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Tuesday
May312011

Theological Term of the Week

noetic effects of sin
The negative effect of sin on the minds and thinking of humankind, causing the reasoning ability of fallen humanity to be corrupted, especially degrading the understanding of spiritual things; also called the noetic effects of the fall.

  • From scripture: 

    For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21 ESV).

  • From the Canons of Dordt: 
    The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine
    Article 1

    The Effect of the Fall on Human Nature
    Man was originally created in the image of God and was furnished in his mind with a true and salutary knowledge of his Creator and things spiritual, in his will and heart with righteousness, and in all his emotions with purity; indeed, the whole man was holy. However, rebelling against God at the devil’s instigation and by his own free will, he deprived himself of these outstanding gifts. Rather, in their place he brought upon himself blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in his mind; perversity, defiance, and hardness in his heart and will; and finally impurity in all his emotions.

    Article 2

    The Spread of Corruption
    Man brought forth children of the same nature as himself after the fall. That is to say, being corrupt he brought forth corrupt children. The corruption spread, by God’s just judgment, from Adam to all his descendants - except for Christ alone - not by way of imitation (as in former times the Pelagians would have it) but by way of the propagation of his perverted nature.

    Article 4

    The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature
    There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him - so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

  • From Always Ready by Greg Bahnsen: 

    [W]e must recognize the noetic effects of sin. The fall of man had drastic results in the world of thought; even the use of man’s reasoning ability becomes depraved and frustrating. The whole creation was made subject to vanity (Rom. 8:20), thus bringing confusion, inefficiency, and skeptical despair into the epistemic realm. Even more, moral corruption overcame man’s thoughts (Gen. 6:5), so that the evil use of man’s mind became exhaustive, continual, and inescapable. Man unrighteously suppresses the truth in order to embrace the lie (Rom. 1:18, 25). In it’s pseudo-wisdom the world refuses to know God (1 Cor. 1:21), for Satan has blinded the minds of men (2 Cor. 4:4). Man uses his reason, not to glorify God and advance His kingdom, but to rise up in arrogant opposition to the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5).

    …In his Institutes of the Christian Religion John Calvin very pointedly remarked the philosophers need to see that man is corrupt in every aspect of his being—that the fall pertains to man’s mental operations as much as to his volition and emotions.

Learn more:

  1. Credo House Ministries: Noetic Effects of Sin
  2. Ligonier Ministries: The Noetic Effects of Sin
  3. GotQuestions.org: How did the Fall humanity?
  4. Paul Mizzi: After-effects of the fall
  5. Exegesis and Theology: Van Til on the noetic effects of the fall

Related terms:

Filed under Anthropology.

This week’s term was suggested by Violet Nesdoly. Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (1)

Thank you, Rebecca! Interesting. A new term to me.

June 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterViolet

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