Reply to Jared Moore Regarding Southern Seminary and the BFM, Part 2

January 8, 2013

Adam Harwood, PhD
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies
Truett-McConnell College
Cleveland, Georgia


Questions I’m Not Asking

            To guard against being misunderstood:

My question is not: “What does Dr. Mohler affirm?”

Your post concerns itself with that question under Reason #1 (http://sbcvoices.com/adam-brought-sin-into-the-human-race-a-response-to-adam-harwood/).

My question is not: “Does Dr. Schreiner affirm the BFM?”

Of course he does. He also affirms the Abstract of Principles. That, as my Nov. 29 article (http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/11/29/the-ets-the-ap-the-bfm/) attempts to demonstrate, may be problematic for professors at SBTS and SEBTS (both of which affirm the BFM and AP). The documents can be interpreted as making conflicting statements regarding the timing of condemnation. The AP mentions condemnation before moral capability; the BFM mentions condemnation after moral capability. In both documents, however, people become transgressors as soon as they are capable of moral action. Regardless, I never questioned Schreiner’s affirmation of the BFM.

My question is not: “Can people affirm inherited guilt and the BFM?”

People can affirm whatever they want to affirm. But people who serve as seminary faculty don’t have the luxury of teaching anything they choose to teach. Their employment entails teaching in accordance with and not contrary to the BFM. (Note: The point is similar to the one made by Conservatives regarding the teachings of SBTS professors during the “Resurgence.” SBC constituents rightly expected the professors whose salaries they paid to teach in accordance with and not contrary to the BFM.)

As Dr. Mohler explains in the introduction of the SBTS faculty exposition of the BFM: “The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is unembarrassed in our commitment to require all professors to teach ‘in accordance with and not contrary to’ our Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message” (http://www.sbts.edu/documents/bfmexposition.pdf). I commend Dr. Mohler for requiring his professors to teach in accordance with and not contrary to the BFM. I am thankful for his leadership in ensuring doctrinal fidelity among his faculty to the BFM. But his faculty’s exposition ignores the language of the BFM regarding our inheritance from Adam. Instead of explaining the BFM’s language of sinful inclination or becoming transgressors, the exposition inserts a theological concept neither stated nor implied in the BFM, inherited guilt.

As I wrote on Dec. 11 (http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/12/11/sbts-and-bfm/): “It seems necessary that SBTS clarify its position on Article 3 of the BFM. Why? If a denial of inherited guilt is unorthodox, then SBTS needs to be clear. If that is the case, then its interpretation of the BFM should remain and the BFM should be amended to reflect that view. If a denial of inherited guilt is orthodox, then clarity from SBTS is equally important.”

My Question Regarding Southern Seminary and the BFM

            The question of my Dec. 11 post was: “Does Southern Seminary have an institutional commitment to a theological position which is not affirmed in the BFM and excludes many Southern Baptists?”

I am not aware that SBTS faculty or administration have publicly addressed either of my essays seeking clarification. I didn’t expect a reply. As one of your commenters observed: “I doubt that the writing of a young theology prof in an obscure Baptist state convention college will set the norm for any seminary or for the SBC at large (…).” But this isn’t about me; it’s about the BFM.

Despite the SBTS faculty exposition of the BFM, neither the words nor the idea can be found in Article 3 of the BFM that “the guilt of Adam’s sin falls on all.” It’s an orthodox option; I’ve never suggested otherwise. But inherited guilt is not present in Article 3 and is (arguably) contrary to the BFM. The question is not whether inherited guilt is denied but whether it is affirmed in the BFM. And it’s not. If the BFM does not affirm such a view, then three options remain:

1. Certain SBC professors should modify their teaching on inheritance from Adam so their teaching accords with the BFM.

2. The BFM should be revised to explicitly include inherited guilt.

3. SBC Seminaries should stop declaring their professors will teach in accordance with the BFM. Why? Because they are permitted to teach more than the BFM–even when such teaching is contrary to the BFM and to the beliefs of many Southern Baptists who pay those professors’ salaries through their contributions to the Cooperative Program.

Criticism over My Denial of a View not affirmed in the BFM

            Your post and many of it comments reveal frustration that I deny inherited guilt. One person called it “flawed” and “dangerous to the church.” Another wrote that it “flies in the face of the plain reading of scripture.” A third person declared it “opens the door to true heresies such as universalism.” A fourth person called it “virtually ‘another gospel’” and “heresy if not worse.” To all of you, I say: Your objection is not with me but with Article 3 of the BFM.

Article 3 of the BFM places condemnation after people become transgressors. Also, there is no mention of inheriting Adam’s guilt. Covenant Theologians and SBC New Calvinists[1] insist that inherited guilt is the only orthodox view of the inheritance from Adam. If that is the case, then a person must be considered guilty prior to becoming a transgressor and under condemnation. According to such an interpretation, for those who affirm the BFM, infants should be regarded as non-condemned, non-transgressing, but guilty due to Adam’s sin. (To be clear: that last phrase is an interpretation held by Covenant Theologians but not found in the BFM.)

Inherited guilt is a view that is not required by the BFM. Why is it so upsetting that I am unwilling to affirm a theological position not mentioned in the BFM?

Moore misreads the BFM and misrepresents Harwood

            You write: “The BF&M2K defines sin as, ‘a nature and an environment inclined toward sin,’ in addition to transgressions. Yet, Harwood believes that mankind is only condemned for his own transgressions, and his sinful nature and environment are not ‘sin’ that requires a trust in Christ for redemption.”

