The Westminster Confession Of Faith. Section VI.3-4

“They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:16-17; Acts 17:26; Rom. 4:11, 23-25; 5:12, 15-19; I Cor. 15:21-22).” ‘They’, of course, are Adam and Eve, and ‘this sin’ is the so-called ‘original sin’, as per the previous sections (1-2). Here the fathers of the Confession were very specific as to why all people are sinners because of what transpired so long ago through our first parents. The ‘guilt’ of condemnation on all is via ‘imputation’. Paul makes clear that we actually sinned this original sin ourselves, through Adam our covenantal head (5:12). It is not  by pro-creation, otherwise there would be no grounds for our justification, because it comes by way of the imputation of our sin to him, and his righteous standing to us (Rom. 4:11, 23-25; 5:15-19). “And the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation (Gen. 5:3; Job14:4; 15:14; Ps. 51:5).”

The fathers added “by ordinary generation” to exclude Christ, who, because he was never included the Adamic or Creation ‘covenant of works’, did not have our first transgression imputed to him. Confusion in this matter also is the basis for the Roman Catholic conception of ‘the immaculate conception’.1 “From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite all good (Rom. 5:6; 7:18; 8:7; Col. 1:21), and wholly inclined to all evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Rom. 3:10-12), do proceed all actual transgressions (Mt. 15:19; Eph. 2:2-3; Js. 1:14-15).” The biblical truth of covenantal headship, as being central to both Adam and Christ, also leads to what was a point of contention among the fathers of the Confession, when it comes to the question of the corruption of our nature, namely, in how it is passed on to Adam’s posterity. In addition to the problem of doctrine of ‘the immaculate conception’ noted above, there are also a number of other problems with this view.2

First, it would require that this corruption would have to also pass via Eve, but the scriptures are clear that our state as sinners is due solely to our connection to our covenant head – Adam, and not Eve. Second, due to our connection to our new head, Christ, it must imply that the performance of any good, in contrast to our ‘actual sins’, would require that Jesus’ own righteous character would need to pass on to us as well, or that we perform them strictly in our own strength. See WSC #16, and WLC #22. “If God is sovereign, and if he has approved the principle of representation, then there is nothing immoral about representation and imputation.”3 With respect to Section IV, Clark adds, “this corruption pervades our whole nature. There is no part or function of man that is unaffected by sin.”4 This last point is also a reiteration of the doctrine of ‘total depravity’.

1. InChristian theology, theImmaculate Conception is the conception of the Virgin Mary free from original sin by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus. The Catholic Church teaches that God acted upon Mary in the first moment of her conception, keeping her “immaculate”.[1] Immaculate Conception is commonly confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, the latter being, rather, the doctrine of the Incarnation. While virtually all Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, it is principally Roman Catholics, along with various other Christian denominations, who believe in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Although the belief that Mary was sinless, or conceived without original sin, has been widely held since Late Antiquity, the doctrine was not dogmatically defined in the Catholic Church until 1854 when Pope Pius IX, declared ex cathedra, i.e., using papal infallibility, in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus,[2] the Immaculate Conception to be doctrine. The Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8; in many Catholic countries, it is a holy day of obligation or patronal feast, and in some a national public holiday.[3] (Wikipedia)

2. “The portrayal in WCF 6.3 of Adam and Eve as the dual source of human guilt reflects an older Christian tradition that emphasizes our participation in the effects of their sin by reason of our biological connection to the corrupt human nature of our first parents. Nonetheless, the description of both Adam and Eve as ‘a root of all mankind’ is comparatively unusual in English theology before and after 1646. George Walker offers the more common understanding of the phrase when he restricts this ‘root’ to Adam. See, e.g., Walker, ‘History of Creation as It Was Written by Moses’, pp. 197, 207, and Walker, ‘The Key of Saving Knowledge’ (London, 1641), p. 20, where he refers to Adam as the ‘common stock and root of mankind’, and Walker, ‘A Sermon Preached in London by a faithful Minister of Christ’ (London, 1642), p. 12, where he calls Adam the ‘common father and root of all mankind’. In the years following the assembly the most prominent person to note the assembly’s phrase in 6.3 was the Irish Bishop Jeremy Taylor, who catalogues it as a fault, and lists it within a larger condemnation of assembly doctrines. See Jeremy Taylor, Deus justificatus (London, 1656), pp. 29-30” Van Dixhoorn, (89).

3. Clark, (75)

4. (77 Cf. “Romans 5 is not the only section of the New Testament where the idea of imputation is found. The previous chapter is full of it. Verses 6, 8, 11, 24 all contain the same word in Greek. A concordance will show that the same word and the same idea is also found in II Timothy 4:16, II Cor. 5:19, Philemon 18, and elsewhere. Some of these references speak to the imputation of sin, some of the imputation of righteousness, some use the idea in relation to human obligations. But all exemplify the idea of imputation.” 74)

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