As a proponent of the Realistic view, I was interested in this book by J. V. Fesko, Death in Adam, Life in Christ: The Doctrine of Imputation, because it seeks to explain how Covenant Theology deals with imputation on both sides of the Adam-Christ parallel, as well as engaging other views, among which is Augustinian realism. The Realistic or Augustinian view of humanity’s union in Adam is now held only by a minority of Reformed and Evangelicals. But it was the majority view, in its implicit form, up through the 17th century. Simply put, are we held responsible for Adam’s sin merely because God made him our representative, or, is it also because we were all in some mysterious way present and participating in Adam’s sin?
While Abraham, Moses and Israel enjoyed ever more specific and progressive covenants with God, the rest of the world remained under the Covenant of Works given to Adam. Now, Gentiles who are saved by the New Covenant trace their covenantal roots not to Moses but directly to Abraham.
Rom. 4:8-12 (ESV)
…blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.’ Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
All that took place, covenantally, between Abraham’s believing and Christ’s inauguration of the New Covenant happened apart and distinct from the covenantal roots of Gentile believers. Abraham was the father of what would be two covenantal streams: those who are circumcised and walk in the footsteps of his faith; and those who would eventually believe without being circumcised. Abraham’s circumcision was the point where those two future covenantal streams were separated. Continue reading →
John Murray’s treatment of sanctification, particularly his essay, “The Agency in Definitive Sanctification,” makes some surprising inroads toward grasping the believer’s retroactive, realistic identification with Christ. He does not go as far as to acknowledge that the reality of the spiritual union of Christ in the believer brings a title to all that Christ accomplished just as if the believer had accomplished it. Instead, he prefers to call it a mysterious “divine constitution.” But he does recognize the “tension” between the historical objectivity of Christ dying and rising again, and the fact of the believer subjectively dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ—and that the two are often spoken of in the New Testament as if they were one and the same events. The believer did not die to sin until coming to Christ in faith; and yet, the power of that dying to sin is firmly grounded in the once-and-for-all quality of Christ’s death—as if the historically objective death of Christ somehow became an historically objective fact of the believer’s life once he came to Christ. Continue reading →
Was your soul newly created for you by God, or was it passed down to you from the previous generations, much like your DNA was, and originally came from Adam? This may seem an obscure question, but it is actually foundational to most of theology. Whether or not you have ever considered the question before, the theology that you hold has built much of its doctrinal understanding upon an assumed answer to this question—and most have assumed that the soul is newly created by God in every case. The paper that follows is an excerpt of the current draft of a much larger work in progress, entitled, Mechanics of Atonement: Restoring Reality to Imputation. There is heavy emphasis on Turretin, since I have not found a more thorough argument than his. [Note: Although early theologians, such as Turretin, refer to the “soul,” it is in a dichotomistic way that is interchangeable with “spirit.” Early tradition used the term, “soul,” almost exclusively to refer to the immaterial component of a man, reserving the term, “spirit,” for the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this was to avoid confusion between the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. The Bible does use “spirit” as well as “soul” when referring to man’s immaterial component or nature (the inner man as opposed to the outer man). Both words are used interchangeably throughout this paper, except where otherwise specified.]
[20,000 words] The spirit is what make us most like God, and makes us everlasting beings. Continue reading →