So How Then Should We Think About Adam? (RJS)

This is the last post in our series on the new book by Peter Enns The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins. The conclusion to the book outlines nine theses that Enns suggests shape key parameters for the discussion of Adam. In this post I would like to outline these nine theses, make a few comments about some of them, and open it up for discussion.

Thesis 1. Literalism is not an option. (p. 137)

This arises from both a consideration of the sciences of physics, geology, and biology and from a consideration of the Ancient Near Eastern context of the text. On this thesis I agree with Enns completely.

Thesis 2. Scientific and biblical models of human origins are, strictly speaking, incompatible because they speak a different language.(p. 138)

One of the major points made by Enns is that it is unreasonable to rethink the biblical and theological Adam to try to find a level of agreement between the biblical story of Adam and the evolutionary evidence for human origins. I don’t take quite as strong a position as Enns on this one. I agree that there is no “Adam” to be found in the evolutionary scheme apart from an act of God. But Enns’s argument goes beyond this.

Now I will say it is possible that, tens of thousands of years ago, God took two hominid representatives (or a group of hominids) and with them began the human story where creatures have a consciousness of God, learn to be moral, and so forth. But that is an alternate and wholly ad hoc account of the first humans, not the biblical one. One cannot pose such a scenario and say,” Here is your Adam and Eve; the Bible and science are thus reconciled.” Whatever those creatures were, they were not what the biblical authors presumed to be true. They may have been the first beings somehow conscious of God, but we overstep our bounds if we claim that these creatures satisfy the requirements of being “Adam and Eve.” (p. 139)

Part of the reluctance Enns has for this scenario arises from his unease with any form of concordism.

[S]earching for ways to align the modern-scientific and ancient-biblical models of creation – no matter how minimal – runs the risk of obscuring the theology of the texts in question. The creation stories are ancient and should be understood on that level. (p. 139)

I understand, I think, where Enns is coming from on this issue. I agree that an approach to scripture that requires concord between modern science and the ancient text is not satisfactory. It obscures the text and loses sight of the intended meaning. On the other hand I think there are issues here that go beyond the desire to reconcile modern science and an ancient text. There are theological questions – Who are we? What is our purpose? What did Christ accomplish in his death and resurrection?  – that are addressed in the question of human origins.  It seems reasonable to think that the Bible does address these questions. As a result I tend to be uncomfortable with an approach that makes “Adam” a neolithic farmer (a unique individual who lived some 10000 years ago, although perhaps not the only human alive). There is too much concordism in this approach. But I am comfortable with the approach of CS Lewis who sees truth about the human condition behind the story (The Problem of Pain Ch. 5).

This leads to one of the first questions we can discuss in the wrap-up of the book.

To what extent is the search for a historical Adam, say as a neolithic farmer, driven by a need to find agreement between the biblical text and human history?

To what extent is this search driven by theological questions?

Several of Enns’s theses reflect on the nature of the Old Testament text of Genesis. We have much to learn from the approach Enns takes here. If we are to be faithful to the text as inspired by God we have to take the text on its own terms. This is a matter of developing an appropriate hermeneutic and an appropriate attitude toward the text. Thesis 7, which I have taken out of the order used in the book really summarizes this view of inspiration.

Thesis 3:  The Adam story in Genesis reflects its ancient Near Eastern setting and should be read that way.(p. 140)

Thesis 4:  There are two creation stories in Genesis; the Adam story is probably the older and was subsumed under Genesis 1 after the exile in order to tell Israel’s story.(p. 140)

Thesis 5: The Israel-centered focus of the Adam story can also be seen in its similarity to Proverbs: the story of Adam is about failure to fear God and attain wise maturity. (p. 142)

Thesis 7: A proper view of inspiration will embrace the fact that God speaks by means of the cultural idiom of the authors – whether it is the author of Genesis in describing origins or how Paul would later come to understand Genesis. Both reflect the setting and limitation of the cultural moment. (p. 143)

The next thesis returns in a way to the discussion above about thesis 2.

Thesis 6: God’s solution through the resurrection of Christ reveals the deep, foundational plight of the human condition, and Paul expresses that fact in the biblical idiom available to him. (p. 142)

The deep foundational plight of the human condition plays a role not only in Paul’s use of Adam, but also, I think, in the text of Genesis 2-3 as well. This is true whether the intent of the original authors was to portray Adam as the first Israelite as Enns suggests, or Adam as the universal forefather of all mankind. Having been created for innocent union with God we have broken the relationship.

In the truth behind the eighth  thesis we see clear evidence of the foundational plight of the human condition.

Thesis 8:  The root of the conflict for many Christians is not scientific or even theological, but group identity and fear of losing what it offers.(p. 145)

I think Enns is right. For many Christians the issue is group identity; belonging to and being comfortable in a group with clear boundaries, consensus, and traditions. But this also strikes me as just plain wrong – a result of human fallenness rather than human faithfulness.

There is much we could say about this particular topic – far too much for this short summary. Among other things this root of the conflict causes loss of faith for many as it provides comfort and security for others. We have to be willing and able to step back and ask if this position or view is essential for mere Christianity or merely essential for my Christian camp. If the former, it is written in blood and we must defend it at all costs. If the latter, it is written in ink or pencil, and we have to be willing to rethink, erase, and if necessary rewrite. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is essential for mere Christianity – the historicity of Adam is not.

The final thesis moves beyond the question of Adam to consider the entire impact of evolutionary biology on the Christian faith. This steps beyond the topic of the book itself – but opens up a door through which we must pass.

Thesis 9: A true rapprochement between evolution and Christianity requires a synthesis, not simply adding evolution to existing theological formulations. (p. 147)

Pete lays it out here.

Evolution is a serious challenge to how Christians have traditionally understood at least three central issues of the faith: the origin of humanity, of sin, and of death.(p. 147)

Death is a natural part of the evolutionary process. Some traits that we have traditionally thought of as sinful may be simply natural – at least in the context of nonhuman populations.

Evolution, therefore, cannot simply be grafted onto evangelical Christian faith. … Evolution is not an add-on to Christianity: it demands synthesis because it forces serious intellectual engagement with some important issues. Such a synthesis requires a willingness to rethink one’s own convictions in light of new data, and that is typically a very hard thing to do (thesis 8). (p. 147)

This is certainly true. But it is also true, I think, that we must be patient. Willing to lead in small steps, taking people as far as they are able to go at any time. Deep change will come with new generations, rather than within a generation. Thomas Kuhn’s study The Structure of Scientific Revolutions may have some insight for us here. We also need some humility in approach to realize that whatever problems or solutions we see today – the ultimate resolution may look somewhat different. We will not formulate a finalized synthesis in a generation. This is an ongoing, multi-person, multi-institution, multi-perspective project.

The last two paragraphs of the concluding chapter are in many ways the best part of the book, a confession of faith and a vision of hope for the future.  Buy the book to read them (and the rest). The Evolution of Adam is not the last word on any of the questions of Adam, evolution, sin, or death. But it is an important contribution to the discussion.

Do you have any thoughts on these theses?

How much of the conflict is theological? How much is biblical (i.e. to protect the inerrancy of scripture)? How much is driven by the desire to protect group identity?

Is there anything you would add to the list?

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.

  • Randy Gabrielse

    RJS,

    I have followed this set of posts spottily, in part because I have moved away from a setting where I deal with origins issues on a daily basis. But I thank you for the thoughtfulness of your engagement with Enns, and for offering a developed perspective on these questions for discussion.
    Peace,
    Randy Gabrielse

  • Billyv

    On the conclusion of the book, I was left with the question, “Now what?” How do we now think of the origin of sin? I know that wasn’t the goal of Enns, but it seemed like he tore down the scaffolding of the origin of human sinfulness and offered no possible suggestions. I also think, in a way, he copped out. I know he doesn’t think Paul got it wrong, Paul was a man of his times and that is what he knew of human origins. But, if Enns is right, then didn’t Paul get it wrong?
    I did find the book very helpful. I guess I was just looking for solutions that Enns never promised, therefore the frustration was my own fault. Now I have to keep working out the problem of the origin of sin and the question of are we all “infected” by it.
    Thanks for your review.

  • J.L. Schafer

    I agree that evolution poses significant challenges to evangelical Christians. But Roman Catholics have long felt that evolution is not a serious problem. Does anyone know how the RCC deals with the various theological issues (origins of sin, death, etc.) that Enns has raised? Is the historicity of Adam negotiable for them?

  • Joey Elliott

    RJS,

    I appreciate the humility, especially at the end, in encouraging patience and further discussion on this topic. In past posts I have sensed a tone that implied that Enns’ theses were in some sense the final word. I now take back that hasty and incorrect interpretation of your tone. I am glad you agree that this book is not the final word on Adam, evolution, sin, or death, or that even the ideas he expresses will be settled in our generation. And so I will also agree that it is a valuable contribution to the discussion.

    I disagree with most of his theses, but I do not have the time to unpack my opinion here any further. I think this is a helpful summary of his points and a nice word of encouragement in how to proceed with these claims on the table.

    I do feel inclined to say that I think the accusation of “fear” in Thesis 8 is too strong, at least for the majority of Christians who disagree. I represent what I believe to be a fairly widespread number of Christians who are able and willing to address these points at the scientific, theological, and literary level, and the implication that we are “afraid” to address what conflicts our traditional understandings is a bit insulting and inaccurate.

    But all that does not conflict what I said above: I have learned much from this series and appreciate this summary especially.

  • D. Foster

    RJS,

    I’ve been following these posts/discussions on Enns’s book since you started them. Thanks for putting all the time into this.

    Here are my thoughts on his theses:

    “Thesis 1. Literalism is not an option. (p. 137)”

    Agreed.

    “Thesis 2. Scientific and biblical models of human origins are, strictly speaking, incompatible because they speak a different language.(p. 138)”

    In light of Enns’s elaboration on this point, I remain agnostic on this one. My biggest reservation is that Science is so young and the Universe is so vast and complex. Things have been discovered at the quantum level that just 100 years ago would have been thought (and still seem to the rational mind) impossible. Science is a fluxing body of knowledge, and I worry about my worldview being tied to any particular model that science offers at this moment, given what we know so far.

    I’m not so sure that Evolution as we know it today won’t be superseded by some scientific model down the road when discoveries are made that we can’t even fathom being possible. So I hesitate in saying making a declaration about what is or is not compatible between the Bible and Science because Science itself is an evolving discipline. So are biblical studies, really, as a study of the Church throughout history will show. I agree with that Science as we know the discipline now and the Bible as we understand it now are “speaking different languages.” But therefore incompatible? I’m not sold on that yet.

    “Thesis 3: The Adam story in Genesis reflects its ancient Near Eastern setting and should be read that way.(p. 140)”

    Agreed.

    “Thesis 4: There are two creation stories in Genesis; the Adam story is probably the older and was subsumed under Genesis 1 after the exile in order to tell Israel’s story.(p. 140)”

    Disagreed here, though my contention is historical, not theological. I think it much more likely that Genesis 1-11 predates Abraham.

    “Thesis 5: The Israel-centered focus of the Adam story can also be seen in its similarity to Proverbs: the story of Adam is about failure to fear God and attain wise maturity. (p. 142)”

    Strongly disagree here. The story of Adam is centered on Mankind, not Israel specifically. The name ADAM means MAN; the genealogies and structure of Gen. 1-11 focus on the dispersement of Mankind over the world. The Universal focus before Gen. 12 is what makes the story of Abraham and his descendants significant. I really think Enns is off base here, especially given his treatment of Adam-as-Israel earlier on.

    “Thesis 7: A proper view of inspiration will embrace the fact that God speaks by means of the cultural idiom of the authors – whether it is the author of Genesis in describing origins or how Paul would later come to understand Genesis. Both reflect the setting and limitation of the cultural moment. (p. 143)”

    Agreed, but how do you determine what we’re supposed to take from the story as theology vs. what’s simply an idiomatic expression? Enns’s position seems to be: “Accept the Bible’s theology, not its cosmology.” But where does even that line get drawn? Is their understanding of men and women’s roles simply a reflection of the times? Is their understanding of sin simply a reflection of the times? What’s the criteria?

    “Thesis 6: God’s solution through the resurrection of Christ reveals the deep, foundational plight of the human condition, and Paul expresses that fact in the biblical idiom available to him. (p. 142)”

    But what is that human condition? What is even wrong with the world? I don’t think he spells that out here.

    “Thesis 8: The root of the conflict for many Christians is not scientific or even theological, but group identity and fear of losing what it offers.(p. 145)”

    That is probably true, but I think there’s more to it. What I think the Young-Earth Creationists saw early on was this: that once you say that everything that is wrong with the world has been going from the beginning, and is even part of God’s design, then what’s wrong with it? If death has always been going on, organisms have been competing with and destroying one another for billions of years, what’s the problem humans continuing to do the same thing?

    One Neolithic farmer kills another farmer and takes his food—perfectly fine, part of God’s grand design.

    Suddenly, that Neolothic farmer gets a soul. He kills another farmer and takes his food—not part of God’s design, he’s a sinner, alienated from God, in a “plight.” What just happened? What makes all of this wrong now? I haven’t come across anyone who has dealt with, what seems to me, this glaringly obvious issue that Atheists see immediately.

    “Thesis 9: A true rapprochement between evolution and Christianity requires a synthesis, not simply adding evolution to existing theological formulations. (p. 147)”

    I’m confused here. Didn’t Enns just say in thesis #2 that the models of science and the Bible are incompatible?

    I’m glad that Enns took the time to write this book. But I felt like, as I do with most Christians who write about this topic, that the central problematic issues weren’t dealt with. Ultimately a nice contribution to what I see as a peripheral discussion about Science and the Bible.

    Anyone feel free to comment.

    –Derek

  • http://daveasch.com Dave Asch

    These posts and their comments have been informative and helpful to me. I appreciated the emphasis today that, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is essential for mere Christianity – the historicity of Adam is not.” Granted, even that statement is a bit of a challenge in my circles, but the work you have done here has helped me think carefully through some of the issues.

  • CGC

    Thanks RJS for all the work and shedding much light on this topic. I remember when Rob Bell’s book came out, there was such a controversy and sparked whole groups of books in response. I wonder in the academy if Enn will do something similar or will other scholars more ignore and not give much attention to his work? It will be interesting to see how science evolves in the future and what new insights, issues, or divergences or convergences happen in the area of religion or science, or more specifically, the book of Genesis and its modern interpreters.

  • TJJ

    Thank you for the series of posts on this book. I agree with some of the points, disagree with others but the discussion has been good and is important.

  • Susan N.

    RJS,

    Thank you.

    I have most appreciated your willingness to engage graciously in what is more a theological struggle than an inability or unwillingness to accept the scientific evidence, at least on my part.

    That you both acknowledged my theological questions as valid and relevant to the Adam/evolution debate, and did not claim to have all the answers, earned my respect for you on more levels than one.

    I have learned a lot along the way, and yet have not arrived at absolute certainty on some theological issues. I’ve probably actually come up with new questions to ponder! For better or for worse (and I suppose others will judge me by their particular faith-o-meter), I’m O:K with that. Actually, pretty fine.

    ~Peace~

  • RJS

    Dave Asch (#6),

    Thanks. The statement about historicity of resurrection vs. historicity of Adam is a challenge in many circles. There are a few related aspect to this statement as I see it. But a key point here is really that we can be wrong about Adam and it does not change much if anything of our practical faith in Jesus Christ. I can be wrong, you can be wrong, Dr. Mohler can be wrong, and nothing much changes. If we are wrong about the resurrection everything changes. As I pointed out in the post last Thursday resurrection has been a key component of Christian belief and Christian hope from the first century.

    We have to realize, I think, that the stakes on “Adam” are not that high – unless you believe that we have to have all the right head knowledge and perfect understanding to follow Christ faithfully.

  • http://Www.liberty.edu Dr. Charles Hughes

    Every major doctrine is contained in some embryonic form in the first eleven chapters of Genesis . These issues have been settled long ago . To so quickly , and casually reject what believers have stood on for years is discouraging . My prayer is that the Living Lord would strengthen your faith , enlighten your mind , break your heart .

    Charles

  • Val

    Thanks so much RJS, even if science was somehow unproven tomorrow (It won’t be) the other issue I would have with a literal Adam or Eve is the similarities to Mesopotamian literature. If the Bible was unique and no other culture had similar myths, it might be significant. It isn’t because ANE literature is too similar. The first 11 chapters of Genesis root them in the Middle East about 4000 – 6000 years ago.

    The word-plays (common in the Bible) favour Mesopotamia as being the origin of the text: The goddess Nin-Ti is made from the rib of a god on a paradise island. Nin=Lady and Ti = Rib or Life in Sumerian. In Hebrew Eve is “giver of Life” or Living one. Using the female life motif, but there is no word-play on rib. A lost in translation word-play.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Is it possible that “What is the origin of sin?” is the wroung question? When we operate at the edge of the unknown (unknowable?), it is extremely important to ask the right questions in order to have any hope of finding a reasonable answer. That evil exists comes easily enough from the Scripture, under the Spirit’s guidance. Some people want to deny it, but most Bible believing Christians don’t. That human sin derives from the effects of evil on us is not hard to fathom. That we have no power in ourselves to effectively combat sin is also easily derived from Scripture. That evil probably existed long before the universe was created is a reasonable interpretation of some scriptures (see Greg Boyd’s “God at War”). Do we really need to know, in some mechanistic way, how evil began in order to accept the fact that it exists and that Christ has defeated it and is in the process of defeating it in us? And, if we feel we must have a mechanism to explain our sinful condition, shouldn’t we want something better that a talking snake and an apple as part of the explanation?

  • http://mycrosswind.com David Sulcer

    Here is the great conundrum for those who will fully embrace evolution within their theological framework:Death. Plain and simple, death is the great problem with trying to “think in new ways” about how to bring a synthesis between Christianity and evolutionary science.

    Paul, says, in no uncertain terms, death is the great problem for the entire creation, not just humanity. Death to Paul is the Great Wall to scale if we are going to create a workable synthesis. However, as Romans 8:18-23 reveals, all of creation must be considered as part this rebirth of life. What else does the “restoration of all things” mean if not this (Acts 3:21)? What does it mean then to describe creation being “set free from its bondage to corruption?” If death is part of evolutionary processes then how can we merge this with a Gospel message of resurrection?

    No matter what value Enns gives to us as a thinker and a processor of a better hermeneutic for OT understanding and context his very commitment to evolutionary theory is the stick he colors his final analysis with.

  • John C. Gardner

    I think scholars such as Denis Alexander and John Collins are both intellectually respectable and faithful Christians. Therefore, I am comfortable with standing with them and also the consensual Christian tradition regarding Adam and Eve as well as the Fall. However evolution itself is a position I also accept. Bishop Kallistos Ware in his work on Eastern Orthodoxy also presents a wonderful nexus between science and tradition.

  • Brian C

    Or it could be Thesis #1 is correct. I guess we’ll find out someday for sure but right now all we can do is guess based on our presuppositions. One day we might lose our pride to know everything and eat from the wrong tree. Why shouldn’t we just be satisfied with not guessing, and that all it is. The fact is it doesn’t really matter, as intellectual as one wants to be. This whole thread on Enns has been a waste of time at best. The only issue is what are you going to do with Jesus.

  • RJS

    Brian (#16),

    It is not a waste of time when some find the question a deep threat to their faith and others find it is a serious hindrance for to a willingness to listen to what we have to say about Jesus.

    But I agree as in my comment above that this is a secondary issue.