The portion of Article 3 of the BFM you cite is clearly not defining sin. Instead, it is describing our inheritance from the first man. The relevant phrase in Article 3 reads: “whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.”

Where exactly do I state that our “sinful nature and environment are not ‘sin’ that requires a trust in Christ for redemption”? My argument, rather, is that this inclination toward sin is not guilt. I am aware of no biblical text in which God states, “You are judged guilty and condemned due to the sin of Adam.” Of course we’re all in sin, condemnation, and death due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21). This certainly entails effects of the Fall, such as physical death. But none of those things necessarily entails guilt. In this way, we’re not regarded by God as sinners who are subject to God’s wrath and condemnation until we attain moral capability and become transgressors (which accords with Article 3 of the BFM).

**Part 3, the final part of Dr. Harwood’s reply, will be posted on January 9.


            [1]New Calvinist is a term used as the subtitle of Collin Hansen’s 2008 book Young, Restless, and Reformed and the name used by TIME in 2009 when it explored this movement within Christianity. New Calvinism is not used here as a derogatory label but as a descriptive term.

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N miller

Dr. Harwood:
The following citation in your post, as you note, originates from a commentor at SBC Voices, who was responding to Jared Moore’s article. Your citation reads:
“As one of your commenters observed: ‘I doubt that the writing of a young theology prof in an obscure Baptist state convention college will set the norm for any seminary or for the SBC at large …'”
Among several reactions I have to this commentor’s opinion, these jump to the fore:

1. Perhaps the priest (et al) in Wittenberg thought the same of Luther.
2. Ditto, Re: Goliath and his army of the shepherd-boy David.

These two points’ foci are on the ‘obscure’ existence of two who changed their worlds.
Further, whereas all analogies break down, none of the principals in your or Moore’s essays do I consider to be Catholic or Philistine. To the stark contrary, these principals are our brothers in Christ.
As a “young theology prof in an obscure Baptist state convention college,” you have winsomely overcome these debilitating impediments to raise a significant and legitimate question of those who are not of a different faith or who wage war from across no-man’s land, but who, as honorable soldiers of the cross and brothers-in-arms, wage war against a common evil so that souls may be swept into God’s kingdom. Given that we all labor in the same trenches, I find the silence of these compatriots deafening — with the exception of the commentor you cited. I am left only to wonder why he would assess the ultimate outcome of your inquiry in such a manner — Norm

Rick Patrick

The First Adam sinned, bringing upon all of us our inherited sinful nature and our inclination to sin, effects we personally ratified when upon reaching moral capacity we ourselves sinned.

The Second Adam paid the price for us upon the cross, bringing us redemption and forgiveness, effects we personally embraced when freely repenting of our own sin and trusting in Jesus.

The Third Adam has painstakingly written an excellent book and a series of essays explaining all of this with such clarity and grace that no one should look down upon him for his obscure small town college.

Neither Eden nor Nazareth were places of great population or reputation. I’d say Cleveland, Georgia, fits in perfectly with the rest.

    Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

    Speaking of the Third Adam’s book (I thought Jesus was the Last Adam, but anyway), I recently read a very substantial, fair, and excellent review of it from a fellow Southern Baptist. It can be accessed at http://www.sbcfocus.net/2012/12/12/the-spiritual-condition-of-infants/

      Adam Harwood

      Ben,

      Thanks for mentioning this review of my book on SBC Focus. Readers will judge for themselves the merit of both the book and this particular review. Blessings.

      In Him,
      Adam

      Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

      Adam,

      You are certainly welcome. Glad I could help! I’d love to see you interact with that review. He was very fair to your position while raising some major objections to it.

        Adam Harwood

        Ben,
        I have not responded to any of the reviews of my book and would not be comfortable doing so. Perhaps I’m “old school,” but my sense is this: Authors get a chance to “speak their piece” when they write a book. Once their book is in print, they sit down and close their mouths. Other people get a chance to stand up, review and critique the work. If the author were to stand up and critique a review, it almost appears to stifle the process of critique and evaluation. I appreciate the time that reviewers invest in reading the work and I am more comfortable allowing my book to stand on its own. I want readers to be free to make their own judgments about both the book and the reviews of the book. Book-length replies, of course, are a different matter (consider the exchanges between Piper and Wright or John 3:16 and Founders). Thanks, brother.
        In Him,
        Adam

Tom Fillinger, Columbia SC

It appears that the author, as many in the SBC, has elevated the BF&M above the text of Scripture. it matters little what the AP, BFM, etc. may claim if those claims are contrary to the text of Scripture. What does the text say?

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Not in the least. There is no elevation of these things above Scripture, but rather a discussion of things people derive from Scripture to express in brief but systematic ways as documents for denomination positions on issues. If there is a conflict with some of those denominational documents with others, there is no harm in pointing it out.

    Your post smacks of doing away with all theology whatsoever. One could just as easily say “who cares about systematic theology or doctrine, what does the text say?”

    The overwhelming response to this, of course, from everyone regarding their preferred doctrines and systems is: “the texts say what we express in tour systematics and doctrines.”

    That response is bush-league, no offense.

      Tom Fillinger, Columbia SC

      Johnathan, On the contrary sir, please read my response to Adam. I am appealing for a Forum in which there is irenic & accurate exegesis of the text live and in person. Polemics will never bring resolution and accuracy to our mutual efforts to “get it right”.

