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?
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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)
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).
I think the foundational doctrines are that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Christ redeems us and we need redemption because we are sinners. Because he wanted to counter Pelagianism’s unbiblical claim that it was possible with enough will power to live a sinless life, Augustine brought in his doctrine of Original Sin to explain why we are all sinners and show that Pelagianism doesn’t work. Augustine’s doctrine was meant to bolster the genuinely biblical teaching and foundational doctrine of human sinfulness. But in the intervening centuries the Catholic Church, Luther and Calvin just went back to Augustine’s Original Sin and build their theologies on some version of that.
In fact in Augustine’s version of original Original Sin we are born already guilty of sin because we were in Adam’s loins and shared his sinful act when he ate the fruit. Augustine got this is from the Old Latin mistranslation of Romans 5:21 which instead of saying “death spread to all men because all sinned” said “…in whom (ie Adam) all sinned.” Augustine also taught that Original Sin is passed on through concupiscence, that it is impossible for parents, even husband and wife, to avoid the sin of lust in sexual intercourse so each child is conceived in sin. I don’t know anyone who holds that part of the original Original Sin doctrine and most ignore his idea of our literally being in Adam’s loins when he sinned. One of the most common versions, Adam’s Federal headship of the human race, doesn’t even need us to be descended from Adam to be affected by his sin. If there are many versions Original Sin and none of them what Augustine originally taught, and what is more, his doctrine was based on a mistranslation, that is a pretty shaky foundation for a foundational doctrine. No the real foundational doctrine is the biblical doctrine of man’s sinfulness, not Augustine’s attempt to explain why we sin.
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
I agree with the federal headship solution. Also I believe Adam is the first man like Israel is the firstborn of God. Denis book is fascinating but I also think it is a doomed project to try to reach conservative Evangelicals with a message that Adam and Eve and the garden never existed, not even symbolically. I dont get why he rejects spiritual death in Romans 5 and finds his rejection of the truth of many bible verses unfortunate and unnecessary.