|« Prev||2. Traducianism.||Next »|
§ 2. Traducianism.
'What is meant by the term traduction is in general sufficiently clear from the signification of the word. Traducianists on the one hand deny that the soul is created; and on the other hand, they affirm that it is produced by the law of generation, being as truly derived from the parents as the body. The whole man, soul and body, is begotten. The whole man is derived from the substance of his progenitors. Some go further than others in their assertions on this subject. Some affirm that the soul is susceptible of “abscission and division,” so that a portion of the soul of the parents is communicated to the child. Others shrink from such expressions, and yet maintain that there is a true derivation of the one from the other. Both classes, however, insist on the numerical identity of essence in Adam and all his posterity both as to soul and as to body. The more enlightened and candid advocates of traducianism admit that the Scriptures are silent on the subject. Augustine had said the same thing a thousand years ago. “De re obscurissima disputatur, non adjuvantibus divinarum scripturarum certis clarisque documentis.” The passages cited in support of the doctrine teach nothing decisive on the subject. That Adam begat a son in his own likeness, and after his own image, and called his name Seth, only asserts that Seth was like his father. It sheds no light on the mysterious process of generation, and does not teach how the likeness of the child to the parent is secured by physical causes. When Job asks, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” and when our Lord says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” the fact is asserted that like begets like; that a corrupt nature is transmitted from parent to child. But that this can be done only by the transmission of numerically the same substance is a gratuitous assumption. More stress is laid on certain facts of Scripture which are assumed to favour this theory. That in the creation of the woman no mention is made of God's having breathed into her the breath of life, is said to imply that her soul as well as her body was derived from Adam. Silence, however, proves nothing. In Gen. i. 27, it is simply said, God treated man in his own image,” just as it is said that He created 69“every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Nothing is there said of his breathing into man the breath of life, i.e., a principle of rational life. Yet we know that it was done. Its not being expressly mentioned in the case of Eve, therefore, is no proof that it did not occur. Again, it is said, that God's resting on the Sabbath, implies that his creating energy was not afterwards exerted. This is understood to draw the line between the immediate creation and the production of effects in nature by second causes under the providential control of God. The doctrine of creationism, on the other hand, assumes that God constantly, now as well as at the beginning, exercises his immediate agency in producing something out of nothing. But, in the first place, we do not know how the agency of God is connected with the operation of second causes, how far that agency is mediate, and how far it is immediate; and in the second place, we do know that God has not bound himself to mere providential direction; that his omnipresent power is ever operating through means and without means in the whole sphere of history and of nature. Of all arguments in favor of traducianism the most effective is that derived from the transmission of a sinful nature from Adam to his posterity. It is insisted that this can neither be explained nor justified unless we assume that Adam's sin was our sin and our guilt, and that the identical active, intelligent, voluntary substance which transgressed in him, has been transmitted to us. This is an argument which can be fully considered only when we come to treat of original sin. For the present it is enough to repeat the remark just made, that the fact is one thing and the explanation of the fact is another thing. The fact is admitted that the sin of Adam in a true and important sense is our sin, — and that we derive from him a corrupt nature; but that this necessitates the adoption of the ex traduce doctrine as to the origin of the soul, is not so clear. It has been denied by the vast majority of the most strenuous defenders of the doctrine of original sin, in all ages of the Church. To call creationism a Pelagian principle is only an evidence of ignorance. Again, it is urged that the doctrine of the incarnation necessarily involves the truth of the ex traduce theory. Christ was born of a woman. He was the seed of the woman. Unless both as to soul and body derived from his human mother, it is said, He cannot truly be of the same race with us. The Lutheran theologians, therefore, say: “Si Christus non assumpsisset animam ab anima Mariæ, animam humanam non redemisset.” This, however, is a simple non sequitur. All that is necessary is 70that Christ should be a man, a son of David, in the same sense as any other of the posterity of David, save only his miraculous conception. He was formed ex substantia matris suæ in the same sense in which every child born of a woman is born of her substance, but what that sense is, his birth does not determine. The most plausible argument in favour of traducianism is the undeniable fact of the transmission of the ethnical, national, family, and even parental, peculiarities of mind and temper. This seems to evince that there is a derivation not only of the body but also of the soul in which these peculiarities inhere. But even this argument is not conclusive, because it is impossible for us to determine to what proximate cause these peculiarities are due. They may all be referred, for what we know, to something peculiar in the physical constitution. That the mind is greatly influenced by the body cannot be denied. And a body having the physical peculiarities belonging to any race, nation, or family, may determine within certain limits the character of the soul.
|« Prev||2. Traducianism.||Next »|