Wesleyan Theology I - Lesson 12

The Fall and Original Sin: The Rejection of Holy Love

Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson 12
Watching Now
The Fall and Original Sin: The Rejection of Holy Love



A. Sin as unbelief

1. Satanic evil vs. human evil

2. Other theologians describe the essence of sin

3. John Calvin and Martin Luther

B. Sin as pride

C. Sin as rebellion

D. Biblical descriptions of saints


A. Adam as a representative of all humans

B. Wesley compared to other theologians

C. Sin, properly speaking, is a willful violation of a known law of God

D. Wesley says that all people are despoiled by sin

E. Traducianism

F. Creationism


A. Universality of original sin

B. Corruption of the animal realm

C. You must understand the problem of original sin properly in order to understand the solution properly

1. All people are born as atheists

2. Pride

3. Self-will


  • For the first 5 centuries after Christ, the theology of the Christian Church was ecumenical. Since then, you have differences in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, and then the Reformation with different Protestant traditions. The Church has a history of promoting and preserving knowledge in all fields of study. Ideological secularization is characterizing theological ideas as irrelevant and not academic. Structural secularization is the process of marginalizing the subject of theology in the academy. Both revelation and reason are both important elements in the discussion of philosophical and theological subjects. God is transcendant, which means that he is distinct from everything that has been made. God is immanent, which means that the Spirit of God can be communicated in time and space through media, but is not the media itself. 

  • God can only be fully know by revelation. However, we can know some things about God by observation and reason. Thomas Aquinas gave 5 reasons that supports the idea of the existence of God. We can perceive motion and there must be something that caused the motion. Nothing can come from nothing, so something must exist at all times, which is God. Humans are contingent beings, but God’s essence is to exist. There are different degrees of goodness and complexity in organisms, so there must be a being of a highest form of good. Design and purpose must be at work because it’s not reasonable that the universe resulted from chance. Dembski also estimates that the mathematical odds for everything happening from a single cell at less than 1 in 10 to the 150th power. 

  • Humans are both material and spiritual and have the capacity to experience transcendence. Without God, you are describing a diminished view of humanity. John Calvin says that wisdom is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. Revelation of God comes from Scripture (the most important), tradition, reason and experience. Theology should be participatory and result in transformation. …Wesley’s theology describe in two words would be, “holiness” and “grace.” Wesley’s theology is conjunctive. Holy love is a tension. Holiness results in separation and love results in community. Wesley’s view of grace includes both cooperant grace and free grace. 

  • Two sources for knowledge are revelation and reason. Empiricism teaches  that you get knowledge from your senses. Rationalism teaches that you get knowledge from the operation of your mind. Kant said that the mind makes a formal contribution to knowledge by organizing it.  All knowledge begins with experience but it does not all arise out of experience. Reason can only take us so far. Humans are the only species that worship God.

  • Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

  • Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

  • Triunity describe God’s nature. The concept of the Trinity was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and taught explicitly in the New Testament. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in creation, baptism of Jesus and resurrection of Jesus. The Trinity is three distinct persons with the same essence. The distinctiveness has to do, not with their nature or essence, but with the relations. Person is different than an individual. According to Wesley, the Trinity is an invitation to participate in the deeper life of God. The gospel is the universal love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness apart from love can result in legalism. Love apart from holiness can result in sentimentality and wishful thinking. 

  • God created humans in his image so we have both a physical and spiritual nature. Sometimes biologists make statements about evolution that are outside of what can be examined and verified by science. According to young earth creationism, creation took place in 6, 24 hour days and the earth is about 6,000 years old. According to theistic evolution, once the process of evolution began, no special supernatural intervention was required for it to continue. The opposite of a naturalistic explanation for life is not supernatural, but intelligent causes. Intelligent design makes information theory and mathematical probability integral to its overall approach. Irreducible complexity argues against gradualism in the evolutionary process. 

  • God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

  • Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

  • The characteristics that give a human personhood belong to another order of explanation than that explored by biology. Sartre, who is an existentialist, says that existence precedes essence. In other words, each person determines their own nature by the choices they make. Others would say that your choices determine your character but that’s separate from your nature. Postmodernism teaches that the self is only a social and linguistic construct. Some scientists have argued that humans do not have a soul, but that cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. If God is dead, humanity is dead. Human beings are more than the social groups in which they participate. Humans are animals, but not merely animals.

  • Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

  • There are orders of creation and preservation, like family and marriage, that can mediate the grace of God. God sustains creation, and also relates to people as persons. The three-fold circle of divine providence is the outer ring of the whole race of humans, the second smaller circle is all that are called believers and those who profess to be believers, the innermost circle only the true disciples of Jesus who worship God in Spirit and in truth. Wesley doesn’t deny that bad things happen to good people, both from other people and from events in nature. If God eliminated all evil, it would require eliminating freedom, which would also eliminate love. 

  • Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

  • God acts preveniently to give humans revelation by communicating his divine attributes. God places in humans a moral law that is expressive of the image of God. The Holy Spirit restored to all humans a certain measure of free-will. Original sin makes it impossible for people to respond to God on their own without God restoring their personhood, which they need to be able to respond to God’s grace. God doesn’t do it in a way that overruns a person’s personality.

  • The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

  • 1 John 4:2 describes the incarnation as Jesus coming to earth in the flesh. Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David in the Gospels. Jesus was able to become the mediator between God and humanity because his divinity meant that he was not a part of the problem of sin and his humanity meant that he could fully identify with humans. This is a unique and distinct role that can only be accomplished by Jesus, the God-human. Jesus suffered physically and emotionally and then died and was resurrected to new life. This qualifies him to be priest, a mediator between man and God. The title, Son of Man also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Apolliniarism taught that Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind rather than a human mind. Docetism taught that Christ is pure spirit and only seemed to have a body. Gnostics view the body as lowly and the mind is considered higher. Monophysitism taught that the divine and human nature of Jesus was mixed into one nature. Nestorianism teaches that the divine and human natures of Jesus were sharply separated. Wesley viewed Jesus as the expression of the God of holy love, maintaining divinity while becoming human.

  • As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God. Messiah in Hebrew has the same meaning as Christ in Greek. It means, “the anointed one.” The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of his public ministry.  When Satan tempted Jesus, the temptation was real because of the humanity of Jesus. It was necessary for Jesus to experience temptation. Jesus as a preacher, went from place to place, proclaiming the kingdom of God. As a teacher, Jesus taught in the synagogues and the listeners described him as teaching with authority. Christ as a lawgiver is seeking to communicate wisdom to humanity. This moral law is connected to God’s character. Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, bring people back from the dead and demonstrate his power over nature. Christ as priest, became the mediator to bridge the gap between God and humanity. At the cross, what the holiness of God required, the love of God provided. Theories of the atonement are the best attempts of thinking about how to express the atoning work of Jesus. 

  • Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

  • The personhood of the Holy Spirit is revealed by the roles of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that he would send an advocate. The Holy Spirit is an advocate, teacher, proclaims truth, provides direction and assists in prayer. Four characteristics of the Holy Spirit that indicate his deity are eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The Filioque controversy is a difference between how the Eastern Orthodox and Western Traditions describe the nature of the Holy Spirit.

  • At the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and brings understanding as people read it. The Holy Spirit makes effective the completed work of Christ and gives us the power to live out the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is personal, not an impersonal force. The believers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to heaven. The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of building up the body of Christ. We should be cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and his influence should be evident in how we interact corporately.

 John Wesley's beliefs understood from an historical and theological perspective

Dr. Ken Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson Transcript


In the last lecture, we were considering humanity, humanity created by God, and we explored the image of God in great detail. And we know, of course, humanity coming from the hands of the Creator when they were originally created. They were good, they were innocent, but they did not remain so. And so the title of this lecture is The Full and Original Sin The Rejection of Holy Love. And so when we raise the question of the origin of evil, how did evil emerge in in God's good creation? We actually have to go back a little further to the fall of angels. To the fall of Angels. Now, of course, some people today would have difficulty acknowledging this class of being that angels as spiritual beings actually exist. Wesley had no such problem. As a matter of fact, Wesley, in answering the question of the rise of evil in God's good universe, answers this question initially, not in terms of humanity, but in terms of Lucifer. That fallen angel often identified with the figure of Isaiah Chapter 14, verse 12 following. And so if we take a look at Wesley's sermon, the End of Christ coming, he writes, quote, It meaning evil came from Lucifer, son of the morning. It was the work of the devil for the devil, saith the Apostle Smith. From the beginning, that is, was the first sinner in the universe, the author of sin, the first being who, by the abuse of his liberty, introduced evil into the creation. And so beyond this, Wesley traces the origin of evil to the devil and later to Satan. Apparently, he makes little distinction between these names. All seem to refer to the same source of evil. And so, following a well established Christian tradition, Wesley conceives the essence of Lucifer's sin in terms of pride.


In terms of pride. And so, for example, Wesley will write, quote, Lucifer of the first, if not the first. Archangel was self tempted to think too highly of himself. And then Wesley adds, he freely yielded to the temptation and gave way first to pride and then to self-will. So understood. Satanic evil appears to be starkly irrational, since it lacks a prior cause. It simply emerges in the context of both goodness and freedom. Notice Wesley said Satan was self tempted and therefore this is a problem. Actually, it's a problem the arising of satanic evil. And it does seem to be irrational because it is emerging in the context of both goodness and freedom. Let me pose the problem in another way. If you have this created being this angel, seeing the goodness and glory of God face to face, how could you choose otherwise? How could you choose that which is lesser? And so that is a problem, to be sure. So prior to the fall of humanity, we have spirits. We have angelic beings who turn away from the living God. Wesley doesn't get into too much detail as to why they turn away. He just argues there is self temptation going on in terms of pride, a turning in on oneself. Now, this description of Satanic fall of the fall in the angelic realm will not be descriptive of the fall of humanity. The playing out of that fall will be different. And so when Wesley looks at human beings and how they decline from grace and innocence into corruption, he sees sin at its root level, at its most basic level, not as pride as it was expressed in terms of a satanic fall, but in terms of unbelief. In terms of unbelief, which Wesley sees as even more basic, more foundational than pride.


And so Wesley, in considering the fall of human beings, writes, quote, Now the serpent, he's quoting, of course, scripture. Now, the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. But God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it lest you die. And the text continues. You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God. Knowing both good and evil. And when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some in aid. She also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked. Okay. And this is obviously a quotation from Genesis chapter three verses one through seven. We see in this material, which is very brief, just a few verses here, there's actually quite a bit, quite a lot of things that are theologically significant in this particular passage. We notice that the serpent is deceitful and in the temptation there is the mixing of truth with falsehood. And so it's not utterly false what the serpent is saying, but there is the mixing of truth and falsehood. We see that kind of dynamic taking place. There is the promise when they eat of the tree, of the knowledge of good and evil in that day they shall die.


We need to consider what kind of death is being referred to here. And when we think of death as expressed in terms of revelation, we can think of three things. We can think of physical death. The death of the body. Wesley sees death, the physical death, as separation of the soul from the body. There is spiritual death. Spiritual death. Alienation from God. Alienation from a God of holy love. And then there is eternal death. Eternal death. And that would be the ongoing separation from God. That has no end. That has no end. Now, when Wesley considers the fall of humanity, he distinguishes it in some respects from that of Lucifer. What we just talked about in that the former succumbed to the temptation to the law of an active external power of evil. Whereas in terms of Lucifer, Lucifer fell in the face of an entirely good creation. Simply put, once again, the devil was self tempted. Humanity was not so tempted. There is this external factor involved in the temptation of such a difference in terms of the source and the origin of evil leads. Secondly, to a different estimation of the essence or the root of evil in each instance. And we alluded to this in passing, and now we're going to focus on it in more detail and work with it for Satan. Self temptation issued in pride and pride in the sense of self curvature. But for Adam and Eve and external temptation, we think of the text in terms of the role of the serpent resulted in unbelief, a lack of trust in God, a break in terms of the relations of holy love. Accordingly, when Wesley explores the Fall of Eve in his writings, he maintains that Satan as an external foil mingled truth with falsehood, so that, quote, unbelief begot pride, it begot self-will.


Again, Wesley is underscoring unbelief as the primal factor, if you will. Again, he exclaims, quote, Here, sin began, How did sin begin? Namely, unbelief. The woman was deceived, says the Apostle. She believed the lie. She gave more credit to the word of the devil than to the Word of God. And so, in his notes upon the New Testament, Wesley affirms in his comments on Hebrews 312, for instance, that notice this language. This is important. Quote. Unbelief is the parent of all evil. Unbelief is the parent of all evil. And the very essence of unbelief lies in departing from God as the living God. Wesley writes The fountain of all of our life, our holiness and our happiness. Okay. And so, you know, in the textbook for this course, the theology of John Wesley, Holy love in the shape of Grace, I actually lay out a chart there to distinguish satanic evil from human evil as this is explored in Revelation. Notice the trajectory with Satanic evil. We we begin with self temptation leading to pride and self-will, and then the corruption of evil tempt tempers and affections. In other words, the will is being corrupted in terms of human evil. On the other hand, we have an external temptation. We have unbelief. And then out of that unbelief coming pride, and then self-will and evil tempers and affections. And so we see then very clearly for John Westley, the nature of human sin, its irreducible essence is not pride as it is for some other Christian theologians, but it is unbelief. Wesley sees that as more basic, as more foundational unbelief. What perversion? Notice this line is the perversion of a relationship between God and humanity, A lack of faith in God. Then issuing in alienation is the true foundation for the subsequent evils of pride and self-will.


