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Monthly Archives: April 2007

Logical Impasse in Generational Judgment: Embracing the Mystery

Reading: Exodus 20.

God’s jealousy is made explicit to the people of Israel, and he explains as one of the consequences of his jealousy what I call generational judgment. God extends judgment for a man’s sins to that man’s children, and their children, and even their children – “on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Honestly, this seems unjust. It seems unfair for God to punish anyone for a sin that they themselves did not personally commit. As I thought about this, I realized that this is exactly what God has done in the case of Adam, against the entire human race. We are all born sinful (not due to our own choices) because of the choice that Adam made. Because we are born sinful, we are born in a helpless state. That is, though we cannot help but being sinful people (since we are born that way it is our nature), we are still held guilty for our sinfulness.
This all seems unfair and unjust to me. But this is just the point. I have learned that though it may seem unrighteous for God to do such a thing, and though the scripture never really explains explicitly how God can do such a thing and still be righteous, I must believe by faith that there is an answer that would satisfy my troubled soul—only God has chosen not to defend himself against man’s logical scrutiny (Romans 9:18-23). God’s only response to such an accusation (which accusation still seems to me to be the fruit of sound logic) is something like, “Who are you to accuse almighty God of unrighteousness? Did I not create the reasoning ability within you? Have you become more reasonable and righteous in your judgment than the Holy One?!” And so, it is at this point that I put my hand over my mouth and pull out my “mystery” card. That is, I simply consider it a mystery how God can do such a thing and still be righteous.
The best explanation I have heard came from a lecture by R.C. Sproul in which he said something to the effect of this: Adam, since he was our headship, was our representative, and he represented us fairly. If he represented us fairly, then God’s imputing his guilt to us is fair. This is biblical and helpful, but it does not explain away the mystery. The only reason I could agree that Adam has represented us fairly is this: we are all born in sin and have a sin nature inherited from Adam, thus, his sin is surely an accurate representative of our own. But this is a circular argument (if you can see that).
In spite of such logical impasse, my soul is not–and need not be–vexed over this. I don’t hold this objection in the back of my mind as a chip on my shoulder against God. I actually believe that since God is God, he can do what He wants, and I trust that in all He does, He is righteous and just. I don’t just say that, but even in the face of God’s generational judgment (even as it applies to me), I zealously am ready to defend that God is still righteous and just; even merciful and gracious to all who breathe air and have life.
Prayer: Lord, I pray you would give me a humility that accepts Your Word and trust in Your judgment over and against the judgment of men. I pray you would strike me with a fear of You that would so overwhelm me, that I would experience a new level of sanctification in my life (Exodus 20:20). Put a fear of You deep within me, that I might not sin against you. Amen.
Picture Captions – The picture in my last blog (the one below) is not me. It’s my friend Daniel and his girlfriend Sarah. The above pictures were taken at the 2007 Walnut Street Inner-City Sports Banquet. The first is a picture of my friend Sam (Samkon Gado) and the second is Sarah Odom.
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