant forefathers. The Good News is the bad news is wrong.