[1] The opponents approve the second article concerning “Original Sin,” but do so in such a way that they nevertheless find fault with the definition of original sin that we had related in passing. Here, immediately at the very outset, His Imperial Majesty will discover that those who wrote the Confutation lack not only judgment, but honesty. For whereas we simply wished to review those things that original sin includes, they severely distort a statement—by fabricating vicious interpretations of it—that in itself had nothing wrong with it. As a result, they say that to be without the fear of God and without faith is actual guilt; and so they deny that it is original guilt.5

[2] It is quite clear that these subtle arguments originated in the schools and not in the council of the emperor. Even though this sophistry can easily be refuted, nevertheless, in order that all good people might see that we teach nothing absurd on this matter, we ask that the text of the German confession first be examined. This will clear us from the suspicion of innovation. For there it is written …
Furthermore, it is taught among us that since the fall of Adam, all human beings who are born in the natural way are conceived and born in sin. This means that from birth they are full of evil lust and inclination and cannot by nature possess true fear of God and true faith in God.

[3] This passage testifies that we deny to those conceived and born according to the course of nature not only the act of fearing and trusting God, but also the ability or gifts needed to produce such fear and trust. For we say that those who have been born in this way have concupiscence and are unable to produce true fear and trust in God. What is wrong with this? Indeed, we think that in the eyes of fair-minded people we are sufficiently exonerated. For in this sense the definition in the Latin text denies the ability to human nature (that is, the gift and power needed to produce fear and faith in God), and it also denies to adults the act of producing it. So when we use the word “concupiscence,” we understand not only its acts or fruits, but the continual tendency of our nature.9

[4] Later we shall show at length that our definition agrees with the traditional one. But in order to make our explanation clear, we must first show why we used these terms. Even our scholastic opponents admit that concupiscence is the so-called material element of original sin. Hence concupiscence must not be left out of the definition, especially now when so many philosophize about original sin irreligiously. [5] For some argue that original sin is not a fault or corruption in human nature, but only a subjection to or a condition of mortality that those descended from Adam endure through no fault of their own, but on account of someone else’s guilt. Furthermore, they add that no one is eternally damned on account of original sin, just as children born to a slave woman inherit their enslaved condition through no fault of their own, but on account of their mother’s misfortune. [6] In order to show our displeasure with this ungodly opinion, we mentioned “concupiscence.” With the best of intentions we identified and diagnosed it as a disease because human nature is born corrupt and faulty.

[7] We not only mentioned “concupiscence,” but we also said that the fear of God and faith were lacking. We added this point because the scholastic teachers, who do not sufficiently understand the definition of original sin that they inherited from the Fathers, trivialize original sin. They contend that the “tinder of sin” is a condition in the body and, in their usual ineptitude, they ask whether this condition was contracted through contact with the fruit or from the breath of the serpent, and whether it can be cured with medicine.14 With such questions they have suppressed the main point.

[8] Thus, when they speak about original sin they fail to mention the more serious defects of human nature like being ignorant of God, despising God, lacking fear and confidence in God, hating the judgment of God, fleeing this judging God, being angry with God, despairing of his grace, and placing confidence in temporal things, etc. The scholastics do not even notice these maladies, which are completely opposed to the law of God. Indeed, they attribute to human nature the unimpaired powers to love God above all things and to keep the commandments of God “according to the substance of the act.” Nor do they see how they contradict themselves. [9] For what else is the ability to love God above all things with one’s own power and to keep the commandments of God than original righteousness?

[10] What becomes of original sin if human nature by itself has the power to love God above all things, as the scholastics confidently affirm? What need will there be for the grace of Christ if we can become righteous by our own righteousness? What need will there be for the Holy Spirit if by our human power alone we can love God above all things and keep God’s commandments?
[11] Who cannot see how ridiculously the opponents think? They acknowledge the lesser maladies in human nature; but they do not acknowledge the more severe ones, about which, nevertheless, the Scripture everywhere warns us and about which the prophets continually complain, namely, carnal complacency, contempt for God, hatred of God, and similar defects with which we are born. [12] Now the scholastics mingled Christian teaching with philosophical views about the perfection of nature and attributed more than was proper to the freedom of the will and to “elicited acts” by teaching that human beings are justified before God by philosophical or civil righteousness (which we also admit are subject to human reason and are somehow within our ability). As a result they failed to see the inner impurity of human nature. [13] For this cannot be diagnosed except by the Word of God—something the scholastics do not often use in their discussions.

[14] These were the reasons why in our definition of original sin we mentioned concupiscence and also denied to the natural powers of the human creature fear of and trust in God. We wanted to show that original sin also included these maladies: ignorance of God, contempt for God, the absence of the fear of and trust in God, and the inability to love God. These are the chief defects of human nature—in conflict especially with the first table of the Decalogue.

