3 comments on “Jay Adams on Traducianism

  1. From my ST2 lecture handout,

    (2) Creationism.
    (a) Each individual immaterial part of man is to be regarded as a direct creation or immediate creation of God, owing its origin to a direct creative act. The time of the soul’s creation is either at conception, birth, or sometime between. The soul is supposed to be created pure and then united with a depraved body. This does not necessarily mean that, as Louis Berkhof argues, “the soul was created first in separation from the body and then polluted by being brought in contact with the body which would seem to assume that sin is something physical. It may simply mean that the soul, though called into being by a creative act of God, yet is pre-formed in the psychical life of the fetus, i.e. In the life of the parents, and thus acquires its life not above and outside of, but under and in, that complex of sin by which humanity as a whole is burdened” (ST, 199).
    (b) Support.
    (i) Adam’s immaterial part was a special creation by God and the same pattern has been followed in regard to each of us. See Eccl 12:7; Isa 42:5; Zech 12:1; Heb 12:9 in which the body is represented as a different substance from the immaterial part of man and as having different origin.
    (ii) If the traducian theory is correct, then Christ must have derived his immaterial part from human parentage. Now given the link with Adam, Christ must have inherited his sin. However, Scripture says Christ is sinless. The only way to uphold the teaching in regard to Christ is to take a creationist position.

    (c) Objections to Creationism from Traducianism.
    (i) The Scriptural evidence can support just as well the notion of God’s mediate agency in the origination of the immaterial part of man. No traducianist would deny that God’s hand is in the process of propagation of each new person. He only asks how God does it – immediately or mediately. The texts presented are equally consistent with traducianism as with creationism.
    (ii) Furthermore, there are also passages which speak of God as forming man’s body (Ps 139:13-14; Jer 1:5). But should we posit special creation of bodies because of such texts? We recognize that they are produced through the mediate agency of human reproduction. Why, then, not hold also to mediate transmission of the immaterial part of man?
    (iii) If creationism is true, then men are pictured as propagating mere bodies and not whole persons. That hardly seems to explain why there are not only physical resemblances to parents but also psychical resemblances.
    (iv) If creationism is correct then we are moving in the direction of the position that matter is evil. After all, we are being told that a pure soul is being joined with an impure body and corrupted by that union.
    (v) Creationism seems to implicate God as involved in the origination of each person’s moral evil. Either he creates the immaterial part with evil tendencies or he creates it pure and then puts it in a corrupt body which will inevitably corrupt it.
    (vi) The quote from Berkhof (see above) tries to get around these difficulties, but it really doesn’t avoid them for a creationist. In fact, when you read his comments carefully, you find that what he has said amounts to traducianism.
    (vii) In regard to the person of Christ, it would seem best to recognize that he is a special case involving divine intervention. Furthermore, as long as the creationist admits that Christ’s body came through natural propagation and as long as he admits total depravity, i.e., every aspect of man’s being is tainted with sin including the body), then he should realize that he has the same problem with Christ’s body that he claims the traducianist has with Christ’s immaterial part. Both views necessitate miracles in order to affirm Christ’s sinless nature.
    (d) Traducianism.
    (i) This is the view that the immaterial as well as the material part of man is propagated by human reproduction. The soul is “mediately” created by God. This has been the consensus position of the church since the 3rd C.
    (ii) Support.
    1. Only once do we see God creating man’s immaterial part directly. After that man is told to propagate the species (Gen 1:27-28; 2:7).
    2. In the case of Eve, we have no special word that God made a special creation of her immaterial part. Instead when she came from Adam, she was a complete person (Gen 1:26-27; 2:22-23).
    3. This view fits best with the observed transmission of mental and spiritual characteristics in families (as well as the transmission of physical characteristics).
    4. This theory which allows the immaterial part of man to be in Adam at the time he sinned seems best to fit with the inheritance of moral pollution or depravity. Moreover, it seems to uphold God’s justice better than creationism, since it involves an immaterial part actually present seminally in Adam when he sinned. This seems a better position than arguing that long after Adam’s sin, God created a person’s pure immaterial part and then joined it to a corrupt body and corrupted it by such a union.
    (iii) Objections and Responses from Creationism.
    1. Creationism can account for inherited mental and spiritual traits by God creating a soul for a child that is consistent with the hereditary traits and personality characteristics that God allowed the child to have through its descent from its parents.
    2. Since God brings about events in the physical world that are consistent with the free agency of human beings, there does not seem to be any real theological difficulty in saying that God gives each child a human soul that has tendencies to sin that are similar to the tendencies found in the parents.


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