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Ken Hamrick
Ohio
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Eric Hankins, Very helpful in what?... It is much easier to criticize Augustinianism than to provide a detailed, systematic replacement for it. When can we expect you (or your traditionalist movement) to offer something thorough enough to be seriously considered as a replacement for the Augustinian theology---something to be submitted to a scrutiny equal that applied to Augustine? As I said to Jim regarding his paper above, it is not enough to criticize a theology. What is offered to replace it?
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Thanks, Peter. Tone is hard to read sometimes. I appreciate the friendliness. I also appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt earlier. Be blessed!
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Peter, You stated:...you claim “as would be expected in such a discussion” that you “presented Fuller's distinction with an argument for it's validity.” Well, perhaps you think you did. But about all I can detect from much of your reply is a string of arguable assertions both initially when you first mention Fuller and subsequently when you cite Gen 37 as biblical evidence, finally to concludeVolitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal; but in the moral sense, their sinful hatred made their continuing refusal certain.Within the text cited, however, there’s no basis at all for the psycho-philosophical distinction you insist is there, Ken. The text says “when” the brothers “saw” that their father “loved [Joseph] more than all his brethren” they “hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” You seem to impose upon this verse a presupposed distinction between their volition on one hand and moral ability/inability on the other. But nothing in the verse necessarily suggests your categories."Psycho-philosophical?" You're making this much more complicated than it needs to be. Yes, I gave you an argument--every argument is "a string of arguable assertions." If you would challenge any of those assertions, then that would be an opposing argument. The argument consists of the following: 1) "In the ordinary use of the term, ability, as viewed with disregard to will, it's meaning is simple and clear--one is either able or unable. This proposition is undeniable. 2) "But in the theological use of the term [ability], as mingled with the idea of will, the utmost care must be used in understanding the meaning..." "...when the ideas of will and ability are wrapped up together, then the meaning gains a complexity and nuance that the natural, ordinary use does not have." This proposition is proven in 3). 3)"It is true that they were unable to speak peaceably, but only because their hateful hearts refused to speak peaceably to him. It is not true in the simple, ordinary sense of the word, that they could not speak peaceably no matter how much they might want to." This proposition ought to be undeniable. Would you really have us believe that you do not know the difference between not being able to do something because it is not within your natural powers to do so, and not being able to do it because you are so averse to it? This is not some psycho-babble, but common-sense stuff. 4) Conclusion: "That is the difference between a volitional freedom and a moral freedom. Volitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal; but in the moral sense, their sinful hatred made their continuing refusal certain." You offered no argument to refute this. Can you point to anything other than willful refusal that stopped Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably to him? Do you think that Joseph's behavior or the father's favoritism really provided an excuse in the eyes of God for their behavior--as if they were left without any natural powers to speak peaceably? The text does not need to explicitly say that this inability consisted in unwillingness, as you seem to object, because it is a manner of expression common to language to imply the nature of the inability by the context. 5)Although the inability consists only in the unwillingness, the terms of inability are still appropriate[Fuller:]"…It is just as impossible, no doubt, for any person to do that which he has no mind to do, as to perform that which surpasses his natural powers; and hence it is that the same terms are used in the one case as in the other. Those who were under the dominion of envy and malignity “could not speak peaceably;” and those who have “eyes full of adultery cannot cease from sin.” Hence, also, the following language, “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?” Together, these 5 propositions do compose an argument. The fact that the cause is itself an effect proves nothing. The reason for their hatred is irrelevant. All that is relevant to this argument is that their inability was not some lack of natural powers to do what was right, but only an aversion of heart that left them without excuse. And I am not limited to this single passage, either. There are some other examples of this expression. But it is commonly understood, anyway---take your taxes for example. If you hate what the government is doing with your money, and you tell them that you are angry and unable to pay your taxes, they will still put you in jail. Why is that? If you are unable, then you are unable. The problem is that they will immediately understand the implied distinction between an inability that consists in want of natural powers and an inability that consists only in want of will, and they will arrest you for having no excuse. As for providing balance, it's not my role as one defending Augustinianism to provide a balance between the two sides.
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Jim, It's the product of my own studies that I'm preparing for publication. I do have you email, so I'll drop you a line.