  • http://www.drbilldonahue.com Bill Donahue

    Followed this a bit but it seems the historicity of Adam is key to the understanding of Romans 5. Hard to imagine the argument and its power as effective otherwise.

  • RJS

    David Sulcer (#14),

    I think that resurrection and the new creation must be going to have an aspect that is completely different from what we know today. Our death is the enemy – and this is conquered in resurrection and eventually new creation.

    The real question is whether this is a restoration to what once was or a move forward to God’s intended culmination. Many thinkers, including John Calvin, thought that Adam would have eventually passed on to the intended culmination, just without death and decay of his person. This from his commentary on Genesis 3.

  • AHH

    Maybe the most important of Enns’ theses is #7:
    A proper view of inspiration will embrace the fact that God speaks by means of the cultural idiom of the authors – whether it is the author of Genesis in describing origins or how Paul would later come to understand Genesis. Both reflect the setting and limitation of the cultural moment.

    Those who went to seminary (at least a non-fundamentalist one) might say “Well, duh!”, but for the rest of the church the recognition that the Bible does not conform to what simplistic Biblicism would have it be is hugely needed. And not just on this issue. For the church to be intellectually healthy in the 21st century, I think not just clergy but laity must be weaned away from “magic book” thinking and learn to embrace the Bible’s situatedness and human elements (while continuing to affirm its authority and inspiration). But I fear too many leaders in conservative evangelicalism draw lines in the sand that will keep the evangelical church confined to its intellectual ghetto.

  • Dan Yelovich

    It seems to me that part of what the original Genesis story was trying to tell us was that “death” was a part of God’s original good creation…otherwise the “you will surely die” or “subduing the earth” makes no sense. Woven into God’s handiwork is the fact that all living things require the consuming (or death) of other living things to survive…for us to live something of great value must give up its life. …Sound familiar?

  • AHH

    One more thought; I would question Enns’ statement:
    Evolution is a serious challenge to how Christians have traditionally understood at least three central issues of the faith: the origin of humanity, of sin, and of death.

    I think for this to be accurate he would need to replace “Christians” by “conservative Evangelical Christians”. Which is after all Enns’ background and much of his presumed audience. But other parts of the church (EO, RCC, many Protestants) have not found evolution to be a huge threat. For example, while I’m no expert on Barth I think evolution would not be a huge challenge to his theology of “the origin of humanity, or sin, and of death”. If one escapes the constraints of conservative Evangelical hermeneutics, some tension remains but evolution is not this huge challenge that requires radical rethinking of one’s faith.

    Of course that gets to the “group identity” point. For many, a major part of group identity is being “Bible believing” Christians in the form of a narrow Biblicism (sometimes but not always expressed as “inerrancy”). For that group, difficult rethinking of near-core issues (like how we think about sin, and even more how we think about Biblical inspiration) will indeed be needed.

  • Scott Courey

    One crucial element of this discussion that appears left out is that of the intimate/communal nature of God. Specifically, how intimate is/are the Godhead, and therefore, how intimate was he/they with “man” when he was creating him (her)?
    When God “breathed” life into the form and the form became a living eternal intimately communal soul, what was happening? If he was pouring even some small measure of his very glory into the heretofore lifeless shell, was he not pouring his deeply intimate communal nature into a singular, carefully, artistically designed mass of cells? “Adam” may not point to one human being, but God most certainly breathed himself into this new creation he called “man” in the most intimate of ways. God made one and then one and then one – not a mass. And this is why the glory and terror of human intimacy grips our souls.

  • Norman

    I believe we constantly have a tendency to read the OT and NT from a literalistic point of view as the default method when a systematic investigation of Jewish scriptures reveals they didn’t compile it to be understood in such a manner. Prime example is David Sulcer’s view of Romans 8:18-23 in #14 in which he defaults to a literal reading of the groaning of Creation in expectation of being freed from its bondage. By ignoring the overall context of Rom 5-8 in which spiritual death (not biological) is the result of sin derived from an abuse of law keeping starting with Adam onward; he simply misapplies the conclusion Paul is presenting in 8:18-23. Creation from the Jewish mindset is firmly seated in Israel’s Old covenant creation and Adam #1 was the beginning of the story line and Christ is the concluding Adam #2. The old covenant “corrupt Creation” is being replaced with the new covenant is the story in a nutshell.

