Jesus on Adam and Eve (RJS)

There has been small internet storm surrounding the remarks by Andy Stanley on Adam and Eve, and on Denny Burk’s response. Scot posted on this yesterday, but focused on what he saw as a poor hermeneutic at work in the remarks of Burk. I would like to address a different issue, also hermeneutical, and one that has significant ramifications for the integration of science and Christian faith.

As quoted by Scot, Andy Stanley said:

Here’s why I believe this actually happened. Not because the Bible says so, but because of the Gospels – Jesus talks about Adam and Eve. And it appears to me that he believed they were actually historical figures. And if he believed they were historical, I believe they were historical because anybody that can predict their own death and resurrection and pull it off – I just believe anything they say.

This is a very common argument, one I have heard repeatedly in the discussion of Adam, Eve, science and Christian faith. Thus it is worth our while to look very carefully at the logic behind this statement, the evidence from the Gospels, and at how it stands up.

1. Jesus is the Center. This statement focuses on Jesus who is the center of our faith. Here I agree completely. We need a hermeneutic that reads scripture through the lens of Jesus Christ and through his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and future hope. We believe in the bible because we believe in God, not vice versa. Yes, it is something of a spiral not cleanly separated. We know God and of his mission largely through revelation in scripture, but not solely through scripture. The emphasis of primacy is important though. God (and Jesus) first and foremost.

2. Jesus alludes to Adam and Eve only indirectly. In the major reference found in the gospels Jesus takes Genesis 1:27 (So God created mankind …  male and female he created them)  and the institution of marriage in Genesis 2:24 (That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh) and then describes divorce as a concession to the hardness of the “your hearts”.

 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mt 19:4-6)

Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mk 10:6-9)

One need not believe in a historical Adam and Eve to believe that God ordained marriage between a man and a woman, or that this was part of his plan for creation from the beginning. One also need not believe in a historical Adam and Eve to use Genesis to teach about marriage.

Dr. C. John (Jack) Collins has written a book Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care that makes an argument for the historicity of Adam and Eve in some real sense. When he considers the evidence in the gospels (pp. 76-78)  Collins also points out that the major allusion to Adam and Eve is really a statement about marriage. He takes this one step further, though, and suggests that the fact that the law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 allows divorce is because something changed after the beginning when God instituted marriage. This leads him to Genesis 3: “The obvious candidate for making that change – indeed the only one – is the sin of Adam and Eve, with its consequences for all human beings.” (p. 77)  Thus, it appears that Collins’s main reason for thinking that Mt 19 and Mk 10 point to the historicity of Adam and Eve is because he reads in this passage a reference to the Fall.

The other possible references to Adam and Eve in the gospels are slim indeed. Collins notes that Jesus makes a passing reference to Abel (Mt 23:35 and Lk 11:51) – but “since this is just in passing we need not make much of it.” There is also, perhaps, a passing reference to the serpent and Genesis 3 in John 8:44: “You belong to your father, the devil, … He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.” Collins thinks that the phrase “murderer from the beginning” is an allusion to the serpent in Genesis 3.

This is the extent of the evidence we have concerning Adam and Eve from recorded words of Jesus. (The genealogy in Luke 3 goes back to Adam, but this is not part of Jesus’s teaching.)

3. Jesus may, or may not, have “believed they were historical.” I don’t think this is a question we can answer based on the text of the exchanges recorded in the Gospels. Jesus knew and used the teachings of the OT text including Genesis as an accurate view of God’s work in the world. Whether he had “unnecessary” knowledge as the incarnate son is not clear, he was clearly limited in some ways.

Jack Collins believes that “it is fair to say that the Gospel writers portray Jesus as one who believed both that Adam and Eve were historical and that their disobedience changed things for us” (p. 78). I take a somewhat different view and think that the Gospel writers portray Jesus as a biblically literate 1st century Jewish male who was steeped in the scripture and the culture – he was localized in a time and place. What he thought about historicity can’t be discerned, and our opinion of this rests in part on what we take as the consequences of incarnation.

4. Jesus knew his mission. The fact that Jesus predicted his death (part of his mission) doesn’t tell us anything about his knowledge of past (other than what was learned as any human learns) or the future (where we know he was limited – Mt 24:36 and Mk 13:32). Jesus as the incarnate son knew his Father and he knew his mission.  That may have been enough.

5. Non-historical characters can be used to teach true lessons. This should go without saying, but there is no necessary reason why Adam and Eve (or Abel) must be historical to make the lessons taught by Jesus true. The stories of the Good Samaritan and of Lazarus and the rich man teach true lessons whether the characters are historical or not. With respect to Genesis 1-4, we should consider the options. If Jesus, as the incarnate son, knew a truth his audience didn’t know, what would he have done? Would he have avoided the allusion on that account? Would he have added an caveat that would have made no sense to his audience? It is quite likely that he would have used the context of his audience to make the point he wished to make. It was, after all, a lesson about the institution of marriage that comes clearly from the text.

So what about Adam and Eve? The question of Adam and Eve is a theological question and a hermeneutical question. It isn’t really a scientific question. Nor can it be decided by submission to the allusions of Jesus recorded in the gospels.  The most significant theological questions are raised by Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15.

There are ways to reconcile a literal Adam and Eve with the scientific data. I have posted on the question of Adam many times. See for example the last part of Evolution, Entropy, and Human Beings 2 or other posts on the question of Adam listed about 3/4 of the way down the Science and Faith index. Reconciling a literal Adam and Eve with the scientific data requires something of a stretch, but is not impossible if one feels that the theological teaching of the sweep of scripture requires Adam, Eve, and the Fall.

There are also ways to understand the sweep of scripture and the fallen nature of mankind without reference to a historical Adam and Eve. These do not necessarily diminish the inspiration and authority of scripture as witness to the work of God in the world.

This shouldn’t be a make or break issue. Rather, it is an issue where we need to spend more time and thought.

What do you think?

Do the references and allusions by Jesus to Adam and Eve mean that we should consider them historical?

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.

