The Gospel of the New Adam

The fifth chapter of Romans is one passage which I have wrestled with time and time again for the past two months.  In this chapter, Paul begins a discussion on justification, which is not the troubling aspect for me. It’s when the discussion turns towards drawing comparisons between Adam and Christ, with Adam bringing sin and death into the word (and would spread through all humanity) and Jesus bringing grace and new life through justification for all people. Listen to some of the words of the apostle Paul:

If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To me at least, Paul seems to be straddling the line of an all-inclusive gospel. Just as people cannot choose whether they are affected by total depravity or original sin, people cannot choose whether or not this new grace has been extended to them or not. Verses 17-18 scream that the gospel and good news of Jesus brings all into this justification. No profession of faith. No church membership. No Four Spiritual Laws. No ties to Focus on the Family. No baptism. Nothing. Original sin had tainted all but now the life of Jesus replaces it. The new humanity has arrived.

This passage is troubling because I have been raised in an evangelical background where one makes a personal commitment to follow Christ. But what if we are already in this story of Christ? Maybe we haven’t located ourselves in it, but maybe we are a part of it whether we like it or not. Paul claims this justification is for all just as sin was. Does that include Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and terrorists? I know claims of an all-inclusive gospel are heresy in Christian circles, but these thoughts inundate my mind when reading this passage.

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6 Responses to The Gospel of the New Adam

  1. Damon says:

    Wow, I am shocked at your exposition of Scripture. Which bible version are you using? I have about 20 loaded in my e-sword and none of them match your version. You must be using that “amplified version”. Do you know what Exegesis and Hermeneutics is? It looks doubtful.

    This is my first time at your blog. I have NOT read anything else. And I have to say,,, that based on your use of a questionable translation, your lack of noting the translation, and your willingness to redefine biblical salvation on your private interpretation of two verses that took you months to wrestle up,,,,,, I would have to say your not a Christian but Rather someone trying to prove Christianity to be wrong and illogical. The fact is that ALL men must come to the Father THROUGH JESUS. He is the name by which men MUST be saved. . NO ONE goes to heaven without his say so,,, because all judgment is His. He clearly says that MANY will say unto me that day, have we not done great miracles and cast our demons in your name,,, but I will say to them, I NEVER knew YOU,,,,,, DEPART FROM ME.

    Let me ask you a question. Has EVERY man that has ever been offered a FREE GIFT taken it? Even if it means that by doing so you have to say, “I need this gift because I am a helpless sinner and I cannot save myself. I must repent of my dead works and be saved by TOTALLY Gods grace alone. AND I HAVE NOTING AT ALL TO BOAST ABOUT?

    If your just some nieve kid who has been taught wrong and your not just an antagonist, I will come back and teach you a little. But I have to say my gut feeling says you are actually being deceitful and trying to lead people astray.

    Damon

  2. Damon says:

    Hey man, I am sorry for coming down on you so hard. If you need my help you can e-mail me @ damonw_25@yahoo.com

  3. Justin says:

    I am not so impressed with Mr. Damon’s response. I think the blog brings up a fair question. We are taught that Original Sin affects all, you do not make the choice one day saying “hey I’m going to accept Adam’s fall and take on sin.” Paul in this passage seems to say that Jesus’ Righteousness is different from the sin of Adam because it brings life. But his sin brought condemnation to all, and if you think we have a choice to accept righteousness than wouldn’t that give us the choice to accept sin. If so we can be good with out the help of God. It is an interesting topic and I would encourage Damon to think about it a little more. Remember if you think you got it figured out your probably further away from the answer than you’ve ever been. Don’t be afraid to question your beliefs and your culture for that matter. We believe most often what we hear from people we respect, not by actually reading, meditating, and praying on the Word of God.
    Grace and Peace
    Justin

  4. Sara says:

    So Blaine, WHAT version WERE you USING?

  5. Justin P. says:

    First off – Blaine, thanks for writing on this topic. I’ve been thinking about that passage a lot lately.

    Damon,

    1. We must remember that it is to those who say ‘Lord, Lord’ – a.k.a. ‘those who seem most assured of their orthodoxy, etc.,’ whom Jesus is warning in those passages.

    2. This is not a unique instance of inclusive language within the N.T. In Colossians Paul (or Deutero-Paul) writes in vv. 18ff. (NASB) “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Hes is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was teh Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven . . .”

    Once again, “ALL things”. All things in heaven . . . perhaps fallen angels and Satan himself eventually? What a mystery the Gospel can be.

    Blaine – see you in Greek.

  6. firescloudsandwanderings says:

    I probably should have addressed this topic earlier, but I have waited. Much dialogue has been created on account of this post which is definitely a good thing. And I must thank Damon for spurring on these conversations. Really, I just wanted to say a few things in response to the comments and on some more reflection.

    First, the translation is the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) which is used widely in scholarly circles. This is the translation I have used in practically all of my classes.

    Second, I did not write this post just to be an antagonist whose purpose is to rile up his readers. This is a difficult subject for me. We read that God sent his Son because of his love for the world. And as Justin P. pointed out, we also read that all things will be reconciled. I know the idea of universalism scares many Christians but it is something we must engage in. I had a friend tell me the other day that she prays that universalism is true, that all will be saved. If anything, that might be one of the most distinctly Christian things I have ever heard. This deep love for humanity is spread to all people, not just those aligned with “Christianity”.

    Lastly, I wanted to share a quote from Brian McLaren, who has been criticized at length for his so-called universalist leanings. He writes, “To be truly inclusive, the kingdom [of God] must exclude exclusive people; to be truly reconciling, the kingdom must not reconcile with those who refuse reconciliation; to achieve its purpose of gathering people, it must not gather those who scatter. The kingdom of God has a purpose, and that purpose isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.”

    I hope the dialogue from this post will continue. I would love to hear some more of your thoughts.

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