    This is not a biological inference about physical creation but is about how Christ is wrapping up the intention of God from the very beginning of Adam’s creation. This is set in the context of a Jewish understanding of creation and not a Greek or westernized misreading of the language.

    Paul consistently uses death as the metaphor for separation and he draws it from the OT background in places such as Isaiah 25. He clearly applies this idea throughout his writings but our tendency toward literalism constantly overrules this recognition. Here is how Paul understood Adam’s death in Eph 2 and Col 2 where he summarizes the same concept that he has presented in more depth in Rom 5-8.

    Eph 2: As for you, YOU WERE DEAD in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which YOU USED TO LIVE when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 ALL OF US ALSO LIVED AMONG THEM AT ONE TIME, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 MADE US ALIVE WITH CHRIST EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN TRANSGRESSIONS—it is by grace you have been saved.

    It could not be clearer that Paul has “death” as a metaphor to denote spiritual separation from God; and the bondage to corruption in Rom 8 is the same issue that he is describing above that Christ rectified. This is abundantly clear when we read Rom 8:18-23 in context with the rest of his previous 3 chapter presentation. Col 2 repeats the same message as well.

    Col 2:13 When YOU WERE DEAD IN YOUR SINS and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, GOD MADE YOU[D] ALIVE WITH CHRIST. He forgave us all our sins,

    Paul takes his cues from places like Isaiah 25 in which the poetic language predicts the coming of a time of messiah when the problems of alienation from God will be rectified for all peoples. IMHO
    Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty WILL PREPARE A FEAST OF RICH FOOD FOR ALL PEOPLES, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain HE WILL DESTROY THE SHROUD THAT ENFOLDS ALL PEOPLES, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 HE WILL SWALLOW UP DEATH FOREVER.

  • http://fortnersthinkshop.wordpress.com John D. Fortner

    I wonder how someone such as Peter Enns would avoid concordism, give modern science its full voice, and maintain the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead?

  • RJS

    John Fortner,

    The cases are not even remotely similar in any way shape or form. This is one of the most insidious and misleading lies of those who argue the case for “biblicism”. We have discussed it on many, many posts including earlier posts in this series.

    Neither Enns nor I have argued that there is no supernatural or that miracles are impossible. It is only on such a naturalistic foundation that science has anything whatsoever to say about either incarnation or resurrection.

    The origin, transmission, and reliability of the NT text on the resurrection is well supported – and here we can look at a number of books including several by Tom Wright and a book by Mark Roberts on the reliability of the gospels. I have not read Mike Licona’s new book but I hear this is also a good discussion of the topic.

    The real point is that we need to read the OT for what it is, the questions it has to ask and answer, with knowledge of its context in the history of Israel. Then we can actually read the bible for what it says – rather than asking it to answer questions it is not addressing.

  • C

    RJS (26) “The real point is that we need to read the OT for what it is, the questions it has to ask and answer, with knowledge of its context in the history of Israel. Then we can actually read the bible for what it says – rather than asking it to answer questions it is not addressing.”

    Thank you. This sums it up perfectly. I hope all of us can agree on this.

  • http://fortnersthinkshop.wordpress.com John D. Fortner

    “one of the most insidious and misleading lies of those who argue the case for “biblicism”.

    ?????

    I beg your pardon.

  • RJS

    John,

    If you or any one else makes an argument that Adam is required by our theology or that it is the best explanation for the state we find ourselves in and that the biblical case is overwhelming – I’ll listen to your arguments. At this point I disagree, but there is much here worth discussing.

    But to tie belief in a historical Adam and belief in the resurrection together through either science or preservation of a perfect bible witness makes no sense. This argument is used primarily as a scare tactic. The two cases are completely different. We do not believe in the resurrection because we have an ancient book. The case for the resurrection is far deeper and more profound.


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