Traducianism vs. Creationism

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Aco

Puritan Board Freshman
What is the historical Reformed understanding concerining the issue of Traducianism vs. Creationism? Is the Soul transmitted from the parents to the new born child (Traducianism), or is a new soul of an individual created at every moment of conception (Creationism)? That issue goes into the question of how Original Sin is transmitted.
Some Church Fathers held the position of Traducianism, like Augustine.
Now, does the Reformed position of Federal headship lead somebody to any of those two positions, or is there a third option?
I'm not aware if the Reformers or any Confession adressed that issue too.
Is there an exegetical basis for any of those two positions?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
What is the historical Reformed understanding concerining the issue of Traducianism vs. Creationism?

This paper by Gordon H. Clark isn't exactly a "historic" view of the subject. But it is a good survey of some more modern theologians such as A. A. Hodge, J. Oliver Buswell, Louis Berkhof, and G. T. Shedd

Here's Gordon H. Clark's take on Traducianism
https://goo.gl/osQG2L

This is his introductory paragraph:

The various theological doctrines are so interwoven that it is sometimes difficult to know in what order to discuss them. As a professor once said of a work on philosophy (and no doubt of all works on philosophy, so also with theology) one cannot understand the first chapter until after he has understood the last chapter. The nineteenth-century theologian, W. G. T. Shedd, had prepared for the subjects just discussed in our previous section by a long passage on the origin of individual souls. He put it in his chapter on “Creation.” A. A. Hodge might well have done so, for he holds to the immediate creation of every soul at the moment of conception. But Shedd holds that the souls of the children are as much derived from their parents as their bodies are. The plan of the present treatise is to connect the origin of souls with federal headship and the imputation of guilt from Adam. The origin of souls was mentioned in that section, but its discussion was deferred.
 

Aco

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems to me that Creationism could lead into Nestorianism.
God is Spirit, and the Scriptures don't make a clear distinction between a soul and a spirit in a person, to my knowledge. If a person dies, the soul continues to exist and therefore also real personhood.
It seems to me that Personhood and Soul have to be related. If not, then the soul seems to be an inexplicable irrational entity.
If Christ's soul is created at the conception and the preexistent Person of the Son takes on flesh, you have to persons.
I also don't see how Traducianism would solve that problem
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
This paper by Gordon H. Clark isn't exactly a "historic" view of the subject. But it is a good survey of some more modern theologians such as A. A. Hodge, J. Oliver Buswell, Louis Berkhof, and G. T. Shedd

Here's Gordon H. Clark's take on Traducianism
https://goo.gl/osQG2L

This is his introductory paragraph:

The various theological doctrines are so interwoven that it is sometimes difficult to know in what order to discuss them. As a professor once said of a work on philosophy (and no doubt of all works on philosophy, so also with theology) one cannot understand the first chapter until after he has understood the last chapter. The nineteenth-century theologian, W. G. T. Shedd, had prepared for the subjects just discussed in our previous section by a long passage on the origin of individual souls. He put it in his chapter on “Creation.” A. A. Hodge might well have done so, for he holds to the immediate creation of every soul at the moment of conception. But Shedd holds that the souls of the children are as much derived from their parents as their bodies are. The plan of the present treatise is to connect the origin of souls with federal headship and the imputation of guilt from Adam. The origin of souls was mentioned in that section, but its discussion was deferred.

The Clark piece is really good. He shows how strong the positive case for traducianism is. It's one of the reasons I haven't outright dismissed traducianism. The biggest difficulty with traducianism is that it seems to say that souls are "fissile," which is hard to square with the soul's being an immaterial object.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
It seems to me that Personhood and Soul have to be related. If not, then the soul seems to be an inexplicable irrational entity.
If Christ's soul is created at the conception and the preexistent Person of the Son takes on flesh, you have to persons.

Souls are are a subset of nature, not persons. If soul = person, then Christ would be two persons, which is off-limits.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
It seems to me that Creationism could lead into Nestorianism.
God is Spirit, and the Scriptures don't make a clear distinction between a soul and a spirit in a person, to my knowledge. If a person dies, the soul continues to exist and therefore also real personhood.
It seems to me that Personhood and Soul have to be related. If not, then the soul seems to be an inexplicable irrational entity.
If Christ's soul is created at the conception and the preexistent Person of the Son takes on flesh, you have to persons.
I also don't see how Traducianism would solve that problem
Most of the reformed have seemed to hold with the Creation position on the human soul, at least among the authors that I have read upon this subject.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Yes, but could it be said that Christ had two souls?
Christ is fully human, so he has a human soul as well as a human body. Anything that doesn't have a soul can't be a human.

God is simple. He isn't made up of parts. God doesn't have a soul. He is that he is. And what he is is very different than a human soul.

So Christ has both a human body and a human soul (which, taken together, make him human), and he is God.
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I wrote an outline of Augustus H. Strong's treatment of the subject. Strong was a traducianist.

