Friday, November 28, 2014

Four Views of the Historical Adam

Denis O. Lamoureux is one of four authors that contributed to the book, Four Views of the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology). I am thankful to all four authors for their contributions and critique of each other's work. The four views presented represent a large span of the theological continuum regarding the historicity of Adam:
1.    No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation View 
2.      A Historical Adam: Archetypal Creation View 
3.      A Historical Adam: Old-Earth Creation View 
4.      A Historical Adam: Young-Earth Creation View
I am most drawn to the words of Lamoureux. I want to be able to make his theological perspective, my theological perspective. It would save me a lot of effort to simply adopt rather than work through the arguments myself. Lamoureux is also appealing because of his everyday language, his sincere faith in Jesus, and his journey from a young-earth creation viewpoint to an evolutionary creation perspective. Yet, I have a sense that every word in this book is important. I must learn to listen closest to the voices with which I disagree the most. They provide the greatest test for my own developing perspective on the historical nature of Adam.

For some, this will be a new conversation. Lamoureux and I have been pondering these questions for many years. If we had met in 1975 at the time of my decision to place my faith in Jesus Christ, I would have espoused a half-baked idea of theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism while he might have made short work of my theology with his superior knowledge of the young-earth creationist arguments. My journey started with trust in science which led to questions about God, creation, and faith, followed by a melding of science, evolution, and creation. I honestly saw no contradiction. Over the years, I have realized how my initial synthesis was inadequate and that the theological implications of the evolutionary creation viewpoint are larger than I had imagined. Now, both Lamoureux and I espouse an evolutionary creation perspective and would find ourselves sitting down to tea and congratulating each other on our understanding of theology, creation, faith, and all things scientific. That is why we would need to invite John H. Walton, C. John Collins, and William D. Barrick to our tea party. We need them to challenge us with the awkward and difficult aspects of our shared view.

But, once the tea party was over, what perspectives would we find changed? After reading the whole book, with all of the responses and rejoinders, Lamoureux and I are still in agreement that
The fossil record and evolutionary genetics reveal that we share with chimpanzees a last common ancestor that lived about six million years ago. Along the evolutionary branch to humans, there are approximately 6,000 transitional fossil individuals. Scientists have also discovered that about 99 percent of the DNA sequences in our genes are similar to chimpanzees, including defective genes (psuedogenes). This is like our own families in that we share with relatives genetic similarities, both good and bad. In addition, the archeological record discloses that humans who behaved like us (creating art, sophisticated tools, and intentional burials) appeared roughly 50,000 years ago. . . . Finally, science has found that the genetic variability among all people today is quite small and indicates that we descended from a group of about 10,000 individuals. . . . I suspect that . . . similar to the way we do not really know when exactly each of us personally begins to bear God's Image or commits our very first sin, I believe the arrival of the first true humans is also a theological mystery.
About such things, we all wish that we could know more and be able to speak authoritatively about the final answer on all such mysteries. The truth is, we are better off allowing for ambiguity and mystery. We must speak with humility and recognize that there will be many questions that will go unanswered until we see God face-to-face.

Until that time, I will assert with Lamoureux, what I believe to be true, that "The nonhistorical first Adam is you and me. But the Good News is that the historical Second Adam died for our sins and frees us from the chains of sin and death." I will also suggest that all of the authors of this book would agree with Lamoureux's assertion that "Adam's story is our story. . . . To understand who we truly are, we must place ourselves in the garden of Eden." Who am I? I am a human, created in God's Image. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a man who will trust in the God who created birds and fish; butterflies and flowers; dinosaurs and sharks; and Neanderthals and Humans.

Work Cited:
Lamoureux, Denis O, et al. Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology). Zondervan, 2013.

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