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Jim, You inquired:Could you clarify what you mean by this: "We were not in Christ during His defining act of obedience, but the Christ who died on the cross is the same Person into whom believers are now joined." It seems to me that there is a real asymmetry in your view of real participation. Why were we really "in" Adam 6000+ years ago but not really "in" Christ 2000 years ago? Is our solidarity in Adam stronger than ours in Christ?Adam “was a type of the one who was to come,” because both Adam and Christ are the heads of their spiritual seed. We are not only physical descendants, but spiritual descendants of Adam. When Christ redeems us, He causes us to become the spiritual seed of Christ (Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:12-13; John 3:3). We were united with Adam when he sinned, and death passed through to all of us. When we are united to Christ, we are united to His death, and life passes through Him to us (Rom. 6:1-14). The defining act of the one head brought death to his seed, while the defining act of the other Head brings the free gift of life to His seed. The seed of Adam are propagated in a different way from the seed of Christ. It is the nature of human propagation to produce a being that is separate from the parent. While the child’s spirit comes from his father, the spirit of the child, once conceived, is separate from the father. This is opposite in the case of the believer and Christ, since the believer becomes "one spirit" with Christ. Unlike human propagation, when the Spirit of Christ is propagated to His seed, there is no separation involved — the continuity of being is maintained beyond propagation. Because of the nature of God, He is able to propagate His Spirit to all believers without that Spirit becoming a separate entity. Though the propagation of a child of Adam involves the disuniting of the child and father, the propagation of a child of God is the bringing of the believer into union with God. 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 [The Imputation of Adam's Sin, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1959), pp. 33-34] 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?There is indeed a realistic union between Christ and the justified, butit 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. While mankind was still within Adam, mankind shared the personal identity of Adam, and shared the ownership of his defining action (his sin). When a man is joined to the Spirit of Christ, he shares the personal identity of Christ such that he gains an ownership in His defining action (His obedience and death). 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. Since Adam's "seed" are propagated by dispersion, it was necessary that we be united in Adam during his defining action. But Christ's "seed" are propagated by annexation, rather than by dispersion, and so we need not be united in Christ during his defining action. Unlike the case of Adam, when the Spirit of Christ is propagated to a believer, the Person of Christ is also propagated. It is not merely a spirit derived from Christ that indwells us, but the Person of Christ Himself. Therefore, it is sufficient for our ownership in His defining action that the Christ within us now is the same Christ who died on the Cross. This objection of the nominalist, then, is utterly overturned, and the parallel stands more vividly than ever before.
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Jim, Thanks so much for a substantive response (a rare thing now days)! Your second paragraph about being in Adam is suprisingly close to my own view. As for there being no determinists prior to Augustine, I disagree. As Millard Erickson explains, in Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), pp. 348-349, the Old Testament writers were themselves determinists:For the Old Testament writers, it was virtually inconceivable that anything could happen independently of the will and working of God. As evidence of this, consider that common impersonal expressions like “It rained” are not found in the Old Testament. For the Hebrews, rain did not simply happen; God sent the rain. They saw him as the all-powerful determiner of everything that occurs. Not only is he active in everything that occurs, but he has planned it. What is happening now was planned long ago. God himself comments, for example, concerning the destruction wreaked by the king of Assyria: “Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities crash into heaps of ruins” (Isa. 37:26) Even something as seemingly trivial as the building of reservoirs is described as having been planned long before (Isa. 22:11). There is a sense that every day has been designed and ordered by the Lord… The Old Testament also enunciates belief in the efficaciousness of God’s plan. What is now coming to pass is doing so because it is (and has always been) part of God’s plan. He will most assuredly bring to actual occurrence everything in his plan. What he has promised, he will do. Isaiah 46:10-11 puts it this way: “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it”… It is particularly in the wisdom literature and the prophets that the idea of an all-inclusive divine purpose is most prominent. God has from the beginning, from all eternity, had an inclusive plan encompassing the whole of reality and extending even to the minor details of life. “The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Prov. 16:4; cf. 3:19-20; Job 38, especially v. 4; Isa. 40:12; Jer. 10:12-13). Even what is ordinarily thought of as an occurrence of chance, such as the casting of lots, is represented as the Lord’s doing (Prov. 16:33). Nothing can deter or frustrate the accomplishment of his purpose. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established” (cf. 21:30-31; Jer. 10:23-24)… Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your work! Thanks.
