On social media it has become common for evangelical Christians to identify themselves as “imputationalist.” This is interesting because the doctrine of imputation, the teaching that our sins of believers are reckoned to Christ and his righteousness is credited to believers, was an essential part of the Reformation. In recent years, however, it has lost favor in some quarters such that evangelicals who still believe in imputation feel compelled to identify themselves by this new moniker. How is it that the doctrine of imputation has become just another evangelical option and why is it important for evangelical and Reformed Christians to understand and confess the doctrine of imputation? John Fesko joins us to answer these questions. He has just published a new book on this very topic, Death in Adam, Life in Christ: The Doctrine of Imputation.
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The Great Warfield writes in his Studies in Theology, Chap X. Imputation, pg 302-3,
II. Three Acts of Imputation
” In the developed
theology thus brought into the possession of the Church, three several acts of
imputation were established and expounded. These are the imputation of Adam’s
sin to his posterity; the imputation of the sins of His people to the Redeemer; the
imputation of the righteousness of Christ to His people. Though, of course, with
more or less purity of conception and precision of application, these three great
doctrines became the property of the whole Church, and found a place in the
classical theology of the Roman, Lutheran, and Reformed alike. In the proper
understanding of the conception, it is important to bear in mind that the divine act
called “imputation” is in itself precisely the same in each of the three great
transactions into which it enters as a constituent part. The grounds on which it
proceeds may differ; the things imputed may be different; and the consequent
treatment of the person or persons to which the imputation is made may and will
differ as the things imputed to them differ. But in each and every case alike
imputation itself is simply the act of setting to one’s account; and the act of setting to
one’s account is in itself the same act whether the thing set to his account stands on
the credit or debit side of the account, and whatever may be the ground in equity on
which it is set to his account. That the sin of Adam was so set to the account of his
descendants that they have actually shared in the penalty which was threatened to it;
and that the sins of His people were so set to the account of our Lord that He bore
them in His own body on the tree, and His merits are so set to their account that by
His stripes they are healed, the entirety of historical orthodox Christianity unites in