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
[20,000 words] The spirit is what make us most like God, and makes us everlasting beings. “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” The spirit is the image of God in man, unlike the animals who have no spirit and do not worship or rebel against God. The spirit was breathed into Adam by God in Gen. 2:7. But the human spirit was never meant to exist without a body. The body was designed for the spirit’s habitation, and it has a brain fitting for use by that spirit. It is here, where the physical and spiritual meet that we find the mind of a man. And it is the mind that is most closely represented by the idea of a soul. Although the soul often is used of Scripture to refer to the whole man, it is by metonymy (using a part to refer to the whole). The soul being the mind, which both worships God and controls bodily systems, is the conjunction of the physical and spiritual in a man, and encompasses all that we are as an individual personality, including all of the memories of our experiences in life, stored in the cells of our brain. 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
The answer to the question of why we die is one of fundamental importance to Christianity. Death can only be correctly understood when traced to the first sin of man in the garden of Eden. Continue reading