Puritan Board Sophomore
The proofs cited for Q. 18 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism are "Rom. 5:12, 19; Rom. 5:10-20; Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14, 15; Matt. 15:19," in the FPCS "standard" edition of the Westminster Standards.Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called Original Sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
1. Some who have noted the apparent and obvious problem with the first two references (Rom. 5:12, 19; Rom. 5:10-20) have simply eliminated the first reference (Rom. 5:12, 19), such as in the online edition of the Shorter Catechism at the James Begg Society website, seemingly collapsing the former proof into the latter proof.
2. However, this ignores the purpose to which the Divines were citing those verses (namely, as proof of the first-mentioned aspect of original sin, the imputation of Adam's sin).
3. I have personally been convinced for several years that the proper citation should be "Rom. 3:10-20," rather than "Rom. 5:10-20." The merits of this solution are:
a. The Divines are no longer seen to be citing the same verses again, merely in a larger passage.
b. The citation now has explicit reference to the items contained in the answer. Although Rom. 5:10-20 does refer to human sin (particularly imputed sin), vs. 10, 11 make no mention of this, only of redemption by Christ. However, Rom. 3:10-20 has explicit and sole reference to human depravity (and so would be a proof, not of imputed sin, which is already covered by Rom. 5:12, 19, but of inherited sin, which is the next-mentioned aspect of original sin).
c. Based upon what was seen above, Rom. 5:10 would be a very unusual place to begin the citation, because it belongs to a different section of the chapter, dealing with a different subject; likewise, v. 20 would be a very unusual place to end the citation. However, Rom. 3:10 is a very natural place to begin the citation, and v. 20 is a very natural place to end the citation.
d. In the Larger Catechism, we find the following parallel to the Shorter Catechism:
Whereas the Shorter Catechism simply has one string of proofs to all of the statements found in Q. 18, the Larger Catechism in Q. 25 has three distinct statements to which three distinct lists of proof texts are cited. The phrase "the guilt of Adam's first sin" has Rom. 5:12, 19 cited to its proof. The phrase ending with "and that continually" cites "Rom. 3:10-19; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:6; Rom. 8:7, 8; Gen. 6:5" as proofs. The parallel between Rom. 3:10-20 cited in Shorter Catechism Q. 18, and Rom. 3:10-19 in Larger Catechism Q. 25, is very clear and plain. (This would also confirm that Rom. 3:10-20 is being cited in the Shorter Catechism to prove the statement "the corruption of his whole nature.")Q. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called Original Sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.
4. I therefore conclude that the Scripture proof for Q. 18 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism should read, "Rom. 3:10-20," and not "Rom. 5:10-20."
However, I don't have access to the Assembly's minutes, or any other original source documents that could confirm or refute this analysis.
1. Does anybody else agree with my analysis of the situation?
2. Does anybody have any such source documents which could confirm or refute this analysis?
[Edited on 4-3-2006 by Kaalvenist]