The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin Third Article -- By: John Murray

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 19:2 (May 1957)
Article: The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin Third Article
Author: John Murray


The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin
Third Article

John Murray

IV. The Nature Of The Imputation

IF THE union existing between Adam and his posterity is analogous to that which exists between Christ and his people and may thus be called representative union, the next question that arises is that of the mode by which the sin of Adam comes to be reckoned to the account of posterity. Discussion of this question is required by exegetical and theological considerations, particularly by the data implicit in Romans 5:12–19. But the history of debate on this question compels us to deal with it, even if we were disposed to discount or ignore the exegetical data. And history in this case, as in so many others, dictates the direction in which the discussion must be turned. There are two viewpoints which, in contrast with each other, serve to bring the question into the perspective that throws a flood of light upon the significance of the exegetical data.

1. Mediate Imputation

The name particularly associated with the doctrine of mediate imputation is that of Josua Placaeus (Josué de la Place) of the Reformed school at Saumur. He was understood to have taught that original sin consisted simply in the depravity derived from Adam and did not include the imputation of the guilt of Adam’s first sin. The Twenty-Eighth Synod of the Reformed Churches in France, meeting at Charenton from December 26, 1644 to January 26, 1645, officially condemned this doctrine in the following terms. “There was a report made in the Synod of a certain writing, both printed and manuscript, holding forth this doctrine, that the whole nature of original sin consisted only in that corruption,

which is hereditary to all Adam’s posterity, and residing originally in all men, and denieth the imputation of his first sin. The Synod condemneth the said doctrine as far as it restraineth the nature of original sin to the sole hereditary corruption of Adam’s posterity, to the excluding of the imputation of that first sin by which he fell, and interdicteth on pain of all Church-censures all pastors, professors, and others, who shall treat of this question, to depart from the common received opinion of the Protestant Churches, who (over and besides that corruption) have all acknowledged the imputation of Adam’s first sin unto his posterity.”57 Placaeus replied to this decree of the Synod by maintaining that he did not deny the imputation to posterity of Adam’s first sin and that therefore he was in entire accord with the Synod’s decree in not restricting original sin to hereditary corruption. What he maintained was that th...

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