Response to an Arminian

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Puritan Board Junior
I am debating an Arminian on another discussion board concerning Romans 5:18.


"Romans 5:18 says, "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."

I will comment on the above verse.

This verse is talking about a parallel between Adam and Christ. Their actions resulted in two different things. Adam's sin results in condemnation to his posterity whereas Christ's one act of righteousness results in justification to God's elect. The "one transgression" is Adam's sin. "Condemnation" in this verse is God's pronouncement of that we are guilty. The "all men" in the first half of this verse means "all of Adam's descendants". The "one act of righteousness" is the obedience of Christ viewed as a single whole. "Justification" is the state of being declared righteous. The "all men" in the second half of this verse means "all of God's elect".

When Adam sinned, God counted Adam's sin as our sin and pronounced us to be guilty. How can it be fair for God to count Adam's sin as our sin and pronounce us to be guilty? God must have considered Adam to be our representative. Adam sinned on our behalf.

Just as Adam is our representative, Christ is our representative. Christ lived a perfect life. He obeyed God on our behalf. When a person becomes a Christian, God imputes Christ's righteousness to him and God declares him to be righteous. All those in Christ do not have a righteousness of their own. God counts them as righteous because they have the imputed righteousness of Christ."


"Let me preface my remarks by stating that if I find anyone that feels they have Romans all figured out, I wonder about them I sure have some questions for Paul. The passage you are referencing is a difficult one. There are several reasons why I do not personally find your conclusions valid. We both agree that there is a parallel being presented here between Adam and Christ. Their actions indeed resulted in two different accomplishments as you state. You state that "œAdam's sin results in condemnation to his posterity." Remember this is a parallel, an illustration between Adam and Christ. There are indeed similarities, and yet there are distinct dissimilarities. One is not just like the other, but one can be "œin a sense" compared to the other. I will agree with you that Adam´s sin did result in condemnation to his posterity as you concur with Scripture, but the question that is raised in the issue of original sin is not just that all have sinned, but rather tries to place into a dogmatic form the actual means by which that sinful transmission has became universal in it´s detrimental effects. I see the real question being raised by Paul here in Romans is not the "œmeans" of the transmission, the import of the doctrine of original sin would try to import, but rather simply the fact that as a result of Adam´s sin, sin has became a universal fact and due to the fact that all have sinned, condemnation has came to all. This verse does not speak again to the means by which this condemnation has came upon all men, but is strictly presenting the fact that condemnation has came upon all men. By Adam´s sin, God initiated the detrimental effects of physical depravity. We being the physical descendants of Adam´s due inherit this condemnation in a physical sense, and by this influence of unnatural physical propensities and the evil effects of example, all men have followed in Adam´s sinful footsteps and have sinned and became willing accomplices in sin. Again, "œin a sense" we are sinners as a result of Adam´s sin, but only "œin a sense." The actual guilt of sin comes only as we yield our wills I voluntary obedience to Adam´s bad example and in accordance to our depraved sensibilities. Scripture is clear. All men have not sinned in the same similitude as did Adam. The notion of original sin supposes that we are guilty of Adam´s sin, and to me would indicate that we have sinned in Adam. Ro 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." To me, this clears up the notion. It specifically states that we do not sin necessarily as did Adam, but maintains that we all sin. Again, the emphasis is not on the "œmeans" by which sin is transmitted (which original sin directly implies) or even that it is or could be directly transferred from generation to generation, but simply on the fact that we all sin and that we all come into condemnation.

I agree with you that the "œall" in the first half of verse 18 means "œall of Adam's descendants."

The "one act of righteousness" is the obedience of Christ viewed as a single whole. "Justification" is the state of being declared righteous. The "all men" in the second half of this verse means "all of God's elect".

I do not see this verse as saying anything about "œone act of righteousness." "œThe righteousness of one" is not speaking of a single act but rather of the complete life of Christ. As to limiting this free gift being sufficient for all, and applying it to only the elect, is clearly and simply unsubstantiated. I see the only reasonable interpretation of this verse to imply that the free gift came upon every man, i.e., the free gift is sufficient for all men. The wording of "œcame upon" is difficult at best. If we take the interpretation you suggest that the "œall men" is simply limited to the elect, we have the problem of eliminating the "œpossibility" of any other than the elect having the possibility to be saved, which can end no where but the elected damnation of those not in your "œall" to eternal damnation, an unfounded notion in Scripture. If the possibility does not exist for an atonement being sufficient for all men, and the atonement only being for the elect, it is also impossible to conceive that God could desire for all to come to repentance as Scripture clearly states He does. "œ2Pe 3:9 ¶ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." God cannot will for all to receive of an atonement that is only sufficient for the elect. God can will for all to come to repentance if the atonement is sufficient for all but all will not come. I see your position as also presenting God´s commandment commanding "œall men everywhere to repent" as not only an impossibility but also as being absurd. Commanding men to repent that are not of the elect? When you eliminate possibilities as you do here, you cannot avoid great and obvious error, as well as absurdity and injustice via predestination of the damned.
In conclusion and re-examination, I see two problems with your interpretation of these verses. 1. You read into these verses the "œmeans" by which sin is passed upon all men, i.e. original sin. There is no support for this notion in this verse. It simply states that the offense of one is involved in the condemnation of all, but does not place the means of the involvement as "œoriginal sin" or anything by, or not by, "œnatural generation." 2. You limit the "œpossibility" of the free gift coming upon all men as the text clearly states is the case. You fail to see "œsufficiency for all" and in its place add notions of "œfor only the elect." You have provided no logic or reasonable explanation of your changing the words "œall men" into "œonly the elect." "

How would you respond?

[Edited on 3-12-2004 by cih1355]


Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member

You would have no reason to know, but the Puritan Board is not going to encourage this kind of cross-Board posting and interaction. I am working (hopefully by tonight) on additional guidelines/rules for the Board prohibiting this kind of thing.

Feel free to ask general questions, but the PB is not intended to be a "debate" resource. :judge:
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