It was in August that the controversy surrounding the reality or otherwise of Adam and Eve, came to a head again (in America) when John Schneider, a conservative theologian who taught at Calvin College in Michigan until recently, said that it’s time to face facts, “There is no historical Adam and Eve; no serpent; no apple; no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence”. To many evangelicals that is absolute heresy! Schneider went on to say, “Evolution makes it pretty clear that in nature, and in the moral experience of human beings, there never was any such paradise to be lost”.
Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary responded by saying that the denial of an historical Adam and Eve as the first parents of all humanity and the solitary first human pair, severs the link between Adam and Christ which is so crucial to the gospel. He went on to say, “If we do not know how the story of the Gospel begins, then we do not know what that story means. Make no mistake; a false start to the story produces a false grasp of the Gospel”.
I have long understood that there are those who take the story of Genesis literally and those who have an understanding of the story as ‘myth and symbolism’. Some believe that the Bible is the inerrant ‘Word of God’ while others believe that while the Bible is ‘inspired’, it is Jesus who should be seen as the Word of God!
I had at one time been taught that Genesis 1.1-3 indicates that the earth was struck by some cataclysmic event (some suggest as a result of the fall of Satan) between v1 and v2 – and that the Bible is referring to a restoration of it’s original condition. I have also seen it suggested that when Adam sinned God had two options. He could give up on man and allow creation to go back into chaos and darkness, or He could initiate a rescue operation.
Some people feel that in an ideal world we would be returning to the Garden of Eden. Others feel that we need to be able to return to the time of the early church.
But here was an evangelical leader saying that if we do not accept the literal reality of Adam and Eve we have a false grasp of the gospel!!!!!!!
It has been said that the gospel typically preached by modern evangelicals begins with the statement that God is Holy – Holy in a legal sense – the suggestion that in the Western world the holiness of God has been seen through Roman concepts of law and order, crime and punishment, blind and cold justice, so that holiness came to mean legal perfection! The holiness of God was legalised and everything was seen in the light of law, guilt and punishment – that has produced an empty religion that wears us out and leaves us more hopeless than ever! The human race has allegedly fallen into sin and is guilty before God. Since God is Holy, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished – justice requires punishment. But since God is also loving, He sends Jesus Christ to take our place. On the cross, the guilt of the human race is placed upon Jesus Christ, and Jesus suffers the just punishment of our guilt. The cry of Jesus, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” is interpreted as the moment of moments when the Father, being too holy to look upon evil, turns His back upon his Son in utter abandonment. The Father forsakes his Son. That foresakenness, that abandonment, and its unsearchable agony, is interpreted as the punishment for our sins that satisfies God’s justice.
I recognise that some evangelicals would want to question part of this description, but I sense that it is a good starting point for considering some of the differences between what I see as the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH.