Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Repenting for Our Fathers' Sins - Part 6/6

Ezra also provides an example of the same thing in terms of prayers of repentance for the sins of our fathers.

Ezra 9:1-15
Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, "The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass."

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, and said,

O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.

And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying,
The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?

O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.
This one is less explicit than some of the previous examples, but it shows a general repentance for the ways of our fathers. It should be obvious that Ezra's concern is that the people are doing exactly what their fathers did. He's so shocked he sits like someone who has had a stroke for hours upon hearing the news. He can't believe that they just got out of captivity for their sins and their turning right back to the same thing -- and not just a few rascals, but the very princes of the people.

This in particular we should be careful about. If God sends us chastisement, and we repent, we ought not to immediately turn back to the old sin. The very idea of doing such a thing ought not to be tempting to us, but ought to shock us like the report of Israel's sin shocked Ezra.

May God give us the gift of repentance so that we may depart from our sins and the sins of our fathers before us.

- TurretinFan

13 comments:

mlculwell said...

"Repenting of your fathers sins" is not a reason for anyone to believe Calvinism. Sons would continue in the sins passed down through generations, not that they would inherit sins.

Turretinfan said...

They do inherit the guilt of their fathers' sins, Manuel. That explains why it is just for God visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation, to those that hate Him. On the other hand, God offers mercy to those who repent.

Dan said...

Hi TF,
It seems we can distinguish
1. confessing the sin of someone (acknowledging it and its sinfulness)
2. repenting of the sin of someone (turning away from such sin in one’s own life)
3. being guilty of the sin of someone, or having somehow acquired guilt because of it

I think that most of the passages you’ve produced (in this series) exemplify 1 and 2, though it seems a few exemplify 3. Do you think that 1 and/or 2 imply 3?

On the basis of 3’s holding in certain cases, you have drawn a general principle that you seem to think holds universally; namely, that one’s fathers (i.e., father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc.) are federal heads for him, such that he is guilty of their sin (though God is merciful and will not impute it to those who repent). I don’t have any objection to the federal headship concept, as such. I think Romans 5 teaches that, in Adam’s sin, all (humans) sinned (by God’s reckoning), and that in Adam’s sin condemnation (implying guilt) arose for all.

But I’m more skeptical about the general principle I’ve mentioned. Do you think we can confidently draw such a principle from God’s particular dealings with Israel? One might think that specific cases of 3 are due to a “positive” decree of God. By this I mean, something that results only because God has willed that it be so; as opposed to being a necessary or intrinsic feature of reality (as, for example, the immoral character of murder is; which is grounded in the very nature of God). If the produced examples of 3 are “positive” in this sense, then it seems that one should be hesitant to draw the general principle I’ve mentioned on the basis of them.

Here is one reason I’m hesitant to accept such a general principle. We have no direct biblical evidence (of which I’m aware) that Adam’s subsequent sins, whether in whole or part, are imputed to his posterity. In Rom. 5, the Fall-sin is singled out as special, and the federal connection between Adam and his posterity is focused in Adam’s performance with respect to Satan’s temptation.

Turretinfan said...

"I think that most of the passages you’ve produced (in this series) exemplify 1 and 2, though it seems a few exemplify 3. Do you think that 1 and/or 2 imply 3?"

Only in the loose sens of "imply" (i.e. suggest). The reason for 1/2 seems to be a desire to obtain forgiveness for them, which seems to recognize some guilt for them. That's why it might suggest guilt.

"On the basis of 3’s holding in certain cases, you have drawn a general principle that you seem to think holds universally; namely, that one’s fathers (i.e., father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc.) are federal heads for him, such that he is guilty of their sin (though God is merciful and will not impute it to those who repent)."

I would not rest the entire weight of that conclusion on this series. There are actually other, more plain, passages that more pointedly indicate (or more strongly suggest) that the children are guilty before God for the sins of their fathers.

"I don’t have any objection to the federal headship concept, as such. I think Romans 5 teaches that, in Adam’s sin, all (humans) sinned (by God’s reckoning), and that in Adam’s sin condemnation (implying guilt) arose for all."

ok

"But I’m more skeptical about the general principle I’ve mentioned."

It is good that you accept the instances of Adam and Jesus, but it may be valuable for you to understand that these instances are instances of a general principle.

"Do you think we can confidently draw such a principle from God’s particular dealings with Israel?"

Yes. Not just from the passages in this series, but also from a variety of other passages.

And we need not limit ourselves to the dealings with Israel. We see headship also in the case of the sons of Noah, for example.

"One might think that specific cases of 3 are due to a “positive” decree of God."

Is a positive decree mentioned in the texts that you have in mind? Otherwise, such an explanation appears ad hoc, doesn't it?

"By this I mean, something that results only because God has willed that it be so; as opposed to being a necessary or intrinsic feature of reality (as, for example, the immoral character of murder is; which is grounded in the very nature of God)."

There's a strong "natural law" argument to be made that the guilt of the sins of the parents comes to the children from the fact that the "natural" consequences of the parents sins very often fall on the children. If the parents squander their money, the children are poor, for example.

"If the produced examples of 3 are “positive” in this sense, then it seems that one should be hesitant to draw the general principle I’ve mentioned on the basis of them."

I agree.

"Here is one reason I’m hesitant to accept such a general principle. We have no direct biblical evidence (of which I’m aware) that Adam’s subsequent sins, whether in whole or part, are imputed to his posterity. In Rom. 5, the Fall-sin is singled out as special, and the federal connection between Adam and his posterity is focused in Adam’s performance with respect to Satan’s temptation."

It is Adam's first sin that is really the key one in terms of sin entering into the world (of men). That explains the focus on that sin. By the time the second sin was committed, the damage was already done.

Perhaps a counter-argument might come from the imputation of both Christ's active and passive obedience. His entire life of righteousness and his death on the cross are imputed to those that are under his headship.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

mlculwell

pardon my ignorance, could you please explain just what you mean by this:

"Repenting of your fathers sins" is not a reason for anyone to believe Calvinism.

What does believing Calvinism have to do with anything?

When you die, you will not be asked if you are for John or George!

I just don't understand that that I read there. I see this come up alot.

Doesn't anyone ever take into account that God is Eternal and He is alive and He is still working and will not be set aside by the inventions of men?

Anyway, I would like to know what it is you are saying by writing that that I cited you wrote as a comment in here?

thanks

mlculwell said...

Ignorance TF. and Natamllc. We do not inherit our fathers sins. We continue in the sins we learn from our fathers. We should stop the cycle and repent. Inherited sin is a total ignorant doctrine.

natamllc said...

mlculwell

what kind of answer was that?

I asked you to explain your inference about John Calvin and Calvinism.

mlculwell said...

Inherited sin is not a doctrine of scripture, it is an invention and misinterpretation of Scripture, it is false doctrine and leads to what we are now discussing... The false teacher John Calvin is the biggest proponent of that false doctrine one of many. I am no fan of his false teachings.

Dan said...

The reason for 1/2 seems to be a desire to obtain forgiveness for them, which seems to recognize some guilt for them. That's why it might suggest guilt.

God deals with the Israelites as a collection or aggregate, making pronouncements concerning the whole (even if not strictly true of every part, such as those in the remnant); and executing judgment against the whole (even if not deserved – at least to the same extent – by every part). Accordingly, there may be a sense in which guilt attaches to Israel as an aggregate, such that Israel as an aggregate needs forgiveness; forgiveness which the speakers (e.g., Daniel, Jeremiah) could be seeking (on behalf of the aggregate) in confessing the sin of their generation, and of their fathers, and of their rulers – with a view to certain divine actions with respect to the aggregate (e.g., return from exile). But does Daniel, for example, need to be personally forgiven (i.e., such that he as an individual is the strict object of forgiveness) for, for example, a certain sin committed by his father?

It is good that you accept the instances of Adam and Jesus, but it may be valuable for you to understand that these instances are instances of a general principle.

We see headship also in the case of the sons of Noah, for example.

I’ve expressed skepticism about a specific headship principle, namely (to be more precise about what it seems to me that you have maintained), that each individual acquires guilt in connection with each sin committed by each of his fathers; not with the general idea of headship, according to which people are treated in various ways because of their relationship with a head. Noah’s family owed their salvation from the flood, it seems, largely to their connection to Noah. And the general contours of the histories of the descendants of the sons of Noah are due to blessings/curses pronounced upon his sons. If you have in mind the curse of Canaan as a result of Ham’s sin, then, even if we suppose that this curse partly consists in Canaan’s inheriting guilt for the sin, the specific character of the curse seems to support the idea that such cases of guilt-inheritance are due to special, “positive” decrees of God (as opposed to being part of a ubiquitous natural order). For according to Gen. 10:6, Ham had three sons in addition to Canaan, and yet Noah singled out Canaan.

Is a positive decree mentioned in the texts that you have in mind? Otherwise, such an explanation appears ad hoc, doesn't it?

It would be ad hoc if one does not also have independent reasons for such a view.

Dan said...