Indeed, in his New Testament notes, Wesley describes unbelief as the confluence of all sins. Okay, so in other words, putting this in another way out of alienation and unbelief, pride and self-will inevitably flow. They inevitably flow out of them come all the evil dispositions. Okay. So as Satan began his work in Eve by tainting her with unbelief, so the Son of God begins his work in humanity by enabling us to believe in Him. Now you should see the consistency of Wesley in his theology. You already know how he understands God. You already know how he understands humanity, personhood, relations, all of that. It makes sense then, when he is considering what is the essence of sin, to see it once again in terms of a perverted relation, that the heart of sin is a perverted relation expressed in terms of unbelief. By unbelief here we mean alienation not being properly related to God. And then out of that, almost in a defensive mechanism comes pride, comes sinful, self-serving pride. Okay. And this says then that the origin of evil, which marks human beings, has to be understood at this very deep level, that it has to do with our relation to a God of holy love who transcends us. And it has to do with the perversion of that relation manifested first in unbelief and then later in private. Now I teach a course on readings in Christian spirituality, and in that course we look at some of the great spiritual classics. I mean, we take a look at, for example, the rule of Saint Benedict. We read Catherine of Genoa Probation and Purgatory. We look at the imitation of Christ, etc.. And it's interesting because in the Christian tradition, there are some theologians, when they are thinking about the fall, would understand the essence of sin.


In terms of pride. Augustine would be an example. Augustine would see pride, this kind of self curving pride as the essence of human sin. But then others like Wesley and I'm going to show you in a couple of moments Calvin and Luther as well. Understood. The root, the essence of evil is unbelief. But in some of the classics of Christian spirituality, some of the ones I just named, they would basically work with a pride. That's the problem. Humility, access. Take, for example, the rule of Saint Benedict. What's the problem? Problem is self-serving pride. Well, if that's the problem, what's the way forward? The way forward is a path of humility. How is that humility? Operationalized, demonstrated, worked out in daily life by radical obedience to the abbot. By radical obedience to the Abbot. Or take, for example, the imitation of Christ, which Wesley read with great Prophet. It had a great impact on him, actually. We see the same kind of pride, humility, access and. Once again, If the problem is self-serving pride, then what's the solution? The solution will be humility. But notice with the imitation of Christ, it will be distinguished from the rule of Saint Benedict because humility is seen to work out differently. In the imitation of Christ. The author talks about embracing both consolation and desolation. In other words, humility is fleshed out in the embracing of desolation and not skipping a beat, so to speak, in the living out of the Christian life. That that's an expression of humility, that we are faithful to God, both in the good and the bad, when we are both consoled and when we are experiencing desolation or, in other words, hardships and difficulties in life. And so there are lots of other Christian theologians who differ from Wesley here.


They differ from Calvin and Luther and would see a pride, humility axis as operational here. For Wesley, however, if the problem is unbelief, if the problem is unbelief, what's the way forward? The way forward is going to be faith. The way forward is going to be faith. And and that's precisely what Wesley is going to argue. And there's no one who talk more about faith in the New Testament than Jesus Christ. He is constantly talking about faith. Believe in the father. Believe also in me. Now, let's take a look just very briefly to show that Wesley is not alone here in his judgments. Take a look at John Calvin in his institutes of the Christian religion. And this is what he writes, quote unquote, Unfaithfulness, then was the root of the fall. But thereafter, ambition and pride, together with that gratefulness, arose because Adam, by seeking more than was granted him, shamefully spurned God's great bounty. I hear something right out of an expression, right out of the institutes from Calvin. He, too, is seeing the root of the fall in terms of this issue of unfaithfulness or unbelief. And again, we could look at another reformer in this this time Martin Luther, who in his lectures on Genesis, which were written when the Reformation was already well underway, he concludes that Eve was urged on by the serpent to commit to use his own language the sin of all sins, the one from which all else arises, namely to doubt the word and thereby forfeit trust in God. And then Luther continues, quote, Unbelief is the source of all sins. When Satan brought about this unbelief by driving out or corrupting the word. The rest was easy for him. And so we see that Wesley's understanding of the whole in terms of the essence of sin is very similar to that which had been argued earlier by both Calvin and Luther.


Now, with Augustine, as I mentioned earlier, Augustine is of a different mind. He is arguing that pride is the heart here of unbelief. Augustine, in his confessions, famous for many expressions, he wrote. But the one that I like in particular coming out of the confessions he wrote, quote, Now move us to delight in praising nay, for thou hast formed us for thyself. And our hearts are restless till they find rest in there. But Augustine, in his writings, he developed a theological theme of pride of self curvature, which, by the way, Luther picks up as well in his own writings. He just doesn't see it as the root of the problem. Luther talked about a self curving pride as well. We have to be careful here. When we talk about pride, we have to make sure that. We are on the same page here and that we're not misunderstanding what's being referred here. When we talk about pride in an Augustinian way as being a part or as expressing the root nature of sin. There have been some feminist theologians, for example, who have misunderstood this not all feminist theologians, but some. They've argued that this issue of sinful pride is a problem for men, but it's really not a problem for women. Their problem is the lack of self-assertion, that sort of thing. That's not what we're referring to here. That's not the kind of pride that we're referring to here. We do not have in mind the issue of braggadocio or self-assertion. That's not what is meant here. They can be expressions of a far more basic problem in terms of pride. But that's not what Augustine means here. We're not referring to a moral foible. We're not referring to a moral foible, but a basic existential and spiritual condition that would characterize all of humanity.


And all means, all or means all. So we're not referring to braggadocio here. We're not referring to self-assertion. And perhaps this will help you. Even people with low self-esteem can be guilty of the sin of pride as described here, in that the self unswervingly revolves around a diminished view of self in an orbit that it cannot break. So the kind of pride we're talking about would also characterize people of low self esteem. It's not to be confused with a personality type or any of that. We're talking about a basic root radical condition. It's an accidental, existential and spiritual condition whereby the self is turned on itself. Whether that self is viewed in an enhanced way or in a in a diminished way in terms of those with low self esteem. And so I like Luther's language here. When he uses the Latin in cravats, in say in cravats, in, say, literally a turning in on oneself. And you see the problems right away because human beings have been created by a God of holy love, for relationship, for relationship, a transcendent relationship whereby they know themselves in the life of God, in the life of God. Now, the reason is that our nature has been so deeply curved in upon itself. Some theologians will write as they explore how this sinful pride works out, that one is ever seeking oneself in all that one does. And it's a problem that cannot be solved by the self. Again, it's not a moral foible. It's a problem that cannot be solved by the self because the self is the problem. You see that difference there is here, the difference there, what we're talking about. And so in order to further help you in this discussion, so we get a sense of this understanding of sinful pride as characterizing all people, as all people.


