CALVINISM REVISITED: CRITICAL CORRECTIVES
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Much of the problem of Calvinism, is its mechanistic position, which fails to understand the nature of sin, its culpability, responsibility, and accountability.
Calvin represents the mediate imputation theory—a Federal Headship or Representational view—of the Doctrine of Original Sin.
Calvinism adopts a clear and unmistakable "connection between Adam’s sin and all persons of all times". Adam’s sin is not regarded as an individual act, but an act that is also ours—by default. Man is regarded as a sinner from conception (or certainly at birth) having a corrupted nature and sinful bias inherited from Adam. Sin is therefore treated as a commodity. Calvinism maintains a representational view, whereby Adam's sin and guilt is imputed to his posterity. This imputation is explained in the form of a "corrupt nature" – a term with which I wish to take strong exception (because it has no biblical basis) – which supposedly is the effect of Adam's sin and the cause of all human guilt, condemnation and death. Hence, all are condemned because they are born (thus inheriting natural corruption from Adam), and apparently not because they have personally sinned a causative sin. This position undermines a correct biblical call to personal repentance for one’s own sins.
What possible explanation is there for the concept that sin, and corruption, and guilt are able to be transmitted?
In truth, sin is active rebellion/disobedience, not a passive condition, or a transmitted disease.
The focus of the debate in the doctrine of original sin is on the joint issues of alien guilt and the justice of God. Consider these quotes:
‘Two questions demand answer, first, how we can be responsible for a depraved which we did not personally and consciously originate; and, secondly, how God can justly charge to our account the sin of the first father of the race’.
Strong 1907, 593.
‘I do not think the doctrine of the Fall can be used to show that it is “just”, in terms of retributive justice, to punish individuals for the faults of their remote ancestors.’
Lewis 1940, 58.
These are insurmountable questions for the Calvinistic system: alien guilt, and the justice of God.
The problem of alien guilt: “... the injustice of punishing a person for a sin in which he had no kind of participation" (Shedd 1980, 30). This is culpability by descent (or “condemnation by generation”—a mechanistic view).
How can God be considered just when He is deemed to have condemned all men of all time for one man's indiscretion? Is the individual man responsible for his own sin, or is he Condemned Already?
According to Calvin, man is guilty for Adam's guilt. However, this is still an alien guilt, and totally unacceptable from a biblical perspective. The Bible demands personal accountability.