Justified on the Reality of Christ in Us

We are justified by faith in Christ. But is that justification a mere legal fiction, as the Catholics object? Many look for the answer in the analogies of marriage and adoption. While these are good pictures, there is a more explicit answer: it is the spiritual union of Christ in the believer. But to really explain that answer will require some review of history—and one that is not usually taught, so you might find it interesting and useful.

An Historical Overview

Over the course of the last several centuries, the importance of reality in Christian theology has been eclipsed by the importance of position. Imputation and justification have come to be seen as mere exercises within God’s mind—a divine choice to put people in the categories of guilty or righteous—without regard to what people are in reality. The importance of reality has been all but lost, and this decline has resulted from abandoning the idea of a real union of the moral nature of all men within Adam when he sinned. To regain the reality, the Church must retrace her steps, and revisit the doctrine of the union in Adam. A return to reality must begin with a return to the Biblical realism that was implicitly contained in all the creeds and confessions of the early Reformed Church, and which flowed from Augustine, and ultimately from Scripture.

Mostly, I’m referring to Biblical realism—that Biblical principle of shared identity based on immaterial union, to which philosophical realism (with all its excesses) came to be applied. Biblical realism is the recognition of a shared personal identity, effected by immaterial (spiritual) union or singularity of immaterial origin, which is sufficient in itself to account for the headships of Adam and Christ. More broadly, Biblical realism is a paradigm from which God’s judgments and justice are dependent upon substantial reality—a reality which He may sovereignly change but cannot justly ignore. It was from this paradigm that the principle of realistic union was arrived at.

Although explicit theological realists have most commonly employed the terms and constructs of Plato’s realism in expounding principles of Biblical realism, such use of Plato is neither necessary nor beneficial. The difference between Platonic realism and Biblical realism is as great as the difference between a “universal” and a spirit. The strongest objections to theological realism are actually objections to Platonic realism inappropriately applied to theology. When divested of Platonic constructs, Biblical realism yields an understanding of justification, rebirth and atonement that is vastly superior to all other systems, and solves many longstanding theological problems.

The early Reformed Church was under the sway of “a realistic mode of thinking” (as George P. Fisher[1] calls it) when it came to Adamic unity and depravity. Total depravity itself comes from the idea that souls are propagated in such a way as to have shared responsible existence with and in their progenitors. To be spiritually propagated out of Adam is also to have acted in Adam—and this is exactly the original idea of being “in Adam.” The idea of soul propagation (“traducianism”) was first taught by Tertullian, and then came down through Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan to Augustine. Although Augustine was hesitant to commit himself to any philosophical explanation of traducianism, he gave many excellent arguments for it and none against it. More often than not, in Augustine, this comes out as the moral nature of all men deciding to sin in Adam and then being propagated to all men with the guilt inhering.

However, between Augustine and Luther came Rosceline’s nominalism, which philosophically undercut any possibility that the union with Adam had any real substance to it. Nominalism is the denial of any union of species within substantial reality, relegating all such unions to mere perception of union in the mind. In theology, this is the denial of any union of immaterial nature of mankind in Adam, and the relegation to a mere union in God’s chosen perception. In the broad picture, it is the diminishment of substantial reality—a paradigm from which God’s judgments and justice have no standard other than His own sovereign will. Realists say that God does something because it is right, while nominalists say that what God does is right merely because He does it. Thus, the realists look for a substantial union of the immaterial nature of men in order to ground within reality the justice of passing the penal consequences of Adam’s sin onto His posterity. Nominalism, on the other hand, results in an empty representationism, “constituted” by decree or covenant alone, since God’s justice needs no grounds within substantial reality—all that His justice needs is His own will. Realism says that you cannot be guilty unless you commit a crime, while nominalism says you are guilty if God says you are guilty, and no commission of crime is needed.

The effect of nominalism on theology was so gradual that the name itself was left behind and all but forgotten. Yet, the changes it wrought in theology over the centuries were deep and broad. The first change was to reinforce the idea of creationism as opposed to traducianism. Racial union was not something substantial within Adam himself, according to nominalism, but was, rather, something only within the all-observing Mind of God. The moral union with Adam was entirely a matter of how God chose to view us in the situation. Therefore, there was no objectively existing entity of human nature that sinned in Adam and was immaterially propagated to mankind. Rather, all that exists are individuals, and the soul is created out of nothing in every case. Nominalism’s influence in the Church ensured that special creation of the soul would be the prevalent view (as it is to this day).

Although Calvin disliked traducianism, and was not an explicit realist, he and most who followed him were not ready to abandon that “realistic mode of thinking” that was the essence of Augustine’s doctrine. So they inconsistently held onto the idea that all men shared a responsible existence in Adam, by virtue of the [moral] “nature” of all men existing in and propagated from Adam. This they held even while maintaining that the soul is specially created out of nothing in every case. As Fisher explains it, “the great majority of the theologians [prior to the eighteenth century] who adopted the theory of a covenant coupled with it the Augustinian principle. That is to say, they maintained the Augustino-federal or semi-federal doctrine…”

Eventually, in Turretin for example, there is an attempted reconciliation in the idea that special creation of the soul is according to the natural laws which God set up at creation, such that God creates the child’s soul with the nature of the parents as part of what is considered natural propagation. By glossing over the supernatural nature of a creation out of nothing, and emphasizing terms that tend to imply propagation from the substance of the parents (such as communication of depravity, etc.), they effectively taught that depravity is propagated just as humanity is propagated. While this might explain (albeit poorly) inherited depravity, it does nothing to explain the kind of union in Adam that involves a sharing of the responsibility for his sin (the shared existence of the moral nature or soul). Therefore, the realistic mode of thinking (the Augustinian principle) was eventually dropped in favor of the nominalistic federal representation. What began with the idea of men being held justly responsible for a sin that we all owned by our shared action in Adam became the idea that men are sovereignly held responsible for a sin that is as alien to us as is the righteousness of Christ. As Robert Landis[2] pointed out, while the early Reformed Church taught that Adam’s sin was imputed to us because it is ours, the later (current) federal view teaches that Adam’s sin is ours because it is imputed to us.

The Reality versus the Federal Construct

The answer is to apply the old realistic mode of thinking regarding Adamic union to our union with Christ. The union of believers with Christ is spiritual, and not merely legal or “federal.” This union happens within substantial reality, and does not exist only within the mind of God. Rom. 6:3, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” and, 1 Cor. 6:17, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” It is not speaking of water baptism, but baptism into the Spirit, which happens at the point of saving faith. To be spiritually baptized into Christ is to be joined to Him so that the new believer and Christ are one spirit, and the result of this is that the new believer is joined to (or, baptized into) His death. As the spirit is the core of a man, it is the core of a man’s identity. When the Holy Spirit indwells the man, He creates a new man by joining the spirit of the man to the Spirit of Christ. They are not joined to the extent that either is lost in the other, but they are joined to the extent that the man’s new identity is in Christ and his old identity is no longer valid in the eyes of justice. In fact, the believer is so identified with Christ that he is considered to have been crucified with Him. Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

There are certain truths about God, reality and justice that have been abandoned and need to be recovered. God is not disconnected from substantial reality: truth corresponds to reality, and God does not lie but is always a God of truth. If a man is to be condemned and sent to hell within substantial reality, and not merely seen within the mind of God as if he were in hell, then the crime for which he is sent there ought to be one that he has committed in reality and not merely one of which he is only seen within the mind of God as if he had committed.

Identification or representation that is merely of the mind, such as federal representation (in its usual, putative form that is found today, and not the implicitly realistic form found in the early Reformed Church), cannot be accurately called “real.” Reality exists even in the absence of any thoughts regarding it; whereas, federal representation is claimed to exist even in the absence of any reality regarding it. Realistic union is the most Biblical way to address and acknowledge the rightful place of reality in theology, because it acknowledges the reality of mankind’s inbeing in Adam when he sinned, as well as the reality of the believer’s inbeing in Christ.

The meaning of the word, justification, is clearly forensic (legal). But the deeper question remains: is that forensic verdict an accurate and true assessment of the believer when united to Christ, or is it a nominal and putative designation of a recategorization within God’s mind alone? The answer is found in our union with Christ. Are we joined to Christ in reality or in God’s mind alone? We are joined to Christ in reality to the extent that we gain His identity in the eyes of justice. In that sense, the “infused identity does make us subjectively righteous (when the subject is the whole man, consisting of both the man and Christ in union), but only insofar as we are joined to Christ and it is His righteousness—already accomplished in His human life—that is the only righteousness in view. However, when we are joined to Christ, we are not joined to the extent that either is lost in the other. The union is sufficient to make us one with Christ in the eyes of justice, but the righteousness that is now ours remains the righteousness that He lived and not any righteousness that we live out or accomplish – in that sense it is still an alien righteousness. This infused identity is the substance and reality which our prior justification had in view. Turretin[3] (T16, Q1, §§VII):

(2) Justification is opposed to condemnation: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?” (Rom. 8:33, 34). As therefore accusation and condemnation occur only in a trial, so also justification. Nor can it be conceived how God can be said to condemn or to justify, unless either by adjudging to punishment or absolving us from it judicially.

Although justification occurs “only in a trial,” we do not stand alone in that trial. Christ stands in us. Failure to apprehend this fact of reality is what caused N. T. Wright to claim, “Righteousness is not an object, a substance or a gas which can be passed across the courtroom.”[4] The Holy Spirit can indeed move across the courtroom (and into the defendant) and carry the identity of Christ (and title to His righteousness) with Him. But the fact that must not be overlooked is that all of this does not happen only in some courtroom far removed from us, but rather, the believer is judged as he is in reality—right where he stands—as the piercing gaze of heaven’s Judge sees the Spirit of His Son inside him. Christ is the Intercessor within, standing in us on earth and reaching to heaven’s court.

Turretin continues (T16, Q1, §VIII): “Finally, unless this word is taken in a forensic sense, it would be confounded with sanctification. But that these are distinct, both the nature of the thing and the voice of Scripture frequently prove.” It is true that justification is distinct from sanctification. But, again, the forensic sense is not necessarily the putative, nominal sense. It is true that the righteousness that we gain by faith is Christ’s alone, and does not make the sinner righteous in himself when viewed apart from Christ; however, it is also true that we are so joined to Christ as to never be apart from Him. Scripture tells us that we are so joined to Him as to be “one spirit with Him.”

