The Story of Sin and Salvation—Common Baggage Version (CBV)

From the time I started church as a second grader, I began to hear the story of sin and salvation. I heard it from the pulpit; I heard it from Sunday school; I heard it in adult discussions; and I heard it at home. It was an important story for us, and it was essentially the same wherever I heard it.

So far as I knew, it was the only story of sin and salvation, but many years later I discovered that what I actually learned was the Common Baggage Version (CBV). And I further realized that this version was severely flawed and, in fact, misleading and dangerous to people.

You might well have learned the Common Baggage Version, yourself.

Adam and Eve

Adam et Eve by Lucas Cranach l’Ancien (1472-1553)

The Common Baggage Story of Sin and Salvation

The Common Baggage Version of sin and salvation begins with God being really angry with us. See if you recognize this story:

God created Adam and Eve in perfection, but then Adam and Eve rebelled against God and sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. God put curses on both of them, and everyone born since then carries Adam’s ‘original sin’ and is separated from angry God.

God is so holy he cannot even look at us because of our sin. And because we are guilty of sin against an infinite God, we must receive an infinite punishment. Therefore we are all on our way to eternal suffering in the fires of hell, and there is nothing we can do to avoid it.

However, God himself made a remarkable provision. He sent his own son to take our sin upon himself. At the crucifixion, God poured all his wrath from our sin upon Jesus, who was infinitely righteous; Jesus suffered the penalty of sin for all of us. Therefore, if we accept the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, God is able to look at us through the blood of Jesus and forgive our sin.

If we accept Jesus as our savior in the proper way, and separate ourselves from sin in our lives, we can avoid eternal suffering in hell and, instead, go to heaven when we die.

Is this similar to the story you learned? Or have Christians told you some form of this story to urge you to give your life to Jesus and avoid hell? Probably so.

Concern, Confusion, and Insecurity Regarding the Concept of Sin

Distressing over sin and salvation issues is common among believers.

On one hand are believers who embrace the Common Baggage Version (CBV) and have ‘accepted’ Jesus. They deal with the issue in several ways, including these:

1. One group of CBV believers constantly struggle to be certain they are successful in eliminating and confessing sin in their lives in order to maintain their salvation. For some this is an endless source of insecurity about whether they will eventually burn in hell anyway. This is a legalistic approach toward sin.

2. Another group of believers also accept the CBV of sin and salvation, but they have less insecurity about going to hell because they are convinced they have control over sin in their lives. Their legalism is advanced to the point that they are able to check off that they have avoided every item on their list of sins.

3. A third group of CBV believers add a theological twist to avoid, or reduce, the stress of the continuing issue of sin in their lives and its consequences. Their overall story of sin and salvation is the same as others, but they contend that, once they are saved, the grace of God continues to cover sins that might occur.

On the other hand are believers who struggle with the validity of the Common Baggage Version itself. They question certain beliefs they have been taught and have difficulty with the sin and salvation aspects of those beliefs. This blog is for these believers.

A Series on Sin and Salvation—Not the Common Baggage Version

Today begins a new series on sin and salvation. We will challenge the Common Baggage Version as an inappropriate model of sin and salvation. I think the theory of sin and salvation that I call the CBV is very harmful to believers and to the advancement of the kingdom of God on Earth.

We will also examine the concept of sin in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and we will evaluate various theological theories of how salvation works in order to see the differences and discover which ones are most consistent with the teaching and example of Jesus. This series was among the leading topics chosen by those who participated in the preference poll in November.

Possible topics include:

  • What is Sin but Pain and Alienation?
  • Addressing Sin in the Old Testament
  • What Does Jesus say about Sin? Not Much!
  • Substitutionary Atonement
  • We Do Not Inherit Original Sin from Adam
  • The Soul that Sinneth, It shall Die?
  • What does Paul Mean by ‘All Have Sinned’?
  • The Problem with the Sinner’s Prayer

But you can influence what topics we actually cover. If there are specific aspects of sin and salvation you would like me to discuss, please share them in comments below. I am looking forward to the series!

Articles in this series: Sin and Forgiveness

The Story of Sin and Salvation—Common Baggage Version (CBV)
What is Sin but Pain and Alienation?
Addressing Sin in the Old Testament
The Prophets Begin to Talk about Sin in a New Way
What Does Jesus Say about Sin? Not Much!
The Misguided Concept of ‘Loving the Sinner and Hating the Sin’
What Does Jesus’ Death on the Cross Do for Us?
How Substitutionary Atonement Fails
Why Did Jesus Die on the Cross?
Does Jesus Tell Us to Judge People in Matthew 18?
Are Sins Primarily Sins against God?
“If There’s No Hell then I Will Sin All I Want!”
Problems with the Sinner’s Prayer
What does the Story of Eden Tell Us? Is it about Sin?
We Do Not Inherit Original Sin from Adam
Original Sin or Original Self-Centeredness?
Who Does God Refuse to Forgive?

See also:

What Does Jesus Think of Sinners Today?


