The Lost World of John H. Walton

John H. WaltonLydia McGrew from What’s Wrong with the World (an excellent blog, by the way) has done a three part review of John H. Walton’s The Lost World of Adam and Eve and a review of The Lost World of Genesis One.  They are well worth your time, clear, helpful, faithful to Scripture, well reasoned.  Let me know what you think.

The Lost World of Genesis One

The Lost World of Adam and Eve, part 1

The Lost World of Adam and Eve, part 2

The Lost World of Adam and Eve, part 3

C.M. Granger

Adam and the Unbearable Lightness of Non-Being

Shadow Man (9)

The first two posts responding to Denis Lamoureux’s contribution to Four Views on the Historical Adam can be found here and here. Taking up where I left off, Dr Lamoureux cites a Barna Group study “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church” in which it is stated, “One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science…” I believe that such research has value, and not having read the study I’m not in a position to respond to it. However, considering the way Dr. Lamoureux is using it to defend his thesis, if young adults are leaving the church because of this tension it’s because of something inherent in Christianity—it’s supernatural revelation. Isn’t there “tension” between creation ex nihilo and “science”, or between the Resurrection and “science”? Of course there is, and there always will be in this life. Supernatural events are square pegs that don’t fit neatly into naturalism’s round holes. The existence of a real Adam in time and space, created directly by God’s hand, is one of those square pegs.

Beginning on page 39 of the book, Lamoureux shares some of his personal testimony, how he came to know the Lord and some of the struggles he had as he pursued advanced degrees in theology and biology. He advises the reader that he was a thoroughly committed Young Earth Creationist and left medical school to become a Creation Scientist with the intention of disproving evolution. However, over the course of his studies he came to view the evidence for evolution to be overwhelming. In a short treatise like this, I don’t expect a detailed defense of this overwhelming evidence, but he could have at least addressed a few of the most common (and powerful) criticisms of evolution. Be that as it may, space constraints or a word limit may have prevented this.

Lamoureux concludes this section by asserting that he embraces the time-honored complementary relationship between Scripture and science, what he refers to as “God’s two divine books”–the book of God’s Word and the book of His Works. This, I suggest, is the point at which the author has veered off the tracks. God only has one book of special revelation in which He explains His works, such as creation, redemption, resurrection, etc. Whenever we place a second source on par with the Scriptures it is that second source which will take the place of preeminence—every time. It becomes the conduit through which we interpret Scripture, when in fact we should be understanding science in light of Scripture. God doesn’t give us scientific explanations, therefore the Bible isn’t a science textbook. However we do not interpret the sacred text via the modern spectacles of scientific consensus. Doing so narrows revelation to a handful of “theological points”.

For Lamoureux, Adam did not exist because according to our current understanding of “science” he could not exist. What are we to do with him then? Alter our approach to divine revelation? Assert that Jesus and Paul were wrong about him? Downplay or disregard his theological significance in the history of redemption? Make him nothing more than a shadow on the ancient pages of a divine story told long ago? A historical Adam isn’t a burden Christians are obliged to take care of, but an integral part of God’s plan and purpose.

We’ll examine this further in the days ahead.

C.M. Granger

 

Timely Bonus:  Comparing Blueprints

Adam–The Man Who Wasn’t There

Adam Continuing to interact with Denis Lamoureux’s contribution to Zondervan’s Four Views on the Historical Adam, Professor Lamoureux informs us that his pastoral concern is that young men and women know there is a Christian view of origins that accepts evolution and recognizes that our faith does not rest on the existence of Adam (pg. 38). He asserts that our faith is based only on Jesus Christ, His sacrifice on the Cross, and His bodily resurrection from the dead.

Firstly, the biblical narrative is organically woven together. You can’t uproot one doctrine and expect that it won’t affect another. This kind of compartmentalization of Scripture separates what God has joined together. It disassembles the connections.

It’s analogous to a novel in which character development, theme, and plot are said to be of little importance. It’s only the climax that really matters. However, it’s the back story that sets up the climax. They’re tied together. Adam is the fountainhead of the human race and his fall into sin necessitates the incarnation, the crucifixion, the atonement, and the resurrection if salvation is to come to a broken world.

