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A Weblog Series published on An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution
Contributors: George Murphy Terry Gray Denis Lamoureux David Congdon
Edited by: Steve Martin
Document Version: 1.1 Last Updated: April 7, 2009
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............... Further Reflections on Genesis 1-3 and the Nature of Sin : Response by David Congdon ....................5 IV.......................................4 III................................................... Evolution and Original Sin: Conclusion. Christ.. and Original Sin: A Brief Survey by George Murphy .......................................19 2 ................................... That Old Time Theology Revisited: Response by Terry Gray .....................................................9 VI.......Evolution and Original Sin Table of Contents I.18 XI....................................... Pastoral Implications of Original Sin and Evolution: Q&A with George Murphy (Part 2)......................11 VII......16 X................................................. The Historicity of Adam: Q&A with George Murphy (Part 1) .......... Evolution and Original Sin: Series Introduction ...... Evolution....13 VIII.............15 IX............................ Challenging and Reshaping Historical Approaches to Original Sin: Response by Denis Lamoureux ......................... Evolution and Original Sin: George Murphy Replies (Part 2)........................ Evolution and Original Sin: George Murphy Replies (Part 1) ............................................................................................................................................................................ Overview of the Series and Contributors ............................7 V......3 II.................................
2008. The series included articles from 5 different authors. Two articles replying to questions from blog readers. and Original Sin. 3 . and columns on the interface between science and theology. theologian. Overview of the Series and Contributors A series of articles on evolution and Original Sin was published between October 16. 2008. 2008. Terry contributed to the series with his article That Old Time Theology Revisited. George contributed five articles to the series. 4. He publishes the weblog An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution. This response to Murphy’s paper was published on November 11. Part1: The Historicity of Adam was published on November 24.. David contributed to the series with his article Further Reflections on Genesis 1-3 and Original Sin. 2008. Evolution. Denis Lamoureux teaches at St. George Murphy is a physicist. This response to Murphy’s paper was published on November 1. see his excellent blog series The Heresies of American Evangelicalism. He has written numerous books. articles. 2008 and Part 2 was published on November 19. David Congdon is a PhD student in systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. 2008 on the weblog An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta. 2008 and Part 2: Pastoral Implications of Original Sin and Evolution was published on November 29. 2008. This response to Murphy’s paper was published on November 7. 5. and pastor and is the author of The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross. 2. For an introduction to David's writing. 1. 2008 and the series Conclusion on December 28. The focus of the discussion was George Murphy's paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. 2008. 3. These included: An article briefly surveying his paper was published on October 28. 2008 Two articles replying to responses by other contributors. Terry Gray is the webmaster for the ASA and has written several helpful articles on the creation / evolution dialogue including Complexity--Yes! Irreducible--Maybe! Unexplainable--No! A Creationist Criticism of Irreducible Complexity.Evolution and Original Sin I. Steve Martin wrote the series Introduction on October 26. 2008 and December 20. Denis contributed to the series with his article Challenging and Reshaping Historical Approaches to Original Sin. and is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution. Part 1 was published on November 16.
addressing theological conundrums like statement B are much more challenging. Denis Lamoureux from St. Evolution. However. while is not that difficult for thoughtful Christians to address claims like statement A. Original Sin was one of those issues. For many Christians. Personally Grappling with Evolution and Original Sin Back in the spring of 2006 I spent a lot of energy investigating evolution and its implications for Christian theology. The Series Over the next several weeks. and Original Sin. The series will begin with Murphy himself providing a short summary of his 2006 PSCF article. I’ve decided to launch a discussion here on my blog. the rejection of evolution is simple logic. statement B). I can’t say all of these articles resonated with me. Therefore evolution is false. the problem with evolution is not the scientific evidence itself. (I even took a one-week “vacation” from work to immerse myself fulltime tackling some of the tougher issues – ok. Evolution. good theological resources to address the integration of modern science and Christian theology are few and far between. a paper that provides guidance on how to reconcile evolution with the theological truth mentioned earlier: Original Sin. I looked forward to further discussion of the article. articles. and I was excited to see that the June 2006 edition of PSCF had several articles on the topic. very few have even a basic appreciation for the evidence. I probably had more questions after reading the article) but at least it was a good start. in fact. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta (Author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution). he will be publishing a paper on atonement. It has been more than two years since Murphy's paper was first published. Since I have neither the theological training nor expertise to lead this effort. statement A) and some traditional theological conclusions (eg. and he continues to expand that program. Or: B) Evolution contradicts many straight-forward theological truths (eg.Evolution and Original Sin theology as an in-progress research program. I believe that the conversation between orthodox Christian theologians and scientists is even more urgently required. but one in particular stuck out as very important: Murphy’s article entitled Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. and II. that discussion never seemed to happen. So in the spirit of “Stop complaining and do something about it yourself”. and pastor. I’ve invited several guests who have both to participate in a guestpost series. Three other guests will then respond to the article. No. Although I completely agree with Peter Enns’ observation in his review of The Bible. and columns on the interface between science and theology. Personally. and Original Sin. and Time that “deliberate conversation between biblical scholars and scientists” is sorely needed. QED. Evolution and Original Sin: Series Introduction This is the first installment in a guest-post series discussing George Murphy’s paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. Evangelical biblical scholars (like Enns) have provided us with an abundance of resources to deal with fundamentally flawed scientific claims based on equally flawed biblical interpretation. Where Polkinghorne conducts a wide-ranging discussion of modern science in the light of the Nicene Creed. in the upcoming December 2008 issue of PSCF. not everyone’s idea of a wise use of vacation time). A) The Bible says God created Adam & Eve on the 6th day. Original Sin). For example. Murphy conducts this same discussion within the context of the Theology of the Cross (as espoused by Luther among others). Unfortunately. and I have yet to see a significant discussion of the paper. So. I will be publish a series on evolution and Original Sin using Murphy’s article as a focal point. Critique’s will be provided by Terry Gray from Colorado State University (and webmaster for the ASA). Rocks. I’d put his The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross right up near the top with Polkinghorne’s Science and Christian Belief for resources that constructively examine the relationship between science and orthodox Christian theology. The primary issue is the perceived difficulty in reconciling the scientific evidence with common methods of biblical interpretation (eg. Therefore evolution is false. Here was what I was looking for: a theological framework that seemed capable of fruitful exploration while remaining grounded in the truth revealed in scripture and Jesus Christ. QED. not all the tough questions were answered (if anything. George Murphy’s Theology George Murphy has been very helpful in addressing this challenge. He has written numerous books. Murphy has described his 4 . theologian. Maybe I am not looking in the right places. But it is an earlier paper that I’d like to discuss in some detail here on my blog . For these Christians. Murphy is a physicist.
