Archive for the ‘Human Nature’ Category

Why Did Adam Sin? Objections Answered

April 1, 2008

“Orthodox” has objected to my previous post (here) as follows:

You’re totally ignoring the issue.

Adam had a non-corrupt nature. But he defied that nature and sinned.

People today have a corrupt nature. But they can defy that nature and repent.

If you deny the latter, then you cannot wave away the theological problem of Adam and say he was “tempted”. If a person with a good nature can be tempted to sin, then a person with a corrupt nature can be tempted to repent.

You were pushing the line with that video that we are total slaves to cause and effect and our nature. But if that was the whole story, Adam with his good nature would not have sinned.

There are several answers that need to be given:

1) As to “totally ignoring the issue,” that hardly seems reasonable. In any event, since the objections are now being answered, even if they were ignored before, that particular criticism is moot.

2) Orthodox’s claim “Adam had a non-corrupt nature. But he defied that nature and sinned” doesn’t represent the matter well.

Adam had a nature that was not corrupt, yes. Nevertheless, as repeatedly pointed out and apparently overlooked by “Orthodox,” Adam had a fallible nature. Adam was acting within that nature (not in defiance of it) when he sinned and fell.

4) Orthodox’s argument from analogy (“People today have a corrupt nature. But they can defy that nature and repent.”), therefore, collapses. Furthermore, we have direct Scriptural evidence that Orthodox’s conclusion is incorrect.

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Luke 6:43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

5) Orthodox continued with the argument that, “If you deny the latter, then you cannot wave away the theological problem of Adam and say he was “tempted”.” Orthodox’s justification for this claim was that, “If a person with a good nature can be tempted to sin, then a person with a corrupt nature can be tempted to repent.” The “wave away” comment is just rhetoric. Adam in fact was tempted by the tempter, Satan, through the voice of the deceived Eve.

Orthodox’s justification is wrong for similar reasons to those already discussed above. Orthodox appears to have wrongly imagined a symmetry between Adam’s not corrupted nature and our corrupted nature.

If human nature had not been corrupted by the influence of the fall, the symmetry between temptation to sin and “temptation” to repentance might be fair. The problem is that human nature was corrupted. As a result, there is a lack of symmetry.

Adam was not constrained by his nature either to do good or ill. His nature permitted him to sin.

Our natures (prior to regeneration) are corrupt and constrain us (internally) to sin. In fact, our wills delight to sin, and sin (not righteousness) is appealing to us. Our natures do not permit us to do righteousness, because it is antithetical to us. We are not born neutral to God, but as His enemies.

This is not symmetrical to Adam’s condition. Adam was not created with a nature that was only capable of loving God. Instead, he was created with a nature that was capable of falling – of loving the creation above the Creator.

6) Orthodox’s final argument is this: “You were pushing the line with that video that we are total slaves to cause and effect and our nature. But if that was the whole story, Adam with his good nature would not have sinned.” “Slaves” again is rather rhetorical than substantive. Since all that is not God is subject to cause and effect, “slaves” is an inappropriately pejorative term. To say that the only choices are to be gods or to be slaves is rather akin to Satan’s delusion than to the reality of the matter.

Furthermore, Orthodox’s argument relies on the already-debunked theory that Adam’s nature was symmetrical to our fallen nature. It is not. However, rather than just repeat that an umpteenth time, perhaps it is easier to draw the lines of symmetry:

State 1 – Adam before the Fall
Posse Peccare – Able to Sin. Adam had a fallen nature that was capable of sinning.

State 2 – All men in Adam before Regeneration
Non Posse Non Peccare – Not Able Not to Sin. To phrase it more positively: unable to avoid sinning. As a result of Adam’s fall, all mankind descending from him naturally have a corrupt nature that hates God and loves sin. As a result of his nature, fallen man is unable to love what is good.

State 3 – Regenerate Men before Death
Posse Non Peccare – Able Not to Sin. As a result of regeneration, men are enabled to what is good in God’s sight, though men still have a war in their members. Thus, regenerate men still sin, but are able to do such things as repent and believe.

State 4 – The Elect in Glory
Non Posse Peccare – Not Able to Sin. As a result of glorification, the souls of believers (and later their bodies, if they die) are made perfect, so that they become naturally (i.e. as to their nature) unable to sin.

States 1 and 3 are roughly symmetrical and States 2 and 4 are roughly symmetrical.

Thanks be to God, who saves us by grace alone from the condemnation that we deserve,

-TurretinFan

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