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.

Evaluation of Realistic Imputation

Following the previous post on the Realistic view of the imputation of sin, this post will provide an evaluation of this view. It will look at both the positives and negatives of it and how it deals with some of the difficulties that are a part of this topic.


 

Evaluation of Realistic Imputation

In contrast to the mediate view, the realistic view has a number of positives. The realistic view sets out to resolve the issue of injustice and protect God’s righteousness. It maintains a scriptural view of the sin nature and the severe character of death. The origin of the soul is supported by the Traducian view. It provides a way of comprehending the unity of humanity by describing all humanity in the act of Adam as a collective, undistributed, and unindividualized form of existence.[1] The realistic view provides a better explanation for understanding the story of Levi offering tithes to Melchizedek while still in the loins of Abraham (Heb 7:9-10).

The realistic view is motivated to resolve the question of justice, however, it does not actually resolve the issue or provide an adequate answer. Prominent realist William G. T. Shedd confirms that our sin was not conscious, but the conscious act of Adam and Eve. Shedd says, “Guilt is caused by self-determination, not by self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is not action, but vision; and it is action, not the sight of an action that constitutes crime. A man is wrongly inclining all the time to self and the creature, but he is not self-conscious all the time that he is wrongly inclining.”[2] Shedd argues that from a certain standpoint unconscious action can be guilty, however, even human justice can recognize a distinction between guilt in the presence of diminished capacity.

The realistic view affirms that humans acted before they existed. Hodge argues against this proposition saying, “We had no being before our existence in this world; and that we should have acted before we existed is an absolute impossibility.”[3] An act implies a responsible voluntary act which must be a person. Before the existence of that man, a man cannot perform any voluntary action. “Actual sin is an act of voluntary self-determination; and therefore before the existence of the self, such determination is an impossibility.”[4]

The realistic view is inconsistent and incompatible with Paul’s justification writing in Romans 5:12-21. Paul clearly shows that the righteousness of Christ is not our own but is imputed to us, and as people accept Christ work and are redeemed, they are declared righteous. The realist denies the sin of Adam as the sin of another is the ground of our condemnation; and in consistency it must also deny that the righteousness of Christ, as the righteousness of another, is the ground of our justification.[5] It offers an inadequate explanation of the parallelism between Adam and Christ and affirms that we are condemned for a sin not our own, and justified for a righteousness not our own.

In affirming humanities union with Adam in the participation of sin, this view struggles to explain the sinlessness of Christ. Since Christ was human, then He was also part of the human race in Adam and therefore cannot be sinless. But, if He was not fully human, then He did not participate in the humanity of Adam and thus cannot be the Redeemer. In fact, Christ should have been held responsible for the actual commission of sin in Adam, for He certainly shared the same human nature, the nature that actually sinned in Adam.[6] Realist will point out that we have different unions with Adam and Christ, but this still shows the concept of injustice and destroys the parallelism in Romans 5.

Scripture points out that the first sin was actually by Eve, thus this view misunderstands Scripture and seems to imply that the human race fell with Eve. “Generic humanity as individualized in her, apostatized from God, before Adam had offended; and therefore it was her sin rather than his, or more than his, which ruined our common nature. But such is not the representation of Scripture.”[7] This point also brings up the objection as to why humans are responsible for Adam’s first sin and not his subsequent. The genus was no more individualized and concentrated in Adam when he was in the garden, than after he was expelled from it.[8] Plus, we are said to bear the guilt of his sin, not the sin of Eve’s. As will be shown, the reason is Adam was our representative. The covenant was made with Adam, just as it was made with Abraham and not Sarah.[9] The realistic view misrepresents the biblical view on headship.


 

[1] J. P. Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Romans, 192.

[2] Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 563.

[3] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 224.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 225.

[6] Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 242.

[7] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 225.

[8] Ibid, 225.

[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]

Continue reading

Examination of Imputed Sin pt. 2

Today’s post will finish the brief examination on what is sin, what is imputed sin, and how does it fit into a representative model. What role did Adam have in this? How are we connected with Adam? These questions will be examined in this section. The first part of this discussion can be found here.


