The following excerpt on Sin is taken from Bishop A.R. Fausset’s “Cyclopedia”:
Viewed as chatha’, “coming short of our true end,” the glory of God (Rom 3:23), literally, “missing the mark”; Greek hamartanoo. ‘awen, “vanity,” “nothingness”; after all the scheming and labour bestowed on sin nothing comes of it. “Clouds without water” (Jud 1:12; Pro 22:8; Jer 2:5; Rom 8:20). Pesha’ “rebellion”, namely, against God as our rightful king. Rasha’ “wickedness,” related to rash “restlessness”; out of God all must be unrest (Isa 57:20-21); “wandering stars” (Jud 1:13). Maal, “shuffling violation of duty,” “prevarication” (1Ch 10:13). ‘aashaam, “guilt,” incurring punishment and needing atonement, Ra, “ill,” “ruin,” the same word for “badness” and “calamity” literally, breaking in pieces. Awal, “evil,” “perversity.”
Amal, “travail”; sin is weary work (Hab 2:13). Avah, “crookedness,” “wrong,” a distortion of our nature, disturbing our moral balance. Shagah, “error.” abar, “transgression through anger”; “sin is the transgression of the law,” i.e. God’s will (1Jo 3:4). Sin is a degeneracy from original good, not an original existence, creation, or generation; not by the Creator’s action, but by the creature’s defection (Ecc 7:29). As God is love, holiness is resemblance to Him, love to Him and His creatures, and conformity to His will. Selfishness is the root of sin, it sets up self and self will instead of God and God’s will. The origination of man’s sin was not of himself, but from Satan’s deceit; otherwise man’s sin would be devilish and ineradicable. But as it is we may be delivered. This is the foundation of our redemption by Christ.
Original sin is as an hereditary disease, descending from the first transgressor downward (Psa 51:5). National sins are punished in this world, as nations have no life beyond the grave (Pro 14:34). The punishment of the individual’s sins are remedial, disciplinary, and deterrent in this world; and judicially retributive in the world to come. The Greek aionios represents the Hebrew olam and ad; olam, “hidden”, “unlimited duration”; ad, applied to God’s “eternity” and “the future duration” of the good and destruction of the wicked (Psa 9:5; Psa 83:17; Psa 92:7). The objections are:
1. That, the length of punishment is out of all proportion with the time of sin. But the duration of sin is no criterion of the duration of punishment: a fire burns in a few minutes records thereby lost for ever; a murder committed in a minute entails cutting off from life for ever; one act of rebellion entails perpetual banishment from the king.
2. That the sinner’s eternal punishment would be Satan’s eternal triumph. But Satan has had his triumph in bringing sin and death into the world; his sharing the sinner’s eternal punishment will be the reverse of a triumph; the abiding punishment of the lost will be a standing witness of God’s holy hatred of sin, and a preservative against any future rebellion.
3. That the eternity of punishment involves the eternity of sin. But this, if true, would be no more inconsistent with God’s character than His permission of it for a time; but probably, as the saved will be delivered from the possibility of sinning by being raised above the sphere of evil, so the lost will be incapable of sinning any more in the sense of a moral or immoral choice by sinking below the sphere of good.
4. That eternal vengeance is inconsistent with God’s gospel revelation of Himself as love. But the New Testament abounds in statements of judicial vengeance being exercised by God (Rom 12:19; Heb 10:30; 1Th 4:6; 2Th 1:8).