(A quick teaser: the response-order has been set as Terry. please submit it to me via email. Finish that drink. 5 . I’m sure we have all been to lectures where a good discussion was ruined by an audience question that was longwinded. In Romans 1 Paul emphasizes that the refusal to acknowledge the true God as creator is the basic human problem. Ephesians 1:10 speaks of God’s “plan for the fullness of time. and just-about-right). Response #2 (Denis Lamoureux) 5. which means to turn back or return. Evolution. and Original Sin. Space limitations preclude treatment of two questions that concern many Christians. (And to show respect to our speakers. and is the second installment in a guest-post series discussing his paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. In this brief survey of my article “Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. or criticisms from the audience. Sin: The Concept It’s important at the outset to be clear about some concepts that are involved in a discussion of original sin.e. not-far-enough.. Think of this series as a debate/dialogue lecture in a comfortable university lecture hall.” Creation is for the sake of Christ. George is a physicist. Introduction (this post) 2. an alienation revealed by human sin. Questions must be submitted to the moderator (myself) for review before access to the audience microphone (questions published in post#7) is granted. remarks. George. worshipping the creature rather than the creator (Romans 1:25).” shubh. The common biblical terms for sin (Hebrew chata’ and Greek hamartanō) have the sense of missing a mark. Let’s Go So the lobby lights are flashing. Conclusion Note that I’m trying an experiment here. Terry. and off topic. Summary of the 2006 PSCF article (George Murphy) 3. and David are on the stage and each will be given a turn to speak. During their lectures (posts). Denis. but about quality discussion. As such blog comments will be disabled on posts #2 through #6. confusing. Post #7 will be an opportunity for you the audience to ask questions. reconciliation . and Original Sin” I focus on some basic concepts related to original sin and the model I suggest for understanding the human condition. Evolution.is needed because creation is alienated from God. The same idea can be seen in the Old Testament’s common word for “repent. and pastor. Otherwise sit back and enjoy the series. How to Participate in the Q&A If you would like to pose a question to George to be answered in Post#7. Response #3 (David Congdon) 6. You can do this at any time up until 2 days after post#6 is published. Evolution. say it now. and short answers from George. God’s intended goal for creation is threatened if part of it moves away from that goal. and to Couldn’t God Get It Right? for a discussion of the concept of God’s “accommodation” in scripture. (Actually. Response #1 (Terry Gray) 4. Series Format The following is the format for the series: 1. violation of the First Commandment. David to satisfy a quasiGoldilocks reaction to Murphy’s views: a theology too-far. in George’s case twice. This isn’t a free-for-all. theologian. Blog comments will be open on this post – consider it the after-lecture reception where informality (and sometimes heated discussion) is the norm. III. I refer those interested to the original article for fuller discussion. Please keep questions relatively short – ideally 3 or 4 sentences maximum. The post will consist of readers’ questions. and it is almost time to begin. Denis. please turn off all electronic devices for the next few weeks). Christ. First there is sin itself – fundamentally. and Original Sin: A Brief Survey by George Murphy This is a guest post by George Murphy.Evolution and Original Sin David Congdon (A PhD Theology student at Princeton Theological Seminary and publisher of the Fire and the Rose Blog). there will be no questions. George Murphy replies to the three responses 7. you have a few minutes – these things never seem to start on time anyways). Sin means that something has gone wrong with that plan. and has authored numerous articles and books including The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross. This is not about censorship. the historicity of Adam and Eve and the relationship between sin and death. things in heaven and things on earth. If there is anything you would like to say. to gather up all things in [Christ]. George Murphy answers readers’ questions 8. Atonement – i.
if we believe that God has created humanity through an evolutionary process in which natural selection was a major factor? If that is the case then our prehuman ancestors were members of their species who were most successful in competition with others for survival needs. They can refuse to trust God and disobey God's will for them. This image of “taking the wrong road”. That is the idea of “sin of origin. Thus what we know of evolution and primate behavior in particular makes it implausible that the first humans lived in a sinless state of integrity for any period of time. Sin is not “hardwired” into them but tendencies toward it are strong. an explanation of why all people are sinners is not a sine qua non for belief in Christ as savior. They are at the beginning of a road along which God wants to lead them and their descendants to mature humanity and complete fellowship with God. as failure to be what God intended them to be. But when the first hominids who somehow were made aware of God and God’s will for them came into being. It is not the condition of being on a journey that is sinful. a willful denial of the truth about God and the world. That “original sin” (in the Christian tradition described in Genesis 3) contrasts with the “original righteousness” with which the first humans are supposed to have been created. though we don’t know how it may have come to them. We may be tempted to usurp God’s place. was traditionally seen as the basic sin. They and their descendants had soon lost their way. it is not the same as the concept of “original sin. They were not “sinful” because they killed or deceived their fellows. were sexually promiscuous. but that we're on a wrong road. Sin and Human Evolution How are we to understand these ideas. they would have had strong propensities for the same types of behavior. refusing the call to represent God in ruling and serving the world. rational thought and linguistic ability. The problem is not that we are on a metaphorical evolutionary road. Those traits predispose them toward selfish behavior and away from the kind of relationships that God intends for them. and to what extent can we retain their traditional forms. Our failure may be the deadly sin of pride but it can also be the deadly sin of sloth. but may also be tempted to be not much of anything. They could follow that road but it would not be easy because of inherited traits and learned behaviors that enabled their ancestors to survive and pass on their genes.” is a metaphor for the human condition. Sin: A Universal Problem The problem of sin is universal – all people are sinners. and did other things that would be sinful for us. And it may be falsehood. process theology often makes. for example. That “why” is an important question to be explored here but the basic law-gospel message does not require that it be answered. They can in some way receive and faintly understand God's Word and have some awareness of God's will for them.” Though the two are related.Evolution and Original Sin Sin threatens creation. 6 . Contrary to the claims of some opponents of evolution and critics of Christianity. Pride. In all these forms sin contradicts God’s will for creation. the desire of the creature to usurp the place of the creator. This universality of sin is the reason salvation is needed. not an historical narrative. The original sin and its effects (somehow communicated to all later generations) mean that no one can now avoid sinning. History shows that from its beginnings humanity has not trusted the God of Israel and has been involved in continual conflict. The traditional Christian concept most threatened by evolution is not original sin but original righteousness. Studies of our closest primate relatives show that they do behave in ways that natural selection leads us to expect. like that of “the fall. How can we deal with this? The Wrong Road We focus on those first hominids (without deciding how large that group may have been. That is what happened. Failure to make this distinction may result in the work of Christ being seen only as one phase in the creative process rather than a correction of something that had gone wrong with it – a mistake that. The first humans took a wrong road that led away from the goal God intended. though the biblical story need not be seen as an accurate historical narrative. or where or when they lived) who had evolved to the point of selfawareness. They were in a “state of integrity” in which they could choose not to sin. salvation that is accomplished through Christ. Recently feminist theologians have emphasized that in their experience resistance to God’s will is often expressed in the opposite way. Not only are all people sinners but they are that from the beginnings of their lives. They would have been powerfully tempted to the basic sin. That historical reality corresponds to the picture of humanity’s gradual departure from God in Genesis 111.” which has to do with the idea that the sinful human condition began with sin of the first humans at some point in history. putting other things ahead of God.
