Re: Federal view of imputation
- Dear Ben,
Your first argument ultimately hangs upon the following assertion:
"See, if Adam repented (looking forward to the future Christ, the same situation we think OT believers were in) then as our representative, we should have had his good act of repentance laid to our account, since he is, after all, our representative."
But this is entirely arbitrary of you. There is nothing about Protestant theology or the "federal view" that makes it necessary that Adam's later act of repentance should likewise come under a federal character. For one thing, his breaking of the Covenant may be considered as dissolving the relationship as to any future actions, even as a president or prince by his representative failures may at the same time both (1) involve his entire people in irreversible calamity; and (2) forfeit his position as president or prince. And Secondly, although the moral law as revealed at Sinai and to the Jewish nation, conjoined with the judicial and ceremonial laws, certainly did teach repentance, yet the Covenant of Works itself does not give any place for repentance, certainly not as a remedy to relieve existing guilt. Adam's repentance only served his own purpose within the context of an entirely different Covenant, the Covenant of Grace; which Covenant makes none representative except Jesus Christ himself.
As for your second argument, it is not definitive as to what is said, or on what ground it is spoken. You give God permission to authorize Adam as our representative "in some sense" but you tell us he can only have this permission in a sense other than "the federal view wants to say he represented us." What this different sense of the federal view is, you have not said, nor why God may not make Adam our representative in this sense.
Please understand that I am not writing these things to encourage this discussion further. To some it may seem I am out of place to take upon me such discussion. In fact, I have rather pointedly discouraged others from doing so on public forums in the past. I do so only with a desire to help you, not provoke further rebellion on your part. You act very dangerously in subjecting essential Gospel doctrines to such suspicion for reasons which are evidently mere trifles. Your heart is not right with God, nor rightly affected with your state of sin and misery, nor with the mercy which God has revealed in his glorious Son. Further discussion on your part, calling in question such doctrines, with vain notions as will ultimately make the death of Christ to be in vain, is not what will be acceptable in the ears or eyes of any Christian, and it is only to be expected that the moderator will expunge such things from this discussion.
You have been called to repentance. There is only one answer which will suffice. All others will displease Christians, and provoke the Lord Christ.
> 2. I posed objection two as a difficulty in squaring the whole idea ofI reject that imputation and inheritance are foreign to our normal experience and practice. Actually, it is quite common in the parent-child relationship, so it should not be at all surprising in the Adam-mankind and Jesus-adopted children relationships.
> imputation with how we typically understand justice. My argument was that
> we normally don't work things like that in our everyday holdings of people
> morally responsible. I mean how often do we allow a deal people made
> thousands of years ago to affect our moral standing with another party? How
> often do we allow it that the good or bad merit of others can be made over
> to ourselves? How often do we allow an innocent to be executed for the
> guilty? These are extremely counterintuitive and go directly against almost
> all of our moral practices, yet they stand at the heart of the Reformed
> understanding of the Gospel.
Just some examples:
1. Children who are born to rich parents are born rich; children who are born to poor parents are born poor.
2. Children who are born to mortal parents will be mortal.
3. Children often inherit the genetic diseases of their parents. Children of parents with healthy genes inherit those genes.
4. The children of terrorist parents are more subject to have their house (along with themselves) blown up. (What is it like to be born the child of an Al Qaeda leader? Does the US military really have to wait until the wife and children are out before destroying the house in which a terrorist leader is residing? Do you think that the US military waits until everyone is out except the terrorist leader?)
5. Rich parents buy their children presents which the children never worked for; penniless parents can buy their children nothing.
6. Rich parents often open up a bank account for their children and put money in it for the children (a form of imputation), even though the children never earned it. Penniless parents do not do the same.
7. When a rich couple walks through an orphanage and selects a child, upon adoption that child is immediately rich, even though the child did no more to earn it than the next child that never gets adopted.
8. Parents are under no moral requirement to lay up money to the children of other parents, but they should lay up for their own children, "for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children." But their own children did not do some special work to receive this blessing.
Imputation and inheritance are alive and well in the real world we live and act in. We are very familiar with it in our moral practices. But some people try to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
- J. Parnell McCarter