There's a strong "natural law" argument to be made that the guilt of the sins of the parents comes to the children from the fact that the "natural" consequences of the parents sins very often fall on the children.

Obviously human intuitions are not decisive in adjudicating these matters, but they do seem relevant when it comes to assessing considerations allegedly bound up with “natural law.” And I think that most people would find it outlandish that, for example, a poor son is guilty for his father’s sin of squandering any money he might have left to him. I do not mean merely that they would find it outlandish that the son should be punished (which you haven’t claimed; you’ve distinguished the requirements of the civil law from the issue of moral guilt before God), which is also true; but that they would find it ridiculous that he is guilty of the sin at all. (I acknowledge that many also find the idea of Adam’s federal headship, and imputation of his sin to his posterity, ridiculous; but I don’t defend that federal connection on the basis of natural law.)

Further (and relatedly), there just doesn’t seem to be a clear connection between facing consequences for someone’s sin and acquiring guilt for someone’s sin. If a burglar (who is not related to me) steals all my money, similar consequences follow for me; yet I am not guilty for the sin causing such consequences. And this may be so even if I deserve such consequences because of guilt I have independently – whether for personal sin or through Adam.

It is Adam's first sin that is really the key one in terms of sin entering into the world (of men). That explains the focus on that sin.

Granted, this would explain why Paul does not mention imputation of other Adamic sins; even were he to think that such sins were also imputed. I still have a reason from silence (this is the only sin he ever mentions as imputed), but such a reason is not very weighty in and of itself.

Perhaps a counter-argument might come from the imputation of both Christ's active and passive obedience. His entire life of righteousness and his death on the cross are imputed to those that are under his headship.

Inasmuch as Christ still lives (and is still obedient to the law), only a finite portion of Christ’s obedience has been imputed to those under his headship. Christ and Adam are alike in that their performance up to the culmination of their “probation” or “testing” is what was imputed to those under them (in the case of Adam the relevant time period was much shorter, perhaps because of his failure). So we may have some alternative reasons supporting the view I suggested. (1) It was not a natural law that Adam’s sin be imputed to his posterity, just as it was not a natural law that Christ’s obedience be imputed to anyone else. And (2) just as God arranged by decree that Christ’s performance in His testing be imputed to those for whom He is head, He arranged by decree that Adam’s performance in His testing be imputed to his posterity.

natamllc said...

mlculwell,

I have a couple of things to request of you.

First, please cut and paste where TF has drawn from Calvin in any of these 6 articles?

Second, with regard to John Calvin and your issues with the "man". Are your issues dealing with the "man" or the contents of his Theology?

My guess is you are confusing the two?

Consider Elijah and Peter and their flesh and just how obvious their flesh is captured and portrayed with words, the Scriptures, 1 Kings and the Gospels or the Book of Acts or the writings of Paul to the Galatians so the reader has an obvious and real understanding presented to us that these "men" of God are just like us and have had in their day the same sorts of troubles of the flesh as we do?

My guess is you are troubled that John Calvin's flesh is clearly understood and that troubles you?

My guess is you will find trouble with all of God's Saints who were used to bring forth the content of His Will and Purpose when writing it in their particular historical settings?

My guess is you don't find it odd that not only these men have a flesh that is not hidden in the Scriptures; you also don't find it odd they also dealt with relevant Godly issues with regard to their historical traditions they lived with, like not coveting what is the neighbor's; or a wife covering her head; and men with long hair; or one person of wealth owning a poor person as property; or John Calvin, for instance, involved in the civil reality of Geneva when giving his opinion about having a man burned, executed for being a heretic?

mlculwell said...

My Problem is with Calvinism and John Calvin.

I know what a man is, I are one!(Bad grammar intentional) Do not assume I think any of the Apostles or Prophets any different than any other man.(Nobody has inherited sin it is a fake doctrine devised by misunderstanding God's word and all the other false Calvin doctrine fall thereafter as they all rest upon one another.

ChaferDTS said...

"My Problem is with Calvinism and John Calvin. "

Your problem is much deep than that. Your problem is your heretical modalism views and your semi-pelagianism. You see the root problem lies in your false interpretations of Scripture when the people of God never know what God is saying in human language in Scripture if we follow your presupositions.

"I know what a man is, I are one!(Bad grammar intentional) Do not assume I think any of the Apostles or Prophets any different than any other man.(Nobody has inherited sin it is a fake doctrine devised by misunderstanding God's word and all the other false Calvin doctrine fall thereafter as they all rest upon one another. "

You need to read Romans 1 to 5 and see the light of what God's Word says rather than your rejection of it through faulty human reasoning in which in your theology replaces sound exegesis of the Scriptures.