it is a state. we all start our lives on that wrong road. First. and perhaps more seriously. predisposes us toward selfish behavior. Terry is the webmaster for the ASA and has written several helpful articles on the creation / evolution dialogue including Complexity--Yes! Irreducible--Maybe! Unexplainable-No! A Creationist Criticism of Irreducible Complexity. usually at the expense of Scripture (or at least longstanding understandings of Scripture). Second. where human beings found themselves in right relationship with God. scientifically. Charles Hodge. but it will be very “natural” to do so. I readily acknowledge this and confess that on some of these questions we see more dimly than we might like—theologically.” This approach does preserve the essence of what the western church has insisted upon without theories about human history and the transmission of sin which are now seen to be untenable. To say that there is a cultural component of original sin means that sin is in part a result of our environment. Admittedly. The solutions that I will be offering are nothing new.” Whether or not an action is sinful generally depends on the context in which it takes place as well as the action itself. “Anti-concordists” seek concord in their own way. people make up a “corrupt mass. and perhaps most seriously. This comes to expression in the apparent belief that human beings are essentially the product of their evolutionary development. As Tillich put it. “Before sin is an act. there are loose ends. They are not things that we freely choose to accept or reject. he much too readily abandons the Augustinian/Lutheran/Reformed orthodoxy on the historicity of Adam and Eve (and Adam and Eve’s Fall). far from God. and is the third installment in a guest-post series discussing George Murphy's paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. We are born as members of a tribe lost in the woods.” Solidarity in Sin There is solidarity in sin. Unregenerate people are not compelled to sin but all people are sinners and would need the saving grace made available in Christ even if they could theoretically avoid “actual sins. 7 . he adopts a materialistic view of human nature. A person born into a racist society is not predestined to be a racist. Thus we are “missing the mark” from the start. the nineteenth-century Old Princeton theologian once boasted that a new idea never originated in Princeton Seminary. Genes may give us tendencies for certain behaviors but do not force us to do those things. an effect of “nurture” as well as “nature. Following Hodge. Third. unresolved matters. Both help to transmit to each person the essence of humanity. Three Concerns I have three main concerns with Murphy’s proposal. Our sin of origin truly is sin. so that. Our genetic makeup. in a classic Augustinian phrase. born and live exacerbate those tendencies. but both can also contribute to deviation from God’s intention for humanity. but influences that we take in “with our mother’s milk.Evolution and Original Sin Both Nature and Nurture Predispose us to Sin Humanity is a “symbiosis” of genes and culture. other “traditionalists” have made similar suggestions. Because of both genes and culture. but not nearly as explicitly.” The effects of our environment can be far more pervasive than mere examples. If concordism means a belief in the fundamental unity of truth. etc. tensions. and the two in juxtaposition. IV. I will argue that there is no compelling reason to abandon traditional theological views and that there are perfectly satisfying solutions for resolving the socalled problems introduced by the findings of evolutionary biology. mysteries. Some will accuse me of concordist tendencies. and are pointed in the wrong direction.” More modern language speaks of “structures of sin” such as racism in human societies. as the analogy of fetal alcohol syndrome due to a uterine environment suggests. Evolution. Murphy exemplifies many who seem to be so eagerly making peace with science by radically reconstructing traditional and well-founded interpretations of Scripture. That Old Time Theology Revisited: Response by Terry Gray This is a guest post by Terry Gray. an original paradise. then I will wear the label proudly. To say that there is a genetic component of original sin does not mean that there is a “gene for sin. conditioned by natural selection.” Neither strict Augustinians nor determined Pelagians will be satisfied with this model. The cultures in which we are conceived. he abandons the notion of a state of innocence. and Original Sin.
and traditional attributes of the soul are seen to emerge from the complexity of the brain. Derek Kidner. In many respects the run to monism mystifies me. However. that a resurrected body is the goal. the Fall explains evil. the period between 10. then it is unlikely that human origins can be completely accounted for with an evolutionary scenario (even a theistic one). particularly in the way the Bible gives clues about a disembodied existence in the intermediate state.000 and 20. around 10. This does not necessarily diminish the force of the claim here.Evolution and Original Sin No Need to Abandon Dualism It is unfashionable today to be an anthropological dualist—to believe that human beings are composed of a physical/biological body and a non-physical component. then we have to give up the notion of a state of innocence. They made their cave drawings and buried their dead. moral. I suggest that the scenario outlined above for the origin of homo divinus undoes the claim that a state of 8 . even recognize this dramatic transition. Don’t get me wrong here. and on account of which he was given ‘dominion’ over the lower creation. No Need to Abandon a State of Innocence We can now transition into the second point. the monist theological viewpoint has become more mainstream. Stott dates this event in the Neolithic period. why is this important? If human beings “have” both a physical/biological body component and a soul. A non-physical/biological component to human nature is no more detectable than God himself is in his sustenance. the mind. Homo Divinus and the Evolutionary Narrative So. Redemption.000 years marks the beginnings of agriculture and other uniquely human cultural activities. It is hard to dispute that. The human body. today. which was stamped upon him. Consciousness. 63): But my acceptance of Adam and Eve as historical is not incompatible with my belief that several forms of pre-Adamic ‘hominid’ may have existed for thousands of years previously. Redemption—historically understood—are too central to my understanding of scripture and the world. You may call them homo erectus. governance. But Scripture seems to suggest that it includes rational. but that at some point in history. traditionally called the soul. While most of the Biblical narrative is devoted to Redemption. The suggestion that things start “bad” seems strangely out of place and has the practical implication of undermining a Biblical worldview.000 years ago congruent with the cultural depictions in the early chapters of Genesis. I think you may even call some of them homo sapiens. if I may coin a phrase. Fall. The original Creation was good and reflected God’s intentions. Murphy suggests that if we are to take our human evolutionary history seriously. human nature is explained. Note also that the pre-homo divinus humans may have evidenced some marks of human behavior. social. A dualistic anthropology is rooted in Biblical teaching. that there are intimate connections between body and soul. In my mind this strikes at one of the central planks of Biblical teaching. God made humanity in the image of God and “gave” him a soul. Creation. for largely scientific reasons based on psychology and neuroscience. But dualism has been the understanding of Scripture for nearly the entire history of the church—certainly that which is embodied in the creeds of the church for the first seventeen centuries. John Stott. in terms of biology. the other two planks are critical to a proper understanding of the world. the same way that we now recognize some aspects of human behavior in other animals. Interestingly. that behavior is influenced by physical/biological factors. Secular writers. Due in part to the diminishing influence of confessional traditions. Stott writes in Understanding the Bible (p. but these have been largely outside the mainstream of confessional orthodoxy. and spiritual faculties which make man unlike all other creatures and like God the creator. and providence of all things— yet we believe that he is there and that the world would not exist without him being there. and Redemption is God’s defeat of sin and death in Christ and his completion of his purposes in Christ. for these are arbitrary scientific names. Anthropological dualism can still maintain that the embodied existence is the creational norm for human existence. I simply cannot see how a neurophysiological explanation of human nature is an argument against dualism. etc. There have been critics. Niles Eldredge in Dominion. for Scripture nowhere tells us. Precisely what the divine likeness was. the human biological organism. even by Christians. and others have argued that the human biological form evolved. the first man to whom may be given the Biblical designation ‘made in the image of God’. But Adam was the first homo divinus. has evolutionary roots. In the Reformed tradition (and others) we speak of Creation. we do not know. It is conceivable that God created Adam out of one of them. Kidner in his Genesis commentary proposes that simultaneously all others in the human population would have received the “stamp”. Fall. These hominids began to advance culturally. for example.