      When we humble ourselves and submit to what the text says we find harmony and unity which is only found in agreeing on what God has revealed in His gracious Special Revelation.

      I was an “American Leauger” sir, Cleveland Indians, not bush as you labeled my thoughts.

      In Grace,
      Tom

    Adam Harwood

    Tom,

    Thanks for your note.

    Please help me understand your comment. You write that I have “elevated the BF&M above the text of Scripture.”

    Do you mean than the Bible and the BFM are contradictory sources of authority?

    I understand the BFM to be a summary and interpretation of the Scriptures. The Bible, of course, has supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice. It is our INTERPRETATION of the Bible which is in question.

    If you have read the material cited in this essay, then you will know that the SBTS Faculty Exposition of the BFM holds one view and (I assert) Article 3 affirms another view. But ALL parties affirm the Bible as authoritative in this discussion.

    Tom, Your comment struck me as dismissive. That surprised me because I investigated the website hyper-linked to your name and listened to the video on your home page. You seem like a man who desires to assist pastors in their ministry. That is also my desire. I am unsure why you would dismiss my view, claiming that I am holding the BFM above the Scripture. Did you post this comment because you are:

    1. unaware that this is a hermeneutical question? If so, then perhaps this note will clarify the issue.
    2. uninterested in the discussion? If so, then why did you leave a disparaging comment? Why not simply ignore it rather than state that I have elevated something above the Scripture?

    Perhaps there is a third option. Please help me understand your view, brother.

    In Him,

    Adam

      Tom Fillinger, Columbia SC

      Adam,

      First, THANK YOU for your kind remarks about our web sight and ministry to inform, encourage and equip Pastors. That is truly our passion and purpose. For the sake of brevity please let me use and expanded outline in my response.

      I. I have passionately and repeatedly appealed for a format in which there is irenic,and accurate exegesis. We had the Bridge-Builders gathering at Ridgecrest. It was 95% Polemics and precious little systematic exegesis.

      II. It is literally impossible to capture the tenor, tone, motive and substance of such deliberations in a BLOG or an email.

      III. I have appealed for a Forum in which the respective persons and perspectives are given opportunity to “DO EXEGESIS” live and in person. Each gets equal time to present and defend their understanding of the text. The possibilities are: A. You are correct and I am incorrect; B. I am correct and you are incorrect; C. We are BOTH incorrect; But, we cannot claim that we are both correct. There is one and only one proper interpretation for each and every passage.of God’s word.

      IV. Until we engage some systematic format in which this is done we will be like Tom Dooley (showing my age) riding forever neath the streets of Boston on the MTA.

      In Grace,
      Tom

William Thornton

The quote is mine. While I have enjoyed Dr. Harwood’s thoughtful, insightful, and genial writing, I am not quite ready to complete a triumvirate with his joining Luther and David. My point is that it is notable that TMC seems to me to now be the focus of reactionary Traditionalism in the SBC. I suppose that I, along with not a few others, just wonder where all this is going.

I read all that Dr. H posts on this site and appreciate much of it. Since I am local to the school, I hope sometime this year to arrange a visit.

    Adam Harwood

    William,

    Thanks for your kind note.

    Knowing Rick and Norm, I am sure neither of them actually consider me to be like Luther or David. I think they are playfully making this point:

    God seems inclined toward using small, insignificant people to display His power.

    For that reason, the “young…obscure” comment apparently struck them as worthy of exploring. I think they are challenging the idea behind the comment, which COULD be understood in this way:

    Who cares what an unknown (“young”) professor at a small (“obscure”) college thinks?

    Because they affirm my basic position regarding SBTS and the BFM, the comment may have felt like a dismissal of THEIR view as insignificant. I suspect that is not what you intended to communicate. Nevertheless, I would guess that is what motivated them to cite Luther and David. I don’t speak for Rick and Norm. This is only my intuition.

    You name TMC as “the focus of reactionary Traditionalism in the SBC.” I wonder if you hold that view because of Truett-McConnell’s connection to SBC Today. If not, then I wonder why. If so, then I ask you to consider these two points:

    1. TMC’s involvement with this site only goes back to last summer–after the release of the Traditional Statement. Articles from a Trad SBC perspective were published on the site for several YEARS prior to TMC’s recent involvement.

    2. Including myself, I am only aware of 4 people from TMC who have ever contributed an article to SBC Today. Most of the contributors are SBC pastors who serve in: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee–you get the idea.

    If you are ever near Cleveland, I’d love the opportunity to visit with you over lunch. My treat.

    In Him,
    Adam

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Of course, there is another way of looking at one part of his quote, Adam. Since I passed 35, any reference to my being “young”, no matter its intent, I simply take it as a compliment. :)

        Adam Harwood

        True. And I’m 38.

        When I was in high school, I heard a statement by Tony Evans on a sermon cassette tape (Ha! Remember tapes?) which has remained with me and relates to this point.

        He said (my paraphrase) age is relative. If an 18-year old lives only to the age of 20, then he is now an OLD man–with only 2 years remaining. But if a 50-year old lives to be 90, then he is now a YOUNG man–with another 40 years ahead of him. Because we don’t know our relative age, we should deal with God as if we are OLD people, regardless of our chronological age.

        Blessings, brother.