Turretin says (T16, Q2, §XV),

Legal justification takes place in no other way than by inherent righteousness, whether actual or habitual; gospel justification is to be sought not in us, but in another. This the apostle clearly teaches when he wishes ‘to be found in Christ’ (to wit, in the judgment of God) ‘not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ’ (Phil. 3:9) (i.e., not an inherent righteousness, arising from an observance of the law and which is called ours because it is in us and is perfected by our actions, but the righteousness of God and Christ, imputed to us and apprehended by faith).

Turretin qualifies the phrase, “to be found in Christ,” with, “to wit, in the judgment of God.” This misses the force of the apostle’s meaning, by replacing the substance of a spiritual union with nothing more substantial than “the judgment of God.” We are in Christ because Christ really is in us. God’s judgment in finding us “in Christ” is an accurate and true judgment of our state within substantial reality. It is not a mere decision to put us into the category of “in Christ.” Thus, the righteousness of Christ is accounted to us because it really is in us, since Christ is in us. This righteousness is apprehended by faith insofar as it is faith that brings the indwelling Holy Spirit and union with Christ.

Turretin continues (T16, Q3, §XXIII):

What is imputed to anyone by a mere gracious acceptation, that is not really paid, but is considered as paid; but what is imputed on account of a true payment made by another supposes the thing to be paid. Now the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (of which we speak) is not to be understood in the first sense (the improper sense, for an imputation which takes place without any payment at all whether of the debtor or of the surety); but is to be understood in the latter sense inasmuch as it is founded in another’s payment (that of Christ the surety).

Unless the Surety and the debtor are so united as to become one man in the eyes of justice, it remains but a mere gracious acceptation that the payment of the Surety is accepted in the place of the debtor. Justice has no place for such gracious acceptation. Turretin (T16, Q7, §VIII), in denying that faith is considered our righteousness “by a gracious acceptation,” makes a comment here that is germane: “For in the court of divine justice (which demands an adequate and absolutely perfect payment), there cannot be room for a gracious acceptation which is an imaginary payment.” Just as there cannot be room in the court of divine justice for an imaginary payment, neither can there be room for an imaginary union on which to ground the efficiency and particularity of this payment. In order for the exacted payment to be applied to a particular sinner, there must be a real union between the two.

Turretin (T16, Q3, §XX):

Sixth, our justification is “a justification of the ungodly but to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). A justification of the ungodly cannot be made by infusion, but by imputation. For although he that is justified does not remain wicked, but is renewed by the grace of Christ, he cannot be said to be justified by that renovation (which is the effect following justification, not the cause which precedes it). And faith, by which man is justified and is made righteous in Christ, does not prevent him from being and being called wicked in himself, inasmuch as he is opposed to the one working as he who has nothing upon which he can rely before the divine tribunal for his justification and so is “ungodly,” partly antecedently; partly with respect to justification; not however concomitantly, still less consequently.

Justification of the ungodly cannot be made by infusion, but it is made by an indwelling spiritual union. It is not the renewed morality of sanctification that justifies, but the renewed identity (the “new man”) that is formed from Christ and the believer. While the saved man has nothing of his own (apart from Christ) to offer as a meritorious righteousness, he has everything of Christ’s to offer as a meritorious righteousness, since the union entitles him to all of Christ’s human experiences and accomplishments.

Although justification is prior to union with Christ, it cannot be adequately understood apart from union with Christ. Rather, justification is grounded on the absolute certainty of the divinely promised salvific union with Christ for those of faith. Justification is legal (forensic), and thus it is seemingly putative. However, it is grounded in a union that is real and substantial, even when that union is in the future. Justification provides the initial legal judgment of our salvation, but the union with Christ provides the substance and reality of our salvation—the ground and basis for our justification.

Lane Keister, in a recent article, entitled, “Why Imputation is Not a Legal Fiction,”[5] stated:

In most marriages, property entails joint ownership. Now, if a woman comes into the marriage with a debt (like a college debt), the husband assumes that debt. It becomes their debt (it can also be described as his debt), even though the husband did not incur that debt. Similarly, whatever money the husband brought into the marriage doesn’t belong just to him anymore, it also belongs to her, even though she did not earn it. So, by virtue of the marriage union between husband and wife, the debts and the assets are transferred.

In a very similar way, when the believer becomes united to Christ by faith, a new legal situation results with transfers happening.

The problem with most nominalistic [federal] analogies is that they work with financial but not criminal debt. No husband is criminally liable for the wife’s crimes. Only financial debts are transferable. Rev. Keister also stated:

Now, let us be clear here. The Protestant doctrine should never be formulated in such a way that union with Christ, for instance, has an internal change happening in the believer that thereby becomes the basis for the imputation. Christ’s righteousness is the basis for the transfer, not anything that happens in the believer. It happens by the instrumentation of faith.

I disagree. Union with Christ does indeed happen within the believer, and is an internal change—from the absence of Christ to His presence, and from alienation to union with Him. This union occurs as a fact of substantial reality and it happens within the believer—and it is the only solid ground of our justification. Faith is only instrumental for the purpose of bringing this vital, salvific union. Rev. Keister also stated:

When God declares us His heirs, then there is no reason whatsoever that God can not transfer anything to us that originally belonged to His Son. It would be no more difficult than imagining a father changing his will.

If a father has one son in jail and one free, a change in his will cannot reverse the guilt or innocence of either son. But, If God puts the Spirit of His Son into my heart, making me “one spirit with Him,” then I by grace become a true son just as if I were His only Son (who is in me).

Samuel J. Baird, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, Woodbury, NJ, from 1849-1865, and author of The Elohim Revealed, saw that “a real inbeing” in Christ was the ground of imputed righteousness, just as “a real inbeing” in Adam was the ground of imputed sin. He also understood why the idea of a shared identity through spiritual union with Christ is so consistently ignored. He states:

 If the imputation of Christ’s righteousness be founded in a real inbeing in him, wrought by the uniting power of his Spirit in regeneration,—if it is thus that we are brought within the provisions of the covenant of grace to our justification, it follows, (we will venture the word,) incontestably, that the imputation to us of Adam’s sin, is founded in a real inbeing in him, by natural generation, by virtue of which we come under the provisions of the covenant of works, to our condemnation. But this, according to our reviewer [Charles Hodge], is “simply a physiological theory,” involving “a mysterious identity,” which he cannot admit. Hence the necessity of ignoring the doctrine, in its relation to justification.[6]

He also states:

We have seen the zeal with which the position is maintained, that the doctrine of imputation “does not include the idea of a mysterious identity of Adam and his race.” By parity of reason it should not include the idea of a mysterious identity between Christ and his people. And accordingly, in the system presented in the review [by Charles Hodge, of Baird’s book, The Elohim Revealed], the relation which in the Scriptures and our standards, the mystical union sustains to justification is ignored, and the doctrine represented as complete without it, and to the exclusion of it. “Christ in the covenant of redemption, is constituted the head and representative of his people; and, in virtue of this federal union, and agreeably to the terms of the eternal covenant, they are regarded and treated as having done what he did and suffered what he suffered in their name and in their behalf.” According to our understanding of the Scriptures, it was provided in the eternal covenant that the elect should be actually ingrafted into Christ by his Spirit, and their acceptance and justification is by virtue of this their actual union to him. “This principle is not to be so understood as though the character thus conveyed were the meritorious cause of the relations predicated; as if the believer were justified by the personal righteousness which he receives through the power of Christ’s Spirit given to him. On the contrary, the union, which is constituted by virtue of the transmission of the nature, itself conveys a proprietary title in the moral and legal relations of the head; whilst the efficient principle which thus unites, is also fruitful in effects appropriate to the nature whence it flows. Thus, the sin of Adam, and the righteousness of Christ are severally imputed to their seed, by virtue of the union, constituted in the one case by the principle of natural generation, and in the other, by ‘the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,’ the Holy Spirit, the principle of regeneration. At the same time, the power by which the union is in these cases severally wrought produces likeness to the head.” [The Elohim Revealed, p. 317][7]

Although I’m a Baptist, I love reading 19th century Presbyterians—especially those who were not in favor of the Princeton capitulation to nominalism led by Hodge—men such as William Shedd, Robert Dabney, Robert Landis, and Samuel Baird.

Our righteousness comes not from our good works but from our gaining of a proprietary title to the righteousness of Christ who is in us. The Law requires that we live a perfectly righteous life from cradle to grave, and Christ did live exactly that. We died to our old identity and gained one in Christ, and now we have gained His human experience to our credit, just as if we had lived His life from manger to grave. As sinners, the Law also requires that we endure the complete wrath of God against sin, and Christ endured just that on the cross. Now that we have Christ inside us, no failure on my part can ever again incur God’s wrath, since the critical gaze of Justice is ever met in me by the Christ of the cross—the full wrath endured already—just as if it had been me who was taken outside the gate in Jerusalem and hung on a tree 2000 years ago. His blood does not cleanse us only at conversion, but ever cleanses us as we go along—and this is exactly how it cleanses (through the life and death of Christ credited to me as if they were my human experiences, because the Man who experienced them lives in me and is forever joined to me in spiritual union)!

It is because of Christ’s human nature that we are able to be joined to Him. It is His humanity that allows the mutual identity—that allows His experiences to be credited to us. This union is unhindered by any misfitting of different natures. Christ took on the nature of a man specifically to be able to identify in union with men and thus to save them. Otherwise, there could be no identifying union, since His divinity alone and our sinful humanity alone could never be united (darkness has not union with light). The fitting together of the human and divine natures was taken care of by Christ’s incarnation. Through the divine nature of the Holy Spirit, the Person of Christ is put in us, and to that Person inseparably belongs both His humanity and His divinity. To be joined to Christ in us is to be joined to all that He is, both His human and His divine natures.

The Reformed emphasis on the putative forensic aspect of justification comes out of a resistance to the Catholic works-justification; but the realism-to-nominalism trajectory has eroded the union-with-Christ aspect. Often, union with Christ is seen mainly as a chosen perception in God’s mind and the actual indwelling is relegated to a lesser importance. As Baird criticized Hodge (and those like him):

[…]The relation which in the Scriptures and our standards, the mystical union sustains to justification is ignored, and the doctrine represented as complete without it, and to the exclusion of it. [Hodge:] “Christ in the covenant of redemption, is constituted the head and representative of his people; and, in virtue of this federal union, and agreeably to the terms of the eternal covenant, they are regarded and treated as having done what he did and suffered what he suffered in their name and in their behalf.”

