Part Four – Anthropology.
1. Man’s Creation.
a. Preliminary Considerations.
i. The fundamental difference between humans and angels, as Shedd states, is that “God created man male and female.” This implies that man is “incomplete if in isolation from one another.” However, angels are “sexless” which means that although they have been created with “reasonable and immortal souls” like man, they are not man or woman and are therefore, infinitely more complete than man.
1. This means that we must live at one with our alter-gender counterparts and consider each other equally as important. We are only whole humans when we embrace both men and women as equal partners: creating new life between us.
ii. The main, fundamental difference between man and lower animals is that there is no evidence that animals are aware of their own mortality. Whereas, man is aware of this from a relatively young age and lives his life accordingly. This higher level of consciousness means that we, as men, are able to enjoy our lives and make the most of our time, but animals are unable to do this.
1. In real life, it is important to recognise the beauty of our consciousness. We must make the most of our knowledge and enjoy our life. Our time is short and so we must enjoy it.
b. General Approaches to the Doctrine of Original Sin.
i. The approach to Original Sin taken by intellectuals such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung is the approach that makes the most sense as it has surreptitiously become a part of our everyday consciousness. It focuses more on being ‘good’ than inheriting sin and as such, it means that human beings can still be good Christians without being staunch zealots. Original Sin is considered an unfair idea and we are all born as individuals: pure and good of heart and able to live our lives as we see fit.
1. It is important to recognise that we must live moral lives to reconcile our sinful debt from birth. A Christian life must exist with an understanding of Original Sin. In doing this, we endeavour to redeem ourselves.
c. Scriptural Support for Traducianism.
i. The most important scripture for the existence of the trudacian argument is the story of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. The trudacian argument follows that after Adam committed the original sin, we as human being inherit that sin and there the simple act of being human means that we are sinning. The scripture follows that Adam commits the sin and is cast out of the Garden of Eden by God and therefore dooming the rest of humanity to share his fate.
1. Our inheritance of Adam’s sin must mean that we go through life with this in mind. We must endeavour to alleviate his sin and restore God’s faith in humanity. To do this, we must live a good, moral life.
d. Theological Arguments for Traducianism.
i. Shedd states that the theological argument for trudacianism is as follows: “The Augustanian and Calivinistic anthropologies affirm that the act by which sin came into the world of mankind was a self-determined and guilty act…” This means that trudacianism’s discussion of human beings inheriting sin, is deserved because Adam’s original decision was well-aware of the bad behaviour he was about to commit to. Which, in turn, means that human beings are fundamentally flawed, and they must acknowledge this fact before they can live a life free from sin.
1. By acknowledging that we are fundamentally flawed, we must endeavour to improve ourselves. We must do this through living a good, Christian life. In doing so, we help to improve the status of the human race.
e. Physiological Arguments for Traducianism.
i. Shedd states the physiological argument for traducianism as being: “A species or a speciﬁc nature is that primitive invisible substance or plastic principle which God created from nonentity, as the rudimentary matter of which all the individuals of the species are to be composed.” This means that human beings are all made from the same mould and the same materials and as such, as are all accountable for Adam’s original sin.
1. Human beings must accept this fact and attempt to live their life as without sin as possible. If we accept that we are intrinsically flawed, we can accept that we’ll never be perfect.
2. Man’s Primitive State.
a. Preliminary Considerations.
i. The term ‘con-created holiness’ refers to the idea that when God created Adam, he created him to behave in an intrinsically holy way. This means that, since we are all created in the same way as Adam, we are born to believe in and behave in an accordingly holy manner.
1. This idea implies that, as humans, we do not have a choice in our behaviour and that we all strive to be good, Christian people. However, we do have a choice in our behaviour as discussed later on. That said, it is important that we try to live Christian lives.
ii. Con-created holiness relates to Augustinianism through its being integral to that theory: “Con-created holiness is one of the distinguishing tenets of Augustinianism.” Whereas to Pelagianists, the concept of con-created holiness is totally dismissed as they feel that “the will of man is… characterless.” Semi-Pelagianism states much the same but also theorises that holiness, like sin, has to be originated by the individual.