      Lydia

      ‘I doubt that the writing of a young theology prof in an obscure Baptist state convention college will set the norm for any seminary or for the SBC at large …’”

      William, I remember reading this and wondering what you meant as far as the larger picture. I don’t want to read too much into it but it sounded like a bit of the cult of personality thinking. As in, only if the so called SBC celebrity leaders say it does it matter much. I think that is part of the problem with the SBC these days.

      Early on I was thrilled to hear from other academics taking on these doctrinal issues. I was not too concerned about the size of the school or whether it was a flagship seminary or not. I was thrilled we have other smart guys we had not heard from before in the blogging world.

      Why does this have to “go anywhere”? Does there have to be an endgame to the discussions on doctrinal issues facing the SBC? What about iron sharpening iron as a result? If they are as obscure as you claim, there does not seem to be anywhere they can go. :o)

    Norm Miller

    William: I admire and thank you for owning your quote. Please note that neither near-anonimity nor age hinderered either David or Luther. That you noted ‘young’ and ‘obscure’ as factors that may apparently render Dr. Harwood’s scholarly and genial writings as ineffectual was a point I now understand better after having read your more recent comment at SBCT.
    Nonetheless, though Dr. Harwood may not complete the Luther/David triumvirate, I would unhesitatingly say that his courage to challenge the tall ivory tower took gigantic courage. As for the good professor’s exegetical prowess, he is no match for Luther in that I rather suspect that Dr. Harwood rejects — based on exacting exegesis — the Calvinistic tenets in Luther’s writings. So, alas, the triumverate cannot be completed. — Norm

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Indeed, Dr. Harwood is no match for Luther. It is hard to match that level of exegetical incompetence when the primary interpretive grid.was his own personal, existential crisis.

      I thank God Dr. Harwood is no Luther, who is the most overrated, overhyped man in Western Protestant theology. :)

      As even Spurgeon noted, there have always been Baptists, and we didn’t need Luther in order for us to become Baptists. Luther was a part of the Reformation, but we was not the Reformation. Reformation was in the air already.

        Norm Miller

        I have often wondered if Luther wrote some of his opinions after tipping back a few too many mugs of grog. — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          …and then feeling overwhelmingly guilty about it,

Carl Peterson

Adam,

“Where exactly do I state that our “sinful nature and environment are not ‘sin’ that requires a trust in Christ for redemption”? My argument, rather, is that this inclination toward sin is not guilt. I am aware of no biblical text in which God states, “You are judged guilty and condemned due to the sin of Adam.” Of course we’re all in sin, condemnation, and death due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21). This certainly entails effects of the Fall, such as physical death. But none of those things necessarily entails guilt. In this way, we’re not regarded by God as sinners who are subject to God’s wrath and condemnation until we attain moral capability and become transgressors (which accords with Article 3 of the BFM).”

I do not understand your comments above. I understand that you are saying that an infant who has never became a transgressor is not guiilty and thus not under condemnation.

But then you state “I am aware of no biblical text in which God states, “You are judged guilty and condemned due to the sin of Adam.” Of course we’re all in sin, condemnation, and death due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).”

This is confusing. Are we ALL under condemnation or not? It appears to me that according to your theology that some of us are not condemned until we actually become transgressors. Or maybe we are under condemnation with no guilt. But then can you flesh out how one can be under condemnation but have no guilt?

Also can you engage Moore’s contention that guilt is included in the definition of sin because of how different passages in the BFM have used the word (sin). You might address this in part 3 so If so I will wait for it.

CARL

    Adam Harwood

    Carl,

    Thanks for your note. I apologize for any confusion. In my defense, this confusion may be the result of people coming to the discussion with different explanations for the same term. For example, think of other discussions in which people hold differing explanations for the same biblical term, such as “atonement.” Some people think of a work available only for the elect; others think of a work available for all people. Perhaps the same thing is happening here with Paul’s use of “condemnation” in Rom 5:12.

    You write: “I do not understand your comments above. I understand that you are saying that an infant who has never became a transgressor is not guilty and thus not under condemnation.”

    My reply: If one defines “condemnation” as guilty and accountable before God, then your restatement of my view is true. Under that definition of the word, an infant is not under condemnation.

    You quote me: “I am aware of no biblical text in which God states, ‘You are judged guilty and condemned due to the sin of Adam.’ Of course we’re all in sin, condemnation, and death due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).”

    Then, you write: “This is confusing. Are we ALL under condemnation or not? It appears to me that according to your theology that some of us are not condemned until we actually become transgressors. Or maybe we are under condemnation with no guilt. But then can you flesh out how one can be under condemnation but have no guilt?”

    You basically articulated the view in your question. Yes, we are all condemned. Romans 5 says so. Paul’s point in Romans 1:18-3:20 is that God will hold people accountable for their knowledge of His revelation of Himself as creator and law-giver. As Paul writes, we are without excuse. Who is without excuse? Who is the object of God’s wrath? Recently-deceased Dallas Theological Seminary Professor of New Testament Harold Hoehner wrote, “Paul makes it very clear in Romans that it is their willful acts of transgression and disobedience that bring this wrath.” This opens up the question: What about those who have not yet willfully transgressed God’s law?

