Aug 6, 2010

Original Sin I

"Therefore, just as through one man sin (hamartia) entered into the world, and death through sin (hamartia), and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (hemarton)--for until the law sin (hamartia) was in the world, but sin (hamartia) is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned (hamartesantas) in the likeness of the offense (parabaseos) of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression (paraptoma), For if by the transgression (paraptomati) of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned (hamartesantos); for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions (paraptomaton) resulting in justification. For if by the transgression (paraptomati) of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression (paraptomatos) there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience (parekoes) the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5: 12-19 NASV)

This is the major passage dealing with what is called the Imputation of Adam's transgression to the human race. The first ones to deny this doctrine were Pelagians, those who sided with Pelagius against Augustine, in the 4th century. Today, the overwhelming majority of Christians believe in the universal imputation of Adam's sin to all the race, sometimes also called the Doctrine of Original Sin or Inherited Depravity or being Born in Sin. One of the groups today who follow Pelagius in his denial of this imputation are the Campbellites, with whom I have had numerous public debates. In fact, I have had one debate with them on this topic. These people believe that people are born into this world innocent, free from sin, unaccountable to God for the transgression of Adam. These teach that the child is not a sinner until he matures to a point in time and commits his first transgression.

The major point of Paul in introducing the sin of Adam and its consequences is in order to illustrate the righteousness of Christ and its consequences. They are parallel. Adam is identified as being the "figure of him who was to come," that is, a figure of Christ, who is called by Paul "the second Adam." (I Cor. 15: 45-47)

Paul says that "the sin," or "the transgression," or "the offence," of Adam, not only brought (1) "death," (2) "judgment," and (3) "condemnation" to himself, but to "all men." Paul is specific. "One specific man," and "one specific sin or transgression."

The Pelagians argue that this passage does not tell us "how" the sin is "imputed," "counted," or "reckoned" to all men. They affirm, however, that other passages do tell us how it is imputed to all men. They say it is by "example." Adam showed men "how" to sin and become guilty. Men become guilty, they affirm, by following his example, by imitating his sin.

The Pelagian view says that people do not come to be sinners, do not have sin imputed to them, until they themselves sin, offend, or disobey. But, this would be contrary to Paul's clear statement that says the death, judgment, and condemnation, is the result of one single act of disobedience by one man. The Pelagian says that the equation is - Adam's disobedience + my personal disobedience = condemnation. Yet, Paul says by the "disobedience of one," not the disobedience of two, that "many are made sinners." This of course affects one's view of salvation, or imputation of Christ's righteousness. If it takes Adam's act plus my act to constitute me a sinner, then likewise it takes Christ's act plus my act to make me righteous. Yet, again, Paul affirms that "it is by the obedience of one that many are made righteous." Who's obedience constitutes one righteous? The obedience of the sinner or of Christ?

The Campbellites affirm that the sin of Adam only brought physical death on men, and that physical death is not a punishment for sin. They have to argue this way because infants die physically, and yet they affirm that they are not sinners. This is clearly false, however, for two reasons. First, physical death is a punishment for sin. Secondly, to limit the "death" to physical death is an error, because Paul contrasts the "life" that Christ, the second Adam, gives, to the death the first Adam gave to us. Does the "life" that Christ gives only refer to physical life? Does it not also include spiritual and eternal life? Also, the "death" that resulted from Adam's sin is connected with "condemnation" and "judgment," with being "made sinners." Thus, it cannot be restricted to physical death.

Further, the manner in which Adam's sin is "passed on" to all men cannot be by sinners imitating the sin of Adam for verse 14 says that death passed to men who did not sin after the similitude or example of Adam, men who did not imitate his sin.

Paul contrasts the disobedience of Adam with the obedience of Christ. The disobedience of Adam makes all men sinners, unrighteous, while the obedience of Christ makes all those he represents, righteous. Made sinners is contrasted with being made righteous.

Paul says "through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men." Notice the several times Paul says such and such "resulted" such and such. Does he mean universally and unconditionally resulted? Surely he does. Who is excepted? What man has not died because of the transgression of Adam?

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (6: 23)

"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Corinthians 15: 21, 22)

These verses show that death is the infliction of a penalty and implies guilt. To affirm that there are people who die who have not previously been declared sinful, is to contradict scripture and have God unjustly inflicting a penal evil upon the innocent. Is God's wrath upon the innocent? Is it not upon those whom he has judged as guilty?

Adam and Christ are what we call "heads," or federal heads, representative men.

Mediate versus Immediate Imputation

Since the fall of Adam, we do what we do because of what we are. We do not become sinners by what we do, as did Adam. We are not guilty because we inherit a sinful nature, but we inherit a sinful nature because we have been reckoned as guilty of Adam's sin.

"Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." (Ephesians 2: 3 KJV)

"By nature" obviously means "by birth" or natural generation, just as when Paul says "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles." (Galatians 2: 15)

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