Friday, October 26, 2007

Continuing my Walk

For the second installment of my walk of discernment I would like to highlight two past posts I have made on "Adam". They are not that old so some of you have already read them, but they serve our purpose well.

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


To continue the conversation about a literal Adam a little further let us examine how not having a "real" Adam destroys the need for an actual Christ. Those of you who do not believe in a physical Adam as expressed in the beginning chapters of Genesis need to reconcile how Christ, who Paul explicitly says in 1st Corinthians 15:42-49 is the second Adam, can be the so-called second of something that did not previously exist? Or put in other words how Adam being a metaphor calls for a Christ to die for a fake rebellion.

I think those of you who deny Adam's reality do not truly comprehend how much the idea of there being no Adam affects the rest of Scripture. It would be like taking away the opening chapter of a novel and expecting to be able to understand the rest of the story. Someone who describes the creation text as myth or folklore must analyze what this does not only to the history of God's relationship to Israel but to their Christology. Because not only does the non-existence of Adam necessitate that God created the world sinful and evil but it requires that Jesus' death on the cross is an action that resolves God's mistake in making an already fallen creation to himself. Not that Jesus was reconciling us, who share in Adam's rebellion, to God but that God was reconciling his own blunder with himself. Michal Horton in his work Putting Amazing Back Into Grace quotes John Calvin who says,"The depravity and malice both of men and of the devil, or the sins that arise therefrom, do not spring from nature, but rather from the corruption of nature." In other words it is not that nature itself was created evil but that nature had to of its own accord fall from the perfection in which it was formed to begin with. This has to mean that at some point in the past an "Adam" was given the free will to sin or as the Second Chapter of the Scots Confession defines it:

"We confess and acknowledge that our God has created man, i.e., our first father, Adam, after his own image and likeness, to whom he gave wisdom, lordship, justice, free will, and self-consciousness, so that in the whole nature of man no imperfection could be found. From this dignity and perfection man and woman both fell; the woman being deceived by the serpent and man obeying the voice of the woman, both conspiring against the sovereign majesty of God, who in clear words had previously threatened death if they presumed to eat of the forbidden tree."

For Jesus' death on the cross to be as Scripture says it to be necessitates a literal Adam who fell from God's grace. A fake Adam creates a Christ who has failed and is a liar. For what need do we have of a Savior that saves us from a death that was his fault to begin with? What do we say when we know that Christ did not die because of our own rebellion but because of his own mistake? How can we say that the literally hundreds of times Adam's sin is called upon by the writers of the Old Testament to show forth the sin of Israel is mere allegory? How can we say Christ died for an allegory or a metaphor and be taken seriously? Adam's reality is VITAL for the gospel to be real. Without an actual Adam our faith is in vain because Christ's atonement is nothing more than a big "sorry about that". This is not the message of the gospel.


ChipB said...

The problem I see with the current "scholarly" view that Adam is myth is where you wuld say history actually begins in the New Testament.

If Adam is a myth, then so is Seth and therefore Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jare, Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech. If Lamech is a myth, then certainly Noah would be also (if your father doesn't exist, you probably don't either).

Michael Coogan states plainly that the book of ruth is myth. So if Boaz is not real, he couldn't have a son named Obed, who then couldn't have a son named Jesse, and therefore no David.

You can see where this leads. Which person whom we know by name (but is only a myth) gives birth to a REAL son?

ChipB said...

By the way, I do not intend to imply that the Christological reasons for needing a real Adam are insignificant. Quite the opposite. But since you covered them quite well, I thought I would add an additional problem with the "scholarly" view. said...

Why do people consider Adam a myth but themselves "real"? - I've never figured that out. Given our sinfuless, is it we who are "real" or just sad pathetic stories pretending to be human in history?

Gary said...

I disagree that without Adam there would be no need for Christ. (Even though I agree that Adam and the garden existed)

And my reason would be the covenant in Genesis 15. (I think it was 15 anyway. I'm feeling lazy.) By the way the covenant was signed with Abraham asleep and God passing between the animal halfs, God had to pay the price for his people failing the covenant. So Jesus had to sacrifice himself for the sins of his followers.

Now if you're debating a liberal that not only denies Adam existed but also Abraham... then...

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

My point Gary, while agreeing with your assessment of Abraham's Covenant, is to say that without,as Paul says, an Original sinner (i.e.- Adam) the necessity of the repair of the fall requires a Christ.