Sin, Suffering, and the Fall (RJS)

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We had some excellent conversations last week centered on my post Houston, Here’s the Situation and T’s post The Credibility of Our Christian Faith. A regular reader commented on both of these posts suggesting that we should refocus the conversation and consider the key theological issue involved in the creation story as the origin of sin and evil rather than the age of the earth. He has a point. So today I am going to highlight his comments, make a few observations, and open it up for discussion.

On “Houston, Here’s the Situation” (from comment #105)

But it is not rhetoric when I say the meaning of the fall is being altered when one accepts TE. I honestly believe that. Obviously most here disagree, but the solid connection between sin and death is clearly altered in the TE view, which I think is at the heart of Mohler’s address and is certainly vital to most YEC apologists. Death is not an enemy to be vanquished if TE is true, rather death is part of God’s method of creation. The meaning of suffering and evil change. One of the central reasons I am a Christian would melt away. The Christianity I have believed for decades would be changed into something radically different, because the origin of suffering would be attributable to God rather than to the fall. The answer to the question “why do we suffer” changes.

There is a cost to TE. And I think it is unnecessary because I think the high level of faith folks here place in naturalistic science is completely unwarranted when it comes to origins.

This is a good point – and leads to the question to consider today.

What is the theological cost of an old earth, even more an evolutionary understanding of creation?

 

This commenter came back with the same point from a slightly different angle on “The Credibility of Our Christian Faith” (from comment #5)

The issue really isn’t age – it is the question of evil. If I could rephrase the question: “How likely is it that the man who has been healed of a deadly tumor or blindness via the prayer of Christians is going to stop being a Theist because he comes to believe evil, death, tumors and blindness are part of God’s design and not the result of sin?”

The question is similar to the central implication of the Calvinist/Arminian debate. Is God the author of suffering and death?

The second question almost equal is “How likely is it that a man who trusts the reliability of the apostolic testimony about the resurrection and virgin birth will lose his confidence in that testimony by becoming convinced Paul, Peter and Jesus were factually wrong about the historicity of Adam and the relationship between sin and death.”

The age of the earth is a non-essential in that it is not a doctrine that affects salvation or our understanding of the nature of God. The question of evil is directly related to the nature of God and the meaning of redemption. The reliability of the apostolic witness also is important because a major argument in Paul’s theology is based on the relationship between sin and death, and if he is wrong on this point it necessarily erodes confidence in the reliability of the rest of the New Testament witness. If Paul is wrong about the problem, can he be right about the solution?

If this discussion focuses on those issues rather than the age issue, it will be more informative and productive.

Both of these comments thoughtfully highlight a significant issue as we wrestle with the nature of God and the nature of our faith, considering both the gospel and the Christian hope of new creation. Does acceptance of an evolutionary creation change the meaning of suffering and does it mean that evil, death, tumors and blindness are part of God’s design? Does this have a significant theological impact?

There are a number of important questions here. As we think through the issues I would like to pose a thought experiment.These are the kinds of things that I think about while considering the theological significance of an evolutionary creation.

God’s creation was good and Adam and Eve were placed on earth as part of the mission of God in his creation. They were to cultivate the earth (Genesis 2) and rule over all the creatures of the earth (Genesis 1).

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Gen 1:28

They were not commanded to sit around enjoying a garden. They had work to do and a future to look toward.

Now, what is the nature of suffering that entered the world with the Fall? To get a grip on this we need to consider not only what we see around us, but the original intent and course of creation without a fall. If Eve had told the serpent to get lost and Adam and Eve had remained true to God’s command would Eve have suffered any pain in childbirth?  Could little Cain have tripped, gashed his knee and run to his mom in pain for comfort?  Could Seth have climbed a tree, fallen from a branch and broken his leg? Or his neck? Could Adam have been careless and accidentally injured one of his children? Would a toddler who wandered away and fell in a pool be drowned?

None of the above involve sin, none involve human evil, none involve disease or natural disaster. But all involve suffering – both emotional and physical suffering.  When God said creation was very good – did he mean no accidents, no mistakes, no carelessness? If we could have accidents and carelessness does that make God the author of suffering?

Some will dismiss this as a stupid game. But if we take Genesis seriously (and I do) then we must envision a creation with Adam and Eve given a mission, and we must envision a creation where it was theoretically possible that they would not sin. It seems to me that the view we develop must be consistent both with what is and with what could have been.

I do not see how we can read Genesis 1-3 as literal history and come up with a vision that attributes all pain and suffering of all sorts to the sin of Adam.  This view simply doesn’t seem self-consistent within the text, even if we leave science and the age of the earth out of the discussion.

Now, this thought experiment doesn’t answer all of the questions – certainly it does not address the issue of disease and cancer. There are still serious theological questions. But I think it helps us start the conversation at a more reasonable place. We need to probe the corners, nooks, and crannies of our view of creation and the mission of God in connection with the Genesis story.

Genesis is truthful, and Paul had the problem right and the solution right. I certainly think Genesis is truthful, although it must be read with literary intelligence. We are all fallen – and this is the consequence of our rebellion from God. And Paul had the problem dead on right. The problem is sin, and the wages of sin are death. Sin entered and affects each and every one of us – for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sin leads to the whole world groaning. I trust Paul as he explains the problem, and as he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ as solution.  But I don’t think that any of this necessarily rests on a literary historical reading of Genesis 1-3. I take the fall seriously – humans have rebelled and fallen from God. What could have been was not – and we are responsible. The good news of Jesus Christ is that through the life, death and resurrection God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves, enabling and inaugurating the now, but not yet, Kingdom of God. Jesus was faithful as Adam was not, as Israel was not, as no one was or could be. He died for our sins and was raised for our justification.

I am not going to say that Adam was a fiction. There are a number of possible scenarios that leave us with a historical Adam and rebellion entering through the sin of one man. I am undecided on this issue. But, I don’t think that the problems introduced by an evolutionary creation undermine the impact of the story of Genesis 3 or the teaching of Paul, his identification of problem and solution. I do think they may change some of our ideas about sin, evil, and suffering.

No doubt many here disagree and have other takes on these issues. Let us continue the conversation.

Does the idea of an evolutionary creation undermine our theology of God or our understanding of the responsibility and just condemnation of mankind?

If you wish you may contact me directly at rjs4mail[at]att.net

  • phil_style

    I’ve often tried to picture the “physics” of a world without the risk of death. How did soil for the trees generate without dead leaves? Does nothing press against anything else that is alive (i.e. no insects ever get crushed)? The extrapolations can go on and on… Physical pain is, after all, just a sensation resulting from a force coming into contact with the nervous system.
    However, it is just as difficult as it is to imagine this “world without the physics of death” , as it is to imagine the “recreation” with it’s promise of life without death. Although, the image of Jesus’ resurrection body being unaffected by normal physics does seem to provide some insights.. But does the Eden story hint at such bodies/physics in it’s world?

  • Scot McKnight

    RJS,
    Thanks for these thoughts. Sin and suffering are not absolutely connected; there can be suffering without sin. Sin leads to suffering, yes, but suffering is part of how creation works.
    On sin, there is far too much theologizing on the basis of belief in original sin and I say this because the Bible throws very little emphasis on original sin and far more on human choosing to go against God’s will. (And I say this as one who believes in original sin; I did a series on this here when we went through Alan Jacobs’ book: Original Sin: A Cultural History
    .)
    Humans are sinners and that sinning leads to death all around us … and that death leads to widespread corruption. I see the death of Genesis 3 working itself out into broader and broader ways in Genesis 4-11. There is the dust of death everywhere. From Gen 3 on we see a singular story: humans, Israel, etc failing to remain obedient to God.
    Let me rephrase: the Story of the Bible is not simply Adam sinned and all at once everything collapsed. The emphasis of that Story is not only that Adam sinned and that led to death, but that Adam’s and Eve’s decision typified Israel and all humans in constantly choosing the wrong and that leading to more and more corruption and death and suffering in this world.

  • whoschad

    Sometimes I wonder what will happen in the New Heavens and New Earth if I ever stub my toe (or do the equivalent). There will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain. Will it be possible for me to stub my toe? Rather, I think that when I do stub my toe, instead of cursing God like I do now, I will bless Him.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    In the Resurrection (which is really life after life after death to borrow N.T. Wright’s phrase), I don’t think I would say that Jesus’ flesh was a restoration of what Adam was, but the perfect fulfillment of what man was created with the potential to become. The garden does not reveal a perfect humanity, but an immature humanity growing into awareness with the potential for mortality or immortality. Moreover, it seems to me that the idea (as long as we’re speculating) that the Son would have had to become flesh in order for us to be one with God whether or not humanity had turned from God is right on target. Jesus would not have had to die in such a reality, since we would not have been in bondage to death, but he would have still had to join his nature to ours.
    I’m still not sure I grasp the reason for the theological concern some have expressed about the natural cycle of life of plants and animals. The problem is not that ‘natural’ created life dies, but that the eikon of the Creator God, the animal not just with ‘life’ and ‘soul’, but with spirit from the breath (also ruach, right?) of God, dies.
    Since I saw it for the first time in recent months, the image that comes to my mind of the sort of ‘perfect’ world that it seems to me that some envision looks a lot like the world of the spacecraft in the movie Wall-E. And that doesn’t look anything like the creation of the text. Yes, in the story God puts the man and the woman originally in a protected garden (rather like we try to protect a child), but their charge was to spread the shalom of the garden to the world. As we see in the story when they are expelled, there was a whole wider world that was not a garden.
    I still don’t see any overarching Christian problem with the evolutionary story of creation. I see how certain theologies about sin and about the purpose of the Incarnation might be threatened by it, but I would simply say that’s further evidence those theologies are wrong. I guess since I never really believed and wasn’t raised and formed by them, that doesn’t create any tension for me. I suppose I understand how it could for some, though.

