Where Do You Start? … (RJS)

I’ve been traveling again this week, and so am somewhat off my normal schedule. My Tuesday post has become a Wednesday post. Today I would like to pose a question and look for some response and insight. Over the last several weeks we’ve been looking at the essays in a book Theology After Darwin centered around a simple question: What are the implications for Christian theology if Darwin was right? I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately – it touches on so many core questions. The implications of evolutionary biology are enormous … that is, they can be enormous, but the impact is shaped by the way we frame the gospel message. Some people seem to see little if any conflict, while others feel undermined by the possibility of evolutionary creation. The points of conflict also change somewhat with view of the central gospel message. This leads to key questions regarding first, gospel, and second approach to understanding the gospel and the world.

Let me start this discussion by pointing to two recent posts – the first last Friday (here) when Scot commented on two books, one by Greg Gilbert (What Is the Gospel?) and the second by Darrell Bock (Recovering the Real Lost Gospel). Greg Gilbert sketches the gospel quite definitively as “God. Man. Christ. Response.” and discusses this expression of the gospel in opposition to faulty or insufficient gospel constructs, specifically “Jesus is Lord” and “Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation” and “cultural transformation.” In contrast Darrell Bock shapes a vision of the story told in scripture and its consummation in Christ.  The second post appeared yesterday morning, bringing to our attention a short book by Michael Pahl, From Resurrection to New Creation, that sketches an overview of Christian theology starting at the resurrection.

In these books, the contrasting views discussed, and others we could list, we see some significant differences of understanding of gospel and interpretation of scripture. In broad brush strokes those who see the gospel as a story of cultural transformation tend to have little quarrel with evolutionary creation. In contrast many (but not all) who see the gospel in terms of God-Man-Christ-Response or Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation seem to find the conflict and concern much more significant.

So here is the question for today:

How does your view of the gospel influence the way you consider the implications of evolutionary biology for Christian theology?

Of course this requires first an answer to the question – What is the gospel?

I have not read Michael Pohl’s book yet – but the sketch in Scot’s post meshes well with my approach to both Christian theology and the interaction between my Christian faith and understanding of science including evolutionary biology.

My suggestion is that the place to start is 1 Cor. 15.

1-4: Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

20-26: But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

Two key points here – the first is the resurrection. As Paul says – if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain and our faith is vain, if Christ has not been raised, our faith is worthless; we are still in our sins. (per v. 14, 17)  These are pretty strong words – our faith is centered in the resurrection as experienced and witnessed by the apostles. This was a transformative event.

The second key point is that Christ died for our sins, if he was not raised we are still in our sins. I don’t see how we can look at this and get a view of gradual improvement – either evolutionary or cultural as a core part of Christian doctrine (although some of the ideas here can contribute to the whole). This doesn’t necessarily mean Adam as a unique historical individual, but it certainly means some kind of a historical fall, a culpable decisive action to turn away from obedience and union with God on the part of humanity both individually and corporately.

I will get into more of this in future posts – but today I would like to hear and learn from others.

Where do you start?

And to flesh it out a bit:

How does your view of the gospel influence the way you consider the implications of evolutionary biology for Christian theology? Is this one of the key factors – or are there other equally important factors at play?

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

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

  • smcknight

    RJS, ever since you mentioned this to me the other day my brain has been wandering to this topic.

    If resurrection in one sense completes the gospel process, and I include exaltation over all to be the implication of resurrection, then New Creation and Life over Death become the central themes of the gospel’s aim.

    What I see in this New Creation is Victory over Death, and this leads me back to the fundamental consequence of sin in Genesis 3: Death. Death is the problem and resurrection is the gospel, and the cross deals with the sin problem so the resurrection can create New Creation.

  • Dan

    “This doesn’t necessarily mean Adam as a unique historical individual” – have to disagree there, because I think it is inconsistent to give Paul credibility on the resurrection but give him none on the historicity of Adam, but…

    “… it certainly means some kind of a historical fall, a culpable decisive action to turn away from obedience and union with God on the part of humanity both individually and corporately.” Yes.