And do we not see the results of such a trajectory when the best explanation we can come up with in the face of Catholic arguments is to appeal to the analogies of marriage and adoption? The “realistic mode of thinking” that became Augustinian (or natural) headship was gradually abandoned only as the truth was corrupted. It was brought back at the Reformation, and then gradually abandoned again, and—as I see it—as the truth was corrupted again. But since the Reformers did not fully abandon the nominalism of Catholicism from the start, then the erosion began from the beginning. At least Augustine consistently held his realistic principle, since he often defended the prospect of propagation of the soul; while most of the Reformers were implicit realists but were explicit creationists. But according to Landis, most of them were simply agnostic toward the question and were happy to leave it to mystery while accepting the Scriptural revelation that Adam’s sin was ours in a real, substantial way that put our ownership of it logically prior to its imputation.

Nominalism may have served well to mark us off from Catholicism, but it will never win many Catholics. It is a denial of the significance of reality to the justice of God, which is inherently contradictory, since the very idea of justice is wrapped up in truth, and truth must correspond to reality to be truth. Instead, answer Catholics with the truth that Christ is in the believer in a union so close and so real as to identify the believer with the personal identity of Christ—and give the believer a just right to the ownership of all of Christ’s human deeds, both righteous life and atoning death. All their arguments against legal fiction will fall away at that.

Scripture does not portray the indwelling Holy Spirit—Christ within us—as merely a visitor but as united with us in identity. The true identity of a man is who he is in the inner man, and not the body he dwells in. When we are saved, Christ comes to dwell with that inner man in such a close union that we are said to be “one spirit with Him.” Not only is He said to be in us, but we now are said to be in Him. Not only is He where we are, but we are said to be credited with being where He is (“seated in heavenly places”). Because He is in us now, we are credited with all that He accomplished long ago (“crucified with Christ,” etc.). Rom. 6:3, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” and, 1 Cor. 6:17, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” It is not speaking of water baptism, but baptism into the Spirit, which happens at the point of saving faith. To be spiritually baptized into Christ is to be joined to Him so that the new believer and Christ are one spirit, and the result of this is that the new believer is joined to (or, baptized into) His death. In fact, the believer is so identified with Christ that he is considered to have been crucified with Him. Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” To be immersed into the Spirit of Christ is to be plunged into that flood of sufficiency that all His human experiences provide.

Adam’s sin was imputed to us because it was ours, and not the other way around. It was ours because the moral nature of every man was in Adam and chose to sin when he did. That’s participation in the defining action of the head. Since the same immaterial nature in me was in Adam, then the ownership was passed down with the nature. What is needed is to view Christ’s headship in the same way but in the other direction. The shared nature of all men was propagated out of Adam, with the one becoming the many. But the children of God are propagated not by dispersion—from the union in one to become the many—rather, children of God are propagated by bringing the many (one at a time) into union with the One, Christ. Therefore, we as believers gain a retroactive participation in Christ’s defining acts by being united with the indwelling Person of Christ NOW. Nonetheless, our saving participation in Christ is a participation in what He has long ago accomplished—and that’s all that’s needed to save us.

The same objections to justification apply to atonement. One man cannot die in the place of another (unless the two men can somehow be made one within substantial reality). The real “concrete” union of Christ within the believer is not some adjunct or afterthought but is the very foundation of all of salvation. Without the reality of Christ in us, the reality of Christ’s righteousness or His suffering our penalty cannot save us.

If you ask me to give you the money I borrowed from you, and I reply that I’ve already paid you in my mind, would you be satisfied with that? Why is it that when a man lusts after his neighbor’s wife, he’s guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart but she’s not made guilty by that sin? The fact is that while thinkers may incur guilt for thinking what they should not, no Thinker can make anyone else guilty merely by thinking—or righteous, for that matter. Reality exists regardless of any thoughts (or lack thereof) regarding it. And yes, I’m saying that this applies to God as well. If it did not, Christ would not have needed to die. God could have just chosen to view Him as if He had died. Or, God simply could choose to impute Christ’s righteousness to those who believe without any need for the cross. But the fact is that instead of merely viewing reality in His mind as if it matches what His justice requires, God actually does what is necessary to change reality to suit His justice. Rather than merely viewing believers AS IF we had the righteousness of Christ, God actually puts Christ Himself within the believer, joining the two into one new man who has full title to all of Christ’s human experiences (including His death and resurrection).

When the Reformed church moved off this foundation of Augustine, and abandoned the idea that a just condemning imputation demands a real participation in the crime, they left behind the importance of substantial reality to justice—and with it, much of the ability to see the substance in God’s federal or covenantal methods. That’s why leaving it behind took some time, as they first transitioned into what G.P. Fisher called the Augustino-Federal theory, accepting a covenantal theology while still maintaining the reality of an immaterial participation in Adam’s sin. The Federal or Covenant headship is like like the shell of an egg. The substance within the shell is the immaterial union with the head. Without this spiritual substance, Federal headship is only a shell of truth. It works as far as it goes, but it offers no depth as to why it works—for that we must look to union with the head. But even that has been nominalized, so we must distinguish between a federal union and a real immaterial union.

Therefore, it’s only natural that our immaterial union with Christ should lose its prominence while the federal imputation is emphasized. And the fault lies with the Realists as well. The excessively philosophical and naturalistic terms that are characteristic of most realists have served to obscure this parallel relationship of union to identity. Viewing the union in Adam as a union of species and a union of nature has hindered the recognition of the parallel of spiritual unions, and provided a reason for objections by the nominalists. John Murray makes such an objection:

 The analogy instituted in Romans 5:12-19 (cf. I Cor. 15:22) presents a formidable objection to the realist construction. It is admitted by the realist that there is no “realistic” union between Christ and the justified. That is to say, there is no human nature, specifically and numerically one, existing in its unity in Christ, which is individualized in those who are the beneficiaries of Christ’s righteousness. On realist premises, therefore, a radical disparity must be posited between the character of the union that exists between Adam and his posterity, on the one hand, and the union that exists between Christ and those who are his, on the other… This sustained emphasis not only upon the one man Adam and the one man Christ but also upon the one trespass and the one righteous act points to a basic identity in respect of modus operandi. But if, in the one case, we have a oneness that is focused in the unity of the human nature, which realism posits, and, in the other case, a oneness that is focused in the one man Jesus Christ, where no such unity exists, it is difficult not to believe that discrepancy enters at the very point where similitude must be maintained. For, after all, on realist assumptions, it is not our union with Adam that is the crucial consideration in our involvement in his sin but our involvement in the sin of that human nature which existed in Adam. And what the parallelism of Romans 5:12-19 would indicate is that the one sin of the one man Adam is analogous on the side of condemnation to the one righteousness of the one man Jesus Christ on the side of justification. The kind of relationship that obtains in the one case obtains in the other. And how can this be if the kind of relationship is so different in respect of the nature of the union subsisting?[8]

There is indeed a realistic union between Christ and the justified. It is a union of spirit. The parallel has an inverse quality: the spirit of Adam is propagated to all, while the spirits of the many are collected back into one head, Christ. We are generated out of Adam and regenerated into Christ. The modus operandi is that of a shared personal identity. We are joined to Adam’s sin because we were joined to Adam at the time of his sin; but we are joined to Christ’s death because we are joined to Christ now.

My objection is to what the theology of the Western Church became as it moved away from Augustinian realism and toward a contractualized (nominal) federalism. By moving back from that, a deeper understanding of the mystical union within us can be found by parallel. Christ is not merely interceding at the right hand of God in heaven, but rather, He is the Intercessor WITHIN, standing in us on earth and reaching to the court of heaven!

It’s not that imputation itself must be fiction; but rather, it must look to a ground in reality—whether eventual or current—upon which it may consist in truth. Imputation happens only within the mind and not within substantial reality. Even a man may impute guilt or righteousness to another man merely by accounting him so. When a jury finds a defendant guilty, they have imputed guilt to him. It is agreed that that God in reality accounts to us Christ’s righteousness. What seems to be in dispute is whether or not God can look to something other than His own thoughts on which to ground that accounting.

We all differentiate between the reality of what God thinks and the reality of what God does within the substantial world. Wouldn’t you agree that God’s justice would not have been satisfied if God merely accounted to Jesus suffering and death just as if He had died on the cross but without any actual suffering and death happening within substantial reality? There was a need for Him to actually come and die and not merely to be seen in the mind of God as if He had done so. God is a God of justice and truth. Justice requires truth, and truth must correspond to reality.

Prior to Christ’s death, believers were justified by faith as we are, but grounded on what Christ would do in the future. Therefore, while they were justified on God’s good credit, so to speak, justice was not yet satisfied in their case. That is why they did not go to heaven when they died, but instead went to sheol, separated by a great gulf from the place of torment. They did not suffer as unbelievers, but they were still, in a sense, captive to justice, waiting until that day when the Messiah would pay for sin, unite with them spiritually and bring them to heaven.

There must be a concrete reality to which the imputation answers, even if in the future. To ground His declaration of “now righteous,” the God who sees the future may indeed look to the future—but it is not true that He need not look to anything other than His own thoughts or decisions. Imputing is like writing a check: at some point, the funds must actually be deposited into the bank—not by “fixing the books” within God’s mind but by putting Christ within the believer in a union so close that the two become one new man in reality.

Our spiritual union with Christ occurs when we are joined to Christ by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. Yes, God accounted the OT saints as righteous even without this real union with the risen Christ. But then, He went about to accomplish within reality what actually needed to be done in order to fulfill that accounting as true. But it is not as if all things were the same in the OT as in the New. As He says in Rom 3:25b-26, “…This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” In the case of the OT saints, “in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” He “passed over” their sins while He waited to accomplish Christ on the cross. He passed over their sins until such a time as the victorious Christ could be united with them through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Prior to the cross, He was the Justifier but it had not yet been shown that He was just. After the cross, He was shown to be both just and justifier.

Ken Hamrick, 2014


[1]G. P. Fisher, “The Augustinian and the Federal Theories of Original Sin Compared,” Discussions in History and Theology (New York: Scribner’s, 1880), pp. 355-409
[2]Robert W. Landis, The Doctrine of Original Sin,  (Richmond: Whittet & Shepperson, 1884)
[3] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg: P & R, 1992)
[4] N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), p. 98
[5] Lane Keister, “Why Imputation is Not a Legal Fiction,” published 8-18-2014 at 11:23 a.m., at http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/why-imputation-is-not-a-legal-fiction
[6] Samuel J. Baird, A Rejoinder to The Princeton Review, upon The Elohim Revealed, (Phila.: Joseph M. Wilson, 1860), p. 34
[7] Ibid., pp. 32-33
[8] John Murray, The Imputation of Adam’s Sin, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1959), pp. 33-34

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46 Responses to Justified on the Reality of Christ in Us

  1. James S Ross says:

    “Nominalism’s influence in the Church ensured that special creation of the soul would be the prevalent view (as it is to this day).”

