Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Mon Aug 20 2007 - 19:41:39 EDT

Right, but even the "realist" view leaves difficult questions about
justice. I don't understand Augustine to be saying that our participation
in Adam's sin was somehow conscious for us. It seems to me that he's
operating under an assumption that the "germ" of each person is contained in
his or her predecessor. That "germ," in a sense, became "infected" when
Adam sinned. But the germ did not consciously participate in sin -- the
germ is not at "fault" in some kind of volitional, causal sense. So, it
seems to me, there is still the difficulty of people whose shoes are stapled
to the starting line through no "fault" of their own, whether the realist or
federal view is adopted -- unless it is a realist view that goes way beyond
Augustine and approaches a sort of Buddhist universal consciousness.

Mind you, I think original sin is clearly a scriptural concept, and I agree
that the empirical evidence for our bent towards sin is obvious. However,
I'm not sure resolving the justice questions about original sin can be
accomplished through the model of transmission selected. It seems to me
that these questions have to fall back to God's foreknowledge and
sovereignty, including his plan of salvation and his final plans for the
creation. And one reason Blocher's modified federal view is attractive is
that it might be easier to reconcile with the scientific evidence concerning
human development, whereas a realist view seems to require a more rigorous

On 8/20/07, <> wrote:
> Yet, if being "bent" towards sin is not a necessary condition of human
> existence, and is imputed to us because Adam in fact sinned rather than
> because of anything we have done ourselves; and, if being "bent" towards sin
> means we all will inevitably sin, without any possibility of not sinning;
> and, if even one sinful act alienates us from God for all eternity -- then
> it does seem that the deck is stacked rather unfairly, doesn't it?
> Hi David,
> (Sigh) this is the Federal view again, right? I'm a bit frustrated
> because I keep being asked to defend a view that I was not even talking
> about, and which I don't even claim to believe. Is it because I have not
> clearly explained the Augustinian view, which I was discussing, well enough
> to distinguish it from the Federal view? The Augustinian view attempts to
> answer the very questions you raise about the Federal view. So I'll try to
> say it again, but more clearly.
> Of course we all know the facts: we actually are sinners who inevitably
> sin. That is just as empirically sure as any theory in physics, and we sure
> don't want to create theories that go against the empirics. Rocks don't
> disobey gravity and children don't grow up sinless. So we have to accept
> that the deck really is stacked against us.
> As monotheists we believe that it was not stacked *unfairly*. So the only
> question here is to discover what was the *fair *set of events that
> stacked it against us.
> The Realist or Augustinian view says that you and I were actually "in"
> Adam when he sinned so that we *really* did "staple our feet to the
> starting line by our own free will" as you say. Put the emphasis on the
> word "really." Think of the Augustinian view as the analog of nonlocality
> in quantum mechanics. If subatomic particles can be entangled and
> indistinguishable and non-locally correlated, even behaving as though they
> anticipate things outside of the time sequence (in the delayed choice
> experiments), then perhaps, just *perhaps*, human souls might also be
> related in such atemporal and nonlocal ways. If so, then maybe our souls
> and Adam's soul were somehow together as one in the garden (or in whatever
> scenario from prehistory someone may think the garden symbolically
> represents).
> Here is a pithy way to oversimplify it. The Federal view says Adam sinned
> in our place; the Augustinian view says we sinned in his place. (i.e., in
> the garden)
> I'm not saying I believe that this Augustinian view is right, nor that the
> Federal view is right or wrong. I just think the Augustinian idea is
> interesting and might merit more thought.
> Also, think about the MWI interpretation of QM. In that view, there
> really are multiple versions of consciousness for each person. I don't tend
> to believe MWI, but who knows how strange reality actually is?
> Phil
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Received on Mon Aug 20 19:42:11 2007

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