It’s just a matter of a few months now to get this published. I’ll be using Amazon’s CreateSpace.com. Of course, I’ll announce it here when it’s published.
Here is the current form of the introduction:
As believers, we cannot fully grasp the reality of our spiritual union with Christ until we embrace the reality of our spiritual union in Adam. Over the course of the last several centuries, the importance of reality in Christian theology has become eclipsed by the importance of position. The reality of Christ within us, and the expectation of His transforming power, are now dimmed in the shadow of a hollow emphasis on justification by faith. We drink large quantities of the milk of how God views us, but we know little of the meat of how God is in us—and far too many of us think that the most important element of our faith is how we view God. The importance of reality has been all but lost. To regain the reality, the Church must retrace her steps, and revisit the doctrine of the union in Adam. If reality is to be put back into faith, it must be put back into theology. This book is a small step in that direction.
A return to reality entails a return to the Biblical realism that was implicitly contained in all the creeds and confessions of the early Reformed Church, and which flowed from Augustine, and ultimately from Scripture. Biblical realism is the recognition of a shared personal identity, effected by spiritual union or singularity of spiritual origin, which is sufficient in itself to account for the headships of Adam and Christ. More broadly, Biblical realism is a paradigm from which God’s judgments and justice are dependent upon substantial reality—a reality which He may sovereignly change but cannot justly ignore.
It was from this paradigm that the principle of realistic union, and specifically traducianism, was arrived at. Traducianism is the idea that children are propagated in their entire being, both spirit and body, from their parents. Rather than merely choosing to view men as if we were in Adam when he sinned, God designed Adam such that all his descendants were actually in Adam in a real way (by union of spiritual origin). Conversely, God has no need to merely view believers as if we were in Christ, since He provides believers with a real, spiritual union with Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Because of undue emphasis on philosophical formulations, and the difficulties involved with these, there have been many more who have held to this realism implicitly than explicitly. This implicit realism began with Augustine, and is characterized by the imprecise use of the term nature to describe the union of mankind in Adam. Rather than explicitly affirming that the spiritual part of man is propagated from Adam through each generation (traducianism), the issue is glossed over with the vagueness of a term that can mean specifically the physical part of a man, or can include both the physical and spiritual parts of a man. Using such a blanket term, it is affirmed that the nature of all men was in Adam, sinned in Adam, became culpable and guilty in Adam, became corrupt in Adam, and was propagated to all men with the culpability, guilt and corruption still inhering. The imprecision of the term allows a somewhat plausible deniability of traducianism, as well as an agnostic approach to the issue of the origin of the soul. In addition to the implicit realists, there has always been a minority of explicit realists.
Traditionally, explicit theological realists have been philosophical to a fault, commonly employing the terms and constructs of Plato’s realism in expounding principles of Biblical realism. But such use of Plato is neither necessary nor beneficial. The strongest objections to theological realism are actually objections to Platonic realism used inappropriately. This book will establish the superiority of Biblical realism (divested of excessive philosophy and Platonic error) over the representationist paradigm, as it is applied to both the union in Adam and the union in Christ, and will demonstrate that Biblical realism yields an understanding of salvation that is vastly superior to what representationism offers.
The realism of Augustine is indisputable. What is disputed is whether or not he held to traducianism. Augustine’s reluctance to officially adopt traducianism has prompted many people to insist that he was a creationist (holding that the spirit of the child is specially created by God) or was undecided between the two. This was not the case. As William Shedd assessed, Augustine’s doctrine logically involved traducianism. His teaching on the nature of man and original sin are founded, implicitly, on traducianism, and make no sense without it. Augustine was fully convinced that all mankind had an immaterial union (or, singularity of origin) in Adam, which sinned in Adam, became culpable and corrupt in Adam, and was then propagated to everyone in that same state and condition. Those who portray him as undecided on traducianism overlook this fact.
By adopting the general term nature, Augustine was able to avoid the difficulties of explicit traducianism. It was not the realism that he was reluctant to adopt, but the philosophical formulations and attempts to explain traducianism that he found unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, Augustine held fast to the idea of immaterial propagation and union in Adam, willing to forgo an explicit explanation but not willing to forgo the truth of Biblical realism. Thus, Augustine implicitly held to realism, but he did so consistently.
