Friday, March 22, 2019

If my representative commits a crime, I don't go to jail

Among my Reformed brothers and sisters, I might be a minority of one (and so I'm probably wrong), but so far nobody has made me budge on this issue.

I agree in Federal Headship, i.e., that Adam was our representative, and that when he fell, we fell. However, it appears that many believe we suffered a twofold condemnation:
  1. Adam’s sin of disobedience—his actual instance of taking the forbidden fruit, is in our debit column.
  2. Adams sin corrupted his moral DNA, and we inherited that foul genetic material, so that we are sinners even from within the womb.

When we (or when I) speak of the fall, I am only referring to point 2.

Now the 2nd point in some sense renders the 1st point irrelevant. Whether or not Adam’s actual sin is charged to us doesn’t matter much mathematically, since (N+1) N for large values of N. (And all values of N are large, even though N = 1 is big enough.) However, proclaiming the truth of point 1 bothers me because I think it rather transparently impugns God’s character.

The Federal Headship teachings are fraught with bad political analogies, at least if you are trying to support the first point. It is quite true that a President, as my representative, may cause me all manner of difficulties (including death) as a result of his moral failings. This is likened to point 2.  However if the President commits a crime, then (in principle) he goes to jail, not me. That would be likened to point 1.

The proof texts for Federal Headship (such as Rom. 5:12-14) do not require point 1. They can easily and naturally just refer to the moral DNA corruption that left all with the double-negative cringeworthy inability to not sin.

Many will then, in the most common of Reformed (or simply theological) fallacious arguments (proof by assertion, or one of its variants, such as proof by slippery slope) make this kind of argument:
[To] deny Adam's representative headship logically leads to a denial of Christ's  representative headship on the Cross.
No it does not logically follow. The situation has some symmetry, but not perfect symmetry.  When Adam sinned, his nature was instantly (i.e., in "this life") actually and physically (and mentally) corrupted, as were ours by normal inheritance.  At birth (conception), nobody is reckoned as corrupt, they are corrupt. In Christ’s perfect obedience our nature (in this life) is not instantly transformed into actual physical and mental moral righteousness, we are reckoned as righteous. There is no corresponding state: reckoned as evil. The symmetry is there, but certainly it is not perfect.

If you accept point 1, then you must allow for this hypothetical dialog:
Now behold, a young man came and said to Him, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” 
So Jesus said to him, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” 
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” 
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 
The young man did as Jesus demanded and returned.  "Master, I have done what you requested. Am I now perfect as you promised?" 
“Um, no, sorry, my bad. See I didn’t think you’d actually do it... because you see, and this is rather embarrassing,  you also are charged with eating the fruit, even though you didn't… I kinda forgot to mention that…

May it never be, even in a hypothetical.

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