  • transitpastor

    I’ve had the pleasure to sit with a very small group of people and listen to Phyllis Tickle for a whole weekend, and grill her on all kinds of topics. Man, it was a very cool experience. As many of you know, she contends that every 500 years or so the Church has a “rummage” sale, and major changes occur. We are in fact right in the 500 year range now, and she believes the Church is in the middle of one of these “garage sales. I am grossly summarizing her points here to get to a point. I’m pretty sure she talked at length about the Church moving to a more “Sola Christo” view, rather than “Sola Scriptura” View. She did not water down te importance of Scripture at all, just talked at length about a new hermeneutic that centers around Christ. All this to say, yesterday’s and today’s discussions may be pointing towards and confirming Phyllis’ theory. Just some thoughts…

  • Andrew Dowling

    No, just like citing the story of Jonah doesn’t mean the speaker believes a guy was really in the belly of a whale for 3 days. They were common stories known among the community. Doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t believe they had happened, but I don’t think the culture of 1st century Palestine put things in “historical/nonhistorical” boxes like we do. The importance would have been in the overall lesson of the story.

  • http://prodigalthought.net/ Scott Lencke

    RJS -

    This is a great article. It’s not too dissimilar to the arguments that arise about ‘Moses being THE author the Pentateuch.’ One major argument is that Jesus, the Gospel writers, Paul and others referred to the Pentateuch as being penned by Moses (or calling it ‘Moses’ or ‘Book of Moses’). But most of these are not really direct statements about who penned it, but more in line with the Jewish perspective on authoritative authorship, ascribing the Pentateuch as written by the major prophet of that time, Moses. It’s part and parcel to the ethos of Scriptural authorship. Hence why one might also argue that Samuel wrote 1-2 Samuel or Joshua wrote Joshua. Etc. But I think critical scholarship, over the past couple of centuries or so, has pointed out some holes in this authorial perspective that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, one Isaiah wrote Isaiah, etc. In the end, I’m happy to call the Pentateuch the books of Moses because of his role within it, though I don’t think he penned much of it and the Pentateuch was shaped over multiple centuries, being finalised sometime in post-exilic Israel. There’s too many pointers that Moses did not write a lot of it and that there were edits, updates & reshaping.

    My point is that I think some of this is relevant to the discussion on Adam & Eve. To refer to Adam & Eve, both directly or indirectly, doesn’t mean it’s a straightforward case being argued for their factual historicity. It simply falls within the first century paradigm of how to speak of Adam & Eve. When I preach/teach on Adam & Eve, I also speak of them as real folk within a narrative, though I’m ok to recognise that the characters spoken of in Gen 2-5 might not be factually historical in a straightforward sense. In the end, Adam & Eve and all that surrounds them teaches us very much even if they are not historical. Same with Job and Jonah.

    The problem is that most evangelicals are convinced we NEED a real Adam & Eve because, if we don’t, then we’ll head down the slippery slope of denying sin, death as a consequence of sin, and even the historicity & resurrection of Jesus. But no slippery slope argument ever holds water. It is fallacious. There are plenty of solid Christians who either a) do not hold to a literal Adam & Eve or b) don’t see the literal approach as necessary for faithful Christian theology, but still hold very dearly to the essential & orthodox doctrines of the faith. It’s always interesting to note that the early creeds never mention Adam & Eve. Yet we demand it is essential.

    I do hope that we stop approaching theology out of an unhealthy fear and are willing to rethink some aspects of our theology due to engaging with general/natural theology. We cannot simply reject science when it does not benefit us, but accept it when it does benefit our perspectives. I believe the church has been willing to rethink/re-examine it’s theology for it’s entire history. We still need to be able to do so today, without being scared of where things could lea

  • AHH

    #5 in your list is the one that strikes me as a blindingly obvious defeater of the “Jesus mentioned X so he must have been teaching that X was an actual historical person” argument. If I say “we should love our neighbors like the Good Samaritan did”, I am making no claim about the historicity of the GS. Of course the same logic works for Paul’s mentions of Adam — although in those cases it isn’t just the mention of the literary character but there are ties to Paul’s theology that one must deal with.

    Jesus’ mentions of Jonah give us a clear example that Jesus can and did cite nonhistorical stories in inspired Scripture to make points — since Jonah is seen as more like a parable by all but a few fundamentalist scholars. But I’ve been surprised how many Christians, even some I would not think of as fundamentalist, get all worked up about wanting to make the Jonah story into literal history.

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    Please stop conflating Denny Burk with Donna Burke, my most excellent high school chemistry and physics teacher. No “e”. :)

  • Ejarboe

    The Fact that Jesus was sinless is a central dcotrine of Christianity. He always spoke truth. Scientific data gives evidence of a single male and female ancestor of modern humans. See “Who was Adam” by Fazale Rana.
    God the Father revealed to The Son Man the knowledge he needed to complete his mission. I trust Jesus’ truthfulness which is respected by this article.
    If God is the author of Scripture and the Creator of the Cosmos– he reveals himself in both. Ultimately these 2 revelations will agree. May I respectfully recommend http://www.reasons.org as he site of a think tank exploring this issue.

  • RJS4DQ

    Thanks. I’ve fixed it, although it may take a bit to show on the new improved patheos.

  • Phil Miller

    Scientific data gives evidence of a single male and female ancestor of modern humans.

    Sorry, but this isn’t true. http://biologos.org/blog/understanding-evolution-mitochondrial-eve-y-chromosome-adam

  • Peter Green

    #5 is dead wrong, IMO, and it is where so many evangelicals go wrong.

    Yes, non-historical (i.e., narrative) characters can be used to communicate truths. The Good Samaritan is the obvious example. However, that’s a parable! No-one would suppose that there had to be a Good Samaritan, since the authority of the point doesn’t rest on the historicity (in that case) but on the authority of the speaker (i.e., Jesus). However, when Jesus or the other biblical authors make a point that assumes or depends on the historicity of the person, we either have to accept the historicity or reject the theology. Paul in 1 Cor 15 makes clear that there can be no separation of history and theology (except when allowed by obvious genre conventions).

    If I go out on a first date and I tell the girl that I’ve spent 5 years working in an orphanage, served in the peace corps, had a heart transplant, studied law, physics, and psychology, and was mayor of my town, and she later finds that none of it is true, how should she respond if I say: “Oh, of course that’s not true. Duh. I was just using those stories to illustrate my character, my diverse interests, and my desire to study.” Would she be justified in never speaking to me again?

