Western Christianity inherited a very strong doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ from Augustine. Eastern Orthodox Christianity has never been convinced that Augustine actually understood what Paul’s Greek meant on that subject. Our doctrine of Original Sin is so strong that some branches of Western Protestantism consider sin stronger than God’s transforming power in this life – they don’t believe a Christian can go even an hour without sinning in one way or another. I grew up with such an implicitly strong doctrine of sin that I was surprised as a young person whenever someone who wasn’t a Christian even did anything that was commendable or right. The West’s current doctrine of sin raises a host of questions theologically, ethically, and anthropologically. Many traditional cultures in the world do not conclude that people are intrinsically bad from the get go. If I understand them, neither Islam nor Judaism has a conception of Original Sin, nor an anthropology involving sin anything like what Augustine thought Paul was saying. Explaining why people do bad things required of these religions no doctrine like Augustine’s. To many people today, the idea that I am on the hook for a condition I was born with is logically, theologically and morally repugnant, and leads to questions about the goodness of the Christian God in general.
Which brings up the question – Is it time we did some additional work on our doctrine of sin, conversed with our Jewish friends and Greek Orthodox brothers and sisters, and go back to the drawing board in examining what the Scriptures actually say about this? Probably.