Forgot to push the button on this last night. I recently had a good exchange with a Naked Bible reader via email and wanted to share my thoughts on the notion of how “corporate solidarity” (CS) fails to answer my objections to the traditional view of Romans 5:12.
The idea of CS is that the Semitic culture included the idea of a group being identified with one person. Hence Adam’s guilt is “absorbed” or transferred to the corporate whole of humanity — the point being that Semitic culture would have seen Romans 5:12 that way. Jesus is exempt from this since his relationship is to the Father, as God.
This is really the basis for the federal headship view, which I commented on very early in this topic. It sounds like it can work, until you get to Jesus and the incarnation.
The reason this doesn’t work is that there needs to be an ontological relationship between Jesus and humanity, not ONLY the father, or the incarnation is damaged. The point of Romans 5 (in either view) is that what Adam did affects all humans, since all humans extend from Adam biologically. Every “Adam species” being is affected by what Adam did since they are “Adam species” beings as well. No other species inherits moral guilt (but is affected other ways). So, if Adam passed on moral guilt, to whom did he pass it? Humans, of course. There is thus “corporate solidarity” between Adam and all humans. But why remove Jesus from this solidarity, arguing only solidarity with the Father? On what biblical basis can this be done? The incarnation forbids this, because there must be true humanity with respect to Jesus.
Put another way, this view establishes “corporate solidarity” with only ONE side of the incarnation. My view establishes it with BOTH. We cannot divorce Jesus from solidarity with humanity. That invites the question, how can he then redeem humanity if his solidarity relationship is ONLY with the Father? Well, you could just say he can do it because he’s God. Yep, you can. But then what was the point of the incarnation?
All of this bypasses the issue (again). Jesus was 100% human, but somehow people feel they are allowed to remove him from solidarity with the first man, from whom extends solidarity with all other humans. What I’d need to be at all moved by this argument is some place in Scripture that creates a divide between the incarnate deity-human and other humans. I say Jesus was MORE than human, but that doesn’t exempt him from being truly human and sharing human solidarity with Adam. It is another thing altogether to have Jesus be human in every way but then exempt from solidarity with Adam. It makes no sense.
My view establishes solidarity with BOTH sides of the incarnation; the traditional view does not. I think that is a terrible deficiency (but I wouldn’t call it heresy).
Next post on this topic: the universalism issue in Romans 5 from my perspective
I share this view, but a question; could Jesus share solidarity with Adam before Adam sinned and not necessarily after ? Or since Jesus came to the earth after Adam sinned he must therefore share solidarity with the present human state ?
Given my view of Romans 5:12, Jesus shares solidarity with Adam in that he was human and could die (i.e., he was incarnated in a mortal body with all its imperfections and “non-deity-ness”). Adam was human before he fell, and was human after he fell. Jesus was also God, so he never sinned — and so he had that advantage over Adam (and everyone else).
The reason I ask this is because someone who adheres to inherent guilt might think of Jesus as a human in the sense of Adam before he fell (with no inherent guilt) . Would that mean that Jesus does not have corporate solidarity Adam ? I would say no , since the inherent guilt is now a part of human nature something Jesus doesn’t share . This is another reason I don’t like the inherited guilt theology it separates humanity as though we were “more” human before than now (as though Adam before the fall was an “other” human species) .
That’s a problem for those who want to insert guilt into Romans 5:12.
I always understood the inherent corporate guilt’s penalty as death- which Jesus did suffer. But his power over the grave opened up Hades and released the believers there to enter the kingdom and believer’s after the resurrection to be “present with the Lord” while those who did not believe stayed or ended up in Hades waiting for the second death.
Wouldn’t this satisfy the corporate guilt’s penalty of death without requiring a deficiency on the part of Christ?
I’m not sure I understand the question – why is there a deficiency on the part of Christ if someone is guilty?
it’s been a while so i may have lost my own train of though there but…. you said “What I’d need to be at all moved by this argument is some place in Scripture that creates a divide between the incarnate deity-human and other humans.”
I think what i was tracking on was the divide is is the virgin birth. That we all inherit the sin of Adam and face the corporate punishment of death. Jesus bing born of a virgin and not inheriting this punishment through his Father, would take the punishment on for us, corporately. Paying the price of death he did not deserve as he didn’t inherit it.
I guess my question is what role does the virgin birth play in this scenario? It seems important to inherent and corporate guilt in some way to me. It would seem that the virgin birth does in some ways create a divid between Jesus and the rest of humanity in a legal regard in light of how property, guilt and other legal aspects of life in the ancient world and old testament viewed the father son relationship especially in regard to the first born.
I don’t think it plays any role, as (1) no verse teaches is that the sin nature descends from the male; (2) Mary was a sinner and had human parents — including a dad! — and so why would Jesus be “insulated” if he was born from a woman (and he was — he must be physically related to Mary and not just plopped into her womb by God because of Rom 1:3 – “according to the flesh”).
As my blog series on Romans 5:12 makes clear, I don’t think Rom 5:12 or any other verse teaches that humans inherit guilt from Adam. We inherit mortality (because we are humans we aren’t glorified members of God’s family and we will die). We are estranged from God because we all (if allowed to live, and if possessing true volitional ability) will invariably sin. No human “cannot not” sin. Mary was no exception. She was a sinner. The Catholic Church saw this issue clearly and so invented the idea of Mary’s own sinlessness, making sure Jesus was off the hook totally.
makes sense. this might be a tangent but what is the significance of the virgin birth? I always associated it with inheritance laws regarding property and debts of any kind and it served as some kind of legal matter. Is that completely unrelated? Why did he have to be born of a virgin?
I’ve been spending time reading this article and i really enjoyed it.
a)Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
This is my view here: i actually agree with Michael. But something that we are not considering here is the word SIN. A simple definition we can give to sin in the “disobedience to God commandments”. Added to the verse, it becomes:
b)Therefore, just as “disobedience” entered the world through one man, and death through “disobedience”, and in this way death came to all people, because all have disobeyed.
It’s also important to note that the verb “to have” here can be both action and state verb. In some translation (NASB) it says: “… because all sinned.” Note that the verb is no used here. I’ll go for action since the tense used requires that.
I’ll argue (on top of what Michael already said) that Adam transmitted to us the ability to SIN or disobey GOD. Since Paul is not speaking directly in the time of Adam, i can say that the “all have sinned” refer to the generation that passed befor/after Jesus Christ. Therefor, The inheritance we got from Adam, is not SIN, but death (b) in this case. And SIN then becomes a choise (disobedience) just as it was originally.