Secondly, if Jesus Himself was wrong about there being a historical Adam how do we know He wasn’t wrong about other matters, like His own person, work, and mission? How do we discern when Jesus is fallible and when He’s infallible? What’s the criteria? When modern scientific consensus disagrees with Him? Modern scientific consensus doesn’t take into account the supernatural, nor should it. The creation of man transcends naturalism.

Thirdly, why does Dr. Lamoureux insist upon the historical necessity of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but deny the existence of Adam and original sin? What makes one more of a historical necessity than the other? Of course, as Professor Lamoureux states, “our faith is based only on Jesus”, but Jesus Himself asserts the historicity of Adam. If the author is to be consistent, he should hold the position that Jesus didn’t really exist either. His life, like the account of Adam, was a little story God told ancient man to communicate spiritual truths. Yet, our author insists, Jesus did and said what is recorded in the Gospels. He will have to explain how doing so is not arbitrary.

We’ll look at his work further in our next post.

C.M. Granger

The Curious Case of the First Man

historical adam You may be familiar with the Counterpoints series published by Zondervan. Some editions are more useful than others, but they’re worth having if just to get a better understanding of various and opposing viewpoints on an array of theological topics.

I wish to interact with Denis Lamoureux’s contribution in “Four Views on the Historical Adam”. He holds to an evolutionary creation view, which is the belief that “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created the universe and life, including humans, through an ordained, sustained, and intelligent design-reflecting natural process.” This view also denies the existence of a historical Adam. I’m not going to deal with his contribution to the book in its entirety in this post, but hope to in the days (well, in my case, probably weeks) ahead.

One must begin by asking why Dr. Lamoureux, with a Christian worldview, presupposes naturalism when it comes to human origins? Creation itself is not natural, it’s supernatural by definition. Yet the author asserts that, “similar to the way that the Lord used embryological mechanics to create each of us in our mother’s womb, He also employed evolutionary processes to create humanity.” (pg. 37) I would like to ask Dr. Lamoureux why the God who created the heavens and the earth is constrained to create mankind through an evolutionary process? Whatever one thinks about whether God revealed scientific facts in the Bible thousands of years before their discovery by modern science, He did reveal in the text of Scripture that He created man directly, personally, and supernaturally.

So how does Dr. Lamoureux deal with this thorny problem? By concluding that modern science reveals the Old Testament to be a divine accommodation to an ancient and ignorant people. God didn’t really create man directly, personally, or supernaturally. No, since ancient man could not understand modern science, God (as it were) told him a little story he could grasp. Now, I absolutely believe that God accommodates His revelation in such a way as to condescend to our understanding. However, this is not the kind of divine accommodation Lamoureux is talking about. This is, in my view, a wholesale undermining of the text. Was God only communicating with an ancient people when the opening chapters of Genesis were written down? Is it not divine revelation to a modern people as well? We’re just scientifically sophisticated enough to know that God really meant the opposite of what He said? Perhaps, in a later age, we will discover that God really meant what He said in the first place.

II.

In the introduction, Professor Lamoureux asserts that the central conclusion of a previous book he penned on this subject is that Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.” (pg. 38) I find this a curious statement in light of the historical nature of the Christian faith. Why is it necessary for the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ to be historical, but not the life and death of Adam to be so? If God has revealed an intimate historical and theological (not to mention organic) connection between the first man and the Son of Man in Scripture, why is it that Dr. Lamoureux dismisses it so easily?

The foundational belief he has in view is the fallen nature of mankind. He posits that this spiritual truth can be separated from any historical context. All we need to know, in the end, is that we are fallen, sinful human beings in need of redemption. There is no “original sin”, accept perhaps incidentally. This, in fact, illustrates something Lamoureux likes to assert frequently—that the Bible is a book which communicates spiritual truths divorced from historical or scientific truths. How does he know this? The spiritual truth squares nicely with his Christian worldview, the rest doesn’t square with his naturalism.

We’ll explore this further in our next installment.

BONUS: Happened to come across this review of Professor Lamoureux’s full length book I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution by Dr. James Anderson. Enjoy!

C.M. Granger

Tying Up Some Loose Enns, part 2

March-Fun-198Following up on my previous post, found here…..

