Has original sin changed the essence of our original created humanity?
No. If it did change the essence of our created humanity, then it would be improper to call ourselves human anymore. There are vast differences of opinion among denominations and religious groups and theologians as to the extent of damage that original sin inflicted upon the human race. The debates rage over the extent of it. Most denominations, in spite of their differences regarding the degree of fallenness, make some kind of distinction between what we would call the image of God in which we were originally created in the wider sense and the image of God in the narrower sense.
We were created in our humanness in the wider sense in that certain traits make us human beings: our ability to think, the fact that we have souls, etc. Even after the Fall we still think, we still choose, we still have passions, we still walk, we still look and act like people—we’re still human beings. Our humanity remains essentially intact.
However, the Fall altered the image of God, in the narrower sense, that we were created to reflect. Originally we had the unique ability to reflect the character and holiness of our Creator. That mirroring ability of which the Scriptures speak was radically clouded by sin so that the picture of God that we give to the world is now a distortion. We don’t reflect God’s integrity. We lost significant moral strength and righteousness, so much so that we are told in the New Testament that by nature we are children of wrath, are dead in sin and trespasses, and are by nature at enmity with and estranged from God our Creator. That is significant. It doesn’t mean, however, that our humanity has been destroyed. Our humanity is intact, but it is a weakened humanity, a fallen humanity.
I believe that the Fall has penetrated the very heart, the core, of our spiritual and moral lives. It affects every part of us. It affects our minds and our bodies. Our bodies wouldn’t age and die if it weren’t for sin; death came as a result of sin. That really touches our humanity. It causes suffering, pain, wickedness, and all the rest. Human life has been radically affected by sin, but humanity in its essence remains.
©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.