  • Dan

    RJS: Thanks for this response to the questions I posed. I do think this is the central question in the evolution/creation debate in the church. You post includes this: “If Eve had told the serpent to get lost and Adam and Eve had remained true to God’s command would Eve have suffered any pain in childbirth?”
    My answer would be that the text seems to say exactly that. In addition the ground was cursed, meaning the normal “work” of tending the garden now included the “sweat of the brow”. (No one thinks Adam and Eve had nothing to do.) Something changed as a result of sin, and Phil is correct in pointing out that this seems to parallel the future state where the lion will lie down with the lamb, death is swallowed up in victory, every tear will be wiped away and death is cast into the lake of fire.
    Phil raises the issue of the physics. I’m not sure leaves falling to the ground constitutes death. The tree still lives. I lean toward the view that death refers to cessation of breath and shedding of blood, so that eating a piece of fruit does not “kill” the fruit in the same way that eating a chicken requires the killing of a chicken. Insects? I plead ignorance there.
    But the point is that in the “narrative” of scripture, for humans and seemingly for animals, death and the level of suffering we now encounter associated with it, including pain in childbirth and struggle in extracting food from the soil, are attributed to the fall, and are eliminated in the New Earth. My point has been that that narrative is altered if the shedding of blood, the “red in tooth and claw” world of naturalistic evolution is imposed on Genesis and Paul.
    Augustine is clear in Book 13 Chapter 3 of “City of God”
    “For the first men would not have suffered death had they not sinned. …Wherefore we must say that the first men were indeed so created, that if they had not sinned, they would not have experienced any kind of death; but that, having become sinners, they were so punished with death, that whatsoever sprang from their stock should also be punished with the same death.”
    Evolution seems inevitably to mean that death, suffering, carnivorous predation, even cancer and plague and mass extinctions, are normative, and if God is behind evolution, then God’s plan includes death and suffering in contrast to the Genesis narrative. That calls into question both the narrative (scripture) and the character of God, for he not only authored death, he was less than honest about it if he is behind the authorship of scripture in both the New and Old Testaments.

  • Scot McKnight

    Dan,
    Your distinctions in death are important. You distinguish between the death of leaves or an apple (which I take to be real death since it involves an organism with life at some level) and the death of humans. It is the latter that is the emphasis of the Genesis 3 narrative and beyond. Augustine sees it the same way: the text you cite is about human death.
    One more point: the text doesn’t say birth pains per se but I will greatly multiply your birth pains. There just might be the distinction worth examining further.

  • Taylor

    Okay, someone please define what TE is so that I can follow this.

  • Scot McKnight

    Theistic evolution.

  • Dan

    Scot: Some in the YEC camp dig into the Hebrew in reference to “breath” and “blood” as it relates to death, and so they would not see eating an apple as “death” of the apple. They would extend death to animals because “the life is in the blood”, and because of the symbolism in the Hebrew sacrifices where only blood is offered for sin, again emphasizing the link between death and sin.
    I’m not sure Augustine was only speaking of human death. But even if this is the case, it would seem the Biblical narrative is in significant conflict with any idea of proto-humans or with common descent or other interpretations that would place human death before the fall. If human death is the result of the fall, then the first humans would have to be separated from the alternate narrative that reconciles Genesis and Paul to evolution. Augustine’s view would be that prior to the fall, at the very least, humans did not die, after the fall they did.
    It seems to me that if in fact God used evolution as his method of creation, he would have been quite capable of revealing to the same prophets who foretold the coming of the messiah a narrative that at least hinted of such a method and of such an ancient cosmology. That there is no such narrative in scripture suggests to me that a reconcilliation of Genesis, Peter and Paul with evolution is at best forced.

  • T

    This touches on two questions I have on some of the nitty-gritty details. On the insect issue, were the bees made with stingers, the snakes with fangs and venom, and all the other poisonous creatures and plants with their physical defensive and offensive mechanisms? Which is easier to swallow: that the creation, even in its innocence, was designed and physically ready for the Fall? Or that all these creatures essentially became different species altogether with the Fall? In answering this question, do we allow fossils to aid us?
    I believe it was Calvin, though I could be mistaken, who believed that animal death existed before the Fall. Does his voice on this issue matter to us considering its pre-evolution perspective especially?
    In any event, these are the kinds of questions that make me realize that much of the resolution of YEC is at a surface level. Other real theological questions, even concerning the readiness and experience of evil in the creation, remain even with a literal 6-day interpretation.

  • http://mysticallimpet.blogspot.com Travis Greene

    As he went along, [Jesus] saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
    “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
    John 9:1-3

    I am no Calvinist, but the idea that at least some of what we call evil really does have its origin in God has plenty of Scriptural warrant. Apparently God does sometimes create, or allow (if that is even a meaningful distinction) suffering so that he can show mercy.
    We are really talking about theodicy when we talk about the origin of evil. Some think they can protect God from being the author of suffering and death if everything bad we see is the result of human (or angelic) sin. But even asserting free will (as I do) is no real help here. God created humanity with the capacity for sin. If the devil is a literal being, God created him. And (at least for classical theists) he knew what would happen after he created, how badly it would all go.
    It seems to me that Scripture is largely silent on the origin of evil, and very vocal on what God is doing, or more accurately has done, about it.

  • http://thesometimespreacher.blogspot.com/ Andy Holt

    I recently read John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One and he argues for a functional interpretation of Genesis One as opposed to our traditional material interpretation. If he’s right, then when God says “it was good” he probably doesn’t mean, “it was morally good”, but rather, “it works”. This is, I believe, a very important distinction.
    I also believe that, had Adam and Eve not sinned, they still would have died because their physical bodies were not eternal. But the nature of their death would have been far different–it would have been the good and rightful end to a life well-lived. They would have been “gathered to YHWH”, so to speak. We see this sort of death today among those who have walked closely with Jesus.
    Without sin, death has no sting. I think one of the most important things that the resurrection gives us today is hope through death, and I imagine that, had Adam and Eve not sinned, they would have had that same hope. Physical death was always inevitable because our bodies are made of the same stuff as the rest of creation, but the terror that has accompanied it since the fall was not part of the design. That was a consequence of sin. This terror has been undone in the resurrection of Christ.

  • T

    Dan,
    We think that Genesis was either revealed to Moses in some way or revealed earlier and passed down or some combo of the two, right? Seeing how prophetic visions work in the rest of the scriptures, you don’t see a narrative of successive “days” of creation that climax with the creation of man to be even a “hint” of a progressive creation? Cause if there was going to be a hint, that’s a pretty strong one, especially in the context of the story of an omnipotent God who could have made it all appear at once.

  • Larry

    Why is there a “theological cost” associated with pursuing the truth, wherever it leads? I would think that incorporating false ideas into one’s theology would be where the true cost lies.

  • Rick Cruse

    I wish I could hold everyone’s thoughts/comments in my mind when I go to respond. There are many nuances and trails to pursue in this conversation. Genesis 5 (“…and he died; …and he died…) seem to underscore that something essential had changed. The word about Enoch stands out there (as with Genesis 3:15) as a promise, a word of hope.
    One really does wonder how the early chapters of Genesis would be read by thoughtful people who weren’t already conditioned by the theologies of others, bringing about some preconditioned interpretations. And, truthfully, we have great difficulty separating ourselves from the thoughts and views of others (that have shaped our interpretive acts) from an unbiased (though not necessarily wrong) reading of the text.
    Which are the elements of our understanding that actually result from honest engagement with the text and which are the preconceptions we bring from influences known and unknown?
    It’s only through honest engagement with one another, especially when another brings a different view, that we can pinpoint our own preconceptions.
    RJS’s words show adherence to what we would call the basic fundamentals of our faith:
    “Genesis is truthful, and Paul had the problem right and the solution right. I certainly think Genesis is truthful, although it must be read with literary intelligence. We are all fallen – and this is the consequence of our rebellion from God. And Paul had the problem dead on right. The problem is sin, and the wages of sin are death. Sin entered and affects each and every one of us – for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sin leads to the whole world groaning. I trust Paul as he explains the problem, and as he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ as solution. But I don’t think that any of this necessarily rests on a literary historical reading of Genesis 1-3. I take the fall seriously – humans have rebelled and fallen from God. What could have been was not – and we are responsible. The good news of Jesus Christ is that through the life, death and resurrection God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves, enabling and inaugurating the now, but not yet, Kingdom of God. Jesus was faithful as Adam was not, as Israel was not, as no one was or could be. He died for our sins and was raised for our justification.”
    Those who hold to YEC would question how she gets there in light of how they’ve been shaped to understand and interpret. Yet, at what point do we need to say, “Mystery, mystery”? Just because those with a YEC viewpoint have created clear, precise, outline-able “theological” steps between their view of Gen 1-3 and the need for a literal 6-day creation doesn’t mean they’re correct and RJS is wrong.
    I appreciate this conversation, both its content and its spirit. I have a great deal to ponder and to learn from your thoughts.

  • Rick

    Would not the Fall, and therefore we as “cracked eikons”, impact how we view discomfort, pain, and suffering? If there had not been a Fall, would we have a clearer understanding and acceptance of those issues?
    “Death” is the issue. It is what the EO’s emphasize (rather than “sin”). What is the definition of “death”? What did Genesis have in mind? How was “death” seen in the rest of the OT, especially in light of the fact that an “after-life” was rarely mentioned? What did Paul have in mind? More to the point, what did the Holy Spirit have in mind?
    How do we contrast that with the emphasis Jesus put on “life”? Abundant life?

