Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Mon Aug 20 2007 - 20:29:08 EDT

Ah, and George, this gets back to my original question: in what theological
tradition does an approach like yours lie? Is it typically Lutheran? Or is
it novel?

On 8/20/07, George Murphy <> wrote:
> It seems very strange to me to call the idea that we were all "in Adam" a
> "realist" view. 1st, this language ultimately derives from the poor Latin
> translation of Rom.5:12, *in quo omnes peccaverunt*, "in whom all
> sinned." 2d, the only way of making sense of this physically today is to
> understand original sin actually to be transmitted genetically, which runs
> into all kinds of problems. & that doesn't even take into account the
> problematic question of the historicity of a single Adam.
> Which is not to argue for "federal theory" - I already pointed out a basic
> problem with that. The best way to understand the situation is to see
> the sin of earlier generations as giving rise to a religious & moral
> environment which strongly discourages true faith in the true God. Again I
> refer to my PSCF article at
> .
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:*
> *To:*
> *Cc:* ; ;
> *Sent:* Monday, August 20, 2007 6:08 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam
> 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 20:29:43 2007

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