The implicit realism that was found in Augustine, and brought back at the Reformation, was in conflict with nominalism, which had been making inroads in theology since the Scholastic period. Nominalism is the philosophy that denies the reality of any union of species, including the spiritual union of mankind in Adam. The influence of nominalism resulted in the popularity of creationism over traducianism. The explicit creationism of Calvin and the early Reformed Church made a significant difference between how Augustine held to implicit realism and how the Reformed Church held to implicit realism. Because Augustine firmly held to the substance as well as the form, being convinced of an immaterial union in Adam, he held his implicit realism consistently. But since the Reformed Church held only to the form and not to the substance, explicitly denying a spiritual union, then it held to the implicit realism of Augustine inconsistently. This is mitigated somewhat by the minority of Reformed who did hold to both the substance and the form. Nevertheless, there were two competing undercurrents, realism and nominalism, in early Reformed thought. And, although implicit realism, in the beginning, had the supremacy in formal statements of doctrine, the realistic substance of such doctrine began to be eroded from the very start.
The effect of nominalism on theology was so gradual that the name itself has been left behind and all but forgotten. Yet, the changes it wrought in theology over the centuries were deep and broad. Racial union was not something substantial within Adam himself, according to nominalism, but rather, was entirely a matter of how God chose to view mankind. Therefore, there was no objectively existing entity of human nature that sinned in Adam and was immaterially propagated to mankind. Rather, all that exists are individuals, and the soul is created out of nothing in every case.
Since ways of thinking are slow to change, radical changes in the theology of the Church often go through a period of inconsistency, hidden assumptions, and unresolved contradiction—and such was the case with nominalism. With traducianism denied, the explanation for inherent depravity and imputed guilt became significantly more difficult. Imputation became federalized through the idea of covenantal representation, while inherent depravity was retained as the result of a realistic-sounding union in Adam. Through the imprecise, realistic-sounding language of “seminal union,” “natural propagation,” “the root of mankind,” etc., standards were written to which both realists and nominalists could applaud (with their own differing assumptions). But nominalism continued to erode all the realistic substance from the meanings of the realistic-sounding terms, until these were widely understood to mean nothing more than a physical union of origin. Correlating to this erosion of realistic meaning was the gradual establishment of a widely held assumption that such a merely physical union of origin served well as a supplement to the federal union to fully answer any objections of injustice.
But a merely physical union of origin does nothing to justify holding men guilty for the sin of another man, Adam. And a merely physical union of origin does not explain how depravity is propagated, since depravity is of the soul and not of the body (Gnostic arguments to the contrary aside). Those like Turretin and John Murray who seek to supplement their purely nominalistic representation with “natural headship” and realistic-sounding terms, when they mean no more by those terms than a mere physical union of origin, are grounding the justice on nothing, since a mere physical tie to Adam offers no just ground. Thus, their system in effect is no more substantial than that of straightforward nominalists (such as Charles Hodge), even though it has the sound of something more. When closely examined, the “substance” disappears. The language they use is similar to the implicit realists; but they are, in fact, only rhetorically realistic.
One question goes to the heart of the differences between these two paradigms. It is the question of the importance of substantial reality to God, and its necessity to justice. This is not always shown in stark contrast, due to the inconsistencies of adherents. However, as we clear away the smoke of hidden contradiction and misappropriated terms, this question will be seen as definitive.
By substantial reality is meant, simply, that reality exists even in the absence of any thoughts regarding it. All created things of substance exist within this reality, including spiritual beings, and this existence is substantial and not mere imaginative thought. “All that we see or seem” is not a mere “dream within a dream”—dreams, imaginations, and thoughts are not substantial reality. An important distinction to be made, however, is that dreams, imaginations, and thoughts do occur within substantial reality—but they do not create or compose reality. To imagine something is an event within reality, but what is imagined is not itself reality.
Thinking—using one’s mind—is an act within reality, and men are accountable even for the thoughts we choose to think. As Jesus taught (Matt. 5: 28), a man who looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her in his heart. In this case, the adultery did not happen within substantial reality, but only in the man’s mind; nevertheless, the man made a moral choice within substantial reality, and so he is guilty. But notice that the woman with whom he committed adultery is not made guilty, and herein lies the distinction: to imagine is an act within substantial reality, but what is imagined is not part of substantial reality. The man is guilty of committing adultery of the heart, but he is not guilty of committing adultery of the body; therefore, while the eternal penalty may be the same, his act is not grounds for divorce. Any thinker may bring guilt on himself by thinking what he should not, but no thinker can bring guilt on others merely by thinking.
As believers in Christ, our foundation for knowledge is the Word of God (affirmed with certainty by the witness of the Holy Spirit), which on every page presupposes a substantial reality. Therefore, there is no need to address the many misguided philosophers who have sought to undermine, question, obscure, and deny substantial reality. (They will all stand before the judgment seat of God and answer for the deeds they did within the same reality that they doubted or denied). Our purpose, rather, is to address those who do acknowledge substantial reality and yet deny the need for justice to be grounded in that reality.