    Romans 1-2 does not address people who are unaware of God as creator and law-giver–the people who are not YET suppressing this truth, namely infants and the mentally incompetent. Romans 1-2 does not condemn them. Just ask John Piper. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/what-happens-to-infants-who-die–2

    While we are all condemned, in no place does the Bible directly link our condemnation with Adam’s guilt. The closest that a person can get is to cite Rom 5:19a: “by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” But the challenge with isolating part of one verse and building on it a view of imputed guilt is this: We rightly reject any attempt to do the same thing with the rest of the verse, which reads: “so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (v. 19b). People are not automatically guilty through Adam just like they are not automatically saved through Christ. We must do something in order to be saved: repent and believe in Jesus. Likewise, we must do something in order to be guilty: knowingly sin.

    As long-time Professor of New Testament at Southwestern Seminary Jack MacGorman once wrote: “We do not inherit salvation through Christ’s obedience apart from our personal involvement in faith. Nor do we inherit condemnation through Adam’s disobedience apart from our personal involvement in sin. Neither salvation nor guilt can be inherited.” (See Peter Lumpkins’ recent article here: http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2013/01/adam-harwood-and-jw-macgormans-dangerous-unorthodox-doctrine-inevitably-leading-to-heresy-if-not-worse.html)

    I realize you may not agree, but does this answer your question regarding my view of condemnation in Rom 5:12?

    You write: “Also can you engage Moore’s contention that guilt is included in the definition of sin because of how different passages in the BFM have used the word (sin). You might address this in part 3. If so I will wait for it.”

    Part 3 of my reply begins by quoting Moore’s appeal to the BFM in order to support his assertion that my view of sin is inconsistent with the BFM. This may answer your question. If not, then I’ll be happy to try to address it tomorrow in the comment section of Part 3.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Indeed, just the the BF&M says, “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

      The sense of condemnation Carl is thinking is precisely because of sin (i.e. knowingly sin)

      We are condemned because of sin, not Adam’s guilt.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        What I mean is that we are condemned because of the guilt of our sin, not Adam’s guilt.

        Adam, I am still not sure how you mean “all are condemned” without any (judicial) guilt at all. If one sins, one is guilty of sin.

          Adam Harwood

          Good question.

          The reason I don’t assign guilt before moral capability is that the Bible doesn’t do so.

          The reason I say all are condemned is this: “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. (Romans 5:18 NIV84).”

          The nature of the condemnation is not explained. Perhaps it’s the fallen nature and environment mentioned in Article 3. I would include in that inherited condemnation physical death. Perhaps it’s the condemnation/guilt WHICH ACCOMPANIES TRANSGRESSION.

          Blessings, Johnathan.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Okay. I think we are in agreement then. I take that sense you attribute to Article 3 with your inclusion.

            That is why I made the distinction in my post about the sense of condemnation and picked another word (for clarity only) for our view on the sense of condemnation since the word is loaded by the participants of this discussion.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I wrote a reply, that has somehow disappeared, to point this out as well where you write:

    “This is confusing. Are we ALL under condemnation or not? It appears to me that according to your theology that some of us are not condemned until we actually become transgressors. Or maybe we are under condemnation with no guilt. But then can you flesh out how one can be under condemnation but have no guilt?”

    I think for many Calvinists, the issue is one of God’s being just. If Adam is not representative or seminal head (in which all humanity is present), it seems unjust for God to place his posterity under condemnation without guilt.

    I see the source of confusion and even understand it (though this confusion and objection presupposes the whole of the theology Calvinists promote rather than looking at it from an entirely different lens). But let’s first talk about condemnation.

    There is individual condemnation for being guilty of sin, and general condemnation, which may only include that posterity is to inherit consequences for Adam’s transgression, but not have his actual guilt imputed to them. The latter sense of “condemnation” need not include the former. Though, I agree about the onfusion and think using the word “condemnation” makes this confusion compounded.

    The way I would word it would be consignment. Adam’s posterity are consigned to all the consequences from Adam’s sin. Here is actually what the Bible teaches with the benefit of it being how the Bible teaches it.

    Because of Adam’s sin, all die (1 Cor. 15:22) Because all people are under the reign of death, as a result of the curse (Gen. 3:17-19) and they are thus consigned to disobedience (Rom. 11: 32) in a world subjected to futility (Rom. 8:20 ). As even Reformed commentators such as Schreiner and Moo have said (via Garlington), it is more proper to talk about original death, as opposed to original sin. As such, it follows it is more appropriate to say we have a death nature (being born separated from God’s immediate presence and righteous activity in our lives) and all become transgressors because sin reigns in death (Rom. 5:21). Since all have sinned and died since Adam and because of Him (Rom. 5:12; 5:18a and 19a), even without the Law (Rom. 5:12b-14), this reign of sin in the reign of death makes since.

    (NOTE: I agree with the exegesis, even that of the likes of Schreiner, that Romans 5:12b is in the evidential sense rather than causative sense, I.e. “all sinned in Adam” via Jerome and Augustine)

    So our having a death nature because of Adams sin, being separate from God as described above from birth, his posterity “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.” since we are consigned to the world as we receive it because of Adam’s action (not his personal guilt imputed to us as our personal guilt). It follows then that “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

    So, not to put words in Dr. Harwood’s mouth, since his view and mine are not an exact 1 to 1, I’ll still say that I think the sense of condemnation and sin he means is in the second sense of consignment by God of Adam’s sin and its consequences to his posterity, and not to individual condemnation in the sense of immediate guilt reckoned to them at conception because of Adam’s sin.

    It goes without saying, after all, that God judges actions done in the body, not the nature. (1 Cor. 5:10).

