Monday, September 04, 2006

Skip the Apple Tree, Go Straight to Heaven!

Another common objection to the idea that unfallen Adam's obedience to God would have earned him eternal life is from the so-called "disproportionality" between his obedience and the stipulated reward. How could gaining heaven by not eating an apple be a matter of simple justice? Surely grace must be involved, right?

There are a few problems with this objection....

First, it posits a standard of "justice" outside of God to which he is held accountable. Think about it: If he promises to bestow x upon man if he does y, who are we to insist that x is a disproportionate reward to the value of y's service? Shouldn't the fact that it is God who came up with the arrangement be sufficient to demonstrate that the ratio of obedience to reward is just right?

Secondly, if the promise of eternal life for conformity to God's commands is too good a blessing for the obedience rendered, then it must follow that the threat eternal death that Adam actually did earn was too harsh a curse for the disobedience rendered. If the prize is too "gracious" then the punishment must be too strict. And either way, God fails to live up to the standard of fairness that we subject him to.

And finally, if the first Adam's reward of eternal life for himself and his seed would have been too glorious a prize for his mere creaturely obedience to gain, then wouldn't it also follow that the second Adam's earning of the same blessing is also too magnanimous a reward for his obedience? Or conversely, if Jesus' obedience to his Father was indeed meritorious, then doesn't it seem like the "reward" he earned was something of a letdown?

In the first instance, the obedience of both Adams is insufficient to earn the heavenly crown. In the second case, the sufficiency of Jesus' work earned him a miserly inheritance that barely seems worth the hassle of being crucified for.