    On the other hand, if I said, “Let me tell you a story about things that I haven’t done but which illustrate the kind of person I am…” that’s a whole different ball game. Then it comes down to whether she considers me to be a reliable witness to my own character.

    The Adam issue comes down to the fact that the biblical authors, most notably the author of Genesis, Luke, and Paul, all considered Adam to be a historical character and to make theological points on the basis of his historicity.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, the historicity question is important with the Good Samaritan–namely, did Jesus actually tell that story? If not, no confidence can be put in that theological point (on the basis of that passage). Thus, history and theology always! go together, just in different ways depending on the genre and point of the text.

  • Kenneth

    What about the kingdom of God being a sort of “redoing” of Eden? If a historical (future) New Heavens and New Earth IS the restoration of Eden on a grand scale, then wouldn’t that require a historical Eden? If not, then is it really a “restoration”? Tom Wright makes a big deal out of Eden being a place where God’s Space and our space interlock and interact, and that this is what is happening as the kingdom arrives through the Church now, and what will happen finally and fully at the return of Jesus. If this is so, then almost all of Jesus’s teaching hinges on a historical Eden (Adam and Eve are an inseparable part of the story of Eden). Any thoughts? I’m just throwing this out there.

    Also, how does one who doesn’t believe in a historical Eden and Adam explain the “restoration” element to the narrative of the Bible?

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    I hope that the smiley communicated that I was saying that light-heartedly. :) And for what it’s worth, I see the change.

  • Phil Miller

    In the way that Jesus refers to Adam, it’s in the context of the narrative of the Jewish people and their shared story. The actual historicity of Adam wasn’t something that would have been questioned by anyone listening to Him. It was something that was a given within their cultural backdrop.

    In the example you gave about dating a girl, you’re making up a backstory completely from your imagination. A better example would be that you believed your family had a certain genealogy as well the girl you were dating and everyone else in your county. In reality, though, the genealogy that people have been learning is heavily mythologized for whatever reason. If you referred to this genealogy at dinner in an offhand comment, you certainly wouldn’t be accused of lying.

  • Peter Green

    Notice that I didn’t mention Jesus, but rather Genesis, Luke (genealogy–which Luke uses to make a theological point about Jesus being the Second/Last Adam), and Paul.

    The theology of Genesis, Luke, and Paul rests on the history being correct. Whether they made it up or were deluded, if the history is wrong, their theology is wrong (and Paul would agree! See 1 Cor 15). So to adjust the example, if I told the girl stories about my family that I believed to be true but I later found to be fabricated, then both she and I would have to question my whole point.

  • Phil Miller

    Well, ironically, Wright is also one of the people who would say that trying to read the creation account in Genesis as historical misses the point. I think the idea of restoring Creation has more to do with the relational status of the Creator and the Creation than it does with getting things back to a literal primordial garden. It has to do with Creation being the place where God dwells in intimacy with His people.

    As to what will actually look like, we aren’t given a whole lot of details.

  • Phil Miller

    Depends on the point you were making… If the point was that your ancestors came over on the Mayflower when they actually didn’t and you have a piece of wood on your mantlepiece to prove it, then, yes, it would matter. But if your point was that you come from a line of brave people, it may still be true.

    I do believe that the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is key. But the significance of that event isn’t tied to the whether or not Adam was real or not. The significance of that is tied to the fact that we empirically know that death is a real thing that Christ must defeat.

  • Peter Green

    Yes, they might still be brave people but we wouldn’t know. That’s the point. If the history is wrong, we can’t say jack about the theology.

  • Kenneth

    I know, that is ironic. So how does “restoration” happen? When was our relationship status with God similar to what it will be in the New Heavens and New Earth? How is it “restored” if the only account we have of a past “right” relationship is ahistorical? It seems like the details of what it WILL look like is supposed to be found in what it DID look like.

    the CAPS are used for emphasis, not anything else :)

  • Phil Miller

    Paul’s point in Romans regarding Adam is to establish the universal sinfulness of humanity. Personally, I don’t think he’s doing it in a judicial or forensic sense, i.e, he doesn’t need to establish that sin exists. What he’s doing is using Adam in a narrative sense – this is how humanity got where it’s at… We came from a long line of sinners who have lost their way, we’re all lost, and none of us can claim superiority to anyone else because of this.

    That theological point can pretty much be empirically proven. There aren’t a bunch of sinless people walking around.

  • Peter Green

    Paul’s point in Rom 5 (and don’t forget 1 Cor 15!) is to explain how we (i.e., humanity–not Paul’s contemporaries, though they are obviously included) became sinful and how we get saved from our plight. Take away Adam and Paul’s point about sin having an origin disappears. You have an unbroken chain of sin going all the way back to the primordial ooze from whence we came (or so the evolutionists claim). That creates huge problems (to put it mildly) and directly contradicts what Paul says.

    If there is no Adam, Paul is wrong. If Paul is wrong about Adam, the theological point he makes on the basis of Adam is wrong (or at best unknowable). Furthermore, if evolution is true, then we can say not just that Paul was wrong about his history, but that the theology is necessarily wrong (and not simply “unknowable”).

  • Phil Miller

    I think trying to tie sin to genetics is more related to St. Augustine than Paul… A lot of this gets back to something that comes up again and again in these discussion – our view of original sin. If we view at something in our genetic code, we need a patient zero, i.e., a historic Adam. If we view it as something that something all humans fall into, are immersed, and can’t escape on our own, the question of where sin itself comes from is less important. Personally, it’s a big reason I find the Eastern Orthodox view of original sin as more compelling.

    http://www.orthocuban.com/2010/02/roman-catholic-and-orthodox-differences-on-original-sin/

    According to the Orthodox, humanity inherited the consequences of that sin, not the guilt. The difference stems from Augustine’s interpretation of a Latin translation of Romans 5:12 to mean that through Adam all men sinned, whereas the Orthodox reading in Greek interpret it as meaning that all of humanity sins as part of the inheritance of flawed nature from Adam.

    Sin is our inheritance from our ancestors. Inheritance existence outside of biological bonds. We inherit something simply because it was left to us. So once we stop looking at sin as something that’s not a biological issue, a lot of the issues surrounding evolution go away.

