Concupiscence, which can be defined as

perversity and lack of order, a turning away from the Creator who is more excellent toward creatures which are inferior to Him (To Simplician, I.2.18)

which is an important feature of St. Augustine's Doctrine of Original Sin (Prof. Jesse Couenhoven's journal article for Augustinian Studies 36:2 (2005), pdf here).

Put more simply, concupiscence is our inclination to sin, not itself sin. Concupiscence makes us vulnerable to sin, but susceptibility to temptation is not sin. It is the remaining effects of original sin (source: Simply Catholic article Concupiscence: Our Inclination to Sin).

This term is in widespread use in Catholicism but why do Protestant theologies, who also descended from St. Augustine, do not use this term? Is there a Protestant equivalent terminology for the same thing, and if so why change the terminology?

  • I'm sure some protestants do use it. Others probably think that terms like "sin nature" or "sin inclination" serve just fine...
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 12, 2022 at 4:51
  • Dont catholics also baptize children to remove original sin? Hence original sin itself requires guilt and responsibility. Concupiscence could simply equate to protestant depravity. It is slightly more depraved (ie total) than the catholic concupiscence.
    – Michael16
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


Oswald Chambers (24 July 1874 – 15 November 1917) was an early-twentieth-century Scottish Baptist evangelist and teacher who was aligned with the Holiness Movement. He is best known for the daily devotional "My Utmost for His Highest" (Highly recommend).

In one of his devotional writings he frames "original sin" as an inherited disposition rather than an inherited transgression. Augustine's concupiscence as our inclination to sin is Chamber's disposition to lay claim to our right to ourselves. I believe this nicely parallels Augustinian thought on the subject:

The Bias Of Degeneration: By Oswald Chambers

Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. — Romans 5:12

The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin; but that the disposition of sin, viz., my claim to my right to myself, entered into the human race by one man, and that another Man took on Him the sin of the human race and put it away (Hebrews 9:26) — an infinitely profounder revelation. The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong-doing, but the disposition of self-realization — I am my own god. This disposition may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has the one basis, my claim to my right to myself. When Our Lord faced men with all the forces of evil in them, and men who were clean living and moral and up right, He did not pay any attention to the moral degradation of the one or to the moral attainment of the other; He looked at something we do not see, viz., the disposition.

Sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot touch it; God touches sin in Redemption. In the Cross of Jesus Christ God redeemed the whole human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a man responsible for having the heredity of sin. The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin, but if when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from it, I refuse to let Him do so, from that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. “And this is the judgment” (the critical moment) “that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light.”

  • 1
    I +1 your answer, but I'm more curious why change the term from concupiscence, as though they mean something else. Apr 12, 2022 at 10:44
  • 1
    Since he was an early 20th century evangelist and teacher, perhaps concupiscence was a word archaic enough that it would have required a lot of defining, whereas disposition is more accessible? Here is a list of once common English words that have fallen into disuse: lexico.com/explore/archaic-words. The Simply Catholic website defines concupiscence as "the inclination to sin" so, even there the word has to be defined in more familiar terms. That's my best guess. Apr 12, 2022 at 11:28

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