    And the “death” issue Scot raises is part of the gospel. Hebrews 2, ” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

    The Gospel of John begins with creation “in the beginning”, a theme carried on in 1 John. Romans 1 touches on creation. We can’t separate origins from the gospel. And we can’t separate victory over death as an enemy from the gospel. That makes death as a means of progress or part of the evolutionary plan difficult to reconcile with the gospel.

  • http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/ steve martin

    I am looking forward to Pahl’s book and am currently reading “Surprised by Hope” by NT Wright. I’m wondering if Pahl’s book echo’s Wright’s themes – anyone know?

    If I had to give a one-word answer to the question “Where do we start?” I’d say “resurrection”. And as Wright has persuasively argued, that seems to have been the anchor for the early church as well. And if resurrection is the starting point of the gospel, the central part of the story, I think accepting evolutionary biology as part of the story of human origins, is not necessarily that difficult.

  • dopderbeck

    For me, coming to grips with evolution has forced me to think more carefully about the heuristic devices I use to describe the “mission of God.” “Starting” with “creation” as in “creation-fall-redemption” or “starting” with “resurrection” imply that “time” is the ultimate yardstick. If time is the ultimate yardstick, we end up with “conflicts” between the “plan of redemption” and the timeline of natural history. But while these heuristics are helpful for us as human beings trying to conceive what God has done, they all “start” at the wrong place.

    We must “start” with the eternal Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the starting point for all historic Christian theology — from the kerygmatic confessions in the NT to the Rule of Faith to the Creed.

    The Triune God is revealed in Jesus Christ through Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom, the cross and the resurrection. I think we do not, therefore, start with resurrection. Resurrection is the key sign towards the starting point, but it is not itself the starting point.

    We also should not start with “creation” or “creation-fall”. Creation is “the beginning” of “time” — but “the Word” preexists “the beginning,” and so “creation” reflects an overflow of the eternal dance of the Triune God, revealing to us the creative activity of Jesus Christ.

    And — this is key — the Word was elect from before the foundation of the world. “Fall” from our perspective is an “act” in the “drama of redemption,” but from eternity past there never was a “time” when Christ was not the elect of God — and therefore “creation” was a proleptic act that at the same time gave birth to the dynamic of “consummation.”

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Nice. The story, in my layman terms, is that the resurrection showed that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and therefore our Lord. God defeated all enemies (secular and religious establishment of man, and then death, collectively this is our sin that keeps us from God). Jesus is then the first fruits of our new life in new creation that we have been promised. We understand that we have a valid task in helping to bring the KoG to God’s creation on earth. Our role and privilege as image bearers is to make that happen and live in the kingdom.

    How we got here is not all that important to me. Our sin permeates all of our life and God showed through Jesus that we will have our salvation from sin with God in this new creation. Our sin is what separates us from God, and as Jesus showed, God can overcome our sin (secular, religious and biological institutions) and allow us to be with God in the end.

    For all I know evolution is the way that we got where we are, and may be the way that we will become part of the new creation. Perhaps Jesus is more highly evolved, who knows. We have been shown a gift and we should receive it.

    I believe a Buddhist parable captures this concept quite well. There was a man who was shot by a poisoned arrow. Those around him wanted to pull the arrow from him, but the man asked first who had shot him, then what type of bow was used in the shooting, then what the people who shot him looked like, and whether they were angry in a justifiable sense or just crazy. By the time he got his questions answered he dies.

    I am not saying that it is not worthwhile examining the origins. But it is definitely not worthwhile allowing our explanation of the origins to cloud our perspective of the gospel. The origin story is whatever it was. We have a task to live going forward.

  • Rick

    DRT-

    “Perhaps Jesus is more highly evolved, who knows. We have been shown a gift and we should receive it.”

    Please unpack this a bit.

