Conclusion to Representative Imputation of Sin

Today we close this topic on the imputation of sin and summarize the past few posts. In the previous post, it was determined that the representative model was the best model for me because it provided the best answers on the imputation of sin.  I have included a bibliography of all the sources I used for this paper in case that helps and anyone wants to do further research. This post will close our discussion on anthropology and will help us move forward to the next theological topic.


We die for the sins of one man, yet grace abounds through one man. From one sin the sentence of condemnation was passed, but free justification from many sins is offered. We have been condemned for a sin which we had no personal or voluntary participation in, so how much more shall a person live on account of a righteousness that is cordially given. If all are united in Adam and condemned for his offense, so also are all who are in union with Christ be justified on the basis of His righteousness. As one man’s disobedience constituted humans as sinners, so the obedience of one man constitutes believers as righteous (Rom 5:18-19).[1]

The sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity from the fact that he was their natural head and representative. It is also shown by the principle of representation pervading the Scriptures and the principle of imputation involved in other doctrines of the Bible. The evil consequences on the apostasy of Adam are expressly declared in Scripture to be a penal infliction.[2] Finally, it is shown on the ground on which the providence of God is administered. This is shown on the basis that the sins of one man can be justly imputed to another, which is also seen in the concept of justification. Justification is a declaration that the demands of justice have been satisfied.[3] It proceeds on the assumption that the required righteousness belongs personally, inherently or by imputation to the person who is justified or declared to be just.[4] The person and work of the second Adam are the one glorious solution of the problem of the first Adam, and the triumphant vindication of Divine justice and mercy. This is the main point for all practical purposes, and in this all Christians can agree.


[1] Ibid, 203.

[2] Ibid, 201.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


Bibliography

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1938.

Calvin, John, and John Owen. Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010.

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

Cunningham, William. Historical Theology. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1864.

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. Vol. 2. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997.

Lange, J. P., P. Schaff, F. R. Fay, J. F. Hurst, and M. B. Riddle. A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Romans. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.

Miley, J. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1. New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1892.

Murray, John. The Imputation of Adam’s Sin. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1959.

Reid, D. G., R. D. Linder, B. L. Shelley, and H. S. Stout. “Sin.” In Dictionary of Christianity in America, section “S.” Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990. Logos Bible Software.

Shedd, William G.T. Dogmatic Theology. Edited by A. W. Gomes. 3rd ed. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2003.

Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. The Pulpit Commentary: Romans. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909.

Sproul, R. C. The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans. Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994.

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

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The case for representative immediate imputation of sin pt 2

This post will finish the case for the representative immediate imputation of sin that was started in the previous post. This post will further review Adam, his sin, and our relationship with him.


Adam is ancestrally our representative and our source both biologically and constitutionally. Adam was the first recipient of any human nature and Eve was the second. Yet, Eve was the first one to disobey the command of God which is a problem for the realistic view. A person cannot be condemned in Adam because Eve sinned first and thus our condemnation is not traceable to Adam. The representative view says that sin came to all men through our representative, Adam, who is the ancestral head. In the same way, righteousness came through a representative in Jesus Christ. Humans participate in death because Adam, our representative, chose that path. However, Jesus acted as a representative and substitute and brought life. If a person acted in Adam which brought about death, then the parallelism suggests that a believing person acted in Christ and that brought life. Romans does not appear to argue that a person act brought life. The inheritance of sin is conveyed to humans by their very nature, since it dwells in our very being; but in order to participate in the righteousness of Christ it is necessary to be a believer and that is attained by faith.[1] When it is said that our sins were imputed to Christ, or that He bore our sins, this does not mean that he actually committed our sins, but that He assumed our place to answer the demands of justice for the sins of men, or to be made a curse for them.[2] Likewise, the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers does not mean what they did or their merits, but that “His righteousness, wrought out for the benefit of His people, in their name, by Him as their representative, it is laid to their account, so that God can be just in justifying the ungodly.”[3]

There are several other examples of representation throughout Scripture including the curse pronounced on Canaan fell upon his descendants. The exclusion of Esau’s descendants from the covenant of promise. “The children of Moab and Ammon were excluded from the congregation of the Lord forever, because their ancestors opposed the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. In the case of Dathan and Abiram, as in that of Achan, ‘their wives, and their sons, and their little children’ perished for the sins of their parents.”[4] Eli’s descendants were cursed because of Hophni and Phineas. The whole plan of redemption rests on this same principle of representation. Christ is the representative of his people, and on this ground their sins are imputed to Him and his righteousness to them.[5] The representative principle pervades the whole Scriptures. The imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity is not an isolated fact. It is only an illustration of a general principle which characterizes the dispensations of God from the beginning of the world.[6]


[1] Calvin and Owen, Commentary, 210.

[2] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 194-95.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 198.

[5] Ibid, 199.

[6] Ibid, 198.