    I think this is false. Creationism is consistent with sound philosophy as it protects the spirituality of the rational soul. Traducinism does not. It finally became the only viable option when scientists began seeing how wrongs Aristotle’s understanding of animation was. This started with William Harvey when he was working as the caretaker of the Kings deer. He discovered that the doe supplied an equal amount of matter as the buck in the conception of the fawn.
    Since the definition of the Immaculate Conception in the mid 19th century, it has all but become the official view.

  2. Ken Hamrick says:

    James Ross,

    I don’t think you’ve encountered a fair argument in favor of the philosophical soundness of traducianism. The prospect of spiritual propagation can no more be disproven than creationism can be proven. Furthermore, creationism is inconsistent with sound theology, since God cannot create what is morally corrupt, and the universal sin nature of man is necessarily spiritual rather than physical. Aristotle is irrelevant to traducianism, but I would appreciate it if you would expand on that connection.

  3. De Maria says:

    If Protestants are now denying that justification is merely “forensic”. Then, Protestants are moving back towards the Catholic understanding of Justification. The Catechism says:

    CCC795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

    Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church.
    Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.

    Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.

    A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”

    It is Catholicism which teaches that we become one with Christ. It is Protestants, which in my experience, have ridiculed this idea, saying that we make ourselves gods.

    So, if Protestants no longer call justification merely “forensic”, how do you distinguish it from Catholic Doctrine? How do you become one with Christ if you do not believe that you can actually be washed of your sins in Baptism?

  4. Ken Hamrick says:

    DeMaria,
    The believer becomes one with Christ when the Spirit of Christ is sent into the believer, crying, “Abba! Father!” We are joined to Christ in reality to the extent that we gain His identity in the eyes of justice. In that sense, the “infused“ identity does make us subjectively righteous (when the subject is the whole man, consisting of both the man and Christ in union), but only insofar as we are joined to Christ and it is His righteousness—already accomplished in His human life—that is the only righteousness in view. However, when we are joined to Christ, we are not joined to the extent that either is lost in the other. The union is sufficient to make us one with Christ in the eyes of justice, but the righteousness that is now ours remains the righteousness that He lived and not any righteousness that we live out or accomplish – in that sense it is still an alien righteousness. This infused identity is the substance and reality which our prior justification had in view.

  5. James S Ross says:

    Ken,
    Last part first. Aristotle is irrelevant to traducianism. Yes. But his bad medicine and views on the delayed passive animation due to the original conceptus not being matter sufficiently form the infusion of a rational soul kept people from coming to accept immediate ensoulment for centuries.
    Now, the good part. Ken, Traducianism may make explaining the transmission of original sin easy and Augustine did toy with it. However, my understanding is that he jettisoned the idea later.
    T. is way wrong because it denies the spirituality of the rational soul. If you say the baby’s soul comes from the parents matter, usually the father’s sperm, you fall into materialism. If you say the baby’s soul comes from the parents souls, you have fallen into materialism again.
    You know, I was dumbfounded about 25 years ago when I called into the very popular Greg KoukL radio show to argue some point. In the course of our chat he revealed he held to this theory. I thought nobody did, especially a staunch pro-lifer like him.
    If you are interested in animation and the soul, I pulled off the net and printed an article by Stephen J. Heaney called THE HUMAN RATIONAL SOUL IN THE EARLY EMBRYO. Another good one that addresses this is WHERE YOU A ZYGOTE by Fr. Ron Tacelli. It doesn’t use any philosophical jargon and is only a few pages long.
    A jesuit name J.F. Donceel wrote a lot on this too. However, he did not hold to immediate animation but he does address the absolute spirituality of the soul which would shoot down any traducianism.

  6. De Maria says:

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for your reply. As you know, I like to compare everything to Scripture. You said:

    OCTOBER 10, 2014 – 7:48 AM
    Ken Hamrick
    DeMaria,
    The believer becomes one with Christ when the Spirit of Christ is sent into the believer, crying, “Abba! Father!”

    Scripture says that we are joined to Christ in Baptism. And that we receive the Spirit in Baptism.

    Colossians 2:11-13

    11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

    Since we are then united to Christ, one flesh with Him, we are now authorized to call Him, “Abba, Father!”

    Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

    Again, according to my understanding of the Word of God, it is in Baptism when we receive this Spirit.

    1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

    And that is the Catholic Doctrine. Where do you get that we receive the Spirit and are joined to Christ simply by crying, Abba, Father?

    We are joined to Christ in reality to the extent that we gain His identity in the eyes of justice. In that sense, the “infused“ identity does make us subjectively righteous

    The key word here seems to be “subjectively”. And this appears to be at odds with the Scripture. Scripture does not say that we only appear to be washed of our sins. But that we in fact, are washed of our sins:

    Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

    Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

    (when the subject is the whole man, consisting of both the man and Christ in union), but only insofar as we are joined to Christ and it is His righteousness—already accomplished in His human life—that is the only righteousness in view.

    Righteousness, as I see it referred to in Scripture, is the righteousness of God. And that righteousness is received through the faith of Christ. This is an obvious reference to the Sacraments and the receiving of the sanctifying grace which the Church teaches is a participation in the life of Christ.

    Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

    However, when we are joined to Christ, we are not joined to the extent that either is lost in the other. The union is sufficient to make us one with Christ in the eyes of justice, but the righteousness that is now ours remains the righteousness that He lived and not any righteousness that we live out or accomplish – in that sense it is still an alien righteousness.

    The righteousness of God is poured into our hearts in order that we might live according to the Spirit and attain our own righteousness:

    Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    This infused identity is the substance

    Infused? I notice that you aren’t using the word “imputed”. The substance of which you speak, the Catholic Church calls “sanctifying grace.” And it is defined as a participation in the life of Christ. This grace is infused, poured into our souls in Baptism.

    and reality which our prior justification had in view.

    The infusion occurs when we are justified in Baptism.

  7. James S Ross says:

    Ken,

    I think your difficulty with DeMaria is based on the same error as you are having with me. I really think Protestantism starts with a faulty philosophy before moving to a faulty theology. In this case, a lack of understanding of the rational soul.

    We speak of grace being infused and this needs a bit of tweeking to save one from the error of seeing it as a substance that exists outside of us and is then piped in.
    Let me pontificate; All of created nature, angels, man, dogs, flowers and rocks stand separated by an infinite chasm between themselves and God. Yet the chasm between angels and men on one side and God on the other can be bridged. We can be made to participate in the divine nature while irrational beings cannot. We can therefore conclude that our capacity for deification/elevation/adoption resides in our rational nature.

    Our souls, being spiritual have two faculties totally divorced from the material and therefore capable of inexhaustible knowledge and unlimited love. Nothing less will satisfy. IOW, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord.”

    The Holy Spirit stamps His image in us. He fills this capacity. Uncreated Grace/Love creates grace and love our wills and enlightens our intellect. These faculties are made to be elevated or transformed as a piece of metal in a hot furnace. The cat or flower cannot be elevated to the divine nature because their souls are dependent on matter so don’t have intellect or will. Intellect and will are interior. The Holy Ghost works on the inside not on an outside imputation.

    A rock, cat or plant could be “imputed” as righteous but only a man or angel can be made righteous.

  8. parsonsmike says:

    De Maria,

    You said:
    “Again, according to my understanding of the Word of God, it is in Baptism when we receive this Spirit.
    1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    And that is the Catholic Doctrine. Where do you get that we receive the Spirit and are joined to Christ simply by crying, Abba, Father?”

    The passage you are using to show your belief isn’t showing it. It does not say that when we are baptized we receive the Spirit. It does say that BY the Spirit we are baptized into one body.

    Likewise Ken does not say that by SIMPLY crying abba Father that we receive the Spirit. My guess is that you are having reading problems. Or that you are reading into what is written, both in what God has written and in what Ken has written.

  9. parsonsmike says:

    James Ross,
    Grace isn’t a substance that can be infused.
    Also, nothing you are saying there contradicts Traducianism. A Traduced soul is a rational soul. Whether it is created or traduced has no bearing on what it is or isn’t. The difference is not that one is of God and the other is not. Trad. simply speaks to how an individual soul comes to be, which is of course is what individual creation of souls is doing as well.

    If you want to develop this topic a bit more, you need to offer more information. Do you believe in an inherited sin nature? If so, then how does one inherit it? How do you exegete Romans 5;12-21? On this web site you will find what Ken has written on these matters. But if you explain your own understanding, I am sure that someone will respond in a fuller way with theirs.

  10. Ken Hamrick says:

    James,

    Today, I’ve posted my argument for traducianism here, at https://sbcopenforum.com/2014/10/11/origin-of-the-soul-a-defense-of-paternal-traducianism/

    Let me know what you think. My time is gone for now. I appreciate your interest and comments thus far.

  11. Ken Hamrick says:

    DeMaria,

    Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, converting my paper to html took all the time I had. 🙂 I’ll try to get back here again tomorrow.

  12. De Maria says:

    OCTOBER 11, 2014 – 10:02 AM
    parsonsmike

    Hello Parson, thanks for responding.

    De Maria,

    You said:
    “Again, according to my understanding of the Word of God, it is in Baptism when we receive this Spirit.
    1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    And that is the Catholic Doctrine. Where do you get that we receive the Spirit and are joined to Christ simply by crying, Abba, Father?”

    The passage you are using to show your belief isn’t showing it.

    I believe it does Parson. Let me explain. Scripture tells us that we receive the Spirit in Baptism.

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    And this is the Spirit to which 1 Cor 12:13 makes reference. The water of Baptism, both symbolizes and evokes the outpouring of the Spirit which washes our souls of their sins and unites us to the body of Christ:

    Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

    Therefore, Baptism is called the Washing of Regeneration:

    Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

    It does not say that when we are baptized we receive the Spirit.

    But I presumed that I was speaking to a person who was familiar with all of the Bible. I assumed that Ken knew that Acts 2:38 tells us that we receive the Holy Spirit when we are Baptized.

    It does say that BY the Spirit we are baptized into one body.

    Correct, the washing/baptism with water symbolizes the washing/baptism of the Spirit. As Scripture says again:

    1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

    Likewise Ken does not say that by SIMPLY crying abba Father that we receive the Spirit.

    I’ll await Ken’s explanation.

    My guess is that you are having reading problems. Or that you are reading into what is written, both in what God has written and in what Ken has written.

    Before we begin insulting each other, why don’t you try explaining your understanding of the Word of God in as much detail as I have provided. Otherwise, I’m just wasting my time with you if all you are doing is simply dismissing everything I’m saying and proving with Scripture, without giving it a second thought.

