By Ken Hamrick
John Murray’s treatment of sanctification, particularly his essay, “The Agency in Definitive Sanctification,” makes some surprising inroads toward grasping the believer’s retroactive, realistic identification with Christ. He does not go as far as to acknowledge that the reality of the spiritual union of Christ in the believer brings a title to all that Christ accomplished just as if the believer had accomplished it. Instead, he prefers to call it a mysterious “divine constitution.” But he does recognize the “tension” between the historical objectivity of Christ dying and rising again, and the fact of the believer subjectively dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ—and that the two are often spoken of in the New Testament as if they were one and the same events. The believer did not die to sin until coming to Christ in faith; and yet, the power of that dying to sin is firmly grounded in the once-and-for-all quality of Christ’s death—as if the historically objective death of Christ somehow became an historically objective fact of the believer’s life once he came to Christ […]
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By Ken Hamrick
The Winter 2017 issue of The Founders Journal contains a brief, informative article on Original Sin, by Steve Farish, entitled, “The Fall Brought Condemnation and Corruption.” To his credit, he does not present only the representationist “party line,” but also tries to present the realist side and its problems. This is commendable. But as a realist, I would like to engage Mr. Farish on some of his points. The realist perspective has much more to offer than he has presented.
From the start, Mr. Farish defines the realistic view in a way that no realist would: “The Realistic View […] understands Paul in Romans 5:12 to mean that all human beings were physically present seminally in Adam at the time of his sin […], so that when Adam sinned, all human beings literally and physically sinned in him.” The terms, “physically present,” and, “physically sinned,” utterly miss the point of the realistic view. All sides agree that our physical nature came from Adam. The hallmark of the realistic view is that the immaterial, moral nature of all men was propagated out of the substance of Adam in such a way as to deservedly implicate us in his sin; and this due to that nature having a real, participative presence in Adam. In short, that part of us that chooses whether or not to sin was not created “brand new” at our conception, but was created as a part of Adam and passed down to us.  This is also called the participative or Augustinian view.
Mr. Farish states, “Many Reformed theologians have recognized validity in some aspects of the Realistic View, but have seen the Representational view as the lead idea on these issues. They have historically found far more persuasive the Representative View.” The use of the term, historically, ought to carry with it an obligation to at least mention the historical change: how the Reformed Church began with a realistic understanding, and transitioned—over two centuries—into the representational view (or, federal headship) as it is today. Louis Berkhof states: Continue reading
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. Continue reading
THIS IS PART 2 OF 3. WHY MANY TODAY CAN NOT BELIEVE.
Part 1 [https://sbcopenforum.com/2014/08/23/against-fuller-and-the-idea-of-moral-inability-why-israel-missed-the-messiah-and-why-many-cant-believe/] was about how the Jewish people missed the Messiah.
Now of course they all did not miss the Messiah, and not all people today will reject the Gospel. But the reason most of the Jews missed out on the Messiah was because they sinned against God and that caused their spiritual thinking to become futile and their foolish hearts to be darkened. Hard hearts toward God and blinded minds toward spiritual truth are the inevitable and certain consequences of sin. This is not just true of the Jewish people, it is also true of people today and everywhere.
Sin destroys. It ruins. It makes one unholy and unfit for fellowship with God. The answer for sin is in part 3. For now, let us look at the state of the Gentiles and why they are blind to the Gospel truth. Continue reading
by Ken Hamrick
What you will find below is neither an argument for the Calvinist view nor one for the Traditionalist view of atonement. Both ends of the spectrum have been asking the wrong questions, and the best perspective transcends that old debate. By emphasizing that Christ stood in our place, the debate has perpetually turned on the question of whose place Christ stood in—all or only some? But what has been missed by such an emphasis is that Christ stands in us—and until He stands within a sinner through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, nothing that He did is considered to have been in that sinner’s place. Christ’s death was not an immediate transaction of atonement regarding the sins of those for whom His death was intended to atone, but is instead a universally suitable, one-for-one substitution that must be applied through spiritual union with Him by faith. Continue reading
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. Continue reading