Sunday, April 18, 2010

Does it matter if Adam was an historical person? (2)

The situation with Dr. Bruce Waltke has now been featured on ABC News. The report features Pete Enns who was forced to leave Westminster Theological Seminary for holding and teaching a doctrine of Scripture that was not in accord with the Westminster Confession of Faith (All teachers at WTS pledge their belief in and commitment to teach in accord with the WCF). Dr. Enns once professed a belief in an historical Adam but now apparently no longer holds that position. Interestingly, Dr. Waltke holds firmly to the fact that Adam and Eve were historical persons and the fall was a real event. If he is wanting the approval of modern scientists then he will need to jettison those beliefs.

I found Dr. Enn's words troubling. Will the Bible ever put a student at odds with something he hears in his biology class? I imagine so. I also know that what that student learns in his biology class will put him at odds with what his parents learned in their biology class or what may be taught in the same class the following year. How about belief in the virgin birth or resurrection of Christ? Will that put our hypothetical student at odds with what they learn in biology? How about the substitutionary atonement or the necessity of faith in Jesus if one is to be saved? Will these put us at odds with what we learn at school? Will these beliefs put us at odds with our culture? This obsession with the approval of our cultured despisers always marks the slide into theological liberalism which leads to apostasy.

It does matter whether or not Adam was an historical person. Robert Strimple lays out the issue clearly in an article posted by Westminster California.

You see, biblical Christianity, over against all other world and life views, is unique in viewing human sinfulness as the result of a Fall. Other religions and philosophies – and myths – look to sin's origin elsewhere; e.g., in the very constitution of man as composed of a lower as well as a higher nature, or in man's evolutionary past and his natural tendency to revert to a more primitive stage, or in the fact that he has not yet evolved beyond such a stage in certain respects. (And it is evolutionary theory regarding man's origin, of course, which has caused many to deny the biblical teaching regarding man's creation as a holy being whose sin is the result of his own mysterious free act of transgressing God's law.)

Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, views human sinfulness as a Fall – an unnatural development, a lapse from man's proper state – and thereby asserts that to find sin's "explanation" in the original constitution of man is to slander the holy Creator – and thereby also assures man that there is hope: hope for restoration, hope for redemption, hope for Paradise Restored.

On other views of the origin and nature of sin, human sinfulness must be seen as really inevitable (Adam = all men = sinner; to be human is to be sinner); and therefore how can sin ever be remedied or removed? The Bible, on the other hand, gives grounds for hope because, as another has written, the Bible “represents the ills in which man is involved not as the necessary faults of a being low, earthy, and animal by his constitution but as (the) effects from the fall of a being made in the image of God.” (3)

The biblical pictures of fallen human nature are painted with very dark colors, speaking, e.g., of man's heart as “deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt” (Jer. 17:9 RSV). But we must never forget that what is so pictured is not man but fallen man – not man as God created him but man as he has turned his back on God – not man the co-laborer with God but man the rebel. And the hope of the Gospel is that through the accomplishment of the Second Adam and the power of the Creative Spirit, man may be all that he was meant to be.

Read the entire article HERE.


Peter Bogert said...

Good post, Todd. This is a sad situation. And a repeat of 100 years ago.

Todd Pruitt said...

It is a repeat. I am struck by the fact that nothing seems to change. It's Bultmann's concern that modern man cannot be expected to believe in the miracles of the Bible. Here, Pete Enns seems to be suggesting that we cannot expect to believe something that is not congruent with what we are told in a high school biology class - so long virgin birth and resurrection!

Anonymous said...
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Robert Hagedorn said...
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Todd Pruitt said...

Man, there are some goof balls out there!