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!
Is Adam Necessary for Christianity?
Not long ago, I wrote a post about the historical Adam in which I asked whether it was a “Gospel” issue. Unsurprisingly, there were many different voices raised talking about it, and I quite enjoyed the discussion. I also shared a different Sunday Quote! on how the doctrine of Adam is interwoven with others. I often read books that I know will challenge what I believe, because I think it is important to test your beliefs constantly in order to strengthen them and correct what is wrong. I read through Denis Lamoureux’s book, Evolutionary Creation and found it quite challenging and insightful on many points.
His central thesis is particularly striking:
Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity. (367)
This thesis is very strongly worded, and I think there are a few problems with it. Key, of course, is the question of what is meant by “foundational” beliefs. Lamoureux does dive into that earlier in the book, but I think in some ways he doesn’t hit all the points he needs to. For example, the notion of original sin is one which is “foundational” in some theological traditions. Thus, for them, Adam’s non-existence would be extremely problematic. Lamoureux, however, does try to offer ways to even accommodate these traditions in the book. However, he ultimately has to settle for a “reformulation” of the doctrine in which:
[T]he entrance of sin was not a punctiliar event committed by two individuals. Instead, original sin was manifested mysteriously and gradually over countless many generations… (292).
I think this “reformulation” is unsatisfying. Moreover, as I have argued briefly elsewhere, federal headship seems to be a possible way around this for the evolutionary creation (read: theistic evolution) advocate. So, ultimately, I’m not convinced that Lamoureux’s central thesis can be carried. In fact, I think it is unnecessary for advocates of his position to even put forward.
What are your thoughts? How might we engage Lamoureux in a winsome way? What theological challenges might be offered to his position?
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Is the historical Adam a “Gospel” issue? – I discuss what impact it has on Christianity if Adam is not a historical person.
Denis O. Lamoureux, Evolutionary Creation (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008).