1. The combination of all three of these things can result in a successful Christianity-based existence. It is important to recognise that as human beings, we do make our own choices. However, we must also accept our intrinsic holiness in that procedure.
b. Two Phases of Holiness: Knowledge and Inclination.
i. Knowledge relates to holiness and sin through its connection to God: “[Knowledge] was conscious and spiritual, in distinction from speculative.” This means that through knowledge, we are all connected to God through facts rather than opinion and interpretation.
1. Therefore, human beings must endeavour to live their lives by God’s rules as they are equipped with the knowledge of his Lordship to do so.
ii. Shedd discusses inclination in conjunction with “moral disposition” of man too and states that, “[these things] with which man was created, consisted in the perfect harmony of his will with the Divine Law.” This means that in order to enable human beings to be capable of holiness and also, sin, God created man with an inclination to respond to either depending on his moral disposition.
1. This means that man is capable of choosing a holy path or a sinful one, depending on his inclination and morals. In a practical, Christian life, the individual should choose the path of morals. However, this is not always the case and some individuals choose sin.
c. Voluntariness as Self-Determination.
i. Shedd discusses ‘freedom of will’ by first stating that God creates free will in man. This suggests that man is born with a holy bias already in place. He states that “freedom of the will is its self-motion” and that “that which is not forced to move is free.” This in turn means that if man chooses to follow God’s teachings then he does so on his own motivation and should, therefore, take more responsibility for his own choice of action. Shedd seems to view God as being a catalyst for holiness, rather than the initial cause.
1. We must recognise our own role within Christianity. That is that we make our own decisions, albeit ones that are based on our own belief system.
ii. Shedd argues that self-determination is enough to constitute ‘voluntariness’ and as such, the decisions we make are never contrary to that. However, Shedd also states that Adam was not given the ability to self-determine his ability to sin as there was no need for this and so therefore, our ability to sin is a determined action which we voluntarily choose to undertake.
1. This means that we must attempt to live our lives through making the correct, holy decision. Our ability to sin is as intrinsic as our ability to be holy and so, our decision to sin is entirely our own.
iii. Shedd states that “Indifference is the exact contrary of inclination or self-determination.” He goes on to argue that Augustinian theory states that “the essence of voluntariness is self-determination merely and only.” This means that to voluntarily live in a holy manner, you must do it solely through your own self-determination rather than in an attempt to appease anyone else. Pelagian theory discusses the idea that the essence of voluntariness exists through a power of will in the fact of indetermination and indifference.
1. This means that human beings will often lean in one direction of choice, even when uncertain about their opinion. Even in the face of religious choice, human beings will tend to have made their mind up before examining all of the facts.
d. Refutation of the Theory that Freedom Consists in Indetermination or Indifference.
i. A major argument against the idea that freedom exists in indetermination and indifference is that when given two contrary choices, there is no obvious free will of choice: “The power of choosing either one of two contrary ways implies that as yet there is no action of will at all.” This means that despite being given the choice between two opposing options, man is still not given enough choice to determine his own fate.
1. Ultimately, our ability to make our own choices is defined by the choice between the holy and the sinful. We must make the decision that is best for us and our loved ones whilst still attempting to maintain our religious priniples.
ii. The weakest argument concerning the existence of freedom within indetermination and indifference is that it is “never found in actual existence.” This is simply not true: man frequently has very little opinion concerning certain subjects and when made to choose between two alternatives, man will regularly choose the option which poses the least stress or upset. For example, in everyday life: the choice between having a ham or tuna sandwich is often met with a level of indifference but is resolved by which ever choice is in the cupboard.
1. Often in life, we are caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’, meaning that there are two impossible choices and neither are particular appealing. However, sometimes it is necessary to make the decision that is best for everyone involved.
3. Human Will.
a. Definition of the Will.
i. Shedd states that human ‘understanding’ is one half of the power of the soul and that it includes moral affections and desires in the Will. This faculty of the soul was affected by the fall of man through a slight vitriol of our understanding. After the fall, we were no longer in direct contact with God and could never, therefore, fully understand his desires or our own.
1. Our desire to understand the world and ourselves is sometimes destructive in terms of our holy selves. It is important to remember that we need to re-connect with God as best as possible and to do that, we must make the right, holy decisions.
ii. The ‘Will’ of man, as a faculty of the soul, refers to the concept of Original Sin and is often divided into sub-concepts of intellect, sensibility and understanding, and “volition is the principal characteristic.” This means that the ‘Will’ refers to man’s ability to make a choice is intact because of their soul’s will and as such, these choices are subject to the individual’s intellect, sensibility and understanding, meaning that their ability to choose wisely is determined by their knowledge.