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44 Responses to The Story of Sin and Salvation—Common Baggage Version (CBV)

  1. tonycutty says:

    You could also say there’s a fourth group of CBV believers. These people believe the sin/penal substitution idea but they no longer worry about sin, and get on with life. It’s a step further from allowing God’s Grace to ‘cover’ it up, because you can believe that as it was all handled at Calvary, that’s it. Period. The Grace of God is what gave us Jesus in the first place. So it’s nearly the same as your third point, but not exactly. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to hold that view. Although, as you will know from reading my blog, I am currently working on my theology surrounding the mental replacement of the hell/penal substitution doctrines with something more believable, it is still a reasonable way to live the Christian life. The problems come when you try to think of all the 99.999% of the human race who (obviously!) do not believe exactly the right formula to get them to Heaven. And that’s when you begin to question the doctrines!

    I’m really looking forward to reading this new series, Tim!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I agree that your fourth group does exist. I have no idea how many shades of thought on the CBV exist among its followers. I have been following your developments on your blog and look forward to more.


  2. Tony says:

    Great i cant wait to see where this takes us, as im a firm believer that we dont carry adam & eves Original sin. Yes we may do things in our lives that might not be of best interest to us & others. But that to me dont warrant eternity in a fiery hell.
    To me Heven & Hell is here On earth & no where else!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I hope you like the directions this series goes. I certainly agree that we don’t carry Adam’s original sin.


  3. JoshWay says:

    This is a very adept encapsulation of the sin/salvation framework I grew up with. It is a powerful experience to grow and discover a more liberating and hopeful (and more biblical!) vision of salvation. Looking forward to these posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chas says:

    Tim, The need for ‘salvation’ (rescue) that made the necessary impression on me was taken from Isaiah 59:2 – Your iniquities have separated you from your God. As this was being explained, the speaker used his Bible physically, with us below and God above, to show a separation from God, and I suddenly realized that believing Jesus was the Son of God would bring me from separation into the Spiritual Presence of God. Since that time, I have come to understand that God does not destroy, but there is destruction in the universe, so the separation comes through the absence or presence of destruction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, I very much agree that our iniquities separate us from God, but I think the feeling of alienation is on our part–not Gods part. The Father continues to try to bring about reconciliation.


      • Chas says:

        Tim, I very much agree that God wants us to come out of destruction into His Presence, where we can stop doing things that lead to suffering; however, we have to want to come out of it, once we are aware of it. Sometimes that can involve giving up things that might be dear to us, or in overcoming some fear that has its origin in our childhood.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          I agree, Chas. The Father wishes to heal our alienation, but we have to be interested in doing so. He wishes for us to avoid being self-destructive, be we have to want to change.


  5. sheila0405 says:

    If I were to do a series on sin and salvation, I’d start with Original Sin. BTW, I deconverted from Christianity altogether on New Year’s Day. Looking forward to your series as my life moves ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Yes Sheila. I didn’t start with Original Sin but it is a very important bit of baggage. I started elsewhere in order to set the stage for subsequent aspects like Original Sin. I hope you like that post when we get there.

      Can you tell me more about your deconversion and what it involved?


      • sheila0405 says:

        Ah, Tim–my deconversion really began in earnest three years ago, so I really can’t get into it now. I’m hoping to stay on top of my blog, which will eventually address all of my turmoil and where I am now. Thanks for following it. My time is so limited these days, so be patient as I try to get to my blog more often. Regards!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Jodee says:

    Happy New Year Tim! I really like this direction. I’ve always wondered what son & salvation are. It is so basic & foundational. I’ll be praying the blog daily for a while! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Frances Koopmann says:

    I believe in original blessing. The CBV version is so harmful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: What is Sin but Pain and Alienation? | Jesus Without Baggage

  9. This is a topic well worth the discussion you are proposing. It is good that you are framing this as an attempt to challenge assumptions that have been ingrained into belief structure – assumptions that may not be valid. Thanks for wading into this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Addressing Sin in the Old Testament | Jesus Without Baggage

  11. consultgtf says:

    Sin, You may call it that way, but it disobedience according to me.

    We want our children to obey us, that is the norm in our place, but if my beloved child betrays my advice, and try to overrule, then I have tell the same in little harsh tone, still if it continues, for goodness of the society, I have punish my beloved child, mind you, I have no vengeance on my child. This LOVE is accepable to all good parents but cannot be accepted by some…

    Now who is at fault/loss, the unruly children or…

    The prodical son is a class example.

    Kindly do not give a new perspective this concept of DISOBEDIENCE!


    • sheila0405 says:

      It depends on how a child is punished. Many ultra conservative structures start spanking infants, in accordance to a book by Debi Pearl called “To Train Up A Child”. There’s a fine line between correction (which is better than just punishment, IMHO), and hurting a child. Again, just my opinion. I wish I knew that when I was raising my own two children.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. sheila0405 says:

    The subject of disobedience has raised its head. The apostle Paul wrote that there was no sin prior to the Law, because, (he said), the Law revealed sin. Yet, the OT has God punishing not only “Adam” and “Eve”, but the whole planet in the “Flood”. The Bible is inconsistent, until you come to understand why it was written.

    Liked by 1 person

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