Re: Dating Adam

Paul Arveson (
Tue, 7 May 96 12:21:24 EDT

In message <> Bill Hamilton writes:
> Pat Pun wrote in response to Dick Fischer:
> >I have serious doubts about your view of Adam not being the progenitor of
> >the entire human race. I studied a little bit of OT Theology when I was
> >getting my MA in Theology and I have as yet come across ANY OT
> >theologians (liberal or conservative) who espoused your view. I also
> >checked your view out with some of our theology professors here at
> >Wheaton College and they agreed with me. The most serious challenge to
> >your view is from Paul. He draws the analogy between Adam and Christ in
> >Rm. 5:12-21 and in I Cor. 15 (esp. 21,22). He also points to the unity of
> >all humans in Acts. 17:26.
> >
> >ALL HUMAN sins in Adam, and they can be saved through Christ, the second
> >Adam. If only some of us are the descendants of Adam, who are we to
> >decide which races or which nations? God wants all to be saved (I Tim.
> >4:9, II Peter 3:9) through Christ alone (I Tim. 2:5, Acts 4:12) by grace
> >through faith (Eph. 2:8). If some of us are not the descendants of Adam,
> >how can we be saved through the second Adam, who came because of the sins
> >of the first?
> I don't have a degree in theology, so I want to approach this as carefully
> and respectfully as I can. But it occurred to me that we are not
> physically descended from Jesus Christ. There is a sense in which we are
> his offspring (ala Isaiah 53:10) but we are his spiritual offspring, and
> that relationship is sealed by our baptism into his death. That much I'm
> sure is not controversial.
> But is it possible that a similar form of "descent" holds for Adam. Adam
> taught his children to fear the Lord, and at least in the case of Seth,
> this teaching was effective. Seth and his descendents preached to their
> contemporaries, some of whom became believers. Can we make a case for
> saying that any believer, whether or not he is physically descended from
> Adam, is _spiritually_ descended from Adam? If so it makes a nice symmetry
> with our spiritual descent from Jesus Christ, the second Adam.

I think Bill is on to something here. Another possibility is that the Nephelim
were somehow wiped out, and only Adam's descendants remained. This aligns with
the recurring theme of "supernatural selection" throughout the Bible.

It is well to keep in mind the premises of these discussions, one of which is
that creative solutions are welcome because we confront not only the tribunal of
theologians but also the tribunal of science. We always have to keep the two
sides satisfied, otherwise the whole enterprise is futile. This attitude,
incidentally, was expressed long ago by the theologian Augustine, in De Genesi
ad Litteram ("The Literal Meaning of Genesis"). His point was that we do
injustice to the Scriptures and the Church by declaring as Biblical
interpretations that would be considered ridiculous to outsiders, who are not
bound to believe them.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
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