We could contrast pride as a spiritual problem on the one hand and then pride as a moral problem on the other. If we consider pride as a spiritual problem, pride has to do with a relation. It has to do with a relation. And now the relation has become perverted because there's self curvature. If we view pride as a moral problem, then pride is simply a vice. It's a vice that the self has. Okay. Again, if we view pride as a spiritual problem, the self is the problem. If we view pride as a moral problem and aspect of the self is the problem. Okay. Again, pride as a spiritual problem. Evil informs the whole character. In terms of pride as a moral problem. Evil is an aspect of character. Pride is a spiritual problem. Evil is seen for what it is. Pride is a moral problem. Evil is minimized. Oftentimes it's compartmentalized. In other words, the self is essentially good. There is just this, you know, evil over here in this compartment. And so pride as a spiritual problem will underscore the lack of integration in terms of the self. Whereas pride is a moral problem, the self will assume its basic integrity except for its particular vices. Okay. And so on the one hand, the one assumes an integrity and then the other compartmentalizes evil. And though that should be helpful enough to understand what we mean here when we're talking about sinful pride, and if we see pride simply as a moral problem, there might be the illusion that we could solve this problem by ourselves. And that, of course, would be a gross misunderstanding. The self once again cannot solve the problem of sinful pride because the self is the problem and it's a corruption that pervades the self.


Okay. And so in a Wesleyan trajectory and again, this is, you know, predicated upon understanding who God is in a Trinitarian way, understanding who we are as human beings created in the image of God relationally, understood that the essence of sin is perverted relation, it's unbelief that is then manifested in pride, sinful pride, a self curvature, an orbit. We cannot break ourselves. We are powerless to do so. And then that pride subsequently issuing in rebellion, in rebellion against a God of holy love and active, not simply passive, but an active rebellion against God and the things and the things have gone. Now, Charles Carter writes in terms of this, quote, The pride of self-sufficiency leads to rebellion against the covenant of God. The result of this defiance is a break in communion with God while the self attempts to become independent of him. And I like Carter just on the area areas where he's focusing on how pride leads to rebellion and that the rebellion is is active. I wrote a book one time on social care. Social Care was the title of it, and it was after a massive study and it involved a sabbatical, a massive study of some of the best spiritual literature in the church today. And I had to, of course, think of a more popular idiom to present these theological truths, you know, because if you're trying to present some deep theological truths to a broader audience, you might have to change the rhetoric a bit. And what I came up with, especially to communicate the problem of sinful pride, was to talk about a kingdom, the kingdom of self, the kingdom of self in opposition to the Kingdom of God. And that's the kind of, you know, tension and struggle we have that is manifested in a life of sin whereby the kingdom of self is pitted against the kingdom of God and is in active opposition to the Kingdom of God.


And so I use this rhetoric to communicate the truth that human sin basically wants to dethrone God. In other words, not let God be God, as Luther would talk about it, not let God be God, but in a real sense to have self-will. The corrupted self will become king or queen that the individual. And we use that word intentionally. Now, the individual, the one who is isolated from the fount of all life and holiness and love. And purpose. That individual ego with its interests, drives and intellect now becomes the supreme value of all life. Now becomes the supreme value of all life. It has become, as the serpent had promised, like God, it had become like God. Okay. And so, you know, we are going to see when we read Scripture and when Scripture is describing the life of the saints. And there is a contrast between the life of sinners. We are going to see a kind of different rhetoric used and different character, different characteristics. Listen to some of the language that Scripture uses in terms of the saints. And the reason I'm going to lift this up is because in our culture, some of this language, some of these adjectives are going to be viewed negatively. Yes, they're going to be viewed negatively, though, in the context of revelation. They have its proper judgment. A saint is submissive, submits to others, submits to God, surrenders in appropriate ways. A saint is someone who is not independent, isolated apart by him or herself, but actually someone who is dependent. They are dependent upon others. They're in key relationships. They are dependent upon God who is the source of their life. So dependent is a very good word, a very positive word in Scripture.


They are humble. They are lonely. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ expressed his own being in terms of loneliness, humility, meekness, etc. That may not be very valued in our culture. And so there's a kind of trance valuation going on here between sin and sanctity. Again, the Saints are described in the pages of Revelation as obedient. They know the obedience of faith, the obedience of ongoing trust, and so that they obey God, the one greater than themselves. And they rely on others. They rely on others, They are related to others and rely on others. And they serve. They serve others, and they are properly called servants, servants of God, servants of each other. And so what I'm suggesting at this point, as we're just getting a start here, as we're talking about the essence of what evil is in terms of the fall. I'm suggesting that when we look at sanctity, which would be the backing away from that fall in this, we are necessarily going to be confronted with a kind of trance valuation that what the world thinks is is good and positive will be one thing. And what the church is going to hold up as good and positive will be something else. And so there'll be a kind of clash of values. And we see this very clearly, very clearly in the teachings of Jesus Christ who says such things as the last shall be first, the first shall be last, the meek, not the proud, the shall inherit the earth. And we see that kind of trance valuation and that trance valuation bespeaks of this transition from sin to grace. And so I just simply wanted to refer to this in passing. Now, theologians make a distinction. They talk about the fall of Adam and Eve, and they, like Calvin and Wesley and Luther, consider, okay, what is the essence, the heart of evil.


But then they also consider, how is this evil deposit, if you will, this deposit, this inheritance that comes from Adam and Eve. How is it passed along to the rest of humanity such that such that it is universal with one exception? That one exception, of course, being Jesus Christ, being Jesus Christ. And so when we ask the question how. Is this evil deposit, if you will, transferred to subsequent generations. We are talking about the doctrine of original sin, the doctrine of original sin. And Wesley, as you might imagine, considered just how original sin is passed along, so to speak, from Adam and Eve to the rest of humanity. And when he does so, when when he charts that course, he follows a well-worked Augustinian tradition fairly closely. Indeed, in developing his teaching, Wesley cites some of the very same texts as the Bishop of Hippo. Most notably, he cites, of course, Genesis Chapter three, verses one following. He also cites Psalm 51, verse five. And of course, Romans five, verses 12 through 21. In fact, in a way that's remarkably similar to Agustin. Wesley applies the text of Psalm 51 five, not simply to the psalmist, but to the entirety of humanity. And so Wesley writes, quote. We are all now shape in, in wickedness and in sin. Did our mother conceive us? Our nature is all together, corrupt in every power and faculty. And again, Wesley writes, Adam begat a son in his own image, sinful and defiled, frail and mortal and miserable like himself. Not only a man like himself consisting of body and soul, but a sinner like himself. Guilty and obnoxious, degenerate and corrupt. And so here is Wesley beginning conversation how this evil deposit is passed along. And concerning the Genesis passage, a key ingredient in any doctrine of original sin will be.