  • AHH

    In addition to the scientific error Phil Miller pointed out (we’d all be better off if RTB stuck to their expertise in astronomy), this comment appears to make two assumptions that I’d disagree with:

    1) The assumption that being sinless requires perfect knowledge of science and history. If Jesus went to school and got a B on a science test, that would not be sin. To deny that Jesus had a finite human mind (that might not know all scientific facts of anthropology, for example, or the details of who composed the Pentateuch) would seem to be a form of Docetism.

    2) The assumption that one cannot “speak truth” by drawing on a fictional story to make a point. I think many Evangelicals have a very stunted approach to how God is allowed to communicate truth, trying to force God into the mold of modern Western rationalism.

  • Peter Green

    I’m not really sure why you brought up genetics–I certainly didn’t bring it up, and my argument doesn’t rest on a genetic interpretation of the spread of sin. Paul’s point is that sin came into the world through one man whom he calls Adam. If Adam didn’t exist, then Paul’s point about the origin of sin is wrong. I don’t see how genetics or the EO view have anything to do with it (FWIW, I hold to federal representation, not “genetic” transmission).

  • Phil Miller

    Well, I would say that it is possible for Paul to incorrect as far tying his point to Adam, but his point still stands – humanity is immersed in sin and death (which, in reality, death it the issue Paul is more concerned with in Romans) because of the actions of its ancestors.

    Would the point of Romans be any different had Paul known about evolutionary theory, or could he more or less have said the same thing? The way I see it, Adam is somewhat tangential to the overall point. He is used simply because he’s was the given starting point that his audience understood. But the whole point doesn’t crumble without him.

  • Peter Green

    Obviously, I disagree. And (of course) I think Paul would to. It’s nice to say “well this point isn’t really important to Paul’s argument.” Would Paul agree? “Sure, go ahead and piecemeal my argument–it’s not like it all flowed together, anyway.” It’s also nice to claim that the whole point doesn’t crumble without Adam. Again, would Paul agree? “Sure, it doesn’t really matter how sin came into the world, despite the fact that I go to lengths to make exactly that point and to draw a parallel to how salvation comes into the world.” Really? Can we really imagine Paul saying that?

  • BradK

    Good point, Phil. If Paul is using Adam to make a point about how all humanity is sinful and that this situation is rectified in Christ, then Paul’s point would not be affected by his knowledge of evolutionary theory. But if one views Paul’s argument as Peter does, that Paul is making a case regarding the origin of sin, then it would. It seems pretty clear from both the immediate context (“and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned“) and the broader context from the earlier part of Romans regarding how both Jews and Gentiles are guilty before God, that Paul is arguing the former.

    Peter, you argue that “If there is no Adam, Paul is wrong.” But there is another possibility, that you misunderstand Paul.

  • Peter Green

    Brad, quote the whole verse, please: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”

    Paul is most definitely making a point about how sin and death entered the world (otherwise, his parallel between Adam and Jesus is irrelevant). Obviously, that’s not all Paul is saying, but it most certainly is part of what he is saying, and an important part at that.

  • BradK

    I only quoted the part of the verse I did because the other part was what we were discussing.

  • Phil Miller

    I think you’re reading the argument from the wrong direction. Paul’s main concern isn’t really what Adam did. His main concern is what Christ did. In the beginning of chapter 5 in Romans, Paul makes the extremely bold claim, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

    What Paul is doing is trying to explain is how the single act of one man – the death and resurrection of Christ – can have such profound consequences. It’s through the lens of Christ that he’s reading the Adam story. After all, Paul doesn’t really stay true to the actual Genesis account per se. Didn’t Eve sin before Adam in the Genesis narrative? Put Paul leaves her out of the discussion. That’s because his point is shaped by retelling the Adam story through what Christ did.

    It’s pretty much what Daniel Kirk says here: http://biologos.org/blog/the-historical-adam-and-the-saving-christ-part-2-jesus-as-the-one-man

    Another way I could put it is this. If you have cancer, there might be a number of ways you could tell the story of why and how you developed cancer. Any number of them could be true, but in reality, you probably would never know for sure. But if someone has a cure, the cure is the most important thing for your story, not where your cancer came from.

  • Peter Green

    You keep trying to piecemeal Paul’s argument. Of course his main point is the solution found in Jesus. No disagreement. But you can’t just put aside what he says about Adam. His point is that Jesus’ work can have such profound (positive) effects just as Adam’s work had profound (negative) effects. If he’s wrong about Adam, we are justified to question whether he is right about Jesus.

    And no, he’s not misreading Genesis. Adam was the federal head, not Eve, so it was through Adam that sin came (of course this opens up the egalitarian/complementarian debate, which I’m not interested in develing into, but you can only say what you say if you read Genesis 1–2 with modern western egalitarian eyes, and not through the covenantal/federal representative framework of Scripture). Likewise, any joe-shmo can die on a cross. Only Jesus–the federal head–can bring about life by means of his death on the cross.

    Dichotomizing between problem and solution is nice, but it doesn’t respect Paul or his argument. It’s all part of one story for Paul–problem and solution go together.

  • Phil Miller

    Oh boy… Well if resorting to a federal head argument isn’t piecemeal, I don’t know what it. It just seems to me that your insistence on there having to be a historic is just pushing the problem somewhere else. It’s like a water balloon. If you squeeze it at one point, it’s just put pressure somewhere else. Eventually the whole thing will just pop.

    Btw, I did not say Paul was “misreading” Genesis. What I said was that Paul is adapting the story through the lens of Christ.

  • Peter Green

    I’m unclear how a federal headship argument is “piecemealing” the argument. It makes good sense of Paul in Rom 5 and his broader theology. I’m not pulling out one part of Paul’s argument and claiming that the rest is irrelevant, which seems to me to be what you are doing. That’s what I mean by “piecemealing.” Can you explain how you see federal headship as being “piecemeal”?

  • Gary in FL

    “The Adam issue comes down to the fact that the biblical authors, most notably the author of Genesis, Luke, and Paul, all considered Adam to be a historical character and to make theological points on the basis of his historicity.”

    Point has been made. I’m not in any mood to debate, so I’ll put my rebuttal as simply as I can: I don’t believe a word of it. I think Paul is simply wrong. And if Jesus taught it as fact, he’s wrong too. I’ll investigate an alternative Christology so I might confess Jesus as Lord while also (should it be necessary) admitting he could teach things which are contrary to fact.

