The Nature of Human Nature

Aug 1, 2011 by Michael Adams

“In sorrow that the ancient curse should doom to death a universe.”

Gregorian chant, St. Mary’s


The New England Primer was one of the first books printed in America. It was the American version of what, in England, were called Primers. These small books, first produced with the advent of the printing press, contained such religious pieces as the Lord’s Prayer, Devotions for the Hours, the Ten Commandments, a few psalms, and miscellaneous Christian instruction. Eventually, these books included the alphabet, the first step in teaching children how to read and write–thus the name “Primer.” All children were expected to learn their ABC’s and their theology all at once. The content of these Primers was strictly enforced. Indeed, if anyone dared print an unauthorized version, he would be whipped, fined, even executed. It was not until the end of the reign of James II (1688) that dissenting Christians found the courage to adjust the Primer to a more pure and Puritan view of the world.

Our first recorded printing of the American version, The New England Primer, appears in a London document dated October 5, 1683. The registration for the book made it clear that this was “the New England Primer or Milk for babes.” This was true. It was, indeed, theological milk for babes. We see this most beautifully in the first American edition printed by Benjamin Harris, printer of the first American newspaper. In Harris’ “New England Primer,” (1686) we find along with the Lord’s Prayer and selected Psalms an illustrated alphabet. At the left margin appeared the letter A, for example. Directly to the right of it was a small, square woodcut showing a serpent wrapped around an apple tree from which a naked figure is plucking a apple. To the right of the woodcut is a little poem: “In Adam’s Fall We Sinned All.” This was how a child learned the first letter of the alphabet and the church’s first theological lesson. Each letter was, in fact, a lesson. For D we see a globe of water with a tiny ark floating on top. To the right: “The Deluge drown’d The Earth around.” From A to Z, from Adam’s bite of the apple to Zaccheus’ climbing a tree to see Jesus, the alphabet carries the young mind into Christian history and Christian reality.

These “Primers” were as much a part of every household as table and chairs and pots and pans. A home was not a Christian home without one. A mind was not a Christian mind if it had not learned the Primer’s valuable lessons. And the very first lesson was learning about your own inherent dark nature–the shadow of evil that lurked deep inside your soul, a tainted essence passed along to you from Adam himself. But it really wasn’t Adam’s essence that had been passed into the minds of milk-drinking American babes. It was actually St. Augustine’s conscience. And that conscience, the first great theological Primer called The City of God , appeared during the last hours of a dying Roman Empire, there on the shores of North Africa, there within an institution that was just beginning to take the emperor’s place, and soon to teach the world the ABC’s of Christian reality.

No one knows who established the first Christian churches in Africa, but by the time of Bishop Tertullian (c. 160-240) the church at Carthage had become a powerful leader in the Christian movement, hosting councils, attracting charismatic and gifted minds, and establishing itself as one of the main theological architects feverishly inventing what would fit with the sometime contradictory teachings of Christ and Paul.

And inherent within that theology were two dominant intolerant attitudes–one toward anyone who dare disagree with them; the other toward women. Bishop Tertullian’s version of Christian theology demanded absolute uniformity among all Christian churches–a uniformity, of course, imposed by those like him who knew and understood Christ’s true intentions. Anyone who dared disagree with Tertullian’s views of the church was met with venomous personal and public attacks–frequently branded as heretics–inauthentic Christians. Tertullian’s theology also laid blame for the mess of the world at the feet, or I should say vagina, of all women, who as twin Eves also possess what he called the Devil’s gateway. “You are the devil’s gateway . . . . you are she who persuaded him whom the devil did not dare attack . . . . Do you not know that every one of you is an Eve? The sentence of God on your sex lives on in this age; the guilt of necessity, lives on too.” Thus Christian theology to Tertullian was grounded in intolerance of any other Christian view and the basic filthiness and evilness of the vagina.

These two streams, if not stains, of thought will soon become the foundation not just of the theology at North Africa but the dogma and reality of the entire Catholic world. The successor to Tertullian was a man named Augustine, the larger-than-life confirmation of Emerson’s observation that “An institution is the lengthened shadow on one man . . . and all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.” History has produced few men more stout and earnest than Augustine, and the shadow he has cast over western reality is long and dark. Indeed, his stern and pessimistic view of spiritual and physical reality is alive and well today and accounts for such things as the personal psychology of one who feels shame when looking at nude photographs to a state’s moral laws that prevent a husband and wife from doing anything “against nature” in the bedroom.

The story begins around 354 C.E. Born in North Africa in the late fourth century to a Christian mother and pagan father, Aurelius Augustinus led a youthful life of outward sexual dissipation and physical indulgence, yet inwardly he was tormented. He hated himself for loving his own sexuality. In essence, he was the psychological union of mother and father, for his father, as Augustine himself tells us, satisfied his voracious sexual appetite with many “other” women, while his saintly mother continually admonished him not to follow in his father’s footsteps–or sheet-wrinkling, to be more precise. If his father’s example was the Devil made manifest, his mother’s words, he realized later, were actually the words of God. The psychological consequence of this was, of course, a constant and internal preoccupation with the nature of sin and the hope for its release, which for him came only when he gave up sex altogether. If God had not intervened, he confesses, he would have gone straight to Hell.

Spiritually restless, Augustine was always in search of answers–or more specifically, solutions that would ease his constant sexual preoccupation and the constant guilt he felt about it. For over nine years he was a member of the Manichees, a popular religion spawned by a man named Manee who had been influenced by the old Persian (and Zoroastrian) notion that ultimate reality was an eternal struggle between two opposing forces of Light and Dark. This was fitting since Augustine saw his own psychological battle as one between mother and father, pagan and Christian, good and evil, intolerable lust and the deep desire to rid himself of it. “I was bound . . . with my own iron will. The enemy held my will and indeed, made a chain of it for me, and constrained me. Because of a perverse will, desire was made; and when I was enslaved to desire it became habit; and habit not restrained became necessity.”

Put simply, the Manichees (perhaps the heirs to the Zoroastrians) believed that the Cosmos was locked in eternal combat between Evil forces and Good forces, the forces of Dark and the forces of Light. Their battle ground was man himself–who, as a creation of the divine from the material world, was both spirit and flesh. The spirit or light desired to return to its original divine source, but Flesh, as the ally of Evil, has imprisoned it deep inside. Thus man’s dilemma was that he was born with a spiritual impulse to become more light-like, in order to return to the Creator, and a material impulse to remain right were he was, wallowing in the pleasures of the flesh. One of the weapons the Manichees used in this cosmic struggle was diet. By denying the body flesh (meat) it would reduce the amount of flesh within and by eating only vegetables that clearly contained light inside, especially green vegetables, they were literally making the body lighter–in both senses of the word.

