A straightforward presentation of the Catholic truth
about original sin is the best antidote for this and other
misunderstandings of the doctrine. Many have found the
account presented by SaintThomas Aquinas in his
to be the most balanced and intelligible account
of this doctrine. This presentation will rely on him this
The nature of the first sin
Let’s begin with what happened in the garden as re-
counted in the Book of Genesis. What was the nature of the
first sin? What fault was it, according to divine revelation,
that Adam and Eve committed?
In his analysis of the nature of another fault—that of
the fallen angels—Saint Thomas Aquinas asks what sort
of sin it could have been.
Eliminating those capital sins
which can be committed only by persons with bodies, he
is left with the spiritual sin of pride: it is traditionally said
that the sin of the fallen angels was that they wanted to be
like God. But what is wrong with wanting to be like God,
Aquinas asks; this seems to be an altogether admirable thing
to desire. Their sin lay, he concludes, in their wanting to
possess this likeness to God, not as his gift,
but as their due
The parable of the wicked husbandmen (Mt 21:33-44)
dramatizes just this sort of sin—by no means restricted
to the angelic realm. The parable recounts the story of a
landlord who sends servants to his vineyard to collect from
the tenants his share of the harvest. The tenants treat the
servants badly—beating, stoning, and even killing them.
In the end, the landlord sends his son, thinking that the
tenants will respect him.
3 ST 1a.63, 1-3