Too often the doctrine of Justification has been misused theologically to excuse continuing sin. The Doctrine of Justification is often appealed to in order to screen various fallacious and pernicious teachings common amongst Evangelicals and Protestants especially, and is used to shove and excuse continuing sin under the carpet of conscience. Popularly called “ once saved always saved”, the doctrine of an eternal security whilst the individual is continuing a life of sin, can not be found in Scripture, nor may it be termed as “ rightly dividing the word of truth”.. In other words, the excuse for antinomianism which the false doctrine of “ once saved always saved” leads us to, is not only not to be found in scripture, but it may be found to be based solely on unconvincing, often confused, clichéd sentimentality and is to be classed with those “ inventions of men” which the Apostles themselves strictly condemned… We do well to remember that “ God is not the author of Confusion”, nor is He a “ respector of persons” ( including Christians); and that there is NO sentimentality in Christianity, for our religion, as the Bible tells us, is a MANLY religion, and not one for the fainthearted, nor for those who having once put their hand to the plow, look back… The false doctrine in mind politely bypasses dozens of Bible passages which prove otherwise, and displays a thorough lack of impartiality concerning the subject of Justification at hand… The following points must be considered when making an attempt to rightly understand Justification in light of false teachings such as “ once saved, always saved”:
1) A cardinal tenet of Christianity ( though certainly not the ONLY cardinal tenet) IS that the individual is SAVED by the Grace ( free gift ) of God ( outside any meritorious works of the Law) THROUGH Faith in Christ’s atoning work; his vicarious death on the Cross….. This is a cardinal doctrine as taught by the Apostles and their earliest disciples.. Justyn Martyr, along with Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Barnabas, etc.etc., taught this doctrine almost 14 centuries before Martin Luther plagiarized and desecrated it…
2) We cannot be saved by Works of the Law, as Paul in Romans accurately and persistently tells us, but neither can we be saved WITHOUT works of righteousness AFTER conversion, as James clearly confirms… Abraham was justified by Faith BEFORE he was justified by WORKS….
3) A converted and regenerated believer is PRIMARILY and FIRSTLY Justified by Faith ( as Paul once again in Romans confirms), but is CONSEQUENTLY, like Abraham, Justified by their WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which DO NOT stem from any notions of “ righteousness of the Mosaic Law”, but of the righteousness that stems from our new-found “ Law of Life-Giving Spirit” ( as described in Romans) in Christ, and has nothing in common with the LAW of Moses or the righteousness of the Mosaic Laws and ordinances…
4) Most exegetes fail to specify or even recognize that in Romans 5 alone there are no less than FOUR different though interrelated forms of JUSTIFICATIONS of a believer, and not ONLY ONE; and ALL FOUR prerequisites of Salvation: a) Romans 5:1; Justification by Faith in Jesus Christ for the purpose of PEACE with God; b) Romans 5: 9; Justification by His Blood for the purpose of Salvation from God’s WRATH; c) Romans 5: 16; Justification of ATONEMENT and GRACE for the purpose of freedom from CONDEMNATION; d) Romans 5: 18: Justification of LIFE, through the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Jesus Christ for the purpose of freedom from JUDGEMENT……
5) Many therefore claim that a true believer who possesses the indwelling of the Holy Spirit cannot lose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, yet King David himself, who was a prophet possessed of the Holy Spirit, after he had sinned “ unto death”, prayed fervently to God to “ TAKE NOT the HOLY SPIRIT from him”… This fact they conveniently overlook, and the express statement by Jesus Himself which, when describing the soul of a believer which had been “ CLEANSED” of an evil spirit and “ GARNISHED” ( with the graces of the Holy Spirit) CAN have seven worse spirits indwell it, even WORSE than the one which had been expelled originally..
6) A Child of God is not merely a BELIEVER, but also must remain a SAINT… Please see the definition of Sainthood in Webster’s dictionary, and the fact that the majority of New Testament epistolary addresses to believers use the word “ SAINT”, rather than merely “ believer” or “ child of God”…. A Christian is NEVER referred to in Scripture as a “ sinner”, but solely as a “ saint”, though originally saved from sin, and no longer continuing in sin…..
7) This pernicious doctrine very tactfully ( somewhat dishonestly perhaps) passes over the New Testament book of HEBREWS…. The following passages alone are enough to bring down the entire edifice of wishful thinking: Hebrews 6:4-8 tells us the following: “ For it is IMPOSSIBLE for those who WERE ONCE ENLIGHTENED ( this was the term used of old for Baptized Believers only), and have tasted of the HEAVENLY GIFT ( the Grace of God), and WERE MADE PARTAKERS of the HOLY GHOST ( no one who was EVER NOT actually converted could here be intimated), And have TASTED the GOOD WORD of God, and the POWERS of the WORLD TO COME ( nothing short of ETERNITY), IF THEY SHALL FALL AWAY ( NO mention of “ have never been converted”), to RENEW THEM AGAIN unto REPENTANCE ( since they had originally repented GENUINELY), seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God AFRESH ( afresh means afresh), and put HIM to an open shame…. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers IS REJECTED ( namely, Christians who apostasize), and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned….”