But the most powerful weapon, however, was the denial of whatever the flesh desired–to be touched, stroked, satisfied. And what was the most pleasurable stroking and satisfaction? The woman’s vagina, of course. Thus the Manichees refused marriage and constantly resisted any and all sexual thoughts or urges that came at them as invisible warriors sent by the Devil. Such a life was very difficult for one who had kept a mistress, loved the obscene pagan festivals (plenty of nudity and abandonment), admired the irreverent classical plays, and endured daily the irresistible lure of the female body. Heaven was just a sin away.

It’s important to stress that this sexual urge within Augustine was so great he knew it to be a force beyond his, or any man’s, control. Eventually, the Manichee reality did not satisfy him, because it seemed only to offer constant struggle and no release. Well aware of his own inherent sinful nature and weakness, he needed help from an outside force. He found it, at age 32, in Tertullian’s version of Christianity and an erroneous translation (from Greek to Latin) of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

After reading the Neo-Platonist Christian writers, especially Plotinus (flesh entraps divine light), and listening to the fluid sermons of St. Ambrose (preoccupation with flesh detracts from contemplation of God) and learning to read beyond the literal words of the Bible, Augustine found two powerful words of salvation in Paul’s epistles–mercy and grace. At last there was an answer. The only way one can be mercifully released from his tortuous sinful soul was through the spiritual phenomenon of Grace granted only by Jesus Christ. In what is, perhaps, the greatest (certainly the most extensive) attempt to invent a theology to fulfill a personal need, Augustine, having learned to read into and beyond the literal words of the Bible, over several decades produced thousands of pages on the nature of spiritual and physical reality (everything from the inexplicability of the Trinity to how a physical body can endure pain after the end of the world of matter). Augustine will eventually leave the Manichees, but he could never rid himself of the Manichee belief that human essence was inherently tainted with sinfulness. And since the female body was the thing that stirred evilness inside him, all females, as a corollary to this theory, were necessarily all little Eve’s, inherent sinners, the prime cause of sin, the epitome of evil. And the vagina, located between the house of “feces and urine,” the Devil’s gateway of Tertullian, becomes the central object of his theology.

But what about his devoted and loving Mother? Yes, she, too, was an Eve, but through Christ one could reject the lure of one’s physical nature and devote one’s “self” to his spiritual nature. Thus while it was naturally true that women were inherently, to use Tertullian’s words, “a palace on top of a sewer,” it was possible for them to spend their conscious lives within the palace of goodness. The beginning of the virgin-whore psychology that will entrap many western women begins here.

Around 386 Augustine will reject, or at least suppress, his sexual nature and will accept baptism from a charismatic bishop named St. Ambrose. Four year later he decides to drop out of the hustle and bustle of life and become a monk. Joining a group of his friends at Hippo, North Africa, he became a devout, pious contemplator of God and a student of the Bible. He was ordained as a priest in 391 and four years later became bishop of the city.

Hippo was the largest port city in Africa, highly cosmopolitan with a beautiful Roman forum, a great public bath, theatres, temples, and stately classical buildings. It was also a flashpoint for intellectual debate. Although much of Augustine’s diocese was outside the city and amidst the villages and wealthy land owners, his local sermons (often intellectual interpretations of the Book of Romans, John, or esoteric Psalms) made him popular, and soon his writings and speeches were moving out of the small basilica and beginning to dominate religious thought in North Africa, and then Palestine, and then Rome. He was the leader against the Donatists, a popular group of Christians who believed that the sacrament had no efficacy if the priest administering it was a sinner. Augustine took the view that it was actually God who offered the sacrament and thus its efficacy depended entirely on the sincerity and goodness of the participant, not on the quality of the soul of the administering priest. Through pronouncements, letters, connections in high places, and eventually physical beatings, Augustine, reflecting that North African intolerance, ran the Donatist heretics out of his region and eventually saw to it that they were excommunicated and that their view of reality was banished from the minds of men–an act that won him local admiration and underscored his role as a major player in the formation of church doctrine, not only in Africa but throughout Christendom. His many followers and admirers spread out over the empire, taking with them the glow from their Reverence and his vision of the nature of nature. (This is important because each of these little miniature Augustines would have a voice in upcoming synods that would shape western reality.)

And that view of nature, unlike that of some of his contemporaries, placed the blame for his own lustful nature somewhere else. What began as a source for blame (sex-ridden women) and a desire for release (Grace-giving God) eventually became a very detailed and complicated theology, worked out in numerous letters, treatises, sermons, and especially in one of his two greatest works, The City of God, begun during Alaric’s capture of Rome in 410, a dark moment which, for many like Augustine, needed explanation.

Augustine’s own inherent and irresistible sexual appetite–and the guilt he endured because of it–created a dark psychology that he assumed tormented all men. Anyone who denied it was simply hiding the truth that they too were governed by evil impulses. The easiest way to ease such a conscience is to cast the blame somewhere else. Thus, he concluded, it wasn’t his own weak nature unable to resist temptation that led him into sin. The Devil made him do it. “I was not, therefore, the cause of it, but the ‘sin that dwells in me’ from the the punishment of that more voluntary sin, because I was a son of Adam.” Pagels p. 107 Moreover, Augustine sees himself as one no different from Paul who also confirmed that “I do not do what I will, but I do the very thing I hate . . . I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.” Romans 7:15-25

Augustine at last found release with the convenient realization that sin was not his fault. The fault lies with nature itself. Nature’s very essence, he concludes, is inherently sinful. There was a time, he says, when the spiritual world and physical world were joined indissolubly in a paradisiacal state, but that state changed dramatically when a prideful and feeble woman gave in to the temptation of a talking serpent. The whole story goes like this.