and he is miles ahead of the curve for the evangelical community. On this point I agree with Murphy. He was to the whole human race in his probation and Fall what Christ is to all who are in him. Whereas Adam brought death. was a probation. Eschaton transcends paradise—it’s not a return to paradise. Christ did not. and Original Sin. We are also morally tainted. If it was short-lived. In this covenant. the view expressed here has abandoned the notion of common biological descent from Adam. There was a pre-Fall Adamic covenant: do not eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or you will die. If you don’t keep this command. As covenant head his failure had consequences for all he represented: his posterity and. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta. we sinned all”. Perhaps the guilty verdict that comes as a result of our being in Adam is what produces spiritual death as we enter this world. He played the pivotal role. In the covenant theology spelled out in the Westminster Confession of Faith. paradise. Paradise was not the eschaton. Paradise had to do with God’s relationship with human beings and with human beings’ relationship to one another. but it has preserved the theologically more central notion of Adam’s covenant headship. We enter this world children of wrath by nature. V. then it is not that difficult to maintain the traditional notion of a historical fall and the notion of original sin. There is no reason that this covenantal role could not be played by Adam even if there were others who received the image of God when he did. In the scenario described above. you will not enter into the eschatological fulfillment. Neither does it necessarily imply some kind of superpower Adam with fantastical physical and mental powers.Evolution and Original Sin innocence could not have existed. No Need to Abandon a Historical Adam This finally leads us to the Fall and the notion of original sin. Evolution. Conclusion The upshot of the matter is that if you are an anthropological dualist and believe that the origin of human beings as homo divinus is not the result of an evolutionary process but the result of a special creative act. 25% describe themselves 9 . Adam was in a state of innocence. I have a few disagreements. Such will not be the case in the eschaton. Denis teaches at St. The Creationist view of the origin of the soul (that God specially creates each individual soul at conception. I will be using his paper with graduate students at Regent College (Vancouver. How this moral dimension is propagated is more speculative. but overall I quite resonate with his views. BC) this semester. Challenging and Reshaping Historical Approaches to Original Sin: Response by Denis Lamoureux This is a guest post by Denis Lamoureux. We are sinners because we are in Adam. as well the tempter was there. A Traducianist view of the origin of the soul (souls are derived from the souls of parents) can readily explain this propagation. the state of innocence. In fact. He communed with God. Finally. So. Clearly. they would have been exalted into eschatology glory. Christ brought salvation. Adam represented the human race. and is the fourth installment in a guest-post series discussing George Murphy's paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. the glory that now is only attainable as the result of Christ’s redemptive work. enjoyed fellowship unspoiled by sin-although without the eschatological perfection. perhaps. there may be scant historical. Clearly. his contemporaries. George’s paper was published in an evangelical science-religion journal (Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith). State of innocence. Had Adam and Eve passed the test. Adam and Eve were “able to sin”. Such is what is taught by the traditional understanding of Romans 5. does not necessarily mean “golden age” as Murphy has suggested. The Genesis account gives the impression that the state of innocence was short-lived (at least the part involving human beings). for example. anthropological. Hardly any proof of the doctrine of the universality of sin is needed. The consequences are legal and moral. and is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution. A 2004 ABC TV study reveals 87% in the pews believe that Gen 1 (creation in six days) is “word-for-word” history. The New England Primer captures the bottom line: “In Adam’s Fall. For biologists in evangelical schools (CCCU). or archeological evidence for paradise. or between conception and birth) has more difficulty with the question because then God is creating spiritually dead souls. This strikes the modern mind as unfair (although free grace salvation in Christ does not). It has been a pleasure to review George Murphy’s paper. a historical Adam who represented the whole human race failed the test. Whereas Adam failed. etc. the state of innocence or paradise does not necessarily imply anything about death before the Fall.
I thought the categories could have been defined with a bit more clarity for those not familiar with the discussion. For those who are evolutionists. Note that the Greek for “under the earth” is actually katachthovios: underworld. . namely polygenism. then he never sinned. BUT ACCOMMODATING.  which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and  which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own. etc. or how human history began—it’s not there. et al). kata: down. etc. “There is question of another conjectural opinion. and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. most would “tack on” an Adam at the tail end of evolution (see Darrel Falk. Adam is an ancient vessel that transports the spiritual Truths: humans are created in the Image of God. “Humani Generis (1950)” in which he takes the problem of evolution and the traditional doctrine head on. And if he never sinned. Ergo. 10 Hermeneutics I basically agree with George. He never existed. Typical of these in the ancient world. . Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion [polygenism] can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth [Bible] and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church [Tradition] propose with regard to original sin. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either: [i] that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or [ii] that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.  in heaven and  on earth and  under the earth. give birth to a cow. p. the more accurate . and they logically extended this phenomenological experience to an original cow [termed “retrojection” It’s what we do in geology]. it features two central ideas:  the first sin by a real person. Gen 1-2 is an ancient origins account. and 27% as theistic evolutionists (Science. Therefore. End of story. 51). you will get there. and God judges us for our sins. if Adam never existed. 48% as progressive creationists. But with practice. Therefore. humans are sinful. What we must do is separate (not conflate as most through history and today have done) the Holy Spirit inspired Message of Faith (inerrant & infallible) from the INCIDENTAL ancient origins science (the scienceof-the-day). who gives birth to a human. What About Paul? Paul definitely believed in the historicity of Adam. we can reformulate/reshape/modify/challenge the historic notion of original sin. a human gives birth to a human. let’s look at a classic approach to understanding original sin. Keith Miller. Note the hermeneutical “loop hole” and possibility to reconsider the traditional idea: “Now it is in no way apparent how. to the glory of God the Father.”. This comes from Pope Pius XII. freeing yourself of concordism (or scientific concordism) is very counterintuitive. Worrying about where Adam fits in the paleontological record makes about as much sense as trying to figure out where in the firmament NASA sends its spacecraft. Of course. Phil 2 states: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. then his sin was never passed down to us from him. In the case of Gen 1-3. don’t go to Gen 1-3 to find out how the world was created. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. The ancients saw a cow give birth to a cow. 1 Jul 05. the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. To do this. But that was the science-of-the-day. chthovios underworld. NOT LYING. In other words. Thus. Similarly. named Adam  transmission of Adam’s sin to everyone.Evolution and Original Sin as young earth creationists. origins is De Novo (quick and complete). but I wish he had been more forceful. who is Adam? Ancient science. So what’s happening? The Holy Spirit is accommodating. chthonic realm. He also believed that the universe was made up of three tiers. and most would say that the condemnation of Adam to death in Gen 3 is “spiritual death. if we can propose a hermeneutical approach to Gen 1-3.” Though there are many spins and nuances on original sin throughout Church history.” Categories As much as I enjoyed George’s paper.
toward maturity. it is only consistent that it has an ancient understanding of the origin of death. David is a PhD student in systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. When Jesus said to pluck your eye out for lusting. We are evolved “beasts” who bear God’s Image and are accountable. I would like to begin by thanking Steve Martin for inviting me to participate in this dialogue. The Evolutionary Carcass Yes.” we should reconceive these concepts in light of the biblical witness by speaking of a “sin of origin” that affects each person from birth and a corresponding progression. It is also part of the Cosmic Fall (introductions of weeds.” we should separate Paul’s belief in Adam’s existence from the Message "humans are sinners". And of course. eg. motifs like de novo creation. we can transcend those impulses. Murphy rightly 11 . "Where did death and suffering come from?” The ancients connected these harsh realities to evil/transgression . lost idyllic age. by the grace of God. pain. For those who wish further details. Why George? Not justification to maintain a ritual. I have to start by confessing up front that I basically agree with what Murphy says in his paper. righteousness. just as we separate ancient astronomy from the Message “Jesus is Lord of the universe. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit they were freed of their pagan theology and given instead life changing Messages of Faith. I discuss these ideas more fully in my book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (2008). For an introduction to David's writing. and tribal formation were in place for a long time. He says on page 117 that Adam suffered spiritual death not physical death. Gen 1-3 has an ancient understanding of the origin of life. there is no need for George’s so-called “sin of origin” which I must confess confused me (and even irritated me). What I would like to do is pursue some of the points raised by the essay in more detail and attempt to offer some further reflection on the nature of sin and the narrative of Genesis 3.” Note that George didn’t touch Rom 8 in his paper. Spiritual Death This is my only complaint with George’s argument. there is no debate in the fossil record—death existed prior to humans by 100's of millions of years. And by God’s grace. therefore Adam must exist". Gen 3 is a recycled lost idyllic (golden) age motif used by the Holy Spirit to reveal He judges our sins. And it is in Rom 8 with the “frustrated.think of ancient medicine and its reference to demons. legless snakes etc). Hebrews were late in the ANE. I would also like to thank George Murphy for writing such a compelling and interesting article. epileptic kid in the NT). So. The ancients asked. I hope? I trust this brief review has been helpful. I believe Christians err with what I called the conferment or bestow argument. Death in Gen 3 is physical—“dust you are and to dust you shall return” is physical. VI. But do Christians want to argue: "Paul believed in a 3tier world. we do have one. My comments will proceed by briefly addressing the following questions: (1) what is original sin? and (2) how ought we to read Genesis 1-3? 1. see his excellent blog series The Heresies of American Evangelicalism. groaning and decaying creation. Sin of Origin Finally. What is original sin? While it’s not stated as clearly as I would like. therefore the 3-tier world must exist"? I doubt anyone wants to go there. great flood. and is the fifth installment in a guest-post series discussing George Murphy's paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. Based on what we have learned from science. Further Reflections on Genesis 1-3 and the Nature of Sin : Response by David Congdon This is a guest post by David Congdon. Why the “reverse” concordism George? You were doing so well. and Original Sin. But we also have come to a place in which we can decide whether or not we follow our evolutionary impulses. and fellowship with God. Gen 3 is etiological. it makes a lot of sense from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. I think one could summarize Murphy’s thesis in the following way: instead of a doctrine of “original sin” with a corresponding doctrine of “original righteousness. It goes like this: "Paul believed in Adam. Evolution.Evolution and Original Sin translation would be: the beings living in the underworld (see Matt 12:40 and Jesus’s visit there). Like all origins accounts. too.