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Jim, We disagree on the nature of the sinner. But it doesn't seem like much traction can be had either way, so I'll move on... You stated: The problem of Romans 5:12 is not the "all sinned" but the introduction to the clause. The "eph ho" was always understood by the Greeks (and it was their language) as "because" and the Latins translated it as "in whom." The idea of "in whom" leads toward participation leading to guilt. Universal human presence in Adam is not excluded by the "because" rendering, but there is no textual warrant for original guilt if Rom 5:12 is rendered "because." That is the context of my words that state "real participation leads to original guilt." If the sin in Adam is mine by my participating in it, guilt does follow. But if the participation in Christ is analogous to participation in Adam, does such an interpretation lead either to universalism in salvation or something worse?If 5:12 is rendered "because," there is still a warrant for a real participation. Whether that participation incurs a personally condemning guilt is a separate question. I hold that it incurs a racial guilt that brings temporal consequences on the race that have no personal relation to individuals (no eternal condemnation). But even the straight Augustinians find sufficient warrant in this passage for their view. A key word is "one:": one sin, one man, one transgression, repeated and emphasized. Thus, the inference "because all sinned [in the one man]" is strongly justified. As for the parallel, participation in Christ comes to those who are in Christ, just as participation in Adam came from being in Adam. All were in Adam's loins when he sinned. All were born out of Adam, spiritually speaking. It is opposite with salvation, as all are reborn into Christ. We were not in Christ during His defining act of obedience, but the Christ who died on the cross is the same Person into whom believers are now joined. As for Ambrose, he is certainly not consistent in his views. Other places he repudiates the foundations of what became original guilt. I think Shedd saw what he wanted to see (as we all can do). Augustine himself was not always consistent either. Hope that helps.It doesn't help, Jim; because you claimed that this transmitted guilt was Augustine's innovation and that Ambrose did not hold such a view. Shedd provided you with a direct quote. It might help if you provide a quote to the opposite effect; but even so, the fact that Ambrose taught both sides of the issue would still disprove that Augustine's view was innovative rather than coming out of one side of Ambrose's inconsistent view. Nonetheless, I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you, and am glad you posted your article here.
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Peter, (continuing...) Brian Vickers, Jesus' Blood and Righteousness (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), p. 123, offers this:The long debate over Romans 5:12 stands at a kind of crossroads where grammar and theology intersect. These two subjects are rarely combined these days, but they converge in this text, and any interpretation based solely on theology apart from grammar, or vice versa, will come up short.Although Vickers disagrees with the realist (Augustinian) view, he acknowledges it as one of "a handful of interpretive options" (p. 128), and summarizes it on p. 129:The "realist" view, that all sinned "in Adam" because all humanity was somehow actually present in the person of Adam, basically maintains a theological rationale for Augustine's interpretation, "in whom." Though Augustine's reading of in quo for εφ ω is almost universally rejected, the realist view typically understands εφ ω as a relative clause referring back to Adam. In this view, stress may be laid on either Adam's role as the first man from whom all humanity proceeds seminally, or on the participation of all human nature in the person of Adam.To be continued...
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Peter, You stated:Second, you brushed aside Augustine's mistranslation of Rom. 5:12 way too quickly--in fact, almost as if it was irrelevant. And, yes, there is uncertainty about the matter but not about whether Rom 5:12 actually says all sinned [in Adam]. No question there whatsoever. The text does not say this. Period. Furthermore, to so much as hint that theological matters should trump what the text actually states is, for my money, the worse type of exegesis imaginable. Nor do all sides agree about this I assure... For balance, let's hear from an Arminian. Regarding Rom. 5:12, F. Leroy Forlines, Classical Arminianism, (Nashville: Randall House, 2011), p. 25, explains: "Death passed upon all men" is the effect. "All have sinned" is the cause. Concerning the Greek word translated "have sinned" in the KJV, there are two possibilities insofar as Greek grammar is concerned. "Have sinned" is a translation of hemarton, which is the aorist. If we understand the aorist as a simply aorist, we would translate "all sinned." It would mean that all sinned at some time in the past. This would mean that death passed upon the race because the race sinned at some time in the past. If wwe understand the aorist as being a gnomic aorist, we would translate it "all sin." If we understand it to be a culminative aorist, we would translate it "all have sinned." Whether we understood the Greek to be a gnomic aorist or a culminative aorist, the interpretation would be the same. It would mean that death passes upon all men because all people sin. If we understand that death passed upon all men because all men sinned at some time in the past, death would pass upon all because all sinned in Adam. If we understand that death passes upon all men because all sin, death would pass upon each person because of his own sins, not the sin of Adam. The context must decide which of these interpretations is correct.Forlines goes on to conclude, pp. 26, 29:While Greek grammar may allow the statement in 5:12 to refer to each individual's sin, the context decides against it and in favor of the other grammatical possibility. It is clear in the total context that 5:12 is to be interpreted, "all sinned in Adam." ...The language... of Rom. 5:12 and of the natural headship view are identical. The "all sinned"... must be twisted to mean "all are accounted as sinners" for the federal headship view. "All sinned" is in the active voice. "All are accounted as sinners" would require the passive voice.To be continued...