Once upon a time when the spiritual and physical worlds were completely and perfectly commingled, men were capable of commanding their penis into an erection as easily as they could command their arm to reach for an apple. And man willed this erection not because of lust, but for the sole purpose of producing heavenly children. Although this may seem odd to those of us for whom this is impossible, it was perfectly logical to Augustine. Since we can will our body parts movement, so “ . . . why should we not believe that the sexual organs could have been the obedient servants of mankind, at the bidding of the will, in the same way as the other, if there had been no lust, which came in as the retribution for the sin of disobedience?” Bk. XIV, 23 see also 24

After Eve bit the apple, however, Nature herself was transformed forever. Death appeared in the world for the very first time, as did the phenomenon called sin, hidden within Adam’s sperm, a force that makes human kind inherently weak, brutish, nasty, selfish, sexually preoccupied, and most important never capable of rejoining the world of God. This sin inside the sperm will pass through Eve’s Devil’s gateway into her womb where flesh and evilness will warm and form for the first time. Adam and Eve’s sons will in turn, in incest with either their mother or an unbiblically born sister, pass this sin into their children who in turn pass it on to theirs and so on so that everyone in the entire world is infected with this terrible plague.

Augustine tells us that the original taint of sin has passed through women into all of humanity, since all of humanity is the produce of the first couple. Thus all human beings are condemned at the moment of their birth.

What also passes from the soul of one human being into the soul of another is irresistibility to sin and the inability to command their now disobedient sexual organs. The very moment Adam and Eve disobeyed, they felt a strange movement within their very flesh and instantly their sexual selves began to take delight in their own freedom from the will and their pleasure in disobeying God. Sexual desire arose within what he calls their “disobedient members.” Since the first sin was disobedience, the carnal lust of mankind now wallows in eternal disobedience. The will-power of man is powerless against the evil force of lust.

Calling upon his own experiences with the enigmatic and powerful sexual urge, Augustine proves his case by pointing to the nocturnal emissions of young boys (wet dreams), and the involuntary erections of men, perhaps when looking at a woman we, significantly, call sexy–arousing sexual desire. The strongest man is not strong enough to will it away. Lust has a life of its own. When it comes, you can’t shoo it away; when it goes you cannot will it back. This proves that lust is separate from the will and not under its control.

And the Devil (an entity whose origin in a Perfectly Good, God-made world was never satisfactorily explained) knows all there is to know about sin and in fact can rely on it to lead men into his kingdom of temporary pleasure and sin–and the consequent turning away from God: “Sometimes the impulse is an unwanted intruder, sometimes it abandons the eager lover, and desire cools off in the body while it is at boiling heat in the mind. Thus strangely does lust refuse to be a servant not only to the will to beget but even to the lust for lascivious indulgence . . . .” Book XIV, ch. 16

Do you need more evidence, says Augustine, that the will has a mind of its own. “At times, the urge intrudes uninvited; at other times, it deserts the panting lover, and although desire blazes in the mind, the body is frigid. In this strange way, desire refuses service, not only to the will to procreate, but also to the desire for wantonness; and though for the most part, it solidly opposes the mind’s command, at other times it is divided against itself, and, having aroused the mind, it fails to arouse the body.”

The most empirical evidence that the ultimate end of sexuality is the obliteration of all thoughts about God is the orgasm itself. “So intense is the pleasure that when it reaches its climax there is an almost total extinction of mental alertness; the intellectual sentries, as it were, are overwhelmed.” In 20th-century terms, orgasm blows your mind. And a blown mind means that you cannot be contemplating God. Thus sex pulls one into the preoccupation and gratification of the flesh and away from contemplation of God.

If we would be truthful, Augustine continues, we would all admit that we know this to be absolute fact. We might not feel this sinful nature inside us, but we sense it in what came to be called shame. Lust and shame are, in fact, in Augustinian terms, synonymous. “It is right, therefore, to be ashamed of this lust, and it is right that the members which it moves or fails to move by its own right, so to speak, and not in complete conformity to our decision, should be called pudenda (‘parts of shame’), which they were not called before man’s sin; for, as Scripture tells us, ‘they were naked, and yet they felt no embarrassment.’ This was not because they had not noticed their nakedness, but because nakedness was not yet disgraceful, because lust did not yet arouse those members independently of their decision. The flesh did not yet, in a fashion, give proof of man’s disobedience by a disobedience of its own.” Book XIV, chp. 17 and Gen. 2, 25.

However, after sin “This is why Scripture says of them, after they had violated God’s command by an overt transgression, ‘The eyes of both of them were opened and they recognized that they were naked. And they sewed together fig leaves and made aprons for themselves; (Gen 3, 7) from Book XIV, !7) and “from then on the practice of concealing the pudenda has become deep-rooted habit in all peoples, since they all derive from the same stock.”

The fact that we don’t have sex in public but behind doors, often in the dark is evidence of its innate shamefulness. “The sexual act itself, which is performed with such lust, seeks privacy.” “A natural sense of shame ensures that even brothels make provision for secret.” (Bk. XIV, 18)

Thus the Godly man will learn to train his penis to get erect only for the purpose of creating children. First Thess. 4: 4f tells us “Now surely any friend of wisdom and holy joys who lives a married life but knows, in the words of the Apostle’s warning, ‘how to possess his bodily instrument in holiness and honour, not in the sickness of desire, like the Gentiles who have no knowledge of God.’” But even if man accomplishes this feat, purging the phenomenon of lust from him, he cannot escape the corruption of sin. It is just too dense and inherent. Mankind is doomed for a life of sin and hopelessness forever. And yet all is not entirely bleak. Since God is a loving god, there is a little doorway through which a few may escape into eternal life.

For in order to demonstrate his power and his love, God, from time to time, does something magical that alters this “natural” state of an innately corrupt human being. He will imbue him with a special cleansingness, a kind of mercy that purges this original taint. Such an act demonstrates his mercy for a fallen humanity and his great power–the fact that he can do this in the first place.

There are a few special features of this Augustinian Grace. First, not everyone gets it. Second, you cannot earn it in any way, no matter how saintly a life you lead (if you could, there would be no need for Jesus). “This offense was committed when all mankind existed in one man, and it brought universal ruin on mankind; and no one can be rescued from the toils of that offense, which was punished by God’s justice, unless the sin is expiated in each man singly by the grace of God.” (BK XIV, 20,3). Third, you cannot chose not to receive grace. Even if you prefer burning in hell all your afterlife so that you can continue doing the pleasurable and sinful things you are doing now, you cannot refuse the blessing. This demonstrates God’s love for mankind, even for the worst sinner. Fourth, babies needed to be baptized as soon as possible after birth because they have been born as sinners and need acceptance into the church as a (and the only) precondition of receiving Grace. According to Augustine, all unbaptized babies never lived eternal lives in heaven.