Hebrews 10:26-29 totally annihilates any notion of a sentimental “ once saved always saved” invention of men by the following quote: “ For if we sin WILFULLY ( return to habitual sin from which we were delivered) AFTER that we have RECEIVED the KNOWLEDGE of the TRUTH ( this could NEVER be said of either unbelievers or false believers), there remaineth NO MORE sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation ( this cannot be said of anyone but a true previously regenerated believer, since Unbelievers always have OPEN Christ’s vicarious sacrificial GRACE to them as long as they live), which shall devour the adversaries.. He that despised Moses’ Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall HE be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith HE WAS SANCTIFIED, an unholy thing, and hath DONE DESPITE unto the Spirit of Grace ( this is impossible for non-believers to accomplish, since they were never sanctified nor filled with the Holy Spirit)…”
And 2Peter 3:17 clears up the issue: “ Ye, therefore, beloved ( born again believers), seeing ye know these things before, BEWARE lest YE also, being led away with the error of the wicked, FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS…..”
Matthew 7: 21-27 seals the fate of so-called “ born again believers” who heard and called Jesus “ Lord, Lord”, but DID NOT DO His words ( the will of God):
“ Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that DOETH ( righteousness) the WILL of my Father which is in Heaven.. MANY will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and DOETH THEM, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and DOETH THEM NOT, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: And great was the fall of it…….”
The following is taken from McClintock and Strong’s “Cyclopedia”:
This expression is frequently used in a twofold sense, to denote the imputation of Adam’s first sin to his posterity, and also that native depravity which we have derived by inheritance from our first parents……..According to the second view we came into the world, in consequence of the sin of Adam, in a state of depravity. On this point the Westminster Confession of Faith explicitly declares: “By this sin,” referring to the sin of our first parents, “they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of the soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.” Again, in another article the Confession teaches: “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability to any spiritual good accompanying salvation, so that a natural man, being altogether averse from that good and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or prepare himself thereunto.” This doctrine pervades the whole of the sacred writings, and may be called indeed a fundamental and essential truth of revelation. Thus before the flood we find the inspired penman declaring (Gen 6:5): “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Again, after the flood, the same statement is repeated (Gen 8:21): “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” David also (Psa 51:5) declares: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The original and innate depravity of man might be deduced from the doctrine of Scripture respecting the necessity of regeneration. Our blessed Lord affirms (Joh 3:3): “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We are said to be “saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Such language has no meaning if it be not true that we are utterly depraved by nature. How early does this innate corruption manifest itself in children! It is impossible for us to examine our own hearts, or look around us in the world, without having the conclusion forced upon us that the wickedness which everywhere prevails must have its seat in a heart that is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” The doctrine of original sin has been denied by heretics of different kinds. Socinians treat it as a foolish and absurd idea.
The followers of Pelagius maintain that, notwithstanding the results of the fall, a man still retains the power, independently of divine grace, of originating, prosecuting, and consummating good works. God, they allege, gives us the ability to believe, but we can experience the ability without further assistance. This doctrine has been revived in our own day by the members of the Evangelical Union, commonly called Morrisonians Some theologians admit that we were born less pure than Adam, and with an inclination to sin; but in so far as this inclination or concupiscence, as it is called, is from nature, it is not properly sin. It is merely the natural appetite or desire, which, as long as the will does not consent to it, is not sinful. Romanists believe that original sin is taken away by baptism, and maintain, like the above, that concupiscience is not sinful. The apostle Paul, however, holds a very different opinion, declaring in the plainest language that the proneness to sin is in itself sinful. Thus in Rom 7:7-8, he says: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” A keen controversy concerning the nature of original sin arose in the 16th century in Germany. A party of Jena, led by Matthias Flacius, endeavored to prove that the natural man could never cooperate with the divine influence in the heart, but through the working of innate depravity was always in opposition to it. Flacius met with a keen opponent in Victorinus Strigelius, and a public disputation on the subject of original sin was held at Weimar in 1560. On this occasion Flacius made the strong assertion that original sin was the very essence of man, language which was believed to imply either that God was the author of sin, or that man was created by the devil. Hence even the former friends of Flacius became his bitterest opponents.
in the O.T. םחָשִׁב in the N.T. λογίζομαι, is employed in the Scriptures to designate any action, word, or thing, as accounted or reckoned to a person; and in all these it is unquestionably used with reference to one’s own doings, words, or actions, and not with reference to those of a second person (comp. Gen 15:6; Psa 105:31; Num 25:6; Num 18:27; 2Sa 19:19; Psa 31:2; Lev 7:18; Lev 17:4; Pro 27:14; 2Co 5:19; 2Ti 4:16; Rom 4:3-23; Gal 3:6; Jam 2:23). The word imputation is, however, used for a certain theological theory, which teaches that
(1) the sin of Adam is so attributed to man as to be considered, in the divine counsels, as his own, and to render him guilty of it;
(2) that, in the Christian- plan of salvation, the righteousness of Christ is so attributed to man as to be considered his own, and that he is therefore justified by it.
