I attended a morning prayer gathering today at Trinity Anglican Church, and the Old Testament reading was from Genesis 3, the account of Adam and Eve's rebellion and the ensuring curse, and promise of redemption. As is customary in this sort of prayer meeting, there is a moments pause for meditation on the scripture, and my mind rested on the importance of Adam to the whole drama of redemption in scripture.
Last week I read a chapter from A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones that discussed Natural and Supernatural Theology - and most of the teaching centred on Adam in the garden. (Natural theology is the way in which God is revealed naturally in the world, nature and what we can observe with our own senses; while supernatural theology deals with what our senses cannot grasp about God without his special revelation through Scripture.)
Finally, after returning from my time at prayer, I sat down with the thought on my heart to write to you about the importance of Adam as scripture portrays him. What was the first article that popped up on my facebook feed? A review of a book on Adam by Tim Challies. (http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/four-views-on-the-historical-adam)
Now I know that there are coincidences in our lives - but I see this as a strong prompt from the Holy Spirit to spend some time talking with you about Adam, sin and salvation. So you can expect that the next few of articles will focus on this subject.
Adam is under siege in the church today. In an attempt to narrow the (perceived) gap between faith and science, there are pastors and teachers who have suggested that the story of Adam is just a myth - that there never really were any such people as Adam and Eve and that there was no Garden of Eden. The really disturbing teaching sees Adam and Eve as some sort of parable or myth; softer (yet still troubling) interpretations see Adam and Eve as a couple of people who God identified out of a whole existing population and began to work through. Both of these suggestions require jettisoning the clear teaching of Genesis. But its more than that!
If we reject the story of Adam and Eve as literal, we end up rejecting the whole Bible. We have to throw out the prophets who believed that Adam's sin was an actual event, like Hosea (Hosea, speaking the Word of the Lord says: But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. Hosea 6:7). We also have to throw out Paul's teaching in Romans 5; I Corinthians 15; and I Timothy 2. We have to reject the book of Jude at least in part, because Jude taught that Adam was actually a man. Finally, Jesus himself references the creation of Adam and Eve as a literal event in Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9, if in fact Adam and Eve were myths, Jesus is mistaken.
But there is even more at stake in this debate. If there was no actual Adam, and no actual Garden of Eden - what is the origin of sin?
We have all sorts of places in scripture where we can point to sin and rebellion, we can find sin and rebellion in the world all around us - but the story of Genesis 3 establishes the cause of this situation and lays the foundation for all of God's work in redemption.
Paul's argument in Romans 5 is that sin came into the world through Adam and death through sin; but Christ's righteousness and sacrifice has brought about justification through faith. The very foundation for Paul's argument is the literal act of Adam and the literal act of Jesus, that is lost if we jettison Adam. In I Corinthians 15 he carries on the argument stating that all those who are in Adam will die as a result of his sin, but all those who are in Christ will be made alive as a result of his resurrection for the dead. Without Adam the death and resurrection of Christ become of questionable need and value.
So a great deal (everything in fact) rests upon our understanding of Genesis 3. I hope you're persuaded that a deeper consideration of these matters is worth your time.
I propose to write a few articles for your reflection on Adam - look for these in coming days: The Significance of the Tree of the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; The Long-Lasting Effects of Sin and It's Peculiar Marks Upon Men and Women; The First Adam and the Second Adam; Science and Faith - Are They Irreconcilable?
I welcome your questions and comments.