Answer: Since the
phrase “inherently sinful” seems to be alluding to the Christian
doctrine of “original sin,” my answer will address that particular
teaching. First, a quick review of the doctrine in its fundamental form
which is a clerical interpretation, inter alia, of St. Paul’s 1
Corinthians 15: 22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall
all be made alive.”
Those who accept the doctrine believe that since Adam ate the forbidden
fruit of the tree of good and evil, he committed a double offence:
disobedience, traditionally interpreted as satisfying sexual lust. The
disastrous consequences of his disobedience have been unavoidably
transmitted to all Adam’s descendants, causing a situation of “blood
guilt” deserving death, and necessitating the sacrificial death of
Christ in order to expatiate Adam’s sin.
While Bahá’ís do accept the sacrificial death of Jesus, they do not
accept all the man-made theological justification that accompanies it.
Regarding the crucifixion of Christ, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son
and successor of the Prophet-Founder Bahá’u’lláh, and the authorized
interpreter of his teachings, said: “He (Christ) arose to teach and
educate men, and so he sacrificed himself to give the spirit of life.
He perished in body so as to quicken others by the spirit” (Some
Answered Questions, p. 119). But he emphatically rejected the clerical
interpretation of original sin.
This explanation is unreasonable and evidently wrong, for it means that
all men, even the Prophets and the Messengers of God, without
committing any sin or fault, but simply because they are the posterity
of Adam, have become without reason guilty sinners, and until the day
of the sacrifice of Christ were held captive in hell in painful
torment. This is far from the justice of God. If Adam was a sinner,
what is the sin of Abraham? What is the fault of Isaac, or of Joseph?
Of what is Moses guilty?” (Some Answered Questions, p. 119)
The reasons for the commission of sin — i.e. breaking a commandment —
are psychologically complex. Even with the indispensable spiritual
education given by the Prophets, humans clearly exhibit a tendency to
sin. But through conscientious striving, we can improve ourselves, thus
more clearly exemplifying divine teaching. -