I. “Whatever diversity there may exist in the opinions of theologians respecting imputation, when they come to express their own views definitely. they will yet, for the most part, agree that the phrase God imputes the sin of our progenitors to their posterity, means that for the sins committed by our progenitors God punishes their descendants. The term to impute is used in different senses.
(a.) It is said of a creditor, who charges something to his debtor as debt, e.g. Phm 1:18.
(b.) It is transferred to human judgment when any one is punished, or declared deserving of punishment. Crime is regarded as a debt, which must be cancelled partly by actual restitution and partly by punishment.
(c.) This now is applied to God, who imputes sin when he pronounces men guilty, and treats them accordingly, i.e. when he actually punishes the sin of men (Ο᾿φι β-ωφξ, λογίζεσθαι ἁμαρτίαν, Psa 32:2).
The one punished is called נָשָׂא עָוֹן, in opposition to one to whom חָשִׁב לַצְדָּקָח, who is rewarded (Psa 106:31; Rom 4:3)” (Knapp, Theology, § 76).
1. The stronghold of the doctrine of imputation, with those who maintain the high Calvinistic sense of that tenet, is Rom 5:12-19. “The greatest difficulties with respect to this doctrine have arisen from the fact that many have treated what is said by Paul in the fifth of Romans-a passage wholly popular, and anything but formally exact and didactic-in a learned and philosophical manner, and have defined terms used by him in a loose and popular way by logical and scholastic distinctions. Paul shows, in substance, that all men are regarded and punished by God as sinners, and that the ground of this lies in the act of one man; as, on the contrary, deliverance from punishment depends also upon one man, Jesus Christ. If the words of Paul are not perverted, it must be allowed that in Romans 5, 12-14 he thus reasons: The cause of the universal mortality of the human race lies in Adam’s transgression. He sinned, and so became mortal. Other men are regarded and treated by God as punishable, because they are the posterity of Adam, the first transgressor, and consequently they too are mortal. Should it now be objected, that the men who lived from Adam to Moses might themselves have personally sinned, and so have been punished with death on their own account, it might be answered that those who lived before the time of Moses had no express and positive law which threatened the punishment of sin, like those who lived after Moses. The positive law of Moses was not as yet given; they could not, consequently, be punished on account of their own transgressions, as no law was as yet given to them (Rom 5:12 to Rom 14:14). Still they must die, like Adam, who transgressed a positive law. Hence their mortality must have another cause, and this is to be sought in the imputation of Adam’s transgression. In the same way, the ground of the justification of man lies not in himself, but in Christ, the second Adam.
“We find that the passage in Romans 5 was never understood in the ancient Grecian Church, down to the 4th century, to teach imputations in a strictly philosophical and judicial sense; certainly. Origen, and the writers immediately succeeding him, exhibit nothing of this opinion. They regard bodily death as a consequence of the sin of Adam, and not as a punishment, in the strict and proper sense of this term. Thus Chrysostom says, upon Rom 5:12,Ε᾿κείνου πεσόντος (Α᾿δάμ), καὶ οὑ μὴ φαγόντες ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου, γεγόνασιν ἐξ ἐκείνου θνητοί. Cyril (Adv. Anthropom. c. 8) says, Οἱ γεγονότες ἐξ αὐ τοῦ (Α᾿δάμ), ὡς ἀπὸ φθαρτοὶ γεγόναμεν.
“The Latin Church, on the other hand, was the proper seat of the strict doctrine of imputation. There they began to interpret the words of Paul as if he were a scholastic and logical writer. One cause of their misapprehending so entirely the spirit of this passage was, that the word imputare (a word in common use among civilians and in judicial affairs) had been employed in the Latin versions in rendering Rom 5:13 of Romans 5; and that ἐφ᾿ ῳ (Rom 5:12) had been translated in quo, and could refer, as they supposed, to nobody but Adam. This opinion was then associated with some peculiar philosophical ideas at that time prevalent in the West, and from the whole a doctrine de imputatione was formed, in sense wholly unknown to the Hebrews, to the N.T., and to the Grecian Church. This clearly proves that the Grecian teachers, e.g. those in Palestine, took sides with Pelagius against the teachers of the African Church.
