- God chose Adam (and Eve) as His “spiritual representative,” and we now have Adam’s sin imputed to us through his sinful act of disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden. In this view, known as federal headship, it should be noted that this does not mean actual sin has passed to us by way of Adam, but only through his actions is God holding us accountable. In much the same way, Christ’s subsequent righteousness can be seen as imputed to us. An example of this would be a wealthy industrial leader that had many productive factories, and through his financial missteps and bad decisions, was now bankrupt and forced to close the factories. The workers were not responsible for his bad decisions that produced this result, but they bore the consequences and lost their jobs.
- We are Adam and Eve’s progeny. In describing this nature, Augustine writes, “The seminal nature was there from which we were to be propagated; and this being vitiated by sin, and bound by the chain of death, and justly condemned, man could not be born in any other state. And thus, from the bad use of free will, there originated a whole train of evil…” We could not, according to Augustine, escape sin, for we were born into it. Further, John Calvin reminds us that “by the corruption into which he [Adam] himself fell, he infected his whole seed.”
The Bible also gives us reasonable proof of this claim of inheritance, found in Hebrews 7:9–10: “Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” In this verse, Levi is the son of Jacob, who is the son of Isaac, who is the son of Abraham. It established in this account; Levi was “still in the loins of his father” although his father was not yet born.
- Not only are we descendants of Adam and Eve in a physical sense, but a claim can be made that we have also inherited their soul and by default, their sin nature. In defining traducianism, Millard Erickson writes, “We receive our souls by transmission from our parents, just as we do our physical natures.” The sin nature of Adam and Eve has been passed on to us through our soul.
- People no longer have to suffer for a sin committed by Adam and Eve long ago. In an analogy, consider a couple that generations ago inherited the family fortune and proceeded to squander it away. While the current family may be living in poverty because of the actions of a great-great-grandparent, they are not directly responsible for what happened decades earlier. They are, however, still paying the price, living in poverty. But suppose a benevolent person comes along and tells them, “I will restore all you lost. All you have to do is receive the gift I am giving you.” In much the same way, that is what Jesus Christ has done for us. We can break the chain of the sin of Adam and Eve by accepting the free gift of the Last Adam, who was without sin.