A Side Note on “Corporate Solidarity”

Posted By on August 14, 2009

Forgot to push the button on this last night. I recently had a good exchange with a Naked Bible reader via email and wanted to share my thoughts on the notion of how “corporate solidarity” (CS) fails to answer my objections to the traditional view of Romans 5:12.

The idea of CS is that the Semitic culture included the idea of a group being identified with one person. Hence Adam’s guilt is “absorbed” or transferred to the corporate whole of humanity — the point being that Semitic culture would have seen Romans 5:12 that way. Jesus is exempt from this since his relationship is to the Father, as God.

This is really the basis for the federal headship view, which I commented on very early in this topic. It sounds like it can work, until you get to Jesus and the incarnation.

The reason this doesn’t work is that there needs to be an ontological relationship between Jesus and humanity, not ONLY the father, or the incarnation is damaged. The point of Romans 5 (in either view) is that what Adam did affects all humans, since all humans extend from Adam biologically. Every “Adam species” being is affected by what Adam did since they are “Adam species” beings as well. No other species inherits moral guilt (but is affected other ways). So, if Adam passed on moral guilt, to whom did he pass it? Humans, of course. There is thus “corporate solidarity” between Adam and all humans. But why remove Jesus from this solidarity, arguing only solidarity with the Father? On what biblical basis can this be done? The incarnation forbids this, because there must be true humanity with respect to Jesus.

Put another way, this view establishes “corporate solidarity” with only ONE side of the incarnation. My view establishes it with BOTH. We cannot divorce Jesus from solidarity with humanity. That invites the question, how can he then redeem humanity if his solidarity relationship is ONLY with the Father? Well, you could just say he can do it because he’s God. Yep, you can. But then what was the point of the incarnation?

All of this bypasses the issue (again). Jesus was 100% human, but somehow people feel they are allowed to remove him from solidarity with the first man, from whom extends solidarity with all other humans. What I’d need to be at all moved by this argument is some place in Scripture that creates a divide between the incarnate deity-human and other humans. I say Jesus was MORE than human, but that doesn’t exempt him from being truly human and sharing human solidarity with Adam. It is another thing altogether to have Jesus be human in every way but then exempt from solidarity with Adam. It makes no sense.

My view establishes solidarity with BOTH sides of the incarnation; the traditional view does not. I think that is a terrible deficiency (but I wouldn’t call it heresy).

Next post on this topic: the universalism issue in Romans 5 from my perspective

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4 Responses to “A Side Note on “Corporate Solidarity””

  1. haibane13 says:

    I share this view, but a question; could Jesus share solidarity with Adam before Adam sinned and not necessarily after ? Or since Jesus came to the earth after Adam sinned he must therefore share solidarity with the present human state ?

    • MSH says:

      Given my view of Romans 5:12, Jesus shares solidarity with Adam in that he was human and could die (i.e., he was incarnated in a mortal body with all its imperfections and “non-deity-ness”). Adam was human before he fell, and was human after he fell. Jesus was also God, so he never sinned — and so he had that advantage over Adam (and everyone else).

      • haibane13 says:

        The reason I ask this is because someone who adheres to inherent guilt might think of Jesus as a human in the sense of Adam before he fell (with no inherent guilt) . Would that mean that Jesus does not have corporate solidarity Adam ? I would say no , since the inherent guilt is now a part of human nature something Jesus doesn’t share . This is another reason I don’t like the inherited guilt theology it separates humanity as though we were “more” human before than now (as though Adam before the fall was an “other” human species) .

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