Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
The Reality of Adam and the Origins Debate
Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin is a collection of essays which had a whole lot of food for thought in it on the topics in its title. Not too long ago, I shared a quote about the possibility of Adam being representative of the early humans. Here, we’ll look at a quote about the reality of Adam himself and the importance thereof:
The temptation in this debate [about the historicity of Adam] is to think that Adam is simply one piece in a puzzle in which the fall and evolution are separate pieces that we can rearrange and shuffle around the board. But… Adam and the fall do not float free in Scripture like rootless, atomistic, independent ideas. They are central nodes that hold together and are completely enmeshed in a much broader, organic, theological matrix. (ix, cited below)
What makes this quote so interesting is the way it speaks to the notion–a correct one, I think–that these doctrines are of such central concern. Whether or not these are “essential” doctrines to the Christian faith is hotly debated, but it seems clear that one’s view of original sin (and indeed whether it even exists) and Adam will inter-relate with all kinds of other doctrines, including soteriology, justification, sanctification, and beyond.
What do you think? What doctrines inter-relate most closely with these doctrines? Is it correct to think we can’t treat them in “atomized” form? Is it possible to speak of the notion of whether Adam and Eve were historical figures without also speaking of the implications it has for other doctrines?
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Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Michael Reeves and Hans Madueme, “Adam Under Siege” in Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin edited Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014).
Adam, Fall, Original Sin ix
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Is it a good dichotomy to say that one is either “in Adam”, or “in Christ”—with no third option? Is this a good way to slice up reality? There are many bad dualisms, two of which Hilary Putnam destroys in The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy.
I’m reminded of Alasdair MacIntyre’s observation in After Virtue that the dualism of individualism vs. communitarianism is another bad one: it presupposes that my ‘private good’ necessarily conflicts with yours to some extent, as well as with the ‘common good’. What if, instead, there is a way to live, such that nobody’s individuality, nobody’s uniqueness (see poiēma and phortion) is squashed? I would go further and say that the NT strongly anticipates this, with Mt 5:43–48, Jn 13:34–35, and Jn 17:20–23.
What if it really is the case that, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”? Then being “in Adam” is merely being not-for-Jesus. I’ve always been skeptical of the federal headship stuff, but perhaps there is something to it.
The theological matrix isn’t built so much on Adam, as Augustine’s understanding of Adam and effect he thought Adam’s sin had on the human race. This was passed down to us through Catholic theology and in protestant traditions through Luther, Calvinist and Arminian theologies. The problem is, Augustine built his doctrines of Original Sin and The Fall on a Latin mistranslation of Romans 5:12 that we all sinned in Adam. This leaves two basic options open to us. Either we hold to tradition and read these doctrines into verses that don’t actually teach them, reading them through the filter of Augustine’s theological matrix. Or we can go back to scripture and try to understand what is being said in these passages and what, if anything, scripture teaches on these topics.