I’m not sure why there is such an intellectual struggle for some when it comes to reconciling science and faith.  It’s a false dichotomy to pit the two against each other.  The Scriptures are God’s divine revelation of Himself and of His works in history.  Science is the discovery of how things work and how they relate to one another.  If creation itself was a supernatural event, why insist upon a natural explanation when it comes to human origins?  Professor Enns insists that modern discoveries in evolutionary theory, particularly the human genome project, prove that man evolved from a common ancestor.  But why is he interpreting such information within a secular worldview?  How does Dr. Enns know the scientific evidence points to a common ancestor rather than to a common design?  It seems to me he is quick to put his faith in scientific consensus (a consensus largely produced within a community of unbelieving scientists) rather than in God’s revelation.

The problem with putting faith in scientific consensus is that science is a puzzle with a lot of missing pieces.  As the pieces are discovered, from time to time, the overall picture changes.  Should we not rather put our trust in the One who created it all?  Should we not rest in the fact that science will say no more in the end than that which corroborates what God has already told us?  Isn’t it already scientific consensus that people cannot be raised from the dead, and that miracles do not occur?  Why doesn’t Professor Enns accept consensus in these areas as well?

I don’t think Genesis 1 – 11 is meant to convey scientific facts about the creation of the world, and therefore anyone attempting to exegete physics and geology from these texts is asking more of them than God intended.  However, it is a historical account of what God did and it records the fact that He specially made Adam and Eve.  If this be rejected, what in Scripture cannot be?  Why isn’t Jesus a divine myth as well?  I have yet to receive an explanation of this from Dr. Enns or his proponents.

C.M. Granger

Related Links at No Extra Charge:

The Explanatory Power of False Theories

Adam, Eve, and Chimpanzees

Tying Up Some Loose Enns, part 1

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A few weeks ago Dave and I went to an Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Nyack, NY at the Alliance Theological Seminary. The two main speakers were Peter Enns and John (Jack) Collins, the topic addressed was the historicity of Adam. Dr. Enns’ presentation was thoughtful and articulate. His words were measured as he had clearly wrestled with some problematic questions. I certainly respect his desire to come to sound biblical conclusions, but as with all wrestling, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

For Dr. Enns, Adam is simply a myth. He’s a part of Israel’s origin story, which had as its’ backdrop other Ancient Near Eastern literature (i.e. other origin stories with some parallels, The Enuma Elish, for example) After his presentation there was some Q&A. One person mentioned that Paul believed Adam was a historical figure, as clearly stated in Romans 5. Professor Enns advised that Paul was a 1st century Jew who believed the conventions of his day. Following this, someone else brought up the fact that Jesus himself believed in a historical Adam. To which Dr. Enns advised that Jesus too was a 1st century Jew who believed the conventions of the day. In other words, Paul and Jesus were mistaken.

This presents us with some interesting questions. If Paul was mistaken about this matter, what else was Paul mistaken about? Was he right with regard to doctrinal formulations and propositional truths, but confused about material facts? Was he correct about his interpretation of OT texts, or was he wielding them for his own purposes in seeking to proclaim and exhalt the One whom he thought was the Christ?

But further than this, what if Jesus was mistaken about Adam? Could Jesus himself believe something which was untrue, and then apply that error in making a theological point about God’s original intention in marriage (Mt. 19:4-5)? And if so, where does it stop? How do we discern what is true and false?

Let’s ask an additional question. If Jesus as a man was mistaken about historical facts, how do we know he was correct about any statement he made? What kind of duality does this create? Jesus could be wrong in his humanity, but never wrong in his divinity? He knew heavenly things, but not earthly things? Of course, no one with an orthodox view of Christology suggests that Jesus knew everything in his humanity (like how to speak French or do complicated algorithms), but that when he spoke he knew everything truthfully and accurately pertaining to the things he said.

Dr. Enns’ presentation deflated rather quickly after this. The implication of his position could be re-stated this way:

Jesus was a man of his times and subject to the conventions of his day, therefore with regard to Adam, Jesus was wrong.

Paul was a man of his times and subject to the conventions of his day, therefore with regard to Adam, Paul was wrong.

Peter Enns, in spite of being a man of his times and subject to the conventions of his day, is correct with regard to Adam.

This is one of those situations where to state the position is to refute the position, but I’ll let you be the judge.

C.M. Granger