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Peter, You stated:First, continued quotes from Shedd add exactly nothing to this thread. He's an Augustinian-Calvinist for heaven's sake! Please grace us with at least a bit more balance and choose more varied sources. Quote scholars yes. Be my guest. I like quotes from scholars. But long and repeated quotes from a Reformed apologist if ever there was one (i.e. W.G.T. Shedd) can get old quickly.Well, the blockquotes would not have been as "long and repeated" if four duplicate posts had not been pulled out of the trash can and reposted :) . I will try to heed your advice, though. But I must point out that bringing quotes of support from an "Augustinian/Calvinist" ADD balance to this discussion, rather than detracting from it. Care to count how many Augustinians are quoted in Jim's essay?
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Peter, If you want to know what I mean by a Baptist centrist, you can find it here: http://sbcopenforum.com/2012/08/29/beyond-traditionalism-reclaiming-southern-baptist-soteriology/ You stated: Second, it’s fairly common knowledge that while all may celebrate Fuller’s role in salvaging Baptist Calvinism from the wreckage to which Hyper-Calvinism had brought it—I most certainly do--we are not obliged to necessarily accept Fuller’s distinction between moral inability and natural ability he famously borrowed from Edwards’ concept in Freedom of the Will. This is precisely why I asked if you were philosophizing or speaking of a distinction required from the biblical text."Obligated to accept Fuller's distinction?" That is strange language. I offered nothing for you to accept by mere obligation. Rather, as would be expected in such a discussion, I presented Fuller's distinction with an argument for it's validity. Those who seek the truth in such matters will not dismiss such an argument without considering how their own view stacks up against it. Third, you aver that when speaking of total depravity, both Calvinists and Arminians confuse the “ordinary use” with the “theological use” thus leading to the absurd conclusion that of people “not being able to come to Christ no matter how much they might want to come to Him” (italics yours). I’m afraid neither Calvinist nor Arminian—at least from what I know of them—would agree with you. Of course, they would not agree. That is why I put the words "lead to" in bold. I was pointing out a confusion of ideas, which they implicitly hold but would explicitly deny. But regardless of denials, the confusion results in an inherent contradiction that is easily brought to light with the following question about depravity: Are sinners unable to come to Christ no matter how much they might want to come, or could they come to Christ if they really wanted to? Neither C's nor A's can squarely address this question. In other words, does the inability consist only in the unwillingness, or is the inability of a nature such that the will is irrelevant to the inability? If the former, then they are simply unwilling and are without excuse; but if the latter, then the inability is independent of the will, and does offer an excuse. Neither would remotely suggest anyone would ever in a thousand lifetimes want to come to Christ apart from getting a newly bestowed grace-given want-er since depravity killed the original one. In short, no one dead in trespasses and sin wants Christ given both historic Calvinist and Arminian perspectives.Exactly!--They would never want to--and that is all the inability that is needed to keep them from Christ until grace intervenes to change that. In addition, assuming confusion between an “ordinary use” of inability/will with the “theological use” is purely argumentative on your behalf since you’ve offered nothing by way of showing such a distinction is warranted other than quoting Fuller with whom you happily agree—“But when Scripture speaks of such inability, it speaks of it in only a moral sense.”I did more than assume. I brought an argument from reason and Scripture to the table. Sure, it was short and only dealt with one passage, but it's a start. There's hardly room or patience in a comment stream for anything thorough. And although you berated the argument as "thoroughly lacking," you offered nothing by way of rebuttal but rhetoric. Is that how you respond to an argument from reason and Scripture? If you disagree with the argument, should you not at least offer reasons why the argument fails or the exegesis does not adhere to the meaning of the text? You claim that I am reading my philosophy into the text of Gen. 37:4 (and Fuller as well, since he presents the same argument and text), but you do not show in any detail how such a criticism is valid. Where exactly in the text have I read anything inappropriately? Where precisely would you disagree? Would you disagree that Joseph's brothers could have chosen to speak peaceably to him if they really wanted to? Even more, you top it off by framing your interpretation in terms of whether or not we actually believe the Bible: “Since Scripture says it this way, then it must be true…”This accusation is false. Here is what I actually wrote: Why is it that they could not speak peaceably unto him? Or, is it even true that they could not? Since Scripture says it this way, then it must be true... but in what way?Peter, how is not clear from these sentences that what I was referring to by "it must be true" was "that they could not speak peaceably unto him"? In no way did I even imply that it was my interpretation that "must be true."It is much easier to paint an argument or reading of Scripture as inappropriately philosophical than to actually establish it as such. Nevertheless, brother Peter, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss such things with you. Be blessed!
