10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam

Great post by Kevin De Young: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/02/07/reasons-to-believe-in-a-historical-adam/

“In recent years, several self-proclaimed evangelicals, or those associated with evangelical institutions, have called into question the historicity of Adam and Eve. It is said that because of genomic research we can no longer believe in a first man called Adam from whom the entire human race has descended.

I’ll point to some books at the end which deal with the science end of the question, but the most important question is what does the Bible teach. Without detailing a complete answer to that question, let me suggest ten reasons why we should believe that Adam was a true historical person and the first human being.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology.

Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that is far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them.

Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry.

Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

4. There is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12.

You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

 6. Paul believed in a historical Adam.

(Rom. 5:12-211 Cor. 15:21-2245-49). Even some revisionists are honest enough to admit this; they simply maintain that Paul (and Luke) were wrong.

7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam.

The literature of secondtempleJudaismaffirmed an historical Adam. The history of the church’s interpretation also assumes it.

8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.

9. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.

10. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.

Christians may disagree on the age of the earth, but whether Adam ever existed is a gospel issue. Tim Keller is right:

[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . . .If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work ‘covenantally’—falls apart. You can’t say that ‘Paul was a man of his time’ but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching. (Christianity Today June 2011)

If you want to read more about the historical Adam debate, check out Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins.”

-Kevin DeYoung, 02-07-2012

The Christian & Evolution: Requiring Adam

Highlights of a post by D.A. Carson at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/02/29/if-the-apostle-paul-believed-in-the-historical-adam-must-we/

Carson…offers five reflections on Paul’s understanding of Adam:

1. The necessity of the cross requires a literal Adam                                      (1 Corinthians 15:20-27, 45-49)

[N]ot only must we conclude that Paul himself believed in the historicity of Adam, but that the structure of his argument requires the historicity of Adam. In other words, for Paul Adam is more than an optional extra, a mythological accretion which may be excised without loss. Far from it; Paul so tightly relates the saving cross-work of Christ to the significance of historical Adam that it is difficult to see how one can preserve the former if the latter is jettisoned.

2. Human history has a definitive start                                                       (Romans 5:13-14)

 Paul’s reference to the time period from Adam to Moses (5:13-14) certainly presupposes a historical figure (i.e. Adam) at the beginning of the period, corresponding to a historical figure at the end of the period (Moses). Moreover, this period in world history is not simply an abstract, bounded, temporal entity—we are not dealing with a “time” in the abstract; rather, this period is portrayed as a time during which (a) the “law” (of Moses) had not yet been given; (b) sin was in the world; and (c) death reigned. This threefold description can only refer to the Old Testament period stretching from the fall of Adam to the giving of the law to Moses; and it treats the period as real history inasmuch as all die within it.

3. One act of disobedience brought sin                                               (Romans 5:12-14)

Not only does Rom. 5:12-14 lay considerable emphasis on the one sin, one trespass, or one act of disobedience which brought ruin to the race; but implicitly the argument depends on the notion that before that one act of disobedience there was no sin in the race. This accords very well with Gen. 1-3; it cannot be made to cohere with any evolutionary perspective which denies the centrality of a fall in space-time history.

4. Adam was a flesh and blood type of Christ                               (Romans 5:14)

 Adam is portrayed as the “type” (tupos, NIV “pattern,” 5:14) of one to come. The relationship between type and antitype in the Scriptures is complex; but Ellis correctly insists that New Testament typology cannot be thought of apart from God’s saving activity in redemptive history, as determined by God’s definite plan of redemption which is moving toward a predetermined goal from a specific point of beginning. As Versteeg comments, “Thus a type always stands at a particular moment in the history of redemption and points away to another (later) moment in the same history. . . . To speak about a type is to speak about the fulfillment of the old dispensation through the new.”

5. Adam’s particular sin makes each person a sinner                           (Romans 5:15-19)

Adam is not portrayed as the first sinner, of which other sinners are later copies; but as the representative sinner, whose first sin affected the race. This distinction is crucial if the parallel between Adam and Jesus is to be maintained; for Jesus is certainly not portrayed as the first man to perform some definitive righteous act, but as the representative man whose definitive righteous act affects those who are in him. Preserve this parallel between Adam and Christ, and the historicity of Adam cannot simply be pro forma, as far as Paul is concerned.

-D.A. Carson

The Bible vs. Science and History

“If you can’t fully trust the Bible when it discusses science and history (secondary matters that can be verified), how can you trust it when it talks about God and salvation (supremely important matters that we can’t verify in the same way)? If you can’t trust the Bible, then you can’t trust God.”

-Kevin DeYoung ed., Don’t Call It A Comeback, 63

Does the Book of Genesis Really Matter?

The Book of Genesis is probably the most important book ever written. The Bible as a whole would surely be considered (even by those who don’t believe in its inspiration) as the book that has exerted the greatest influence on history of any book ever produced. The Bible, however, is actually a compilation of many books, and the Book of Genesis is the foundation of all of them.

If the Bible were somehow expurgated of the Book of Genesis (as many people today would prefer), the rest of the Bible would be incomprehensible. It would be like a building without a ground floor, or a bridge with no support.

The books of the Old Testament, narrating God’s dealings with the people of Israel, would be provincial and bigoted, were they not set in the context of God’s developing purposes for all mankind, as laid down in the early chapters of Genesis.

The New Testament, describing the execution and implementation of God’s plan for man’s redemption, is redundant and anachronistic, except in the light of man’s desperate need for salvation, as established in the record of man’s primeval history, recorded in Genesis.

The Book of Genesis gives vital information concerning the origin of all things-and therefore the meaning of all things-which would otherwise be forever inaccessible to man. The future is bound up in the past. One’s belief concerning his origin will inevitably determine his belief concerning his purpose and his destiny. A naturalistic, animalistic concept of the beginnings specifies a naturalistic, animalistic program for the future.

An origin at the hands of an omnipotent, holy, loving God, on the other hand, necessarily predicts a divine purpose in history and an assurance of the consummation of that purpose. A believing understanding of the Book of Genesis is therefore prerequisite to an understanding of God and His meaning to man.”

-Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings, 1976, 17-18