The case for representative immediate imputation of sin

The next few post will tackle a research series I completed for a class on hamartiology. Some of this material will be a bit much and too detailed as we jump into the theology pool but because of the length constraints on the research, it won’t go too deep. First, a brief introduction into the topic and where we will go.


The question is normally “Why would a good God declare and label people sinners who were not part of the first sin? How is that just and fair?” Theologians have wrestled throughout history with the issue of the imputation of sin which is sin or guilt being attributed or reckoned to each human. There are many views on the imputation of sin each struggling with the issue of justice while trying to stay biblically grounded. Imputation of sin breaks down into two main categories: mediate and immediate. The immediate further separates into the representative, also called federal, and the realistic. There are other views such as Pelagian and Arminian that have their own views on imputation but these have been widely discredited and will not be discussed. While each view has their strengths and weaknesses, the representative view will be shown to be the best view in contrast to the realistic immediate view and the mediate view. This paper will provide background and evidence for imputation, examine the three major views, and finally show the representative model as the best choice.


Sin’s Effect on Creation

Previously, we looked at a working definition of sin. This post will examine the impact of sin not only on humanity, but on the world around us. Sin has made an impact on Creation, humanities relation to creation, and the relationships that we experience with each other. As we have rebelled against the Almighty and holy God, what are we putting in charge of our lives? Are we living for the glory of God or the glory of self? In a world of humans that are sinful (whether you believe in a total depravity or “partial” depravity, that is a discussion for another day), sin affects us each day. It has an impact on us every day and every minute of that day.

In the end, understanding sin causes a believer to look to God and say “Thank You”. Thank you for grace. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for sending Jesus to be our lasting and eternal sacrifice. Thank you for atonement, regeneration, justification, and sanctification. Thank you for Your mercy. Understanding sin and how it affects us daily, the ways that it can cause us to disobey God and grieve or quench the Spirit are very important for personal reflection. We must reflect on our weaknesses and trust those to God. All the while, delighting in what Paul said that when we are weak, then we are strong. We are strong because we don’t rely on ourselves. No, we rely on the Holy Spirit. Praise be to God for that good news!


Sin’s Effect on Creation

All humans are affected by sin, which distorts our being at its root; the effects of sin are shown in every aspect of human life, in sins.[1]  As a consequence of sin, man lost his spiritual life, became dead in sin, and is subjected to the power of the devil.[2] Total depravity has been transmitted to the entire human race, whereby Adam’s posterity is born with a nature that is absent of divine life and essentially corrupt apart from grace (Gen 6:5; Rom 3:10-19; Eph 2:1-3).[3] Sin is credited with having caused infinite tragedies both in heaven and on earth. Beyond all this, sin must be recognized as that which elicited the greatest divine sacrifice and required the payment of a ransom that necessitates the lifeblood of the Son of God.[4] The problem sin creates is more than a conflict between good and evil, it involves the measureless conflict between the holiness of God and all that is opposed to it.[5]

Sin is more than a surface matter, it is a fundamental corruption of the very essence of what it means to be human.[6] Sin affects us both as individual persons and as persons who are created to live in community.[7] No society, or any aspect of society, is free from the outworking’s of human pride, self-centeredness and the desire to be in control.[8] The human will is able to choose, but, tainted by sin, it has no power to choose what is wholly good.[9]


Sin is fundamentally a restless unwillingness by humans against the infinite wisdom of the Creator. Sin derives its measurements from that which is good, and since the holy character of God is the standard of that which is good, sin is as evil as it appears to be when viewed from the vantage point of the holiness of God. The reality of sin and its dire consequences have led to corrupted relationships with God, one another, creation, and one’s own personal self.[10] Sin has resulted in human’s total depravity. Every aspect of human existence is totally affected by sin. The depravity of sin is both the loss of original righteousness, and the corruption of our being so that we cannot turn to God on our own apart from God’s enabling grace. It is sin that has drawn out redemption from the heart of God, and redemption is the only cure for sin.[11]

[1] Sherlock, “The Doctrine of Humanity,” 234.

[2] Dallas Theological Seminary, “Full Doctrinal Statement, Article IV, Man, Created and Fallen,” internet, 2015, accessed April 26, 2015,

[3] Ibid

[4] Chafer, Systematic Theology, 226.

[5] Ibid

[6] Sherlock, “The Doctrine of Humanity,” 165.

[7] Ibid, 65.

[8] Ibid, 99.

[9] Ibid, 163.

[10] Ibid, 170.

[11] Chafer, Systematic Theology, 224.


Calvin, John. Institutes of Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. London: Bonham Norton, 1599. Accessed April 26, 2015.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. 1993.

Dallas Theological Seminary. “Full Doctrinal Statement, Article III, Angels, Fallen and Unfallen.” Internet. 2015. Accessed April 26, 2015.

Dallas Theological Seminary. “Full Doctrinal Statement, Article IV, Man, Created and Fallen.” Internet. 2015. Accessed April 26, 2015.

Holsteen, Nathan. “Session 20: Definition and Nature of Sin.” Unpublished class notes for ST 103. Dallas Theological Seminary. Spring Semester, 2015.

Sherlock, Charles. The Doctrine of Humanity. Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Strong, A.H. Systematic Theology. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907


The next couple of posts will focus on sin, what it is and its effect on Creation. These posts will attempt to integrate and synthesize a wealth of information into a smaller 700 word article. Books upon book have been written on sin and its adverse impact on a beautiful world. Countless volumes could be written on it and have been. Sin affects everything. It changed the world and us as creatures. We deal with its affects daily. Each day there is something in our lives that is vying for the throne of our hearts. There is sin that has lingered and festered in our lives for years. It has reminded us of our brokenness. It is a reminder of our almost constant rebellion against God.

Sin is the opposite of our holy and perfect God. This post will briefly introduce our topic and provide a working definition. The next post will show sins effect on Creation and how we respond or recognize our own sin and the awesome work of Christ in His perfection. There is much to be said on this topic, but little space and little time. Continue reading