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Peter, the 2 posts that begin with "...Shedd turns to Cyprian," and the 1 post that begins with "...Shedd continues with Ambrose..." can be deleted. Sorry for the confusion---I don't what I'm doing wrong. I lost another reply today to Just today, another of my replies was lost, for which I don't have a copy. I get the hang of it eventually.
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Peter, The four found in the trash bucket must have gone there due to length, and should remain there, since I broke them up and reposted. They are duplicates. Thanks.
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Jim, Shedd continues with Ambrose and Hilary (pp. 48-49): //blockquote//In the writings of Ambrose (397) and Hilary (368), the two most distinguished Latin theologians of the 4th century, we find the doctrine of a sinful, as distinguished from a corrupt, nature still more distinctly enunciated than in Tertullian and Cyprian, and more use made of the ideas and phraseology of the fifth chapter of Romans. The following passages from Ambrose will indicate his general view of original sin, and of the Adamic connection. Quoting Romans v. 12, which in the version of his day was rendered "in whom all have sinned," he remarks: "Adam existed (fuit), and we all existed in him; Adam perished, and all perished in him." "We all sinned in the first man, and by the succession of nature, the succession of guilt (culpae) was transfused from one to all." "Before we are born, we are stained with contagion, and before we see the light we receive the injury of the original transgression." "'In whom all sinned,'--thus it is evident that all sinned in Adam, as if in a mass; for having corrupted by sin those whom he begat, all are born under sin. Wherefore we all are sinners from him (ex eo), because we all are [men] from him." Statements similar to these are made by Hilary.//endquote// Read those last sentences again--they are not quotes from Augustine, but from Ambrose. And yet, how similar the two sound. Although I disagree with Adam's sin being a personally condemning imputation to us, I must agree with Shedd's assessment as he continues: //blockquote//We find, then, the germinal substance of the Augustinian theory of sin, so far as concerns the Adamic connection, in the century previous to that in which Augustine's principal dogmatic influence falls. Indeed, it is evident that this latter Father was the recipient as well as the propagator of that particular system which goes by his name. He only developed an anthropology that had been gradually forming in preceding centuries...//endquote//
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Jim, Jim, On pp. 47-48, Shedd turns to Cyprian: //blockquote//The writings of Cyprian (258) exhibit an increasing tendency in the Western Church towards the doctrine of an original sinfulness, and a monergistic renovation of the human soul. The pressure from Gnosticism was now less heavy, and the attention of theologians was being turned more to the effects of sin upon the will itself. As a consequence, less emphasis was placed upon the doctrine of human power, and more upon that of Divine grace. "All our ability," says Cyprian, "is of God. In him we live, in him we have strength. Our heart merely lies open and thirsts. In proportion as we bring a recipient faith, do we drink in the inflowing grace." Respecting the guilt of original sin, Cyprian is fluctuating, and not entirely consistent with himself. He seems to hold that original sin is not so culpable as actual sin, and yet teaches that it needs remission. "The infant," he remarks, "has committed no sin. He has only contracted the contagion of death from his progenitor, and hence remission of sin is more easy in his case, because it is not his own but another's sin that is remitted to him."//endquote// (To be continued...)