  • ao

    Excellent points, AHH. Luke says Jesus *grew* in wisdom. It doesn’t help when we show movie clips of Jesus building a futuristic European table in 1st century Palestine (like in Mel Gibson’s The Passion), or we sing songs where Baby Jesus could tell Mother Mary how many stars there were in the night sky. These may seem funny or light-hearted, but what many of us believe about Jesus’ omniscience is not far from this.

  • John Warren

    The Gospel of Mark says: “Jesus replied, ‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.”’”

    You (RJS) say: ”
    One need not believe in a historical Adam and Eve to believe that God
    ordained marriage between a man and a woman, or that this was part of
    his plan for creation from the beginning. One also need not believe in a
    historical Adam and Eve to use Genesis to teach about marriage.”

    You don’t see the disconnect? There’s no need to get into subtlety on this one.

  • AHH

    What disconnect do you think you are seeing?

    Saying that God has from the beginning made humanity male and female is not at all identical to “God at the beginning separately made one man named Adam and one woman named Eve.” It’s not that subtle a difference.

  • RJS4DQ

    John,

    As AHH points out, Jesus is quoting Genesis 1:27 in this exchange. We can look at 1:26-27:

    Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    There is nothing here that says one man and one woman – God creates mankind male and female.

    In Genesis 2 we have one male and then one female, Adam and Eve. From Genesis 2, however, Jesus quotes the bit about marriage, not the bit about the creation of Adam and Eve. The point he makes doesn’t hinge on a sole unique pair. He could have quoted something in Genesis 2:21-23 instead of Genesis 1:27, but he didn’t.

    I wouldn’t draw too much from this with certainty – except it isn’t as straightforward as you want to make out. I am not getting into subtlety, I am reading the text we have.

  • RJS4DQ

    Peter Green,

    There are a number of places in his letters where Paul uses the Old Testament in rather imaginative ways to make a point about his Christ centered theology.

    In 1 Cor 6:2 he changes the future tense to the past tense in a prophecy concerning God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel and uses the passage to describe his new Christ centered view of the fulfillment of Israel’s story.

    In Galatians 3 he has an extended discourse about Abraham’s “seed” where first he says seed is singular (Christ) and then plural (all who belong to Christ). In fact he explicitly says “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. Yet nowhere in the Old Testament are Abraham’s offspring referred to as singular. His offspring are described as numerous.

    Paul uses the flexibility of the language to make a point found nowhere in the OT. All this means is that Paul’s first century method for using scripture is not identical to our historical exegetical method.

    Because of these examples, and because of other examples both within the NT and in other sources, where first century Jews used scripture in such flexible ways, … Yes, I can imagine Paul saying “sure, I was making a Christological point, not a point about Adam” and “it doesn’t really matter how sin came into the world.”

    It isn’t as clear cut as you want to make out.

  • Peter Green

    The question about “seed” has been addressed by Desmond Alexander and C. John Collins. I refer you to their two articles for the justification based on Hebrew syntax for Paul’s argument.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t subscribe to some sort of “historical-grammatical” exegetical method. I think we should exegete Scripture the way Jesus and the NT authors (and OT authors!) did.

    That being said, we’re not at liberty to ignore the logical flow of the argument. Paul is clearly making a comparison between Adam, whom he views as a historical figure, and Jesus, whom he views as a historical figure.

    The position taken by “Gray in FL,” while problematic in its own right (which is putting it mildly) is more consistent. Just say Paul was wrong–it’s what Pete Enns does, because he at least recognizes that Paul isn’t ambiguous on this point. Paul considered Adam a historical figure and worked that into his theology in diverse places (Rom 5; 1 Cor 15; 1 Cor 11; 1 Tim 2).

    Also, out of curiosity are you the Rodney J. Scott at Wheaton College?

  • Norman

    Good work RJS, I think you lay out some good logical observations that can be built upon. I tend to use the same logic when confronting those who want to insist that Paul absolutely believed Adam was historical. They realize that Adam was not historical but they use the same logic to insist that Paul just had to be mistaken not realizing that Paul very likely read much of the OT through an analogical prism and thus they over literalize his writings regarding Paul’s examination of Adam.

    If one reads their presuppositions into their analysis then the data coming out very likely may be flawed. I believe there is a lot of that still going on even with scholars that we think are enlightened.

  • RJS4DQ

    Peter,

    No, I’m not at Wheaton.

    I am not addressing the question of whether Paul did or did not think Adam was a historical figure. I am addressing the question of whether I think it would have been a big deal to him if (when) he found our Adam was not – and I don’t think it was his point or would have mattered to him.

  • Peter Green

    It’s very easy to just claim that it wouldn’t have mattered to Paul, but that’s just a bold assertion, nothing more. On what basis do you say that? Paul clearly makes a point about Jesus and his salvific work on the basis of Adam. We can just pull Paul’s message apart and take the pieces we like and discard the one’s we don’t, and Paul would be okay with that? He wouldn’t think it undermined the logic of the parallel he is drawing between Adam and Jesus? I don’t think so. Furthermore, Paul, as I noted, refers or alludes to Adam on a number of different occasions making distinct theological points in each case. Are we really supposed to believe that in all of those cases, Adam can just be removed from the argument without loss? Why did Paul bother to refer to Adam in the first place? If God had anything to do with the writing of Scripture (i.e., via inspiration) why would he allow Paul to use Adam, especially if, as you claim, Adam was incidental to the argument? There is just so much wrong with this.

    Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will guide the apostles in all truth. The HS wouldn’t have even had to reveal to Paul the (supposed) fact that Adam didn’t exist! All he would have had to do was move in Paul to not use Adam as a parallel. Appealing to “accommodation” is hugely problematic in its own right (see my post here: http://wheatonblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/on-accommodation-and-gods-sovereignty/), but even if we grant the sort of accommodation that “progressive evangelicals” employ (like Sparks) that still doesn’t explain why the HS allowed Paul and the other biblical authors to (mis)use Adam. He could have inspired them to not use him at all, while still respecting their “historically limited” knowledge. You pretty much have to get rid of all forms of inspiration and opt for more of an “adoptionist” approach (which is really what Sparks does). And that just opens another can of worms. Considering the number of cans already open, can’t we keep this one closed?

