Our second attempt appeals to the concept of imputation. To impute means to assign or ascribe a value to something. In classic reformed theology there are three senses of imputation. The one most Christians like to talk about is that of God imputing our sin to the sinless Christ. Somehow God assigns or ascribes the culpability of our sin to Christ so that Christ can die in our place for our sin.
There are two additional senses of imputation in this classic perspective. The first is also relating to the atonement and involves the imputation or crediting of Christ’s life of perfect righteousness to the sinner. Thus, salvation on this view consists of a double imputation: our guilt to Christ and his sinlessness to us.
But there is a third imputation in this picture. Or rather, there is a first. It is the crediting of Adam’s guilt to the human race. On this view, babies enter the world not only with the sinful effects of Adam’s initial act (mortality and a penchant to sin when reaching a state of organic development sufficient for moral culpability — perhaps somewhere in the “terrible twos”) but also with Adam’s guilt. It is credited to them as surely as Christ’s righteousness will be credited to them when they believe.
Consequently, an infant like Landina was not born innocent. Rather, she was born not only liable to sin, but also with the guilt of Adam’s sin. And that meant that from the moment of birth — indeed, from the moment of conception — she was fit to be punished for that sin.
That doesn’t mean that Landina’s ordeal in the collapsed hospital was a punishment for the sin of Adam, though it certainly could have been. But it also could have been a punishment for the sins of the Hatian people. After all, if it is possible to impute the guilt of one individual (Adam) to an infant then it is also possible to impute the guilt of multiple individuals (e.g. those Hatians who allegedly made a pact with the devil to achieve political freedom) to an infant.
There is only one problem with this proposal. The notion of imputing the guilt of one individual’s sin to another individual (an infant no less!) offends our deepest moral sensibilities.
Okay, maybe I should speak for myself. It offends my deepest moral sensibilities.
But if you can accept it then you will find yourself with a rather tidy explanation for how Landina’s being buried in concrete in the Hatian earthquake could have been a holy and just divine punishment for the sins of others.