Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Wed Apr 16 2008 - 21:23:45 EDT

As is the case with most doctrines, one can go wrong both to the right & to the left. In the present case one extreme is the denial that original sin really is sin, that it is at most a bad example that Adam gave us. But it's also possible to go to the other extreme & say that after the fall unredeemed humans are nothing but sin. This error is usually attributed to the Lutheran theologian Flacius in the generation after Luther. Wanting to insist as strongly as possible on the seriousness of original sin, he said that it is the substance of unredeemed humanity. That has to be seen in the context of the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accident. Flacius' insistence that original sin is not an accident but the substance of unredeemed humanity meant, in the scholastic context, that God was not really the creator of fallen humans. The First Article of the Formula of Concord rejected this idea.

Christians sometimes speak of original sin in terms of our "fallen nature" or our "sinful nature" (I have even heard the phrase "sin nature") and in the old form of the General Confession we used to say that "we are by nature sinful and unclean." In such statements "nature" is used in a casual sense but if it's given its precise scholastic meaning those phrases express the error of Flacius.

Augustine said that even the devil is essentially good - i.e., in his nature as a creature of God. That is true a fortiori of sinful humans.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Merv
  To: George Murphy ;
  Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 8:20 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

  George Murphy wrote:

    & yes, there are disagreements about that too. Failure to appreciate that our original state is indeed sinful - i.e., that our sin of origin is indeed sin - leads to various errors, such as works righteousness & denial of infant baptism.

    At which I will pause & wait for the firestorm to erupt.

  Probably won't be any firestorms from your neighboring friendly Anabaptists over the baptism issue, as long as
  silence isn't mistaken for ascent. :-)


  p.s. I've heard our pastors (one of them anyway) refer to himself as a Christian humanist. I think he must take our original state as being "very good" at its very inmost core, and he would probably hearken back to creation accounts to get that. Then the fall is an overlay of that core, that while it has indeed become a humanly inseparable part of our identity needing redemption, still does not negate the existence of that originally good core. I hope I'm not misrepresenting his views, but I think he bristles at any sort of "worm theology" as giving sin an existential status beyond what Scripture accords. (Other than the 'humanist' comment, this is mostly conjecture on my part; I don't usually pursue discussions about this with our pastors -maybe I should!) Also note --this was in no way an argument for salvation by works, or that some "seed of good" automatically puts us in right relationship with God. Our leadership is orthodox in recognizing our absolute need for Christ.

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Received on Wed Apr 16 21:40:15 2008

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