The Representative View of Imputation of Sin

Continuing our series by looking at the different views on the imputation of sin, this post will focus on the final view that will be examined, the representative view (also called the federal view). The mediate and realistic views have already been examined and evaluated. 


The Representative View of Imputation of Sin

Adam was constituted by God the representative and federal head of his posterity, so that the transgression of Adam became all of humanities sin, in a legal and judicial sense, and without any injustice to them, so that they were fairly involved in its proper consequences.[1] God constituted our first parent the federal head and representative of his race, and placed him on probation not only for himself, but also for all his posterity. Had he retained his integrity, he and all his descendants would have been placed in a state of holiness and happiness forever. As he fell from the estate in which he was created, they fell with him in his first transgression, so that the penalty of that sin came upon them as well as upon him.[2] “As he sinned, his posterity comes into the world in a state of sin and condemnation. They are by nature the children of wrath.”[3] The reason why the penalty of Adam’s sin, or his imputation, has come upon humanity is the union between Adam and humanity. The Scriptures never speak of the imputation of the sins of angels either to men or to Christ, or of his righteousness to them; because there is no such relation between men and angels, or between angels and Christ, as to involve the one in the judicial consequences of the sin or righteousness of the other.[4] The union between Adam and his descendants is both natural and representative. Many who favor this view see the main reason Adam is the head of the whole race, beyond the constitution of our nature, is that there was a special divine constitution and that is what the Scriptures present Adam as.[5] Genesis points to everything that is said to Adam was said to him in a representative capacity.[6] This is further illustrated in the parallel drawn by Paul between Adam and Christ. Adam was the representative of his race, his sin is the judicial ground of their condemnation, while Christ is the representative of His people, His righteousness is the judicial ground of the justification of believers.[7]

Since Adam sinned, God accounts all his descendants as sinners, and condemns them because of Adam’s transgression. Consequently, God executes the condemnation by creating each soul of Adam’s posterity with a corrupt and depraved nature, which infallibly leads to sin, and which is itself sin.[8] The corrupt nature is thus not the cause of the imputation, but the effect of it. Romans 5:12 is then signified as saying, “physical, spiritual, and eternal death came to all, because all were regarded and treated as sinners.”[9]


[1] William Cunningham, Historical Theology, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1864), 337-38.

[2] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 196.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 197.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 198.

[8] Strong, Systematic Theology, 612-13.

[9] Ibid.


The Realistic View of Imputation of Sin

After reviewing the mediate view of imputation on sin and evaluating it, we now turn our attention to a more popular view on the Realistic view of Imputation of sin.

The earliest explanation for the sin of Adam and the guilt of all his descendants was the realistic theory which states that human nature constitutes both generically and numerically a single unit.[1] The same substance which acted in Adam and Eve, having been communicated to us, their act was as truly and properly our act, being the act of our reason and will, as it was their act.[2] It is imputed to us therefore not as his, but as our own. This means humanity literally sinned in Adam, and consequently the guilt of that sin is our personal guilt and the consequent corruption of nature is the effect of our own voluntary act.[3] “The total guilt of the first sin, thus committed by the entire race in Adam, is imputed to each individual of the race, because of the indivisibility of guilt.”[4]  This means that each individual nature is guilty and corrupt for the whole of the first sin or “offense” against God because even though the common nature is divisible by propagation, the offense and the guilt are not divisible.[5]

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Cross Cultural Review: Spirit of the Rainforest

Continuing our series by looking at the book, “The Spirit of the Rainforest.” This post will take a brief look at the aspects of the tribal Yanomamo culture that is not necessarily better or worse than those in the West, but is something that Americans can relate to with that culture.