  • Josh

    RJS,
    You present some good counter-arguements to what I believe are some very persuasive warnings about TE.
    I think one other aspect of death needs to be considered. In the Revelation, death itself is thrown into the eternal fires and destroyed. It is called an enemy of God and suffers the same fate as Satan. Likewise, Jesus is angered at his friend’s death (Lazarus).
    In much of popular Christianity, death is seen like God’s buddy or something. Peole say, “Well, it must have been his time to go.” But in the Bible, death is not God’s buddy; it’s his enemy.
    So, it’s hard for me to see God using death – although he did use the death of his Son to redeem humanity – and all creation – from the curse of sin (which includes death). Still, I think there are some major problems with TE.

  • http://inlonelyexile.blogspot.com Jonathan

    What of God wrenching Jacob’s hip, so that though he walks away with a blessing, he also walks away with a limp?
    Now, I recognize that this is a post-fall event, but God seems very evidently the efficient cause of suffering in Jacob’s case, and moreover this suffering is tied to the reasoning behind the blessing he receives: a new name bespeaking that he has “struggled with God and with men and overcome.”
    In Jacob’s case, the specific nature of his blessing (which, in Chapter 35, also invokes the command to “be fruitful and multiply”) doesn’t just incidentally include suffering, but is in fact predicated on it.
    I know this doesn’t relate directly to YE vs. OE questions, but I think its at the heart of what we mean by suffering, evil, sin and blessing.

  • Fish

    Larry #14: “Why is there a “theological cost” associated with pursuing the truth, wherever it leads? I would think that incorporating false ideas into one’s theology would be where the true cost lies.”
    This is where I am at. What is this thing called theology that must be protected?
    If God would assign all humanity suffering and sin for generation upon generation until the end of time because of what one person did at the dawn of time, I can’t reconcile that with the image of a just God.
    Blaming sin and suffering on Adam and Eve so as to not blame God may help some people feel better about God, but not me.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I this point I can only help diverge. My thoughts:
    I wonder if the pre-fall body was a body more similar to the body of the resurrection. When Jesus rose, many saw him but did not recognize him. He was a gardener, a companion on the street. Etc. Certainly those who knew the pre-resurrected Jesus would recognize him. What did this post resurrection body look like? It seems odd to me that it did not shine, did not have any documented difference yet was not recognizable in its physical form.
    So one of my hypotheses is that the created pre-fall were more like the resurrected body. Just as sin (non-resurrected body) entered the world through Adam, so to new creation enters the world through Jesus.
    An alternative is that (as Scott Morizot #4 pointed out I believe), that Adam and Eve were on a road toward the resurrected body. Not it, but directionally on the way there. But through their choice we have become fallen and lost and unable to find the way to that new body again. Jesus pointed the direction and demonstrated the end state both in spirituality and physicality.
    I hypothesize that perhaps death is a direction, not a state. In death and dead mean not living (in the sense that I could say to my wife, We are really living now!).
    I also like the line of thinking that the death is a death that we all go through in our growth. Jesus tells us that we need to become like little children, that they have the life that he is telling us that we need to have. I don’t know about your kids, but mine certainly did not know that they were naked when they got out of the tub and ran around the house.
    The fall is not a one time historic event, we all fall to the way of the world. Jesus did not experience the fall. He certainly suffered, even though one could argue that he was without sin therefore he is not fallen. But he did experience death?
    The death that they experienced was death without resurrection. They fell, God closed the doors to resurrection through their sin and therefore they are dead meaning that they will no longer participate in the resurrection. But Jesus conquered death through his renewed life and thereby ushered in life for a

  • bob

    when I think of the suffering and death that resulted from the fall my mind goes more towards man’s broken relationship with God and the implications that follow. The fall caused a relational gap between God and mankind, between people and even a healthy relationship with ourselves which apart from Christ are all permanent. I think the fall causes suffering that results from lack of purpose, contentment and peace that comes when people live life away from God’s revelation ultimately seen in Jesus Christ. So while I’m not sure what view I hold (God is not bound to my understanding of origins) I don’t think the concerns raised by EC necessarily undermine our theology of God, but there are great questions being raised on both sides

  • T

    Several comments raise significant theological questions, I think the distinction of the garden from the rest of the creation is an interesting one. Also, Travis reminds us that questions of the origins of suffering and evil remain whether we go with a TE or YEC view of creation. Many of the fault lines in the Calvinist/Armenian debates are located there, as are the questions of those outside the faith, even if we give them YEC as our story. For my part, YEC doesn’t cement its credibility based on how well it resolves these issues.
    Dan’s questions seem to be grounded in the pastoral concern that people will lose their faith if they come to believe that God is the author of evil, which is the alleged inevitable or likely result of accepting the TE view. I’ve heard, as I’m sure many of us have, the same arguments against Calvinist paradigms for the faith. What’s interesting about that comparison is that I’m convinced that a person can plunge themselves into depression, lose their faith, and/or warp the faith they have just by insisting on intellecutally grasping a fully-satisfying resolution of the Calvinist-Armenian debate, regardless of which side they lean toward. The same could be said of end-times issues as well as, perhaps origins issues.
    Just like we can miss the point of the end-times texts by trying to discern the specifics on all the who, when, where and how questions, I wonder if we can do the same with the origin texts.

  • Jonathan

    suffering = death = sin = evil?
    Human suffering/death = animal/insect/vegetable suffering/death?
    If not, what are the distinctions and how are they grounded?

  • RD

    Questions:
    What if none of these passages are to be taken literally (I’m not trying to be argumentative; I seriously wonder why one has to treat the texts as actual history in order to have a true and meaningful relationship with God)?
    What if Genesis 1-5 is nothing more than literary? A myth? An oral tradition passed down for centuries which addresses some very basic questions of our earliest ancestors: why does it get dark for 12 hours and then get light? What are those shiny spots up in the sky? Where did the river come from? Why do weeds crowd out the squash? Why do animals and people stop living?
    Why is there no mention of heaven in the Torah? Or Satan? Or the theological idea that how humans related to God in this life would determine where they spent all of eternity? When death comes to the great patriarchs and heroes of the OT there is no disctinction about there being any kind of eternal reward or punishment for their devotion (or lack thereof) to God while they lived.
    Could the ideas of heaven, sin, an evil angel (Satan) have evolved over thousands of years and entered – slowly – the Hebrew story? And if they did, how does that fold back into Genesis 1-5? Are we making too much of these stories? Is our theology even based on correct assumptions?

  • Percival

    I’m with Larry #14 on this. There is no “theological cost” for giving up false ideas, only for holding on to them.
    Biological death is necessary for life. Even our bodies depend on the death of other creatures at a micro level. Pain is necessary as well. In general, life without pain is worse than life with pain. (See Paul Brand’s book, Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants.) Given the laws of physics, it is impossible to have biological life without pain or death. Whatever the Bible means when it talks about pain and death as enemies, it means more than the physical.
    By the way, death is not always seen as a negative in the Bible. Jn 12:24 Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.

  • Kenny Johnson

    I was listening to one of Denis Lamoureux’s lectures on the sin-death problem:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU8H8o1f-yg&feature=PlayList&p=9A0D33ABA2B5946C&playnext_from=PL&index=2&playnext=2
    I’ll be honest, I was having a hard time following his argument. He says that God’s works (natural history) reveal that death occurred before sin, but that God’s Word reveals the opposite.
    His solution seems to be that the author of Genesis and Paul both share an ancient understanding of biology, so death would logically follow after sin in their minds.
    So his conclusion is that death did not originate with sin (which TEs would accept based on scientific evidence), but his solution seems to be just that Paul and the Genesis author (Moses?) just had an ancient view of biology and life — so it would have made sense to them death occurred after sin.
    What confuses me is — does he believe that if death did not originate from sin, does sin lead to death? And what does that mean (e.g. the wages of sin are death).

  • RD

    God created “the heavens and the earth” and I believe that science is pretty convincingly showing us that God chose to work through an evolutionary process to do it. Thus, life, death, physical and emotional pain, suffering, drought, blizzard, flood, heat stroke, hypothermia, cancer, heart disease, toe fungus and receding hair-lines are all a part of the package. What God did do (in my view) was build a creation that was/is balanced between constants and chaos (or, theologically speaking, free will). Certainly we all pretty much agree that human beings have free will in choice and action and thought, etc. And most of us agree with the constants (gravity, the speed of light, orbital patterns of the solar system, the fact that the Detroit Lions are, well, the Detroit Lions…) But there is also chaos (free will) built into the package (to keep things interesting, perhaps???); cells, molecules, tectonic plates, cold frontal boundaries, bacteria and virus and arterial plaque all have free will to come and go and form and impact in random ways. So people can count on the sun “rising” in the east each morning (constant) but might discover they’ve developed prostate cancer, this after getting into a fender-bender in the parking lot of their doctor’s office (chaos). Is the cancer sin? Is car crash sin? Is suffering sin? I don’t see it that way. And I don’t see death being the result of sin either. It’s how God created all things. If death had not cursed the creation (assuming “the fall” actually unleashed death which otherwise would not have ever become a reality within creation) how would planet earth have ever contained every single insect, fish, reptile, animal or human being that has lived since the very beginning of our history?
    The theology comes in when human beings try to explain the deeper meanings behind living and dying. We interpret scripture to say that death is the enemy, that God abhors death. But, as I asked at the end of my last comment, is this really true?

  • T

    Kenny,
    I think you are summarizing well one of the main theological concern/question with TE.