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    “The implications of evolutionary biology for Christian theology?” The evidence of cosmological fine-tuning for life and the evidence of design in biological history in some ways makes the resurrection and the Gospel more plausible. Why should we be surprised at the claim of resurrection when all of nature is tuned for life?

    BTW, Darrel Falk is now saying that Michael Behe is professionally “highly incompetent” and it is one of Biologos’s “God-given tasks (to be frank this is the way we see it)” to demonstrate this to the public.

    RJS, I am wondering if you and AHH see this as one of your God-given tasks. Is this an appropriate mission of Biologos?

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    One more thought: I think Tim Keller’s Cosmic Welcome Mat design argument can be used not just as a clue to the existence of God, but as a foundation for a plausibility structure that supports the resurrection.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Rick, I love to speculate and would speculate with everyone concerning the origins and the eschaton. I also believe that the true nature of the reality of our world and the universe is something that we do not understand and only have glimpses into this nature. We have a tendency to view our perceptions as reality when we actually know that they are not.

    So when I think of Jesus, I see a person who has participated in a reality that we are not able to comprehend. The bible and Jesus did not attempt to tell us everything, just something. Perhaps we will evolve to be like Jesus in understanding and participating in the truth of the nature of the universe, so perhaps Jesus is that more highly evolved form, or not. Regardless, it is the end state that we have been shown and therefore the mark that we need to hit. It is the gift of God to show us through Jesus that we are children of God who will be saved and united with him in his kingdom. Not only that, we can look back at the life of Jesus to understand how we can live in the KoG here and now. Jesus is the way to the gift of the KoG shown to us through his life and resurrection.

    So, we need to receive the gift of the KoG as shown to us by Jesus.

    I feel like my words do not capture my concept….

  • rjs

    pds (#7),

    wow – rather off topic on this post. I will give a short response, but I don’t want to go down the trail any further than this (there will be opportunity on more relevant future posts).

    In any scholarly discipline ideas will stand or fall ultimately on their own merit. Dr. Behe has put forth some ideas and these ideas can and should be discussed on their intrinsic merit. He should not be given a pass – nor should anyone else.

    If the ideas do not hold water, stand up to inspection by experts (Christian experts especially), then it is important to hold an open discussion and not to hide that fact.

    The discussion should, of course, be in an attitude of love for a brother – but that does not mean a pass for wrong or illogical arguments, or even tacit agreement.

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    RJS #10,

    Not directly on topic perhaps, but relevant, and a teachable moment directly relevant to other recent posts of yours and Scot’s. But you are avoiding the real question. No one questions that ideas should be tested and not “given a pass.” But do you make the assertion that the person is “highly incompetent” in his profession?

    I say a decisive “NO” in this situation. I wish you could too.

  • Rick

    DRT-

    Interesting. I wonder how a more evolved Jesus impacts the good news. Does that reflect what we might become, or does it take away from how He, and we, can relate to His human incarnation?

    I hear a strong Christus Exemplar aspect in your response. Is the Christus Exemplar element of the good news (I personally believe that is only one aspect of the gospel) depleted by a more evolved Jesus? Does He need to be fully “one of us”, as we are now, yet just void of sin?

    Then again, is the gospel what we might become, or is it what He (Jesus, Trinity) is and has already accomplished for us?

  • John

    Matthew 7:11-12
    11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
    12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Luke 25:25-28
    25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
    27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”
    28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    These passages, the words of Jesus, appear to be His summation of the Gospel, the Good News.

    Not to be cute, but one is prompted to wonder – does it matter how we got here?? We’re here, God has revealed something of Himself in nature, and in calling Israel to bear witness in the OT and now calling Jesus’s disciples to bear witness to His Love, first in the NT and now in our day.

    The real question seems to me to be, increasingly, will we love God, and will we love our neighbor? – including, especially, scientists who make fun of religious people in general and Christians in particular.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    In #1 Scot says:

    “What I see in this New Creation is Victory over Death, and this leads me back to the fundamental consequence of sin in Genesis 3: Death. Death is the problem and resurrection is the gospel, and the cross deals with the sin problem so the resurrection can create New Creation.”