    God judges sinners, not natures, and natures do not incur guilt, sin does. When speaking ONTOLOGICALLY, as opposed to metaphorically or analogically (like Paul does in Romans for instance when he speaks of it as as a ruling power), sin is a “does”, not an “is” (1 John 3:4)

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Three more things to add…

      1. I haven’t the slightest idea why it came up capital H when I wrote “Him” instead of him regarding Adam in the seventh paragraph. That was a goof (there needs to be a way to edit here). :)

      Seriously though…

      2. Imputation is a technical thing, and Romans 5:12-14 makes it clear that sin is not “imputed” between Adam and Moses. I know the word in Rom. 5:13 isn’t actually logizomai, but carries the same meaning.

      3. Romans 2:12a makes it clear, when it says “All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law”, that imputation, like lacking possession of the law, is not a necessary condition for either guilt or condemnation (perishing). Sin itself is a sufficient condition for both.

      For these and other reasons, like that above, the imputation of Adam’s guilt to hos posterity is viewed as extra-Biblical and an unnecessary theological add-on nowhere stated or implied in the text.

Johnathan Pritchett

Hmm…what happened to my reply?

Randall Cofield

The Third Adam… :-) … & Johnathan Pritchett,

Help me understand your positions here.

You seem to be saying that:

1) All are under condemnation even prior to being “capable of moral action”

2) All, even those not “capable of moral action,” possess a sin-nature

3) All, even those not “capable of moral action,” are under the penalty of sin, which is death.

Yet you seem to be denying the presence of guilt before one becomes “capable of moral action.”

If we hold that God places under condemnation, and the penalty of death, those who are not capable of moral action–and are, therefore, guiltless–do we not impugn both the holiness and justice of God?

Dr. Harwood, I noticed above, in your response to Johnathan in which you cited Ro. 5:18, you speculated that “condemnation” in this passage might mean “the fallen nature and environment mentioned in Article 3…(and) physical death.” (Johnathan, you seemed to agree with Dr. Harwood here)

Yet the term Paul uses (katakrima) means “a judicial pronouncement upon a guilty person, condemnation, punishment, penalty.” As far a I am aware, all of the cognates of this term include the concepts of both guilt and resultant punishment/penalty. Even the English term implies guilt.

If you agree that even those not capable of moral action are under condemnation, are you not, by the very definition of the biblical term, agreeing to their guilt?

If you insist that they are not guilty, yet God nevertheless consigns them to katakrima, would that not impugn the justice of God?

Thank you in advance for your response, brothers.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Indeed. This is a good opportunity for clarity. Several issues clumped together can make the conversation confusing to follow. Note that I also had questions for Dr. Harwood similar to yours, as it depends on what we mean and in what context. I wrote: “Adam, I am still not sure how you mean “all are condemned” without any (judicial) guilt at all. If one sins, one is guilty of sin”

    So, as for condemnation as in Romans 5:18. “unto all men unto condemnation”, I agree with the sense of condemnation of judicial sentence as well.

    Am I trying to have it both ways? Absolutely. Everyone is born into death with a death nature, as I stated in my own understanding of the issue in response to Carl above. As Paul says, sin reigns in death (Rom. 5:21).

    Because of Adam, the result is condemnation for all. (Rom. 5:18) This is a “what is the case” statement.

    How it comes to be the case that Adam’s action results in condemnation for everyone is a separate issue not addressed directly in this text, except for the evidential statement in Romans 12B which echoes Romans 3:23. So clearly, all have sinned. Are infants in view in either Romans 1-3 or this passage? With Dr. Harwood, I say nay.

    People don’t begin at conception guilty of sin, of Adam’s sin imputed to them, or by virtue of merely existing.

    Clearly also, the Bible teaches God judges deeds, not natures. (2 Cor. 5:10) So merely being conceived with and in possession of a death nature (in which sin reigns) does not itself incur guilt. Adam’s or otherwise.

    So, how it comes to be the case that Adam’s action constitutes us all sinners, and results in all our condemnation is as I described in my response to Carl. Which amounts to exactly what the BF&M asserts: “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

    They are not condemned prior to becoming moral transgressors, and thus, they are not guilty prior to becoming moral transgressors, and God’s justice is maintained. .

    Thus, instead of this:

    “3) All, even those not “capable of moral action,” are under the penalty of sin, which is death.”

    I’d modify it to this (Dr. Harwood may not agree)

    3a) All, even those not “capable of moral action”, are under the consequences of Adam’s sin, which inevitably results in death because a death nature is inherited and also because sin reigns in death.

    One must recognize the distinction between a “what is the case” statement (Paul’s statement in Romans 5:18), and a “how it comes to be the case” (Something not in Paul’s statement in Romans 5:18). Romans 5:18 simply states what is the case.

    The Reformed and even many Arminian understandings of how it comes to be the case is the notion of the guilt of Adam imputed to his posterity, and the inherited sinful nature IS a sinful something that incurs guilt. Which, of course, the Bible never says or even implies. The basis of God’s judgement rules this out (2 Cor. 5:10 and elsewhere).

    However, if we give the causative sense for the parallelism as in many interpretations that insist we are all guilty and condemned IN Adam; and if one must infer that automatic guilt on the first part; this means that they should consistently apply it to the second part of the verse. Of course, this would mean automatic justification for everyone if so consistently applied. This would mean justification regardless of personal faith, as it would also mean guilt regardless of personal transgression for the first part of the verse, as some argue.