  • Jonathan

    RD,
    You wrote: “What God did do (in my view) was build a creation that was/is balanced between constants and chaos (or, theologically speaking, free will).”
    It should be noted, though, that those things you list as constants are in fact CONDITIONAL constants, not absolute constants. And, those things you listed as chaotic in fact contain the conditional correlates (i.e. classical laws like the laws of physics, etc) within them. However, they are nested in a diverging set of conditions that is so sprawling and unwieldy that it is effectively “random”. Statistical method attempts to corral this “randomness” (or better, non-systematic processes) into spatio-temporal units and then measure the frequency with which the conditions of the constants are met. For example, the distribution of blades of grass in a square meter of your front yard is non-systematic, but statistics can provide us with the means of extrapolating the density of grass distribution over the whole yard.
    The universe, as a result, does not demonstrate a rigid stability of a mechanistic system into which human freedom has to break, but rather has a fluid stability in which probabilities fluctuate to reveal (and sometimes dismantle) schemes of recurrence (i.e. water cycle, ecological cycles, planetary orbits, etc). The character of this stability is, according to the theologian and philosopher of science Bernard Lonergan, called “Emergent Probability.”
    Evil, we could say, is the invasion of a force that dismantles intelligible systems of recurrence (i.e. oil spills that disrupt oceanic life cycles). Sin would be a version of evil that does so through human agency, itself a mix of systematic behavior (routines, economics, etc) and non-systematic irrationality (random acts of violence, flawed economic practices like mortgage backed securities, etc).
    Incidentally, genetic development on the micro (organism growth and reproduction) and macro levels (evolutionary processes) are a special kind of emergent probability. Human freedom emerges as an intelligent (in an addition to intelligible) process over and above our biological processes. Which is why we can do things like choose to go on hunger strikes if we have a sufficiently developed character/will.

  • RJS

    Kenny,
    Interesting. I am going to have to listen to Denis Lamoureux’s argument and perhaps post on it later.
    I don’t think that we can assign the relationship between sin and death in scripture to the accommodation of an ancient world view though – and from your brief comment this is what it seems he is arguing. Or let me put it a little differently – accommodation may play a role but it is not the solution to our puzzles.
    It seems to me that the connection between sin and death and suffering is a relational connection, and it is a human problem. I have no problem, theologically, with death in the plant and animal kingdoms. Evil implies a cognizant moral (or immoral) intent. Not ‘natural’ or instinctual actions.
    There was an innocence in the original creation, not a perfection.

  • Kenny Johnson

    @RJS,
    And I might be misunderstanding him. I haven’t read any of his books, so I don’t know if he fleshes this out at all.
    He does humbly admit that he think this is only “a” solution, not “the” solution.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I guess I don’t know my bible well enough but where does it say that there was no death before the fall? I can’t seem to find that.
    I look at this much more the way Paul talks about it in Romans. If sin is having selfish behavior (which is the opposite of love, right?) then by choosing sin god gives us over to sin because we choose that type of behavior. Selfish behavior causes suffering but we can’t see how that is so we continue to exhibit that type of behavior.
    Like I said in the first sentence, where does it say that there was no suffering and death before the fall? The most excruciating suffering is the kind done by sin to others…and it is a tautology that god will increase that if we chose to do that. We die to eternal life.
    I can’t see the problem I guess. And I certainly agree with others that avoiding the truth because you don’t like reality is not really tenable.

  • Kenny Johnson

    @DRT
    Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
    But Paul’s whole argument in Romans 5:12-20 seems to suggest that death is a result of sin.
    Is Paul arguing that sin is the author and originator of death? Is he speaking of physical death? Is he thinking of biological death the way were are or is it something else? Something more?

  • Jonathan

    In the beginning of Book IV of De Trinitate, Augustine argues that Man suffers from both spiritual and physical death and it is Christ’s physical death that covers Man’s double-death (physical AND spiritual). That might be an interesting place to start re: what kind of death Paul refers to in the passage in Romans.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Thanks Kenny. I guess I am corrupt since I cannot see how to possibly interpret that as a literal death. Just as under the law we die to the law, we die to god’s love through sin. Did Paul literallly die under the law? I don’t mean to insult anyone, but there must be more that I am not seeing since I really cannot see how that possibly could be taken literally. I mean if god said that they would surely die if they ate the fruit then they did die when they ate the fruit. Therefore the definition of death is all the pain and suffering brought own through selfish behavior. Or did god lie or change his minnd? I think it is far more likely that they did die as god said they would and that defines death in this context.
    Heck, right after all their self fulfilled pain was articulated by god he says that they should not eat of the tree of life so they won’t live forever. Why did he have such a tree if no one ever dies? Did he have it laying around waiting for them to sin and cause death do that he can withhold it from them? That seems silly.
    Or I guess the thought is that they had access to the tree of life while they were in the garden and they could eat from it but since they sinned (did something for their own self interest, not love), then god felt they should no longer have access to this tree of life. Perhaps the tree of life is actually a life of freedom and good thought in the garden and not a literal tree. So what he is saying in genesis 2 is that because you exhibit selfish behavior you will not have the life that god intended for you (a tautology). It is man’s chosing. Right?
    Just my thoughts.

  • Matt

    I can’t remember if I read this here before or not, but it is a good question: why the need for a garden of Eden if everything was hunky dory everywhere before the Fall? Wright, Stott and others talk about the possibility of human “death” being a good thing before the fall, perhaps something like Enoch’s (or even Jesus’) ascension. The Fall brought about immediate spiritual death and the certainty of the painful experience we all know (and hate) as physical death.

  • Josh

    @25 (Percival),
    Death is necessary for life. Yes, in a world separated from God, the life-giver. One of the primary results of the Fall is that mankind (and the rest of creation) are banned from God (two angels standing at the gate to Garden, guarding the place that God “walks” about in).
    In a world without the Life-giver, organisms must take life from other things. Plants take life from the sun, creatures take life from plants, creatures take life from other creatures, and so on and so on. In a world without God’s presence, you are right: life cannot exist without death.
    But you are wrong in saying that this condition is just the way the universe is. You don’t know that and neither can you prove it.
    In the Christian story, there once was a universe that did not “need” death, and there will once again be a universe in which death is expelled forever.

  • http://awaitingawhiterobe.blogspot.com MikeB

    Just read through much of the comments. Some thoughts regarding many of the items brought up…
    DRT@#31
    I think Kenny gave the primary passage (Rom 5:12)regarding death entering after the fall. Also check out 1 Cor 15:21. Also Gen 3:19 seems to define death quite plainly (you are made from dust and you will return to dust). Why did God announce this here after the fall if that was already true?
    I think that Genesis makes it clear regarding plant life – (Gen 1:29-30) that plant “life” was created for food and in that sense there was plant death before the fall and was always intended. Even Revelation shows that there are fruit bearing trees in the kingdom. Regarding animal death, that is less clear – though the implications of Gen 1-3 (plants only for food for humans and animals) are that animals were not dying before the fall. Also passages on the millennial kingdom seem to demonstrate that this was the intended state of creation (children/cobras, lion/lame etc) and we can infer that is also the case prior to the fall. That creation was altered after the fall can be seen in Genesis 3 (harder to grow food, thorns) and Rom 8 (creation groans because it is subjected to the curse).
    What do we do with all of these passages if we accept TE?
    RD@#24
    Based on the questions and hypothesis you project I have to wonder how you view the Scriptures. You use words like evolve and tradition suggest that the Scripture are simply man-made myths. I am sorry if I misunderstand what you are saying so I will ask – do you believe that the Scriptures are inspired?
    Also “heaven” is mentioned in the Torah – albeit not as detailed as we might like – Enoch is taken somewhere. Also the serpent, though not called Satan is clearly one and the same (Rev). Also these are further taught in the OT (Elijah, Daniel 12, Job 1).
    captcha: his chimps…

  • MikeB

    DRT#34
    Regarding the tree of life… we would have to ask the same question regarding its presence in the New Heavens…

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Josh#36
    correct me if I am wrong it does not say that god did not walk outside the garden. It also explicity states that he put the barrier up to keep them from the tree of life, not to keep them from him. I think god is still present in this world and animals eat each other anyway.
    I will take your first and last paragraphs, but the second is not on the mark to me.
    Dave

  • RJS

    Josh and MikeB,
    While parts of the church (and rather small parts at that) have taught that there was no animal death without the fall. It is not at all clear that scripture teaches that anywhere. I rather think it is something we’ve imposed on the text.
    Human death – that is something of a different issue. And what I think we really need to discuss.
    But the New creation – the world to come – is not a recreation of Eden. It is something completely new, and something we cannot fathom. We have only small glimpses in scripture.
    The original creation, on the other hand, had a mission and a purpose as outlines in Gen 1-2. Whatever the fall did – it did not change the mission or purpose.

  • Matt

    In Eden there was potential for death and it was realized. In eternity there will not be the potential for death. Perhaps animal death before the Fall and outside of Eden was a result of the freedom God had given all his creation, the same freedom humans abused and continue to abuse.

  • Kenny Johnson

    @DRT,
    I think that’s a good point. Adam and Eve did not die (at least not immediately) when they ate the fruit. But I wouldn’t say all pain and suffering are the result of sin (e.g. God says that birth pains will INCREASE.)
    It does seem like immortality was more of a possibility than a given. I forget who mentioned the idea of humans being in an immature state and that both a greater existence or less existence were possible. I believe that’s similar to something Iraneus proposed as well.