    Several months ago I was working closely with a Chinese national who has some pretty astute observations about people in our culture. He said that it seems like everyone here is asleep walking around in their dream. We are dead, not seeing the reality of what is here before our eyes. The wages of sin is death. We are asleep in our sin and are dead.

    But I think I disagree with Scot on the “cross deals with the sin problem”. Perhaps Scot can elaborate but to me the cross is just something that had to happen (we had to have our sin give its best shot to Jesus). Nothing inherently happened on the cross, things only happened in the resurrection. The cross is just a way for all sin to become focused at once. It is the reaction, the resurrection by which we are shown the true life.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Rick, yes, this is fun stuff. I too believe that Christus Exemplar is one aspect of the Gospel. To me it is almost a by-product of the Gospel. Its kind of like saying that we got to watch a baseball player hit a home run, and the by-product is that we also got to see how he prepares to bat, swings, holds his stance etc. Those are all great things to learn but the reason they are relevant is because the ball player was successful in his pursuit. The thing that made us stand up and cheer was the home run.

    I do believe that Jesus could be a next step in the evolution of humans. If God progresses us through evolution, then Jesus would represent (or perhaps be) that stage.

    I had not considered the requirement that Jesus needed to be just like us but not sinning. In hindsight it seems to me that the real requirement is that he be just like us physically so that he could be made to experience the world the way we made him experience it. He is clearly not like us mentally if he does not sin….so is he like us? I think the requirement for him would be for him to be obviously good and without sin to those around him and for him to not use magic. He needed to fully absorb the best (or worst as the case may be) that we can dish out in this world and then have God overcome. The requirement is that he be just like us, but good. That could be the final evolved form. If pds is right then it will be the active hand of God that makes us into that form.

  • dopderbeck

    Re: Christ as “most evolved” — I don’t think we want to go there because it starts to mess with the doctrine of the incarnation. Christ was fully human and was in terms of human evolutionary biology was just as we are. And in Biblical / theological terms, Christ “recapitulates” Adam.

    But there is a proper sense of noting that Christ “completes” what Adam could not — that Christ remains in perfect fellowship with God, without sin, even when tempted by the serpent (the desert temptation). The moral example theory of the atonement is certainly present here, but also Christus Victor. The Atonement permanently restores the ontological rupture in human fellowship with God occasioned by Adam’s sin, and we are once again able to be “at one” with God. And in that union, death is defeated.

  • Rick

    Dopderbeck-

    “Christ was fully human and was in terms of human evolutionary biology was just as we are.”

    Not that I disagree with you (especially in regards to dealing/messing with the Incarnation), but what is “just as we are”. If humans are evolving, are we the same as humans 2,000 years ago? 1,000 years ago?

  • normbv

    I’ll start first by stating the 1Cor 15 is possibly the most difficult section of Pauline scripture to wrap our minds around. The difficulty is discerning whether the discussion of the “Dead ones” is a singular application or a corporate one. The common assumption is that this chapter is applied singularly to the individual but the reality is that it is a corporate discussion in which Israel is bound up in Adam’s death. A. T. Robinson in his book “The Body” delves into the mistakes we often make by trying to apply body individually when it hearkens back to 1 Cor 12 as a Pauline metaphor of a corporate application.

    Paul’s explanation in 1 Cor 15 parallels Rom 5-8 in regards to the corporate realization of Israel’s death emanating from Adam compounded by the addition of Law through Moses. Notice below that Paul is framing the discussion in corporate language concerning Adam and Christ. Paul is not applying salvation universally but is specifying those of faith as the ones under consideration who were in the old body of Adamic Death. Notice his usage of the plural to denote those under discussion.

    1Co 15:47-49 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. (49) Just AS WE have borne the image of the man of dust, WE SHALL ALSO BEAR the image of the man of heaven.