[15] We have said nothing new here. The traditional definition, rightly understood, says precisely the same thing when it states, “Original sin is the absence of original righteousness.” But what is righteousness? Here the scholastics quibble over philosophical questions and do not explain what original righteousness is. [16] Furthermore, in the Scriptures this righteousness includes not only the second table of the Decalogue, but also the first, which requires fear of God, faith, and love of God. [17] Thus original righteousness was intended to include not only a balanced physical constitution, but these gifts as well: a more certain knowledge of God, fear of God, and confidence in God, or at least the uprightness and power needed to do these things. [18] And Scripture affirms this when it says [Gen. 1:27*] that humankind was formed in the image and likeness of God. What else does this mean except that a wisdom and righteousness that would grasp God and reflect God was implanted in humankind, that is, humankind received gifts like the knowledge of God, fear of God, trust in God, and the like?

[19] This is how Irenaeus interpreted the likeness of God. After having discussed many other things related to this topic, Ambrose then says, “That soul is not in the image of God in which God is not always present.”22 [20] And in Ephesians [5:19*] and Colossians [3:10*] Paul shows that the image of God is the knowledge of God, righteousness, and truth. [21] Even Peter Lombard is not afraid to say that original righteousness is the very likeness of God, which was implanted in the human creature by God. [22] The statements of the ancients that we cited do not contradict Augustine’s interpretation concerning the image of God.

[23] Thus, when the traditional definition says that sin is the absence of righteousness, it excludes not only the obedience of the lower human powers but also the knowledge of God, trust in God, fear and love of God, or certainly the power needed to produce those things. Even the scholastic theologians teach that these cannot be produced without certain gifts and without the assistance of grace. In order to make things clear, we identify these gifts as the knowledge of God, fear of God, and trust in God. From this it is evident that the traditional definition says exactly the same thing we do when we deny to human nature the fear of God and confidence in God, namely, not only the actions but also the gifts and power needed to produce them.

[24] This is the intention of the definition that appears in Augustine, who usually defines original sin as concupiscence. He means that concupiscence follows the loss of righteousness. For our weak nature, because it cannot fear, love, or believe in God, seeks and loves carnal things; it either despises the judgment of God in its complacency or hates it in its terror. Thus Augustine also includes both the deficiency and the defective disposition [habitus] that follows it.
[25] However, concupiscence is not simply a corruption of the physical constitution, but a perverse turning toward carnal things in the higher powers. Thus, those who attribute to the human creature simultaneously both a concupiscence that has not been put to death by the Holy Spirit and a love for God above all things do not realize what they are saying.

[26] Therefore we correctly expressed both components in our description of original sin, namely, these deficiencies: the inability to believe God and the inability to fear and love God; and concupiscence, which seeks carnal things contrary to the Word of God, that is, it pursues not only the desires of the body, but also carnal wisdom and righteousness in which it trusts while despising God.

[27] Not only the ancient theologians, but even the more recent ones—at least the more judicious ones among them—teach that both of these things are truly original sin, namely, the deficiencies that I have enumerated and concupiscence. Thus Thomas says: “Original sin denotes the absence of original righteousness together with a disordered disposition [habitus] among the parts of the soul. Consequently, it is not pure privation, it is indeed a corrupt disposition [habitus].” [28] And Bonaventure writes, “When it is asked, ‘What is original sin?’ it is correct to answer that it is unrestrained concupiscence. It is also right to respond that it is an absence of required righteousness. And in either of these responses, the other is included.” [29] Hugh means the same thing when he says that original sin is ignorance in the mind and concupiscence in the flesh. He implies that from birth we bring along the ignorance of God, unbelief, distrust, contempt, and hatred of God. [30] For he included all these things when he mentioned ignorance.

These statements agree with the Scriptures. At times Paul expressly identifies the deficiency as in 1 Corinthians 2[:14*]: “Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit.”30 Elsewhere [Rom. 7:5*], he identifies the concupiscence at work in our members bringing forth evil fruits.
[31] We could quote many passages with regard to both parts of our definition, but the matter is so clear that there is no need for further testimonies. The discerning reader can easily see that to be without the fear of God and without faith is not merely actual guilt but is an abiding deficiency in an unregenerate nature.
[32] So we teach nothing about original sin that is alien either to Scripture or to the church catholic. We have simply cleansed and brought into the light the most important statements in the Scriptures and the Fathers that had been obscured by the sophistic quarreling of recent theologians. Now the issue itself suggests that recent theologians have not noticed what the Fathers meant to say about this deficiency.

[33] Knowledge of original sin is a necessity. For we cannot know the magnitude of Christ’s grace unless we first recognize our malady. The entire righteousness of the human creature is sheer hypocrisy before God unless we admit that by nature the heart is lacking love, fear, and trust in God. [34] Thus the prophet says [Jer. 31:19*], “And after I was discovered, I struck my thigh.” Again [Ps. 116:11*], “I said in my consternation, ‘Everyone is a liar,’ ” that is, they do not think rightly about God.

