Sunday, January 6, 2008

Is A Literal Adam Needed For Christ To Be Relevant?

After Church on Sunday night a fellow church member and myself had dinner with our families and he and I discussed science as he is a Physicist. During the course of the conversation a blog came up from a professor at Calvin College who is an educated reformed Christian and an evolutionist. His name is Stephen Matheson and he is an associate professor of Biology at Calvin. This peaked my interest. He emailed me the blog and I have spent the last hour scouring it and reading over his thoughts on how he handles the issue of evolution in how it relates to Christianity. Here below I will quote for you a snippet from one of his posts.

If there is any problem at all between evolution and Christian belief, it arises in the context of the historical narrative of redemptive history. (The notion that evolutionary theory, as a natural explanation, is hostile to Christian belief is, in my opinion, preposterous. Hence my low regard for ID.) Specifically, the historical nature of the Fall, in which sin and death entered the world due to the actions of two particular people, is difficult to fit into the narrative of common ancestry.
In my view, the problem is simply historical (the stories don't seem to fit well together), but many Christians see a more serious conflict, because they believe that the existence of a single historical Adam is central in the redemption narrative. In fact, I'm sure that the vast majority of evangelicals would take this position. And Romans 5 would be a big reason why.

You can read more on this here.
You can read more on his views regarding theology here.

Edit: Another resource relating to the issues of this topic can be viewed here.

Some questions:
-Does evolution pose a threat to your faith if you are a Christian?
-What do you think about the professor's conclusion on the matter?
-Do you think he is right? If yes, why? If no, why not?
-Do you tend to regurgitate what you have been told concerning this topic or have you actually looked into it?
-Does removing the literal Adam pose a problem for the entrance of sin and the need for a savior?

8 comments:

Roland said...

-Does evolution pose a threat to your faith if you are a Christian?
No. I still believe in creation, but I am always willing to admit error. Unfortunately for evolutionists, their theory is like the hole in a donut.

-What do you think about the professor's conclusion on the matter?
I have no problem with it. It contributes to the discussion and helps us to stop and think about what we believe and why. Testing the spirits. Not a bad thing.

-Do you think he is right? If yes, why? If no, why not?
Kind of. The truth is that no man would have been able to go without failing. The story helps us to understand that we would have failed as well. I still hold to the belief of one man at the start of all this. It could be because its all my poor little mind can hold. Or it could be the truth. Either way, it doesn't negate my faith in God.

-Do you tend to regurgitate what you have been told concerning this topic or have you actually looked into it?
I process stuff. Sometimes I don't do it right away. If it seems to fit really well, I'm not as critical. But if more and more things about something bother me, I become more and more critical and discerning about the subject.

-Does removing the literal Adam pose a problem for the entrance of sin and the need for a savior?
Not for me. For some it might. And to be honest, I hold to there being a literal Adam. It helps me to understand it easier.

My question: Have you ever read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell?
It goes through stuff like this in the book. (not evolution, but the reasoning out processes involved in WHY we believe what we believe)

Timm said...

My problem is this. If Evolution is true, which the facts don't support, Then I don't see why we should believe the rest of the Bible. I've built a large part of my faith and my doctrine on the infaliability of the Bible. If that truth doesn't hold up, then I Don't know what I've been standing on all this time.

"Have you ever read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell?"

I've got a feeling that's a bad topic to bring up here Roland. You know my feelings, so I won't go into it, but have fun J.

j razz said...

Have you ever read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell?

No. I have 2 bookshelves full of books that I have yet to read and I made a deal with myself a while back that until they get read, I will not purchase another book.

With that being said, I know of Rob Bell and his theology. I know enough to know that we do not hold the same view on doctrine and the importance of scripture but I do not know enough about him or his theology to critique him and his theology or to form an argument either for or against his thought processes concerning scripture.

I tend not to state opinions on things of which I have yet to investigate to the point of being informed on the matter.
___________________________
Timm,

I think what he is arguing (and it is not clear from his blog) is that Paul was positing something more than a mere comparison between Adam and Jesus. If he is correct (I have not seen his argument for this or how he then reconciles the text with a symbolic Adam) and if this text is removed as an obstacle for evolutionists, then could his conclusion be plausible?

I have sent him an email asking for more on his views concerning his beliefs on this topic. I am awaiting a response.

j razz

Laz said...

How can the order of creation in Genesis (literal or not) be reconciled with the order which evolutionist scientists present?

I guess one way to hold both to be true is to not take the account of Genesis very seriously, and why stop there right?

Roland said...

I remember once, long ago, when the Sun went around the Earth....

I still hold to the literal creation. But if I am SO inflexible, that I cannot change, what use am I to God?
I know, I know, don't be so open minded that your brains fall out.
But also don't just discount something out of hand.
As was said to some other guy,
"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth..."

It is so easy to see the world as black and white. And yet it was made in color.

"I've built a large part of my faith and my doctrine on the infaliability of the Bible."
Nice, but I would change the infallibility to be in God.

Did anyone read that I believe in a literal 6 day creation? Or did you forget already? ;)

Pastor Klay said...

Just because "Calvin" is in the name doesn't equal orthodoxy. Some of those CRC guys are reformed by tradition and culture not conviction (kinda like cultural Baptists and Methodists in the south).

Here's the straight dope: no literal Adam and literal fall, no literal second Adam or literal redemption. There's simply no way around it.
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jrazz - where are those comments you left for me?

SFMatheson said...

Hey j razz--
Thanks for the link, and for posing some good questions. My blog makes my position clear, so I won't rehash it. But you asked an interesting question here:
Does removing the literal Adam pose a problem for the entrance of sin and the need for a savior?
I'd say yes, it's a problem, or maybe a 'puzzle' as a friend and commenter on my blog put it. I don't think the problem is insurmountable, and I applaud roland for his stance for Christ not matter what. I stand with him, and not with the others who would subject the faith to scientific explanations of genetics and development. If you can't follow the Christ without understanding the dirt-man, then your problems are far more serious than mere scientific ignorance.

GalatiansC4V16 said...

j razz,

I don't think it poses a threat to faith at all, namely because I don't believe it is true, and truth is never threatened by error.

I do believe a literal Adam is indeed necessary for the consistency of the Scriptures and belief.

Paul said if Christ be not risen our faith is in vain; and I would take that to mean he needed to literally rise again in the flesh; which he did.

Paul also said that just as in death and sin entered through one man, its remedy was appealed by another.

If Adam didn't literally fall, then why did Christ need to literally rise again?

Christ believed in a literal Adam and Eve, as indicated when he said "as it was" in referring to them. That's good enough for me!

tr