    Gen 2:17 says that when Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil that he would die [the beginning of partaking of the Law]. Paul picks up on that idea and applies it to himself and by extension all Israel in Rom 7.

    Gen 2:17 ESV but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for IN THE DAY THAT YOU EAT OF IT YOU SHALL SURELY DIE.”

    Rom 7:9 ESV I WAS ONCE ALIVE apart from the law, but when the commandment came, SIN CAME ALIVE AND I DIED.

    The Gospel message is the raising [resurrection] of the faithful up out of the body of Adam’s death into the body of Christ where life abounds. Paul is not talking in 1 Cor 15 of something they attain only when they died but that they will encounter the completion of this raising when the Power of the Holy People has been broken.

    Dan 12:6-7 … “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” … that when the SHATTERING OF THE POWER OF THE HOLY PEOPLE COMES TO AN END ALL THESE THINGS WOULD BE FINISHED. [the raising of Israel is in sight in Dan 12:1-3]

    What Paul is pointing to as the goal is the consummated end of the old dispensation of Law which is clarified for Israel in the destruction of their way of life when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed. This was the sign as prophesied by Christ of the fulfillment of the end of the Power of the old and the reign of the New.

    Therefore the end of sin and death for the faithful was when Sin was destroyed by the removal of the Law. Notice how Paul frames its demise.

    1Co 15:54-56 ESV When the perishable [corporate body of Adam] puts on the imperishable [corporate body of Christ], and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.” (55) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (56) The sting of death is sin, AND THE POWER OF SIN IS THE LAW.

    Php 3:21 YLT who shall TRANSFORM THE [corporate] BODY OF OUR HUMILIATION to its becoming CONFORMED TO THE [corporate] BODY OF HIS GLORY, …

    Paul then appears to be looking toward the consummated end of the Law and that was biblically established with Jerusalem’s fall as Dan 12 says.

    What this understanding meant for me is that the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation are a story of one old dispensation and its failures and the beginning of the eternal everlasting one.

    The story of Adam is an ANE covenant story of God’s people and has nothing to do with biology and thus we are not constrained by a literal encumbered reading of Genesis. I did not feel comfortable with my evolutionary pursuits until I grasped this picture of the Bible in its application of Adam.

    Sorry about the lenght but this is a complicated subject to say the least.

  • http://www.herenowkingdom.com/feed @herenowkingdom

    Re: Where Do You Start?

    I start with 3 propositions.

    1) What’s now understood by science as the theory of evolution is the most robust account that science can give of the phenomena properly under its domain.

    2) The Gospel gives the most robust account of the phenomena under its domain (which also includes all human knowledge).

    3) 1 Corinthians 13:12

    That there are areas which appear irreconcilable by current human understanding does not mean those areas are irreconcilable by God.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    dopderbeck, while I agree that Jesus recapitulates Adam
    (that’s a great way to say it), it is also true that there is a difference between Adam and the animals as we discussed in previous threads. Is the difference really biological as in a reductionist deterministic way? I don’t think so. I think the difference in evolutionary terms has another element to it that is a discontinuity, a difference in kind.

    So if we had Jesus here and we could cut him up and look at his physiology then my bet is that we would not see differences that would amount to a different being. But it is discontinuity between him and us.

    But, this gets much more complicated in considering the resurrection body. Based on eye witness accounts the resurrection body is different. Different to the point that some could not even recognize their close friend Jesus, he was confused to be a traveler, or the gardener (which is one of the best of all time mistaken identities since he is the gardener of the new eden). It seems that that body is different but not different in the way that would have been expected. Apparently he did not glow or shine in white brilliant clothes as would have been expected.

    The resurrection body could be an evolved form of human without messing with the incarnation.