    The result of a consistent exegesis for the whole parallelism is universalism and that simply won’t do. Appealing to other Scriptures to get out of the causation conundrum won’t do either, because while Scripture interprets Scripture, Scripture doesn’t exegete Scripture, people do, and to exegete any causation in one part of the parallel in this verse demands exegetically that one do it for the other part by the proper understanding of hermeneutics and parallelisms in our exegetical project.

    Now, when we talk about the word nature (physis), in English, as in Greek, it has multiple definitions (shared in both languages). Two are obvious. 1. a property inherent in a thing. 2. a cultivated habit of the thing.

    It is worth noting that when Paul uses the word, he almost always refers to definition number 2. So, when I say we have a death nature, I believe that the Bible teaches we have this in the sense number 1 (1 Corinthians 15:22).

    Nowhere does the Bible (outside the NIV’s interpreted translation of sarx, which even Moo does not approve of in his Romans commentary and he was on the NIV translation committee I think) does it say we have (or imply we inherit) a sinful nature. So when I say sinful nature, I mean, like Paul in Ephesians 2:3, Romans 2:14, 2:27, and elsewhere, definition 2. Because death reigns and sin reigns in death (Romans 5:13 and 5:21) having a death nature inevitably leads to having a sinful nature.

    Regarding the BF&M, when I affirm where it says “Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin”, the nature I posit that we inherit is the death nature, and because sin reigns in death, it follows that the death nature is inclined toward sin.

    So, on my view, infants, the unborn, and mentally handicapped (depending on the severity) have a death nature, but are not guilty of transgressions and do not receive condemnation (even though they are under the other sense of “condemnation” of consignment since they come into a world as fallen due to Adam’s sin), since while Christ died for guilty sinners, He also died to redeem and restore and reconcile fallen creation, of which aborted babies, miscarriages, infant death, etc. are a part. I do not think they are included or in view of Paul’s statement of Romans 5:18, and like Adam, are not Paul’s concern or in his view in Romans 1-2. As such, I do not think they are guilty transgressors (even if they are sinners).

    So I agree with Dr. Harwood when he says:

    “Romans 1-2 does not address people who are unaware of God as creator and law-giver–the people who are not YET suppressing this truth, namely infants and the mentally incompetent. Romans 1-2 does not condemn them. Just ask John Piper. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/what-happens-to-infants-who-die–2

    Hope that helps.

      Randall Cofield

      Johnathan,

      Thank you, brother, for your response.

      While there are seeming inconsistencies in what you’ve posited, I’d like to defer responding until Dr. Harwood has had an opportunity to weigh in.

      It doesn’t seem to me that the two of you are on the same page. But, I could certainly be wrong.

      Grace to you.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        We are not on the same page, but similar pages. We have different views at certain points, but similar on others.

        Please point to a real inconsistency. I seems that it may only seem to you there are inconsistencies. That doesn’t mean there actually are inconsistencies. ;)

        Seriously though, the reason I say that is because most “seeming inconsistencies” people try to point to me in discussions on this topic are only seemingly so because of their prior gratuitous, superfluous, non-Biblical assumptions brought in from without trying to make certain things in my view fit where they need not fit at all.

        This happens quite often, because like the EO, I don’t do my theology tied to points/counterpoints either between an Augustinian – Pelagian grid, or a Calvin – Arminius grid. For me, the Bible read through the lens of first century Ancient Near East categories determines theology, not impositions of categories from a South African and a Brit in the fifth century (neither of whom were entirely right or entirely wrong), nor two Europeans in the post-Reformation era (neither of whom were entirely right, or entirely wrong).

        Unlike a classic Reformed systematician like Shedd (whom I very much like and enjoy reading, even if I do not agree with everything he says) and others in that tradition, I don’t think systematic theology governs Biblical theology, but the other way around.

          Randall Cofield

          Johnathan,

          I don’t think systematic theology governs Biblical theology, but the other way around.

          I certainly agree, but with a caveat: A sound Biblical theology will produce a logically consistent systematic theology.

          The propositional truths of God’s self-revelation do not ignore point/counter-point logic, else God is nonsensical.

          We know He ain’t…. :-)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I agree with that. Shedd makes this point as well in Dogmatic Theology.

            However, the concern, not acknowledged by Shedd and others, is with the discipline itself, in that in our colleges and seminaries, more time is spent on systematics than exegesis and biblical theology. So, no matter where you go for higher education, you get a grid before you get to the text. This happens in all doctrinal traditions.

            In any case, the point/counterpoint methodology in discussion and doing theology is not the problem, but limiting the grids and presuppositions that are implemented to straight-jacket the discussions and debates are the problem, especially when there are other grids and tools that are available within Evangelical, Orthodox Protestant doctrine.

            This is one of the points that the Traditionalists are making. Whether anyone else likes that point is completely irrelevant. .

            Randall Cofield

            Johnathan,

            ….there are other grids and tools that are available within Evangelical, Orthodox Protestant doctrine…..This is one of the points that the Traditionalists are making. Whether anyone else likes that point is completely irrelevant.

            Glad you brought that up.

            Seems like every time a Calvinist posts here he gets smacked over the head with the “Augustinian/Calvinist grid” stick. What we’re talking about here is hermeneutics, though I wonder if most who use the above-referenced “grid” stick understand that.

            Hermeneutics are like rectums. Everybody has one. Wouldn’t you agree that it is about time the Trads owned-up to this fact?

