I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Federal and Natural Headship By Kevin T. Bauder

Most people balk when they are first confronted with the biblical teaching that all humans sinned in Adam. Their initial reflex seems to be, “How can God hold me accountable for something that Adam did?” This intuitive reaction to the doctrine of original sin is so consistent that it might just lead to the suspicion that most people are born Pelagians.

The two principal theories that attempt to answer this question are called federal headship and natural headship. To most people, the theories are hardly more comprehensible than the doctrine itself. Federal headship states that God sovereignly appointed Adam as the representative head of the human race, so that whatever obedience or disobedience Adam chose would be imputed to his posterity. Natural headship states that all of the human race was somehow in Adam, participating in his sin. Read more...


  1. What's worse is the OT contains no doctrine of original sin. And furthermore, Paul's own formulation of it in Romans 5 seems to only be talking about physical death. Paul, after all, never mentions hell even once in any of his epistles. His theory of the afterlife from Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15 seems to be: all believers will be resurrected, all unbelievers will cease to exist upon death. This is what he means by "the wages of sin is death," to die and stay dead. Without Jesus there would be no resurrection, and therefore to Paul, those who are outside of Christ will not be resurrected, they will cease to exist. This differs from the views of the Synoptists who mention hell and a general resurrection "of the just and unjust" fairly frequently. But why should we assume Paul who teaches justification by faith and not by works is working from the same afterlife views as Matthew who clearly involves works somewhere in the process of salvation? Matthew, Mark, and Luke who teach condemnation to hell, have no concept of original sin. Paul who teaches that unbelievers die and cease to exist does, a concept of original sin damning to literally death not to hell. The problem with the church's doctrine of original sin is it mixes Matthean worksist hell into faithonlyist Paul and becomes confusing. There is no hell in Paul and no original sin in the Synoptists. Keep everything in its own place, don't mix them ignorantly.

  2. Descriptive Grace, I appreciate you stopping by; however, please understand my actually posting your comment as a gratuitous rarity. I'm not real interested in sponsoring a lot of unargued, conjectural, and plainly heretical remarks, especially made by someone without the transparency of giving their actual name, but rather hide behind some ambiguous moniker. I must admit, these are some inviting taunts, ones which I would like to engage (if presently I had the time). However, I am not in the habit of having conversations with concepts, such as Descriptive Grace, but rather persons. So, if you are so insecure as to have to keep your name to yourself, then please treat your commentary the same. Thanks, Redemptive Grace.

  3. Well its not intended as a "taunt" and I don't expect a response or any debate; its just my own objective reading of the text.

  4. Mr. (or Ms.?) Grace, of course, you are just giving the text an objective, unbiased reading; and, of course, those who fail to appreciate your reading of the text are undoubtedly driven along by theological and traditional precommitments, of which you are completely free. Either you are not being honest with us or yourself, or both. Moreover, in response to the post, you contradict several points, sunder the unity of the NT, and deny a couple creedal doctrines of the Church. However, you then say you do not expect any debate. If this were true, then you would not have replied. Again, either you are not being honest, or you are understand your perspective to speak ex cathedra. You’ll have to forgive us if we are a bit incredulous.

  5. Mr. or Ms. Grace, I have a question, and maybe two, if you are still reading. Do you hold to the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture? That is, do you believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are of a dual authorship, inspired by the Holy Spirit through the various human writers? If so, do you believe that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13), can inspire logical contradictions?

    If your answer is, again, yes, then I must ask, why do you find it remarkable that theologians would deduce doctrines that contradict Scripture or anything else for that matter? If, rather, your answer to this question is no, then perhaps you should reconsider you own conclusions, deduced from your “objective” analysis of St. Paul and Jesus.

    Furthermore, if you do believe that God would either inspire contradictory texts and deliberately deceive his people or willingly allows his Word to his people to be inherently incoherent, then we must conclude that either God is deceptive or lacks the power and wisdom to reveal himself in a meaningful way. The point is your observations go well beyond scrimmages over hermeneutical method or even the doctrine of Scripture; it immediately impugns the nature and character of the living God.

    So, it is hard to take seriously anyone that is comfortable making the remarks you do here on a committed, creedal, confessional Christian’s blog and not expect a response or debate. May I suggest a modification to your moniker? How about Deceptive Grace, for that is what you’ve offered and what you are suggesting about God.