  • MikeB

    RJS#40
    “While parts of the church (and rather small parts at that) have taught that there was no animal death without the fall. It is not at all clear that scripture teaches that anywhere. I rather think it is something we’ve imposed on the text.”
    What do we do with Gen 1:28-30 then?
    God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.
    Is not a straight-forward reading that humans and animals were plant eaters (not carnivorous). Would it not be a rather reasonable conclusion that animals were not dying. Certainly not from predators anyway.
    As for human death – is the general TE position on this that there was human physical death prior to the fall and that only spiritual death is in view in Genesis 3?
    What does one do with Genesis 3:19. Is God restating the obvious regarding “returning to dust” or is this the beginning of physical (as well as spiritual) death as Rom 5:12 and 1 Cor 15:21 would seem to support?

  • http://LostCodex.com Your Name

    Found this and it is particularly fun to read about how Adam named the animals names that have to do with violence. I particularly like this line:
    However, Adam gave some very unusual names to some of the carnivores. For example, the Hebrew name for lion is derived from the Hebrew root that means “in the sense of violence.” Was Adam referring to the violence with which the lion ate its vegetables?
    http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/death.html
    I can’t see the animal=non-death, but will be thinking more about the human death.

  • Josh

    @RJS,
    I am right there with you about not going beyond the text. The speculation that there was no death before the Fall and the speculation that there was death or that the chaos referred to in the opening verses refers to organic chaos is all speculation.
    But Paul’s assertion that death entered into our world through sin, Jesus’ anger (presumably) at death, and the picture of death as an enemy of God in Revelation brings a lot of light to such speculation.
    @39 (DRT),
    I am here making a distinction between God’s omnipresence and his manifest presence. It’s not easy to speak of such things but I think most know what I mean. There is a clear contrast between the world after the Fall as presented in Gen. (God is not seen – he only reveals himself, speaks when he desires to) and the world at the end of the Revelation – a world that does not need light (hey, maybe the Bible is a book of science after all) but is illuminated by the glory of God, a world filled with his presence, a world in which the lion lays down with the lamb, little children play with vipers, and there is no more death.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    oops, the last one was me.

  • Jonathan

    In what sense are human beings animals? In what sense are they not?
    What implications would those distinctions have on a discussion of pre-fall human death?

  • MikeB

    @#44
    I find it particularly fun that we struggle with the Genesis & Scriptural text regarding death and then offer up this as “evidence”.
    Genesis never says Adam named the lion “lion” or that he even spoke Hebrew. I think a better case can be made regarding no animal death than Adam named the lion using the Hebrew word. :)

  • Rick

    Much like “knowing” is more than just information when discussed in Scripture, “death” (and “life”) seems to carry more meaning that just a state of physical being.
    It is the disengagement, (or in the case of “life”, engagement) with the full sense and experience of existence, especially in regards to the Imago Dei.
    If one cannot have “life” in the way God wants us to have it, to the fullest, the only other option is death. One cannot be “a little bit” pregnant, and one cannot be “a little bit” alive. Either you are alive as God intended, or you are dead. No in-between. So the “death” expressed in Genesis may be viewed in regards to true “life” found in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
    The more I look at this the more I wonder if “death” is really more about “separation”. Separation from ourselves, God, each other, creation, Eden, the Promised Land, etc… because we are cracked eikons. The Fall started the ripple effect.
    The new life, new creation, etc.. is the reconnection.
    Just throwing out thoughts.

  • Fish

    “As for human death – is the general TE position on this that there was human physical death prior to the fall and that only spiritual death is in view in Genesis 3?”
    I don’t about the general TE position, but I don’t believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and the fall to me is the point at which our consciousness evolved and expanded and we became aware of right and wrong — and God. Of course there was death before this, for death is necessary for evolution.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    MikeB, now I had to go figure out if Noah spoke hebrew or not, and after the Babel incident it gets real confusing.
    Regardless, the phrase “Was Adam referring to the violence with which the lion ate its vegetables?” is too good to pass up in any argument. It must but true :)

  • RD

    MikeB @ 37-
    You asked, “…do you believe that the scriptures are inspired?”
    Yes, I very much DO think the scriptures are inspired by God, but I don’t think we can necessarily read them literally. For example, I think the creation narratives (and there are two distinct creation accounts provided in Genesis, and some would say there are even three accounts) cannot be taken literally (in my view). They are stories that try to make sense of the drama and struggle of human existence and the created universe. And they try to answer the deeper questions of why people must die and what constitutes acceptable behavior. In the narratives God reveals (spiritual inspiration) himself (herself?), Shows us glimpses of God and what it means to follow God.
    You also commented: “Also the serpent, though not called Satan is clearly one and the same (Rev). Also these are further taught in the OT (Elijah, Daniel 12, Job 1).”
    True about the serpant being in Genesis, but the narrative never makes the distinct connection between serpant and Satan. Yes, later OT writers make the connection, but is that because, after thousands of years, the idea of Satan has developed within Hewbrew theology? Abraham never interacts with Satan. Nor does Jacob or Joseph or Isaac. Does Moses ever consider Satan or battle demonic adversaries or ever even consider matters pertaining specifically to heaven and hell?
    I don’t understand how some can read scripture and not see that God is originally considered responsible for suffering and death. In early Hebrew history it seems clear that God is responsible for the suffering that people endure. Much later the idea of Satan seems to gain more widespread acceptance, i.e. in the writing of the prophets, the book of Job or the book of Daniel, and certainly MUCH later in Revelation. Compare 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1, for example. Both are almost identical accounts of the consequences visited on the Hebrew people when King David takes a census of the number of his subjects. Because David takes the census God sends an angel to kill thousands of Hebrews. In the earlier telling in 2 Samuel the text states that God incited David to take the census. 1 Chronicles – written much later – retells the same story only this time the text states that Satan incited David to take the census. I think this is a good example of how ideas about the nature and causes of suffering and death, over time, changed among the Hebrew people. Early on it was God who ejected man from the garden and caused him to be at enmity with the land and to suffer in childbirth and survive by the sweat of the brow and to die (though only returning to dust, no mention of going on to heavenly reward or hellish punishment). Much later, during and after the Babylonian exile, the ideas about Satan began to take shape and enter the Biblical text.
    I ramble. Sorry. All this to say, does this negate divine inspiration of scripture? I don’t believe it does at all. I don’t have to try to do theological gymnastics about whether death existed before the “fall” or whether animals killed other animals only AFTER the “fall”. I don’t have to wonder if rattle snakes or scorpions or brown recluse spiders were non-poisonous prior to the “Fall” and then became new types of creatures after the “Fall”. I see God as a grand designer of an amazing life system. I don’t find any theological obstacles because of a belief in TE.

  • http://theincarnate.blogspot.com Matt Stephens

    I just wanted to say (1) thanks to RJS for taking up this discussion and (2) I have really enjoyed reading the comments! :-)

  • MikeB

    RD @52
    RD, could you help me out and provide your definition of “inspiration” and what that means for the text we have today. Given your subsequent views regarding the evolution of theology, Satan etc. I think we would have very different ideas regarding this.
    “I don’t understand how some can read scripture and not see that God is originally considered responsible for suffering and death.”
    Let’s start with reading Gen 1-2 which are the only chapters that describe the world pre-Fall. Here I see God creates a wonderful and diverse place for man, places him in a beautiful garden, gives him a wife, plenty of food, and relatively easy work. He gives man a simple command and consequence and man blows it (Gen 3). If by your statement God is ultimately responsible in that He alters creation and imposes the consequence He said that He would then sure He is responsible – in the same manner as a parent that places a kid in time out is responsible. The truth is man is responsible for breaking the command and sinning. God justly metes out the consequence just like He said.
    That God could also be described as responsible (regarding David/census) can be understood from the account in Job because God ultimately as sovereign Ruler has to allow Satan the freedom to cause havoc.
    How are you assigning responsibility?

  • pds

    The Design Spectrum
    Scot claimed last week that he affirmed a historic fall and theistic evolution. I asked him to explain how it all happened how the first humans came about and how the first sin came into the world. I did not get a response. I think that Dan is right: if you accept a gradual transition from animal to human through evolution, it is hard to see how a historical fall works. Everything would seem to be gradual, including sin and human rights.
    I would love to see how the TE folks explain the fall in a way that affirms evolutionary gradualism.

  • Jonathan

    Questions we still haven’t answered (and would need to if we wanted to begin to resolve these issues):
    Is suffering evil?
    Is evil identical with sin?
    Do evil/sin have being? If so, how can they exist if God didn’t cause it/them?
    How are human and animal death different? What about plant death?
    (and implicitly, do humans die an animal death?)
    What makes things alive?
    I could go on, but these seem central. Thoughts?

  • http://likeachildscience.blogspot.com/ Like a child

    I’m open to criticism, but my current thoughts on this issue are that God made Humans unique from other animals in that they have a higher mental capacity for thinking, even about their own natural inclinations to do wrong. Maybe the “fall” in the Bible refers to the fact that while having a moral code or conscience, we often still continue to do wrong, sin, in spite of it. I haven’t fully thought this out, I’m not a theologian, and I’m also not up to speed on the latest evolutionary psychology data to know if my thoughts mesh with the current science data out there and if my hermeneutics are too far out from the Bible. I’m sure there is a component of brain activity that makes some people more likely to sin from others.
    I will say that I really don’t over analyze the problem of sin and how to reconcile it with TE (I’ve got bigger issues right now!). I’ve just decided that this will be a mystery to me and I’m happy to live with that mystery. The one issue that I struggle with is how theology can fit into TE. I actually have some issues with Calvinism’s concept of limited atonement and no free will (i.e. God alone is sovereign). The thing that makes me shudder about evolution in general, particularly athiestic evolution, is that basically, we have no spirit and our emotions are fully controlled by our genes and our neurology. That is, I think the concept of free-will is absent with atheistic evolution. It is our free-will and our higher level of reasoning ability that makes me think that there must be something more to the natural world we see. Again, I’m neither a theologian nor an evolutionary biologist, so I’m in new territory here.