[35] Here the opponents lash out at Luther, who wrote that “original sin remains after baptism.” They add that this article was rightly condemned by Leo X.33 But His Imperial Majesty will detect an obvious slander here. For the opponents know in what sense Luther intended the statement that original sin remains after baptism. He has always written that baptism removes the guilt of original sin, even if the “material element” of sin, as they call it, remains, namely, concupiscence. He even added about the material element that when the Holy Spirit is given through baptism he begins to put concupiscence to death and to create new impulses in the human creature.35

[36] Augustine also says the same thing when he states, “In baptism sin is forgiven, not that it no longer exists, but that it is not accounted [as sin].” Here he clearly confesses that sin remains, even if it is not accounted [as sin]. This position so pleased subsequent generations that it was cited in the decretals.37 And in Against Julian, Augustine says, “That law, which is in the members, is forgiven by the regeneration of the spirit, but it remains in mortal flesh. It is forgiven because the guilt is absolved in the sacrament by which the faithful are reborn. But it remains because it produces desires against which the faithful struggle.”

[37] The opponents know that this is what Luther thinks and teaches. But since they cannot refute the principle, they twist the words in order to crush an innocent man by their fabrication.
[38] They contend that concupiscence is punishment, not sin. Luther maintains that it is sin. But earlier it was shown that Augustine defined original sin in terms of concupiscence. So let them take issue with him if this definition has anything wrong with it. [39] In any case, Paul says [Rom. 7:7*], “Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ ”40 Again [Rom. 7:23*], “But I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” [40] These testimonies cannot be overthrown by sophistry. For clearly they call concupiscence sin, which nevertheless is not reckoned to those who are in Christ even though it is by nature worthy of death where it is not forgiven. [41] This is undoubtedly what the Fathers thought. For with lengthy arguments Augustine refuted the opinions of those who maintained that concupiscence in the human creature is not a defect, but an adiaphoron [neutral thing] as the color of skin or ill health are said to be neutral matters.

[42] But if the opponents contend that the “tinder of sin” is a neutral matter, they will contradict not only the many statements of Scripture but clearly the entire church. Even if a perfect consensus is not attainable, no one would dare say that the following things are neutral: doubting the wrath of God, the grace of God, and the Word of God; being angry with the judgment of God; being indignant that God does not rescue us immediately from afflictions; grumbling that the ungodly experience more good fortune than the upright; being stirred up by rage, lust, desire for glory, wealth, and the like. [43] And devout people acknowledge that [44] these things are present in them as the Psalms and the prophets make clear. In the schools, however, they have taken over from philosophy the completely alien notions that our passions make us neither good nor evil, neither praiseworthy nor contemptible. Again, they say that nothing is sin unless it is voluntary. These statements in the philosophers speak about the judgment of civil courts, not about the judgment of God.44 It is no wiser to say, for example, that “nature is not evil.” In its place, we do not object to this statement; but it is not right to distort it for the purpose of trivializing original sin. And yet these things are said among the scholastics who improperly mingle philosophical or social ethics with the gospel. These things were not simply debated in the schools, but, as often happens, instead of remaining purely in academe these ideas spread among the people where they prevailed and fostered trust in human powers and suppressed the knowledge of the grace of Christ.

[45] Therefore, when Luther wanted to expose the magnitude of original sin and human weakness, he taught that the remnants of original sin in the human being are not in their essence neutral, but need both the grace of Christ, so that they might not be held [against us], and also the Holy Spirit, so that they might be put to death.
[46] Although the scholastics trivialize both sin and its penalty when they teach that individuals by their own power are capable of keeping the commandments of God, Genesis describes a different penalty imposed on account of original sin. For there human nature was not only subjected to death and other bodily ills, but also to the reign of the devil. There this horrible sentence is pronounced [Gen. 3:15*]: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.”

[47] The deficiency and concupiscence are both penalty and sin. Death and other bodily ills, together with the tyranny of the devil, are penalties in the proper sense. For human nature is enslaved and held captive by the devil, who deceives it with ungodly opinions and errors and incites it to all sorts of sins. [48] However, just as the devil is not conquered without Christ’s help, so we, by our own powers, are unable to free ourselves from that slavery. [49] World history itself shows how great is the strength of the devil’s rule. Blasphemy and wicked teachings fill the world, and in these bonds the devil holds enthralled those who are wise and righteous in the eyes of the world.

[50] In others even greater vices appear. But since Christ was given to us in order to bear both these sins and penalties as well as to destroy the reign of the devil, sin, and death, the benefits of Christ cannot be recognized unless we understand our evil. Therefore our preachers have diligently taught about these matters, and in the process they have said nothing new. Instead they have set forth the Holy Scripture and the statements of the holy Fathers.

[51] We think that this will satisfy His Imperial Majesty with regard to the childish and trivial quibbling with which the opponents have slandered this article. For we know that we believe rightly and in agreement with Christ’s church catholic. But if the opponents reopen this controversy, there will be no lack of those who will respond and defend the truth. For in this matter the opponents frequently do not know what they are talking about. They often contradict themselves and fail to explain logically and correctly either the “formal element” of original sin or its “deficiency,” as they say. But we have been reluctant at this point to take up their arguments at greater length. Instead, we have thought it worthwhile to cite in customary and familiar phrases the view of the holy Fathers, which we also follow.