Neutral Aspects

The Yanomamo tribes and American’s view the spirits or God as a tool used to get their way, envisioning a “genie” to grant their wishes. Both cultures experience Satan’s lies that God does not exist or is an enemy as he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:4). Americans struggle with many negative aspects found in the Yanomamo culture like vengeance, murder, and mistreatment of minorities. While the Yanomamo are much more aware of the spirit world including the good and bad spirits, a hierarchy to the spirits, and even inquiring of the spirits, the spirit world of the American culture has deceived many to move away from spiritual matters including to believe there is no God. Shoefoot even identified many signs and symbols of the spirit world while visiting America.[1]

Instead, many Americans are worshipping the counterfeit gods of money, sex, fame, and success without ever realizing what they are doing. Despite the differences between environment and culture, both suffer with sin and desiring more material possessions. Yanomamo men are more concerned about displaying courage and bravado[2], while in much the same way, Americans fall into the trap of displaying a false sense of success. Christians, like those of Honey, are often tempted to follow the surrounding culture and give in to its temptations. But as Christians, we are asked to stand apart and stand up for what is right, true, obedient, and to be faithful to God.

[1] Ibid, 251.

[2] Ibid, 44, 59.

The Significance of Women in Luke: The Cross and Resurrection

The Women of the Crucifixion and Resurrection

As the Gospel draws near to the final events in Jesus’ life on earth, Luke sets the stage for true spirituality and discipleship. The first encounter comes when Peter is questioned by a servant woman who recognizes him as a follower of Jesus (22:55-58). She had nothing to lose and was not a disciple of Christ, yet it is her truthfulness compared to Peter’s denials that foreshadows the fateful final hours. It was not Peter or the other disciples who responded in truth, but it is the women who appear in the remainder of the Gospel who show true faith.[1]

The next encounter is with the women who lament Jesus’ suffering (23:28-31). Christ tells them that their mourning should be over the failure of the people to recognize the gift of God. These women weep for themselves and their children as keepers of the vision, but in this moment they must face the truth in the darkness of the crucifixion.[2]

Instead of Luke focusing on the women standing under the cross as depicted elsewhere, Luke notes that they followed behind the body to see where Jesus was laid (23:55-56). Their role as the first to receive the news of the resurrection (24:9-11) is more significant. Unlike the other three Gospels, Luke does not record that it was a woman who first saw the resurrected Christ.[3] However, the women are the first to receive the message of the resurrection, and to act as disciples to spread the good news to the others, even though the apostles did not believe them.[4] Of particular note, when the angels speak to the women, the angel tells the women to “remember” what Jesus told them. Most of Jesus’ sayings about death and suffering were in private to His disciples (9:22, 43-45; 17:25; 18:31-34), therefore indicating the women were also being instructed by Jesus.[5]

Since Luke involves many women in the birth and surrounding events of Christ, it is appropriate that women were at His death, and the first to see His resurrection from the womb of the grave.[6] The faithfulness of the women who followed Jesus was rewarded with joy on the resurrection morning. Luke makes special mention of the women that followed (23:40) and remained faithfully standing by during the crucifixion and did not leave, unlike the multitudes that left and the disciples that abandoned Jesus.[7]

[1] Ibid, 201.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Rosalie, “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke,” 59.

[6] Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.”

[7] Rosalie, “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke,”58.

Glossary of Trinitarian Terms, Part 3

Today, we continue our series, “Glossary of Trinitarian Terms.” This will focus on some very big topics in Christianity and Christology that the early church struggled with. The biggest terms of note are the economic Trinity, Essence, Filioque, Generation, and Homoousios. The latter three are some of the highly debated topics the church fathers argued over. It is also important for us as it provides clarity on the Holy Spirit and Christ. It helps strengthen our own beliefs about Christ, His being and origin, as well as the deity of the Holy Spirit.

Doxology: (Gk. doxa and logos, “words of praise”) An ascription of glory to God, often traced to the Greater Doxology, or Gloria in Excelsis: “Glory be to God on high” and to the 4th century Lesser Doxology, or Gloria Patri: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

Ebionism: A primarily second century belief among peripheral groups in the Jewish diaspora that viewed Jesus Christ as an exceptional prophet (similar to John the Baptist)—human but not divine; Ebionites strictly adhered to Jewish law and rejected Paul’s writings.

Economic Trinity: Expressed as early as Hippolytus and Tertullian, it is a view of the Trinity focused on the functional acts (economies) of the Godhead in the creation and salvation of the world; this perspective is distinguished from that of the immanent Trinity (the Godhead in itself, transcendent, and outside all created reality); contemporary Trinitarianism debates the relation of the two. See Immanent Trinity.