Thus through the semen the phenomenon of original sin passes into the soul of every new born who is doomed for certain to hell if he is not baptized and not guaranteed an eternal vacation to heaven even if he is.

And significantly, any man, and there were many, who did not accept Augustine’s version of reality was the worst sinner of all. For he was denying the true word of God.

Since this relatively new religion was now supported by the state and human nature being what it is (most people, except suicidals, wanting to be on the winning side), most Christians readily hopped on the theological bandwagon. But one of its main requirements was a difficult one. For a life devoted to God is a life devoted to Virtue. And Virtue by definition means control over your will. Since sex is beyond the control of the will, the truly virtuous person will avoid sex, definite evidence of one’s control over the will. This will eventually lead to celibate and chaste priests, nuns, the recommendation that men think not of lust but of beautiful children during the sexual act, and the covering of Jesus’ nude body where it had been displayed in churches.

As silly as all this sounds, it will become sober Christian dogma and the psychology of millions of Christians to this very day. Indeed, in most of our Protestant churches in America, failure to accept this vision of reality–original sin and Grace–means you are not a true Christian.

It can’t be stressed enough that this was only one vision of reality. There were others not as dark and despondent and desperate. Over in Constantinople years before Augustine, Bishop Chrysostom, an orator so eloquent he was nicknamed the golden throat had preached the eastern version of spiritual reality: Man has free will to chose evil or good and if he chooses good then Jesus, for certain, will help him.

It would, in fact, be one of Chrysostom’s admirers who decided to take Augustine on–a Britain named Pelagius. Although Pelagius respected the bishop’s reputation, Augustine’s reality seemed that of a psychological cripple, his logic theologically patently absurd, and his biology pure fancy.

More a Greek Epicurean, and, apparently, able to control his lust, his gluttony, and his selfishness through his own will power, Pelagius could not accept any such preposterous thing as original sin. It might be true that we needed God’s Grace to get into heaven, but he would certainly grant it to us if, through an exemplary and self-disciplined life, we deserved it.

We know little of Pelagius’ early life. The Latin version of his Greek name is Morgan (man of the sea), and he apparently came from the British isles, some claim Scotch, most think Irish. He was well read in classical literature (Virgil to Juvenal) and Christian theology. And he certainly knew the Greek Stoics who, as he, believed that man could be a noble creature if he so chose, even though it was difficult to be so and required much self-discipline and personal sacrifice.

His story begins somewhere around 380 when he first arrives in Rome. From accounts of him he must have been very large, even wrestler-like. Orosius calls him a “Goliath.” (Oros. Apol., 2.) Jerome calls him “hound from the Alps.” (Comm. in Jerem. , iii, l.)–from Ferguson, p. 45 Some thought him an uncouth foreigner, though we must keep in mind these are his enemies’ impressions. But both friends and enemies testify to his sincere and abiding commitment to Christianity as he saw it. And, as he saw it, God created man with free will to choose good or evil, him or Satan. To choose good meant to follow the “divine law in the mind” (from Rom vii, 23) and God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. To be a Christian is to behave Christ-like. You are glorifying God when you are doing good, God-like things. Grace is God’s giving us the power to do this, if we so choose–to forego the lures of material life, especially money, and to do unto others as we have them do unto us. The bit about giving up money did not engender him to emperors, nobles, or wealthy Roman bishops who later will play a role in his fate. Being a Christian meant not proclaiming you were one, but behaving like one–every day. In this sense, he was a semi-existential Christian. You are not a Christian when you are praying or going through some ritual, but only when you were in the act of doing Christian deeds. Such stoic-Christianity would appeal only to those who had a strong self-will. It did not appeal to Augustine at all.

While in Rome, Pelagius heard a great deal about Augustine, though we don’t know the extent to which he was familiar with the Bishop’s teachings. By 390, however, Pelagius had begun to write down his own view of spiritual Nature (perhaps, to my knowledge, the earliest extant writing of a Britain). But he wouldn’t get into any real trouble until a catastrophic event pitched him and Augustine onto the same crossroads–Alaric’s sack of Rome in 410.

Rome had ruled the world for over 600 years, and her fall, which had always seemed inconceivable, sent shock waves throughout the empire. Many of the Romans, including numerous pagans who fled to North Africa, blamed the fall on the weak Christian God who clearly was not strong enough to fend off the Barbarian hoards. And, logically, there was a call to return the pagan gods in order to return Rome to her former glory. Around 413, St. Augustine set out to reply to these blasphemous attacks in his work City of God, originally intended to be a defense of Christianity based on two foundations: 1) Roman armies had been defeated before Christianity became the state religion and no blame was cast at Jupiter or other gods, and 2) the City of God is all that matters anyway, so mortals shouldn’t worry too much about a temporal event. But this defense takes up only a few pages, for soon Augustine (in 22 chapters written over thirteen years) has drifted off into theology, political science, and the nature of spiritual and physical reality–which, includes, of course, original sin.

During same time, Pelagius fled to Sicily, then eventually made his way to Augustine’s territory in North Africa where he acquired a follower and friend, Caelestius, a man who becomes a kind of Paul to Pelagius, spreading the word, advocating his view of Christ’s world and attacking those with opposing views. Desiring to work in the homeland of early Christianity, Pelagius will take his gospel to Palestine, but he leaves behind Caelestius to do his work. And very soon this Caelestius becomes a thorn in Augustine’s theological side. How dare a foreigner tell the great Augustine he was flat wrong about the nature of Nature?

Caelestius, a charismatic preacher, taught his version of spiritual reality with vigor. And he was bold–bold enough to attack Augustine, claiming that, contrary to what Augustine had said, death did not enter the natural world, with Eve’s bite, but was simply part of the natural life cycle created by God. Had Eve not sinned, she still would have died.