There are certain truths about God, reality and justice that have been abandoned and need to be recovered. God is not disconnected from substantial reality: truth corresponds to reality, and God does not lie but is always a God of truth. If a man is to be condemned and sent to hell within substantial reality, and not merely seen within the mind of God as if he were in hell, then the crime for which he is sent there ought to be one that he has committed in reality and not merely one of which he is only seen within the mind of God as if he had committed.
Identification or representation that is merely of the mind, such as federal representation (in its usual, putative form that is found today, and not the implicitly realistic form found in the early Reformed Church), cannot be accurately called “real.” Reality exists even in the absence of any thoughts regarding it; whereas, federal representation is claimed to exist even in the absence of any reality regarding it. Realistic union is the most Biblical way to address, and acknowledge the rightful place of reality in theology, because it acknowledges the reality of mankind’s union in Adam, as well as the reality of the believer’s union with Christ.
Millard Erickson explains the difference between the views of God’s righteousness. He contrasts the [Platonic] realists and the nominalists, and concludes that “the biblical position falls between [the two]:”
A question which has been a topic of debate down through the history of Christian thought is, What makes certain actions right and others wrong? In medieval times one school of thought, the realists, maintained that God chooses the right because it is right. What he calls good could not have been designated otherwise, for there is an intrinsic good in kindness and an inherent evil in cruelty. Another school of thought, the nominalists, asserted that it is God’s choice which makes an action right. God does not choose an action because of some intrinsic value in it. Rather, it is his sovereign choice of that action which makes it right. He could have chosen otherwise; if he had done so, the good would be quite different from what it is. Actually, the biblical position falls between realism and nominalism. The right is not something arbitrary, so that cruelty and murder would have been good if God had so declared. In making decisions, God does follow an objective standard of right and wrong, a standard which is part of the very structure of reality. But that standard to which God adheres is not external to God—it is his own nature. He decides in accordance with reality, and that reality is himself.
This Biblical position, with the added qualification that God’s nature as a moral standard is immutable from eternity past so that God currently makes no “new” moral decision, is the position of Biblical realism. And while representationists might not explicitly hold that God’s standards of righteousness are arbitrarily defined by whatever actions He sovereignly chooses to do, such a nominalist view is logically involved in an arbitrarily designated representation that results in men being condemned for the sin of another man (with whom they have no connection other than the physical). This frequently comes out in discussions between realists and representationists. The realist will object that condemning any man for a sin that some other man committed goes against justice and righteousness; and the representationist will reply, “Who are you, O man, to tell God what is right?” In other words, if God does something, it is for us to assume that it is right and not to question it. However, since what exactly it is that God does in this case remains in dispute, then the question is begged. This begging of the question amounts to the representationists claiming exemption from being questioned about anything that they propose God does, since anything that they propose that God does must automatically be assumed to be righteous merely because it is He who does it.
God deals with man according to reality, rather than merely shuffling categories in His mind in contradiction to substantial reality. The difference is that the former is required for real justice, while the latter displays not justice but sovereignty clothed in the mere name of justice.
Building on this foundation of a real union in Adam will enable us to reach new heights in understanding what a real union in Christ entails, including the very mechanics of atonement.
In addressing the representationist paradigm, we will put heavy emphasis on the arguments of Francis Turretin, in his seventeenth-century work, Institutes of Elenctic Theology. Since Turretin is the midway point between the old-school view of a participative union in Adam and the later view of Charles Hodge (which has become the common view), then he is an ideal subject for such a critique. His inconsistent reliance on both reality and arbitrary representation, when brought into the light of day, lays bare the weaknesses of the later view.
The Terms Soul and Spirit
Though early theologians, such as Turretin, refer to the “soul,” it is in a dichotomistic way that is interchangeable with “spirit.” Early tradition used the term, “soul,” almost exclusively to refer to the immaterial component of a man, reserving the term, “spirit,” for the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this was to avoid confusion between the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. The Bible does use “spirit” as well as “soul” when referring to man’s immaterial component or nature (the inner man as opposed to the outer man). However, the use by theologians of the term, “soul,” has added rather than lessened the confusion, obscuring the parallel between spiritual union in Adam and spiritual union in Christ. Both words are used interchangeably throughout this book, except where otherwise specified.
 Edgar Allen Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream,” The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2006), p. 84
 Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), p. 287
 Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg: P & R, 1992)
 Willaim G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3rd ed., (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2003), p. 448