According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Search for the Historical Adam 2

Christianity Today and BioLogos are coming out this month with findings based upon current human genome studies (popularized by National Geographic in 2008 - see below for more links). CT has given its June 2011 article a video preview (shown below). Please follow along with future links on this site to RJS's Search for the Historical Adam as he reviews a Christian perspective all these newest theories and suppositions -

June 3, 2012

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The Search for the Historical Adam 2

by rjs5
posted June 7, 2011

The June 2011 cover story in Christianity Today, The Search for the Historical Adam, is a summary of the state of the discussion about the understanding of Adam and Eve in our church. The subtitle lays it out – “Some scholars believe genome science casts doubt on the existence of the first man and woman. Others say the integrity of the faith requires it.” This is a topic we’ve discussed a great deal on this blog, and a topic that will continue to come up for the foreseeable future. It will not be resolved in short order. In fact, the significance of the question requires that we revisit it from a number of angles, posing questions and considering the ramifications of the answers.
Few debates in our world have been as impassioned and emotional as those over creation. But now we’re not just talking about dating rocks and interpreting fossils. We’re talking about family. Nor is the discussion between those who think the Bible’s account of creation, fall, and redemption is important and those who find it irrelevant. This is a family meeting. (p. 9)
This is an important point – this is a family discussion. Quite frankly non-Christians, those not committed to the gospel, don’t care. There is a bemused incredulity that we waste any intellectual effort on the discussion. A corollary here is also important – this is not a quest for external credibility or the approval of secular colleagues. It is an attempt within the family to reconcile what we know from scripture with what we know from science.

What do you think? What motivates this discussion?

Do you think it is important?

The cover story in Christianity Today does a fairly good job of giving a balanced picture of the current state of the debate. There are scientific, biblical, and theological questions to be considered.

The scientific data cannot be brushed under the rug and ignored. I continue the discussion here because I am convinced that the scientific evidence for an old earth, evolution, and common descent is so strong that Christians must adjust – this is a reprise of Copernicus and Galileo.... Some questions raised by proponents of Intelligent Design remain open, questions regarding the sufficiency of natural mechanism alone in bringing about the current state of life. But these open questions do not challenge the observation of an old earth, evolution, and common descent. New earth creationism is increasingly harder to justify and defend. The theological and scientific questions raised by keeping to a theory of young earth creationism has become overwhelming. While one can take a position of mature creation on the strength of the testimony of scripture, this leaves us with a illusion of evolution, including death and decay, preceding the Fall. Many find that this leaves us with an image of God as intentionally deceptive in creation. I don’t expect everyone (or anyone) to simply take my word for it on the evidence. Thus some of my posts here have dealt specifically with the evidence and the nature of the scientific debate. This will continue.

The biblical questions are more significant than the scientific questions. How do we understand scripture as the inspired Word of God? How are we to read Genesis? What is the form and intent of the text? It is more than merely plausible to suggest that Genesis 1-3 is not a prose recitation of history. The word plays and names, the form and structure, the story elements and the imagery, the presence of different variations on the story, make it clear that the form and intent transcends a mere recitation of fact. John Walton has put forth a proposal for the first chapter of Genesis in The Lost World of Genesis One, but does not delve into the harder questions raised by Genesis 2-3 and the story of Adam and Eve. There are many questions regarding the nature of scripture that remain to be wrestled with.

The most significant questions, however, are the theological questions. This is where the Christianity Today editorial comes into the picture.
Christians have already drawn the line: there must be an original pair of humans endowed with souls—that is, the spiritual capacity to relate to God in the special way Genesis describes. (p. 61)
At stake, it is suggested, is (1) the entire story of what is wrong with the world. This “hinges on the disobedient exercise of the will by the first humans. The problem with the human race is not its dearth of insight but its misshapen will.” and (2) The entire story of salvation, which hinges on the obedience of Christ undoing the disobedience of Adam.

The editorial allows for the possibility that Adam and Eve could be leaders of an original population, rather than the unique biological progenitors of the entire human race. The importance of community in Ancient Near East thought and life and a corporate understanding of the nature of humanity provides an important perspective on the interpretation of the text. They point to the recent book by C. John Collins, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care, as providing a possible approach. We began this book last week and will continue to work through his argument. Joel B. Green’s book Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible also delves into some relevant issues, including the nature of sin and the corporate view of humanity in scripture.

I am not convinced, though, that the editors at Christianity Today have accurately defined the stakes in the discussion. In particular it seems to me that the description of the gospel as problem (Adam’s sin) and solution (Christ’s life, death, and resurrection) is not a sufficiently complete understanding of the story we have in Scripture. I don’t think the incarnation is a response to a problem, rather it is a part of the plan of God from the very beginning. Whether we have Adam, Eve, a garden and an apple, or some other history represented by this story, rebellion and redemption was, for some reason known to God, part of the plan. Christ was present from the beginning and in Him we live and move and have our being.

Do you think that the editors of CT have accurately described the stakes in this discussion?

Does the entire story of salvation hinge on the disobedience of Adam? If so how?

The editorial ends in the same place that Ted Olson’s introduction started – with a plea for a grace-filled family discussion.
At this juncture, we counsel patience. We don’t need another fundamentalist reaction against science. We need instead a positive interdisciplinary engagement that recognizes the good will of all involved and that creative thinking takes time. In the long run, it may be the humility of our scholars as much as their technical expertise that will bring us to deeper knowledge of the truth. (p. 61)
This is my prayer. May this discussion be characterized by the humility of our scholars, by their technical expertise and their willingness to listen to each other, to understand, and to wrestle with the hard questions. Only in this fashion will we move forward in Christian response and unity.

David Opderbeck has also posted some reflections on the CT editorial on his blog Through a Glass Darkly. As always, his thoughts are well worth consideration.

Darrel Falk at BioLogos has also commented on the editorial: BioLogos and the June 2011 “Christianity Today” Editorial. This is an excellent piece.

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]
If you have comments please visit The Search for the Historical Adam 2 at Jesus Creed.

No comments:

Post a Comment