Moreover, Adam’s sin was his own, not mankind’s. Each man is responsible for his own sin and rewarded according to his own virtue. The Bible, itself, he says, confirms it. “[e]very man shall be put to death for his own sin” Deut. 24:16

And what’s all this about sperm and taint? Sin is not organic, it’s social. Sin comes from one’s actions, what he does to others, not his organic condition. We have free will to choose a moral life or an immoral life. To use Augustine’s logic, we really can’t be blamed for the sinful things we do since, according to him, we were programmed to do them. “If sin is natural, it is not voluntary; if it is voluntary, it is not inborn. These two definitions are as mutually contrary as are necessity and [free] will.” ap. Aug. Juil. op. imperf. 4.93 (PL 45:1393)

Moreover, Pelagius points out quite convincingly that Jesus would not ask of us the impossible; he wouldn’t command us to do something (be god-like) unless we could achieve it. And one of the things Jesus commands us to do (Matthew 5:48) is to “set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none to his.” If it were not possible for man to love his neighbor as himself, and thus, emulate Jesus’ moral standards, then God wouldn’t ask it of us. And to prove that men can be holy and god-like he points to Able, Enoch, John, Jesus–wasn’t that Jesus’ ultimate purpose on earth–to show us how to be?

Pelagius is also disturbed by Augustine’s notion that unbaptized babies cannot enter heaven. By this logic, all babies that died within a few hours of birth and without the rites of a priest would be doomed to eternal despair. What kind of God would permit this? The purpose of baptism is to help shield the child from the temptation of sin, not to eradicate sin already present. Baptism is protection, a bringing into the house of God, not a mysterious antibiotic (or perhaps, more accurately, anti-body) that temporarily relieves the congenital condition of original sin.1

Perhaps the most damaging to Augustine, both to his theology and his ego, was Caelestius’ observation that the great African Bishop, who didn’t even read Greek, had relied on a mistranslation of the Greek into Latin in the Bible he used. The Greek of Romans 5:12 became “Sin came into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, through one man, in whom all men sinned [in quo omnes peccaverunt]”. Caelestius points out that it should have been “because” not “in whom” all sinned. Augustine says “all men are understood to have sinned in that first man because all men were in him when he sinned”2 , but, in fact, Paul is saying that all men sinned like Adam sinned; they modeled their sin on him. There is nothing in the passage that suggests any such preposterous thing as original sin.

Augustine’s counter to all this is that if an individual can, through his own efforts become a sinless person, then Christ is unnecessary and thus devalued. Thus this is a major threat to his understanding of Christianity. If Jesus didn’t die for our sins, then he is not the Redeemer. What Augustine doesn’t say explicitly, however, is that Pelagianism is an even greater threat to those bishops in power. If an individual, all on his own, can make himself a Christian, what need is there of the church? Or bishops? Archbishops and bishops get their salaries and security because of the premise that they are absolutely necessary in the salvation of mankind. Pelagius is claiming men can, through self-discipline and conscience, do it on their own.

It was for this reason that another element of Augustine’s reality enters into the consciousness of Christians–if you do not believe you are an inherently sinful person, then you are the most sinful person of all, for you are a Satan denying the word of God. To this very day, we are still hearing Augustine’s voice–when the Evangelical radio preacher shouts that we are all sinners, when the sidewalk barker stands in constant judgment, self-righteously condemning any who deny their sinful nature, when the Catholic priest demands confession. The psychology and character of Augustine still lives on, and still makes up part of the national psychology of much of American culture.

Augustine’s view to Pelagius was not only unorthodox but too bleak, contradictory to scripture, and a bad personal commentary about a God of goodness. Augustine portrayed a rather pathetic, impotent man waiting around, waiting for God to save him, the direct opposite of an active, self-disciplined, and self-trained man living a Christian life.

Pelagianism became strong movement in Sicily, Carthage, and Palestine, and threatened to undermine Augustine’s authority and his view of reality. Thus Augustine had to act. And act he did. In pronouncements, letters, treatises, and sermons, he began his vicious, sometimes mocking attack. The most efficient way, however, of silencing an opponent was to call a synod and work for the denouncement of his views and then excommunication if he refused. Words might hurt, but banishment, punishment, and threat of death eradicated.

The first of these attempts was led by Jerome over in Palestine. The bishops met at Jerusalem to question Pelagius, but to their surprise they found an articulate, sensible, very devoted Christian man who was confident of his position. Pelagius tells them he respects Augustine, but the African bishop is simply wrong. “ . . . the person who is prepared to toil and strive to avoid sin and to walk in the commandments of God on behalf of his own salvation, is granted by God the possibility of so doing.” In an impressive performance, Pelagius convinced the bishop that he was not heretic, and no action was taken. Another synod will be held at Diospolis in 415, but once again Pelagius is found to be a valued Christian.

Not satisfied with this, the Augustinians would have to take their case to Rome and a bishop with much more power. It must be emphasized, that although Pelagian Christianity was not to become orthodox and the reality of the western Christian world, it WAS reality for a time. And it will be resurrected much later by men in the renaissance (notably one Pico della Mirandola) and again in even more liberal form during a period we call the Enlightenment. Among the men who could not accept the notion of a cruel God who would permit such an awful affliction as original sin upon human beings were Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin.

The first step of ridding the world of this version of reality was to call another synod at Carthage in 416. Here, under the influence of the powerful Augustine, to no one’s surprise, the 58 bishops criticized Pelagius as dangerous and immediately sent their results of their deliberations to Rome where Pope Innocent called another synod to discuss the matter.

Before the Pope could render judgement, however, he died (417) and a new pope, Zosimus, ascended to power in March. Continuing Innocent’s efforts, Zosimus called yet another synod, this time to interrogate Caelestius who had recently come to Rome. And he, too, concludes that Caelestius, and thus Pelagius, was a devout Christian who was certainly preaching a true Christian reality. He even calls both men “men of unblemished faith.” (p. 106 Ferguson.) and orders the African churches to accept his judgment. Needless to say, Augustine was furious. But the powerful do not give up easily.

Words, Augustine had learned, were weak weapons in such an intellectual battle over the nature of Nature. What he needed was the might and power of the state which could legally, and thus guiltlessly, enforce Augustine’s will by pain and death. Since the greatest fear of any Roman emperor during this time was disorder, it is not surprising that the Augustinian followers were soon battling the Pelagians in the streets of Rome. It also was convenient that two powerful sympathizers of Augustine’s, the emperor’s sister and one Count Valerius, began to urge Emperor Honorius to do something about the Pelagians, whom they blamed for the riots. With their persuasive words and 80 Numbian stallions as a bribe, the emperor that spring of 417 officially condemned the Pelagians and banished them all from the city. Note, by the way, that Pelagius was, indeed, a threat to anyone with money and earthly power, for, by his definition, they could not be true Christians because they were putting themselves before others.