  13. De Maria says:

    James Ross,
    Grace isn’t a substance that can be infused.

    Just as their is such a thing as a spiritual body:
    1 Corinthians 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

    There is such a thing as a spiritual substance which can be poured into our souls:
    Psalm 45:2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

    Scripture calls this spiritual substance, grace.

    Also, nothing you are saying there contradicts Traducianism.

    But Scripture, does:

    Ecclesiastes 12:
    5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    This is speaking of a man’s death. The mourners process through the streets. And when people learn the name of the dead person, they are surprised and things are broken because to their astonishment. And the material part of the man’s soul, the body, returns to the dust from whence it came. But the spiritual part of that man’s soul, goes back to God, who gave it.

    A Traduced soul is a rational soul. Whether it is created or traduced has no bearing on what it is or isn’t. The difference is not that one is of God and the other is not. Trad. simply speaks to how an individual soul comes to be, which is of course is what individual creation of souls is doing as well.

    Perhaps. But it is God who gives the Spirit:
    Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

    If you want to develop this topic a bit more, you need to offer more information. Do you believe in an inherited sin nature?

    Yes. We call it Original Sin and it is inherited through the flesh:
    Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

    If so, then how does one inherit it?

    Through natural coitus.

    How do you exegete Romans 5;12-21?

    Romans 5:12-21King James Version (KJV)

    12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

    When Adam sinned, he lost His righteous nature which we call Original Justice and traded it for the sin nature which we call, Original Sin.

    In his righteous nature, Adam was united to God and immune to death. But in his sin nature, Adam rejected God and subject to death.

    If Adam had remained righteously united to God, when he had children, he would have passed unto them his righteous nature. But, because he lost his righteous nature and now possessed only a sin nature, that all which he could pass on to his children.

    13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

    Before God wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger upon tablets of stone, these commandments were already written upon men’s hearts. Therefore, when men committed evil deeds, they committed sins.

    But since the Ten Commandments were not yet written, men did not impute to themselves any sins. That is to say, men did not consider or judge their actions sinful. Even those who were the worst sinners, considered themselves righteous. As the Scripture says elsewhere:

    Romans 7:7 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.

    14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

    But men were subject to death even before the advent of the Law. Even those individual who had not sinned personally were subject to death because they inherited from Adam their sin nature. Those who had not sinned are those who died in the womb and those who never achieved the age of reason before their death.

    15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift.

    But the evil which Adam gave us, is not greater than the grace given us by Jesus Christ.

    For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

    By one man, death came to all men. And by one man, the gift of eternal life is restored to all men.

    16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

    But the gift is greater because by one man many men committed many sins and were condemned, but by the gift of grace, their sins were remitted.

    17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

    So, although death reigned by one man committing sin, those who accept the gift of grace and righteousness given by Christ, will receive eternal life in Jesus Christ.

    18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

    By one man, all men were condemned to physical death, by the righteousness of one man, all men have received the gift of justification unto life.

    19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

    Because Adam sinned, mankind inherited a fallen nature. Because Christ obeyed, mankind received the gift of righteousness.

    20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

    The Law was given in order that men might know they sinned. And God gave His only begotten Son in order that grace might abound all the more.

    21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

    In the Old Testament, sin reigned unto death. But now the Son of God has become flesh in order that grace may abound, through the righteousness of God, which is the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is poured into our hearts, in the Sacraments of Jesus Christ.

    On this web site you will find what Ken has written on these matters. But if you explain your own understanding, I am sure that someone will respond in a fuller way with theirs.

    Ok, thanks.

  14. James S Ross says:

    Parsonmike,
    A trad soul is not a rational soul! I am not sure what form of generationism/traducionism you follow but they are all materialistic. Rationality is a spiritual power. Spirits don’t come from matter ( sperm ). Nor do spirits spawn new spirits as they have no parts but are absolutely simple substances without any composition. No part of a spirit can be taken off like a shoot, branch or slip ( hence the name Traducianism ).

    Assuming you agree on the above, I will move on. The mind’s powers of abstraction, reason and judgement are immaterial powers. As no effect is ever greater than its cause, we can conclude the mind is immaterial. Of course, in this life anyway, the mind is dependent on the physical brain and the organs of sense to supply it with the necessary material to perform these actions. Still, at the end of the day, a chunk of meat stuffed into our skulls does not think, pray, compose music, do sudoku puzzles or love. Further, after that chunk of meat has decomposed, we will remain self conscious whether in heaven, ( or purgatory ).

    Parsonmike, a trad soul can be a plant soul. It can be a animal soul. But it cannot be a spiritual soul. Each and every spirit comes forth from the hand of God by a special act of creation ex nihilo. To say otherwise says spirit can come from matter, the greater from the lesser.
    Ciao

  15. James S Ross says:

    Ken,
    I originally left this comment of the other article. Maybe I should put it here?

    Ken,
    I clicked on your link and see your article is quite lengthy. I am indeed going to enjoy going through it.
    Because you give me so much to work with, I will comment a little at a time as I work through it.

    Okay, right off I see we agree that man is a composite being of matter and spirit. He straddles the world of apes and angels both but is neither. Nor is he a hybrid or chimera. Man is not an ape as his intellectual powers transcend all matter. Nor is man an angel as he is dependent on matter for all of the minds information in this life.
    When I say “dependent” I don’t mean to imply a negative. The spiritual soul elevates the matter. The union is a happy one and not one of soul imprisoned in matter as the Greeks thought. Man is not an angel locked into an ape’s body waiting for liberation.
    The soul is the form of the body. It unifies all the cells and various systems ( circulatory, respiratory, nervous, digestive and cellular reproductive, etc. ) into one harmonious being. This animating and unifying principle works from the inside out and not from the outside in. An automobile may be a harmonious collection of electrical, cooling, combustion and other systems but the unifying principle is the designer, mechanic or the driver, and not anything internal to the machine itself. This unifying and animating principal ( soul )is something all beings that take in nourishment, grow and reproduce have. If It is alive and is composed of matter, it has a soul.
    Man’s soul, while an animating principal of his body, is something more than an animating principal. It is also an elevating principal. This is because man’s soul is a spirit. Not a pure spirit like an angel. Rather, as you bring out, it is made for the body. After death, the spiritual soul does not go out of existence or sleep. It cannot as it has no composition to decompose. How the soul without the brain or sense organs retains memory or learns new information is an interesting question but I will pass it over for now. The disembodied soul longs for reunion with the body. This brings up the interesting question of how the soul, when reunited with the body at the Resurrection spiritualizes the body of both saved and damned alike. Again, maybe we can come back to it later.
    I gotta go but will continue.

  16. James S Ross says:

    Parsonmike,

    Let me rephrase my remark. A Trad soul cannot be a rational soul.

    Historically there have been 3 explanations of how the soul comes to be within man. The first view, attributed to Nemesius, is that the soul pr-exists the body. He said that since the Bible says that after creating everything, “God rested”, all souls are already in existence and held in reserve until the matter is disposed to receive the soul. Nemesius said God rests from any further creation.
    This theory is easily shown to be false as it makes soul not to be the substantial form of the body but a complete substance, a pure spirit as is an angel. The union of spirit with body is no longer harmonious but becomes like the angel imprisoned in the ape I mentioned earlier to Ken.
    The second view is Traducianism. As the activities of the human soul are far above those of organic matter, the soul’s source cannot be found in matter. To try to sidestep this and say the new sou has its origin in the spiritual soul of one or both of the parents is again to fall into materialism as spirits are simple substances.
    The third view, Creationism, says that God creates ex nilhilo each and every soul when the matter is disposed. Although Aristotle’s faulty view prevailed for centuries about the three successive souls, only the last one created by God, modern science has debunked this. The article I mentioned to Ken called “WERE YOU EVER A ZYGOTE” by Fr. Ron Tacelli shows we are the same being or person from conception to eternity instead of a series of three different beings.
    So, creationism and immediate animation prevailing views today.
    And like I mentioned to Ken, for Catholics, the decree on the Immaculate Conception settles it. When sperm meets egg, God creates a soul at that instant and not before or after.

    Before leaving this, I should say that I think Creationism has major implications for our view of the Sacraments too. Many non-Catholics object to the Catholic view of the Sacraments as magic or attempting to bind God into regenerating the baby or adult at the moment the baptismal water and words are applied.
    Actually, God has bound Himself. Whenever egg meets sperm, God creates a soul. Whether this happens in marriage, fornication, incest or rape, God has bound Himself to the laws of nature He created.
    This same principal can be applied to the Sacraments. When the proper matter and form come together, whether the minister is a saint or a scoundrel, God keeps His promise to create a soul or transform bread and wine.

  17. James S Ross says:

    Parsonmike,
    Hello again. Before getting back to studying Ken’s article on Traducianism, I should address your remark about grace not being a substance that can be infused.
    You are so correct. The Church never said grace is a substance. She says grace is an accident. An accident has no more actual existence apart from a substance than redness exists apart from the apple.
    Grace is not some stuff that exists outside of us and is then pipe into us. Grace does not exist apart from our soul. It is created in or drawn out of passive capacity for divinization I mentioned above.
    I think I pretty much covered this in one of my posts above so I won’t be redundant here other than to anticipate a possible objection made by many non-Catholics about grace being nothing more than “unmerited favor”.
    This is true as far as it goes. However it doesn’t go far enough. Both the Bible and ancient Greek literature give a much richer definition of grace.
    If my answer doesn’t satisfy you, I would be happy to elaborate.
    Thanks for showing an interest and have a nice Sunday.

  18. James S Ross says:

    Ken,
    I had a moment to peruse a bit further in your article on Traducianism and immediately came across your assertion that we share in the “culpability”of Adam’s sin.

    Perhaps we should talk about the Fall and just what Adam fell from. In Genesis we see God form Adam’s body from the slime of the earth and breath into him an immortal soul imbued with God’s own breath (the Holy Ghost ).
    Scripture says Adam was made in God’s image and likeness. The image being Adam’s spiritual nature and the likeness meaning that image participated in God’s life or breath ( again the Holy Spirit ).
    By spiritual nature I mean Adam transcended his environment and had a freewill rather than determined by physical circumstances. ( If he was hungry, unlike an animal in the presence of food, he could eat or refrain ). Adam also had the powers of self reflection and reason.