Enhypostasis or Enhypostatic Union: The doctrine that the human nature of Christ exists in (en-) his divine nature (hypostasis); the divine Logos assumed and sustains Jesus’ human nature in the one person of Jesus Christ; or Jesus’ human nature subsists in the divine nature. See anhypostasis, negatively stating that no Jesus would have existed apart from the assumption by the Logos of a human nature.

Essence: (Gk. ousia, being; Lat. substantia, substance) The requisite fundamentals that constitute a static reality; in theology, the divine essence denotes that which constitutes the basic nature, substance, or fundamental character of the divine being, i.e., the Godness of God. See Consubstantial, Homoousios, Nature, Ousia, Substance.

Eutychianism: Contra Nestorius in the early 5th century, Eutyches promulgated the belief that Christ had “two natures before, but only one after, the Union” in the Incarnation; the divine and human natures commingled, each assuming the characteristics of the other; deemed heretical, the view continued as Monophysitism. See also Chalcedonian Definition; Nestorianism.

Filioque: The Latin word meaning “and from the Son” added by the West to the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed at the Council of Toledo (589) to express the double procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and from the Son. The term was contested from the East as diminishing the full personal deity of the Spirit and led to the schism of Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism.

Generation: Owing to Origen, the Nicean and Christian tradition affirms the eternal generation of the Son from the Father, as expression of Ps 2:7 (“today I have begotten thee”) and its citations in the NT and, again, the Gk. monogenes (trad. “only begotten”; lit. “one and only”). Some question the exegetical bases of eternal generation; others see it as broadly expressing the ontological relations of the Son and the Father. See Logos Christology.

Gnosticism: A non-Christian religio-philosophic movement especially evident during the early centuries C.E. which claimed that matter was evil and salvation was available only through gnosis, an illumination or revealed knowledge given esoterically. See Docetism.

Homoousios: Greek word meaning “of one and the same substance or being” as contrasted to homoiousios (“of a similar substance or being”) as applied to the Son’s divine nature in relation to that of the Father. See Consubstantial, Essence, Nature, Ousia, Substance.

Continuation of Terms Regarding Christ and the Spirit

Today, we continue our series of Trinitarian terms that pertain mainly to the deity of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. There are several concepts like Hypostatic union and Kenosis that will be further examined in upcoming posts.

Hypostatic Union, Two Natures of Christ, Relationship between Them-Importance for Salvation (see also Chalcedonian Creed)-The Hypostatic Union is the union between the deity and the humanity of Christ. In His deity, He is all that the Father is, He is the Son of God and possesses a divine nature. Christ’s divine nature was not always suppressed during His public ministry. The Savior’s Sonship and innate authority were often the point of His teaching and miracles. His submission to the Father and anointing by the Spirit do not negate the active operation of His divine nature. He sometimes acted as God, even Lord of the Spirit. In His humanity, he is born of a human, a perfect man, and possesses a human nature. Christ’s deity does not impede the reality of His humanity: His growth from infancy to maturity, His human temptation (not from sin within), His perfection through trials and suffering to become our High Priest.

Immaculate Conception-a term used of Mary, suggesting that she was free from conscious sin (there was no deliberate act of rebellion against God in her life). The conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her mother’s womb free from original sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her son Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ: Biblical Basis of Deity and Humanity-Deity: Christ’s divine nature was not always suppressed during His public ministry; the Savior’s Sonship and innate authority were often the point of His teaching and miracles. His submission to the Father and anointing by the Spirit does not negate the active operation of His divine nature, Joh 5:21-22. Humanity: Christ’s deity does not impede the reality of His humanity: his growth from infancy to maturity, His human temptations (not from within), His perfection through trials and suffering to become our High Priest, Heb 4:14-15

Kenosis-literally the self-emptying act of the Son of God in assuming human nature as found in Phil 2. Jesus emptied Himself of the rights, the prerogatives of being God were left behind, He does not assumed kingship, and taking on the servant role. See also the doctrinal statement for a longer discussion and argument on this from J.I. Packer.