  • pds

    The other question I have asked here before is this: if the first human creature killed his great grandfather, would it have been murder? Dave Opderbeck gave an answer, but I found it unconvincing.

  • http://krusekronicle.typepad.com Michael W. Kruse

    Above Scot noted that Genesis does not say that their will be pain in childbirth because of the fall but that there will be increased pain. Pain existed before the fall.
    But not Gen 3:22:
    And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
    So eternal life is not innate to Adam but something that he may attain by eating from the tree (Only once and cured? Or ongoing partaking of the tree to keep eternal life?) In other words, death is Adam’s natural fate.
    Is something along the line of the caterpillar and the butterfly possible? Is our present human existence as a caterpillar, only to reach our full metamorphosis at death? Was this God’s pre-fall intent but sin corrupted the metamorphosis process, killing us spiritually?
    There is a line of thinking here that I’ve become more and more convinced is backward. It holds that we must get Genesis and the sin questions exactly right or we risk undermining the foundation for all else that follows … including the life, ministry and resurrection of Jesus Christ … will be hopelessly ruined. Our neat tidy theology won’t hold.
    Instead, I submit that we are sinners because God in Christ has revealed to us that we are such. Period! We work from Jesus and the resurrection outward to everything else in Scripture. It matters little that we can precisely determine how we became sinners or what God’s role in sin was. What we need to know is that we are sinners, that God calls for our repentance, that God has a different vision for humanity and creation, and that we are called to stewardship and redemptive ministry here and now as part of Kingdom communities.
    Interpretation of the Bible begins not with Genesis but with Jesus and his resurrection. While I think the origins of sin and corruption are certainly worthy topics of investigation, what does our precise understanding of these things add to God’s mission for us in the world? I think little. Maybe we need to recognize that God is God and we are not, and that frankly we are called to live with mystery in some things. Maybe a precise understanding of how sin came to be is one of those mysteries. Uncertainty and mystery does not change the factual nature of our sin, our need for repentance, and God’s mission for us in the world.

  • Like a child

    I wanted to add that the “wrong” that we do is often normal behavior for all other species – violence, murder, polygamy etc. So often, the wrong we do is because it was evolutionary advantageous in other species, and there is no real ethical reason to do “right” except that God gives us the ability to counteract it. Does this make any sense! I’ve been watching the BBC Planet Earth series while in the background, my mind is thinking about theology.

  • RJS

    Like a child,
    Some here no doubt will criticize, but I found/find C. S. Lewis’s description of the fall in Ch. 5 of The Problem of Pain helpful. It is worth discussion.
    I posted on it once (probably more than once) – CS Lewis: Outside the Pale?

  • RJS

    Michael (#59),
    I agree – we begin with Jesus and redemption. This is where I will stay anchored.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I think it is time to bring out another concept that I hinted at earlier (I guess I forgot to write it…).
    If the sin of man is to do the opposite of what Jesus said to do, and Jesus pretty clearly said to love others, I feel that the opposite of that (i.e. sin) is to have an overly self centered stance in the world. Nothing wrong with you having some fun, but to do it at the expense of others in a bad way is not in the way of Jesus.
    Given that definition of sin, I think that the interpretation of Genesis that says that the entire cosmos changed and death became real and now people and animals changed……is the ultimate in sin. Really now. Are we that self centered that everything is about us? Does that fact that people choose an outcome that is what they believe to be in their best interest (eating an apple) the turning point for all of creation? Does the sun go around the earth and the universe have earth at its center?
    I believe, the genesis story tells a much different story. God loved people and created them to care for his creation, not exclusively, not to its detriment, not so that he (man/adam) would get to stay there (punitive measures to engage and ensure adherents), but to love the creation and each other. People pursue selfish desires and are therefore (because they chose these ways they are given to those ways) are expelled from creation.
    May there be more to it than that, sure! Perhaps there is a resurrection body, perhaps there is another idealized state of existence, perhaps there is a dis-embodied realm of bliss and non-sin, but I don’t think Genesis has the language nor the intent to describe it physically or practically but rather spiritually. They sought to pursue their own knowledge and fell out of favor with god.
    All this talk about the human sin causing everything from animal death to the abolishing the longevity in humans is the type of sin that the bible talks about. It is a sin of self centered and self grandiosing hubris.
    Sure, God loves us, sure, God wants us to have heaven with him, sure, God does not want us to sin, but does the universe change by us? Again, I would consider that to be the sin of not loving others which is the opposite of what Jesus taught.
    Baldly stated, but heck, I’m not getting younger.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    LikeAChild#57
    It helps me to remember (regarding the atheistic evolution and reductionist thinking in general) that having no god involved is as much as a metaphysical assumption as having a god involved. So having it all reduced to chemical reactions has an inherent non-theistic sense that is assumed. In other words, I shudder with you and feel right in doing so even from a scientific standpoint.

  • pds

    The Design Spectrum
    RJS,
    A more complete quote from Lewis is on the Telic Thoughts blog:
    http://telicthoughts.com/c-s-lewis-on-paradisal-man/
    If you read that, you see that Lewis seems to affirm a large degree of special creation and special intervention of God in the creation of humans. There was a clear break between animal and human right from the beginning. This is at odds with evolutionary theory. Is this your position as well?

  • RJS

    Like a Child (#57)
    I agree on the idea of free will and the problem with an scientific naturalism (atheistic evolution) as well. This is one of the rational arguments that brings me back. Another useful post and conversation might be: Is Free Will Anti-Science?.

  • Dan

    Augustine, City, Book 13: “…the natural order requires that we now discuss the fall of the first man …and of the origin and propagation of human death. For God had not made man like the angels, in such a condition that, even though they had sinned, they could none the more die. He had so made them, that if they discharged the obligations of obedience, an angelic immortality and a blessed eternity might ensue, without the intervention of death; but if they disobeyed, death should be visited on them with just sentence—
    Book 16: ” “But the philosophers against whom we are defending the city of God, that is, His Church seem to themselves to have good cause to deride us, because we say that the separation of the soul from the body is to be held as part of man’s punishment.
    Book 15: (regarding Genesis 1-11, specifically the flood) “Yet no one ought to suppose either that these things were written for no purpose, or that we should study only the historical truth, apart from any allegorical meanings; or, on the contrary, that they are only allegories, and that there were no such facts at all…

  • RJS

    pds,
    I am not holding anyone up as having everything right (not even myself).
    I like Lewis’s thinking on some things and not on others (like his racism and sexism). Lewis was not a scientist and lived and wrote over 50 years ago when much less was known about evolutionary biology. I like his philosophical and theological thinking (while not agreeing across the board).

  • pds

    The Design Spectrum
    RJS #68,
    I understand that you don’t agree with everything Lewis says, but I am wondering how much of his special creation ideas you accept. That seems to be a big part of the “myth” that he suggests.
    “Lewis was not a scientist and lived and wrote over 50 years ago when much less was known about evolutionary biology.”
    Do you think recent scientific discoveries demand that we reject his ideas? Which ones and why?
    I think a combination of special creation and evolutionary creation is the best model. I think it fits the scientific facts the best, and fits the Biblical teaching the best. And of course, ID is consistent with this understanding.

  • http://likeachildscience.blogspot.com/ Like a child

    I’ve read Lewis…I liked Mere Christianity…not quite as much Miracles.
    I wanted to clear up my comment in that I do hold to Theistic Evolution (TE). What I have a problem with is not TE, but Calvinism, particularly hypercalvinism. Currently, my thoughts on Calvinism is that it just makes me incredibly sad, and I think I’d rather be an Atheistic Evolutionist. In general, I’m a “moderate” when it comes to theology, and while I respect it, I prefer science;)

  • RJS

    Dan (#68),
    The quote you have from Augustine seems to agree with what I’ve read from Calvin and some others – much of the church, at least the western church, has held that human death (dissolution etc.) is the result of the fall. But nonetheless life in this world was temporary, there was time and a mission, and then on to the blessed eternity “without the intervention of death.”
    I know you’ve said that a young earth isn’t the issue, death is the issue. I think that the issue is not death, but human death.
    But Augustine, like many of us, was wrestling with scripture. And his writings still leave me with many questions.

  • Randy G.

    This may be way out there, but it is something I have wondered about:
    Given that someone referred to Wright’s “Life after life after death” concept, I wonder whether after Christs’ resurrection and ascension, initial death may be a way that God removes from creation in order to give others opportunities, but plans to return us in our new form to the New Heavens and New Earth for life after life after death.
    Like I said, it may be way out there, but it is something I have thought about.
    Peace,
    Randy G.

  • Dan

    RJS 72 “But Augustine, like many of us, was wrestling with scripture.”
    Could you be reading a bit of postmodern uncertainty into Augustine there? Did he wrestle with scripture to the degree postmoderns do?

