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10.22.2015

The death of the grown-up, pt. 6,783

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A. VIOLATION OF THE COVENANT OF CREATION

Even in Genesis 1–3 we recognize the features of a covenant that we have delineated: a historical prologue setting the stage (Ge 1–2), stipulations (2:16–17) and the sanctions (2:17b) over which Eve and the serpent argue (3:1–5) and which are finally carried out in the form of judgment (3:8–19). It is only after this fateful decision that an entirely new and unexpected basis is set forth for human destiny (3:21–24). These elements are present, albeit implicitly, in the creation narrative, with the Tree of Life as the prize awaiting the successful outcome of a trial. Just as Yahweh the Great King endured the “trial” of creation and came out at the other end pronouncing victory and entering his Sabbath enthronement, his earthly ectype-vassal was to follow the same course. Genesis 1–3, and their canonical Christian interpretation, have an eschatological rather than simply existential orientation.
As further confirmation, the presence of the Sabbath at the end of the “six-day” work-week-trial holds out the promise of everlasting confirmation in blessedness. This pattern is not the imposition of an arbitrary law, but the image-bearer’s reflection of God’s own journey from creation to consummation. If Adam should default in this covenantal relationship, he would “surely die,” and we learn from the subsequent failure of Adam that this curse brought in its wake not only spiritual but physical, interrelational, and indeed environmental disaster.
Interpreted in the light of the rest of Scripture, Adam’s covenantal role entailed that he was the representative for his whole posterity. In fact, every person is judged guilty in Adam, and the effects of this curse extend even to the rest of creation (Ge 3:17–18; Ro 8:20). It is with this simultaneously legal and relational background in mind that Paul makes his well-known statements on the imputation of Adam’s guilt and corruption as the corollary of the imputation and impartation of the Second Adam’s righteousness (esp. Ro 5) in justification and sanctification.11
The theme of covenant solidarity, otherwise regarded as congenial to relational and communal views of the self, is nevertheless put to the test when it involves collective human guilt: the tragic aspect of human solidarity and relationality. “The intersubjective matrix which forms individual, related persons,” notes Francis Watson, “also simultaneously deforms them.”12 Together we stand or fall. The legal and relational basis for this solidarity is the covenant of creation. As John Zizioulas observes,

The drive of the human being towards otherness is rooted in the divine call to Adam. The call simultaneously implies three things: relationship, freedom, and otherness, all of them being interdependent.… Through the call, Adam is constituted, therefore, as being other than God and the rest of creation. This otherness is not the result of self-affirmation; it is an otherness granted and is not self-existent, but a particularity which is a gift of the Other.13

Human identity therefore originates in being addressed: “the human being is singled out, not merely as a species, but as a particular partner in a relationship, as a respondent to a call.”14 It is precisely this call that humanity, in Adam, refuses, because we wish to be the speaker, not the addressee, in the covenant.
Contrary to the assumptions of Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Käsemann, and others, Paul’s polemic against the law and works of the law is not an abstract opposition. Humanity was created for love, which means for law, since law simply stipulates loving actions. Because of the fall, there is no longer any possibility of being justified by “works of the law.” All of humanity, including Israel, is now “in Adam,” condemned as a transgressor of the law. Thus, the covenant of creation (also called the covenant of works, law, or nature) is the legal context for God’s judgment. This original covenant of creation may be defended by appealing to non-Christian as well as Christian sources.


Michael Horton, (2011). The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (pp. 415–416). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Aside from what he's actually saying (decipher that at your leisure) the writing itself is pure academic, shallow, juvenile narcissistic garbage. It is writing that is worthy of the post-modern essay generator you can find on the internet. It very much is not worthy of a Reformed systematic theology.

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