Posted by: William | February 9, 2008

Federal Sinner

I’m currently reading R.C. Sproul’s Chosen By God. So far, I’m really loving the book. It’s essentially an appeal for a reformed view of predestination and his arguments are both compelling and painfully logical. I’m not really interested right now in arguing predestination; rather, Sproul puts forth a question that I suppose must loom silently in the back of all of our minds. He is discussing the topic of original sin and the question of how I can be held accountable for one man’s sin thousands of years ago. How can I be born guilty?

I must admit, I’m not sure I ever thought about it before, but just accepted it as valid. While I believe what the bible says, I think there’s many times when we can ask ‘why’ questions in light of biblical teaching and find very faith encouraging answers. That’s exactly where I find myself here with this question. I know that the bible teaches that we’re born guilty, but what’s the answer to the why question?

Sproul puts forth a convincing argument for “The Federal” view of the fall of man. Essentially, that Adam was a representative for all mankind and when he sinned, his sin was a thorough and valid representation of all mankind’s failure. My initial reaction to this suggestion was kind of a recoil; something along the lines of, “but I didn’t get to choose him to represent me, what if I would have done things differently there in the garden?!” That statement is filled, pretty much to the brim, with pride.

In fact, it’s quite a good thing that I didn’t choose my representative in the garden. While the outcome, sin, would be the same, God’s choice of Adam was the best choice. Everything God does is perfect and good, and so in his choosing Adam for me, he chose perfectly. Had I made the choice, the sin committed probably would have been much bloodier or grosser.

What do I do with this information? Well for one, I think it’s humbling. I can’t and shouldn’t say things like, “what were they thinking!?” when I read Genesis, because I would have been thinking the same thing. I think in addition it also calls me to look to Christ for everything, because from the beginning I’ve been able to do nothing inerrantly.

Jesus, I pray for humility as I seek your word. Jesus, I pray for humility in your church as we learn together how to seek you. Jesus, I pray that you would give us a sober understanding of our fall as mankind and a humble longing for your grace and mercy. Sanctify us, God!



  1. Very good treatment of this delicate subject. Different churches have different takes on this issue but I think Sproul nails it with Adam is our rep. And I have to humbly admit he represented us very faithfully, although that was probably not his intent.

  2. […] Did you like this brief introduction? Find out about it in full detail here. […]

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