In his column “Why Religion May Be a Matter of Ideology, Not Theology,” Mr. Schenck claims that the Christian concept of sin originated in Old English etymology. But here’s a reality check: the Jewish religion had the idea of “sin” thousands of years before Christianity. About 4,000 years ago, Moses wrote the book of Genesis, which traces the lineage of Israel back to the first man, Adam, who committed the first sin.

So sin is a Jewish idea, not a European one. In the account of the Garden of Eden, Adam underwent a trial of obedience. He was a perfect man without sin, created with the free will to choose good or evil. When he chose evil, sin entered the world and caused all men to die.

Because of Adam’s sin, all his offspring inherited the legal guilt of his disobedience, causing all men to become sinful from conception. As King David wrote in Psalm 51, “In sin did my mother conceive me.” The Hebrew scriptures understood death as a divine punishment for sinful acts. So why do babies die when they have not even lived long enough to make a conscious choice of evil? Because they are incriminated by Adam’s guilt as well. And the sin and guilt that is transferred to them creates a fallen state of “original sin,” so that people are born into a sinful condition where they only desire to choose rebellion against God.

That is why the prophet Jeremiah describes the human heart as “desperately wicked.” In Psalm 14, the psalmist despairs, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who … seek after God. [But] they have all turned aside … there is none who does good, not even one.” All because Adam fell by his own free will.

Again, this is not a European idea, but a Jewish one — what theologians call “Federal Headship.” One man’s obedience or disobedience represents the entire race. The federal head either damns or saves all of his offspring, which is why God promised to Adam, as well as to Abraham, that a “seed” would come from their line who would save the race from death.

That seed was Jesus Christ, the second Adam. God Himself took on flesh. Conceived of a virgin by the Holy Spirit, He was born without original sin. He carried out Adam’s trial perfectly, never sinning once, but perfectly obeying the law of God. Then He submitted to death on a cross, where He was credited the sin of His chosen people. He paid for every sin they committed, and committed in Adam, in blood, canceling their guilt. And then He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to rule until the coming judgment.

Who represents you — Adam or Jesus Christ? Everyone who is represented by Adam will be judged as guilty, but everyone who is represented by Christ will be judged as perfect. So I urge you to believe in what Christ has done for you, for “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).

Steven Begakis is a fourth-year political science and economics major.

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