The doctrine of Adam is the most recent (post 2006) controversy in the evangelical creation discussion. The source of controversy is the new scientific consensus that humankind did not emerge as a single human couple but as a large group. Consider the following quotes from an article by Todd Wilson in the January 4, 2019 issue of Christianity Today Magazine:
“This is likely to be a sticking point for some. An increasing number of evangelical evolutionary creationists are giving up belief in Adam and Eve as real persons in a real past. The genetic evidence, at least as we now understand it, makes belief in an original human pair doubtful if not impossible.
I suspect in 20 years’ time, support for Adam and Eve as real persons in a real past will be a minority view even within evangelicalism. Should this come to pass, I remain confident that the Christian faith will survive, even though this will require some reconfiguration of our deepest convictions.” (1)
The OEC community is attempting to redefine the traditional Christian understanding of Adam. Mr. Wilson’s words reveal the magnitude of the impact that redefining Adam will have on the evangelical community.
Adam in the Bible
Biblically, Adam is the first created human. Adam and Eve were created by God and in the image of God. They were charged by God to be fruitful, multiply and to have dominion. Adam sinned by disobeying God’s command when he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam was the husband of Eve, and the father of all humankind. In Adam, all humankind has sinned. Some Bible verses on Adam, the fall and redemption include:
- “And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness: and let them have dominion … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created he them.” (Genesis 1:26 & 27)
- “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
- “…she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6)
- “…Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)
- And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9)
- “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day God created man, in the likeness of God made he him. Male and female he created he them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lives one hundred and thirty years, and begat a son…Seth… the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years ….And all the days of Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died … Seth … Enos … Cainan … Enos … Mahaleleel … Jared … Enoch … Mathusselah …Lamech … Noah … Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” (Genesis 5:1 – 32)
- “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being, (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli … David … Jesse … Judah … Jacob …Isaac …Abraham … Sem … Seth … Adam, which was the son of God.” (Luke 3:23 – 38)
- “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12)
- “…For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Romans 5:15)
- “For by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which received abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offense of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:17-19)
- “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” (I Corinthians 15:21)
- “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Corinthians 15:22)
- “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit … The first man is of the earth, earthly: the second man is the Lord from heaven… And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall bear the image of the heavenly.” (I Corinthians 15:45-49)
Biblically, the fact that Adam is a historical person is witnessed by the records of both the Old and New Testaments. Adam spoke to God and God spoke to Adam. Through Adam’s sin all humankind has sinned. The doctrine of original sin and the doctrine of redemption through Christ are both linked to Adam. Christ is called the second Adam.
The YEC View of Adam
The YEC view of Adam is that of the historical view of the Christian church. This view is easily obtained from a plain reading of Scripture. This view is clearly summarized in various confessions of faith including Chapter 6 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, titled “Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of Punishment Thereof.” The historicity of Adam is not an issue in the YEC community.
The OEC Views of Adam
Early OEC views of creation (from the 1830’s), the Day-Age view and the Ruin-Restoration (Gap Theory) view considered Adam to be a real historical person. These views originated before the theory of evolution.
From the 1800’s to 2006, evangelicals who believed in theistic evolution also considered Adam to be a real historic person. However, they believed that Adam evolved from a primate. The following was excerpted from the PCA Report:
“Woodrow/Warfield theistic evolution: Adam’s body was the product of evolutionary development (second causes working alone), and his special creation involved the imparting of a rational soul to a highly-developed hominid.” (2)
Since 2006 the BioLogos ministry has promotes theistic evolution (which they term Evolutionary Creation). BioLogos is leading the campaign to redefine Adam. Their position is spelled out in a January 2019 post titled “Were Adam and Eve Historical Figures?” (3)
Efforts to redefine Adam have caused concern even within the OEC community that is supportive of theistic evolution. An example of this concern is shown in the writings by PCA ruling elder Dr. Charles Irons on his website, www.upperregister.com . In a 2014 article titled “Adam and Evolution.” Dr. Irons lists seven possible views of Adam and states that there could be more. Dr. Irons expresses concern that several of his listed evolutionary views of Adam conflict with the church’s traditional understanding of Adam.
The OEC views of Adam are continually changing. The latest change is being promoted by BioLogos and consists in the word of Todd Wilson,” … giving up belief in Adam and Eve as real persons with a real past.” (1)
The YEC view of Adam has been the historic view of the church. This view is well summarized in Chapter 6 of the Westminster Confess of Faith, “Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of Punishment Thereof.” There has been no need to change this view because this view is based on a plain reading of the Bible.
In contrast the OEC views of Adam is in a state of revision and continuing controversy. The trust of theistic evolution is to adapt some sort of figurative view of Adam. Since Adam is linked to the fall and the doctrine of original sin. It can be anticipated that these doctrines will become future targets of OEC redefinition efforts.
Homework & Preparation
In our next post, we will examine the consequences of YEC and OEC views of creation
Your homework is as follows:
- Briefly, summarize your understanding of Adam in your own words.
- This quotation was taken from an article titled Ten Theses on Creation and Evolution That (Most) Evangelicals Can Support.” The, author, Tod Wilson, a former pastor, writes from the theistic evolution perspective. Point 5. the doctrine of Adam. Portions excerpted in entirety from the Christianity Today website on 2/26/19.) Interestingly, this article is also posted on the BioLogos website on 10/22/18.
- The PCA Report sections on brief definitions
- The post Where Adam and Eve historical Figures? was downloaded from the BioLogos.org website on 3/12/19.
- Bible quotations are from the King James Version.