  • swclough

    I find the discussion around Adam and Eve to be puzzling. One on hand, I expect it from liberal scholars who don’t believe most of what the Bible says. However, any theologian that is going to take the Bible seriously has to affirm a historical Adam and Eve. It is clear that Jesus, Paul, and every author of Scripture held to a historical Adam. They did not hold to is simply as a cultural story, parable, or metaphor, but as the foundational element of man’s current predicament.

    If Adam was not real, then the dilemma that dominates the Scripture is not real. If that dilemma is not real, then the solution the Bible presents for it in the atoning act of Jesus is not real either. I find it puzzling how many fail to see that, yes Jesus is central, but the person of Jesus and the works of Jesus are built on a foundational understanding of reality that includes a beginning human who sinned and thereby created the context for Jesus’ atoning work. If that did not happen, then the solution becomes invalid as well. If the first man, as a man, did not sin then the whole storyline of redemption in the Bible becomes meaningless.

    This is to say nothing of the fact that theologians give up the historical Adam primarily to capitulate to evolution. Once you capitulate to evolution as the primary origin of man you not only deny the consistent story in the Scripture, you also are forced to accept death as a normal part of man’s life. On the other hand, for the Scripture death is the final and great enemy that is alien to human existence and an affliction that came to us through one man’s sin. If different version of men were dying and mutating before we got what is not man, then death is normal and not the enemy the Scripture presents it to be. If this is true, then the biblical view redemption is meaningless because it is solving a problem that is not really a problem. The whole faith then falls down on this point.

  • Phil Miller

    The whole concept of federal headship is something that was developed as a way to shore up a certain theology rather than something that was developed from simply taking evidence from the text. It’s the very definition of an ad hoc solution.

    I guess that’s my whole issue with this debate. It seems to me that those who are insisting that we must keep a historical Adam are looking for ways to plug the dike rather than admit that the entire dike may be structurally unsound. Most of the time, I think they are trying to convince themselves more than other people.

  • Phil Miller

    Well, there are plenty of scholars and pastors who take the Bible seriously who question the historicity of Adam. It’s really not the simple dichotomy you present it to be.

    Regarding the issue of death before the Fall, it’s a complex issue that you could look at number of ways, but I think it’s interesting what you say about accepting death as a normal part of life. We actually do already do this. We all are going to face death. Our hope in Christ is that we do not fear the sting of death. Death has lost it’s sting because we know that Christ walks through it with us. It’s because of our clinging to Him that we trust we will be raised. Our hope exists over and above the biological experience of death.

    In a sense it gets back to thinking about what it means for man to be made in God’s image. Does that have to do with our biological make up? Not really. What that means is that God’s spirit dwells within man in a special and unique way that differs from other creatures. It means we have the ability to know and be known by God.

  • Peter Green

    Yes, I’m trying to convince myself more than I’m trying to convince you. I have many insecurities, but this isn’t one of them. I’m glad to see you respect my argument as much as you respect Paul’s. Yes, I know you didn’t refer to me specifically, but to “those who are insisting that we must keep a historical Adam”–a category that I clearly fall into. Please show me and those who agree with me enough respect not to speculate that the only reason we argue on this point is because we’re insecure about our beliefs. That sort of insinuation has no place in an argument like this.

    Federal theology has a long and distinguished history. It is at least as long as the protestant reformation (at least in seed form). It is not an attempt to “shore up a certain theology” but rather it is an attempt to explain the logic behind the covenant theology of the Old and New Testaments. Federal theology makes sense of Paul’s language of “in Christ” “in Abraham” “in Adam” and “in Moses.” It is hardly ad hoc.

    If you disagree with federal theology–fine, many people do. But to claim that it is ad hoc is just simply irresponsible. I disagree with dispensationalism, but I take it seriously as a system trying to explain the theology of the Bible instead of derogatorily describing it as “ad hoc.”

    Also, please stay on target. So far you have introduced a number of issues that I did not bring up, which are irrelevant to the argument I have been making (Jesus’ comments in the Gospel, the “genetic” spread of sin, the EO view of Adam, the question of who sinned first)

  • swclough

    We accept death as “normal” only because of the fall, but we do not really accept it as normal and the way things should be. If death is something that existed before sin and was “normal” then Paul’s theology becomes meaningless. All Christian thought and expectation mitigates against death as normal. If death is not the result of sin, then we invalidate a core premise of biblical thought.

    Theologically, death is abnormal and is the result of one man’s sin. If we accept death as normal, then redemption, as the Scripture presents it, is built on a faulty premise and becomes meaningless. I’m curious why so many cannot see what is at stake in the Adam argument. There’s no doubt our critics can.

  • Phil Miller

    Please show me an those who agree with me enough respect not to
    speculate that the only reason we argue on this point is because we’re
    insecure about our beliefs. That sort of insinuation has no place in an
    argument like this.

    The only reason I say that is because that’s what I come from. I’ve gone to the Ken Ham seminars, bought the books and T-shirts (well, ok, I didn’t buy t-shirts), and I finally came to the place where I realized that much of what I was doing was based in fear. It’s true, I can’t judge anyone’s heart but mine, but I think that’s the place I’m coming from.

    As far as “staying on target”, I’m not sure I even know what you perceive the target to be. I’m bringing these other points into the discussion to prove that what you’re saying is a make or break issue for Christian theology actually isn’t. There are plenty of people who are Christians who don’t affirm a historic Adam, so that right there should be enough evidence to prove the point. But it seems you’re either saying these people aren’t actually Christians, or they’re not the right type of Christians.

  • BradK

    Why would Paul not use Adam as a parallel, even if he knew Adam was not historical? Adam is humanity and humanity has a problem – sin. Adam is the first and primary example of that in scripture. Paul need not necessarily be saying that Adam’s sin created some sort of defect that was passed on to humanity because they all physically descended from Adam and that therefore Adam was historical. This is why I referenced the part of the passage where Paul says “because all sinned.” Like Adam, all people sinned. But Jesus did not. He was faithful. In him humanity’s sin problem is rectified. The problem of all humanity – both Jews and Gentiles – is rectified. Which fits into Paul’s overall theme in Romans that both Jews and Gentiles are guilty and that God is restoring both into a new people of his own. Why is this objectionable? Specifically, what argument do you see Paul making that requires a historical Adam?