There are three main explanations on the word sin or “hēmarton” in this passage [Romans 5:12-19]:

(1) It is active in its meaning and denotes the first sin of Adam and his posterity as a unity: his posterity being one with him by natural union or else by representation or by both together; (2) it is active in its meaning and denotes the first sin of each individual after he is born; and (3) it is passive in its meaning, signifying, either “to be sinful” or “to be reckoned as having sinned.”[1]

Paul, unless he departed from the invariable Scripture us of the word hēmarton when he asserts that death as a just punishment, passed on to all men “because all sinned,” employs the word sinned actively.[2] But if he did depart from the usual meaning of hēmarton, he would be the only inspired writer to do so; and this would be the only instance in his writings in which he does.[3] Initially, man was created as enduring as the angels. Though some angels sinned, God did not impose the judgment of death upon them. Their judgment was of another form. The first angel to sin was not a federal head of the angels, nor is there among them any procreation with its problem of heredity.[4] Therefore, there could be no parallel experience with respect to judgments from God for sin set up between the human race and the angels. No other man, not even Abraham, stood first in the generations of humanity nor did any other receive a divine commission to this unique responsibility.[5] However, there is a perfect headship in the resurrected Christ over the New Creation. All typology in Adam respecting Christ is built on the fact of the two perfect headships. Nevertheless, the most illuminating passage (Heb 7:9-10) on the fact of federal headship concerns Abraham; which implies not only headship but that the offspring are seminally represented in the federal head and are divinely reckoned as having acted in the federal head.[6] No one would claim that Levi consciously or purposefully paid tithes to Melchizedek, yet God declares that he did pay tithes. Likewise, no one will claim that each individual in Adam’s race consciously or purposefully sinned in Adam; yet there can be no doubt that God reckons that each member of the race sinned in Adam’s transgression.[7] The same federal coaction asserted in the words “all sinned” is implied in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die.”[8] Therefore, God sees only two men and each member of the race is either in Adam (the unregenerate) or in Christ (the regenerate).[9]


 

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

[2] Ibid, 559.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Chafer, Systematic Theology, 313.

[5] Ibid, 302.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 303.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

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] Continue reading

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]

Conclusion

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, http://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinalstatement/.

[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.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Calvin, John. Institutes of Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. London: Bonham Norton, 1599. Accessed April 26, 2015. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.html.

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. http://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinalstatement/.

Dallas Theological Seminary. “Full Doctrinal Statement, Article IV, Man, Created and Fallen.” Internet. 2015. Accessed April 26, 2015. http://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinalstatement/.

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

A DEFINITION OF SIN

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

The Gospel Story in a Postmodern World

This past semester I was required to watch a Czechoslovakian short film called “Most” (translated “The Bridge” in English) as part of a class. This film was nominated for an Academy Award back in 2004 for best short film. As a lover of film and photography, I was excited to watch this film and it was simply amazing. The writing is captivating, the cinematography is brilliant (and regardless of whether you watch this film for what I have to say below, just watch it for the brilliance that is displayed), and the music is wonderful.

What made this film more interesting for me is that it was part of a soteriology class (a class on salvation). The professor does a wonderful job at stressing to the students the importance of being culturally relevant. That is, he wants the students to be theologically sound, hear what culture is saying and yearning for,  but also identify ways of connecting with culture and how to share the gospel message through a variety of ways.  What is the message that a person, group, or community is saying. What is that culture or person worshipping? What are the themes or narratives of the story? What is the story and how does one relate to it? Throughout this class, we have listened to songs from mainstream artists to Christian artists to those who were once Christian artists and now are not. Obviously, music and film is a huge factor in society.

In today’s day and age, connecting with the audience through storytelling is vitally important. Typically, being in a postmodern world, connecting with people is all about the story. If we think about how the Gospel message was shared during the Modern era, it is drastically different, not better or worse, just different. Change has brought adaptation. It is a different era. People of today tend to connect through stories. A more recent example is to think back to 20 – 30 years ago and the widespread use of tracts that the church community would use to share the gospel with a non-believer. While those still exist as well as other “older” and different techniques, in dealing with an ever changing world that is always connected and loves their social media, Christians have adapted and tried to venture into different avenues of telling the Gospel story.