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Jim, While I don't find anything in particular to address in this installment (at this time), I will say that is seems that you are dismissing much of the substance of the truth due only to the extremes in which it is clothed; and I sense that what you want to replace it with (which you have not yet revealed in any depth) is just as extreme in the opposite direction. Do you intend only to criticize Augustin and the broad theological framework that followed him, or can we hope for an equally rigorous alternative to be explained and defended?
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Jim, According to Shedd, A History of Christian Doctrine, Augusting was careful to maintain that all sin is voluntary. He "held to the voluntariness of sin in both its forms, original and actual..." Men sin because they choose to sin, but they choose to sin because all men sinned in Adam and inherit the corruption resulting from that sin. Yes, Augustine lacks the nuance of later writers in emphasizing the inability of sinners to will the good, but this is balanced with an emphasis on the willingness of sinners to sin (See my comment to Peter, immediately above). I guess what I'm objecting to here is that merely because Augustine painted with too broad a brush at times does not justify dismissing his view with an equally broad brush. I contend that there is much truth to be found in Augustine, and the moral inability of the sinner is one of those truths (veiled though it may be in terms of complete inability). As far as the nature of sinners, they are self-centered without exception. Even in seemingly altruistic or self-sacrificial acts, there is always (as R.C. Sproul says) "a pound of flesh in the mix." A man is either God-centered or self-centered. While a sinner is not as sinful as he could be, and neither does he choose to cooperate with every temptation, his reasons for resisting or avoiding sin are never God-centered reasons, and resisting sin is never the main current or direction of his life. Regardless of any sin resisted or any good done in other cases, when it comes to a full, genuine, repentant surrender to God through faith in Christ, the self-centered sinner is morally unable to turn away from self, sin and the world without God's gracious intervention.
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Lydia, It would be a mistake to think that the Augustinian anthropology stands or falls with the Latin mistranslation of Rom. 5:12. The whole passage has enough uncertainty that it must be translated by theological concerns as much as by grammar--and that is agreed upon by all sides. Furthermore, the aorist tense of "all sinned," together with the continual and repetitive return to the one transgression of the one man in the context, make a case for the Augustinian/realistic reading that is as strong as any other exegesis. The only objections of any strength to the realistic interpretation are theological objections and not textual objections.
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Peter, As a Baptist centrist, I agree with Andrew Fuller's view of the inability of sinners. In the ordinary use of the term, ability, as viewed with disregard to will, it's meaning is simple and clear--one is either able or unable. But in the theological use of the term, as mingled with the idea of will, the utmost care must be used in understanding the meaning. Both Calvinists and Arminians, when speaking of total depravity, confuse the ordinary use with the theological use, and lead to the absurdity of men not being able to come to Christ no matter how much they might want to come to Him. But when Scripture speaks of such inability, it speaks of it in only a moral sense. Fuller explains it this way: //blockquote//…It is just as impossible, no doubt, for any person to do that which he has no mind to do, as to perform that which surpasses his natural powers; and hence it is that the same terms are used in the one case as in the other. Those who were under the dominion of envy and malignity “could not speak peaceably;” and those who have “eyes full of adultery cannot cease from sin.” Hence, also, the following language, “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?”//endquote// In Gen. 37:4, it is said that Joseph's brothers "could not speak peaceably unto him." Here a moral inability is spoken of. Why is it that they could not speak peaceably unto him? Or, is it even true that they could not? Since Scripture says it this way, then it must be true... but in what way? You see, when the ideas of will and ability are wrapped up together, then the meaning gains a complexity and nuance that the natural, ordinary use does not have. It is true that they were unable to speak peaceably, but only because their hateful hearts refused to speak peaceably to him. It is not true in the simple, ordinary sense of the word, that they could not speak peaceably no matter how much they might want to. That is the difference between a volitional freedom and a moral freedom. Volitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal; but in the moral sense, their sinful hatred made their continuing refusal certain.