I) The Creation Theory
A) “[H]eld by Aristotle, Jerome, and Pelagius, and in modern times has been advocated by most of the Roman Catholic and Reformed theologians. It regards the soul of each human being as immediately created by God…”​

B) Best representatives:
i) Turretin
ii) Hodge
iii) Martensen
iv) Liddon​

C) Untenable for the following reasons:
i) “The passages adduced in its support may with equal propriety be regarded as expressing God’s mediate agency in the origination of human souls.”​

(a) Passages include:
(1) Eccl 12:7
(2) Is 57:16
(3) Zech 12:1
(4) Heb 12:9​

(b) Just as these passages refer to God as the creator of the soul, other passages equally refer to God as the creator of the body:​

(1) Ps 139:13-14
(2) Jer 1:5​

ii) “Creationism regards the earthly father as begetting only the body of his child—certainly as not the father of the child’s highest part. This makes the beast to possess nobler powers of propagation than man; for the beast multiplies himself after his own image.”

iii) “The individuality of the child, even in the most extreme cases, as in the sudden rise from obscure families and surroundings of marked men like Luther, may be better explained by supposing a law of variation impressed upon the species at its beginning—a law whose operation is foreseen and supervised by God.”

(a) This he proposes in opposition to the creationist’s contention “that there is a marked individuality in the child, which cannot be explained as a mere reproduction of the qualities existing in the parents.”
iv) “This theory, if it allows that the soul is originally possessed of depraved tendencies, makes God the direct author of moral evil...”
(a) “The decisive argument against creationism”​

II) The Traducian Theory
A) “This view was propounded by Tertullian, and was implicitly held by Augustine. In modern times it has been the prevailing opinion of the Lutheran Church. It holds that the human race was immediately created in Adam, and, as respects both body and soul, was propagated from him by natural generation—all souls since Adam being only mediately created by God…”
i) “Traducianism holds that man, as a species, was created in Adam. In Adam, the substance of humanity was yet undistributed. We derive our immaterial as well as our material being, by natural laws of propagation, from Adam…”
B) Remarks on Traducianism:
i) “It seems best to accord with Scripture, which represents God as creating the species in Adam (Gen 1:27), and as increasing and perpetuating it through secondary agencies (1:28; cf. 22). Only once is breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life (2:7; [he cites many other passages here]), and after man’s formation God ceases from his work of creation (Gen 2:2).”

ii) “It is favored by the analogy of vegetable and animal life, in which increase of numbers is secured, not by a multiplicity of immediate creations, but by the natural derivation of new individuals from a parent stock.”

iii) “The observed transmission not merely of physical, but of mental and spiritual, characteristics in families and races, and especially the uniformly evil moral tendencies and dispositions which all men possess from their birth, are proof that in soul, as well as in body, we derive our being from our human ancestry.”

iv) Traducianism allows for significant variation of child from parent in spiritual constitution, just as the body may be significantly different than that of the parent; this variation is often presented as a proof for creationism, but is not inconsistent with the traducian view.​
 
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Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I wrote an outline of Augustus H. Strong's treatment of the subject. Strong was a traducianist.

I) The Creation Theory
A) “[H]eld by Aristotle, Jerome, and Pelagius, and in modern times has been advocated by most of the Roman Catholic and Reformed theologians. It regards the soul of each human being as immediately created by God…”​

B) Best representatives:
i) Turretin
ii) Hodge
iii) Martensen
iv) Liddon​

C) Untenable for the following reasons:
i) “The passages adduced in its support may with equal propriety be regarded as expressing God’s mediate agency in the origination of human souls.”​

(a) Passages include:
(1) Eccl 12:7
(2) Is 57:16
(3) Zech 12:1
(4) Heb 12:9​

(b) Just as these passages refer to God as the creator of the soul, other passages equally refer to God as the creator of the body:​

(1) Ps 139:13-14
(2) Jer 1:5​

ii) “Creationism regards the earthly father as begetting only the body of his child—certainly as not the father of the child’s highest part. This makes the beast to possess nobler powers of propagation than man; for the beast multiplies himself after his own image.”

iii) “The individuality of the child, even in the most extreme cases, as in the sudden rise from obscure families and surroundings of marked men like Luther, may be better explained by supposing a law of variation impressed upon the species at its beginning—a law whose operation is foreseen and supervised by God.”

(a) This he proposes in opposition to the creationist’s contention “that there is a marked individuality in the child, which cannot be explained as a mere reproduction of the qualities existing in the parents.”
iv) “This theory, if it allows that the soul is originally possessed of depraved tendencies, makes God the direct author of moral evil...”
(a) “The decisive argument against creationism”​

II) The Traducian Theory
A) “This view was propounded by Tertullian, and was implicitly held by Augustine. In modern times it has been the prevailing opinion of the Lutheran Church. It holds that the human race was immediately created in Adam, and, as respects both body and soul, was propagated from him by natural generation—all souls since Adam being only mediately created by God…”
i) “Traducianism holds that man, as a species, was created in Adam. In Adam, the substance of humanity was yet undistributed. We derive our immaterial as well as our material being, by natural laws of propagation, from Adam…”
B) Remarks on Traducianism:
i) “It seems best to accord with Scripture, which represents God as creating the species in Adam (Gen 1:27), and as increasing and perpetuating it through secondary agencies (1:28; cf. 22). Only once is breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life (2:7; [he cites many other passages here]), and after man’s formation God ceases from his work of creation (Gen 2:2).”

