The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

The Historicity Of Adam And The Fall

Questions have been raised as to how seriously we are to take this whole narrative about Adam and Eve (and the serpent in the Garden of Eden) as literal history. Many prefer to regard it as a mere myth or fable (suprahistory, to use the neo-orthodox term) in which the moral downfall of man is described by a fictitious episode designed to illustrate it. (Yet insofar as man is a fallen creature, a moral agent with an innate sense of guilt, the myth allegedly reflects a sublime truth, even though no such isolated episode actually took place.) No decisive objections, however, have ever been raised against the historicity of Adam and Eve either on historical, scientific, or philosophical grounds. The protest has been based essentially upon subjective concepts of improbability.

From the standpoint of logic, it is virtually impossible to accept the authority of Rom. 5 (“By one man sin entered into the world.… By one man’s offense death reigned by one.… By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners”) without inferring that the entire human race must have descended from a single father. In Rom. 5, Adam is contrasted with Christ. If therefore Christ was a historical individual, Adam himself must have been historical (or else the inspired apostle was in error). Again, Paul takes the details of Gen. 2 and of the temptation and fall in Gen. 3 as literal history. In 1 Tim. 2:13–14 he says: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” There can be no question that the New Testament authors accepted the literal historicity of Adam and Eve. The origin of the human race is necessarily a matter of revelation by God, since no written records could extend back to a time prior to the invention of writing. Conceivably the true account of man’s origin could have been handed down by oral tradition (and perhaps it was so handed down until Moses’ time). But apart from revelation, written down as inspired Scripture, there could be no assurance as to which of the bewildering variety of legends of man’s origin known to the many different cultures of earth was the true and reliable account. Here the inspired record tells of a literal Adam and Eve, and gives no indication whatever that the account is intended to be mythical. In this connection note that Luke 3:38 traces the ancestry of Jesus back to Enos, to Seth, and finally to Adam himself (who must therefore have been as historic an individual as Seth and Enos). It was certainly taken as historical by Christ and the apostles.

Archer, G. L. (1998). A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.].) (213–214). Chicago: Moody Press.

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Biblical Studies | , , , , | 1 Comment

God’s Revelation: The Christian Approach To History (Part 2)

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ constitutes the foremost New Testament example of God’s sovereignty in the face of evil. Acts 4:27–28 depicts this monstrous evil as under God’s sovereign control: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”

A third element in the Christian approach to history is that God uses pagan nations to accomplish His ends. When Jeremiah warned Judah that God was about to judge them for their spiritual adultery, he shows God summoning Nebuchadnezzar, “My servant,” to be the instrument of His judgment. In Jeremiah 27:7 God declares, “all the nations shall serve him, and his son, and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes.” When Isaiah prophesied of the coming liberation of the exiles from captivity, he prophetically named the Persian ruler Cyrus as the one to effect that liberation. God said of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire … Whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him, and to loose the loins of kings” (Isa. 44:28–45:1). Thus the Bible strips away the surface of history and reveals the transcendent sovereign God moving history His way.

Finally, the Christian approach to history focuses on the principle of justice that pervades God’s character and subsequently His history. When He uses a pagan nation to accomplish His ends, as He did in choosing Babylon to judge Judah, His justice demands that that nation likewise be judged. In Jeremiah 50:29 God calls for the nations to align against Babylon: “Repay her according to her work; according to all that she has done, so do to her; for she has become arrogant against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel.” When the nation God has raised up accomplishes His purposes, He judges that nation righteously and justly. Just as an individual cannot sin with impunity, the same is true for a nation.

Eckman, J. P. (2004). The truth about worldviews : A biblical understanding of worldview alternatives (123–125). Wheaton Ill.: Crossway Books.

September 10, 2010 Posted by | Revelation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Revelation: The Christian Approach To History (Part 1)

Bible with Cross Shadow

Past historical perspectives offer little help today. The ancient Greeks adhered to a cyclical philosophy of history that saw past events as a series of repetitive cycles—the old adage that history repeats itself. The religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and the amorphous New Age Movement, with their common emphasis on reincarnation, all view history similarly. The common element among them all is an absence of hope, meaning, and purpose.

Other approaches to history are inadequate as well. The eighteenth-century Enlightenment saw history through the grid of progress. The Scientific Revolution of the preceding century and the certainty of constructing a science of man created an optimism about humanity that viewed human perfectibility as imminent. Destroyed by the carnage of the twentieth century (two World Wars and the Holocaust), the view of progress is no longer viable. Modern existentialism or postmodernism offer no meaning to history except individual autonomy and choice.

Biblical Christianity’s approach, rooted in God’s revelation, gives hope and solid confidence for the future. This approach has four essential aspects:

First, the Bible calls for a worldview that rejects the cyclical model of history. The ancient Hebrews saw history as a line with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Creation marked the initiation of history with God creating the universe ex nihilo. The Old Testament records God revealing Himself to men and women through many means, while the New Testament demonstrated His power and purposes through miracles and signs. The greatest revelation, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, bifurcates history, and when He returns, Christ will bring history to an end. For the Christian, then, history is linear, has purpose and meaning, and is filled with hope.

Second, the Christian approach to history is a commitment to God’s sovereignty. Daniel 4:17, 25 affirms in the message to King Nebuchad-nezzar that God rules in the affairs of men, seeking the counsel of no one. The Old Testament also declares that God’s sovereignty entails overruling the evil deeds of men so that His purposes are attained. The narrative of Joseph details God’s providence over his life—“the Lord was with Joseph”—despite the evil intents of Potiphar’s wife and of Joseph’s brothers. God’s purpose was to preserve life, and Joseph was His means of doing that. Furthermore, God’s sovereignty extends to the counsel that rulers receive. Second Samuel 17:14 demonstrates that God thwarted the counsel of Absalom’s adviser, Ahithophel, to secure the safety of David’s retreat from Absalom.

Eckman, J. P. (2004). The truth about worldviews : A biblical understanding of worldview alternatives (123–125). Wheaton Ill.: Crossway Books.

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Revelation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Onward, Christian Soldier – Part 3

Jesus appears to the disciples (watercolour)

Image via Wikipedia

My last post in this series concluded by emphasizing the early disciples of Jesus were referred to as “Followers of the Way”. The word follow in this context means to: conform to, adhere to, comply with, obey, be guided by, be modeled after or on, observe, heed, mind, go along with, reflect, mirror, echo, imitate, cleave to. The lifestyle of Jesus’ disciples was recognizable to those around them. They were derogatorily labeled as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, for they imitated Him in all manner. This was offensive to many Jews. With such a rigid and narrow way of life to abide by, it’s not surprising that most Christians are believers in Christ not followers of Him.

Followers of Jesus were referred to as Christians by Gentiles:

“When the Christian movement reached Antioch in Syria, the gospel was preached to Gentiles as well as Jews. Such evangelism marked the sect as more than a new type of Judaism; it was a new religion. The Gentiles in Antioch invented a name for the new group. Since members of the group constantly talked about Christ, they were called Christians, meaning the “household” or “partisans” of Christ.”

The historical background of the term “Christian” and related labels implies that from a relatively early period people recognized something distinctly non-Jewish about the movement. It is unlikely that Gentiles would have known the Jewish significance of the word Christós, “messiah”. It was not until the early 2nd century that Christians began with some regularity to employ the term as a self-designation.

This wraps up my brief overview of the term “Christian” from a historical perspective. Next in this series I’ll confront the indoctrination process of new Christians. Until then, stay rational.

Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (432). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

Onward, Christian Soldier – Part 2

Onward, Christian Soldier – Part 4

August 23, 2010 Posted by | Christian Education | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment