It is important to have a response to both Christians and skeptics when asked about why God allows evil. In this post I want to provide a response to when a Christian asks you, “Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago?”

Short Answer: We suffer from Adam’s sin because we were intimately connected with Adam in the beginning.

God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of good and evil. They knew that what they were doing was wrong, and in turn, brought judgment upon the whole human race. “Although the words ‘original sin’ aren’t found together in Scripture, the doctrine is taught in many passages.”[1] We see this clearly in Romans 5:12. It says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” Much of the human evil that we see in the world is a result of the “original sin”. But why are we responsible for Adam’s rebellion?

Federal Headship

One view that shows why we are responsible is federal headship. This is the idea that Adam was the federal head. Like in other situations, the head represents its members. “Just as a country’s leader may declare war without poling that country’s individual citizens, so Adam, the federal head of the human race, chose to rebel against God, thus also making rebels of his race.”[2] God chose Adam to be this representative for us all and he chose to rebel. It is because of this rebellion that the human race now suffers.

Seminal Identity

Another view that explains our connection to Adam is seminal identity. This view holds to the fact that we “are really and naturally related to Adam by actually being seminally present in Adam when Adam sinned.”[3] All of humanity was present in “Adam’s loins” and is therefore guilty of the sin that he committed. Hebrews 7:9-10 points to this view when it says, “But we can say that when Abraham paid Melchizedek a tenth, then Levi also paid it. Levi was not yet born, but he already existed in his ancestor Abraham when Melchizedek met him.” Levi was not born, yet he existed in Abraham. In the same way, even though we were not yet born, we existed in Adam. We obviously don’t remember being present at that time, but since this view holds that we are seminally related; we are therefore guilty of the sin that Adam committed.

Traducianism

The last view that answers why we are guilty for Adam’s sin is Traducianism. “This view holds that not only were we present with Adam when he sinned, but as his natural generation, we inherited his fallen nature—all of it.”[4] Those that hold to traducianism say that our souls come from our ancestors. Since we received our souls from our parents and they received souls from their parents, you could continue back all the way to Adam. This shows that the entire human race is connected to Adam and is therefore responsible for his rebellious decision.

There is one thing in common no matter which of these views you think is correct; we are fallen beings and are responsible for sin. With the punishment of sin being death, it is even more important that Jesus, the second Adam, came to forgive us of that sin. We only need to trust in Him for this forgiveness to receive eternal life.

 

This is the first of ten blogs on why God allows evil. Each section will be posted weekly in the order they appear below. Come back next week for part two.

  1. Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago?
  2. Why does God let a child die?
  3. How might it be fair that God ordered the killing of Canaanite children?
  4. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  5. Why is eternal punishment fair?
  6. If conscious belief in Jesus is required for salvation, how is that fair to those who have never heard the gospel?
  7. Free will isn’t so valuable for God to permit so much suffering.
  8. What good is the suffering I endure?
  9. How will Heaven mitigate our suffering on earth?
  10. Why does God allow evil?

 

[1] Clay Jones, “Original Sin: Its Importance & Fairness,” Christian Research Institute, February 7, 2013, accessed December 7, 2015, http://www.equip.org/articles/original-sin-its-importance-and-fairness/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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