And Wesley elaborates on this a dynamic inheritance. Wesley also expresses this negative inheritance in terms of the image of God and what consequence it has in terms of that. And so, for example, Wesley writes, quote, that every reader may avert to this melancholy but important truth. Adam begot a son in his own likeness. It is enforced by a very emphatic repetition after his own image as contra distinguished from the image of God mentioned in the preceding verse. The state in which Adam was created. And so Wesley here is showing that this the fall is going to have consequence on this glorious image in which we have been created. Accordingly, a change in relation to God. In other words, now a perverted relation, a relation of unbelief and alienation, a relation to God marked, first of all, by unbelief, subsequently by pride and then rebellion. It not only does spoils the Adam Imago day in which he was created, but also has ongoing consequences for posterity for the rest of humanity, who though they still reflect the image of God in some sense, and we'll come back to that. They still reflect the image of God in some sense. But nevertheless, that image has been corrupted. That image has been corrupted by sin, by sin. And so in Wesley's doctrine of original sin, he is viewing Adam as a representative of humanity. And what he did in this capacity did not simply affect himself, but affected all whom he represented. Wesley Right. So Wesley views Adam as a representative, as a representative, as a public person, as a kind of federal head, a legal representative, even Indeed, some of the clearest references to Adam as a federal head and representative of humanity are found in Wesley's notes upon the New Testament, specifically in terms of his notes on Romans 512, and then also Romans 519.


And so let me lift up from that resource what Wesley writes, quote. As by one man, Adam, who is mentioned and not Eve as being the representative of mankind. Sin entered into the world, actual sin and its consequence, a sinful nature and death. Okay. And then on a second verse, he writes, As by the disobedience of one man, many that is all men were constituted sinners. Being then in the loins of their first parent, the common head and representative of them all. Okay. And so we see here, Wesley, filling this out, viewing Adam as a representative, as a federal head. Let me drop back for a moment. And because we're talking about original sin here, this original sin that's passed on from generation to generation. And in a larger doctrine of sin, I want to make a couple of distinctions, and I might as well do this now, because Wesleyan theology will be different than reformed theology and Lutheran theology, especially in this area of said. So I'm going to take this time now to open it up, since we are talking about sin in one sense. But I want you to to appreciate right now so that you won't misunderstand what follows that there are other senses of sin and that we need a total picture here because the danger is for those who are not a part of the Wesleyan tradition. They will interpret all that I'm saying in terms of how their own tradition understands sin and defines it, and therefore there could be some confusion. And so I'm going to start out by saying, first of all, and in a basic way, that when we think of sin, we can distinguish actual sins, plural, the kinds of sins we commit from inbred sin or original sin singular, which refers to a condition, the carnal nature.


That sort of thing. So on the one hand, we can talk about actual sins, both sins of omission and commission, both inward and outward. Okay, we speak of actual sins, plural. The kinds of things that are committed, actual sins, sins of omission, commission, inward sin, outward sin. We have all that diversity there in terms of actual sins. In this context, when we are talking about original sin. We're talking about not sin, plural, but sin singular. We're talking about a principle, a condition, if you will, a spiritual condition, a corruption, a corruption of the very imago which we have been created, a corruption of our nature. And that has consequence, of course, of course, on ongoing. So let me also say at this point, I'm going to go to another level of Wesley's understanding of sin once again. So we don't talk past each other, so we understand what's being said here. And I'm going to reach back now for actual sins, actual sense, plural. I'm going to further fill that out and I'm going to give you Wesley's definition of sin. I'm going to give it to you now so you'll have it because we'll come back to it later on, but we might as well talk about it now. This definition of saying it upon first hearing it. You may sound this is very simple, but it's actually more complicated than you might initially imagine. So here goes. Here's Wesley's definition of sin. Sin is a willful violation of a known law of God. Let me back that up. Let me add a phrase here. That's a part of Wesley's description that's going to make a difference. Sin, properly speaking, underscore that phrase, properly speaking, sin properly speaking. And we're speaking about actual sincere sin.


Properly speaking is a willful violation of a known law of God. Okay, There you have it. That's Wesley's basic definition of sin. Sin, properly speaking, is a willful violation of a known law of God. Okay. Is there sin in properly speaking? Yes, there is sin, improperly speaking. And that would be any violation of a known law of God, whether willful or not. Okay. So let's take an example so that you see what's going on here. Let's say, for example, you make a purchase in a store, a number of purchases. You're at the checkout counter and you leave the store and you realize that you have been shortchanged. Okay. Well, you have been harmed. You have certainly been harmed. Wesley will argue if the cashier did not intentionally cheat you or harm you, that sin has not occurred. Sin has not occurred because it must be a willful violation of a known law of God. Now you're harmed, whether it's willful or not. We agree. We understand that. But sin, properly speaking, it must have the consent of the. Well, it must be a willful violation of a known law of God. What is sin? Improperly speaking. Any violation of the known law of God, whether willful or not. And Wesley is going to argue that sin also needs the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Okay. But now, watch this. And here's where I think the traditions are going to be different. And they may misunderstand one another. We know, for example, reaching back to the Old Testament, Leviticus, sacrificial system that you had sacrifices for war for what were unwitting sins, unintentional. I mean, sacrifices had to be made. And that's really the basic model there in Leviticus when you look at the sacrifices being made.


And so some traditions take this understanding of sin that we see in Leviticus and they bring it into the Christian setting. If you understand sin that way, I think you may have problems reading the first letter of John or reading Romans six through eight. Because who could be so free as to be free of any violation of a known law of God, whether willful or not? You know, you'd need perfect judgment, perfect knowledge. You know, we misjudge people. We shortchange people by mistake. Harm has been done, to be sure. Unwitting sin has occurred. And so you ask yourself the question, who could be so free? And so when Wesley looks at the freedom described in first letter to John, especially in terms of sin, and when he looks at it in other places like Romans 6 to 8, he sees that that understanding of actual sin would correspond to what he's saying, a willful violation of a known law of God. One could be free of that. So, for example, you know, when Paul excuse me, when John talks about no one who abides in him, sin is no one who sins as either seeing him or known him. You know, that kind of understanding would have to be a willful violation of a known law of God, because no one could be so free as to be free from sins, both willful and unwell. Okay, I put that on the table now. We'll come back to it. Don't worry about it too much. But I did want to get it on the table so that if you come from a different tradition, you don't misunderstand. What, Wesley? Is going to set, and especially when we get to the place in the course when we talk about justification and the new birth.


