Sin nature

Andrew Lee -

Question:
A question has come up in our discussions on Jesus Christ's identity.  The issue revolves around the sin nature of Jesus.  We understand the points in the outline, but the reading in "Introducing Christian Doctrine" brought up some differing viewpoints.  What is your understanding of the transmission of sin nature?  If it is through either male or female, then why was not Mary's sin nature transmitted to Christ?  Some of us do not buy the idea that it is only transmitted through the male, and others of us do not buy that the power of the Holy Spirit's contribution to the conception and development of Jesus simply "overpowered" the sin nature that Mary "contributed."  Perhaps this is too vague a question, but any help or
opinion you offered would be helpful. 

Answer:
On the question of sin nature, Erickson is correct in saying that various traditions have understood this issue in radically different ways. Part of the difficulty is the level of specificity in the answer that people seek. In other words, people want to know the precise reason, method, and process by which sin is transmitted from one generation to another. One excellent theological principle on questions like this is to always embrace the simplest answer given in Scripture and to reason humbly from that explanation. An example of this question therefore is Romans 5 and Pauls discussion of the comparison between Adam and Christ. If you recall that text, Paul said that sin entered into the world through one man, Adam and as heirs of Adam we are caught up in that spiritual condemnation / curse. While Romans 5 does not say how Adam is the head of all humankind, he does assert THAT he is the head of all humankind. In doctrinal circles this view is spoken of as "Federal Headship". As in Adam everyone dies, so in Christ everyone will live. Adam and Christ represent the heads of two distinctly different classes of humankind. If you read Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15 in light of this you will see that the question is not how the curse of our father Adam was transmitted to us (the fact that we sin says it has), the real question is how can anyone transcend that condemnation and that curse? As we have born the image of the earthly, so we will bear the image of the heavenly.

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