With Pelagius banned from the city and on the run, the next step was to banish his view of reality from Christian theology. That summer of 418 over 200 bishops convened at Carthage, condemned Pelagius’ reality and voted (or what essentially amounts to a vote)  into existence that of Augustine’s–a reality that would remain as real as gravity for the next 2000 years–semen, sex, Grace, original sin and all.

This time Pope Zosimus, politically expedient as well as shaken and intimidated by the Emperor’s powerful friends, capitulated and, probably somewhat remorseful, sat down and wrote a long letter, the “epistola tractoria,”3 that excommunicates Pelagius and Caelestius and confirms for all time Augustine’s original sin. Thus in 418 original sin becomes the official reality of the western world. And it was made clear that it would be enforced. Death or imprisonment for anyone who dares see the nature of Nature any other way.4

Of course, such an authentic view of Christian reality was not easily stamped out, and it would be years before no more was heard of Pelagius or his followers, who like stubborn weeds kept popping up all over Christendom. Finally, in Ephesus in 431, Pelagianism was condemned as Christian heresy. This meant that those who believed that a loving Christ would automatically grant grace to a truly good person was NOT a Christian.5

But the battle was not over. While most bishops around Christendom accepted the Augustine view, eighteen bishops had walked out of the synod at Carthage. One of those was the outspoken Julian, bishop of Eclanum.

Julian, married to the daughter of a bishop, charged Augustine with imposing his own Manichean views and his personal sense of sexual shame upon all Christians. The Manichean leopard, he says, had not changed his spots. Sexual desire was the same for Adam as it was for us, he says. It didn’t come after eating the apple. Sexual desire and pleasure were gifts from God–not some naughty, dark force of the Devil.

Even the medical profession, with its theological biology, was on his side. “It was known that physical pleasure was necessary for reproduction: it was the confectrix commixtrixque seminum, the force that brought male and female seeds harmoniously together. A calor genitalis, a diffused heat, accompanied by pleasurable excitement, was necessary for reproduction. Without this, and the pleasurable sensations that accompanied it, conception simply would not happen. Marriage would have no point. Far from being the symptom of a sinister dislocation of the human person, sexual pleasure was the ‘chosen instrument of any self-respecting marriage . . . acceptable in and of itself, and blameworthy only in its excesses.’ “ ( from Opus Imperfectum 2.10:1145.) Although this is bad science, it underscores Julian’s very different sexual nature and his calm acceptance of lust as a biological necessity, not a evil force planted there by the Devil.

Julian was ever much Augustine’s intellectual equal and he was not willing to give up the fight. We are, after all, fighting about reality. For over a decade, the two will battle, Augustine going to the trouble to write six volumes specifically aimed at Julian. Opus Imperfectum Contra Julianum. But Julian is just as deft at citing biblical passages to prove his argument right or Augustine’s wrong. And he even claims that he has logically vanquished Augustine by relying on “the sound testimonies of the Scriptures, so that nothing remains of all Augustine’s arguments and propositions that has not been refuted . . . I proved that many things in his invention are false, many foolish, and many are sacrilegious.” Augustine, Opus Imperfectum 5, 22.

To show the folly of Augustine’s logic he points out that if women endure labor pains because of Eve’s sin, are sheep also suffering for the same reason? Moreover, there are pagan women known to drop their babies as, with little pain, and continue on their way. Are these less tainted somehow? Such logic he says is insane.

Even after Augustine’s death (430 ), Julian continued his attack and his ministry of free will and a loving God. He will even join Caelestius and other Pelagians in Constantinople in a plea before Bishop Nestorius, a more tolerant man who himself would eventually be condemned and banished to an Egyptian desert for believing that God and Jesus were separate entities, though God did somehow mysteriously dwell within Christ.

Eventually, in 439, Julian will petition Pope Sixtus III, requesting his formal acceptance back into the church, but to no avail. In his appeal, he persuasively chipped away at the Augustinian weak spots, reminding the Pope that if you carry Augustinian logic to its ultimate conclusions, marriage itself must be condemned (the vehicle of transmitting sin), hell is full of unbaptized babies and perfectly good people who had not yet heard of Christ, and the paltry number of saved souls through the phenomenon of Grace reflected not a loving, forgiving God, but a vengeful one, one who punishes people for what they cannot help doing. The church has yet to offer satisfactory replies.

But too much was at stake for too many people in political places and Julian’s stoic conception of nature would be banished from the world. Since this was as much a political debate as it was spiritual, it was only a matter of time before a compromise was suggested. It was called, not very imaginatively, Semi-Pelagianism.

The solution, thought John Cassian (in a work called Conferences), was that while Augustine was right that man cannot raise himself up to the level of a moral creature without Grace given by God, man can, contrary to Augustine’s views, rely on God to grant him Grace if he behaves in a certain way. The heart of man, he argues, is like a flint stone that God gently strikes and if God sees the genuine spark of love, then he will most assuredly give this man Grace. (A more modern metaphor would be that God, upon seeing the spark of faithful spirit in man, would immediately provide the oxygen of love so the spark would inflame.) To such a view a resurrected Augustine would say this is just a word game. God doesn’t barter. He Graces. And to do that, the Gracee can have no hope of salvation through his own actions.

Cassian’s view had appeal, especially to those who thought Augustine’s pill too dark to swallow. But Semi-Pelagiansim would also be condemned. In the south of France in the beautiful land of Provencal, the patriotic and independent-minded monks who had passed along what they knew to be sane Semi-Pelagian views about spiritual nature were all condemned at Orange in 529. From this date forward the reality of the Catholic world, and eventually all of Europe, would be that man was born with the taint of original sin, from which he could never, even by his own will, extricate himself, for that was solely the gift of God.

Sexual lust was no longer just a medically useful biological drive, especially active in the young, but a psychological manifestation of a inherent flaw in Nature. Nature herself, was infused with the taint of evilness. By definition, physical life was the carrier of the Devil’s force used to distract and lead mankind from God. Instinct is essentially sin. This is a radical view of nature as well as human nature, and yet one that became not just the accepted reality of the church, but eventually, through threat of murder or imprisonment, the only reality permitted in the western world. After several generations, citizens of the west were born into a reality the creation and evolution of which they would have no knowledge. Augustine’s version of the nature of Nature would be accepted without the slightest hesitancy; original sin was as real and logical to them as language. Augustine’s psychology became theirs.