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Jim, You stated, "It is well-known in Augustinian teaching that he believed Adam and Eve had the free will not to sin; but once they sinned, they no longer possessed the freedom not to sin (non posse non peccare)." Is there not a difference between volitional freedom and moral freedom? Not even Augustine would claim that the sinner has an excuse for his sin, as if the thief had no choice but to steal (which would be a lack of volitional freedom). Rather, in every temptation, the sinner is faced with a choice for which he has a volitional freedom to sin or not; but he has no moral freedom, since his wicked heart cannot want anything other than that which is selfish (he who is wicked cannot become oriented toward the good by mere volition). Such a lack of moral freedom provides no excuse. You stated: "As Peter Thuesen writes, 'Indeed, in Augustine's mind, predestination ultimately came down to this: all humans are born terminally ill with sin and thus deserve damnation.'4 Therefore, every human is born utterly sinful and under the sway of desire (concupiscentia)5, as well as justly condemned to eternal damnation due to the inherited guilt of Adam's sin." Thuesen's sounds slightly off: all humans deserve damnation not because they are born terminally ill but because they participated in Adam's sin. As for inherited guilt, it is more accurately a participatory guilt (culpa participationes). More later...
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Lydia, If you'll read Peter's comment earlier, he had a quote from Tertullian where infant baptism is viewed as unnecessary. Participation would not necessarily bring guilt because one did not participate as an individual, but only "within the loins" of ones father. Since the participation was corporate rather than personal, then the consequences too are corporate rather than personal (i.e., those penalties that fall on the race in the form of temporal consequences, such as the sin nature, mortality, etc.).
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I'm sorry to hear that, Jim. Our prayers are with you and your family.
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Peter, I'd like to add a few lines about nominalism. Platonic realism posits the objective existence of universals. This was found by realistic theologians to fit well with the already existent ideas of Biblical realism (the substantial, immaterial union of the race in Adam, first taught by Tertullian). In theological anthropology, the concept of the universal found its expression in the idea of an objective, immaterial, substantial union of the race in Adam, such that the race is propagated in its entire nature (both spiritual and physical). Nominalism denied that universals exist, and therefore concluded that there is no such thing as a racial union (or a union of any species), except for the union perceived by the observing mind. In other words, the mind observes that similarities exist between members of a species, and creates a mental category called species. This was the explicit denial that any real union of species exists. It was only the realists that held that specific union (or, union of species) was real, and hence they are called realists. To the nominalists the specific union was a union in name only (or, nominal), and hence they are called nominalists. While the realists located the union of man with Adam as within Adam himself (natural/Augustinian headship), the nominalists located that union within the mind of God (which eventually became federal/covenant headship). The Protestant Reformers inconsistently held to both, being very much nominalists in general, but kept a realistic mode of thinking when it came to original sin. Adam's sin was imputed to us because it was our sin. As nominalism's influence grew, realism was discarded, and it was then taught that Adam's sin was ours merely because it was imputed. This brings up the second characteristic of nominalism: justice swallowed up in sovereignty. In this, the Calvinists from Turettin's day onward have a great difference between them and Augustine. Jim, your article here is very interesting and brings up some questions that I'm sure you'll address in the coming installments, such as how Augustine's view did not allow justice and mercy to be reconciled in the salvation of sinners, so I'll wait.
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Of course, I can't help but be a fan of any theologian who is a West-BG-Virginian! :)
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Peter, Points well taken. Just to let you know where I'm coming from, I do not agree with inherited condemnation, but I do hold to a realistic union and participation in Adam. So I would agree that Augustine did deviate from the truth on that matter, but my interest is in preserving the realism---that the baby not be thrown out with the bathwater. It's not that inherited guilt is a necessary inference or development from Tertullian, but it is a reasonable and understandable conclusion. Tertullian taught traducianism, which means that the soul that sinned in Adam is propagated to us in such a way that we participated in his sin. With such a real participation in his sin, it was only a small step away to conclude that we all share in Adam's guilt just as we shared in his commission of sin. So then, while inherited guilt is not necessary to realistic participation, realistic participation is necessary , to inherited guilt. The discarding of the realistic participation was gradual and only happened through inconsistency and the influence of nominalism. In the end, where we are today, the denial of realistic union with the affirmation of imputed guilt has created many more problems than the Augustinian doctrine. I'm sorry if that took you down a rabbit trail; but it seemed from Jim's opening post that he wanted not only to discard Augustine's original guilt but also his realistic participation. Additionally, I also hold to a meticulous divine providence and unconditional election (but not to any of the other 4 points of Calvinism). Anyway, it looks like it will be an interesting series!
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