The Bridge is a film that really stuck with me. It captivated me and engrossed me into the story. I went in not knowing what it was about or the outcome, but left with an appreciation for what the filmmakers did. The Bridge is an example of talented people sharing the Gospel message through film. It is an example of how we as Christians can show/tell the beauty and majesty of Christ and His work to a generation or population that connects with stories and film.

As a person who adheres, follows, and believes in a literal hermeneutic, there will be many that watch this who say that is not “really” the gospel message. There were many in my class who said or thought the same thing. The reason is the story does not tell the whole story of the gospel. It does not give the viewer insight into the Trinitarian relationship of the Father and the Son and how they put a plan into place for the redemption of the world. It does not show Jesus making a choice. Instead, it shows a split second decision of the father (which is far different from the All-Knowing and wonderful Father).

I say this with caution, watch the film and remember the various parts of the gospel. The cautionary part is to just watch, not through the literal lens of all the film didn’t cover, but through the lens of reflection and contemplation.  Through the lens of a father that made a choice. A choice that was not easy. You may have to put your allegorical hat on. You could also call it a modern parable if you wanted. It is a parable that tells and conveys a message of sacrifice, redemption, and hope.

Some will say, “Well, there is no resurrection.” That is a valid point. There is not a true resurrection of the boy. However, at the end of the film, you are left with a boy that looks very much like the son that died and a father that was sad at how much he lost. Upon seeing the boy, the joy returns with the father raising his arms, essentially seeing the sacrifice was worth it.

The message will focus on the sacrifice and decision of the father. It will show the lengths the father goes to in order to save all those passengers who were doomed and never knew it. There are many today that are walking around searching for answers. There are many who are broken and lost, who have turned to addictions to ease the pain. Many seek to fill the void with things (or “broken cisterns”) that will never leave them satisfied. We have tried to fill this emptiness left by sin with counterfeit gods that only leave us worse off and dissatisfied. Our lives yearn to have that fellowship with our Father that was lost. We long for the Garden.

There is hope though. That fellowship is repaired through Christ. Many have heard or seen the illustration that between God and man there is this canyon or valley that exists because of sin. Christ came, died, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven and will come back. The Cross and Christ essentially bridges the gap between Holy God and sinful man.

The topic of culturally relevant theology is a discussion for another post, but after seeing this amazing film I wanted to share it with you. Many have probably seen it, but think about the title. Think about where this happens. The analogy of the father making a decision by sacrificing his son to save the many has been used in several evangelism models. It is popular enough that you may have even used once before. This brings that analogy to life. The anguish, the hurt, the reluctance, the death, the sorrow, the pain, and the decision all come to life in this beautiful story.

I love the Gospel and love the Gospel story. I am not advocating changing the story or conforming it to “trick” someone into believing. As Christians we are to be strong and faithful to the true and accurate faith in Christ. Yes, I know there are many other stories/films/songs that show the gospel either overtly or covertly, but what I love about this film is how the Gospel story is being shown in a way that relates to this postmodern world. It meets those that are broken in hurting and shows how hard it was for the Almighty Father to sacrifice His only Son. As popular songs and movies play, they show the great need for a Savior and how culture looks for a Savior in all the wrong places. This movie meets the people where they are at with a story of brokenness and redemption. It leaves the viewer with gratitude, thanksgiving and hope.

A whole series and book could be produced on what stands out and touches each of us as we watch the film. What may have been impactful to us once, may be different the next time. Meaning, not just with this film but with songs or other films, a certain portion may stand out to us based on our life circumstances at the moment. If we were to listen or watch it again during a different life stage, something else may stand out. Film offers a wonderful way to share the Gospel. This film stirs inside questions and emotions and thanksgivings for what our Father did, and what our Savior did and endured. It shows that no matter how lost or broken or downtrodden a person may be, God can redeem, bring healing, and restoration.