  • Peter Green

    The argument I have been making is that when a biblical author makes a theological claim based on what he perceives to be a historical fact then history and theology cannot be separated contra #5 in the original post. From there the argument has been specifically about the logic of Paul’s argument in Rom 5 and whether or not he does in fact use Adam as a basis for his comments about Jesus’ salvific work.

    I have never said that those who deny a historical Adam aren’t Christians. Deny the resurrection and you’re apostate. Deny a historic Adam and your in serious error, but not apostate (IMO). Yes, I do think denying a historical Adam makes one “not the right type of Christian.” However, I also think it’s wrong to withhold baptism from babies, to serve only grape juice for communion, to do so less than once a week, and to believe that God maintains a special relationship with ethnic Israel. However, that doesn’t stop me from having fellowship and good conversations with people who believe all those things. Nonetheless, the right kind of Christian is me. :) Obviously I’m being facetious, but we all believe we are right in what we believe and unless we want to subscribe to thoroughgoing relativism, then we need to be honest about the fact that our disagreements are serious, albeit not so serious as to warrant anathemas.

  • Peter Green

    Why does the genetic interpretation of the transmission of sin keep coming up? I already said my argument doesn’t rest on that!

    Yes, all have sinned. That isn’t a profound observation. All people have sinned because sin came into the world through one man–Adam! That is a profound observation and leads naturally to Paul’s next observation, which is that life can come to many through one man–Jesus!

  • AHH

    I (and many others) would say that “the dilemma that dominates Scripture” is “sin”. Which is very real regardless of one’s interpretation of how it got started.
    And your phrase “capitulate to evolution” is insulting to many brothers and sisters who are seeking to remain faithful to Scripture while taking seriously the evidence in God’s creation. The accusation that theologians and others who decide God has used evolution in creating are just selling out to secular science, rather than faithfully seeking God’s truth, is one of the more despicable aspects of certain Christian anti-evolution movements.

  • Phil Miller

    All people have sinned because sin came into the world through one man–Adam!

    That isn’t the causal link that Paul makes. Paul doesn’t say that because Adam sinned, everyone is automatically a sinner. What Paul says is that because Adam sinned, sin entered the world, and then death. So because of Adam’s action, all were affected. Everyone is a sinner because, well, everyone sins.

  • BradK

    So how does that work then, Peter? How do you see the sin coming into the world through Adam causing all others to sin?

  • Peter Green

    I disagree, but the point remains that sin entered the world through one man and so life can enter the world through one man. If Adam didn’t exist, how did sin enter the world? Paul says sin entered the world through one man, Adam. That’s a theological point based on a historical fact. Take away the historical fact and the theological point that sin entered the world through one man makes no sense.

  • Phil Miller

    If Adam didn’t exist, how did sin enter the world?

    Even if you take the Genesis account literally, you would have to say that evil existed prior to Adam’s sin. The serpent was there, right? So there was something in the garden that was contrary to God’s will.

    So it comes down to an issue of theodicy, and there are number of ways to go with that, but those are philosophical discussion that exist outside of the creation/evolution debate.

  • Peter Green

    BradK, I subscribe to Covenant Theology. I would recommend studying that system (embodied in various confessions and catechisms like the Heidelberg, Westminster, Scott’s, Belgic, etc.). Plus there are many contemporary authors who have introductory works on the subject, whom I could recommend if you are interested in further study.

    That being said, the brief answer is that Adam was the federal/covenantal head of humanity (just as Jesus is the federal head of the new humanity). He was our representative. When he sinned, it was as if we sinned. Here is what the Westminster Larger Catechism says, which I take to be representative of Scripture’s teaching on the subject:

    Question 22: Did all mankind fall in that first transgression ?

    Answer: The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

    Question 23: Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?

    Answer: The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

    Note that it does mention “ordinary generation” which is not to say that sin is inherited via genetics, but that one is part of the covenant under Adam by being a human–i.e., being descended from the first original human who was our covenant representative.

  • Peter Green

    The serpent was Satan–or possessed by Satan. C. John Collins has a (brief) discussion of this in his commentary, Genesis 1–4.

    Satan could not bring sin into the world because he was not the covenant representative (just like Eve, though she sinned first, was not the covenant representative through whom sin came into the world).

  • BradK

    Understood, Peter. But you are aware that not everyone ascribes to Federalism or Covenant Theology, right? Restating what I said earlier (which was not intended as a reference to genetics) “Paul need not necessarily be saying that Adam’s sin created some sort of defect that was passed on to humanity because they all physically descended from Adam and that therefore Adam was historical.” There is room to disagree here, right?

  • Phil Miller

    I’m curious why so many cannot see what is at stake in the Adam argument. There’s no doubt our critics can.

    Well, if the Christian faith stands or falls on this issue, I’d say it’s doomed. If we tell people they have the choice of listening to scientists who dedicate their lives to studying these issues or to pastors who more often than not don’t really know what they’re talking about in regards to the science, people will choose to listen to the scientists. That’s the problem. That’s why I reply in threads like this. I don’t want people to put in a position where they are told they have to choose between having faith or trusting science.

  • Peter Green

    Right, yes, I understand that there many who disagree with covenant theology and I accept that. That being said, everyone, regardless of the broader system that they adopt, has to reckon with Paul’s claim that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin.” However we view that as happening, it happened through one man, whom Paul calls “Adam.”

  • BradK

    *sigh* Which takes us right back to where this discussion started, Peter, which is what Paul means by that statement.

    This seems like a debate with someone who keeps repeating Psalm 104:5 as evidence for geocentrism. Everyone, regardless of the broader system that they adopt, has to reckon with the Bible’s claim that “He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.” It is easy for us to miss the forest for the trees.

  • Joey Elliott

    Peter,

    Just dropped by to say Amen. Appreciate your articulation of a historical Adam and why it matters. Please keep it up. This is a good and important conversation.

    #AdamismyHomeboy

  • Peter Green

    Seriously? You’re going to bring geocentrism into this? This conversation has devolved to absurdity. Psalm 104 is poetry. Obviously different than Paul’s propositional/narrative argument.

    I’m sorry, but you’re grasping at straws. If that’s the best you can do, we’re done.

  • Peter Green

    Thanks, Joey, I really appreciate the support. I felt like I was the lone voice here.