1. The complication is that man’s desire for more knowledge is what originally detracted from his relationship with God. However, the more knowledge we have, the more likely we are to make informed decisions. This is a fine balance which needs to be struck in day to day life.
iii. ‘Mutability’ refers to the ability to mutate or change, and in discussing the soul, it refers explicitly to the changeable nature of human beings. As a direct result of mutability, our understanding can remain the same but our will may change: for example, if we understand what we must do to be considered a ‘good’ person then that remains, but our will may alter to better fit in with our desires and as a consequence, we are led to making bad choices.
1. Whilst we are changeable as a species, we must try to maintain our faith and belief system in the face of adversity. If we change, it must be for the positive and our decisions should reflect this.
b. Inclination vs. Volition
i. ‘Inclination’ refers directly to the human inclination towards one thing: in other words, their immediate preference of one thing over another. Shedd states: “The inclination of the Will is a leading act of the Will.” This means that our choice to act on a desire comes from an impulsive inclination towards one choice. In everyday life, we must be wise about following our inclinations to ensure that they are always for the best.
1. In a day to day existence, we must strive to try and only follow our inclinations that will lead to fuller, more holy lives. However, our inclination towards sin is a problem and should be acknowledged as not being a failure if we give in. If this does happen, we must endeavour to improve upon this.
ii. ‘Volition’, on the other hand, is a more conscious choice making process which, in contrast to inclination, allows the individual to consider their options more objectively. Inclination is a more innate choice whereas volition allows the individual to consider their options and choose wisely.
1. This ties into knowledge and is a good reason for trying to acquire more knowledge. Understanding is key to making a good decision.
iii. Shedd discusses ‘inclination’ and ‘volition’ in terms of sin and grace by first indicating that “The love of happiness, strengthened by volition, becomes selfishness” and so, volition is an agent of sin. However, inclination must therefore be directly linked to grace as if, as stated previously, we are born with an innate holiness then our natural inclination must be towards the action that leads to grace.
1. If volition is an agent of sin then it is important that we attempt to follow our inclination instead. This is not always a possibility but it is important to try, in any circumstances possible.
4. Man’s Probation and Apostasy.
a. Adam and Eve as Mutably Holy by Creation.
i. The fundamental difference between Adam and those in Heaven is that his ability to sin is potent as opposed to those in Heaven who are kept from falling by the Holy Spirit. Shedd states that “Adam was holy by creation” but that he was subject to potential mutability. Adam was not created like those in heaven whose grace is unwavering whereas Adam “might lose the righteousness by which he was created.”
1. This means that as people, we are potentially able to sin even when under guidance of God. On a daily basis, we must endeavour to make the right decision, even in the face of possibly sinning. This is not always practical but under all circumstances, we must attempt to not sin.
b. Nature of the First Sin.
i. The nature of the first sin was different from other sins “in respect to the statute [between God and man] broken by it.” The first sin is also considered as being “wanton and wilful” because of its being committed in a circumstance where it should have been easy to not commit it: under God’s watchful eye. However, this does not mean that sins committed since are less sinful for any reason: the example was set by Adam and it is our choice, on a daily basis, as to whether we follow that example or not.
1. Although Adam chose to be persuaded to sin, we cannot use that as an excuse for our own sinful choices. We must attempt to reconvene with God through our regular choices to not sin.
c. Death as the Consequence of the First Sin.
i. Shedd’s strongest argument as to why Adam was immortal before his fall from grace, is the threat of death in Genesis 2:17 which indicates that previously, death may not have been a liability: “No sin, then no death.” This suggests that Adam’s death was only palpable when being handed to him by the almighty power of God himself, and that otherwise, Adam was immortal.
1. Adam’s sin led to human kind being confined to mortal deaths. Whilst this is unlikely to ever be reverted, it demonstrates our need to live holy lives so that our afterlife is heavenly.
d. Cause of the First Sin
i. The idea of ‘deception’ played a part in the first sin because human beings were created as being “capable of being deceived by an apparent good.” Although neither Adam or Eve were born with a desire to possess the knowledge of the Gods, they were born with a huge amount of knowledge and holiness and as such, the concept of knowing even more would be an attractive offer to a creature who already knew a lot. Therefore, deception was used to instil a desire into Adam and Eve which was then used to deceive them into sinning.
1. We must be aware of attempted deceptions. Life is filled with attempted deceptions and deceivers and we must use our wisdom to avoid these and make decisions that are true to ourselves. Deception that leads to sin must be avoided.
5. Original Sin.
a. Adam’s Sin as Twofold: Internal and External.
i. The original sin consisted of two parts: the internal and the external. The internal was “the originating and the starting of a wrong inclination”, whereas the external aspect was “the exertion of a wrong volition prompted by the wrong inclination.” This distinction is helpful for understanding sin because it demonstrates how the two aspects work in conjunction to induce a sinful act.
1. To avoid sin happening at all, we must endeavour to be aware of potential originating sin. If we miss this initial symptom, we must attempt to avoid letting it progress to an actual sinful act. Ultimately, we do always have a choice.
ii. With regard to the internal part of Adam’s sin, the terms ‘voluntary’ and ‘volitionary’ are distinguished by its definition as being voluntary. Adam acted out of inclination rather than choice: “It was will as desire, not will as volition.” This implies that sin is often born out on an innate desire for something such as knowledge and love.
1. As human beings, we often desire things we don’t have. Our desire to attain these things will often cause us to behave in certain ways and carry out certain acts. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as it doesn’t become sinful: if we are meant to have those things, we will find them in natural due course.
iii. Shedd defines ‘concupiscence’ as having a preference for you over God: “To desire what God has forbidden is to prefer self to God, and this is sin.” This is different from natural desires because natural desires are in-built prerequisites from God’s original plan for human beings. Any other desires are different from those desired for us by God and are, therefore, a sin.
1. Desiring things which are considered sinful by God is a sin in itself. We must attempt to desire things which are natural rather than immoral. This can only lead to a happier, holier life.
b. Imputation of Adamic Guilt.
i. With regard to the imputation of sin, the indivisibility of guilt is important because Adam’s sin is shared in by every person who lives. This is important because it means that the act of sin is not being placed on the shoulders of one individual and in turn, we all experience the guilt and it teaches us to feel averted to sin. However, the same is applied for the indivisibility of merit following Christ’s sacrifice: we all bask in his sacrificial merit. As Christians, it is important that we recognise our sin and attempt to live our lives to redeem ourselves accordingly.
1. By sharing in Adam’s guilt, it unifies Christians everywhere. Because of this union, it is important to act accordingly suitably so as to be a friend to every other Christian. Because we share in Adam’s guilt, we must all support one another.
ii. The idea of union is important to the doctrine of impunity because “Adam and his posterity were a union when the first sin was committed, but Adam and the fallen angels were not.” This means that only those who have faith are a part of that union and share in that guilt and merit, whereas those who do not (i.e. the fallen angels) do not.
1. By sharing in Adam’s guilt, it means that we are God’s children and are allowed into the kingdom of Heaven. In order to maintain this status, we must behave with Christian morals and attitude.
c. Original Sin as a Corruption of Nature.
i. The theory of mediate imputation states that all men are born into poverty and therefore create a need for sin in order to prosper. Shedd feels that the theory of mediate imputation is illogical because “The Divine Government does not punish the children of vicious parents for their inherited poverty and disease.” This means that it is not the child’s fault if their parents’ inadequacies are bestowed upon them from birth and that Heaven recognises this.
1. Whether we are born into poverty or wealth, it is unimportant in God’s eyes. We must all behave as equals and further God’s message of love, regardless of our background. If our parents are un-Christian then we must help them see the error of their ways.
ii. Original Sin affects our understanding by altering our perception of what is ‘natural.’ It is not fair to call anything of a natural essence to be a sin and so, original sin introduced the idea of acquiring un-natural things and therefore our innate desires for natural things is confused. This must be kept in mind when going about our lives: do we desire natural things such as love or do we desire superficial things which lead to sin, like money?
1. When we assess our desires and decide which action to take, we must remember Adam’s decision. It is important to ask ourselves whether we need the item or just want it. Invariably, if we don’t need it then it is not a natural desire and is, therefore, a sin.
d. Corruption of Nature as Guilt.
i. Shedd states that Original Sin is a corruption of nature in the sense of guilt: “Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God doth in its own nature bring guilt upon the sinner.” He explains this by saying that the sinner does experience the wrath of God and is “made subject to death, temporal and eternal.” This means that the in-built guilt of the Original Sin is re-emphasised to those who sin again as they are threatened with death, much like Adam was following the first sin.