The Case for the Representative View

Over the past few posts, we have looked at the three major views/models on the imputation of sin. We have looked at what this idea is, how it affects us, and how sin has been imputed to us. Each model has been evaluated for their strengths and weaknesses and now it is time to identify which view I think answers the question of how sin is imputed to us.  This final section is fairly lengthy and will be broken into two parts. Over the next few posts as we close out our discussion on anthropology, reflect on your own sin. Reflect on the work of Christ and His salvation. Reflect on your own humanity and how He became fully human yet still fully divine and paid an ultimate price for you.


It is incorrect to construe our involvement in Adam’s sin as actual, voluntary participation or the transfer of moral character; yet it is just as incorrect to reduce it to a level of judicial liability.[1] The representative view is best able to handle our involvement in Adam’s sin by considering the sin of another (peccatum alienum) and my sin (peccatum proprium). The representative model most capably handles Romans 5. It shows Christ’s obedience and representation takes our condemnation and turns it into an organ of grace.[2] By Adam’s sin we are not condemned through imputation alone, but we suffer his punishment, because we are also guilty; for as our nature is corrupted by him, it is regarded by God as having committed sin.[3] “But through the righteousness of Christ we are restored in a different way to salvation; for it is not said to be accepted for us, because it is in us, but because we possess Christ himself with all his blessings, as given to us through the bountiful kindness of the Father.”[4] Union with Adam is the cause of death; union with Christ is the cause of life.[5]

While it may not seem fair to be held responsible for something that Adam did, we must remember that while we did not choose Adam to represent us, God did choose him since Adam was the perfect candidate for mankind’s representation.[6] If we were to question God or suppose that His decision was foolish or fallible, then we reveal what we think about God and also reveal our own fallenness.[7] If the objection is based on the principles of representation and imputation, then the very foundation of our salvation is taken away. “If it is right for God to save a man on the basis of another man’s work, it is also all right for God to punish us on the basis of another man’s work.”[8] It is not right to infer that because a course of action is wrong to humans, that it must be unjust in God. No man could rightfully send pestilence or famine through a land, but God does send such visitations not only righteously, but to the manifestation of his own glory and to the good of his creatures.[9]


[1] Murray, The Imputation of Adam’s Sin, 86.

[2] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., The Pulpit Commentary: Romans (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 154.

[3] John Calvin and John Owen, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 210.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 203.

[6] R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 104.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 200.

Intro: The Three Major Views on Imputed Sin

Today’s post gives a brief introduction into the three major views on imputed sin. There are a couple of views that will not be looked at because they are either deemed heretical or are no longer held. Over the next few posts, each view will be described in greater detail and an evaluation of that view will be provided.


 

In the mediate view, the imputation of the first sin follows hereditary corruption and is reckoned to be the effect.[1] In immediate imputation, the imputation of Adam’s first sin precedes corruption in the order of nature and is reckoned to be the cause of corruption.[2] The realistic view states, “The first sin of Adam, being a common, not an individual sin, is deservedly and justly imputed to the posterity of Adam upon the same principle upon which all sin is deservedly and justly imputed, namely, that it was committed by those to whom it is imputed.”[3] The representative view declares that since Adam was the representative of the entire human race; once he sinned, God imputed that sin to all humanity so that each person is guilty of Adam’s sin. The attention now must turn to examining each of these three views in further detail to understand the differences in belief, as well as the positive and negative aspects of each.


 

[1] John Murray, The Imputation of Adam’s Sin (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1959), 43.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 561.

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

Background on Imputed Sin

This post will continue the series on the imputation of sin by providing a brief background on this topic and will foreshadow the evidence for this thinking.


 

Background and Evidence for Imputation

Sin is primarily divided into three main aspects: original, personal, and the imputation. Original sin, also called inherited sin or sin nature, is a bent or brokenness of constitution. This constitution is inherited from Adam and Eve and was originally broken in the fall. This brokenness means we do not measure up to the character of God, which is the standard of what is and is not sin. The second aspect of sin, personal sin, is when an individual chooses to act in a way that is not aligned to the character and nature of God. Therefore, a human is not acceptable to God because of who they are (inherited sin) and the choices they make (personal sin). The final aspect of sin is the imputation of sin which is simply the guilt that humans receive or the reckoning to someone or something that is antecedently theirs. Imputed sin is often mistaken for original sin but the two are distinct and separate. Though both arise from the initial sin of Adam and alike converge on each human, a crucial distinction must be maintained between the transmitted sin nature received mediately, and imputed sin received immediately.[1] The nature to sin is not the act of sin, and on the other hand, “though men are held individually responsible and under the penalty of physical death for their share in what was, in Adam’s experience, a personal sin, imputed sin is held in the Scriptures to be unlike personal sin.”[2] Further definition of imputed sin and biblical evidence will now be presented.


[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993), 315.

[2] Ibid.