Because in that context, given Wesley's understanding of sin as a willful violation of a known law of God, he's going to talk about and affirm the kind of liberty and freedom from the power and dominion of sin that's clearly expressed in the first letter of John. But if you understand sin as any violation of a of a known law, whether willful or not, no one could be so free. No one could be so free. Okay. But we'll come back to this later on. Okay. And so for Wesley, when he is considering original sin, sin, singular sin in terms of a corrupted nature, none are accepted from this sinful legacy, according to Wesley, of course, except Jesus Christ. All people, infants included, are despoiled by sin. That's. That's Wesley's teaching. All people, infants included, are despoiled by sin. Let me quote Wesley. Children themselves, Wesley contends, are not innocent before God. They suffer. Therefore they deserve to suffer. And so this loss of innocence by infants, their involvement with sin was logically evident to Wesley in that they endured the very same consequences of sin as did their progenitors, namely suffering and death. Again, quoting Wesley. God does not look upon infants as innocent, but as involved in the guilt of Adam's sin. Wesley Reasons. Otherwise, death. The punishment denounced against that sin could not be inflicted upon them. Okay. Now, there have been subsequent Wesleyan theologians who have been critical of Wesley on this score. And Dunning points out, quote, In no way does this guilt involve susceptibility to eternal punishment. And that's true. Wesley is clear on that as well, that though he talks about original sin being communicated to infants on the guilt that would be attached to such has already been satisfied by the atoning work of Jesus Christ.


And so Wesley is going to argue that none are lost because of any inherited guilt, but only as a result of their own guilt. Okay. And so this idea of infant damnation does not play out in Wesley in theology. Wesley is going to argue that the infant is corrupted, has received this negative inheritance from Adam and Eve, but the guilt does not attached to it because the atoning work of Christ has made satisfaction for such guilt. Here's what Wesley writes quote, God assures us children shall not die for the iniquity of their fathers. No, not eternally. I believe none ever did or ever will die eternally, merely for the sake of our first father. And so here is Wesley, affirming continuity between infants and Adam and Eve and this negative inheritance. But he's arguing that no one, no infant perishes eternally because of what the first parents have done. Why is this so again? Wesley had every confidence that the atoning work of Christ, a topic that I'm going to explore later, is more than sufficient to cover the adaptive guilt that in some sense is mediated even to infants. And so, again, Wesley writes Everyone born of a woman may be an unspeakable gain or thereby, and none ever was or can be a loser, but by his own choice. And so Wesley is talking about, you know, active participation in sin. Now, in light of this and other language, Harold Lindstrom, who is a late Wesleyan theologian, claims that Wesley. His assessment of Adam's relationship to humanity demonstrates an affinity with Calvinist federalism. In particular, Adam, the Swedish Scholar notes, is presented as the representative, as well as the primogeniture of mankind, end of quote. While this claim is, for the most part accurate, it must be borne in mind that though Westley was well acquainted with the language of Adam as a representative and as a federal head, and though his own thinking does indeed resonate with such language, we've seen that he never insisted on its usage.


He never insisted, Well, we have to use this language. Listen to what Wesley wrote. Quote, But as neither representative nor federal head are scripture words. It is not worthwhile to contend for them. And you see, here's Wesley once again being rooted to the raw biblical text. We saw that in terms of his discussions on the Trinity. We see it here in terms of this issue of our federal head. I think Wesley's position actually does resonate in lots of ways with this understanding of Adam as a federal head. Nevertheless, he won't contend for this language. Why? Once again, because it's not scriptural. Well, though, with the Wesley initially claimed not to know or even to care much about precisely how sin as corruption is communicated to the rest of humanity. For example, he wrote, quote, And if you ask me how in what determinate manner sin is propagated, how it is transmitted from father to son, I answer plainly, I cannot tell. Nevertheless, as Ward and Heitz and Rader aptly point out in their own works, Wesley, after reading Henry Warner's book, The True Original of the Soul, came over to The View, known as Traditionalism. He came over to that view in 1762. That is, he affirmed that the souls of his meaning, Adam's posterity, as well as their bodies were in our first parent. And they were subsequently passed along to their descendants. Again, I'm going to repeat that because it's important. It's an expression of tradition is and I'll describe that term more in a moment, that the souls of his that meaning Adam's posterity, as well as their bodies were in the first parent, and they were subsequently passed along to their descendants. Humanity fell, in other words, in Adam with Adam, such that procreation now transmits a fallen soul.


Now tradition is and comes from actually a Latin word products, which means stem or shoe. And so think of a tree, if you will, and think of a branch coming out of the tree. And what is being suggested here introducing is that if this is corrupted, then what comes out of it is corrupted as well. And so, Wesley, in the tradition position is seeing this in terms of a corrupted soul, is being passed along from generation to generation because Adam is fallen and Eve is fallen. They pass along that corruption both in terms of body and soul. Now, there's another view here known as creationism, not to be confused in the context of evolution, that sort of thing. It's understood in a different context, in this context, in terms of original sin. And what creationism would argue is that the soul does not come from the father or the mother as introduced Zionism, where it's a kind of stem coming off the trunk, but rather the soul is created immediately at the point of conception by God. That's why it's called creationism. God creates the soul. At that point, though, it is immediately fallen. It is immediately fallen because the entirety of the race is fallen. Now, this gets us into some rather difficult discussions because we can look at Augustine, for example, to further illuminate the problems that are raised here. Augustine tried to understand how can corruption be passed from one generation to another. And sometimes people misrepresent Augustine and argue that for Augustine, human sexuality is the essence of sin. And he never said that. He never taught that. But what he did teach and this raises all sorts of problems for the church later on, especially in the Middle Ages, is that Augustine identified human copulation as the mechanism by which original sin is transferred from generation to generation.