1. When going about our lives, we must ensure that our decisions are not sinful. Throughout our lives, we must make the best of our choices and try to choose the option that does not lead to sin. If we don’t, we will suffer the wrath of God.
ii. Shedd’s weakest argument with regard to the corruption of nature being guilt is that the tenth commandment forbids “evil desire.” The commandments, whilst good rules for living your life by, were conveyed by God although there is no real proof of this event, other than the story in the Bible. Therefore, this does not prove the existence of such a heavenly law and nor does it define why it means that the corruption of nature is sin.
1. Whilst this is Shedd’s weakest argument, the Ten Commandments must be followed as a basic guide to God’s rules for us. Evil desire is that which is un-natural, and so by only desiring that which is natural, we are able to avoid breaking this commandment.
e. Original Sin and Moral Inability
i. The term ‘moral inability’ refers to the issue of being unable to be spiritual, holy and religious. “This does not imply that fallen man is unable to be moral.” This means that whilst some are unable to believe in God and religion, it does not mean that they are a bad, immoral person and can, still, live a good and moral life.
1. Ultimately, God wants us to live fairly and to treat each other equally. If one individual does not feel the need to worship God directly but still lives a life of morals and goodness, then they are to be treated as an equal. People are good, regardless of their faith, beliefs or lifestyle.
ii. Shedd discusses the idea of ‘ability’ as being: “the faculty of will without the power to change its disposition.” In other words, the ability to believe in God is in-built and therefore is unable to be changed. He clarifies that ‘capability’ refers to the potential to do something, rather than the actual act of carrying it out: “[Capability] refers to possibility only.”
1. We all have the capability to love God but whether we exercise that ability or not is up to us and our will. We must recognise our potential ability in life to be able to realise it. This is never more relevant than when approaching life and our love for God.
iii. Shedd discusses the terms ‘moral necessity’ and ‘habitus’ in terms of moral inability by stating: “necessity in the moral character of the volitions which arises from a habitus of the will.” This means that if someone is naturally moral, then they will be moral without trying to be: their habitus is holy and therefore they are innately holy themselves. This means that in relation to moral inability, these terms clarify that if a person is morally unable, then that is their natural predisposition.
1. God loves all of us as individuals. If we are morally unable to love God in return, it does not mean that we are unable to live a moral life anyway. We are all made in his image and as such, we are all his children; our habitus allows us to be as such without trying.
iv. The derivation of nature of the finite holiness provides the strongest grounds for moral inability. This is because it seems to have the most human grounding: “man cannot be the author of his own intellectuality.” The recognition that man is given materials to work with and cannot be blamed if they aren’t strong, is key to understanding God’s love for us all, regardless of color, race and creed.
1. Whether we consider ourselves to be too intelligent or even unintelligent to love God or think of ourselves as being worthy of his love, we are created as individuals. We have no control over who we are and what cards we are dealt. We must just make the best of what we have.
f. Moral Inability and Moral Obligation
i. Shedd discusses the ideas of ‘moral inability’ and ‘moral obligation’ as being coherent and compatible ideas through the central idea that: “Moral obligation rested upon the union and combination of the so-called ‘natural ability’ with the ‘moral’.” This means that moral obligation relies upon the individual’s natural ability towards the moral to feel any sense of obligation in the first place.
1. If we are morally able then our natural sense of moral obligation will be synonymous with our everyday lives. If it is not and we are morally unable, this won’t be the case. Therefore, in everyday life, we must ensure that we try to help those who are less able than ourselves.
ii. However, Shedd contradicts this view by offering the, frankly, weak argument of: “If he destroys his ability, he does not destroy his obligation.” This is weak because if we require moral ability to be naturally predisposed to feeling any moral obligation, then surely our destruction of such ability will also destroy the innate obligation that comes with it. Shedd needs to clarify this point.
1. In being given the gift of natural moral ability, we must nurture it to ensure that our moral obligation also stays intact. As God’s children, we must help those with less ability than ourselves. The world is full of morally incapable people and as such, we must endeavour to help them make the right choices.
Shedd, W.G.T., Dogmatic Theology. 3rd edition, Grand Rapids: P&R Publishers, 2004. Print.