” As those saved by God’s grace. each person is born as if he or she actually committed the sin of Adam and Eve. we are what we do. the latter keeps “original corruption” but has no conception of “original guilt. Genesis recounts a truly historical event: the event of creation. history began with the fall. As sinners. both the East and the West remain far too mythical in their respective views on the transmission of this sinful corruption. While certainly correct. He says that Augustine argued “that all are sinners from the beginning of life. we intrinsically act as individuals “curved in upon ourselves” because of our social environment. This goes for both sin and salvation. Against history.” and the Christological act of reconciliation that defines us as adopted children of God. as the editors of CD III/1 state in their preface. Whereas the tradition says that we inherit a sin nature first before we commit any actual sin. We are born into corrupt social relations that make it impossible for us to achieve perfection through the force of will. we enter into a corrupt environment in which sin as incurvatus in se is inescapable. in the sense that science cannot penetrate what is a divine occurrence. On the contrary. I do not have the same aversion to the word “myth. In a very real sense. it’s that all people are born guilty of the original sin.” As a result. we need to explore Augustine’s contribution a little further. Against Pelagius. “Etiology” refers to the study of origins or causes.” The event of creation is not unlike the event of the resurrection. an event in the historical life of God that cannot be read off the face of creation itself.Evolution and Original Sin rejects the idea of an original human pair that spawned the rest of the human race as well as a state of “original righteousness” in which death was not yet operative in nature. this does not account for the true innovation in Augustine’s doctrine—viz. and here I think the opening of Genesis was crafted by the Israelites over a lengthy period of time for the purpose of narrating the nature of created existence and the cause of human sin and suffering in the context of their covenantal relationship 12 . though. we are what Christ did. Rather. as a theologian shaped by the later Barth’s actualistic ontology. I would say that such acts are inevitable by virtue of our historical situatedness. reconciled us to God through his life of faithful obedience.” if you prefer). “By nature” we act in opposition to those around us. but Pelagius was right to argue that sin is primarily an act before it is nature. Against myth. We do not participate in Adam’s guilt. I have serious problems with the traditional priority of nature over act. Augustine and Pelagius were both right in their own ways: Augustine was correct to argue that we are slaves to sin who depend upon grace alone. therefore. his death in God-abandonment.” whereas Pelagius turned Adam into a bad moral example. we no longer hold to this notion of sexual transmission of corruption. viz. An actualistic ontology means that being is determined by act. First. nor do we receive a corrupt essence from Adam by virtue of reproduction. we actualize our “sin nature. Original Guilt Murphy’s insights are important. I tend to speak of Genesis 1-3 (though not only these chapters) as an “etiological myth” (or “etiological saga. That is.” It’s not just that all people “are born not only with a tendency to sin but actually as sinners”. This doctrine of “original guilt” constitutes a central divide between Western and Eastern hamartiologies. 2. and history as we know it is the continuation of “fallen” acts.” Sin as act precedes sin as nature. but some further theological development is necessary. “cannot be historiographically expressed. and his resurrection to new life in the power of the Spirit. viz. the two sides essentially agree: the act of sexual intercourse is the agent by which the corruption of the parents is transferred to the child. Reconceiving the Theological Priority of Sinful Being and Act As modern Christians. And in this “original” act of sin. at least not in the ancient form presupposed by Augustine and Maximus. Instead of longing for some mythical past. the idea of “original guilt. Etiological Myth While I have no disagreement with Barth regarding the theological interpretation of Genesis as saga. Murphy discusses Augustine in the context of the debate with Pelagius. Theological anthropology is grounded not in substances or essences which precede human action. Murphy argues that we should construct a teleological anthropology. Moreover. “sin. theological anthropology is defined by human acts: the individual act of sin that defines us as those “curved in upon ourselves. How should we read Genesis 1-3? Barth argues in Church Dogmatics III/1 that the “history-like” Genesis story should be read in the genre of “saga” as a “third way” beyond the binary opposition of myth and history. On this point. in which the goal of humanity is not a recovery of a perfect Eden but the redemption of the new creation. I would argue instead that in our entrance into history with birth.” While I think the East is the better of the two on that point. Genesis recounts an event which. rather.
I wish to thank Steve and George again for the invitation and the article. with awareness of the Christian theological tradition. Evolution and Original Sin: George Murphy Replies (Part 1) This is a guest post by George Murphy. As Steve has noted. and pastor. Schleiermacher is a profound thinker of the highest quality. Conclusion I have sought to reflect on the ideas and insights touched upon by George Murphy in his fascinating The Theological Task The source of the theology in whose context science – and evolution in particular – is to be placed is scripture. Interpreting the Text Just as I remarked above how the doctrine of creation serves the doctrine of redemption. but two in particular stand out. then. 1-3 with Exodus firmly in mind. (2) the literary/textual context of the Torah as the history-like narrative of God’s covenant. sin. The story of creation has to be read in relationship with the story of God’s de-construction of Egypt and re-construction of Israel. and his theology. George is a physicist. and redemption (the first two serving the third). creation serves the covenant. The story of Adam’s sin has to be read in relation to Israel’s confession of sin. while these three contexts are indispensable. just as Pharaoh is the literary foil to Yahweh: Egypt is a place of enslavement and Pharaoh the one who enslaves. their promise of covenant fidelity. by contrast. Though he is often dismissed as a 19th century liberal who is no longer worth reading. and has authored numerous articles and books including The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross. Eden (and later Sinai) is a place of freedom. we have to interpret the text in a threefold context: (1) the theological context of the doctrines of creation. we also have a fourth and determinative context: the selfrevelation of God in Jesus Christ. In short. The creation account provides the necessary prelude to the account of Israel’s deliverance and establishment as God’s chosen people. VII. The creation account must be read with the prophetic and New Testament witness to the new creation. This concludes my essay. What all this means on an exegetical level is the Genesis story has to be read as the history-like. It would be exciting to see what a post-Barthian appropriation of Schleiermacher and contemporary science might look like for a doctrine of creation. It’s more than a formality for me first to thank the three respondents. The creation narrative serves the Israelite self-understanding as those brought into a covenantal relationship with God. Criticisms and suggestions are helpful in this ongoing work. offers substantial room for incorporating the insights of evolutionary science. Hellwig in their work on Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in the Light of Evolution. we need to read Gen. Genesis serves Exodus. mythological introduction to Exodus. one that retains continuity with the tradition while incorporating the scientific insights of evolutionary biology. such an attitude is greatly mistaken. The first is the account proffered by Daryl P. theologian. Domning and Monika K. The covenant is thus the restoration of humanity’s relation with God. When we read Genesis. 3. and Yahweh is the one who liberates. The story of Eden and “original righteousness” should be read as the mythological acknowledgment of creation’s disruption through human sin and the need for a covenant with God. I attempt to read scripture as a theologian of the church. so too the text of creation serves the text of redemption. and (3) the historical-cultural context of Israel as a people living in exile from the land promised to them by God. article. it seems to me that their project has the possibility of being a very interesting theological proposal. We try to understand scripture in its original 13 . as a Christian interpreter of Genesis. My disagreements are all rather minor. The myth of humanity’s fall in the Garden of Eden is the narratival introduction to the story of humanity’s redemption in the exodus from Egypt. and Original Sin. and their continual failures as a people before God. The second is a theological reappropriation of Schleiermacher’s theology. Further exploration of this topic could be pursued along many different lines. my article was part of a broader research program. particularly his doctrine of creation. Finally. Egypt is the literary foil to Eden. I discuss the issue of supralapsarianism. I would like to see future discussion of this topic engage this particular study. In a larger version of this essay. While I have not yet read this work. Evolution.Evolution and Original Sin with Yahweh. I look forward to reading the dialogue that follows. and is the sixth installment in a guest-post series discussing his paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. and the exodus story must be read together with the story of the cross as the final and definitive event of our liberation. respectively.
