The Coming Storm
There are storm clouds on the horizon. In fact, the leading edge of the storm is already breaking on the Church. The storm I’m referring to is swirling around Adam. You know Adam. The first human being spoken of in Genesis 1-3.
The storm stems from these questions and the answers being given to them today: Is the person called Adam in the first three chapters of Scripture a real, historical person? Did he actually live on this earth and then die? Does it make any difference how we answer these questions?
I was unaware of this controversy until I started reading in preparation for this fall’s adult class called Bearing God’s Image. The articles and symposium I read on the internet and the podcast I listened to surprised me, to say the least. The following are samples of what some theologians are saying today in answer to the questions above.
- “The modern study of the ancient world of the Bible has made a ‘historical Adam’ intellectually implausible,” states Peter Enns a professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA.
- “My central conclusion . . . is clear: Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity,” asserts Denis Lamoureux an associate professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta, Canada.
- “I argue that a deep and meaningful concept of sin as an intrinsic part of human nature is a natural implication of our evolutionary origins. . . The question is whether the ‘traditional concept needs to include a particular mode of origination, or simply an acknowledgement that humans are deeply flawed creatures,” concludes Karl Giberson author of Saving the Original Sinner: How Christians have used the Bible’s First Man to Oppress, Inspire, and Make Sense of the World.
- “I consider it likely that humanity was created en masse in Genesis 1, that the presence of other people is assumed in Genesis 4, and that Genesis 2 does not intend to offer an account of biological human origin,” says John Walton professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College.
These are just a small sampling of what is being taught today at Christian colleges, seminars, and symposiums. There is no way to list it all but the above is a general overview. My aim is not to answer all the questions raised by these statements.
First, I desire to make you aware of what is happening in the area of human origins among Christians today. This way you will not be caught off guard if you run into these concepts. As you can see above, these new understandings are taught and spoken of as facts. So be on your guard. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has a very helpful site at alliancenet.org. Look especially for the tab “Place for Truth”.
Second, be aware that just because an author, speaker, theologian, or writer claims to be evangelical doesn’t mean what they teach is. We hope that it would be. But if what they teach contradicts or undermines the gospel and any of the other foundational truths of Christianity their teaching is moving them and those who follow them away from the evangelical faith. We must be careful that we don’t let people redefine historic Christianity. So you need to know the basic truths of Christianity that have been handed down from the apostles.
Third, consider coming to the adult class mentioned above: Bearing the Image of God. I will be teaching the class along with Al Eggleston. Our aim will not be to merely gain knowledge and information. Our purpose will be to look at the practical implications of these truths for us as we endeavor to live a godly life in a fallen world. Please consider joining us.
Finally, we can never overstate the importance of the first three chapters of the Bible. Theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) put it like this, “In some ways these chapters are the most important ones in the Bible, for they put man in his cosmic setting and show him his peculiar uniqueness. They explain man’s wonder and yet his flaw. Without a proper understanding of these chapters we have no answer to the problems of metaphysics, morals or epistemology, and furthermore, the work of Christ becomes one more upper-story ‘religious’ answer.”
I agree wholeheartedly. What you believe about these three chapters will in many ways determine what you believe about the rest of the Bible and its teachings. If you go wrong here you will most certainly go wrong in other areas.
I close with the great and glorious declaration of King David in Psalm 8, O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth . . . When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor (vv. 1, 3-5).