Apart from the principle of the rope, it is impossible to understand the course of human history. (39)

Bound Together by Chris Brauns

Corporate solidarity and individualism. These words represent two concepts that speak to the heart of national and personal identities. Individualism is the mindset that one is as an island unto themselves. I am on my own and tied to no one. On the other hand, corporate solidarity speaks to the fact that, even though we are individuals, we are all tied together. While corporate solidarity is present within almost every society, more and more people are trying to live as if it were not so. After all, who wants to be tied to a Hitler? What innocent person wants to suffer for the actions of another? And yet, it is a reality of everyday life.

It is this idea of corporate solidarity, in fact, this biblical idea, that Chris Brauns writes about in his new book Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices. The kind of corporate solidarity Brauns writes about is one that crosses community, ethnic and national solidarity. It is one that has tied us all together since the beginning of man. This is our corporate solidarity in Adam.

The Ties That Bind: By What & To Whom?

Corporate solidarity is a simple concept and Brauns does a masterful job of presenting it in an easily understandable manner. While the term can seem distracting from its simple meaning, Brauns uses an explanatory concept he calls the principle of the rope to help readers understand this important truth. The principle of the rope is “the simple truth that our lives, choices, and actions are linked to the lives, choices, and actions of other people.” (25)

It is only natural that many people, even Christians, will have a hard time accepting this truth that permeates their everyday lives. Brauns reminds us of some biblical examples: consider the flood in Gen. 7 that destroyed everyone left on the earth, the judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 19, the plagues in Egypt as told in Exodus, the conquest of Canaan by Israel in Joshua and even the sin of Achan that brought death to many people. These are just a few examples of corporate solidarity that run throughout Scripture.

Bigger than any of these examples is the rope that ties all of humanity together from Adam till the last person on earth is born. This is the rope that ties us all to Adam and his choice to sin against God. It is here that the doctrine of original sin comes into the picture. Stated similarly to the principle of the rope, the doctrine of original sin “refers to the reality that we are all bound to Adam in his choice to disobey God’s command.” (44) In regards to the nature of original sin, Brauns distills what can be the complex discussion of the realist versus the federalist/covenant view. Despite the differences of how original sin works, Brauns takes away three overlapping essentials to each position:

  1. All are counted guilty because of Adam’s sin.
  2. Al have a corrupt nature because of Adam’s sin. “We sin because we are sinners” rather than “we are sinners because we sin.”
  3. All the death and suffering and pain of human history are predicated on Adam’s failure in the garden. (48)

In the simplest terms using the rope analogy, “when Adam jumped off the cliff of sin and death in his rebellion against God, we were tied to him in his rebellion, and he pulled us over the side with him.” (49) This is perhaps one of the clearest and most succinct analogies to explain the doctrine of original sin.

While the principle of the rope ties all of humanity since Adam to Adam, there is a rope with a stronger bond, that, once tied to, we are severed from our ties to Adam. While the principle of the rope initially brings bad news to all of mankind, it can also bring good news. Romans 5: 12-21 tells us of the rope tied to Christ that is stronger than the rope we are born with tied to Adam. The essential argument of the passage is this

Just as we have been united to Adam – roped to him in his sin and rebellion – so now we can be united to Christ – roped to him – and receive his freedom, forgiveness, and salvation from our sin. (58)

Unlike the rope that ties us to Adam, this new rope that ties us to Christ cannot be broken. Similar to being severed physically from ones mother at the time of birth with the cutting of the umbilical cord, so believers are severed from their tie to Adam at the new birth and are then tied to Christ. They are united to Christ. It is this union with Christ that ensures we receive the status and benefits of our new tie to Christ.

Applications for Being Tied to Christ

While the first half of the book deals with defending the biblical doctrine of the principle of the rope, the second half of the book looks at several ways in which the principle of the rope has positive applications to our lives.

One of the benefits to being tied to Christ is the joy it brings. What might surprise readers is how this joy is experienced. After surveying numerous passages that discuss joy and the Christian life, Brauns concludes with the observation that joy in the Christian life is most experienced in our relationships with other believers. If the Christian life cannot be experienced as an island unto ones self, it follows that the joy of the Christian life cannot be experienced by ones self. We need the community of the saints to experience the fullness of the joy of our salvation in Christ.

Further, Brauns draws out helpful applications of being corporately tied to Christ within marriage, living in hurting families, help for those facing and fearing death along with applications for how Christians can utilize the ties that bind us together in the church and society.

Conclusion

While a book on corporate solidarity can potentially be a deep discussion, Brauns has done a masterful job of bringing its essential truths and components to the surface without losing its teeth. Bound Together is a perfect model for how to condense big deep truths into manageable material. This is the kind of book that I would give to everyone in my church if I could.

Brauns ably and clearly explains the biblical doctrine of corporate solidarity that will make it hard for skeptical readers to disagree with. He does with it just as Scripture does, he gives us the bad news and then follows it up with the good. The tie that binds us to Adam is not so strong that the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot loose us from and in turn eternally tie us to the second Adam, Christ the savior.

NOTE: I received this book for free from Zondervan through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the words and thoughts expressed are my own.

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