  • Dana Ames

    I think “the Gospel” begins with the view of the Resurrection, with the rest of the Christ Event sitting on our shoulders, so to speak. The incarnation, life, crucifixion, ascension and bestowal of the Spirit are all interwoven, but it’s the Resurrection that was the focus, and was the focus of all the sermons in the book of Acts. It was when the preacher reached the point of telling the people, “This Jesus was resurrected from the dead,” that they either said, “Tell us more!” or a riot broke out.

    I think the way to integrate this with what you’re saying in #4, dopderbeck, is to say, “The Resurrection, *because* [the fact of God].” And you can go on with the story from there. Scot will say, “The Resurrection, *because* [New Creation/victory over death/meaning of the cross].” And he will go on with the story from there.

    The Resurrection can be the starting point of the story, of the explanation of the good news, because it IS the starting point of everything that relates to God’s relationship with humans. It’s an event into which we are invited; it’s dogma, but much more than a dogmatic proposition. And if you start there, you actually can get around “the problem of time”, while still acknowledging that humans have to deal with it because we’re in it. The Resurrection is cosmic in its significance and is “out of time” but also touches “all of time”.

    Now I also agree with John @13, if we’re trying to find out “what to do”. Certainly we are called to do what Jesus did as he loved God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself, as it is precisely this love that characterized his life and led him to the cross, and was part and parcel of trusting and being faithful to the Father. So that is our praxis as we live in the resurrected life of Jesus.

    In the Gospels, Jesus is also described as proclaiming “the good news about the Kingdom of God”. So we have to understand what the Kingdom of God is. I don’t think our understandings about the Kingdom of God and what “salvation means” are necessarily predicated on a “literal Adam”. It was also not one of the key factors for the church fathers I’ve encountered so far; some thought there was such a person, but others of the greatest ones didn’t. But this isn’t the issue that had any chance of derailing Christianity in its first years; those issues were all about Christology and the Trinity.

    So because of this, for me there is room for evolutionary biology and God-guided evolution is not a problem. It’s only a problem if one has a certain stance toward the bible that has been shaped by the Enlightenment and what followed from it (positivism, scientism, etc.)

    This is already too long, but I wanted to say to DRT that when it comes to the inner life of human beings, Christianity has always had a word to describe “getting better over time”, and that is transformation. But this is different than the idea of “evolving”. It happens as distinctive Persons enter into the Resurrection Life of Jesus, and because of the security of his love and forgiveness, begin to live like human beings were meant to live – that is, like Jesus, the Prototype of humanity, in union with God, living in self-giving love in humility toward God and other humans, as the Body of Christ.

    Dana

  • KEN

    The idea of whether humans are the same genetically and evolutionarily as they were 1000, 4004, or 100000, years ago is interesting. My understanding (somewhat out of date now, possibly) is that humans are not undergoing evolution to speak of, because natural selection is not operating on most human populations. For example, modern medicine preserves many disorders that are genetically based, and the people who bear these genes are often reproducing. Most human genetic traits are being preserved in the human genome, whether they are advantageous or deleterious.

  • normbv

    DRT,

    Perhaps Christ resurrected Body was manifested for the faithful as a witness to the power of whom he was and what had been accomplished as the ultimate sign and eternal promise fulfilled. Maybe we are reading too much into a biological examination of this.

    The change that occurred is a covenantal legal change in stance before God. Before in Adam those who called on God found their stance was mortal and now it is an immortal standing with God. Life through the spirit is not under a biological evolutionary realm of attainment.

    I will be frank that our tendency here and over at Biologos to go off on the biological tangent and stray away from the theological quest is an interesting and yet ultimately frustrating endeavour. And this is from someone who enjoys and embraces evolution fully.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Dana, yes, transformation is a great word.

    normbv, I hear you regarding doing the biological thing, but in this case I think it is an interesting question since the nature of the documentation for Christ and the resurrection is of a corporeal nature at a minimum, though most of us here know there are spiritual aspects.

  • John I.

    Living a saved life that is transformed by the indwelling Spirit does not require one to know or be able to make sense of evolution and salvation history, however, being able to do so does have implications for strengthening the faith of believers and in apologetics and evangelization.