is the important doctrine. but the reality that infants received baptism “for the forgiveness of sins” (Nicene Creed) meant that infants had some sin to be forgiven. the crucial teaching. That is why I think Gray is mistaken in insisting upon a traditional form of explanation.” I don’t want to replace the concept of original sin with that of sin of origin. and God judges us for our sins. I have not.. We should distinguish between a doctrine of the universality of sin as something we “believe. not its origin.. In my article I emphasized that sin’s universality. ‘original sin as originated’ . and thus is the presupposition of the gospel. It seems to me that Lamoureux is too willing to depart from some aspects of this tradition for reasons that are inadequate.” But a theologian shouldn’t ignore such questions (though that was popular in twentieth century theologies influenced by existentialism). is not completely standard but I explained my usage in the article’s note 16.” I do not agree. Such explanations are needed but of secondary importance. The Origin of Sin: Discussing Theological Options What “theological opinion” should we hold about the origin of sin? Gray wants to maintain major elements of the traditional scenario. Differences about the latter need not be church dividing.. Sin of Origin: Some Clarifications Congdon and Lamoureux note my use of a concept of “sin of origin..” The latter term means that the first humans were not only free from sin but also from any bodily defect or vulnerability. some type of semi-Pelagianism. While I think that Sin of Origin: An Emphasis on the Universality of Sin The real question here is whether or not we take the universality of sin seriously. but must also take seriously (though not uncritically) the ways in which our ancestors in the faith understood it. speak of the universality of sin make no such qualification.” the latter with puzzlement.Evolution and Original Sin cultural settings. Denial of universal human sinfulness is a much greater problem. I find that implausible. in distinction from “original sin”. (Calovius does use both terms. what I mean by “original sin” is “peccatum originale originans.. ‘You are a sinner and Christ is your savior. the condition of sin in humankind caused by the transmission of Adam and Eve’s sin to all.. Are all people in a sinful condition from the beginning of their lives or do they just start to be sinners when they reach “the age of reason” or something like that? Scriptural texts that 14 . however.. It is the fact that we are all sinners that calls for atonement. Congdon is closer to a “just right” position here. That phrase. and the answer is “No”. Suffice it to say that I hold with the catholic tradition that baptism is a means of grace and can be administered validly to infants. as Congdon suggests. noting that “the basic law-gospel message is . however. It is true that for some important purposes we can ignore questions about how and why sin originated historically. How does it make sense to say that we are good creatures of God and that we begin our lives as sinners? Is God the creator of sin? These questions are sharpened if our theology is to encompass what science has shown us about human origins. We have to deal with them if the Christian message as a whole is to be coherent. The Origin of Sin: An Important but not Central Question I turn now to the question of the historical origin of sin. The sinful condition of all people from the beginning of life is.) In its strongest sense this includes physical immortality.e. ‘original sin as originating’ . as Lamoureux asks? I assume he means baptism. while Gray is too insistent on maintaining secondary aspects of the tradition. teach and confess” and “theological opinions” about how that condition originated historically and eventuates in each person’s sin of origin. “State of innocence” suggests a weaker claim than does “state of integrity. His teaching on original sin was not a justification for infant baptism. "Humans are sinful. Augustine’s argument went in the opposite direction. Further discussion of baptism would take us too far afield. the historical event of Adam and Eve’s sin” while “sin of origin” is “peccatum originale originatum. Do I speak about sin of origin just “to maintain a ritual”. that they can do something about their condition on their own – i. a “state of innocence” for an historical Adam and Eve. Existence in such a state would not necessarily require a “golden age” but would mean that the physical properties of the human body and the world were different before the Fall. and can be content to say.” even implicitly. It immediately suggests the possibility that unredeemed humans aren’t really dead spiritually but just wounded. Concepts of “original sin as originating” provide explanations of why we begin life in that condition. “adopt[ed] a materialistic view of human nature. To quote Wiley more extensively. Lamoureux thinks that we don't need to address that question.
) If God imputes Adam’s sin to others then God makes people into sinners. The Imputation of Adam’s Sin Gray makes use of the idea of an imputation of Adam’s sin to explain how a fall of an historical Adam could have been responsible for all humanity’s sinful condition even for those who weren’t descended from him.” with no reference to their origin. Cf. George is a physicist.. It was certainly the belief of some biblical writers. Evolution. but that’s not the way Genesis reads. and he wants to leave it at that. It’s one thing to say that early Genesis is accommodated to the idea that humans first appeared a few thousand years ago perfectly formed in mind and body. Gray joins with some others in suggesting that something like a traditional view can be maintained by embedding the biblical Adam and Eve in a population of pre-Adamites. that our evolutionary history isn’t cancelled out by whatever special divine action may have taken place in making us human. We need to consider the likelihood that in inspiring various parts of scripture the Holy Spirit accommodated the message to the state of understanding of the world that existed in the cultures of the time. and Original Sin. That evolutionary history is the story of how God chose to create us. Death and Guilt It’s helpful for a scientist or theologian to acknowledge weaknesses in his or her theories. theologian. But while the story of Adam and Eve is our story. that the physical death of humans is a consequence of sin. and any “superadded” feature God gave us does not remove the genetic and behavioral predispositions which evolution has produced. I remain agnostic about the possibility that at some point in evolutionary history God added something (rational soul etc. Evolution and Original Sin: George Murphy Replies (Part 2) This is a guest post by George Murphy. It is not even certain (as the western tradition has generally thought) that the writers of VIII.. But there are qualifications and nuances that he ignores. there was an Origin On the other hand. Lamoureux is right that we shouldn’t simply qualify death as “spiritual” in their writings. I do insist. This idea of the imputation of Adam’s sin to others is questionable. The accommodated message might have been in the form of a story that began “Once upon a time there were a man and a woman . and I recognize that my discussion of sin and mortality has some problems.) to our ancestors in a way that can’t be accounted for by the sciences. it is also more. Lamoureux’s reading is consistent with the oft-expressed view that the Adam and Eve of Genesis 3 are every man and every woman. and in declaring sinners righteous it makes sinners righteous: Sanctification follows justification. and has authored numerous articles and books including The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross. they don’t die physically. In the first part of my response I dealt with the important idea of “sin of origin” as a statement that all people are sinners from the beginning of life. a) Sin and Physical Death In the day that Adam and Eve eat of the tree.. The oft-claimed theological parallel between it and the imputation of Christ’s 15 . and is the seventh installment in a guest-post series discussing his paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. To say that God is the immediate cause of the general sinful condition of humanity may be acceptable for some but it poses a serious challenge to the goodness of creation. (Again see my “Couldn’t God Get It Right?” .Evolution and Original Sin arguments for some type of non-reductive physicalism are strong. Sin: Yes. I also see problems with such a view. To a certain extent this strategy can succeed simply on the level of historical concordism. however.) But we should be careful not to attribute to accommodation what is actually part of the theological message – that we don’t throw out the baby with the bath (or manger!). and pastor. (This is not the Roman Catholic concept of “infused” righteousness on account of which God then declares the sinner righteous. including Paul. Article 19 of the Augsburg Confession. and quite another to say that the idea of “firstness” itself is accommodation. In scripture it is a story of the first human beings and of how sin came into the world. We then began a discussion that continues here of the important but secondary question of the historical origin of this human condition. God’s creative word does what it says. righteousness to sinners encounters a serious problem. In the second part of this response (to be published later this week) I will discuss this problem. I will also highlight areas of my argument that may need further work or articulation. But the idea that the sin of such an historical Adam could be responsible for the sinful condition of people who had no biological relationship with that Adam encounters a serious problem.
