Thursday, August 09, 2007

Was Adam Real?

After a little frivolity that is the beginning of the Soccer season in Europe (an event I look forward to with almost as much passion as the dawn of American Football, College as much as Pro, Go Marshall!!!) I thought a nice meaty topic would be in order so I want to discuss an issue that is bearing its head among colleagues and friends here at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. That issue, as one can tell from the title, is whether or not Adam and Eve were actual beings, the Garden ever actually existed, and does "Original Sin" necessitate an "Original Sinner"? These are of course not new topics and though at first glance may seem to be third order worries I however take the position that without an actual Adam there would be no need for an actual Christ. So one could say that I hold this argument to be much more than a simple third order concern.

Why may you ask are people even doubting Adam's reality? Does not Paul in Romans 5:12 say that all sin came into the world through one man? Jesus himself refers to Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:4,5 not to mention Luke 3 records Adam as being in his geneology. Calvin in his commentary on the Pentateuch recalls that:
So God created man The reiterated mention of the image of God is not a vain repetition. For it is a remarkable instance of the Divine goodness which can never be sufficiently proclaimed. And, at the same time, he admonishes us from what excellence we have fallen, that he may excite in us the desire of its recovery.*
Or Abraham Kuyper:

Like Job, we ought to feel and to acknowledge that in Adam you and I are created; when God created Adam He created us; in Adam’s nature He called forth the nature wherein we now live. Gen. i. and ii. is not the record of aliens, but of ourselves—concerning the flesh and blood which we carry with us, the human nature in which we sit down to read the Word of God.
Or A.W. Pink:
Now, strictly speaking, there are only two men who have ever walked this earth which were endowed with full and unimpaired responsibility, and they were the first and last Adam's. The responsibility of each of the rational descendants of Adam, while real, and sufficient to establish them accountable to their Creator is, nevertheless, limited in degree, limited because impaired through the effects of the Fall.
Or Charles Hodge:
We are inherently depraved, and therefore we are involved in the guilt of Adam’s sin.
So here we have Scripture, greats of the Reformation, and contemporary scholars all pointing to a real Adam. So why do Orthodox people seem inclined to accept that Adam was a real being but we of 2007 seem not to think it either necessary or true? Is it because these old white men did not have access to "knowledge" that we have today and if they just knew about textual criticism, historical criticism, literary criticism, grammatical criticism, and J, E, P, and D then they would also see the "mythical" properties of the creation text? Well would Calvin change his mind on the necessity of Adam's fall for the reality of Christ's death if he knew of the Yahwist? The easy answer is to say that proponents of the allegory hypothesis are so taken by accommodation with the sciences that their theistic evolutionary stance forces them to concede that no "Adam" ever existed, regardless of what this position does to their theology, because science has proved Homo Sapiens developed independently. But is this answer sufficient? Is it just simple to say that those who hold there is no Adam because of the supposed inconsistencies in the Hebrew and the alleged "two creations" are "wrong" without delving deeper into the questions behind this stance?

What do you think? Does a Christ automatically support an Adam? Or do we think that the story of Creation, without an actual Adam, is a proper myth that helps us and the early Israelites, Jesus, and the Apostles understand our current predicament and that an actual Adam is not required for the Cross?


*-All quotes taken from www.ccel.org

1 comment:

Rev. Brian Carpenter said...

I ended up rejecting theistic evolution and embracing a historical Adam and Eve. My Dad is a scientist, and was an unbeliever, so theistic evolution was very attractive as a way to remove a stumbling block in evangelizing him.

The first difficulty (of many difficulties) I discovered is that all the the other models that deny a historical Adam and Eve and a Fall all assume that the world always went on as it does today. But if that's so, then death was a part of God's good creation. But the Bible is clear that death is an interloper, a parasite, something defeated by Christ, it is "the last enemy." That's a serious leak to be plugged when you follow it out "to the ruddy end."

Theology is a system. When you knock one of the supports out from under the system, you weaken the whole. The First Adam is as necessary to the system as the Last Adam.

BTW, my Dad is now a Christian. I didn't need to junk Genesis to do it.