2. “Many have inferred the justice of imputation from the supposition that Adam was not only the natural or seminal, but also the moral head of the human race, or even its representative and federal head. They suppose, accordingly, that the sin of Adam is imputed to us on the same principle on which the doings of the head of a family, or. of the plenipotentiary of a state, are imputed to his family or state, although they had no personal agency in his doings. In the same way they suppose Christ took the place of all men, and that what he did is imputed to them. According to this theory, God entered into a league or covenant with Adam, and so Adam represented and took the place of the whole human race. This theory was invented by some schoolmen, and has been adopted by many in the Romish and Protestant Church since the 16th century, and was defended even in the 18th century by some Lutheran theologians, as Pfaff of Tiibingen, by some of the followers of Wolf (e.g. Carpzov, in his Comm. de Imputatione facti proprii et alieni), and by Baumgarten, in his Dogmatik, and disputation ‘de imputatione peccati Adamitici.’ But it was more particularly favored by the Reformed theologians, especially by the disciples of Cocceius, at the end of the 17th and commencement of the 18th century, e.g. by Witsius, in his (Economia feaderum. They appeal to Hos 6:7, They transgressed the covenant, like Adam, i.e. broke the divine laws. But where is it said that Adam was the federal head, and that his transgression is imputed to them? On this text Morus justly observes, ‘Est mera comparatio Judaeorum peccantium cum Adamo peccante.’ Other texts are also cited in behalf of this opinion.
“But, for various reasons, this theory cannot be correct. For
(a.) the descendants of Adam never empowered him to be their representative and to act in their name.
(b.) It cannot be shown from the Bible that Adam was informed that the fate of all his posterity was involved in his own.
(c.) If the transgression of Adam is imputed, by right of covenant, to all his posterity, then, in justice, all their transgressions should be again imputed to him as the guilty cause of all their misery and sin. What a mass of guilt, then, would come upon Adam! But of all this nothing is said in the Scriptures.
(d.) The imputation of the righteousness of Christ cannot be alleged in support of this theory; for this is imputed to men only by their own will and consent. This hypothesis has been opposed, with good reason, by John Taylor, in his work on original sin.”
3. “Others endeavor to deduce the doctrine of imputation from the scientia media of God, or from his fore-knowledge of what is conditionally possible. The sin of Adam, they say, is imputed to us because God foresaw that each one of us would have committed it if he had been in Adam’s stead, or placed in his circumstances. Even Augustine says that the sin of Adam is imputed to us propter consensionem, or consensum praesumptum. This theory has been advanced, in modern times, by Reusch, in his Introductio in Theologiasn revelatam, and in Bremquell’s work Die gute Sache Gottes, bei Zurechnung des Falls (Jena, 1749). But it is a new sort of justice which would allow us to be punished for sins which we never: committed, or never designed to commit, but only might possibly have committed under certain circumstances. Think a moment how many sins we all should have committed if God had suffered us to come into circumstances of severe temptation. An innocent man might, by this rule, be punished as a murderer because, had he lived at Paris on St. Bartholomew’s night, in 1572, he might, from mistaken zeal, have killed a heretic.”
II. “Since none of these hypotheses satisfactorily explain the matter, the greater part of the moderate and Biblical theologians of the Protestant Church are content with saying, what is manifestly the doctrine of the Bible, that the imputation of Adam’s sin consists in the prevailing mortality of the human race, and that this is not to be regarded as imputation in the strict judicial sense, but rather as the consequence of Adam’s transgression” (Knapp, Theology, § 76).