The consequences of such a psychology will be great–during the next thousand years after Augustine’s death and during our own time. Within a few years after the concept of original sin finally became reality, it will become the “rational” foundation upon which many profoundly consequential arguments will be laid. Since man is incapable of controlling his innate lustfulness, it is the right of the state to do it for him. Legislating morality is a sacredly political act. Since self-indulgence in the sex act moves one’s mind away from God and toward Satan, the church has the necessary right to ban what it called “unnatural” sexual positions. Since one of the consequences of original sin was hard work and social stratification, some men and women were simply doomed to be slaves, a necessary and logical consequence that the state can do nothing about. And since the entire material world was corrupted with Eve’s prideful act, everything, including music, had become a potential means of Satanic seduction. By the fourth century C.E., the church is banning all pagan music, including their instruments, arguing that such appeals to the body lead one directly into the Devil’s lair, a view Bach will espouse fourteen centuries later.

For Jews this meant absolute grounds for their persecution and blame. After all, the first great sin was pride, and the most prideful thing a human being could do would be to deny that he was an inherent sinner. Though Jews, ever since Jeremiah, had admitted the evil propensity, no Jewish thinker had ever propounded or accepted such a debilitating theological principle. And not doing so put them, in Christian eyes, most certainly in the Devil’s army.

For women it meant a reality in which by the thirteenth century they are officially declared ”defective and misbegotten” males–genetic defects in nature. Both Luther and Calvin will claim that her inherent inferiority requires a life of obedience to the superior male. By the fifteenth century, women are potential witches, a state produced when women let their “natural” lust take control.

In our own time, we see Augustine’s fundamental premise at work from coast to coast. In Florida, city council members used it as their reason for outlawing what are called “thong” bathing suits for women–by exposing the anal cleft, they expose men’s “naturally evil” hearts to their true nature. They may not be able to help themselves. In California fundamentalist Christians protested vehemently against the state’s attempt to teach self-esteem as part of the curriculum in the public schools. Their reason? Teaching self-esteem implies one can achieve it on his own, when the fundamental essence of mankind prevents it. The only way to achieve self-esteem is through the gift of God in the form of Grace. The nature and extent of these consequences are the subject of our next chapter–the invisible web of original sin woven within the social and political fabric of American culture.

In historical terms, the beginning of this weaving for most colonial children came from their first lesson in The New England Primer : In Adam’s Sin We All Sinned. This first taste of theological milk would set in motion the birth of a mental atmosphere that would in effect become their psychology. There would be those, however, who escaped. Just how and why is an equally intriguing story–a story that will lead us to more Hellenic minds asking more Hellenic questions. Is it possible, they will ask, that Augustine is just wrong? Does the real source of this dark, pessimistic view of reality lie not with Eve or Adam, but with Augustine himself? Has Augustine simply transmuted his own inner battle with his own grave sexuality into universal law? Is the real truth that woman inspires man with horror–”the horror of his own carnal contingence, which he projects upon her.”6

At the same time the concept of original sin was becoming the official reality for all those under the power and authority of the Catholic church, the physical landscape of the west was beginning to change. The once-omnipotent empire, jeweled with glorious cities, was disintegrating first into warring kingdoms and then, after a the brief, bright light of Charlemagne, into isolated pockets of desperate survivors–Lords and peasants interlocked in a world in which providing daily food and security became everyone’s primary preoccupation. The only institution of power left standing was the church. And only it offered hope. But along with that hope came a consequence. In order to make the daily miseries bearable, in order to be guaranteed a hopeful future (after death), in order to truly survive in both the present and future landscape, one had to acquire an inner landscape–a landscape called conscience. This is one of the most profound moments in the history of the western mind. As the classical architecture and mind were literally disappearing, the Christian bureaucracy and mind were being born. And the very infrastructure of that mind quite “naturally,” and in Augustinian terms, began with a very new and very detailed conscience–a conscience that would sever forever the Christian inner mind from its Greek and Roman past.

How did the western conscience come to be? The next door opens inward.



Primary Sources:

Augustine, Confessiones, trans. William Watts, St. Augustine’s Confessions (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977)

Augustine, De Civitate Dei, trans, Henry Bettenson, City of God, (New York: Pelican, 1972)

For more on the Pelagians from Augustine’s point of view see, Augustine’s Contra ii epistolas Pelagianorum. Patrologia Latina 44.599-640. Translated by P. Holmes and R.E. Wallis, eds. Library of the Nicene and Post-NIcene Fathers, vol. 5 New York: Christian Library Company, 1887.

For his battle with Julian see Augustine’s Contra Juilianum. Patrologia Latina 44.641-880. Trans. W. A. Schuhmacher, Against Julian., Fathers of the Church 35. New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1957.

For fascinating tributaries on same issue see Augustine’s De nuptiis et concupiscentia. Patrologia Latina 44.415-475. Translated as On Marriage and Concupiscence. In P. Holmes and R. E. Wallis, eds. Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5

How this view applies more specifically to marriage, see Augustine’s, De bono coniugali. Patrologia Latina. 40.373.396. Translated as On the Good of Marriage and On Holy Virginity. Found in R. J. Deferrari, ed. Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects. Fathers of the Church 29. New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1955.

Secondary Sources:

N. P. Williams, The Ideas of the Fall and of Original Sin

J. B. Mozley, Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination.

F. R. Tennant, Original Sin; id, Origin and Propagation of Sin; id., Concept of Sin.

For the best exploration of the intellectual battle over the concept of Original Sin, see Elaine Pagels’, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (New York: 1898). The phrase the “nature of Nature,” I have borrowed from her.

For the most useful biography of Pelagius and his role in this battle with Augustine, see Pelagius, John Ferguson, (Cambridge: 1956)

Robert F. Evans, Pelagius: Inquiries and reappraisals. (New York, 1968)

Georges de Plinval. Essai sur le style et la langue de Pelage; suivi du traite inedit De induratione cordis Pharaonis. Fribourg en Su# 1947

For background of Augustine’s life, see Mary T. Clark’s introduction to her translation in, Augustine of Hippo: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist press 1984): 253.

Peter Brown’s The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. New York: Columbia University Press, pp.387–427

Augustine’s City of God, Trans. Henry Bettenson. (New York: Pelican, 1972). Introduction.

