Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bruce Waltke on Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve have been taking a bit of a beating from some well known scholars within the Reformed tradition. Tremper Longman made statements recently that allowed for the first couple to be mythical as has Pete Enns. Bruce Waltke, one of the world's great Old Testament scholars recently made statements that seemed to indicate he too allowed for Adam and Eve to be something less than historical figures. I was therefore encouraged by the following clarification by Dr. Waltke:

I had not seen the video before it was distributed. Having seen it now, I realize its deficiency and wish to put my comments in a fuller theological context.

1. Adam and Eve are historical figures from whom all humans are descended; they are uniquely created in the image of God and as such are not in continuum with animals.

2. Adam is the federal and historical head of the fallen human race just as Jesus Christ is the federal and historical head of the Church.

3. I am not a scientist, but I have familiarized myself with attempts to harmonize Genesis 1-3 with science, and I believe that creation by the process of evolution is a tenable Biblical position. I apologize for giving the impression that others who seek to harmonize the two differently are not credible. I honor all who contend for the Christian faith.

4. Evolution as a process must be clearly distinguished from evolutionism as a philosophy. The latter is incompatible with orthodox Christian theology.

5. Science is fallible and subject to revision. As a human and social enterprise, science will always be in flux. My first commitment is to the infallibility (as to its authority) and inerrancy (as to its Source) of Scripture.

6. God could have created the Garden of Eden with apparent age or miraculously, even as Christ instantly turned water into wine, but the statement that God “caused the trees to grow” argues against these notions.

7. I believe that the Triune God is Maker and Sustainer of heaven and earth and that biblical Adam is the historical head of the human race.

8. Theological comments made here are mostly a digest of my chapters on Genesis 1-3 in An Old Testament Theology (Zondervan, 2007).

Bruce Waltke, Professor of Old Testament Reformed Theological Seminary


Jonathan Brack said...

thanks Todd, that was great.

threegirldad said...

I'm trying to understand how Dr. Waltke harmonizes 1 and 3. Does he address that in the book?

Todd Pruitt said...

It is my understanding that Waltke allows for evolution in a way that still allows for the unique creation of Adam and Eve and the historicity of the fall.

B.B. Warfield and Herman Bavinck held the same view.

thatbradguy said...

could you point toward an article or book that presents that view?

threegirldad said...


So, if I'm understanding correctly, God created Adam and Eve ex nihilo, and they are the actual historical (not figurative) ancestors of all of mankind. All other life is (or at least, may be) the result of some sort gradual process that God superintended (in contrast to the notion of mechanistic evolution).

Is that an accurate summary of the view?

Todd Pruitt said...

I think that Waltke would say he is open to the idea of evolution as a process superintended by God.

NutsNBolts said...

The idea of Adam and Eve as a special physical creation of God has a short shelf life. The genetic evidence for the continuity of all of life and the relatedness of all primates is fairly conclusive. This casts God in the role of deceiver, which is not consistent with his character. What is more important – that we are made in God’s image, or that we were formed ex nihilo out of dust? Accept that Genesis is not a biology text and do not be distracted by the physical descriptions within which the message of faith was originally communicated. The key message of Genesis is that we are made in God’s image for his glory, that we are all sinful and that God has made a way of rescue for us to return to his fellowship.

threegirldad said...

The idea of an actually dead (and not "swooned") Jesus coming back to life after three days has a short shelf life. The medical and experiential evidence against such a claim is fairly conclusive. This casts God in the role of deceiver, which is not consistent with his character. What is more important - the sublime symbolism of God's love for us, or an actual physical resurrection?