  • Peter Green

    So, so far, I’ve been lumped in with those who defend a historical Adam out of insecurities (though I appreciate Phil Miller’s explanation on that point), and with those who hold to geocentrism.

    “The courtesy of your hall is somewhat lessened of late Théoden, King.”

  • John Warren

    In the verses following Gen. 1:27 you have God blessing “them”, speaking to “them”, commanding them to be fruitful and multiply and fill and subdue the Earth, and giving them plants for food. A straightforward reading would indicate He was actually talking to people. Regarding Mt. 19:4-9 and Mark 10:6-9, Jesus knew the whole story; when He pointed people to it He didn’t get all midrashy: He expected people to take it at face value as a true story and then apply it. It’s obvious from the wording that Jesus took the story at face value. You have to introduce a level of sophistication to say that Jesus was just using the story to illustrate a point.

    RJS says that you don’t have to believe in a literal historical Adam and Eve to believe that God ordained marriage between a man and a woman. But where does he get the ordination of marriage from? What’s his authority?

  • scotmcknight

    John, FYI “RJS” is not a man but a woman.

  • John Warren

    So you’re going to respond to what you think of as an insult with another insult? It’s not despicable. In a calculus class, a student may be going on the wrong track in computing an integral, and it’s not despicable for another student to point out his error.

    In swclough’s (and mine) opinion, “capitulation to evolution” is a conclusion or description, not an insult. Discuss the assertion, don’t take things so personally, and don’t call the assertion despicable.

  • John Warren

    My mistake. Sorry, RJS!

  • Joey Elliott

    I’ve been there! Its worth the effort to stay engaged if you can. I’ve learned a lot about how to disagree well on here, how to always be teachable, yet firm and humble and articulate in my convictions; all of which almost exclusively because of the issue of Adam. I’ve grown a lot as a result. Wish I had time to stay more engaged myself!

    “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” – Proverbs 1:5

  • AHH

    As often used (for example by propaganda of the ID movement), phrasing like “capitulate to evolution” carries an implication of motive, that people are taking a position out of social pressure rather than out of “faith seeking understanding”. Like Phil Johnson’s past assertion that Christian science professors really know evolution is false and only affirm it to keep their jobs. That impugning of motives and integrity (not the assertion that the position is incorrect) is what is insulting and despicable.

    If swclough did not intend that implication I apologize — perhaps I’m too sensitive having been a target of such insults. But in conversation with fellow Christians I’d advise finding a less loaded term than “capitulate”, like “adopt theistic evolution”.

  • Phil Miller

    I’m with you, AHH… I think seeing a term like capitulation as an insult is justified. The fact of the matter is that the majority of people who try to fight against evolution have not done the hard scientific work to put them in a place where they actually can. There may be a few. But even a person like Michael Behe, who most would call one of the founders of the ID movement, actually don’t dispute a lot in modern evolutionary theory. His issues with evolution have to do with how certain molecular mechanisms work, and whether or chance could actually produce those.

    I guess the ironic thing to me in these discussions is how quickly those arguing against evolution try to turn the discussion around as if they are being persecuted.

  • Phil Smith

    I’d like to see this unpacked.

    Eve sins first. But, in your opinion as I read it this sin is not counted as having “come into the world” yet. What does the phrase “come into the world” mean?

    I can understand that you might put some special position on Adam (federal headship) for whatever reason you like, and that only when “the man” sins, does the sin “come into the world”. But we’re no closer to actually showing what this “coming into the world” for sin means.

    If you suggest that “coming into the world” means that the sin was not counted against any other person (i.e that Eve can sin, but is has no consequences beyond herself) but that another can sin and this sin has consequences for “innocents” (that descendants or other humans present now share some degree of guilt) then you’re going to have to square that with Romans 5 also.

  • Phil Smith

    Capitulation is a derogatory term. Therefore irrespective of whether or not the term is “conclusion” or “description”, it is derogatory.

  • Peter Green

    Phil, we’re speaking of a hypothetical–in particular a past hypothetical–which I think is problematic. Being a good Calvinist, in some sense I believe things happened in the way God ordained (though that in itself needs a huge discussion, since I also don’t accept the felix culpa).

    So, I hesitate to speculate about what would have happened had Eve sinned and Adam didn’t. As it happens, I’m not sure we need to. I think they both “sinned” concurrently. The text notes that Adam was “with her” meaning that he was there listening to the conversation and complicit in everything. So even though Eve ate the fruit first, Adam’s sin included not intervening between Eve and the snake. Paul notes that Eve was “deceived” in 1 Tim 2, but presumably by implication Adam wasn’t deceived, which means that he knew what was going on and allowed Eve to eat of the fruit though he knew that the snake had deceived her.

    In retrospect, I think I was wrong to say that Eve sinned first. I made that comment on my memory of 1 Tim 2, but having just re-read it Paul doesn’t say the Eve sinned first, so unless that’s somewhere else in the NT that I am not remembering, I would say that Adam and Eve sinned concurrently (perhaps we might even say that Adam sinned first, since Eve’s sin was eating of the tree, and Adam would have sinned before she even touched the fruit–but that’s splitting hairs).

    The point, however, is that Adam was the covenant representative for humanity, and since humanity had been given vice-recency over all of creation, it was Adam’s sin in particular that allowed the spread of sin and its effects to humanity and the world. Just like there were many others who died on a cross before and after Jesus, only Jesus’ death unleashes abundant life into the world, as Adam’s sin unleashed sin and death.

  • Peter Green

    Phil, I’m not sure what you mean that I need to square my interpretation with Rom 5. Which part, specifically?

    To put it in more systematic categories, Adam and Eve were both posse peccare, but only Adam’s sin made him and all others non posse non peccare. This seems to be Paul’s point in Rom 5 when he says “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin”; “death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam“; “if many died through one man’s trespass”; “because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man”; “as one trespass led to condemnation for all men”; “as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.”

    All of those quotes come from just Rom 5:12–20, that is, 9 verses. BradK claims I’m missing the forest for the trees, and Phil Miller said bringing in federal headship was “piecemealing” Paul’s argument. I’m not sure which passage they’re looking at, but it isn’t Rom 5.

  • John Warren

    “propaganda of the ID movement”. I just want to let you know you’re using loaded phrases, too.


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