I ask that you would spend the 30 minutes to watch the film. I gain nothing from it and in no way have any ties to it, nor do I get any monetary benefits. I love this film. Just watch. If nothing else moves you, look for the scene where the snow is falling in front of the camera and see the beauty of the snowflakes. See what comes out of pain. Place yourself in the fathers shoes, what decision would you make? What are ways we can relate the gospel to modern culture that we possibly have not done before?

Lessons about Tribal Missions from the book, The Spirit of the Rainforest

Today, we conclude our series on The Spirit of the Rainforest by looking at how one might communicate the gospel message with the Yanomamo or similar tribal cultures. I do not claim to be an evangelist or a missionary. These are merely a few thoughts that came to me as I read the book and seemed to stand out. They are concepts that other missionaries have tried or were shown to work in the book.

Finally, we conclude the entire series by recalling what we learned and what stood out. For anyone thinking about tribal missions, I highly suggest reading Spirit of the Rainforest. It will provide an eye opening look at what missionaries have experienced or are going through. It is a brutally honest book that caused heartfelt pain and emotion in my own life.

As I read this book right after the birth of my daughter, I was struck by the brutal reality of what some people endure and go through. Thinking about the treatment of women, babies, and children, there were many times this book was a tough read. But, the reader is not left with just stories of bad things happening to people. The reader is able to see how the grace, mercy, and light of God can penetrate the darkest of places. There is hope. While it may not be now or any time soon, for the Christian, there is an eternal hope that far outweighs the pain and sorrow of this fallen world.


 

Communicating the Concepts of the Spirit World, Humanity, and Sin to the Yanomamo

The Yanomamo understand that there are some spirits that are “good” and some that are “evil.” They even recognize a hierarchy to the spirit world in describing the great spirit or the spirit that made other spirits. In communicating the concepts of the spirit world, I would establish a common ground that I also believe in the spirit world and that there are definitely “good” and “evil” spirits. These spirits can cause them to do good and know more about peace, love, respect, and doing good; or they can cause them to continue to do evil and live in a cycle of revenge, fear, and guilt. At this point, Ephesians 6:12 is helpful in talking about evil spirits and struggles, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” These evil spirits lie to the Yanomamo and trick them into believing half-truths that cause so much pain and misery. They deceive the Yanomamo and cause them to be afraid of Yai Pada, who is the only spirit that truly loves them, can help them and is not their enemy. Unlike the evil spirits who many times seem ineffective in healing or finding food, Yai Pada cares and provides for their needs. Even these evil spirits recognize that there is nothing they can do against the great spirit.[1] The evil spirits trick them into thinking the Yanomamo rule them, but it is actually the evil spirits that rule the Yanomamo.

The Yanomamo culture is one of revenge and bravado, but even those times when innocent people are killed, many warriors experienced guilt and were troubled with what they had done. They would not tell anyone out of fear of being labeled a coward, but inside they knew that the killing was wrong. This knowledge of wrong points to an awareness of good and evil and shows the depravity of humans as we are all inherently evil. The Yanomamo typically let the men eat first and then whatever was leftover would be for the women and children. Following the ways of Yai Pada, all of the villagers are seen as wanting to take care of and help each other to ensure everyone’s needs are met. Yai Pada is able to change the Yanomamo culture where once children were the last to eat, now they are first. Yai Pada can change the hardest warrior’s heart who has done much killing, hurt, and pain into treating others with love, helping others, and being able to sleep again without the weight of guilt.[2]

This killing, raping, and cycle of revenge is all part of the lies these evil spirits have told them. It leads to a discussion on sin and how the original humans did not obey the great spirit Yai Pada. In the beginning, Yai Pada created a perfect world that was very good.  He created humans in His own image and likeness. There was peace and rest as these first humans enjoyed fellowship with Yai Pada. But an evil spirit deceived these humans causing them to disobey Yai Pada because they were prideful and wanted to be just like Him. Every child born to these humans were born with this curse of disobedience and pride called sin. This sin nature is what causes all humans to do bad and be separated from God. Every time the Yanomamo hear about Yai Pada, the evil spirits get extremely uncomfortable inside the Yanomamo and do not want them to listen to these stories. These evil spirits know they sinned and are trying to get the Yanomamo to also follow their sinful ways, instead of the good and loving ways of Yai Pada that lead to eternal life.