and pastor.”) (In addition. What is your opinion of this idea? . IX. (In addition to the passage from Athanasius. Apparently. I wonder if there could be some additional commentary about the seeming parallelism in Romans 5 . including those to which our genetic endowment may incline us. and unable to do anything to save ourselves. (NRSV is “because all have sinned. I look forward to questions and comments from readers of this series. For so thou didst ordain when thou createdst me [N. Some currents of Greek Christian thought seem to picture humanity as being created biologically mortal. although not subject to spiritual death if they remained sinless. and Original Sin.org/ . I hope.e.” I should have done so and explained why I don’t use it. and has authored numerous articles and books including The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross. The personal syntax only occurs at some distance into the narrative. Thanks again to the three respondents for their helpful comments. George is a physicist. note these lines from the Prayer Book’s burial service [http://bcponline. In what I once called rather mouth-fillingly “hermeneutical retrocausality. we are spiritually dead.and Luther and Calvin . formed of the earth. This is the case even before sinful acts have been committed – not because of our “natures” but 16 because of the condition in which we find ourselves. and unto dust shalt thou return. ‘Dust thou art. theologian. pp. in quo omnes peccaverunt – “in whom all have sinned” (DRC). the first part of the Hebrew text uses the word adam in a non-personal way (i. We could say that we were guilty of Adam’s (or the first humans’) sin if “in Adam’s fall. It’s generally agreed that this is not a very good rendering.Evolution and Original Sin Genesis had original immortality in view. deal with them adequately at some point in the future. b) Original Guilt Congdon notes that I don’t refer to the concept of “original guilt. But we can’t really separate the reality of physical death from its psychological and spiritual affects. and is the eighth installment in a guest-post series discussing his paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. as people who begin our lives in a sinful state (cf. and we are mortal. in the same way one man's obedience led to the justification of many (paraphrasing from memory).” but that rests upon Augustine’s Latin text of Romans 5:12.]. enemies of God. adam means "the man").were right and where the Orthodox tend to be weak is the seriousness of our original sinful condition. The Historicity of Adam: Q&A with George Murphy (Part 1) This is a guest post by George Murphy. The first three questions deal with various aspects of the historicity of Adam. and unto earth shall we return.481-482 ] from an Orthodox source: “Thou only art immortal. I’ve tried to avoid legal terminology – not because it’s wrong or unbiblical but because I’m trying to take another approach. Christ was an individual person and the first member of the Race of Heaven.) To that extent the Orthodox are right. saying. Closing Remarks A number of points deserve further comment. 2. This is the first of two Q&A posts. However. “the last enemy. Where Augustine . that Genesis 2-3 is not a story of humanity losing immortality but of humanity losing the possibility of immortality.B.’”) We should also bear in mind the view of Barr to which I referred. But even if we grant that physical death is seen uniformly in scripture as a result of sin.” for biblical writers simply because it means that earthly life stops? Or is it because it threatens separation from God? (Cf.just as one man's sin led to the condemnation of many. I’ll continue to reflect on them and. Evolution. so don't we have to think of Adam as an individual person and the first member of the Race from Earth? That doesn't mean he had no prehuman ancestors. alienated from God. sinned we all.” sin gives new meaning to dying that was a reality even before humanity came on the scene. is it only physical death that’s in view? Is death an evil. Tillich). Our social environment strongly encourages sinful behaviors. Reader Questions #1-3 1. the creator and maker of mankind. I have heard it argued that this does not necessitate a belief in a literal man called "Adam" in the early part of the narrative. Psalm 6:5) Of course a biblical view of human death is multifaceted and there is considerable development from the earliest strata of the Old Testament through the New.
b) Historicity of Adam: Inter-testamental View In the inter-testamental period we do have a recitation of salvation history that begins with Adam. in different ways.Evolution and Original Sin 10:1-2a begins a long commentary on divine Wisdom in history. 1:18-3:20 is an extended argument to show that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23 RSV). I’m going to bundle my answers to the first three which. In this same period. Enosh. Genesis 3 is a story about “the man” and “the woman. the fact that none of the Old Testament’s recitations of salvation history begin with Adam.5:6-8. suggests that Adam was not seen as an historical individual in the same way as were Abraham. Could Rabbinically trained Paul have been talking figuratively. allegorical interpretations of scripture also gathered some popularity among Jews. and the way in which Christ is paralleled with Adam in Romans 5. There is no reference to Genesis 3 or Adam here. “Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world. but we also have first century Jews from as diverse background as Philo of Alexandria and the Jerusalem priest Josephus who understood Adam and Eve allegorically. in the same way as the succeeding Seth. let alone rejecting the historical sense. In Galatians he says explicitly that he’s doing that. (See Note 20) In addition.4:21-31. we should not be dogmatic in saying the biblical writers of both testaments believed that there was an historical individual named “Adam.” (published in the December 2008 PSCF) than in the article discussed in this series. Hi George.” and while (as Lamoureux and I agree) the idea of humanity beginning with a single couple may be seen as divine accommodation to cultural understandings. after all. On the other hand. in part because of Hellenistic influence. that very fact makes it clear that he is allegorizing. a) Historicity of Adam: OT View As Questioners 2 and 3 suggest. the genealogy of Genesis 5 (which most critical scholars link with the first creation account.” The name “Adam” is not used but the text clearly refers to Genesis 2 -3. 1:1-2:4a rather than 2:4b-4:26) begins with Adam. thanks for a great article. rather than a history lesson about Adam? Thank you for your questions. Clearly Paul can express the basic lawgospel message at some length with no reference to Adam. then mean that we should understand Adam as an historical individual if we take scripture seriously. as Questioner 1 suggests? I don’t think so. the Exodus and the story of Sarah and Hagar). but start at the earliest with Abraham. Paul actually tells us as he compares Adam and Christ in Romans 5 that he sees Adam as a figure of Christ (verse 14). 10:111 and Gal. He does use allegory in a few places: Mowry’s article “Allegory” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible lists I Cor. In the first. I’ll mention that I’ve dealt with this issue in more detail in my paper “Chiasmic Cosmology and Atonement. The Parallel between Christ and Adam Does that conclusion. Wisdom 17 . only through what he wrote. 9:8-10. To begin with. and with the second. there is no indication that the ancient Israelites did not see this story as indeed an account of what happened to a real man and a real women. In the RSV it reads. Christ’s saving work made available through faith to all. We ought to remember though that giving an allegorical interpretation of a text does not mean that the events portrayed in that text are necessarily non-historical. c) Historicity of Adam: Paul’s View We can’t absolutely rule out the possibility that Paul had an allegorical interpretation of Adam in mind: Our access to Paul’s thinking is. when he was created.” The Hebrew ’adham is a generic noun for “human being” and the point in Genesis where it becomes a proper name is debated. 3:21-4:25 then sets out God’s answer to the problem of sin. we should not overemphasize the importance of Adam for Paul’s argument in Romans. and gave him strength to rule all things. But is that really the situation historically? Certainly there were those who took Adam literally. third and fourth of these passages it seems very unlikely that he rejected the historical sense of the Old Testament texts (unleavened bread for Passover. Jacob or Moses (Note 22). when he refers to Adam. an allegorical illustration of Christ and the cross. deal with the historicity of Adam. where he questions the historical sense. That is clearly intended to be a personal name. 3. We simply don’t have any such indication that he is allegorizing. she delivered him from his transgression. Furthermore. You say Jews at the time of Christ took Adam and Eve literally and that Paul's statements about Adam should be read in that context. etc.