III. “The enlightened advocates of imputation do after all disclaim the actual transfer of Adam’s sin to his posterity. They are well aware that the human mind cannot be forced up to such a point as this. But they do still urgently contend for the idea that all Adam’s posterity are punished for his sin, although they did not, in fact, commit it; and that in this sense, therefore, they are all guilty of it. Turretin’s view is, that Adam’s sin imputed is the ground or cause why men are born-with original sin inherent, i.e. with natural depravity; and this is, in his view, the punishment inflicted because of Adam’s sin imputed to them. And with him many others agree. But Calvin, Edwards, Stapfer, and others, reject the doctrine of the real imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity, while they maintain that native inherent depravity is the consequence of it, which is chargeable to us as sin. This Turretin declares to be no imputation at all, i.e. a real rejection of his doctrine. Rejecting these views of Turretin, then, Edwards, in order to account for it how all men came to be born with inherent sin, labors to show that there is a physical and psychological unity between Adam and all his posterity. According to him, this would account for the commencement of native depravity, and when commenced it is imputed to us as sin, and therefore punishable, on legal ground, with temporal and eternal evil. But Turretin makes all to be punishment from the outset, and that on the ground of the sin of Adam, which is actually imputed to his descendants” (Stuart on Romans, 5, 19, p. 592). Dr. H. B. Smith, in an article in the Christian Union, takes the advanced ground that while it must be con ceded “that there is a proper interpretation,” and that Adam’s posterity do inherit, “by virtue of their union with him, certain penal consequences of the great apostasy.” man can be “delivered” from these evils by “divine grace,” and “that for original sin, without actual transgression, no one will be consigned to everlasting death” [italics are ours]. In an article in the Princeton Theological Essays (1, 138 sq.), a member of the Presbyterian Church takes even more liberal ground. “We know that it is often asserted that Augustine and his followers held the personal unity of Adam and his race … Let it be admitted that Augustine did give this explication of the ground of imputation. Do we reject the doctrine because we reject the reason which he gives to justify and explain it? .. It is no special concern of ours what Augustine held on this point. .. Any man who holds that there is such an ascription of the sin of Adam to his posterity as to be the ground of their bearing the punishment of that sin, holds the doctrine of impatation, whether he undertakes to justify this imputation merely on the ground that we are the children’ of Adam, or on the principle of representation, or of scientia media; or whether he chooses to philosophize on the nature of unity until he confounds all notions of personal identity, as President Edwards appears to have done.”
IV. The question of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience to believers is very skillfully treated by Watson (Theological Institutes, pt. 2, chap. 23), himself a believer in the doctrine of imputation in a modified way. We give here a summary of his statement of the subject.
There are three opinions as to imputation.
(I.) The high Calvinistic, or Antinomian scheme, which is, that “Christ’s active righteousness is imputed unto us as ours” In answer to this, we say,
1. It is nowhere stated in Scripture.
2. The notion here attached to Christ’s representing us is wholly gratuitous. 3. There is no weight in the argument that, “as our sins were accounted his, so his righteousness was accounted ours ‘for our sins were never so accounted Christ’s as that he did them.
4. The doctrine involves a fiction and impossibility inconsistent with the divine attributes.
5. The acts of Christ were of a loftier character than can be supposed to be capable of being the acts of mere creatures. 6. Finally, and fatally, this doctrine shifts the meritorious cause of man’s justification from Christ’s “obedience unto death” to Christ’s active obedience to the precepts of the law.
(II.) The opinion of Calvin himself, and many of his followers, adopted also by some Armenians. It differs from the first in not separating the active from the passive righteousness of Christ, for such a distinction would have been inconsistent with Calvin’s notion that justification is simply the remission of sins. This view is adopted, with certain modifications, by Armenians and Wesley. But there is a slight difference, which arises from the different senses in which the word imputation is used: the Armenian employing it in the sense of accounting to the believer the benefit of Christ’s righteousness; the Calvinist, in the sense of reckoning the righteousness of Christ as ours. An examination of the following passages will show that this latter notion has no foundation in Scripture: Psalms 32 -l; Jer 23:6; Isa 45:24; Rom 3:21-22; 1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:21; Rom 5:18-19. In connection with this last text, it is sometimes attempted to be shown that, as Adam’s sin is imputed to his posterity, so Christ’s obedience is imputed to those that are saved; but (Goodwin, On Justification);
(1.) The Scripture nowhere affirms either the imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity, or of the righteousness of Christ to those that believe.
(2.) To impute sin, in Scripture phrase, is to charge the guilt of sin upon a man, with a purpose to punish him for it. And
(3.) as to the imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity if by it is meant simply that the guilt of Adam’s sin is charged upon his whole posterity, let it pass; but if the meaning be that all Adam’s posterity are made, by this imputation, formally sinners, then the Scriptures do not justify it.
(III.) The imputation of faith for righteousness.
