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White Horse Inn: Conversational Theology

What Happens When We Deny Original Sin?

In the early 1800s, a man by the name of Robert Owen began to challenge the concept of original sin. “None are or can be bad by nature,” he mused, “and it must be a gross error to make him responsible for what nature and his predecessors have compelled him to be.” As a result, Owen attempted to establish a utopian socialist community in New Harmony, Indiana. Even though his project utterly failed after only three years, his views would later greatly influence thinkers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, who in their Communist Manifesto, actually referred to Owen’s work as a kind of “new gospel.” On this episode, Shane Rosenthal continues his conversation with Dr. Michael McClymond, focusing this time on the social and political implications of denying original sin.

Show Quote:

Christians need to guard against the temptation of externalizing sin, like secular people do, where they see sin as part of society and not something in themselves. For Christians this might take the form of thinking that it’s the wicked people outside of the church who are the cause of all the world’s problems. But the doctrine of original sin asserts that “no one living is righteous in God’s sight” (Ps 143:2). Once, when G.K. Chesterton was presented with the question, “What is wrong with the world?”, he famously replied by saying, “I am!”

Michael McClymond

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