    As a request, given that “John” is the most common male given name in English speaking countries, would all those with the given name “John” please also use some kind of distinguisher with it?

    John I.

  • normbv

    DRT,

    Well since we are talking about evolution and religion I find it an interesting study to observe the status of isolated peoples of the world in regard to religion just 500 years ago. The reason this seems appropriate is because we have on the North and South American continents peoples that had been isolated from all other religions for 15,000 years or more. In fact one could conjecture that those who inhabited the Americas have been separated from those of the Middle East more than 30,000 years [possibly DNA could tell us]. What similarities do we find with both regions approach to religion? It seems that there were some similarities in both groups as areas that provided for the establishments of abundant food and more developed civilizations lead to more sophisticated religious order. I’m thinking of the Egyptian and Babylonian river regions and the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca civilizations as comparisons.

    Perhaps the most interesting one is the Iroquois development in NE North America. It did not appear to have the brutality that was associated with the Central and South American developments. When first encountered the Iroquois had developed something of a democracy and appeared to look to a single entity [Spirit]. It made their assimilation into Christianity somewhat more seamless it seems.

    What comes to mind is that these various religious practices evolved in differing peoples separated over 10’s of thousands of years and yet there did not appear to be any significant biological differences that would factor into the equation that would distinguish the American from their ANE counterparts. They all appeared primed ready to receive and embrace Christianity without a biological connection for these many millenniums of separation.

    Adam as a Hebrew historical figure appears around 4-5000 BC according to the Biblical examination and then the new covenant change occurred in the first century AD. Do we want to suppose that peoples in the Americas were affected 1500 years before their European discovery in some sort of biological manifestation to bring about conversion or did they have this inclination toward God when they came out of Africa 50-75,000 years ago as they spread across the world. I would hypothesize that the capacity for man to embrace God was in place as man embarked on their various genetic DNA divisions coming out of Africa.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    normbv,

    I think it is pretty certain that we had to have the DNA (biology) required for hearing the Christ message when we came out of Africa (what movie!). But your post points out that the DNA, the biology, is not sufficient. But what is sufficient? It seems that we do not have meaningful adoption of the Jesus Creed (if you will) at the individual level as we do at the corporate level. A corporate maturation that matches the corporate biology.

    My wife is a much more advanced life form that me (and my daughter too, for that matter). They care about other people. My daughter was the first child (of 3) that ever asked me, “Are you feeling OK Dad?” Even though she has the stuff to follow Jesus, our family will not, and therefore our society will not, unless we reach some level of corporate maturation that allows for us to be self sustaining (the boys have not cut the mustard yet).

    It seems, in my view, that we are entangled with the world and other people (and probably God). So I totally agree with you that the genetic propensity for Christ adoption is in our genes from long ago. And I also think that humans (image bearers) have somehow become intertwined in the world and spirit at a level that makes it a much more complicated picture.

    Thanks for taking the time with your post, it made me think…

    I wonder what in the world made the difference between that savagery of the equatorial peoples and the Iroquois.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    …er, apparently the phrase is passed the muster…..or not…perhaps one of you know.

  • Susan N.

    @Dana #21 — the way you contrasted “evolution” with “transformation” kept turning over in my head. From a sterile, scientific worldview, inherent in the theory of evolution is “survival of the fittest.” From a spiritual, or biblical, worldview, the opposite is true. The way “up” (being transformed from glory to glory, more in the likeness of Christ) is down.

    When my children were younger, I taught them a literal 6-day creation and said very little about evolutionary theory. At the concrete stage, these competing explanations for mysteries such as “how God created…” were too confusing. Now that they are older, and maybe too as my own faith is solid enough to live with some unanswered questions, evolution and intelligent design as possible explanations for how we all got here doesn’t diminish or confuse my faith in Christ. I’m reminded of Job’s encounter with God. Humbling!


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