Wikipedia Errors on Original Sin
A series of articles on Wikipedia errors on Catholicism
by Ronald L. Conte Jr.

[Wikipedia Errors:   Papal Infallibility | Immaculate Conception | Original Sin | Venial Sin | Mortal Sin | Sanctifying Grace | Roman Catholic Dogma]

Original Sin
(June 28, 2009)

This article and the article on the Immaculate Conception both treat the subject of original sin. But the treatment here is very different. This highlights one of the problems in the set of Catholic articles in Wikipedia: the inconsistency from one article to another (and even from one section of an article to another).

While the article on the Immaculate Conception makes the heretical error of asserting that original sin affects only the soul, by the loss of sanctifying grace, this article makes the opposite error, not even mentioning the term sanctifying grace. The section on the Eastern Orthodox view of original sin mentions the loss of grace, but does not mention sanctifying grace and actual grace, nor the distinction between the two.

Unfortunately, there is no separate article for the Catholic teaching on original sin, and most of the article on original sin is on non-Catholic views of the doctrine. There is even a section of the article titled 'Extraterrestrial beings and original sin,' which offers the opinion of one individual. This section is longer than the section on the view of Eastern Christianity about original sin, and longer than the section on the Lutheranism section on original sin (which is merely one long quoted paragraph). And this demonstrates yet another common problem in Wikipedia articles on Catholicism, the lack of balance and consistency in any article that is re-written and re-edited numerous times, again and again, indefinitely.

Wikipedia: "Roman Catholic teaching regards original sin as the general condition of sinfulness (lack of holiness) into which human beings are born, distinct from the actual sins that a person commits. It explicitly states that original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants."

First, lack of holiness and sinfulness are not the same. Second, original sin is not accurately described as a general condition of sinfulness. Rather, original sin is the lack of sanctifying grace in the soul, and the fallen state of the body, which then tends toward personal sin. Third, though the article repeatedly stresses that original sin does not imply personal culpability, absent from the article is the corporate guilt that all persons with original sin have. This type of guilt is a dogma of the Catholic Faith.

Council of Trent: "If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only razed, or not imputed; let him be anathema." (Trent, fifth session, Decree on Original Sin, n. 5).

The sections of the article on the Catholic dogma of original sin: overemphasize the view of Augustine, which was prior to most of the magisterial decisions on original sin, and lack a thorough presentation of the teaching of the Catholic Church; do not mention the loss of sanctifying grace due to original sin; do not mention the corporate guilt due to original sin; paraphrases a number of Catholic sources, such as the Catechism, but without an understanding of the ideas being rephrased.

So even when the editors are citing a good Catholic source of information on Catholic teaching, they often paraphrase and selectively quote without understanding the doctrine itself. As a result, the paragraph has serious omissions which make the description of the doctrine into material heresy. Such is the case with this article, which lacks any mention of corporate guilt from original sin, which lacks any mention of the loss of sanctifying grace, or the affects of original sin on actual grace, which lacks any discussion of the effects of original sin on the body (the word 'body' is not even used in the entire article), which lacks any mention of the freedom from original sin of the human nature of Christ.

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