    Ordinarily the material and spiritual realms do not meet. In man however, they come together. In order to make this fusion of the two realms harmonious God gave Adam an added gift that made his body obedient to his spiritual soul.
    As every body is subject to decomposition, God gave Adam the tree of life to make him immortal and free of sickness.
    Since Adam had no parents ( Artists always depict him without a belly button ) God infused knowledge of animal natures into him. That is how he knew the names of the animals he had never previously seen.
    As great as these preternatural gifts were, they still left Adam a mere creature.

    Therefore, to lavish even more on him, the greatest gift breathed into Adam was that of sanctifying grace. By grace Adam was made an adopted son, an heir and a partaker of the divine nature.

    When Adam sinned, he lost all the added gifts. While the image or rational nature remained, the divine likeness, sanctifying grace no longer remained. Adam became subject to death and disordered demands of the lower faculties. As a further punishment, Adam became subject to the devil’s wiles.

    If Adam had not sinned, all the gifts would have been passed down by propagation. After the fall, the gifts were lost to all of Adam’s children. The intellect became subject to ignorance, the will to weakness and malice and the lower appetites rebelled against reason. Worst of all, grace was lost. All of Adam’s children lost their inheritance as sons.

    While we are not culpable for Adam’s sin, we suffer from its results.
    Although we can be restored to God’s friendship by grace, the other gifts of immortality and such won’t be restored until the Resurrection.

    Ken, I needed to make this digression on how we differ on the Fall in order to show how creationism differs from traducianism.

    God creates each soul now as naturally good ( this may take some tweeking in order to elaborate on those wounds I mentioned above ). But each soul is not supernaturally good. As a matter of fact, it is dead supernaturally speaking.
    God no longer creates each soul at conception filled with sanctifying grace. We are not born sons of God but sons of Adam.

    Sin does not reside in the body so it is not passed on by the flesh. Nor does God create an evil soul. It is blasphemy to say He does.

    Original sin for us is a privation of grace in the soul. It is not actual sin. God creates a soul that is lacking a gift that does not belong to it by nature. Nobody goes to hell for it. But nobody can get into heaven as long as it remains. Sanctifying grace, merited on Calvary, is restored at Baptism.

    Traducianism has a different understanding of original sin and its transmission because it has a different understanding of the soul’s origin..

  19. James S Ross says:

    Ken,

    I see I am getting ahead of you so after this I will hold off until you respond. I have read quite a bit of your article and I see we agree on quite a bit about man being a composite of matter and spirit. I am going to have to say to you what I said to Parsonmike. Traducianism is impossible as the source of a spirit.

    You seem to say that the father is the major player in your theory. What about the 23+23=1 formula?

    Also, do you believe Jesus had to be born of a virgin so as not to contract original sin? As you are a Protestant, I am sure you don’t adhere to Mary as being the Immaculate Conception. You don’t say Mary was sinless do you?
    ( Ken, just to clarify, by this term we Catholics mean Mary was sinless/ filled with grace from the moment her soul was created and infused into the matter. The Virginal Conception is the term we use for Jesus’ Conception. In both cases Jesus and Mary’s souls were sinless/grace filled but they are different ideas altogether. )

    We Catholics say that Jesus did not have to be born of a virgin. He could have been conceived in the normal way and both parents could have been sinners. We do not say original sin is positive. Rather it is a privation of the grace that is not owed to us anyway. It appears that Traducianism demands that Jesus have been born of a virgin, Is this so?
    We say it was not necessary but fitting.

    Okay, I will continue reading your article. Take care.

    PS Here is a link to an article you may be interested in by a friend of mine.
    http://catholicnick.blogspot.pt/search/label/Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary

  20. Ken Hamrick says:

    DeMaria,
    You stated:

    If Protestants are now denying that justification is merely “forensic”. Then, Protestants are moving back towards the Catholic understanding of Justification.

    I do not represent all or even many Protestants. I’m just one man trying to point out a better understanding. To pull a man out of the ditch and back onto the road of truth, you must pull him toward the ditch on the opposite side—but this is no reason for those in the opposite ditch to think the man will be joining them.

    You stated:

    CCC795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
    Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church.
    Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.
    Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.
    A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”
    It is Catholicism which teaches that we become one with Christ. It is Protestants, which in my experience, have ridiculed this idea, saying that we make ourselves gods.

    If you hope to make any headway arguing with Protestants, you must remember that Scripture is our ultimate standard for truth. Nowhere in Scripture is it written that we as believers or as the Church become or are Christ. Therefore, you have gone beyond Scripture and taken things too far. There is a spiritual union between Christ and those in whom Christ dwells; and there is a unity between believers effected by all having the same Christ within—a bond of the Holy Spirit; but there is no Biblical grounds for claiming that either actually become Christ. The union is perichoretic: mutual indwelling and participation, but not such a close union that either is lost in the other.

    You asked:

    So, if Protestants no longer call justification merely “forensic”, how do you distinguish it from Catholic Doctrine? How do you become one with Christ if you do not believe that you can actually be washed of your sins in Baptism?

    I still call justification forensic. But I reject that false dichotomy that forensic must be nominal and needs no ground within substantial reality. I distinguish it from the Catholic doctrine by grounding the forensic imputation of righteousness on the identity of Christ within the believer—to deny me the righteousness of Christ would be to deny Him His own righteousness, since who I am as a being now includes Christ within me. We are indeed washed of our sins in baptism, but it is the baptism (immersion) into the Spirit of Christ and not the merely symbolic baptism into water. The latter is only a picture of the former. We are immersed into the Spirit and life of Christ when the Spirit of Christ is sent into us.

  21. Ken Hamrick says:

    James,

    You stated:

    Traducianism may make explaining the transmission of original sin easy and Augustine did toy with it. However, my understanding is that he jettisoned the idea later.
    T. is way wrong because it denies the spirituality of the rational soul. If you say the baby’s soul comes from the parents matter, usually the father’s sperm, you fall into materialism. If you say the baby’s soul comes from the parents souls, you have fallen into materialism again.

    Augustine did more than toy with the idea. It was the framework for his whole anthropology. He hesitated at officially adopting the philosophical explanations of it such as Tertullian provided a few centuries earlier. But he made many excellent arguments for it, and none against it. Like the Reformed Church that later resurrected his theology, he was satisfied to assume it without explicitly adopting it, and forming his doctrine in such a way that it made no sense without it. In effect, the question was parried by teaching that it was the “nature” of men that sinned in Adam and was propagated from him with the guilt inhering. Later, even Calvinists who explicitly denied traducianism could find it sufficiently palatable to adopt the inconsistency of a propagated [moral] nature and a specially created soul. Some views are o.k. as long as we don’t pry into them too much. But at least Augustine consistently held to this realistic union, since he did consider traducianism to be stronger than creationism (even to his death). The same cannot be said for the Reformed.

    I say that the baby’s spirit comes from the father’s spirit, and I reject both materialism and materialistic objections. A spiritual soul is a rational soul. The spirit is no more propagated by the body than the body is propagated by the spirit.

  22. Ken Hamrick says:

    James,

    Only a spiritual being is a moral being, capable of being righteous or unrighteous. To impute is simply to reckon things according to reality. Christ is in us in reality, so His righteousness is imputed to us based on the reality of His being joined to us and present in us.

  23. Ken Hamrick says:

    DeMaria,

    I get that you’re a Catholic. But our views are so far apart that I’m not seeing any basis for a fruitful dialogue. All that you’re arguments have accomplished so far is to show some large differences.

  24. parsonsmike says:

    James,
    Grace is not created. Grace is a motivation of action.
    Thus God’s grace is His gracious actions toward sinners. The act itself isn’t grace. It is of grace. Although you could call it grace, as in, “God was gracious to me,” or “God had grace on me,” it just means that God did something for me, not out of judgment to damn but out of mercy and love.
    So the definition is unmerited favor.
    So please elaborate.
    Thanks,
    mike

  25. Ken Hamrick says:

    DeMaria,

    My arguments for traducianism can be found in the like I’ve already provided—to the article posted here yesterday.

  26. Ken Hamrick says:

    Bread doesn’t just “spawn” new bread, either—yet, explain the feeding of the 5000. The fact is that neither you nor any other philosopher has enough certain knowledge of spirits and propagation to justly “pontificate” about what is not possible. It is not traducianism, but those who object to it, that are materialistic in their thinking.

  27. Ken Hamrick says:

    Traducianism comments will be better placed at the traducianism article.

  28. Ken Hamrick says:

    Your objections are all answered in the traducianism article. See you over there.

  29. parsonsmike says:

    James,
    You said,
    ~~”The second view is Traducianism. As the activities of the human soul are far above those of organic matter, the soul’s source cannot be found in matter. To try to sidestep this and say the new sou has its origin in the spiritual soul of one or both of the parents is again to fall into materialism as spirits are simple substances.”~~

    I suppose you can show me the Biblical passages that support the idea that spirits are simple substances.
    And this argument is quite circular: since God has bound Himself in creation, so has he bound Himself in the sacraments. But of course the argument you need to make is to show these things as true.

    Now the first human spirit was created different than the rest? If all are created individually, would they not be created in the same manner?

    Wanting to be honest and open James, i usually do not spend much time debating Catholics. I find much of their practices abhorrent and unBiblical. I am not saying that many of them are not Christians, just that there is such a wide division at the base of our belief systems that makes actual debate on certain topics unproductive.

    May His peace ever fill you,
    mike

  30. parsonsmike says:

    James,
    You said,
    ~~”Therefore, to lavish even more on him, the greatest gift breathed into Adam was that of sanctifying grace. By grace Adam was made an adopted son, an heir and a partaker of the divine nature.”~~

    Can you show me the Biblical passages that teach us this and of the other three gifts?
    Thank you,
    mike

  31. Ken Hamrick says:

    James,

    You stated:

    In Genesis we see God formed Adam’s body from the slime of the earth and breathed into him an immortal soul imbued with God’s own breath (the Holy Ghost ).
    Scripture says Adam was made in God’s image and likeness. The image being Adam’s spiritual nature and the likeness meaning that image participated in God’s life or breath ( again the Holy Spirit ).

    “Image” and “likeness” are a simple Hebraism of restatement for emphasis. The image and likeness refer to the spiritual nature, but that spirit was finite, created ex nihilo by God (within Himself) and breathed out of God and into Adam. The spirit that animated Adam was not the Spirit of God or any particle of God, or else Adam would never have sinned, being divine.

    While I find your explanation of the fall to be interesting, I do not find it compelling.

    You said, “While we are not culpable for Adam’s sin, we suffer from its results.” That would make those results to be unjustly passed onto us by God.