Okay. Now, if you make that kind. Dissociation that human copulation itself is the mechanism whereby sin is transferred. Some may conclude it is best not to participate. It is best not to participate. And so you can start to see the seeds of the sexual ethic that is developed among the church fathers. I'm thinking of Jerome, for example, in which virginity is celebrated. Virginity is celebrated. And and, you know. And that's partly due to how human sin is being understood in terms of human sexuality. Okay. And so Wesley, unlike Augustine, was careful not to link too closely the process of procreation itself with sin. To illustrate in response to the observation that if natural generation is the means of conveying a sinful nature from our first parents to their posterity, then it must itself be a sinful and unlawful thing. Wesley replies. I deny the consequence. You may transmit to your children a nature tainted with sin and yet commit no sin in so doing. And so Wesley is pushing back against this misunderstanding that has taken place in the church, going all the way back to Augustine. And I do think that Augustine's judgment helped in some sense, in some way to carve out the sexual ethic of medieval Christianity, where virginity was greatly celebrated, was greatly celebrated and appreciated. Now, what do we gather from this discussion? Well, I think two things are necessary here when we're thinking about original sin. First of all, it's universality. That's that's what's being stressed here. Universality, with the one exception of Jesus Christ. Now, this is where Protestants are going to differ from Roman Catholics, because Roman Catholics will argue that Mary does not have an inherited corrupt nature because they have the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that Mary was conceived without sin, meaning without original sin, without this corruption of nature.


Okay. Now, Protestants, of course, reject that teaching. They would argue that this kind of sin that we're talking about, sin, singular sin as a corruption of nature is universal with only one exception. And that exception is Jesus Christ. And why is Jesus Christ accepted? Why is he accepted fully, man and fully God? Because he's divine. That's right. Because. And watch this now. Only. Only someone who is divine and therefore not a part of the problem can be a redeemer. Okay. Mary does not have the characteristic of divinity. Therefore, she too, is a part of the problem, as great as she is. And I don't want to detract from the sanctity, the honor that would accrue to Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ. But when I look at the Gospel of Luke or Mary, says states in the Magnificat, my soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior in God, my savior, Mary, or as a part of humanity, is a part of the problem that she too has said. The only exception here is Jesus Christ, and He is both divine and human. And it is. And this has all sorts of theological consequences because now it is only Jesus Christ precisely because he is not a part of the problem. He is the only one who can redeem. And this means then, that we can look at other religions. For example, we can look at Moses, we can look at Mohammed. We can look at Lao Tzu. We can look at Zoroaster. We can look at all those people as great as they are. But there. All a part of the problem and therefore cannot bring redemption. Only the God human, only the God human can bring redemption because the God human is not a part of the problem.


And so this issue about original sin and the discussion with Christ and Mary is crucial. If you argue that Mary and I've written this in my book, Roman, but not Catholic, what remains at stake? 500 years after the Reformation, I and Jerry Walls wrote that book, If you propound the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and say that Mary is not like us in this way, that she has not received this inheritance, well, we know she's not divine, but then we know also she's not like us because none of us are so free and so pure as to be free from original sin. So she now has the status of a kind of demi kind of demigod, an intermediate status somewhere between God and humanity. But unlike God, because she's not divine and unlike us, because she doesn't have a corrupted nature, you say, and that that becomes a problem. Then it becomes a problem because watch this. Now, if Mary is not a true human being like we are and in some sense is between God and humanity, that has all sorts of theological consequences in terms of who Christ is born of her as a true human being. It has all sorts of consequences once you start thinking about that. And we've developed that in the book. Roman But not Catholic. What remains at stake 500 years after the Reformation? Okay, Now we can talk about natural evil that since humanity was created in the image of God, in terms of the political image whereby humanity was God's vice region over the created order, then the fall of humanity is going to hold some important consequences for that created order and also for the animal realm. Listen to the text from Genesis to the woman.


He said, I will make your pains in childbearing very severe. With painful labor. You will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you. To Adam, he said, Because you listen to your wife and eight fruit from the tree about which I commanded you. You must not eat from it. Cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil, you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you. And you will eat the plants of the field by the sweat of your brow. You will eat your food until you return to the ground. Since from it you were taken for dust, you are and to dust you shall return. Okay. And so in order for us to offer an accurate picture of the sinful nature of humanity, Wesley is going to recommend in his writings, among other things, that we study, to know the spirituality and the extent of law of God. For that is the glass. Wesley writes, wherein we can see ourselves as fallen creatures. The moral law then will reveal sin. It will reveal the sin of human hearts. It will disclose the corruption of the Imago day and thereby suggest some of the more pernicious consequences brought about by original. Or we can use the language in bread sin. And so Wesley in his works, takes great pains to explore the spiritual legacy which Adam bequeathed to humanity in a number of his writings. For example, he wrote, Well, first of all, I should say one of the largest treatises that Wesley ever wrote was on the topic of original sin. That's how important he thought this this topic was. Because if we don't understand the problem properly, we will never understand the solution properly.


Having been born in sin, we must be born again. Or. So if we minimize or empty out or wash out the seriousness of original sin in terms of its corruption, then we will not understand the radical supernatural nature of this of the new birth, which is the response to the problem, if you will, of original sin. And so when Wesley explored the spiritual legacy which Adam bequeathed to humanity, he did so in that larger treatise I just referred to, but he also did so in a more manageable form in his sermon, Original Sin, which was written in 1759. And Wesley considers humanity in its natural state. Now, what does Wesley mean here in this context? And we have to be careful here because Wesley uses natural state, natural man in other contexts, and he means different things. So we have to be very careful here. When we're talking about natural state, we are talking about that in this larger context of original sin, this larger context of sin. And so when Wesley is thinking of someone in the natural state, he is thinking of someone who is unassisted, by the grace of God, unassisted by the grace of God, and whereby they are all gone out of the way. No, none as righteous. No, not one. And so when Wesley explores original sin as it as it is detailed in the Old Testament, he quotes the prophet Isaiah. The whole head is sick. The whole heart is faint from the soul of the foot, even unto the head. There is no soundness beyond this citation from the Old Testament. Wesley provides a well-worked structure in his sermon, partly drawn from the first letter of John, which describes more fully the present ills of humanity. First of all, men and women are born into the world as atheists.


They're marked by unbelief. We have a net. We have by nature, no knowledge of God. Wesley writes, No acquaintance with him. Our natural understanding, in other words, apart from grace, does not lead to the knowledge of God. And having no knowledge, Wesley continues, We have no love of God, for we cannot love him that we do not know. So alienated from the knowledge and love of God encased in isolation, men and women immediately engage in a species of idolatry by worshiping themselves as the center of meaning in life. We worship ourselves, Wesley writes, When we pay that honor to ourselves, which is due to God alone. Again, every man born into the world, Wesley exclaims, is a rank idolatry. And he develops this idea more fully in his larger treatise on original sin, in which he writes, quote, For those, some of them run well, they are still off the way. They never aim at the right mark. They cannot move beyond the circle of self. They seek themselves. They act for themselves, their natural, civil and religious actions from whatever spring they come do all run into and meet in this Dead Sea. And so atheism and idolatry issue in pride. They result in self-glorification whereby men and women either think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. Wesley writes, or glory in something which they have received as though they have not received it. Indeed, the forces of self-absorption are so strong and held in place by the power of sin and deceit that they cannot be broken but for the grace of God. And as Colin Williams has pointed out in his work. Wesley's notion of sin here as self curvature is remarkably similar to Luther's, as we've mentioned earlier.