where questions and discussion are possible provides the best climate for enabling people to come to grips with controversial issues. and Christ in order to provide structure to the story of sin and salvation. A relaxed classroom session. original sin articulated in your paper can be helpful from a pastoral perspective? Questioner 4 makes the point that “theology shouldn't be an academic exercise only. for many clergy avoid these matters because of their unfamiliarity with science or the controversial character of the issues. and other matters.will inform ministry will depend to some extent on the context in which ministry is being done. Pastoral Implications of Original Sin and Evolution: Q&A with George Murphy (Part 2) This is a guest post by George Murphy.290). pastoral care and action in the world. of how God actually has worked in the evolutionary process. and needs to be made accessible to pastors. It is not enough simply to say “a knowledgeable reading of the Bible does not require early Genesis to be understood as scientific or historical fact”. teaching. But he does this to highlight the significance of Christ. How my suggested model of original sin and sin of origin – or indeed. and congregations. I believe that it is. theologian. and has authored numerous articles and books including The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross. the Bible. of any model . is not so much to historicize the individual Adam as to bring out the more than individual significance of the historic Christ. If theology is to have any real value it must help to inform. George is a physicist.” I couldn’t agree more. As the divine Word chose to be limited to the human condition in Christ. Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker. and is the ninth installment in a guest-post series discussing his paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. 2005) is worth reading in this connection.) But some general statements can be made. that members of those “mainline” denominations all have “liberal” views about evolution. other church leaders. In Chapter 5 he sets up a parallel between the figure of Adam.Evolution and Original Sin This does not mean that Adam is of no importance for Paul. not of Adam. Adam and Christ. As James Dunn puts it in his Word Biblical Commentary.” I have argued that the fact that Paul accepted the historicity of Adam need not mean that Christians must hold that same view today. In what ways do you think the view of . But I digress. not simply because it provides a way of avoiding conflicts between scripture and modern scientific and historical knowledge but because it is part of a fundamentally incarnational way of understanding scripture and God’s activity in the world in general. To begin with. Understanding evolution in a Christian context is best dealt with in educational situations rather than in preaching.” Here churches have generally failed in the educational task of helping to understand evolution theologically. most likely understood as historical (as above). Such education needs to be 18 X. so the Holy Spirit operates within the limits of human understandings of the world in bringing about the written witness to Christ. support and encourage the work of the church in proclaiming the gospel. p. (This does not mean . In a conservative evangelical congregation in which there is considerable hostility to the idea of human evolution such ministry will differ from that in the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church in which I have worked as a pastor for twenty-five years. this model can help to alleviate the concerns that many thoughtful Christians have about evolution. Many are aware of the overwhelming scientific support for evolution but are unsure about how it can fit in with a Christian worldview beyond a vague idea that “that’s how God did it. Whether or not that argument can be accepted depends on (among other things) whether the concept of the Holy Spirit’s accommodation to cultural beliefs in the inspiration of scripture is valid. Reader Question #4 Theology shouldn't be an academic exercise only – it should have practical pastoral implications as well. Too much work in the sciencetheology dialogue has remained at the academic level.. I think that what I’ve suggested is one such model. and pastor. “[T]the effect of the comparison between the two epochal figures. Here is George's answer to question #4. and Original Sin. there also needs to be some positive view. The first 3 questions for George regarding the historicity of Adam were discussed in part 1 of the Q&A. and of how our scientific understanding of human history and human nature can be coherent with core Christian beliefs. if only a tentative one. The fault is not entirely that of academic theologians. 1988. Volume 38: Romans 1-8 (Word Books. Evolution.
who provided a compelling and succinct critique of George’s paper that. I found his contribution very helpful. in age appropriate ways. This ends our series on George Murphy’s very important paper. who brought his characteristically uncompromising style and message to this forum. Whom God himself elected. what Luther said in his great Reformation hymn. Of course there are a number of practical issues that have to be dealt with in order to provide adequate teaching and leadership here. I found the distinction between “Sin of Origin” and “Original Sin” as discussed in this series very helpful. Evolution and Original Sin: Conclusion This is the tenth and last installment in a guest-post series discussing George Murphy’s paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ. people will be better prepared to hear the preaching of law and gospel. Soon were our loss effected. An historical origin of sin. distinguished from the origin of humanity itself. hymn # 262. With might of ours can naught be don. Evolution. support and encourage the work of the church in proclaiming the gospel. the origin of sin is (was?) the most difficult challenge for me personally. or deal with the problem of sin. check out his recent interview with Canadian Christianity) To Terry. by ourselves. was the first to volunteer) even though he understood the format of the series was not set up to allow him “equal time” to respond. Here of course the fundamental message is that all are sinners and that Christ is the all-sufficient savior from the guilt and power of sin. To Denis. Finally. and sin is not God’s intention for humanity. But for us fights the Valiant One. and Original Sin. All Pelagian or semiPelagian notions that we can contribute to our own salvation are closed off.. and for continuing the task of making theology relevant. With this understanding the preacher can express. means that God is not the creator of sin.. To David. that sin had an origin in human history) and sin of origin (i. verse 2) A big thanks to all three responders. even as sinners. If human evolution is dealt with well in educational settings in a congregation. to allow others to critique it. teaching. (The Lutheran Hymnal. I for one have found the discussion of great value as I work through the theological implications of evolution. Terry agreed to do this (indeed. as I’ve said in the past. 19 . I suspect. resonated with many (most?) of this blog’s readers. But sin of origin means that we are not able to avoid sin. articulating the continuing coherence of the Christian gospel in a scientific age is important.Evolution and Original Sin provided. “If theology is to have any real value it must help to inform. a huge thanks to George for taking the time and energy to discuss his paper in this forum. but if there is no application. from children’s Sunday School classes through adult forums. (For more of the same. As he indicated in the last post. pastoral care and action in the world”. to respond to reader’s questions. showed no hesitation in accepting the challenge. We cannot even contribute to repairing our relationship with God because everything we do is tinged to a greater or lesser degree by sin.e. God’s creatures. We need more Evangelicals like this. What I have said about original sin (i. in words appropriate to his or her listeners. We are.e. An absolutely crucial point to remember. that all people begin their lives as sinners) helps this message to be proclaimed with the necessary clarity. XI. what is the point? Thanks George for working towards making the gospel both coherent and relevant. who while acknowledging that his interaction with science was of deep personal rather than professional interest.