7 Keys of Christological Orthodoxy – 1. Pre-Existence, 2. Virgin Birth, 3. Consciousness of Divine Sonship, 4. Literal Miracles, 5. Foreknowledge of Expiatory Death, 6. Bodily Resurrection, 7. Physical Return to Earth

Modern Christologies: Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), asserted that Jesus is our human example, He fully opened himself to God, Jesus had a divine consciousness not an eternal divine nature; known as the Father of Modern Theology, feeling became the center of Christian confession. Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), asserted the Fatherhood of God that the human soul can be so ennobled as to unite with God, that Jesus’ gospel is about the Father not the Son; asserted that Jesus preached the kingdom of God, not Himself, and he preached the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind. Karl Barth (1886-1968), asserted that Christology is the center of everything, the risen Christ of faith, no the historical Jesus is central, that the Word is Christ, Scripture, kerygma, encounter; asserted the resurrected Christ is the essence of the Christian faith. He proclaimed a “Christ of faith”. Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976), asserted extreme NT criticism, Jesus’ person and works finally unknowable, demythologization, when we die to self we experience existential resurrection; denied the Trinity and Deity of Christ.

Nestorianism-form of Christianity that continues today in Asia; asserts that sometimes Jesus Christ is acting as God, other times as humanity, but there is not adequate unity of the two in the one personal consciousness of our Lord.

Old Testament Evidences of the Trinity, One God yet Plural Agencies-God is One, ‘Ehad-“one”, “to be united”, primary texts include Dt 4:39, 6:4, Isa 42:8. God says “we” in Gen 1:26-27, plural terms for God include ‘Elohim’ and ‘Adonai’. Triadic patterns in the OT hint to a greater revelation in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in creation (ge 1:1-3, Pr 30:5-6), the Trisagion (“Holy, holy, holy”, Isa 6:3) or more generally in the tri-dimensional activity of God in the transcendent Other yet visibly made present in theophany, Shekinah, and in the immanent and activity of the Spirit (Ps 139:7). See also Isa 48:12-16, various translations include verse 16b as continuing the divine monologue as Yahweh speaks yet distinguishes himself from himself as the Sent One together with the Spirit. See also Isa 63:8-16, The Lord himself becomes the Savior and Redeem of Israel though the “angel of his presence” and full ascription “Holy Spirit” is found. See also Zech 12:10 Yahweh seems to refer to himself in the first and third person; God likens himself to an only son and a firstborn over whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem will weep bitterly, can be directly applied to Christ.

Parakletos-an attribute used to describe Jesus Christ as our Intercessor and the Holy Spirit as “the Counselor” or helper.

Perichoresis-“the dance around” as each member of the Godhead; there is a sense in which each member of the Godhead penetrates, has a reciprocal indwelling, each in the other.

Son as God, Relation to Father and Spirit-Jesus’ words and John’s commentary declare that the Son and the Spirit were with God (Jn 1:32, 15:26, 16:7). Jesus is said to have seen and to see the Father (Jn 1:18, 3:11, 32; 5:19, 29, 37; 6:46; 8:38) and to speak what he hears the Father declare (3:32, 34; 5:30, 37; 7:17; 12:49-50; 14:10). The Spirit also speaks and tells what he hears or receives of the Son (16:13-15). The father shows the Son all that he is doing (5:20); what the Father does, the Son does (5:19; 6:38). Interpersonally, the Father knows the Son (Jn 10:15) and the Son knows the Father; the knowledge Jesus has of God is based on relation. They Know and Testify of Each Other- Interpersonally, the Father knows the Son (Jn 10:15) and the Son knows the Father; the knowledge Jesus has of God is based on relation. The Spirit knows the Son and is known by the Son (Jn 14:26, 15:26, 16:14-15). Because each of the divine persons has eternal, infinitely deep knowledge of the other, the Father testifies of the Son, the Son of the Father and the Spirit of the truth that is in the Father and the Son. As the Spirit alights upon the Son to testify of him at his baptism, so it is the Son who presents the Spirit, testifies of his coming and with the Father, sends and gives the Spirit.

Theotokos: Appropriateness for Evangelicals-a term ascribed to Mary as literally, “the bearer of God”, or “mother of God”. Does not mean that Mary was mother of Christ’s divine nature, but mother of His human nature. Appropriate to the extent that it mentioned this is only to human nature, i.e. this term does not mean that Mary was a deity.