(a.) Proof of this doctrine. —
1. It is expressly taught in Scripture (Rom 4:3-24, etc.); nor is faith used in these passages by metonymy for the object of faith, that is, the righteousness of Christ.
2. The testimony of the Church to this doctrine has been uniform from the earliest ages — Tertullian, Origen, Justin Martyr, etc., down to the 16th century.
(b.) Explanation of the terms of the proposition that “faith is imputed for righteousness.”
1. Righteousness. To be accounted righteous is, in the style of the apostle Paul, to be justified, where there has been personal guilt.
2. Faith. It is not faith generally considered that is imputed to us for righteousness, but faith (trust) in an atonement offered by another in our behalf.
3. Imputation. The non-imputation of sin to a sinner is expressly called “the imputation of righteousness without works;” the imputation of righteousness is, then, the non-punishment or pardon of sin; and by imputing faith for righteousness, the apostle means precisely the same thing.
(c.) The objections to the doctrine of the imputation of faith for righteousness admit of easy answer.
1. The papists err in taking the term justification to signify the making men morally just.
2. A second objection is, that if believing is imputed for righteousness, then justification is by works, or by somewhat in ourselves. In this objection, the term works is used in an equivocal sense.
3. A third objection is, that this doctrine gives occasion to boasting. But
(1.) this objection lies with equal strength against the doctrine of imputed righteousness.
(2.) The faith itself is the gift of God.
(3.) The blessings which follow faith are given in respect to the death of Christ.
(4.) Paul says that boasting is excluded by the law of faith.
(IV.) The theologians who assert the extreme doctrine of imputation are ably answered by the closing words of an article on this subject in Chambers’s Cyclopaedia, 5, 529: “To impute sin is to deal with a man as a sinner, not on account of his own act, or at least not primarily on this account, but on account of the act of another; and to impute righteousness is to deal with man as righteous, not because he is so, but on account of the righteousness of Christ reckoned as his, and received by faith alone. The act of another stands in both cases for our own act, and we are adjudged–in the one case condemned, in the other acquitted–lot for what we ourselves have done, but for what another has done for us.
“This is a fair illustration of the tyranny which technical phrases are apt to exercise in theology as in other things. When men coin an imperfect phrase to express a spiritual reality, the reality is apt to be forgotten in the phrase, and men play with the latter as a logical counter, having a force and meaning of its own. Imputation of sin and imputation of righteousness have in this way come to represent legal or pseudo-legal processes in theology, through the working out of the mere legal analogies suggested by the word. But the true spiritual reality which lies behind the phrases in both eases is simple enough. Imputation of sin is, and can be nothing else than, the expression of the spiritual unity of Adam and his race. Adam ‘being the root of all mankind,’ the stock which has grown from this root must, share in its degeneracy. The law of spiritual life, of historical continuity, implies this, and it requires no arbitrary or legal process, therefore, to account for the sinfulness of mankind as derived from a sinful source. We are sinners because Adam fell. The fountain having become polluted, the stream is polluted. We are involved in his guilt, and could not help being so by the conditions of our historical existence; but, nevertheless, his sin is not our sin, and cannot, in the strict sense, be imputed to us, for sin is essentially voluntary in every case-an act of self- will, and not a mere quality of nature; and my sin, therefore, cannot be another’s, nor another’s mine. In the same manner, the highest meaning of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ lies in the spiritual unity of the believer with Christ, so that he is one with Christ, and Christ one with him, and in an true sense he becomes a partaker of the divine nature. The notion of legal transference is an after-thought-the invention of polemical logic- and the fact itself is deeper and truer than the phrase that covers it. The race one with Adam, the believer one with Christ, are the ideas that are really true in the phrases imputation of sin and imputation of righteousness.”
See Watson, Institutes, 2, 215, 241; Knapp, Theology. § 76, 115; Whitby, De imputatione Peccati Adamitici; Taylor, Doctrine of Original Sin; Wesley, Sermons, 1, 171-4; Edwards, On original Sins; Walch, De Obedientia Christi Activa (Gottingen, 1754, 4to); Walch, ,Neueste Religionsgeschichte, 3, 311; Princeton Rev. April, 1860; Baird, The First and Second Adam (Philadelphia, 1860. 12mo); Princeton Repertory, 1830, p. 425; Whately, Difficulties of St. Paul, Essay 6; Stuart, On Romans, Excursus 5, 6.