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.

Evaluation of Representative Imputation

Bringing our examination of the various models/views on the imputation of sin to a close, this post will evaluate the Representative Imputation model looking at the positives and negatives. The previous post will provide context on this model in case you missed it, and the next post will show which model I prefer after examining the various views.


Evaluation of Representative Imputation

The positives of the representative model will be further explored in the next section, but the negatives must first be examined. The great objection to the representative view is that it is manifestly unjust that one man should be punished and condemned for the sin of another. Although, representative view proponent Charles Hodge argues, “Wherein is the injustice that one man should, on the ground of the union between them, be punished for the sin of another? If there be injustice in the case it must be in the infliction of suffering anterior to or irrespective of personal ill-desert.”[1] The representative view is seen as questioning the justice of God because God is holding men responsible for the violation of a covenant which they had no part in establishing.[2] “That, after accounting men to be sinners who are not sinners, God makes them sinners by immediately creating each human soul with a corrupt nature such as will correspond to his decree. This is not only to assume a false view of the origin of the soul, but also to make God directly the author of sin.”[3] The realistic view says corruption must precede and account for imputation, contrary to imputation preceding and accounting for corruption.

Some object to this view on the basis of Ezekiel 18:20. However, that text is about divine government and not about imputation. Also, Ezekiel is not denying the principle of ancestral representation. In regards to ancestral sin, Shedd argues, “There is a similar fallacy in citing the biblical instances in which innocent individuals suffer for the sins of guilty individuals in proof that Adam’s posterity though innocent of his sin are punishable for it. To suffer in consequence of the sin of another is not the same as to be punished for it.”[4]

The realist object to the representative saying it is extra-Scriptural and there is no mention of such a covenant with Adam in the account. Strong suggests that the use of the word “covenant” in Hosea 6:7 and Hebrews 8:8 refers to other ideas and not a covenant with Adam.[5] Realists also object to this view declaring that it contradicts Scripture by making the first result of Adam’s sin to be God’s “regarding and treating” the race as sinners.[6] We are not sinners because God regarded and treated us that way, but because Adam’s offense constituted us sinners (Rom 5:19).[7]


[1] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 204.

[2] Strong, Systematic Theology, 615.

[3] Ibid, 616.

[4] Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 561.

[5] Strong, Systematic Theology, 614.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

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]

Continue reading

Evaluation of Mediate Imputation

As we continue to look at the different popular models on the imputation of sin, today’s post will focus on an evaluation of the Mediate imputation model. For an intro into this model, please see the previous post.


 

Evaluation of Mediate Imputation

The mediate view does well at emphasizing a personal corruption, but it fails because it omits imputed guilt and original sin. The mediate view provides an inadequate explanation on Romans 5, mainly in rendering the word “sinned” as a passive creating several problems. First, this would be the only instance this verb hamartanō would have such a meaning.[1] The passive would have required a different combination of words.[2] The passive excludes Adam and Eve who were not “reckoned” to have sinned.[3] The passive would denote “God’s act of imputing sin, not man’s act of committing it. But it is the sinner’s act, not that of the judge, which is the reason for punishment.”[4] It is illogical to say that all die because all are condemned to die is to give insufficient reason for death.[5] The mediate interpretation contradicts those passages of Scripture which refer the origin of human condemnation and human depravity, to the sin of our first parents, and which represent universal death, not as a matter of divine sovereignty, but as a judicial infliction of penalty upon all men for the sin of the race in Adam (Rom 5:16, 18).[6] The doctrine of mediate imputation denies the sentence of condemnation has passed upon all men for the sin of one, and affirms that the ground of that condemnation is inherent depravity.[7] We are accounted partakers of Adam’s sin only because we derive a corrupt nature from him. However, Scriptures say the reason why we are depraved is, that we are regarded as partakers of his sin, or because the guilt of that sin is imputed to us. The guilt in the order of nature and fact precedes the spiritual death which is its disciplinary consequent.

Mediate imputation denies inherited corruption as a consequence of punishment. “Punishment supposes guilt. If the loss of righteousness and the consequent corruption of nature are punishments, they suppose the antecedent imputation of guilt and therefore imputation is immediate and not mediate; it is antecedent and not consequent to or upon inherent depravity.”[8] It denies the participation of all men in Adam’s sin and provides no explanation of man’s responsibility for his inborn depravity.[9] Man’s inheritance must be seen in light of God’s judgment, which reflects the justice of God. Man is not only condemned for a sinfulness of which God is the author, but is condemned without any real probation, either individual or collective.[10]

Finally, mediate imputation changes the method of salvation and justification. The point Paul makes in Romans is that men are justified for a righteousness which is not personally their own. The mediate view destroys the parallel between Adam and Christ. “If we are partakers of the penal consequences of Adam’s sin only because of the corrupt nature derived by a law of nature from him, then we are justified only on the ground of our own inherent holiness derived by a law of grace from Christ.”[11] This leads to a doctrine of subjective justification, that a righteousness not within believers but wrought out for believers – the righteousness of another, even the eternal Son of God, and therefore an infinitely meritorious righteousness – is the ground of our justification before God.[12] Any doctrine which tends to invalidate or to weaken the Scriptural evidence of this fundamental article of our faith is fraught with evil greater than belongs to it in itself considered.[13] “The great principle insisted upon in support of this doctrine is that one man cannot justly be punished for the sin of another. If this be so then it is unjust in God to visit the iniquities of the fathers upon their children. Then it was unjust in Christ to declare that the blood of the prophets slain from the beginning should come upon the men of his generation.”[14]


 

[1] Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 559.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 560.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Strong, Systematic Theology, 618.

[7] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 210.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Strong, Systematic Theology, 618.

[10] Ibid, 618.

[11] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 212.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid, 213.

[14] Ibid.

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.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.