Examination of Imputed Sin pt.1

We now turn our attention to further examining imputed sin. Where does it come from? What is it? Does it differ based on different denominations? Are there different views on this? If so, what do they believe? This post and the following post will start to examine these questions and hopefully provide more information on this doctrine and offer a glimpse at the beauty of what Christ did.


Examination of Imputed Sin

In the judicial and theological sense, to impute is to attribute anything to a person or persons, upon adequate grounds, as the judicial or meritorious reason of reward or punishment.[1] “To impute sin, in Scriptural and theological language, is to impute the guilt of sin.”[2] Guilt does not mean a corruption or fault, but the legal obligation to satisfy justice. The consequence of imputation is more than merely an infliction but a punishment; an evil imposed in execution of the penalty of law and for the satisfaction of justice.[3] So far as the meaning of the word is concerned, it makes no difference whether the thing imputed is sin or righteousness; whether it is our own personally, or the sin or righteousness of another.[4] The Reformed and Lutheran theologians admit that in the imputation of Adam’s sin to humans, of human’s sins to Christ, and of Christ’s righteousness to believers, the nature of imputation is the same, each illustrating the others.[5]

One of the major difficulties on imputation is in the fact of the universal dominion of sin and death over the entire human race, including infants, and the corresponding justice.[6] The issue of justice has led to two major distinctions on the imputation of sins, a mediate view and an immediate view. The mediate view says that humans derive a corrupt nature from Adam. This nature is the foundation of our condemnation, and guilt depends on participation in the corrupt nature; there is a “medium” between Adam and us. The immediate view removes this medium and says that when Adam sinned, we all sinned either because we were seminally present in Adam (Realistic); or since Adam was the head of all humanity, his act is considered to be ours (Representative). The essence of the immediate view is that “all people are born already under God’s wrath, that their lack of original righteousness results in inherent sin in which all human capacities are corrupted, and that sinful actions, being a result of those corrupted faculties, are not the ground for condemnation.”[7] The major passage on this topic is found in Romans 5:12-19. This teaches that “the death which came upon all men as a punishment came because of one sin and only one and that this sin was the one committed by Adam and his posterity as a unity.”[8]


[1] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), 194.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] J. P. Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Romans (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 195.

[7] D. G. Reid et al. “Sin,” In Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990), under sec., “S,” Logos Bible Software.

[8] William G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, ed. A. W. Gomes, 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2003), 558.


One thought on “Examination of Imputed Sin pt.1

  1. Pingback: Examination of Imputed Sin pt. 2 | Seeking Our God

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