It is important to communicate to the Yanomamo how Yai Pada changes lives. There are many Yanomamo that are miserable, angry, and restless; but, Yai Pada offers a way out. With Yai Pada there is no longer a reason to be scared because He will give peace, protection, and remove fear. In much the same way that Yai Pada protected Jungleman and said Jungleman belongs to Him, Yai Pada does the same for all Yanomamo. Once the Yanomamo believes, they enter a relationship with Yai Pada as their eternal Father and are adopted into His family. In fact, Yai Pada offers a way to every Yanomamo to get rid of that guilt, fear, and shame. As Shoefoot describes, Yai Pada became a Yanomamo himself. He came as a baby, grew up, and showed a completely different way to live. Even though he knew he would be killed, he did it anyway. His death was a death for all Yanomamo’s.[3] “Because he was Yai Pada, he was able to come back from the dead. That is how he cut the trail to where he lives.”[4] He was never unfriendly to the Yanomamo, but is the enemy of the evil spirits from Omawa. The evil spirit Omawa deceived them into this life of fear, killing, and pain to keep them from a life of peace, happiness, and love. Yai Pada is the friend of Yanomamo that put their desires and trust in him. Yai Pada offers the greatest sense of safety and protection, more than the Yanomamo has ever known.

The Yanomamo understand the practice of putting the bow and arrows on a tree after they are done with unokai. The tree takes the killing tools and makes their hands clean so the Yanomamo’s can touch themselves again.[5] That is what Yai Pada’s death did. It changed the Yanomamo’s from being his enemies to making them his friends so they can follow his trail. Just as Yai Pada took the sins of the Yanomamo and forgave them, so too can a Yanomamo now be saved from the fire pit and forgive others because of Yai Pada’s gift.

Conclusion

Spirit of the Rainforest provides readers with real life examples and stories of spiritual warfare that is oftentimes overlooked or not thought about in American culture. Honey provides a great reminder for all of believers that our mission field is all around us; it shows how Christ’s love and power can make a difference not only in a person, but in a village and an entire community. The change in Shoefoot led to a change in a village and eventually the surrounding area. A simple but profound change of rebuking the old ways for following Christ with all our hearts can make us stand apart to live for God’s glory and be examples of Christ. Spirit of the Rainforest challenges Christians to be examples and obedient to God no matter where we are at.


[1] Ibid, 119.

[2] Ibid, 230.

[3] Ibid, 159.

[4] Ibid, 160.

[5] Ibid.

The harmful Yanomamo culture as portrayed in Spirit of the Rainforest

Today, we will continue the series of “Spirit of the Rainforest” by looking at the negative aspects of this culture from an outsiders perspective. This is a commentary on the appearance of a culture that was portrayed in the book.


 

Negative Aspects

A major negative aspect of the Yanomamo culture is a degrading and disrespectful view of women. They are often raped and captured as part of village raids. If they try to escape and leave their husbands they are maimed or killed. Women are promised to whoever presents himself as a good son-in-law by hunting meat and serving the parents, regardless of a woman’s desire and age. The men assert that the women are only here for the men, not the men for the women.[1] The men seem only to care about sex and when the woman is ready for sex (meaning of age).[2] This is further illustrated in the story of Longfoot and Yoshicami when she was sick, he left her because he could not “get any more sex out of her.”[3] However, many of the wars that occur in the book happen over a dispute over a woman, including the war between Honey and Mouth.

Another negative aspect is the cycle of vengeance. It is taught from an early age and continues throughout one’s life as long as that may be. If a village kills a relative, the relative and the rest of their village is to raid the killer’s village to kill them as well as others. This often led to fear of attack and ambush, eventually causing villages to starve. While Honey turned from this Yanomamo culture, they still faced that struggle of seeking revenge when they were wronged. But, God changed their lives and helped them understand what it means to live a life that honors Him valuing peace, love, and respect for others including women over vengeance and war. Their loyalty to God surpasses their loyalty to others and even one’s appearance when they appeared as cowards.

[1] Ibid, 102.

[2] Ibid, 102, 157.

[3] Ibid, 189.