            You contend Trads are “making the point” that other hermeneutics are available. Yet Trads reject with prejudice any attempt to label their hermeneutic (who can forget the caterwauling over the labels “Semi-Pelagian” and “Arminian”?).

            At best, Trads seem to be claiming a vague, unnameable hermeneutic that began developing in the early 20th century, came to full-bloom in the last 40-50 years, and is now the standard simply because it is the “majority” hermeneutic in the SBC (a claim I categorically reject, but that’s another book).

            You seem to identify with “Traditionalism,” so maybe you can help me understand.

            Could you delineate precisely what hermeneutic “available within Evangelical Protestantism” is being used by Trads?

            Sorry for the sarcasm, but I’m tired of being whacked over the head with the hermeneutic stick, only to have Trads claim such sticks don’t exist in their version of theological reality… :-)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I can’t speak for all Trads anymore than one can speak for all Calvinists. Some Calvinists baptize infants, others do not, for instance. What I can speak to is the use of certain categories that are a feature of Western theology versus global theologies, even evangelistic ones, and whether or not it is necessary for one to always operate within those categories. I think it is not if there are other categories that can be of benefit when pressed into service. .

            So, I owned up to a hermeneutic already, as I have already identified mine above. Mine is a ANE social-contextual one. I tend to stick with exegetical commentaries with a social-science bent. Then go from there with doing theology, and weigh non-essentials I find in other works of theology against my own findings. There is no harm in this, since we all use the same Biblical text, and everyone keeps running into the same doctrines expressed in, at least, the earliest creeds affirmed by Protestants (the ones we share with Catholics), though perhaps less so than post-Reformational confessions of faith.

            We are all contextualized, and there is no acontextual grid, nor is Scripture an acontextual grid, since it too, while universally valid for all times and all places, is still quite situated. There is an assumption, however, that a post-Reformational Western hermeneutic, and Western theology(ies) in general, is an acontextual one.

            I reject this. Since I hold that God’s word is living and active, I don’t dread my own historical context in 21st century America, nor do I pretend that I read the text absent any and all biases and pretend I think with a first century mind even while doing my best to understand it. I think proper theology is found in the bridge between the then and now same as everyone else does. I mean, we have to use what we are situated with to express what we find taught in Scripture for exposition and explanation of it. I don’t deny that at all.

            So in this, appealing to a Reformed tradition of which you may be more familiar, I am in agreement with the Puritans that theology can become abstract and useless mind fodder when it doesn’t lead to praxis for the Christian idle, and hardly any theology is valid if there is no change in thinking, behavior, or action.

            Now, this does not mean that doctrine and theology can be done without propositional statements and so forth, whether abstract or concrete (I see nothing wrong with abstraction, since it too can have application principles as well),. The width and depth of literature from the prolific Puritan theological output proves this. My rambling on for your benefit when asked of my view on a blog post is evident of this as well.

            What it does mean, though, is that those statements do not have to be expressed within currently popular categories of inherited western theology on the grids and debates we’ve had since the Reformation, nor does it have to take into consideration extra-Biblical and gratuitous categories and notions deemed to be nowhere related to or demanded by the text.

            This is why I do read a variety of theological traditions, and not simply different Western theological traditions. I benefit from all of them, which is why I have an eclectic book shelf. I take what’s valid and discard the rest. All of us will only have a partial understanding until Jesus returns (and then we begin learning all again, since we don’t immediately become omniscient upon His arrival), but Jesus doesn’t stop being Lord just because Calvinists and Traditionalists disagree on some theological point or other in the present.

            What I do know is that God’s word is truth. and I follow Anselm in that faith seeking understanding project as we all do.

            Also, you never have to apologize for sarcasm with me. I take it as axiomatic that if you love Jesus, you love me too, and clashing rhetoric isn’t a personal attack among the mature. :)

            Randall Cofield

            Johnathan,

            Whew! I’m a little dizzy after that… :-)

            Are you sure “This is one of the points that the Traditionalists are making….” ???

            If so, I have seriously underestimated the hermeneutic acumen of the “majority” of 16m SB church members!!!!

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Again, I can’t speak for 16 million people. But if you go back last year, the framers and most all of the cosigners of the Traditionalist statement had their sentiments summed up when Eric Hankins wrote that it is time to move beyond the old boundaries of the Calvinism-Arminianism grid, and that has led to discussions of doing theology in general in our circles. .

Carl Peterson

Adam,

So for you does condemnation sometimes mean guilt (actual transgressors) and sometimes does not? Or does the word never convey the idea of guilt although other words or phrases might?

I mgiht have other questions but I can’t think of them this early in the morning. I had a hard nights sleep. And you are right this is not my view but I think I am understanding it better and respecting it more. Thank you. BTW I still have never heard of this view even after going to SWBTS and being a Baptist for a very long time. Interesting.

CARL

volfan007

Peter,

Can we call you “Gramps?” or, “Paw Paw?”

David :)

volfan007

“Grumpy old man?” Randall, you obviously dont know Peter.

David

    Randall Cofield

    You’re right, David.

    I am aware only of his online and SBC floor-mic persona.

    And we are online…. :-)

    Johnathan Pritchett

    What’s wrong with being grumpy? I’m grumpy a lot. Being a grump as well as being filled with love and joy isn’t mutually exclusive or anything (See Paul, Jude, and James). :)

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