  • TheDisciple

    I like the idea in the OP about looking at Genesis more from a moral standpoint than an age of the earth text. I don’t think it was meant to give us data on the earth’s age.
    What if we focused on what Genesis does teach us? God created the world and the things in it. God created humans as special, in his image, as his viceroys over the rest of creation, to care for it. Humans disobeyed God and their death resulted from that disobedience–causing hardships in life that before were not present, (extra labor pains, sweat when toiling, etc.) And don’t forget the promise of an offspring which would crush the serpent with the implications of restoration.
    Genesis does not tell us of when this all happened, the methods God used to create. Jesus and Paul and other writers clearly looked at Adam and Eve, their marriage and the fall as real events. Let science do its thing–it will change as we gain new insights.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    Just stopped working for the evening. Between work for the past week and dropping off a son at Baylor Line Camp, I don’t think I can think clearly enough to add anything to what said somewhere way up above.
    From the comments here and on related recent posts, it occurs to me that some might be interested in the “Darwin and Christianity” series of podcasts Fr. Thomas Hopko has been doing. They are more musings and thoughts than structured arguments and actually wander all over the place. The latest one on “Miracles” might be interesting to those who found some of the recent discussions on that topic interesting and that one doesn’t have much to do with Darwin, per se. I’ve enjoyed the series, myself, but then I like listening to Fr. Hopko in general. Anyway, his podcast site is here for anyone interested.
    http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko

  • http://www.baggas.com Baggas

    Great post. I agree this is the crux of the matter when one is considering these issues.
    I have a science background but am not up to speed in the details of evolutionary science, however it broadly accept it as valid. Similarly I have a laypersons interest in theology and Biblical studies.
    So this is the way I, as a non-expert in these areas, try and resolve this question in some sort of coherent fashion :
    1. Accept the scientific evidence of an old-earth and macroevolution, as the means by which God created. Physical death is necessarily part of this process.
    2. Accept some sort of ‘special creation’ of man. Something along the lines of that, when homo sapiens had evolved the necessary capacity, God chose to make a special contact with them (“breath of life” ? giving them a soul, self awareness etc??)
    3. Adam, as a representative figure for future humanity, could have been a literal person (or not)- perhaps a point of “First Contact”
    4. Adam/man made a choice to rebel against God (“the fall”) which had the consequence of a break in the relationship with God and a diminishing of man’s eternal potential (“spiritual death”). Sin thus added an additional dimension to life, a new level of suffering, and a new fear of death because of the added spiritual consequences.
    5. I don’t believe that our ultimate hope is a return to some level of pre-fall perfection. Eternity in the new heavens/earth will be something far greater, possibly representing the potential to which God could have led humanity if there was no fall. This potential represented by the tree of life in Genesis and in Revelation.
    It seems to me that this schema allows us to interpret Paul/Peter and the redemptive action of Jesus in a generally traditional and orthodox manner, whilst not dismissing the overwhelming evidence of science. Obviously it doesn’t address all the nuances of the theological issues involved and is far from the Calvinist/Arminian debate (can we try and leave those poor Armenians out of this please?) but it seems a fairly neat framework to start from.

  • RJS

    Dan (#74),
    I have not read extensively in Augustine’s writings – but in what I have read he certainly seems to be wrestling with and trying to understand scripture. He comes back to topics multiple times from different directions. His writing in The Confessions is a good example, especially his discussions of Genesis, God, and time.
    He certainly doesn’t take an approach of plain meaning exposition and done in much I’ve read.

  • RD

    If one holds to the belief that the book of Genesis is a written narrative of ancient oral traditions, and that there is no “Fall” and no original sin, why does that negate the value of the scriptures? Why would that make God less personal, less real? Would having that belief really alter the fact that following Jesus leads us into a more pure relationship with God?

  • Rick

    RD #79-
    In regards to Scripture, it would impact how we (some, especially RC and Protestants) look at some of Paul’s views.
    In regards to Jesus, one would have to ask why did He die on the cross? What was the purpose? What did it accomplish? What is He saving us from?

  • RJS

    Rick,
    This is the question we have to ask – in regards to Jesus, … why did He die on the cross? What was the purpose? What did it accomplish? What is He saving us from?
    Rebellion from God, and inability to remain pure and follow God on our own – for sure. Sin and just condemnation. This isn’t where I see the problems though – because this is certainly true however we got to this state (through one act or something else, more along the lines of Lewis’s narrative in Problem of Pain).

  • http://awaitingawhiterobe.blogspot.com MikeB

    Took the night off (out playing at youth group) so lots of good reading this AM with the coffee. :)
    Mike K #60
    “But not Gen 3:22:
    And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
    So eternal life is not innate to Adam but something that he may attain by eating from the tree (Only once and cured? Or ongoing partaking of the tree to keep eternal life?) In other words, death is Adam’s natural fate.”
    Two observations here…
    1. the tree of life is in the Garden of Eden and in the New Heaven. In the New Heaven there is no more death. So we must be careful to assume that the tree of life means that there was human death prior to the fall.
    2. Only after the fall and after God delivers the consequence of physical death (Gen 3:19) that God wants to prevent Adam from reaching out to eat from the tree of life.
    Clearly this verse does not support human death before the fall.
    RJS #72
    “I know you’ve said that a young earth isn’t the issue, death is the issue. I think that the issue is not death, but human death.”
    From a theological point of view that is the most important of the three issues, and after 3 posts and lots of comments we see they are also related. A person with presuppositions one way or the other are certainly reading the Scriptures with those lenses (see above).
    The Disciple #75
    I agree. We should start with the text and what it teaches.
    “Humans disobeyed God and their death resulted from that disobedience–causing hardships in life that before were not present, (extra labor pains, sweat when toiling, etc.)
    I agree with this as well but many here disagree with this premise that death was a result of human disobedience.
    Baggas #77
    “…but it seems a fairly neat framework to start from.”
    It does de-emphasize many other Scriptures related to death. It also accepts ‘ever-changing” scientific hyposthesis which are certainly challengable.
    Rick #80
    Exactly.

  • RJS

    MikeB,
    I don’t think they are related at the foundation. This is part of the point I have tried to make going back through writings of the church. (And of course through scripture itself.)
    While physical human death is an issue in much (but not all) of Christian tradition, it is also clear from the writings we do have and the responses made, that other voices not preserved for us were voicing opposing views.
    The idea of all death coupled to the fall is a minority position in the history of the church. No real consensus at all – not even among the thinkers who emphasis physical bodily and spiritual human death as a consequence of the fall. Many Christian thinkers have pointed out the incongruities thinking around and through the scripture.
    Tree of Life imagery in Revelation is worth looking at in detail – but is not relevant to the discussion of the pre-fall creation.

  • MikeB

    RJS#83
    “I don’t think they are related at the foundation. This is part of the point I have tried to make going back through writings of the church. (And of course through scripture itself.)”
    I guess we disagree, as I have tried to make the point that they are related at the foundation (from Scripture).
    There are lots of comments so I may have missed the citings of church fathers/theologians but I did not see a clear establishment of a tradition that did not accept death as a result of the fall other than C.S. Lewis. There were some others who quote Augustine as having disagreed with Lewis. If I missed other comments just write in the numbers as would be happy to read over them.
    “Tree of Life imagery in Revelation is worth looking at in detail – but is not relevant to the discussion of the pre-fall creation.”
    The presence of the tree of life in Eden was brought forth as an argument for human death pre-fall in comments above. So while you not see it as relevant, I disagree. It certainly can be shown that its presence in Eden does not require an interpretation that human death existed prior to the fall.

  • RJS

    MikeB,
    For example, Augustine and Calvin both hold to human death as a result of the fall. But – not to all biological death as a result of the fall.
    This is what I am getting at – it isn’t just Lewis; in the writings of the church for two millenia the idea that all biological death (insects, animal etc.) is the result of the fall is a minority opinion (a small minority).

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    As to why Jesus died, I may not know much, but I’m certain I agree with St. Gregory the Theologian.
    “The question is: to whom was offered the blood that was shed for us, and why was it offered, this precious and glorious blood of our God, our high priest, our sacrifice? We were held captive by the evil one, for we had been ‘sold into the bondage of sin’ (Romans 7:14), and our wickedness was the price we paid for our pleasure. Now, a ransom is normally paid only to the captor, and so the question is: To whom was the ransom offered, and why? To the evil one? What an outrage! If it is supposed not merely that the thief received a ransom from God, but that the ransom is God himself – a payment for his act of arbitrary power so excessive that it certainly justified releasing us! If it was paid to the Father, I ask first, why? We were not held captive by him. Secondly, what reason can be given why the blood of the Only-begotten should be pleasing to the Father? For He did not accept even Isaac when he was offered by his father, but He gave a substitute for the sacrifice, a lamb to take the place of the human victim. Is it not clear that the Father accepts the sacrifice, not because He demanded or needed it, but because this was the part of the divine plan, since man had to be sanctified by the humanity of God; so that he might rescue us by overcoming the tyrant by force, and bring us back to Himself through the mediation of the Son, who carried out this divine plan to the honor of the Father, to whom he clearly delivers up all things. We have said just so much about Christ. There are many more things which must be passed over in silence…”
    But then, while Christianity certainly wasn’t absent (who can escape the evangelical influence in the South in the US?) from my cultural and spiritual formation, it was hardly the main influence. Coming from the perspective I did, many of the Protestant and Roman Catholic answers to that question never satisfied me. I read St. Gregory fairly early once I began to turn toward Christian faith (based more on experience at first than knowledge) and his answer I understand. Moreover, I wanted to know that sort of God more.
    I still don’t fully grasp the tension this question creates in some. Maybe if your perspective starts from the above, there’s less tension? Or is there just something that different in my own formation? Not really sure about that one…

  • MikeB

    RJS:
    I am not sure you have demonstrated that animal death existing prior to the fall was a minority position in the church.
    Also not sure what time period you are going to use to demonstrate this over?

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    MikeB, I’m pretty sure the time period she was using was the entire last 2,000 years over all Christian traditions.