  32. parsonsmike says:

    James,
    You said,
    ~~”Also, do you believe Jesus had to be born of a virgin so as not to contract original sin? As you are a Protestant, I am sure you don’t adhere to Mary as being the Immaculate Conception. You don’t say Mary was sinless do you?
    ( Ken, just to clarify, by this term we Catholics mean Mary was sinless/ filled with grace from the moment her soul was created and infused into the matter. The Virginal Conception is the term we use for Jesus’ Conception. In both cases Jesus and Mary’s souls were sinless/grace filled but they are different ideas altogether. )”~~

    Ken and i are paternal traducianists since Mary was as human and sinful as any other person not the Lord. So here then is the problem that will continually make our discussions unproductive and time wasting: Catholics hold to unBiblical sources of truth that Protestants reject.

    Since the Word of God is not your only source of authority, most every doctrine you have is built on the words of fallible men. I have no desire to call you out on your every point and ask for Biblical support. But without it, your words and ideas and doctrines are [to me] just speculations and not worth arguing over any more than giants and dragons.

    May God bless you richly and ever draw you to Himself,
    mike

  33. Ken Hamrick says:

    James,

    Yes, traducianism is paternal. It is a spiritual matter and has nothing to do with chromosomes. Christ was born of a virgin because if Joseph had been His father, then Jesus would have had a spirit from Joseph—one with a history of sin that goes all the way back to Adam. He did not get His human spirit from Mary, either, or the same problem would have occurred. Like Adam, Jesus (who was the Second Adam), received His human spirit directly from the Creator. Mary need not have been special, much less sinless. She did not need to be a virgin, strictly speaking, since God would have caused her to conceive Jesus without the usual male contribution even if she was already married (or otherwise participating in regular intercourse); her virginity served only as proof that Jesus was supernaturally conceived without any father.

    But, again, I will meet you at the appropriate article for this discussion…

  34. parsonsmike says:

    Ken,
    You said,
    ~~:You said, “While we are not culpable for Adam’s sin, we suffer from its results.” That would make those results to be unjustly passed onto us by God.”~~

    Nuances. Do you believe we are culpable for Adam’s sin so by it we earned condemnation?
    Or just culpable enough to deserve lesser negative results?

    Think of it this way: As it might go, we were in Adam in spirit, so we sinned in spirit. But we were NOT in Adam in body.
    But yet you would have us suffering in body due to culpability but not in spirit [we are not condemned]. But our bodies are of our first parents, are they not? Our DNA all originates from Adam and Eve.
    The death promised Adam and Eve by the command was spiritual. The consequences that followed were physical in nature.

    To the woman He said,
    “I will greatly multiply
    Your pain in childbirth,
    In pain you will (bring forth children;
    Yet your desire will be for your husband,
    And he will rule over you.”

    Cursed is the ground because of you;
    In toil you will eat of it
    All the days of your life.
    “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
    And you will eat the plants of the field;
    By the sweat of your face
    You will eat bread,
    Till you return to the ground,
    Because from it you were taken;
    For you are dust,
    And to dust you shall return.”

    Now these are consequences of sin, not punishments of sin. But these consequences are physical in nature, not spiritual. These would include physical death.

    For we remember that the command spoke like this:

    Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

    Now that death was spiritual for Adam did not surely die physically THAT day. Thus when the Scriptures say, The wages of sin is death, they mean spiritual death. Spiritual disobedience leads to spiritual death. So then if my spirit spiritually disobeyed in the Garden the it earned spiritual death which is condemnation. For the other half of the verse explains this when it says that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. For there it contrasts death with life.

    Now who is dead spiritually but yet not condemned? To be dead spiritually means that you have been found a sinner [in Adam we are culpable for that sin you say]. So if we are culpable for that sin, we are conceived culpable for sin. And we are born culpable for sin, we are born condemned. Only those NOT culpable for sin are NOT condemned.

    In other words, you can’t have it both ways. if we remain un-condemned for sin until we become free moral agents, and before then our acts are un-culpable, then we were never culpable for sin before that, including in the Garden.

    So….

    There is nothing unjust about children reaping the consequences of their parents sins.
    if they were culpable in the Garden, they are born sinners and condemned, and any consequences of sin are justly theirs.
    If they were not culpable in the Garden, and they suffer from the consequences of sin before they become culpable, they inherit eternal life. And if they live and sin and become culpable by their own free choice, they earn the consequences and the condemnation.

  35. parsonsmike says:

    Ken,

    Here is another way of looking at the situation.
    A child who has not reached the age of accountability is not yet under the Law. that is because even though they have a spirit, their OWN mind has not developed enough to understand moral issues to the point where they can be justly accountable. Thus what makes a person accountable or culpable for sin is a mind that is morally culpable in that it can decide to obey or disobey and really grasp the concept. Some children reach this age before others. God only knows.

    My mind is the union of my spirit and my body and without my mind being morally a free agent, I am not culpable for sin. When it is a morally free agent, i am culpable for my sin and the condemnation that ensues.

    But in Adam, my mind was not there. Adam was morally culpable for his own sin because his mind was there. His body and spirit were there and thus he had a mind that was morally culpable and he chose to be immoral. This choice was in his mind, in his thinking. It wasn’t my mind. It wasn’t me thinking. Therefore i am not culpable for his sin. I was not yet under the Law. If i was under the Law there, then yes I was culpable and thus condemned.

    This idea is why the Scriptures tell us in Ezekiel 18 in several places:

    ~~~Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying,
    ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes,
    But the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
    As I live,” declares the Lord God, “you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.~~~

    ~~~The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.~~~

    ~~~“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord God. ~~~

    The soul [the mind, the union of body and spirit], of the PERSON who sins will die. Again this is spiritual death. But you have the baby born spiritually dead!

    Notice also we are talking spiritual punishment, not physical or temporal punishment. If spiritual death is due to being in Adam, then this passage makes not a bit of sense. But God uses the terms, death [spiritual in context] and condemnation, interchangeably, because they denote the same thing.

    your servant in the Lord,
    mike

  36. James S Ross says:

    Parsonmike,

    Rather than click on “reply”, I hope you don’t mind, I would rather answer you in sequence so I can refer back if needed.

    You said the following;
    “I suppose you can show me the Biblical passages that support the idea that spirits are simple substances.”

    I guess I could turn your question around and challenge your presumption that a Christian has to establish belief on the written word, even matters of philosophy and common sense. Jesus commanded the Apostles to obey and teach all He had taught. Yet, we know that all he taught is not written down ( John 21:25 )

    Your demand that I show my beliefs from the Bible also bring ups the thorny issue of just what the inspired scripture is. For example, In 2 Maccabees 7;22 we see the mother of the seven martyrs affirm creatio ex nihilo the world and the soul. ( The only place in the Bible creatio ex nihilo of the world is explicitly taught by the way ). Since we don’t agree on what constitutes scripture, and to argue it would lead us off topic, i will end by asking you to prove from science, scripture, philosophy or just good old common sens how the greater can come the lesser. How can matter produce spirit? Thought is spiritual. It’s source must be too.

  37. James S Ross says:

    Ken,
    Good morning ( my time ).
    I haven’t had a chance yet to read all you and Parsonmike have written but I am looking forward to doing it later today.
    Just a brief comment on Augustine’s fluctuating views. Only because Pelagius, a creationist, said that nothing unclean could come forth from the hand of God did Augustine appeal to traducianism to refute his error on original sin. He openly admitted this to Jerome,who was a creationist.
    It seems your view was espoused almost exclusively by Tertullian before Augustine. His view is the minority one among the Fathers and the Tradition of the Church.

  38. James S Ross says:

    Ken and Parsonmike,
    Before shooting off to work, I thought we should clarify something. The term “spirit” means not only that it is a simple substance, but that it is totally divorced from all matter.

    Let me explain. An animal or plant soul is also simple. But it is dependent on matter. Kill it and the soul goes out of existence.
    Imagine a mathematical point in the center of a table. The point is immaterial. Yet, if you burn up the table, the point ceases to exist.

    The rational soul is different. If the body is burnt up. the soul still exists. Not because God, by a special act of conservation holds it in existence, but because it is naturally immortal due to its spirituality. Our spiritual soul does intellectual acts totally transcending matter. I can give you many examples right here at my keyboard.

    For example, think of a 100 sided geometric figure. Can you imagine such an object?
    No, you cannot. Yet you can conceive of it. The imagination is not a 100% spiritual faculty as is the intellect. It deals in particular images in the brain.

    I could give more examples of how our ideas deal in universal rather than particulars. Later today I may elaborate.
    Ken, would you prefer I post this stuff on the soul on the other thread? Maybe I will paste this there also.

  39. De Maria says:

    OCTOBER 12, 2014 – 4:41 PM
    Ken Hamrick

    You stated:

    I do not represent all or even many Protestants.

    But you’re trying to explain Protestant doctrine. You say so below. In so doing, whether you recognize it or not, you are representing all Protestants.

    I’m just one man trying to point out a better understanding.

    A better understanding of what? Christian doctrine, right? Therefore, I take it back. You’re actually representing all Christians.

    To pull a man out of the ditch and back onto the road of truth, you must pull him toward the ditch on the opposite side—but this is no reason for those in the opposite ditch to think the man will be joining them.

    Ha, ha. Its a funny visual, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Its almost like you’re saying that Catholics and Protestants are both in separate ditches and you consider yourself our savior?

    The thing is Ken, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, that it appears to be a very cavalier attitude you hold towards teaching the Word of God. It is not one consistent with Biblical Teaching.

    James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

    A more current translation says it like this:
    James 3:1 Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment.

    Yeah, Ken, when you pretend to teach the Word of God, you are not only representing Protestants, but you are representing Christ. Therefore, you had better be certain you are teaching the truth. Because if you are not, then you won’t be pulling anyone out of any ditch, but you will be like the proverbial blind man leading the blind:

    Luke 6:39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

    You stated:
    If you hope to make any headway arguing with Protestants, you must remember that Scripture is our ultimate standard for truth.

    That is why I quote it so frequently.

    Nowhere in Scripture is it written that we as believers or as the Church become or are Christ.

    What does this mean, then?

    Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

    Therefore, you have gone beyond Scripture and taken things too far.

    I don’t think so, Ken. When Saul was persecuting the Church, Jesus didn’t say, “Why do you persecute, them?

    Acts 22:7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? 8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutes.

    As you can see, at that time, Saul did not even know Christ. He persecuted the Church.
    1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

    But Christ said that Saul persecuted Him.

    There is a spiritual union between Christ and those in whom Christ dwells; and there is a unity between believers effected by all having the same Christ within—a bond of the Holy Spirit; but there is no Biblical grounds for claiming that either actually become Christ. The union is perichoretic: mutual indwelling and participation, but not such a close union that either is lost in the other.

