R. L. Dabney, the 19th century Calvinist theologian, attempts to explain how beings created as "very good" (Gen. 1:31)could sin. He writes:
How a holy will could come to have an unholy volition at first, is a most difficult inquiry. And it is much harder as to the first sin of Satan, than of Adam, because the angel, created perfect, had no tempter to mislead him and had not even the bodily appetites for natural good which in Adam were so easily perverted into concupiscence. Concupiscence cannot be supposed to have been the cause, pre-existing before sin; because concupiscence is sin, and needs itself to be accounted for in a holy heart. Man's, or Satan's, mutability cannot be the efficient cause, being only a condition sine qua non. Nor is it any solution to say with Turrettin, the proper cause was a free will perverted voluntarily. Truly; but how came a right will to pervert itself while yet right?
... The most probable account of the way sin entered a holy breast first, is this: An object was apprehended as in its mere nature desirable; not yet as unlawful. So far there is no sin. But as the soul, finite and fallible in its attention, permitted an overweening apprehension and desire of its natural adaptation to confer pleasure, to override the feeling of its unlawfulness, concupiscence was developed. And the element which first caused the mere innocent sense of the natural goodness of the object to pass into evil concupiscence, was privative, viz., the failure to consider and prefer God's will as the superior good to mere natural good. Thus natural desire passed into sinful selfishness, which is the root of all evil. ...
When we assert the mutability of a holy will in a finite creature, we only say that the positive element of righteousness of disposition may, in the shape of defect, admit the negative, not being infinite (Systematic Theology, ch. 29).
So, if I understand Dabney correctly, Adam and Eve fell because they were created as finite beings. Even as a candle will eventually burn out due to its finiteness, the first human beings eventually sinned due to their finiteness. Thus, it was inevitable that they sin.
Shedd (vol. 2, p. 149)Adam was holy by creation, but not indefectibly and immutably so. The inclination of his will, though conformed to the moral law, was mutable, because his will was not omnipotent. When voluntary self-determination is an infinite and self-subsistent power, as it is in God, the fall of the will is impossible. But when voluntary self-determination is a finite and dependent power, as it is in man or angel, the fall of the will is possible. ... The power to the contrary; the possibilitas peccandi, or power to originate sin ; belonged to Adam's will because of its finiteness.
If it was inevitable that the first couple sin, then how can they be held culpable?
see discussion at Tribalogue
Unfortunately, since we are not in the position of Adam and since the Bible is silent on the issue, we can only answer with speculation. Granted, it is speculation that is informed by the rest of Scripture, but this isn't an issue that the Bible addresses specifically.
We do know that Adam's sin did not catch God off-guard. It was foreordained, yet in such a way that Adam freely sinned. These concepts are all clear from Scripture. While I do not have a perfect answer for the question, I will give you my speculation with the caveats that 1) I haven't really worked through this in its entirety and 2) I do not hold this position dogmatically and can easily be influenced away from it.
My current belief is that barring active influence from God in the form of common grace, it is impossible for anything to remain in a perfect state. That is, the natural state of everything is entropy, and this is true of man and his spirituality. Thus, it is impossible for God to create a man who of his own power (that is, apart from God's continual upholding via His grace and mercy) will remain steadfast and not turn toward sin.
The advantage to this argument is that it would explain why Adam sinned (i.e. God removed His grace and let Adam be as Adam would be, which invariably means Adam would "break" and sin) and it explains why we will not sin in heaven (i.e. God will not ever remove His grace from us, and therefore we will continually rely on His power to keep us in communion with Him for all time).
The drawback is that it relies on saying that it is impossible for God to create a man who would not sin if God ever let the man exist of the man's own power. However, I wouldn't have a problem with this in theory since I do not believe God can make a round square or any other contradiction, and if it is logically impossible for God to create a person who cannot sin without His continual grace then we don't have a problem there.
So the question would be, is it logically possible for God to create a person who is able of his own power to remain faithful to God? And I haven't worked through that one yet.
But at least it gives me something to think about.
12/16/2007 9:58 PM
see discussion Puritanboard
You are also going to have to avoid the Roman error: that Adam's human nature was naturally deficient, that it tended toward concupiscence without the donum superadditum, special grace needed to remain sinless
Rome says concupiscence (inclination to wrongdoing) is natural. Dabney says, "concupiscence was developed." At least Dabney admits the result is mysterious, and not a natural occurrence