ii) “It is favored by the analogy of vegetable and animal life, in which increase of numbers is secured, not by a multiplicity of immediate creations, but by the natural derivation of new individuals from a parent stock.”

iii) “The observed transmission not merely of physical, but of mental and spiritual, characteristics in families and races, and especially the uniformly evil moral tendencies and dispositions which all men possess from their birth, are proof that in soul, as well as in body, we derive our being from our human ancestry.”

iv) Traducianism allows for significant variation of child from parent in spiritual constitution, just as the body may be significantly different than that of the parent; this variation is often presented as a proof for creationism, but is not inconsistent with the traducian view.​
I do not see though humans passing on a sin gene to ourchildrem, but that God has already judged all to be under the corrupting effects of the fall, so He indeed creates the human soul, but is not the One to be responsible for its corruption.
The aspect of us that is immaterial would be the part created in us by God, just as He breathed that into already existing Adam.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I do not see though humans passing on a sin gene to ourchildrem, but that God has already judged all to be under the corrupting effects of the fall, so He indeed creates the human soul, but is not the One to be responsible for its corruption.
The aspect of us that is immaterial would be the part created in us by God, just as He breathed that into already existing Adam.
Nobody is arguing for a "sin gene."
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
The sin nature would be passed from parents to child through genetics though in one view, correct?
No, sir. The morally corrupt soul of the child comes from the morally corrupt soul of the parent. Genetics relates to the body, not the soul.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
No, sir. The morally corrupt soul of the child comes from the morally corrupt soul of the parent. Genetics relates to the body, not the soul.
What you are saying that that the immaterial non physical aspect of humanity is passed along somehow through a soul transference or something?
The soul is immortal, so if God does not create it in us, how can a moral being do that?
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
What you are saying that that the immaterial non physical aspect of humanity is passed along somehow through a soul transference or something?
The soul is immortal, so if God does not create it in us, how can a moral being do that?

As to your first question: you should read up on traducianism. There are some resources listed above from G. H. Clark, W. G. T. Shedd, and A. H. Strong. For a basic introduction, you could google it. Here's a good definition from the Wikipedia page:
In Christian Theology, traducianism is a doctrine about the origin of the soul ... , holding that this immaterial aspect is transmitted through natural generation along with the body, the material aspect of human beings. That is, an individual's soul is derived from the souls of the individual's parents.

I don't really understand your second question.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
What you are saying that that the immaterial non physical aspect of humanity is passed along somehow through a soul transference or something?
The soul is immortal, so if God does not create it in us, how can a moral being do that?

Let's look at it this way. We all agree that our "minds are darkened," etc. Where did that darkening come from? The creationist comes very close to saying that God is creating an evil soul every time someone is conceived.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The soul is immortal, so if God does not create it in us, how can a moral being do that?

I think you meant to say mortal. To answer your question, we were already in Adam's loins, and our souls are passed down (traduced). A mortal being is specifically not creating a soul in us.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Interesting: I was curious why Strong didn't mention Shedd, since Shedd's defense of traducianism became the definitive work on the subject. Turns out that Strong's ST was published two years before Vol 1 of Shedd's came out.

I confess I haven't gotten Shedd yet. It's been on my list of things to buy for some time (especially since it's required reading for students in my Presbytery). Does anyone know if he references Strong?
 
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TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
Let's look at it this way. We all agree that our "minds are darkened," etc. Where did that darkening come from? The creationist comes very close to saying that God is creating an evil soul every time someone is conceived.

Thats a fascinating point. What is the typical creationist response?
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
No, would say its rather that God is creating the soul that would be consistent with what all human beings have after being corrupted by the fall of Adam.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I think you meant to say mortal. To answer your question, we were already in Adam's loins, and our souls are passed down (traduced). A mortal being is specifically not creating a soul in us.
The soul is immortal though, so how can something physical like us generate a non physical and spiritual component?
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Thats a fascinating point. What is the typical creationist response?
God did not create sin, as Adam chose to put himself and all after him under the corruption of the Fall. so God is create souls that would be consistent with that state and condition.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I think you meant to say mortal. To answer your question, we were already in Adam's loins, and our souls are passed down (traduced). A mortal being is specifically not creating a soul in us.
Isn't the Creation by God of the human soul though the traditional Reformed position, or at least the one most widely held over the years?
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
The soul is immortal though, so how can something physical like us generate a non physical and spiritual component?
Our physical part (our body) generates our children's physical part. Our non-physical part (our soul) generates our children's non-physical part.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
God did not create sin, as Adam chose to put himself and all after him under the corruption of the Fall. so God is create souls that would be consistent with that state and condition.
You've talked about A. H. Strong a lot on other threads. You should read him on this point.
 
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