Notes from The Imputation of Adam's Sin
(these notes are from the 1963 lectures available on the Westminster Theological Seminary website
). I originally published these notes to this blog in three parts, corresponding to the three parts of the original audio recordings from John Murray. I've combined the notes, seeking to present a completed outline. Murray's thesis, based on exegesis of Romans 5:12-19, is that condemnation and death reign over all men by reason of the one sin of the one man, Adam. A focus on the Doctrine of Original Sin would help counter the Pelagian and Liberal tendencies plaguing the Church today.
I. Sin Defined
A. "Sin is a real evil"
1. "Sin... is not simply the absence of something else..."
2. "Sin involves a depraved disposition.
3. "A depraved disposition is not simply the absence of a good disposition."
B. "Sin is a specific evil... to be distinguished from those evils which are the consequence of sin."
1. "Death is the wages of sin, and all those evils [associated with death] are the consequences of sin... [but] death is not sin, disease is not sin, calamity is not sinful."
2. "To be subject to the wrath of God is an evil, but you cannot call the wrath of God sin...
3. "Sin is not to be associated with a physical evil or a penal evil."
C. "Sin is a moral evil... sin is a violation of the law of God."
1. The law of God is an expression of His character.
2. The law of God is all-pervasive: there is never a circumstance in life in which we are free from the obligation to love and obey God.
3. The law of God sets the parameters for and lends "sanctity" to human ordinances: if a human law is not contrary to the law of God, then violating that law is a sin.
D. "Sin involves pollution, blame, and liability."
1. Pollution denotes the defilement of the heart from which all sin proceeds.
2. Blame denotes that which is in contravention of a divine obligation, by:
c. Falling short
3. Liability refers to the penalty that accrues to the person because of his blameworthy disposition and action = "guilt."
II. Observations Concerning the Nature of Sin
A. "Sin is wrong:" "not only undesirable, but damnable."
B. "Sin is a contradiction of God:"
1. God rightly responds to sin with wrath.
2. It is a "divine impossibility" that God would be complacent regarding sin: God cannot deny Himself.
III. The Imputation of Adam's Sin (Key Passages: Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:22)
A. Rom 5:12-19
1. Syntactical Construction
a. The Apostle develops both the similarities and the contrasts involved in Adam as a type of Christ through a parenthetical construction in vv. 13-17.
b. The pivotal clause in this whole passage is the last phrase of v. 12.
2. Sin Contemplated
a. eph hō pantes hēmarton "In that all sinned."
b. This phrase gives the reason why death and condemnation passed to all people.
c. We must determine the meaning of this phrase, not by grammatical possibility, but by contextual consideration.
d. Pelagius held that this phrase refers to the actual sins of all men: people sin and die through following the example of Adam, who sinned and died.
e. The current popular exegesis of this clause is after the Pelagian pattern, the only difference being that now the historicity of Adam is questioned.
f. Neither the grammar nor syntax of Rom 5:12 in themselves refute the Pelagian view.
g. Nevertheless, the Pelagian view is refuted on sound observational and exegetical grounds.
i. It is NOT factually true that all die because they actually sin; infants die, but they have not personally and voluntarily transgressed the Law of God.
ii. In vv. 13-14 the Apostle states the exact opposite of the Pelagian view.
iii. In vv. 15-19 the Apostle repeats the assertion 5X that condemnation and death reign over all men by reason of the one sin of the one man: Adam.
iv. The emphasis is on singularity rather than plurality; the only thesis that can provide a parallel to justification is the teaching that Adam's sin is the ground for condemnation and death for all men.
3. The Union Involved
a. The Roman Catholic view is that the habitual sin of Adam-the loss of original sanctity, resulting from Adam's original transgression-is passed on to his posterity through natural generation. BUT NOTE:
i. It is very difficult to reconcile this position with the Apostle's use of the aorist rather than the perfect tense.
ii. Again, the central comparison of the passage is between sin and justification;
iii. Again, the sustained emphasis of the passage is that condemnation and death reign over all men by reason of the one sin of the one man.
b. Calvin's view was that Original Sin, following the Augustinian tradition, indicates not only the loss of original sanctity, but the radical corruption of fallen human nature.
c. When Paul wrote "all sinned" and "one man sinned," he was referring to the same historical fact.
4. The Nature of the Imputation
a. The first sin of Adam is immediately imputed to his posterity.
b. Charles Hodge charged Jonathan Edwards with teaching mediate imputation, but B.B. Warfield rightly saw that he did not; those who accuse Edwards of teaching mediate imputation do not recognize that in the passages they quote Edwards was not examining the mode of imputation but the nature of the sin imputed.
c. Mediate imputation is expressly contradicted by the sustained emphasis on condemnation and death reigning over all men by reason of the one sin of the one man.
d. The ground of humanity's condemnation and death is the "one trespass" of Adam.
e. In this passage, the Apostle is concerned with the correlation of sin, condemnation and death on the one side and the correlation of righteousness, justification, and life on the other side.
f. Not only does death and condemnation come upon all due to the "one trespass" of Adam: sin comes upon all due to the "one trespass" of Adam.
g. The only doctrine that provides a parallel to the doctrine of justification- the parallel that is established in this passage- is the doctrine of the immediate imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity.
h. Death is the wages of sin; it is impossible to think of death apart from sin: in Adam all sinned; now, therefore, all die.
5. Sin Imputed
a. All are involved in Adam's sin.
b. Charles Hodge defined imputed sin only as the obligation to satisfy justice: i.e., the punishment due to Adam's sin.
c. On the contrary, Paul teaches that more is involved: that the guilt of Adam's sin is also imputed.
d. Again, there is a parallel with justification: in justification, righteousness, not just the benefits of righteousness, is imputed; in original sin, guilt, not just the consequences of guilt, is imputed.
e. We can never think of the sin of Adam in abstraction from the depravity and perversity that it involved; we can likewise never think of imputed sin in abstraction from depravity and perversity.
B. 1 Cor 15:22
Labels: Bible study, Reformation Theology