Roy Battenhouse’s A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine (1930), symposium.

J. N. Figgis, The Political Aspect of St. Augustine’s City of God (1921)

F. W. Farrar Lives of the Fathers, 2 vols. (1889)

Hans Campenhausen, The Fathers of the Greek Church (1959)

For those who desire more details about Augustine’s conversion, see Andre Mandouze, Saint Augustin. L’aventure de la raisoin et de la grâce, pp. 188-191. See also Henry Chadwick, “The Ascetic Ideal in the History of the Church,” found in W.J. Sheils, ed., Monks, Hermits, and the Ascetic Tradition, pp. 8-23.

“The Devil’s Gateway” Quoted by Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, p. 63, from Tertullian, De Cultu Feminarum, 1. 12.

Later Jerome (see his Letters 22, 18) will argue that God’s plan for both Adam and Eve was that they would remain virgins. It was only after the taint of original sin that lust took control of the will and the necessary evil of sexuality entered the world.

For references to Augustine Confessions I relied on St. Augustine’s Confessions, trans. William Watts (1631). (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977).

“I was bound . . . Necessity”: St. Augustine’s Confessions, trans. William Watts (1631). (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977). 8, 5

“It was not . . . son of Adam.” 8, 10.

For references to Augustine’s City of God, I relied on Henry Bettenson’s translation, Augustine, City of God, ed. David Knowles (New York: 1972)

“ . . . why should we . . . sin of disobedience?” Bk. XIV, 23, p. 585. See also Book 24.

“Sometimes the impulse . . . lascivious indulgence” Book XIV, 16, p. 577

“At times . . . arouse the body.” Book XIV, 16, p. 577

“So intense . . . are overwhelmed.” Book XIV, 16, p. 577.

“It is right . . . disobedience of its own.” Book XIV, chp. 17. p. 578. See Gen. 2, 25.

“This is why . . . same stock.” Book XIV, 17, p. 578. See Gen. 3, 7.

“The sexual act . . . for secret.” Bk. XIV, 18, p. 579.

“This offense . . . grace of God.” Bk., XIV, 20, p. 582.

From John Ferguson, Pelagius.

“hound of the alps,” p. 45.

“If sin is natural . . . will.” quoted by John Ferguson. ap. Aug., Juil. op. imperf. 4. 93 45:1393)

“ . . . the person . . . of so doing.” Ferguson, p. 84.

“men of unblemished faith.” Ferguson, p. 106.

For a good discussion on Augustine’s misunderstanding of Romans 5:12 see Ferguson, p. 54.

The “epistola tractoria” is cited by Ferguson, p. 112.

For more on the biological nature of sin see Peter Brown’s, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. New York: Columbia University Press), p. 413. He takes it from Opus Imperfectum 2.10:1145.)

The quote from Opus Imperfectum Contra Julianum, is trans. by Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, p. 136.


For detailed analysis of Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis, see Elaine Pagels, “The Politics of Paradise: Augustine’s Exegesis of Genesis 1-3 Versus that of John Chrysostom,” Harvard Theological Review 78, 1-2 (1985), 67-95.

Some of the main sources for nature of history of Pelagiansim come from the anti-Pelagian writings of St. Augustine: De gestis Pelagii, edition of C. Urba and J. Zycha, CSEL 42 (1902) 51-122: PL 44, 319-360; De gratia Christi et de peccato originali, Ibid. 125-206: PL 44, 359-410 (see Book II, chps. 8 f.); Contra duas epistulas Pelagianorum II, 1-4, CSEL 60 (1913) 460-468: PL 44, 571-577; Epistulae 186, 191, 194, edition of Al. Goldbacher, CSEL 57 (1911) 45-80; 176-214. St. Jerome’s Dialogi conta Pelagianos libri 3, PL 23 (1845) 495-590; Paulus Orosius, Liber apologeticus contra Pelagianos, edition of C. Zangemeister, CSEL 5 (1882) 601-664: PL 31 (1846) 1173-1212. For a more complete bibliographical review of the primary works surrounding the controversy see Paradoisis: Contributions to the History of Early Christian Literature and Theology vol. xx: The Pseudo-Augustinian Hypomnesticon Agianst the Pelagians and Celestians, John Edwdard Chisholm (The University Press Pribourg Switzerland, 1967).

1  NOTE:    For every passage Augustine can’t point to in order to prove his thesis (Romans for example or Job “who is pure from sin?” Pelagius and Caelestius can point to equally convincing passages: Job xiv. 4 “as against xii; 18; xvi. 17; xxiii. 11; xxvi. 6; sxxix. 14. “I am a just man” “I know that I shall be found just” “My prayer is pure” . . . or Mark x 18 = Luke xviii. 19 as against Matt v. 45; xxi. 33. “Why callest thou me good? There is none good, save only God,” is met by references to the good man from the lips of Jesus. Caelestius ends his work by returning to his initial theme. He asks if there can exist a completely sinless man,and replies that if God wills it, there can; God does will it; therefore there can.” p. 65

2    (Aug. Pelag. 4.4.7 (CSEL 60:528: see Ferguson, 54))

3    p. 112 (cite Mercator,Comm.)

4  NOTE: May 418 Synod at Carthage “Anyone who denies that newborn infants are to be baptized or who says that they are baptized for the remission of sins but do not bear anything of original sin from Adam which is expiated by the washing of regeneration, so that as a consequence the form of baptism ‘for the remission of sins’ is understood to be not true but false in their case–let him be anathema.”

5  The six propositions of Celestius from ap. Aug Jul. Gest. Pelag. 11. 23 (CSEL 42:76); ap Aug. Pecc. orig. 11. 12 (CSEL 42:173-174) “Adam was created mortal and would have died whether he had sinned or not sinned; the sin of Adam injured only him, not the human race; the law leads to the kingdom [of heaven], just as the gospel does; even before the coming of Christ there were men without sin; newborn infants are in the same state in which Adam was before his transgression; the whole human race does not die through the death and transgression of Adam, nor does it rise again through the resurrection of Christ.” Quoted by Pelikan “Emergence of Catholic Tradition.”

6  Taken from Richard Golsan’s essay “Simone de Beauvoir on Henry de Montherlant: A Map of Misreading?”in Contingent Loves: Simone de Beauvoir and sexuality, ed. by Melanie Hawthorne, p. 157.