  • Norm

    Here is the problem in a nutshell. Adam was functionally created/formed out of mankind at large and placed in covenant with God (Garden relationship). That covenant depended upon a natural born man who depended upon his own nature to walk with God to retain eternal “life” which ended in disappointment and removal from Garden life.
    However the natural state of mankind is mortal and is called “darkness and sin” and so the intention of the Garden was to bring Adam out of that Sinful dead relationship with God as a priestly representative. What the covenant was intended to bring about instead resulted in putting man back full circle into his preexisting mortal nature of sin in regard to God (called Death). This is born out in Romans 7 in which Paul speaking in lieu of Adam describes this exact situation at the beginning.
    Rom 7:9-11 YLT And I WAS ALIVE APART FROM LAW ONCE, and the command having come, the SIN REVIVED, and I DIED; (10) and THE COMMAND THAT IS FOR LIFE, this was found by me for death; (11) for the sin, having received an opportunity, through the command, did deceive me, and through it did slay me ;
    Paul’s commentary here on what transpired at the Garden institution is important because if one will notice that Sin (REVIVED) indicates that Adam’s previous state before entering into Covenant with God was from the natural order of mankind in Darkness and Sin WAS REINSTATED by the fall. The intent was to lift man out of this condition but it became a long process until full redemption would come through the second Adam via the Spiritual nature. The story is simple and doesn’t affect evolution at all as the Jews considered themselves and all mankind as mortal in nature. This excerpt from Ecclesiastes sums it up pretty well.
    Ecc 3:18-20 ESV I said in my heart with regard to the children of man (Israel nv) that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves ARE BUT BEASTS. (19) For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts IS THE SAME; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. (20) All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
    However Christ redeemed us from the dust (mortal) to the Heavenly nature of eternal Life. All men including the Jews were in the same boat even though the Jews had been called out of Darkness but only the remnant would heed it ultimately.
    Col 1:13 ESV He has delivered us FROM THE DOMAIN OF DARKNESS and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
    1Co 15:47-48 ESV The first man was from the earth, A MAN OF DUST; the second man is from heaven. (48) AS WAS THE MAN OF DUST, so also are those who are of the dust, and AS IS THE MAN OF HEAVEN, SO ALSO ARE THOSE WHO ARE OF HEAVEN.

  • RD

    If human beings are not under the condemnation of original sin (if this notion has been misunderstood for centuries)and God doesn’t require blood sacrifice, then it completely changes the whole point of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Was Jesus’ death a requirement or a consequence?

  • Norm

    RD,
    I’m not sure if you are addressing my post but I’ll give you my view anyway. The idea of original sin as developed over the years has acquired a lot of baggage with it that is not called for. As I stated above the natural state of man from the Biblical view is sinful in that he is eternally separated from God. The bible is a covenant story of people drawn out of this natural existence of “sinfulness” so in that regard one might say that natural man’s original or evolutionary arrival at the time of the biblical story might be called “original sin”. However it is a misnomer to classify Adam/Israel and the church as having that same issue of original sinfulness. Their “sin” that is named according to the covenant people is in regard to the Law or the commandment from God and only manifest itself in the past through failure to follow law.
    If one will study carefully the following verses in Rom 5 it should become a little clearer that there has often been a misreading or application of these verses. The implication is that Sin which is only of the Covenant nature entered into the Covenant people (patriarchs) upon the receiving of a “law” via Adam. The next verse (13) is often thought to be concerned with the Law in regards to Moses but it’s not. It is the law which is first established with Adam and therefore the death reigned over the covenant Patriarchs from Adam to Moses when in fact the Law was increased to compound the “sin”(5:20 “Now the law came in to increase the trespass”). This is also verified by Rom 7 which I illustrated in my above post which is a continuation of this whole discussion by Paul beginning here in chapter 5.
    Rom 5:12-14 ASV Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned: – (13) for UNTIL (the) LAW (Adams) SIN WAS IN THE WORLD; but SIN IS NOT IMPUTED WHEN THERE IS NO LAW. (This is the same idea/principle of Romans 7:9 nv) (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come.
    Rom 7:9 ESV I was once alive apart from the law, but WHEN THE COMMANDMENT CAME, SIN CAME ALIVE and I died.
    Sin therefore among the covenant people is related to the law/commandment beginning with Adam’s original ordination as the federal head of covenant believers. This is why in Dan 9:24 that the statement of the messianic coming of Christ will do away with “sin” because the law/commandment becomes null and void thru the Cross and thus the Law-Sin reigns no more over the covenant faithful. Yet it has no relation to those outside in darkness as attested by Rev 22:15 who remain in perpetual Darkness. Yet entering into the light is never closed to anyone who seeks the Lord.
    So we might even say there are two original sins per se. First the natural state of humanity without God (whom Israel called the Pagan Gentiles) and the “Covenantal Sin” attributed to the failure of obedience to the God given Law under the old Covenant.
    Heb 8:12-13 ESV (12) For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.” (13) In speaking of a new covenant, HE MAKES THE FIRST ONE OBSOLETE. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old IS READY TO VANISH AWAY.

  • Neil Gilligan

    The Author writes about the impact of healing prayer on the worldview of the person who gets healed. And the author also cites how evolution appears to contradict some biblical truths. These two points are significant for Christians today. I address them in my book: “Transformed by the Power of God: Learning to be Clothed in Jesus Christ” this book is a wakeup call for the believers to begin to rule and reign upon the earth. When evolution was first promoted Thomas Huxley was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” and he promoted the story of evolution, mainly because Christians in his day could not demonstrate the miracles or deliverance from demons that Huxley read about in the Bible. Because they failed to show the miracles, Huxley called them myths and then promoted evolution as the force behind life. This was the influence of the little horn from Daniel 12:21 that defeats the saints.
    Christians need to wake up and demonstrate who Jesus is to the world. My next book “Surprisingly Supernatural” is addressing the lack of miraculous demonstrations by Christians. When people are healed they often cry because what Doctors and Drugs could not do, Jesus can–He heals all the sick. Amazingly He does it today through His ordinary believers. Surprisingly Supernatural teaches believers how to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. The saints have been defeated but the Heavenly Father wants the saints to overcome the defeat and become overcomers and victorious in the days ahead.

  • http://flipperthedolphin Phillip Smith

    Excuse me, Mc Knight, and respondents? With respect, I believe this is the 21st century? The story(and let’s be clear,it IS just a story), was not an actual “fall”, as is often interpreted by many churches, requiring God “to kick the living daylights out of his own kid” so that we could go to “heaven”(which, by the way, is in the here and now), but rather an awakening,if you like, of when man/woman became aware of our obligations towards caring for God’s creation/the Earth. Adam and Eve, were expelled from Eden because of man’s destruction of the Earth by eating from the Tree of Life, and their capacity for violence. The consequences, are that Man/Woman is the Lord of Culture but not of Nature. If we could see this story in this light, we could lead to a more harmonious world for all.

  • Rodger D

    You have remove my comment. I will pray for you all an you will hear from me no more!. Can’t handle the truth!.

  • Bryan-Keith

    Man forgot who he was. that was when the fall took place. Look at the story of the garden and youwill see that the serpent got Eve to doubt what was said by God. He got her to doubt that she was already made in the likeness of God when he said that She would be made like God if she were to eat of teh tree of thk knowledge of good and evil.The sad fact is that she and adam were already like God. This is the reason that Messiah was to come. What did Jesus teach? God is our Father. The primary goal of the cross was to bring us back to a relationship with our heaveanly Father. we had been so bound to the earthly realm by blood that we forgot our nativity in the spiritual realm. we fell from who were supposed to be. that is why we allowed concepts of death and sickness to enter our paradigms because we had abandoned the only truth that would have preserved us. the Truth is that we are all made in the likeness and image of God. Now with that in mind do youever remember hearing of God getting sick or being subject to death?

  • Abambagibus.

    Taken literally, the term TE, in the wont of extraordinary Christians, or simply ‘Theistic Evolution’, in the wont of the ordinary folk whom they deign to enlighten, must refer to the conceptual evolution of our belief in and understanding of God. Ethnologists and theologists of the general kind are often attracted to this area of study, as am I. But I was wondering. Do these extraordinary Christians deem themselves to be at the forefront of this evolutionary impulse to know better than nearly all? Since pride is one of the seven Christian virtues, I suppose that those of their ilk are rather quite virtuous, as I am not.
    Abambagibus Precor.

  • Yohana

    I wonder if Adam and Eve had first admitted that they were making a mistake and asking for forgiveness instead of blaming each other … would God forgive them, I am sure God will forgive them no doubt about that but what will God do to them because they already ate the fruit of the life? and what would our life like?
    Peace and God bless you all.

  • William S

    First off the Genesis creation account does not leave room for the concept of evolution theistic or otherwise. It is also not a literal 7 days either as we all that the laws governing te science of planet formation and cooling rock and magma and such take a very long time. However to an eternal being such as God this time is merely the blink of an eye. The Genesis account says that all thing were made to reproduce after their own kind, if you beleive this then you cannot beleive in any form of evolution. Evolution is the change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations.[1] After a population splits into smaller groups, these groups evolve independently and may eventually diversify into new species. This idea holds no weight under physical examination: ie When was an Oak tree not an oak tree? When exactly did chimps become homosapiens. Granted we may share some cromosomes but but while they stop at a certain number we have more. Where did they come from if not from an original creator?
    As for the fall read Genesis Chapter three again, God place the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden and then told adam he could not eat of it. Eve was deceived and ten gave the fruit to Adam, but nothing happened until Adam ate. This was not the fall however, the fall came when Adam after being confronted with is disobedience failed to repent and instead Blamed God for the act. “and the man said The woman whom THOU gavest to be with me, she gave of the tree and I did eat.” This is the fall, not taking responsibility for his own actions. All we are asked to do as Christians is take responsibility for our actions and ask for forgiveness. I submit that if Adam had repented of his actions and asked for forgiveness things might have been different. Remember they were not cast out when they ate but after they made excuses and passed the blame for their actions down the pike.
    May God Bless You


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