And so we've been listing a number of aspects here in terms of the organic inheritance. We've listed unbelief, we've listed pride. And now thirdly, we list so well that the third aspect of this dharmic inheritance that is passed to the rest of humanity is self-will. Pride is not the only sort of idolatry. Which we are by nature guilty of. Wesley Wright's Satan has stamped his image on our heart in self-will. Also, he writes. In fact, Wesley explores the present self-will of humanity against the backdrop of satanic self-will, and cites Isaiah 1413, a passage which has been traditionally, though perhaps incorrectly associated with Lucifer. Wesley states quote, I will said he meaning Satan before he was cast out of heaven. I will sit upon the sides of the North. I will do my own will and pleasure independently on that of my Creator. The same does every man born into the world say and that in a thousand instances, Wesley writes. So up until this point, original sin in the form of atheism and pride and self-will mirrors satanic evil. However, at the next step, Wesley writes, quote, We run into an idolatry whereof he is not guilty. I mean love of the world. Taking first John 216 as his guide. Wesley develops this fourth aspect of original sin in terms of the three components, namely the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life. So then unbelief that is atheism, pride, self-will and love of the world in all its aspects is the inheritance which humanity has received from Adam and Eve again since Adam lost the moral image of God and the natural and political ones were greatly marred. This is the legacy, argues Wesley, which was passed along to his descendants.


And we see here that in terms of original sin, it is not only universal, as we have underscored, but now we see very clearly it is a problem that we cannot solve by ourselves. That is also the second major universal of original sin. You know, it is universal, but it is a problem that cannot be solved by. Oneself because the self corrupted as it is a house divided. It's in itself is the problem. Okay, let's take some questions or comments that you might have in terms of anything we've said. Seems like when you combine the idea of original sin and what our relationship with God is right now and how we are created in the image of God, that when Christ provides us a way to. Deal with the effects of original sin. That were called not only out of something, but to something like John Piper talks about glorifying God by enjoying him. So it's not just a matter of rejecting the negative or even as some people would look at as the problem of trying to extinguish desire or something like that. It's more of we're called out of sin, but we're called to something. Yes. And so to realize who we are, as created in the image of God more authentically and more fully, because Christ allows us the way out of original sin. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yes, That's very helpful. And that's where we're headed. Because what Leslie will do when he's exploring redemption and salvation, he will do so both negatively and positively. In other words, we are free from we are free from, for example, the guilt and power of sin, and that its highest reaches of salvation, free from the being of sin, even the carnal nature that we're talking about now, Wesley will refer to that as entire sanctification.


So there is this freedom from which are three kinds of liberties that the child of God can enjoy. But and in light of what you said, there is also this freedom to the freedom to love God and to love our neighbor as we ought. And so Wesley will be very balanced here. He'll see redemption in a very forward way, as in telling freedom from the drag of sin, but freedom to love God and neighbor. And that will be manifested in all sorts of ways. So that's a good point. And we're headed there. All we're doing right now where we're talking about the problem and the discussion on original sin shows us that in terms of humanity, when we think of the sin problem, the same problem is twofold. It's not singular as some would expect. It's twofold in the sense that we talk about actual sins, plural, from which from which we need the forgiveness of those sins, as well as freedom from its power and dominion. But that's not the entirety of sin, because we have sin in this area and we're talking about a corrupted nature. So even a child of God or even someone who is justified in born of God, the carnal nature remains. This corruption, this inward corruption remains. But Wesley is going to argue it does not rain. But all I want is to see at this point, at this part of the journey, because we're just laying down some groundwork here, is that the sin problem is twofold, both in terms of the acts of sin that are committed. That certainly is a problem. But also this corruption of nature, that's also a problem, especially when we think about when we think about glory, when we think about being before the throne of Christ and seeing God face to face.


You know that we have to be purified and cleansed. And that's very much a part of the process of salvation. And so there will be a freedom from as well as a freedom to. Yes. Yes. Well, it seems like in the condition that we're in, our tendency or our natural instinct is to try to figure out the best way that we can deal with this on our own. So that's why you get idolatry and pride, self self-will and and things like that. Yeah, because we're trying to deal with what we were. We find ourselves. Based on what we can do ourselves. And so it seems like those would be normal, expected ways that that anybody would deal with that. It's interesting that you raised that issue because, you know, if you look at the biography of Wesley and I say to my students at times, Wesley lived a paradigmatic life in the sense that he made so many of the mistakes along the way. That is, life has great teaching power for students to show not this way, not that way, because there's one phase, one period of Wesley's life when he's engaging in the very kind of thing you're talking about. He's trying to manage his own life by by rule, by reason, by resolution, or, in other words, various attempts at self-justification to make himself right in order that he might be forgiven. So we can express that theologically by saying that he confused sanctification with justification. He was thinking that, you know, he had to make himself holy before he could be forgiven. And that, of course, is very bad theology. And Wesley actually talks about that explicitly, that he had done that. And that was a common pattern among Anglicans to confuse sanctification with justification.


But we see Wesley, especially when he's in Georgia as a missionary, he's trying to manage his own, maybe some would say micromanage his own spiritual life in terms of resolution and rule. And he fails in that project. And of course, he's going to fail because that is not how one is redeemed. That is not how one receives saving grace. And so Wesley's own journey, his own biography has enormous teaching power because we can show the faults and the mistakes that he made along the way, and we can profit from that. And in in a wise way, you know, reap insight. So, yeah. Going back to original sin inherited. Yes. I think I understood you correctly that Wesley said that at the moment. Moment of birth. Babies are the original sin they inherited from the parents. Our cover is covered. Yes. So my question is then. At what point would he say that children are capable of knowingly committing sin and are they at that point not covered? In other words, you are accountable, responsible for their own, their own sins, which they commit? That's a good question. And I don't know offhand. And I'm thinking of, you know, Wesley's writings. And I can't remember any place where he specifically identified an age. And I've heard different ages mentioned in other traditions. You know, seven years old and things like that. But I don't know, in answer to your question, I don't know. I'm not aware that Wesley ever did specify. You know, when they become accountable, responsible for their own sins and therefore guilty, I mean, he has is one observation in terms of his own life. And he says, I had not seen the way that washing of the Holy Ghost received in baptism until I was about ten and a half years old.


And he's referring to the time when he was in Charterhouse. He was in London at this, you know, sort of like school, you know, prep school, whatever. And he does make that observation. But in terms of the larger issues here, one is the age of accountability. When when do children become responsible for their own sense that they commit? I don't recall any specific place in Wesley's writings where he dealt with that. Yeah.