    I never said that anyone was lost in the other. So, you are reading that into my words.

    I still call justification forensic. But I reject that false dichotomy that forensic must be nominal and needs no ground within substantial reality.

    Good. That agrees with Catholic Doctrine.

    I distinguish it from the Catholic doctrine by grounding the forensic imputation of righteousness on the identity of Christ within the believer—to deny me the righteousness of Christ would be to deny Him His own righteousness, since who I am as a being now includes Christ within me.

    I hate to break it to you, but that is still Catholic Doctrine.
    CCC#2017 The grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon us the righteousness of God. Uniting us by faith and Baptism to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Spirit makes us sharers in his life.

    We are indeed washed of our sins in baptism, but it is the baptism (immersion) into the Spirit of Christ and not the merely symbolic baptism into water.

    Ok, well for the sake of comparison, the Catholic Church teaches that we are washed by the Spirit when we are symbolically washed by the water. Catholic Doctrine is consistent with the Teaching of Scripture:

    1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

    The latter is only a picture of the former.

    Agreed. But, for us, it also evokes the former.

    We are immersed into the Spirit and life of Christ when the Spirit of Christ is sent into us.

    And to contrast, although the Holy Spirit blows where it will, we are assured that when we approach the Sacrament with faith, the Spirit of Christ is sent into us by Christ.

    Thanks for responding. I enjoy our conversations.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  40. James S Ross says:

    Ken,

    I have been posting on the Traducian thread so as not to muddy the discussion you are having with DeMaria on this one about justification.
    Is that better?

  41. James S Ross says:

    Parsonmike,

    I have been scrolling around but can’t find your post about grace being unmerited favor so I will have to comment from memory.

    How does one fall from unmerited favor? How does one grow in unmerited favor? If God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, wouldn’t you say humility somehow “merits” grace? How was it that Stephan was filled with grace and power if grace is unmerited favor? When Paul cried to God to have some burden lifted from him, God said His grace was sufficient to make Paul able to endure the trial. Grave must be a sort of power, then.
    Parsonmike, the Bible uses grace in more than one sense. As I mentioned to Ken on the other thread ( Traducianism ) grace for us pertains to deification, It is an elevation of our nature to supernature. Therefore, it is always above what human nature can do or merit by itself.

    You also said the following,

    ” So here then is the problem that will continually make our discussions unproductive and time wasting: Catholics hold to unBiblical sources of truth that Protestants reject.”

    I believe I can produce sufficient biblical support for everything I believe. By the way, I hope you aren’t implying that Protestants don’t rely on tradition too.

    You went on to say,

    “Since the Word of God is not your only source of authority, most every doctrine you have is built on the words of fallible men. I have no desire to call you out on your every point and ask for Biblical support. But without it, your words and ideas and doctrines are [to me] just speculations and not worth arguing over any more than giants and dragons.”

    By Word of God, do you mean the written Word only? It would divert us from the subject of this blog, but I would love to pursue the subject of Sola Scriptura with you some day.

    Paresonmike, you’ve told me you find Catholic beliefs, “abhorrent” ( I think that was your choice of words. Forgive me if I am misquoting you ). I am sorry you find them such but I am not shocked and appreciate your candor. Perhaps your abhorrence comes from a misunderstanding of our beliefs. I hope I can explain the Catholic position clearly so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you come to see things differently.
    Take care.

  42. parsonsmike says:

    James,
    Happy Monday!
    As I said, grace is the unmerited favor of God and it comes to us in the things God does for us, to us, or not to us. Now if grace is God’s favor to a person, how does that person fall from that position? In Galatians 5 Paul is speaking of a mind set where the state of being in grace is dependence wholly on God and falling from that would be when a person seeks to be in whole or in part accepted by God through their own works. The first understanding rests completely on the grace and mercy of God. The second understanding does not rest completely on God. This is why i have confidence of my eternal destiny, while many other Protestants and Catholics do not have such confidence.

    How do we grow in grace? Grace is God;s unmerited favor to us and He shows us His grace in various ways. One way for example would be the gift He gives us to edify the church. Grace is often used to denote the attitude of God to the receiver of God’s favor. As we learn to use the gift we grow or mature in the grace or favor God has bestowed upon us, So in general, we grow in grace by maturing in the Lord, knowing that, as Paul said, no good thing dwells in our flesh.

    Does humility merit grace? Actually we should be humble before God with no expectation of reward. But God who is under no compulsion to give sinners grace, does give grace to undeserving sinners. if you ‘humble’ yourself to gain grace, you are not yet humble. True humility looks at the truth of one’s life and declares that without the mercy of God, i am a worm and lost forever. Thus humility allows God to get the glory that not only he deserves but that He will not share with the proud.

    How was Stephen filled with grace and power? First let us ask ourselves why did he need power, and power over what? It wasn’t power to dodge the stones or to not fill the affects of them smashing against him. No it was the power to overcome his fear of pain and death. And what did he do? He preached a mighty sermon, one i doubt he had outlined and practiced up for. And in this preaching and in this suffering, he saw the heavens open up and the Lord standing at the throne of God. All these things he did, he did through grace, by the Spirit of the Lord and not through his own un-helped fortitude of will.

    Was the grace Paul received a power? You are so confused. If you give a homeless man 5 dollar bill to buy food, are you not acting with grace towards him? But a 5 dollar bill isn’t grace in and of itself. But you graced him with it. Is it not then a way for him to obtain food? he now has the power to get food. Thus your gracious act gave the man power. So when God enables Paul, and any of His children, to go through troubles of various sorts, and give us the power to not allow these troubles to overcome us, that is a power that God graces us with. Some are weak in one area, and strong in another, so some need grace in one area more than another. But the grace isn’t a substance we use to overcome, but it is the kindness of God that empowers us in some way to not only not fail but to be over-comers and conquerors.

    As we are told in Romans 8:
    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
    “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

    To emphasis:
    He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
    …in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us
    And this is because His grace is sufficient for us for it will empower us to endure the world, because if we need something He will give it to us. thus we can wholly depend on God.

    As to your beliefs, I was raised a Catholic and went to a Catholic school for 8 years. I have read much since then [but not a lot recently]. This very discussion on grace shows me that your understanding of the Bible and the truths of God are from a way different place than mine. Your understanding of baptism, the Lord’s Supper/Communion, the Virgin Mary, the Pope, justification by faith, and so on, including Sola Scriptura, would take much time and effort and I see no fruit for either of us without much time. And my time is limited.

    may you be lifted by His grace to that Rock higher than you,
    mike

  43. James S Ross says:

    Parsonmike,

    ” But the grace isn’t a substance we use to overcome, but it is the kindness of God that empowers us in some way to not only not fail but to be over-comers and conquerors.

    It seems you missed my previous post in which I explained in some detail that Catholics do not say grace is a “substance”. It is a quality put in us by the Holy Ghost ( Romans 5:5) that elevates and empowers us to keep the law Jeremiah and Ezekial say so ).
    You say so yourself when you use the word “empowers”. God puts this power, this charism, ( from where we get the Greek word for grace ) this dunemis, ( from where we get the word dynamite ) in us when He sheds His favor upon us.

    As you feel any further dialogue to be pointless, and that your 8 years at a Catholic grade school have equipped you with sufficient knowledge to judge Catholic doctrine, I bid you farewell and Godspeed.

  44. Ken Hamrick says:

    Yes, that’s bettter.

  45. Ken Hamrick says:

    DeMaria,

    You stated:
    Ken Hamrick

    You stated:

    I do not represent all or even many Protestants.

    But you’re trying to explain Protestant doctrine. You say so below. In so doing, whether you recognize it or not, you are representing all Protestants.

    I’m just one man trying to point out a better understanding.

    A better understanding of what? Christian doctrine, right? Therefore, I take it back. You’re actually representing all Christians.

    Nonsense. I only represent those who agree with me, and only to the degree that they do agree. If I say something with which most Protestants do not agree, then it would be silly and erroneous of you to attribute my statement to “what Protestants believe.”

    You also stated:

    Ha, ha. Its a funny visual, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Its almost like you’re saying that Catholics and Protestants are both in separate ditches and you consider yourself our savior?

    Yes, Catholics are in the ditch (on that I have the agreement of all my Protestant brethren). As for the other ditch, it is my view that Nominalism and it’s daughter, Federal Headship, have caused an excessive emphasis onto imputation, such that the proper place of reality has been mostly lost. Unlike the Catholic ditch, this does not destroy the gospel of salvation by grace alone; but it does cause the reality of Christ in us to be obscured. It does not take a Savior to try to correct such an error.

    You stated:

    The thing is Ken, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, that it appears to be a very cavalier attitude you hold towards teaching the Word of God. It is not one consistent with Biblical Teaching.

    James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

    A more current translation says it like this:
    James 3:1 Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment.

    Yeah, Ken, when you pretend to teach the Word of God, you are not only representing Protestants, but you are representing Christ. Therefore, you had better be certain you are teaching the truth. Because if you are not, then you won’t be pulling anyone out of any ditch, but you will be like the proverbial blind man leading the blind…

    My attitude is not cavalier. If you are here to engage my arguments, then please do so. But if you’re here to preach against the supposed immorality or impropriety of teaching that which you disagree with, then you may go elsewhere as I’m not interested.

    You have accused me of “pretending to teach the Word of God.” This is unacceptable conduct at this site, and is characteristic of those who have nothing of substance with which to answer arguments that they disagree with. Any more ad hominem on your part and I will show you the door.

    Why are you, as a Catholic, here at a Baptist forum, anyway? How do you propose that we have a fruitful debate when we cannot even agree on the definitions? It’s like trying to play football when the teams cannot agree where the yard-lines are supposed to be. The most you can accomplish is to show that we do disagree.

  46. De Maria says:

    OCTOBER 14, 2014 – 7:50 PM
    Ken,

    [Edited by the Moderator]. I’ll skip all the petty stuff and respond to your last questions.

    Why are you, as a Catholic, here at a Baptist forum, anyway?

    To compare your doctrine to the Scriptures.

    How do you propose that we have a fruitful debate when we cannot even agree on the definitions?

    I take everything to Scripture. I let the reader decide whose doctrine corresponds to Scripture and whose doesn’t.

    It’s like trying to play football when the teams cannot agree where the yard-lines are supposed to be. The most you can accomplish is to show that we do disagree.

    That’s enough for me. And those who are reading can decide for themselves which one’s doctrine agrees to Scripture.

    When you’re ready to compare your doctrine to Scripture and Catholic Doctrine to Scripture, I’m ready as well.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

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